Morgan poll: 50.5pc to LNP
Roy Morgan Research has found the next Queensland state election is too close to call. Premier Campbell Newman’s Liberal National Party is marginally ahead on a two-party preferred basis with 50.5 percent, up 1 percent from the previous poll. Labor fell a percentage point to 49.5pc.
Hiding fundraisers not in the public interest
Queensland Energy Mark McArdle has been meeting with executives from energy supplier ERM Power since 2012, documents released to Brisbane Times. However, he made no entry in his ministerial diary for a 2013 event held in the company’s boardroom and he doesn’t have to. Changes to ministerial diaries made by the Newman Government shortly after coming to power exclude meetings such as fundraisers.
Before changes were made to donor disclosure laws by the Newman Government, it was reported that ERM Power had donated $42,000 to the state LNP in the form of sponsorship payments, donations and fundraisers. The company could be set to benefit from the Newman Government’s plans to sell or lease the state’s power assets.
McArdle refused to front the Queensland media, leaving comment to his fellow ministers as they entered the executive building. The theme of their responses was, “we’re better than Labor”, “all our diaries are now online” and the stock standard, “most open & transparent government in Queensland history”.
Similarly, Queensland Treasurer Tim Nicholls also had a publicly undisclosed meeting with Singapore Power for which lobbyist and former Federal Government Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer was representing.another company that could benefit from the sale or leasing of power assets. A right-to-information request on Nicholl’s diary was issued with a redaction against the August 19, 2013 date as being “information not relating to the affairs of the Agency”.
Nicholls also shunned media questions on the fundraisers he’d attended.
“I think the most important thing I can say to you is this – in terms of fundraising, those matters are handled by the party, as is appropriate,” he said.
— Geoff Breusch (@gbreusch) November 27, 2014
This year, the LNP has raked in $18.6 million in donations. With Newman Government changes to donation laws, only amounts above $12,800 have to be declared. Labor has continued the previous practise of declaring donations above $1,000 and has taken in $8.4 million this year. The biggest receiver of donations is the Palmer United Party which received $29 million, mostly from companies that founder Clive Palmer owns.
Secrecy surrounding donations in Queensland is further compounded by the LNP’s mysterious fundraising club, QForum. Members of this club speak to “business leaders and policy makers together to develop the ideas that are making Queensland an even greater state with even greater opportunity”, advertising says. The club’s membership is exclusively limited to policy makers.
It’s not illegal to omit fundraisers from ministerial diaries. However, pending future decisions that impact the state, it is in the public interest for Queenslanders to know who their elected government officials are meeting with and what money has changed hands between the company and the political party.
New record in political advertising.
The Newman Government has set a new record in political advertising. For the financial year 2013-14 it racked up $36,831,579.00. In contrast the Bligh Government spent $30,287,825.00 in its’ last full financial year of 2011-12.
The top departmental spender under Newman was $13,470,337.00 for Queensland Treasury and Trade, a third of the total government advertising budget. Health came in second at $9,088,918.00, with $8.7 million dedicated to “health campaigns” with only $353,975.00 on general spending.
The Queensland Government’s code of conduct says that all political advertising should cease six months before an election by the government of the day. In 2012, Newman complained about the Bligh Government’s use of advertising in the lead up to the election. In turn, Opposition Leader Anastacia Palaszczuk has lodged a formal complaint with the Queensland Auditor-General.
Valedictory speeches as storm lashes final sitting day
In a sign that the 54th Queensland Parliament will not be back for 2015, MPs used the final sitting day for the year to thank parliamentary staff and for retiring members to give valedictory speeches.
Campbell Newman championed the cause for a second term in office and used the morning session to declared that “the job is not done”.
“Some of the actions we have taken have been difficult and I acknowledge some have not been easy for many people in our community. But all have been necessary; necessary to deal with the challenges we face as we rebuild Queensland, as we position our state so we can face the years ahead with confidence, with strength and the ability to seize the opportunity of a better future for all Queenslanders,” he said.
Outgoing LNP MP for Redlands, “Plonker” Peter Dowling too aim at the media for exposing his nefarious deeds with a glass of wine, his mistress and his penis.
“As politicians, we are held to account, whether or not any particular action or event is relevant to our roles as representatives or of the community or not. But like politicians, journalists too hold positions of great trust in the community and should uphold the highest possible standards of commitment to truth, objectivity and relevance,” he said, adding that journalists did not “face their constituency every three years,” he told the House.
Gregory LNP MP Vaughan Johnson cited, goats, back seat peeing and flying.
Vaughan Johnson’s valedictory speech to Parliament is kinda amazing. It involves goats, back seat peeing and flying pic.twitter.com/LhKSe3AsLN
— Amy Remeikis (@AmyRemeikis) November 27, 2014
Retiring LNP MP for Warrego Howard Hobbs made reference to the Joh years.
Given Howard Hobbs’ final speech to parliament, it’s clear he longs for an era in Qld most wish to forget.
— Amy Remeikis (@AmyRemeikis) November 27, 2014
Deciding not to re-contest the next election after a fellow LNP member released sensitive information about his past, LNP MP for Gympie David Gibson made an emotional speech.
“Whilst I struggle to understand why some individuals on my own side would attack me in such a way, I can accept that as part of public life. However, what I cannot forgive is what they did to my family and, in particular, what they did to my children,” he said.
Staying on, LNP MP for Mermaid Beach and Leader of Government Business Ray Stevens gave a gushing past tense thank-you to Campbell Newman for his ‘enormous achievements’ and christened him ‘Can-DID Campbell’.
“And to me and what should be important to all Queenslanders, he is no longer just the Can-Do Campbell Newman, which eschews sentiment of promise and expectations – over the last almost three years, he has shown Queenslanders and particularly my Gold Coasters, he is now the Can-DID Campbell Newman of Queensland politics,” he told the House.
However, in a sign that the parliamentary gods were displeased with the 54th parliament, a violent hail storm assaulted Brisbane. State political reporter, Amy Remeikis filmed some of the action from the House, “Storm lashes House in final hours of 54th Qld Parliament”.
New Qld Integrity Commissioner’s warning
Queensland’s new Integrity Commissioner Richard Bingham has called for more transparency on lobbyists. However, the Newman Government has refused to change its’ established practise of in-house lobbyists not having to declare their contact with ministers. Newman told Bingham in a correspondence that some lobbyists, such as the Property and the Queensland Resources Councils, will continue to be left off the official lobbyist register to allow government to function “efficiently and effectively”.
The current Queensland lobbyist register can be viewed here, “Who is on the register?”.
Bulldoze first, ask permission later
Ilmenite miners Goondicum Resources wasted no time in hacking through the bush to create a new road from their Monto site to Gladstone Port. Local farmers Rob and Nadia Campbell were astonished to find dead animals and hundreds of felled trees on their property. They raised a complaint with the Queensland Department of the Environment which inspected the damage and found a permit breach by the company. The department referred the matter to the Department of Natural Resources and Mines.
The Campbells have no power to refuse the mine from operating on their property.
“I was born here. My family’s been here since the 1800s,” said Rob Campbell. “Then the mine came in, which is sad because this is really productive country.”
Company managing director Mark McCauley put up his hand to the wrongdoing.
“What we did wrong was we didn’t have the appropriate approval for the 900-metre realignment,” Mr McCauley said. “We should’ve waited for the approval, or put the road on the existing road reserve, or we should have obtained vegetation clearances.”
However, an article from last year showed the company had announced plans to key road upgrade as early as August 2013, “Goondicum mine will reopen in March”.
Water management changes threaten Great Barrier Reef
The Newman Government is charging ahead with plans to modify the water management for mining in Queensland which it has labelled, “responsible and productive use of water”. It means coal miners will be able to take unlimited amounts of water from underground for use in their ventures. The change will match water management laws governing the gas industry.
With the legislation before a parliamentary committee, former Queensland water official Tom Crothers explained to ABC’s Mark Willacy that the changes were aimed specifically at the four mines already approved in the Gaililee Basin for Adani, GVK Hancock and Waratah Coal.
“These are all bits of legislation aiding the big end of town, the mining industry,” he said. “The four mines that have been approved up there already will take up to 770 gigalitres of water, that’s over three and a half Sydney Harbours during their life.”
Labor’s spokeswoman, Jackie Trad warned of the danger to the Reef.
“What this bill will do, it will allow for an over allocation water out of The Great Barrier Reef catchment systems,” she said.
Farmers are also unhappy with the proposal as it would deplete the Great Artesian Basin. Hydrologist and grazier Max Winders told the ABC of his concerns.
“You’ve left a landscape where all that underground water is gone forever,” he said.
Even the coal industry also lodged its concerns with the parliamentary committee reviewing the laws. In an all too familiar scenario, it explained that the Newman Government had disregarded most of the community. It wrote, “complex and ambitious reforms were being rushed” and that there had been a “lack of consultation with all water users”.
With the Queensland parliament risen for the year, the laws would most likely pass if the government was given a majority for a second term.
Deleting the surgery waiting list
Premier Campbell Newman and Queensland Health Minister Lawrence Springborg have vowed to set the surgery waiting list to zero through the launch of a new campaign called “The Patient Guarantee”. Commercial advertising in print, TV and radio immediately followed the statement on Sunday night.
Interestingly, the government’s usual launch vehicle for campaigns, The Courier-Mail went to print noting the number of patients waiting to go on the official waiting list had jumped. It claimed;
“However, the guarantee comes as the number of patients seeking appointments with specialists – the “waiting list to get on the waiting list” – jumped by 27 percent to 411,283 at the end of 2013-14.”
— David Marler (@Qldaah) November 23, 2014
In short, the program will fix the hospital waiting list problem by getting rid of the actual list. It also seeks to relocate patients from high volume surgical hospitals to low which the opposition labelled a ‘merry-go-round’.
“What he [Springborg] has announced is the situation where people who need urgent category 1 surgery may have to get on a plane, maybe to Cairns, maybe to Townsville, maybe to Mackay, maybe to Rockhampton or maybe even here to Brisbane, ” Shadow Minister for Health, Jo-Ann Miller said.
Tweet of the week – Brownie led recovery
On the back of the G20, it seems Brisbane is to benefit from the promotion of local made brownies served during the event.
— Shane Doherty (@ShaneDoherty9) November 25, 2014