Fitzgerald hands down verdict on Newman Government
Tony Fitzgerald has given his strongest verdict to date on the Newman Government’s performance. In a media statement, he outlined the government’s disrespect for the separation of powers.
“The government has already flaunted its disdain for democracy and good governance by attacks on the judiciary and judicial independence, emasculation of the State’s anti-corruption commission, interference with the electoral system,” he wrote.
With around eight months to go before a general Queensland election, he also advised Queenslanders to think carefully about their vote.
“Queensland’s future is a matter for its voters. At the next state election they will simply need to decide which party will do the least long-term damage.”
He also accused News Corporation of showing bias toward the Liberal National Party (LNP).
The statement culminated in the twenty-fifth anniversary of the handing down of his most famous report, “The Fitzgerald Inquiry”.
In 1987, former Courier Mail journalist Phil Dickie and ABC 4Corners journalist Chris Masters had exposed the activities which the Queensland government was turning a blind eye to. Revealed were illegal prostitution, illegal gambling and police corruption.
The day following Masters’ program, “The Moonlight State” was aired, and with Premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen out of the state, his deputy Bill Gunn ordered a commission of inquiry.
The Fitzgerald Inquiry lasted for two years and the report was presented to new Premier Mike Ahern who succeeded fellow National Party leader, Premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen.
Thursday 3rd July, 2014, marked twenty-five years since democracy and accountability changed in Queensland.
However, both the Newman Government and Courier Mail, which helped to expose corruption, choose to ignore the anniversary.
Newspoll results show swing away from government by 14 percent
Labor’s chances at the next state election have risen from improbable to possible. A two-party preferred figure of 51pc in the latest Newspoll shows Labor in front, in any state poll, for the first time since the March 2012 election when they were reduced to seven seats.
“It is for our government, sobering,” told the media this week.
“It is arguable that our change agenda was too much, too quick,” he added on the raft of changes and cuts to services and jobs made across the state.
On the criticisms leveled at the government by Tony Fizgerald QC, he proposed a private meeting.
“To talk about the concerns he might have but also to have an opportunity to explain to him what I believe our government has done,” Seeney explained.
As humbling as Seeney’s reaction to the polling and Fitzgerald appeared, in contrast hard-liner Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie wasn’t backing down or accepting any responsibility for any role he may have played in the polling decline.
“So these decisions we’ve made, they were required, they were necessary, because we inherited a hell of a mess. I’ll say it again, we inherited one hell of a mess and it is going to take a hell of a long time to fix it, the Labor party mess, but we will fix it,” he told the media.
However, in the primaries, the LNP has fallen 8pc to 32pc, Labor is down 2pc to 34pc and “others” are up 9pc to 24pc. Voters were surveyed on the basis of voting LNP, Labor or someone else. In Queensland, the “others” is comprised of Palmer’s United Party (PUP) which has two existing members of parliament, Katter’s Australia Party (KAP) with three MPs and two independent MPs.
The LNP’s plan to sail into power on the platforms of asset sales and “Labor’s mess of debt and deficit” is clearly not impressing voters against the backdrop of the governments cuts to services and jobs.
Similarly, with Campbell Newman’s satisfaction level falling 3pc to 33pc and dissatisfaction rising 3pc to 57pc, Labor cannot expect to remain a small target and hope Newman’s unpopularity will hand them the keys to parliament.
The lesson for both major parties is they have a lot of work to do in the next eight months to convince voters of their credibility to lead the state in the next term of government or face a slide of votes to the minor parties and independents.
Such a scenario could result in neither party having enough seats to form government, the magic number being forty-five, and a coalition needing to be formed with the “others”.
Courier Mail favours LNP to win in 2015 but pledges no favouratism
Editor of The Courier Mail, Christopher Dore questioned Tony Fitzgerald’s memory in response to criticism that, “News Corporation publications, which dominate the local print media, consistently publish biased reports which favour the government”.
Tony Fitzgerald clearly doesn’t remember this. Or that The Courier-Mail has run well every word he has uttered since. pic.twitter.com/swnZUbqbH0
— Christopher Dore (@wrongdorey) June 29, 2014
Tony Fitzgerald clearly doesn’t remember this either pic.twitter.com/rML8VmKmWf
— Christopher Dore (@wrongdorey) June 29, 2014
However, in an editorial, for which he takes “responsibility for election comment”, Dore’s Twitter message against Fitzgerald’s view was toned down.
The editorial began by rejecting that the latest Newspoll results favouring Labor would translate into a 2015 election win.
Instead, it argued that the size of Newman’s back bench was “always going to be hard to handle, and it has been”.
It also argued that voters we parking their vote with the minor parties such as PUP.
“Now, while Mr Newman and his party remain firm favourites to prevail, people are hedging bets.”
In response to Newman’s ailing popularity it suggested an unseen heroic figure.
“Mr Newman is a tough, no-nonsense leader. He does not shy away from a fight. A more passionate and committed state leader in Australia today would be hard to find. Sometimes that raw passion and honesty can get the Premier into scrapes and fights he might be best avoiding.”
As for Labor, it accused the party of having no policies, a line popularly repeated by the Newman Government and media team.
“Any benefit Labor has received lately has been accidental and by default. The party has done nothing to make up for the years of mismanagement and neglect, and the small band of MPs has failed to present any alternative vision or policies for the state.”
Without directly mentioning Fitzgerald, the editorial then went on to pledge, “WITHOUT FEAR OR FAVOUR, ALWAYS”.
It finishes with, “The Courier-Mail, more than any other media outlet in Queensland, has always and will continue to always hold politicians from all parties accountable, will continue to expose corruption, at every level of public life, and will continue to demand the most out of elected and non-elected public officials. For the love of Queensland, always.”
It boasts a daily readership of, “more than 706,000 people reading our newspaper and another 300,000 who read our content online”.
Like the government, ultimately judgement will be passed by it’s readership in continuing to purchase the paper in print or online.
You can read the full editorial for yourself here, “Editorial: Latest poll figures fail to tell the real story behind Newman Government’s achievements”.
Labor to restore CCC & repeal donation laws changes
Labor Opposition leader, Annastacia Palaszczuk, used the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Fitzgerald Inquiry to pledge a repeal of the Newman Government’s changes to the Crime and Misconduct Commission (CMC) which was renamed this week to the Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC), complete with new logo.
Among other changes is the removal of bipartisanship support from the parliament in the appointment of CCC chiefs and of the body to investigate corruption allegations around politicians and public servants, the core reason it was established post-Fitzgerald Inquiry.
Much to the dismay of Fitzgerald, former CMC commissioners and many in the legal fraternity, that task now passes to the the office of the Integrity Commissioner.
However, it’s historical function was only to give advice on matters of ethics and integrity.
From the website, “The Queensland Integrity Commissioner is responsible for providing advice on integrity and ethics issues and for maintaining the lobbyists register.
Under the Integrity Act 2009, the Integrity Commissioner can give written advice to Ministers, MPs, senior public servants and others about ethics or integrity issues, including conflicts of interest.”
Among other repeals, Palaszczuk pledged to restore accountability to political donations which was raised by the Newman Government from $1000 to $12,400 before a declaration is required to be lodged.
She informed the media that Labor will campaign as though the threshold of $1000 is still in place and will lodge declarations on everything donated over that amount. She challenged the LNP to do the same, stating that the repeal would be retrospective and would net anyone not in adherence.
In response Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney laughed off the policy announcement. The Newman Government argued that donations laws were changed to match Federal Government system and that the CCC would be more focused on organised criminals.
“I’m relieved that the Labor Party have taken a position on something and it’s ironic that it’s about reversing things that we’ve done,” he told ABC News Queensland.
As a reassurance on the CCC changes, Seeney was confident of a private meeting with Tony Fitzgerald to explain the government’s reasoning.
“It’s not going to be a circus, it’s not a stunt. This is something that’s personal to me and it will be a personal meeting,” he said.
— Sarah Vogler (@SarahLVogler) July 2, 2014
Could former Stafford LNP MP Dr Chris Davis defect to Labor?
It may have been just another speculation piece in the Courier Mail but Campbell Newman seemed to be treating it as true. Asked what he thought of the former LNP MP for Stafford Dr Chris Davis joining Labor he was clearly annoyed.
“This is a reflection on Dr Davis who didn’t stay the course. He could have been part of a government on an ongoing basis. I say that the people of Stafford have been put through a lot of inconvenience and expense because he wouldn’t stay the course,” he told ABC News Qld.
Dr Davis wasn’t commenting instead issuing a statement that he would confirm his position after the Stafford by-election on July 19, 2014.
You can read more about the Stafford by-election at our blog, “@NoFibs election blog for #StaffordVotes”.
Newman Government announces delivery of police helicopter
Is that an election promise in the sky? The media turned out this week to witness Polair 2, the second police helicopter, to take to the skies above Brisbane. Sister chopper Polair 1 is located on the Gold Coast but the latest addition has been long talked about by the Newman Government.
Not new, the chopper is a former German police helicopter refitted for the Queensland police service. With such equipment as a flir lens, it can identify tattoos on suspects from 2.5kms away.
With New South Wales having five helicopters in its fleet, Queensland Police Commissioner Ian Stewart said he was hopeful of being able to acquire a few more from the Queensland Government in the future.
As Queensland police have a non-pursuit vehicle policy on the ground, a fleet of helicopters would be beneficial in tracking offenders from the air.
— Amber Austin-Wright (@AmberAW) June 30, 2014
Nation rolls out NDIS but not for Newman’s forgotten Queenslanders
In 2012, Campbell Newman likened the Queensland economy to Spain in his explanation as to why Queensland could not join the National Disability Insurance Scheme. The project aimed to even out the imbalance faced by people with disabilities across the states and territories and implement a national consolidated approach.
After a long campaign by NDIS supporters, Newman finally relented on a date of 2014. Sadly this was pushed further out until 2018/19.
All the while, Queenslanders with disabilities watched as MPs were awarded several pay rises and the government plunged $110 million into the racing industry.
However, pre-election Newman had pledged to “work with other jurisdictions and key stakeholders to ensure that this scheme is funded and has a particular focus on regional and rural Queenslanders with a disability”.
This week, the federal government began to collect additional funds for the scheme through a rise in the Medicare levy. With every state and territory committing to active work on the plan, Queensland remains alone with no immediate benefit. Queensland taxpayers will continue to contribute to the scheme through the coming years but funds will be actioned beyond its borders.
Did Cairns LNP MP Gav King park in a disabled spot or a loading zone?
When #qldpol commentator, Matt Burke posted a photo of his local Cairns LNP MP Gavin King parking in what looked to be a disabled spot, he had no idea it would lead to a dispute on the front page of the The Cairns Post.
Social media took off sharing the photo and commenting on whether the spot was a loading zone or a disabled spot. The famous NoPermitNoPark lead the charge.
However, the local council ruled that the space was in the process of being repainted as a full disability spot and declared it a loading zone for which King was well within his rights to park in for up to twenty minutes.
— Matt Burke (@matttburke) June 30, 2014
Labor challenger for the seat of Cairns, Cr Rob Pyne had remarked on social media that it “showed the arrogant attitude of Newman Government representatives that they think they can do whatever they like, free from criticism or censure”.
An enraged King threatened to sue.
“For too long, people have been allowed to get away with saying whatever they want on social media because they think there are no consequences,” he explained to The Cairns Post.
By Thursday it was on the front page of the local newspaper as the feud began to simmer down.
The event did get the council motivated on posting appropriate signage to make the spot clearly defined as disability one requiring a permit.
No stranger to controversy, King a columnist at The Cairns Post before entering politics, came under fire for victim blaming women for wearing clothes that attracted rape.
Shortly before the 2012 election, as LNP candidate for Cairns, he labeled Chinese people as “freaks and weirdos”.
Newman Government ignores Quandamooka Yoolooburrabee people’s 3rd anniversary of native title.
The dispute between the Quandamooka Yoolooburrabee Aboriginal Corporation (QYAC) and the Newman Government appears to be widening with no representative from the government at the third anniversary celebration of being granted native title.
Officials present were Northern Territory Senator and Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Nigel Scullion, Human Rights Commissioner Mick Gooda, QYAC chief executive Cameron Costello and Redland City mayor Karen Williams.
Most recently a complaint by QYAC over the extension of sand mining on the island granted to Sibelco by the Newman Government was lodged in the federal court in Brisbane.
Sibelco had backed Campbell Newman’s 2012 election campaign in the Brisbane seat of Ashgrove. In return, it was alleged the government had backed out of a deal made with the previous Bligh Government to end mining on the island by 2019.
The Festival of Clive
Clive Palmer opened up his Coolum Resort to his constituents in Fairfax on Sunday. With reduced admission fees, he plans to make it an annual event.
With support rising in Queensland for his party, it seems the Murdoch press may be getting a little paranoid about the potential slide of seats from the LNP to PUP.
A front page on the Courier Mail followed by a double page spread inside painted Palmer as “kooky” for claiming ASIO is trying to bug his office.
The ongoing war between the paper, Palmer, Campbell Newman and Jeff Seeney is likely to escalate in the remaining months before Queensland goes to the polls.