Doctors’ dispute rages: Campbell Newman’s Queensland Government intensified its assault on public health care doctors this week by seeking a federal court injunction to prevent what it labeled as “misinformation” being disseminated by unions.
In a week in which the nation discussed freedom of speech in relation to modifications to the Racial Discrimination Act, many tweets from outside Queensland asked, “Could this really be happening?”
Sadly, to commentators in #qldpol it was a familiar strategy by the Newman Government to silence debate.
The matter will be heard in the Federal Court on May 25, but the deadline for Queensland doctors to sign new individual contracts is April 30. As no temporary injunction or urgent case lodgement was made to the Federal Court, it is perhaps a sign of a much wider strategy from the government.
As the deadline draws closer, a Victorian based recruitment company, First Medical, confirmed to The Courier Mail that it was working with Queensland Health to supply resumes for replacement medicos.
Also, citing poor decisions by the Newman Government in health, Brisbane based maxillofacial surgeon @DrAnthonyLynham announced his decision to stand for Labor pre-selection in the seat of Stafford ahead of the 2015 state election. If successful, he would face-off against the LNP’s Assistant Health Minister Dr Chris Davis who has also been highly critical of his own government’s treatment of doctors over the recent contracts dispute.
Dr Lynham has also been a long-term campaigner for reduced trading hours for pubs and clubs to curb injuries associated with alcohol fueled violence. The Labor Party announced this year that it would support earlier closing times while the LNP remains opposed to what it sees as a penalty on the hotel industry.
Intimidation of members: On Tuesday, Queensland Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk addressed the parliament on a matter of privilege and cited section 37 of the Parliament of Queensland Act 2001.
“Standing order 266 provides examples of contempt, one of which is intimidating a member acting in the discharge of the member’s duty,” she said.
“Outside the recent Community Cabinet meeting at the Gold Coast, members of the opposition were openly and blatantly filmed by officers of the Queensland Police Service when listening to the concerns of local residents about a proposed quarry development and meeting with teachers. The filming of the shadow health minister and me meeting with these Queenslanders clearly amounts to intimidation.”
Community Cabinet meetings are held throughout the state. As protest against the Newman Government has become more common, security around the Premier has increased including the filming of the public.
Palaszczuk will write a complaint to the Speaker for the matter to be referred to the Parliamentary Ethics Committee. A letter will also be sent to the Queensland Police Commissioner, @CoPStewart. Commissioner Stewart used Twitter to responded to concerns of the public with a safety and protection message.
— Ian Stewart (@CoPStewart) March 31, 2014
Queensland Labor MP pay rises: With Queensland Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk also receiving a pay rise of $80,000, all eight Labor MPs pledged to put their raises back into their local communities. Funds would be used to help charity, pay a constituent’s electricity bill or help out in event of a natural disaster such as flooding.
Labeling it ‘a sham’, The Courier Mail savaged the Opposition when it refused its demands to declare to the paper exactly which charities and battlers would receive funding out of their personal income.
To the gates: Protestors arrived yet again at the gates of Queensland’s Parliament as doctors and public servants joined forces to reject the Newman Government’s contracts and pay rises. Being April Fools’ day, the rally had a carnival themed atmosphere. Over the two years of the Newman Government, there has rarely been a parliamentary sitting week in which protestors have not been at the gates.
Asset sales to fix everything: Treasurer Tim Nicholls likened the state’s gross debt to a household mortgage that needed to be “paid down” through asset sales. He spent the week reinforcing into the vernacular the slogan, “$80 billion black cloud of Labor debt”.
Meanwhile, Campbell Newman dusted off decade-old dam building proposals which he said would be funded by asset sales.
By Thursday, the government dominated parliament with hypothetical scenarios of what Queensland could have looked like if the previous Bligh Government hadn’t spent money on drought mitigation projects such as the Tugun desalination plant and the recycled water grid. Both facilities had been shut down shortly after Newman took power and every aspect from dodgy plumbing to cracked concrete was revealed.
Ministers took to the floor to list all the services under their portfolios that could have been expanded if only the facilities hadn’t been built. Even Disability Minister Tracy Davis was blaming the water infrastructure for lack of available funds to support Queensland’s disabled.
It was all too much for the Member for South Brisbane, Jackie Trad.
“That is such a lie,” she called out in response to Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney, who accused the Bligh Government of not putting royalties from mining back into the local regions.
Trad was asked to withdraw from the parliament for an hour for unparliamentary language. As she began to leave, the Speaker named her and a subsequent three-day ban from parliament was issued.
Queensland is left wondering: after the water assets received such a damaging veto from the government, who would want to buy them?
Budget estimates sitting days cut: A recommendation from The Fitzgerald Inquiry was regular scrutiny of how the government spends taxpayer money. Budget estimates developed over a number of years with ministers fronting a panel for questions over seven days.
Changes by the Newman Government would now see the days reduced to two days of eight hours each and hearings held in eight different rooms simultaneously.
The government argued this would prevent late night sittings that no one paid attention too and actually increased scrutiny. However, the Opposition rejected the reasons and accused the government of trying to wind back Fitzgerald Inquiry reform.
In a dazzling display of arithmetic, Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney attempted to use maths to win over the Opposition, independents and minor parties to prove they actually had more time.
However, he left out the resourcing factor of eight Labor, three Katter’s Australian Party, two Palmer United Party and two independents.
To get to all simultaneous hearings, Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk and the Queensland media will need their runners on to go between all eight rooms.
Picking on the wrong lawyer, Campbell Newman and Jarrod Bleijie get served: Renowned bikie defence lawyer Chris Hannay has lodged a $1 million defamation lawsuit against Newman and Bleijie.
Newman made careless comments in February 2014, when he told the media, “that lawyers who defended bikies were hired guns who took money from people who sold drugs to teenagers”. The Queensland Bar Association and Queensland Law Society both condemned the comments and asked the Premier for a retraction.
Newman would probably have been able to ride out the media cycle storm if it weren’t for his inexperienced Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie who stepped in to make things worse. He told the media that the Premier was referring to a specific case being undertaken by Hannay Lawyers.
In his second year anniversary interview, Campbell Newman smugly told ABC News Queensland’s Karina Carvalho that he expected to use taxpayer funds to defend himself but no complaint had come from Hannay.
Days later the papers arrived.
ReachTEL poll shows Newman Government gone: The LNP has dismissed what it describes as a “push poll’ that would see the Newman Government lose 35 seats and office. A push poll is where a number of other questions are asked around the main question of who a respondent would vote for if an election were held on that particular day. The LNP have long ignored any polls commissioned by unions with ReachTEL.
After preferences, Labor would pick up thirty-seven seats giving them the magic forty-five to form government.
With a year to go before the government must call an election, the poll indicates a much closer contest than commentators previously thought. The polls shows the LNP’s strongholds of the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast remain steadfastly loyal to the government while the greater Brisbane area has turned against it.
Newman Government is undermining democracy: Member for Gladstone and independent Liz Cunningham gave an interview to ABC 730 Queensland’s Matt Wordsworth in which she backed Tony Fitzgerald QC’s concerns over changes to the CMC and also the changes this week to the budget estimates process.
Although siding with the conservative Rob Borbidge to form government in 1996, Cunningham is one of the most centred and issue-centric politicians in Australia. A former chair of the Parliamentary Crime and Misconduct Committee before it was sacked by Newman, Cunningham has been steadfastly critical of the government.
In parliament this week, she warned the government not to reduce the budget estimates days down from seven to two, as the LNP may find themselves in opposition in the future.
A Delorian and Back To The Future: As photographed by AAP journalist, @NathanPaull this week, a Delorian appeared at Queensland Parliament. It wasn’t long before the MP for Mt Isa and son of Bob Katter, Rob, tweeted the reasoning:
Inspecting the Delorian from BTTF to see if we could take QLD back when govt built great assets not sell them pic.twitter.com/Kqj4lxkBMD
— Robbie Katter MP (@RobKatter3) April 3, 2014