Deterrent and punishment: The 3.5 per cent fine creep
Everything from driving the car over the limit to walking the dog without a leash is being policed and heavily fined now in Queensland. From July 1, 2014, the Newman Government’s 3.5 per cent blanket increase to penalties will kick in.
The Queensland Treasurer also has the power to increase the fines by more than 3.5 per cent, leading to speculation that the sole purpose is revenue raising.
Coincidentally, walking the dog without a leash or speeding 13-20km/h will rise from $220 to $227.70.
Penalty unit values, the mechanism used to value the cost of fines, is up from $100 to $110. Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie estimated this would generate an extra $88.8 million in fines.
Coupled with the fine increase, is A-G Bleijie’s offender levy. Should you challenge a fine, you’ll also be charged for court time. It may range from $100 to $300 depending on Magistrate’s or Supreme Court processing.
Revenue raised was intended to flow to victims of crime. However, when questioned recently by ABC News Qld’s Chris O’Brien, Bleijie was unable to confirm how much had been put back into victim’s support groups.
Qld votes: campaigning and speculation
With the wind in his sails post Western Australian Senate re-election, Clive Palmer has shifted up a gear ahead of the Queensland election 2015.
Palmer United Party (PUP) has pledged to resume state assets such as schools sold by the Newman Government. They are currently working through 60 expressions of interest for candidates. PUP currently has two MPs in the Qld Parliament with leader Alex Douglas and Carl Judge, both of whom defected from the LNP at the end of 2012. Palmer picked up the pair the following year when he founded the party.
If Douglas were to become Queensland Premier, it would give Palmer a much greater advantage for his business interests, particularly in the valuable Galilee Basin.
Palmer also ruled out for a second time a merger with Katter’s Australian Party (KAP). KAP has three MPs in state parliament led by Ray Hopper, another LNP defector from 2012.
As Queensland has flexible three year terms, Brisbane Times columnist, Madonna King suggests a snap July 2014 election due to Campbell Newman’s waning popularity. An April Newspoll showed the Newman Government dropping 10 per cent since it was elected.
Coupled with the recent naming of Newman and Grayson in ICAC, King also suggests the state government will loose the High Court challenge to its anti-association laws, the Vicious Lawless Association Disestablishment Bill (VLAD), creating competence and judgement issues.
It’s a radical plan. Perhaps too radical for the Queensland conservatives to run a winter campaign with its short daylight hours.
Also in election news this week was the fallout from the Redcliffe by-election. Verbal abuse had been hurled at Campbell Newman as he visited one of the polling stations on February 22, 2014.
After a number of similar complaints by the public to the Queensland Electoral Commission (QEC), Commissioner Walter van der Merwe returned a number of recommendations. Among the measures, a new offence for obstructing people from entering a polling station and for the electoral commission to vet election material before distribution on the day.
Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie added another recommendation of his own by restricting the distribution of how-to-vote card vendors to designated areas away from polling entrances.
However, as Brisbane Times political reporter Amy Remeikis pointed out, Bleijie may have borrowed the idea from Labor in an earlier 2013 submission to parliament.
Asset sales: QIC sells Queensland Motorways for $7 billion
This brings into question whether the Newman Government has broken its election promise not to sell assets without a mandate. One degree of separation could be argued against this as the asset was owned by QIC, which itself is owned by the Queensland Government.
Transurban’s Chief Executive Officer, Scott Charlton, told The Courier Mail the group was considering offering High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes. Essentially, Qld motorists would pay a higher toll for the privilege of traveling in fast lanes (welcome to privatisation US-style).
“Measured against the income it is currently throwing off, the $7.06 billion price the Transurban-led consortium has paid QIC for Queensland Motorways and its network is staggering, 27.5 times earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA),” Fairfax’s Malcolm Maiden wrote in a piece which takes a close look at the deal.
Ethics Chair David Gibson’s troubled past and present
In 2012, Campbell Newman chose MP for Gympie, David Gibson, as his Police Minister. However, two weeks into the job he resigned.
Gibson had been caught speeding and driving without a licence on February 16, 2012. A non-payment of a fine for a prior speeding infringement in May 2011 had led to his licence being suspended. Over the following four months, five letters were sent to his home reminding him to pay. Read more…
Campbell Newman’s Director-General Jon Grayson drawn further into ICAC
Fifteen days after Campbell Newman was first named in ICAC, he had still not faced the Qld media to answer any direct questions. Every answer to inquiries had come via written statements or spokespeople. He’d offered up nothing on who had been responsible for allowing the $5,000 to be paid into his re-election fund or offered any further explanation.
To be fair, his alibis were pretty solid; a Korea/China trade mission, Cyclone Ita, a Royal visit to Brisbane and Easter. Read more…
How AWH targeted Qld water customers and Ipswich ratepayers
Ipswich Mayor, Paul Pisasale answered questions from The Courier Mail today over his contact with AWH boss Nick Di Girolamo and the lobbying for business in the Ripley Valley.
“Just absolutely crazy,” Pisasale said of suggestions Di Girolamo used a 2011 Ipswich flood fundraiser to garner support for AWH’s involvement in the development.
Di Girolamo was representing the Italian Chamber of Commerce at the fundraiser, not AWH.
“These people give to churches but they don’t expect divine intervention,” Pisasale said. Read more…
How Wayne Myers, associate of Campbell Newman’s D-G Jon Grayson, was employed at AWQ
Campbell Newman’s D-G Jon Grayson and Wayne Myers had been in business together at GWWS and the now defunct GWM. Myers was a lobbyist and also on the board of Queensland Government owned Ergon Energy Corporation and Chairman of the Queensland Government Authority, Stadiums Queensland.
In 2009, the Bligh Government had introduced legislation making it illegal to be a lobbyist and on the board of government owned entities. Read more…
Logan Mayoral candidate baffled by AWH $5,000 donation
A Logan mayoral hopeful became the third council to be named in ICAC documents this week. Former Labor Government Minister, Tom Barton, said he was baffled by a 2008 $5000 payment into his election fund from AWH. He was the only Logan councilor to have a payment made to him and was ultimately unsuccessful in his mayoral bid.
Documents showed that Eddie Obeid Jr visited Logan council in January 2009. AWH had expressed interest in development of Flagstone in Logan. However, the council refused to elaborate on the details of the meeting to the media.
Newman’s VLAD laws impact charity bike ride
The Queensland RSPCA reported that the Newman Government’s anti-association laws (VLAD) have halved the numbers registered for its annual Ruff Riders fundraising ride. The funds are used to assist veterinary services.
RSPCA’s Michael Beattie told the Brisbane Times, “Last year was a huge success, everyone enjoyed it. But the feedback that we are getting [this year] through phone calls and emails is, quite simply, people are frightened to come on the ride because they are worried they are going to be harassed, and that is unfortunately due to the new anti-bike legislation.”
It is another incident in a long line of trouble for the government surrounding the VLAD laws.