Queensland Premier Campbell Newman was named in New South Wales this week as part of the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) inquiry into former Labor MP Eddie Obeid and his links to Australian Water Holdings (AWH). Newman had received a cash donation to his mayoral election campaign of $5000 in return for meeting with executives of AWH. Read the full story here.
Reports of starvation in Queensland prisons
The consequences of the Newman Government’s ‘get tough on crime’ approach is more people in the same amount of prisons. The prison population is up by 23 per cent or 1268 prisoners since the 2012 election, a total of 6898 prisoners across the state at a cost of $70,000 each per year.
As release dates draw near, people find it difficult to find accommodation and end up staying in the system longer than necessary. Queensland is the only state that does not provide temporary accommodation after release.
Reports have also circulated this week that the high population is impacting resources in the system. Inmates at Brisbane Women’s Correctional Centre are reportedly losing weight as a result of there being less food per person.
@DebKilroy from Sisters Inside told The Courier Mail, “They (prisoners) are usually hungry all the time. Before they could fill up on bread, but now there’s not of enough of it.”
Cigarettes will be banned in Queensland prisons for correctional service officers and inmates from May 5, 2014. If adequate quit programs have not been implemented, tensions may rise further in the system.
Cartoonist’s son refuses to be drawn
In a nineteen month police operation on the Gold Coast, Operation Kilo Fraction, 152 individuals were arrested along with $26 million in drugs.
One arrest drew particular attention, Sincity night club owner Jamie Pickering, son of prominent political cartoonist, Larry Pickering. Jamie was charged with supplying cocaine to 16-year-old girls.
Nightclub owner and cartoonist’s son Jamie Pickering would not be drawn on drugs charges as he left watch house. pic.twitter.com/z3FlFd0SaM
— Tom Forbes (@tomforbes72) April 7, 2014
Larry was quick to put up a post at his website on Monday to defend Jamie stating that, “newspaper reports, as usual, are wrong”. He also too a swipe at Queensland police for using “Sunday to avoid a suspect getting bail”. The post was an overall plea for presumption of innocence.
Contrast this with Larry’s savage commentary on former Prime Minister Julia Gillard, depicting her on his cartoons page as a prostitute and criminal. Over a long career, Pickering’s cartoons have always featured nudity. However, he took it a step further with Gillard by giving her a familiar strap-on dildo, either being worn or never far from reach.
He also dedicated a page to her presumption of guilt for fraud over her past involvement with unions. To date, no charges have been laid against her.
Larry describes his site as a “mix of politics, truth and humour”. Upon viewing, it may be a little difficult to separate the three.
Queensland Police Minister Jack Dempsey links anti-association laws to Gold Coast raids
On the back of the Operation Kilo Fraction arrests, Queensland Police Minister Jack Dempsey claimed credit for the raids on the back of the implementation of the Newman Government’s Vicious Lawless Association Disestablishment (VLAD) laws.
However, the operation had been running for nineteen months, long before the laws were passed in parliament and was down to long-term, consistent police work.
New one metre motorist passing laws for cyclists
If visiting or residing in Queensland, please be aware of the new traffic laws which specify motorists must not pass within one metre of cyclists when passing.
Unnamed sources within the Queensland police force told The Courier Mail it would be impossible to enforce such laws labeling them “impractical” and “pointless bureaucracy”.
No doubt the new rules will ignite the age old debate between the four wheelers and the two.
Speeding fines up
For the forth time since the 2012 election, Queensland police have lowered the speed tolerance level, the number of kilometres over the speed limit they are prepared to allow motorists before issuing speeding tickets. Queensland’s tolerance is deliberately not disclosed but police say it is now in line with other states after being traditionally higher.
Motorists are currently generating an amazing $500,000 a day in speeding fines. Talk amongst #qldpol puts this down to Newman Government revenue raising whilst others have argued that if you stick to the posted speed limit you wont have a problem.
Doctors’ contracts dispute cools
On Monday, Rebecca Levingston @reblev from @612brisbane hosted a Q&A session with Qld Health Minister Lawrence Springborg and President of the Australian Medical Association (AMA) Dr Steven Hambelton to answer Doctor’s calls.
Tensions eased when Springborg agreed to remove references to “profitability” from the contracts, and doctors agreed to call off another rally scheduled for Wednesday while changes were made.
Some doctors in #KeepOurDoctors remain cautious and others believe much more needs to be done before the contracts can be signed.
In a bizarre twist, current president of the Queensland branch of the AMA, Dr Christian Rowan spoke out against his own organisation and accused it of “extreme left-wing union ideology”. Rowan had been sidelined by Hambelton after he blindly accepted the Newman Government’s contracts in the initial stages.
Rowan had previously been unsuccessful as a candidate for the National Party in a handful of Queensland state and federal seats over a number of years. His links to the LNP were considered by doctors to be influencing his decisions.
In his latest public airing, perhaps he’s looking for a quick release from the AMAQ.
On the straight and narrow
Favouritism claims were labeled at Brisbane City Council this week when a yellow no parking line was placed outside the home of Ben Myer’s parents home in Northside. Myers is Premier Campbell Newman’s chief of staff and also served under him during his mayoral days.
Residents had long been lobbying the council to implement parking restrictions in the area as students from the nearby Australian Catholic University were using it as a parking lot. Their requests had been repeatedly denied with the council stating no yellow lines would be implemented.
Upon hearing the Brisbane Deputy Mayor Adrian Schrinner on radio, Mrs Myers found his email online and wrote to him requesting something be done. Her disclosure of her family connections appears to have prompted action in the LNP majority council. Workers were dispatched to paint a short, yellow line in front of the Myers home.
Ben Myers stated, “I’ve had absolutely no involvement whatsoever in the issue.”
Seemingly oblivious to the street campaign around her, Mrs Myers told 7 News Brisbane that her neighbours should email council too.
“Just do what I did,” she told the media.
Newspoll shows two-party preferred for LNP has fallen to 52pc
Newspoll predicts a LNP victory in Queensland at the next election but the party’s support has fallen to 52pc on the two-party preferred basis, down 10 per cent since the 2012 election. The poll suggests the government would lose thirty seats, one of them being Premier Newman’s seat of Ashgrove.
With around eleven months to go, a likely victory for the LNP would see Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney emerge as leader in 2015.
In response to the poll, both the opposition and the government produced separate articles for The Brisbane Times.
Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk wrote, “More work to be done before we gain the trust of voters”.
From an overseas trade tour, somewhere between Korea and China, Campbell Newman bolted together a response, “We have relentless focus on election promises”.
Election promises are not really his thing. After pledging to the Queensland public service in 2012 that their jobs were safe, he embarked on a public service job cutting program. To date 15,414 people have lost their roles. In the December 2013 quarter, 761 public servants lost their jobs, a rate of 9 people per day.
Unemployment in Queensland remains higher than the national average, with the trend figure remaining unchanged from February at 6.1pc for March. In seasonally adjusted terms, the rate fell slightly from 6.2pc to 6.1pc. For graphs, history and analysis read more here.
Campbell Newman returns home as Tropical Cyclone Ita approaches
The Premier cut short his Korea and China trade mission with Prime Minister Tony Abbott and arrived home on Wednesday to attend to preparations ahead of Tropical Cyclone Ita. Politics was suspended for the latter half of the week as the category five system approached Cooktown in Far North Queensland.
— Campbell Newman (@theqldpremier) April 11, 2014
Ros Bates unintentionally misleads the house
In another blow to the integrity of Queensland’s parliamentary system, the Ethics Committee returned a “not enough evidence” finding on Former Minister for Science and the Arts, Ros Bates. The announcement was released to the media as Tropical Cyclone Ita bore down on the Far North Queensland coast and most eyes were focused elsewhere.
Vitriolic of the Bligh Government when in opposition, Bates had proven a failure as a minister when in government.
No sooner was the 2012 election over than Bates began organising a public service job for her son Ben Gomers, aged twenty-five. It was in direct contrast to the thousands of public servants who were losing their jobs at the time.
She’d written an email to the Transport Director-General, Michael Caltabiano, with her son’s resume attached. Caltabiano later employed Gomers at the high level of AO8 commanding a salary of around $105,000. His previous job had been as a salesperson for Toys-R-Us.
The three were finally exposed at budget estimates 2012 when Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk asked Caltabiano if he’d ever met Gomers prior to employing him. When he answered in the negative, it sparked a further investigation which revealed Bates, Gomers and Caltabiano were once partners in a lobbying firm called Entre Vous.
A number of other scandals engulfed Bates and she eventually stood down as minister and went to the backbench. Her Mudgeeraba seat on the Gold Coast is relatively safe for the LNP and she’ll no doubt be looking to rise again in the next administration. She has never admitted to any wrong doing.
Caltiabiano was stood down pending a Crime and Misconduct Commission (CMC) investigation and eventually his employment terminated. He was later cleared by the CMC of wrongdoing.
Gomers eventually resigned his position in May 2013.