The return of Kate Jones
After years of speculation, Labor’s Kate Jones has confirmed she will stand for pre-selection in the seat of Ashgrove. The former Bligh Government environment minister lost the seat to Campbell Newman at the 2012 election with a 5.5 percent margin. The campaign was fierce culminating in Newman’s refusal to shake Jones’s hand after the Labor party released a series of advertisements casting doubt over his family’s business interests. With cameras rolling, Jones approached with hand extended but Newman backed away, pointing to his wife Lisa who he wanted Jones to apologise to. The Crime and Misconduct Commission later cleared the Newman family of any wrongdoing.
A ReachTEL poll conducted for @7NewsBrisbane confirmed the post-election trend of Ashgrovians preferring Jones to Newman with 52.2 percent of first preferences versus 41.1 percent for Newman. However, the poll also revealed that Ashgrove voters still prefer Newman as Premier when given a choice of other Liberal National Party (LNP) candidates with 42.5pc of the vote. Health Minister Lawrence Springborg received 19.3pc, former LNP leader before Newman and current education minister John-Paul Langbroek on 13.3pc, Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney on 9.4pc, Treasurer Tim Nicholls 7.9pc and Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie on 7.6pc.
In a second poll released this week by Newspoll, the LNP has gained 5pc on June results and is ahead on a two-party preferred (TPP) basis of 54pc. The LNP primary vote is also up to 39pc from 32pc in June.
A third poll by Roy Morgan has been declared an election outcome ‘too close to call’ with LNP just ahead on 51pc TPP. Both Newman and Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk share an approval rating of 50pc as preferred Premier.
Pollsters have long predicted a correction back to Labor at the next election. While a LNP victory is likely, Ashgrove is on track to return to Labor. Given a likely late March date, the Newman Government has under 175 days left to run before the 2015 Queensland election. The campaign is likely to be dominated by one overriding question; who will be Premier?
Dr Bruce Flegg’s downfall
Adding further to the Premiership speculation, LNP MP for Moggill, Dr Bruce Flegg has been banned from standing for pre-selection in his own seat. The former Liberal Party leader met with LNP bosses on Friday to discuss his future. He left the meeting feeling confident only to be contacted shortly after by LNP President Bruce McIver. A thirty second phone call, no reason given and Flegg’s political life with the LNP was over.
He’d sprung to notoriety through revelations he’d been offered an overseas posting to give up his safe LNP electorate so new leader Campbell Newman could run at the 2012 election. He refused, but had recorded the conversation with LNP bosses. Campbell Newman was not present. The so called ‘Flegg tapes’ eventually made their way to The Courier Mail and on to the Crime and Misconduct Commission. By December 23, 2013, everyone had been cleared with no crime to investigate.
Flegg also ran into controversy as Minister for Housing. At the end of 2012 he resigned from the portfolio after it was revealed his son Jonathon had been in contact with him to set up several appointments for others. Jonathon was working for lobbyist firm Rowland and the contacts had not been declared on the Queensland Government’s lobbyist register. Sloppy administration was blamed and Flegg retreated to the backbench.
On Friday after receiving the bad news that his days as a MP were numbered, he raced across Brisbane to the ABC studios where he recorded an interview with @730Qld. Flegg told viewers that he was deeply distressed by the events of the day.
“Make no mistake, this was the day the LNP walked away from their principles,” he told viewers.
“The meeting today was to stop me from standing for preselection. It was to deprive the LNP members in Moggill of the free choice of who they wanted to support at the election. Now that principle of democracy is fundamental at least to the Liberal Party.”
Dr Flegg also cited a Premiership challenge, either before the election or after. By removing him from the factional dealings, the LNP was free to plant a new factional supporter into Moggill that would assist in ushering in a new leader.
“This is a factional battle about who leads the LNP after Campbell Newman is gone, whether or not that is before or after the election. Let me say I mean this sincerely, Campbell certainly has upset a lot of people and is a very unpopular Premier but Campbell and Lisa Newman are very, very decent people and I have lot of time for them both and Campbell inherited a near impossible situation in this State and a very difficult divided party and despite some obvious failings, he has done the best he can in this setting but it is clear now, and I had meetings with the party officials not long ago, I’ve done my own private polling, I’ve seen other private polling and there is public polling, the former National Party.”
Dr Flegg also confirmed Campbell Newman’s support for him in a text message which he read out from his phone on the program.
“You will be supported by me or my nominated rep, I assure you of that, Bruce, Cam,” the text message read.
“This is about the faceless people. Don’t forget this is just to stop me running for preselection; this is nothing about me running at an election for Moggill. And they are poking Campbell Newman in the eye.”
Dr Flegg also ruled out another attempt by the party to slot Newman into his seat of Moggill.
“No, it is a matter of public record that the LNP tried to force me out at the last election and, frankly, because I didn’t bow to their will, perhaps I was doomed from that time on. I don’t believe that Campbell that since that time Campbell has coveted the seat of Moggill and I think that Campbell is very genuine and fair dinkum that he intends and wants to run in the seat of Ashgrove and I think there are other forces at play and they are not forces coming from Campbell Newman.”
On Saturday, Newman told the media he felt sorry for Dr Flegg but commented that ‘this is a tough game’. He also ruled out jumping seats from Ashgrove to Moggill.
“I am the endorsed candidate. I am standing for Ashgrove, OK? So let’s put that to bed today,” he said.
The LNP is scheduled to announce their new candidate for Moggill shortly.
Senate Inquiry into the Newman Government.
After a second attempt in the federal senate, Palmer United Party, The Greens & Labor combined to vote for an inquiry into the Newman Government. Abbott Government Senators had killed the first attempt by placing an amendment in the bill to allow examination of the former Labor Bligh Queensland Government. Labor senators borked and withdrew support entirely.
This time the inquiry got up. The Greens were most interested in the process of environmental approvals for the coal seam gas (CSG) industry in Queensland. In 2013, whistleblower and former Queensland Government Senior Environmental Specialist, Simone Marsh appeared on the @4Corners program ‘Gas Leak!’. Given very little time, she detailed the pressure exerted on her by the public service hierarchy to rubber stamp the industry into existence. Her complaint to the Crime and Misconduct Commission was later dismissed, environmental law declared out of the watchdog’s jurisdiction.
For their support, The Greens entered into a deal with PUP to block proposed Abbott Government laws that would see environmental approvals handed to the states without federal intervention. Greens Senator Larissa Waters told viewers on @730Qld that she had been fighting against these changes since they were first proposed by the previous federal Gillard Government.
“Well look I’ve been fighting and the Greens have been fighting against this plan to put State Premiers in complete control of the environment. This whole one stop shop notion to ditch Federal environmental responsibilities, it’s a terrible idea and we’ve been campaigning against it ever since the last Government proposed it before the Abbott Government now took it on,” she said
Abbott Government senators and Newman Government members described the inquiry as a “bitch session” and a “politician stunt”. Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney, whose portfolio also includes development across the state, said he wasn’t angry but disappointed in the Labor Party for agreeing to the inquiry which was designed as a quest for revenge by Clive Palmer against the Newman Government.
“Clive Palmer couldn’t get the sweetheart deal from our government that he wanted and he’s now hellbent on revenge,” he said.
Seeney also commented that the deal done with the Greens would threaten jobs in the state, preventing reforms for a world class approvals process for resources projects.
“I’m not surprised by what Clive Palmer has done, but I am surprised at the Labor Party. I’m surprised and disappointed because quite apart from the political differences I might have the Labor Party on a whole range of issues I would have thought that we shared a common goal to create jobs for Queenslanders.”
PUP Senator Glenn Lazarus will chair the inquiry as it moves across urban and rural centres of Queensland. He explained that no one would be compelled to front the inquiry.
“There are a lot of people in Queensland, a lot of citizens of Queensland in various roles in various positions that do want to come forward and air their grievances but feel as though they’ll be threatened and harassed and this will give them an environment where they will feel safe,” he said.
“It has been hailed as my inquiry, I point out that I am not even a member of the Senate,” he said.
“What we saw happen in the Senate was the majority of Senators, of the Australian Senate, decided to vote for this inquiry.That’s the majority of Senators who were elected by the Australian people.”
As Professor of Constitutional Law, Anne Twomey pointed out in a opinion piece for The Drum, there has never been a senate inquiry in Australia which compelled members of another parliament to attend. A 1996 inquiry into the Victoria casino petered out when members of the Victorian Government opted not to attend and the senate not compelling them.
The Senate Inquiry into the Newman Government appears to be a whistleblower gathering exercise to cast doubt over the administration. Politically, Newman is best to ignore it and continue to label it a political stunt and concentrate on the next election. However, his inner brawler may make it an impossible fight to resist.
Pirate led recovery
Queensland Science and Arts Minister Ian Walker may have gone a bit overboard in his announcement that the fifth movie in the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ franchise will lift the Queensland economy. Although, there here was no doubting his enthusiasm for Queensland’s film industry and the Griffith University film school.
“This is all about revitalising Queensland economy and jobs for Queenslanders,” he told the media.
“Pirates of the Caribbean 5 will bring $100 million in investment to this state and that flows through to jobs, jobs to this industry but jobs also to the rest of Queensland in rural and regional Queensland because this film will be filming not only on the Gold Coast where it will be filmed at the studios there but also in North Queensland. There will be filming at Port Douglas and at other venues north of Mackay and that means for example, just to take one example, that we’re already expecting 20,000 bed nights to be need to accommodate the cast and crew when they go to Queensland and that’ll be in the tourism industries off season up there.”
“The federal government offered a $21.6 million bounty and the Queensland government slashed payroll tax to fend off a competing bid by Mexico and interest from other Australian states,” she wrote.
Not sure it’ll revitalise the Queensland economy and curtail the rising unemployment problem but if it’s your thing, get your pirate on.
Power disconnections, wages fall below inflation.
With wages in Queensland falling below inflation, a record 25,305 power disconnections occurred in 2013-14 because low-paid workers and pensioners could not pay their bills. Queensland power prices rose by an average of $260 a year in 2013-14 and will rise by $192 in 2014-15.
In August, the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission (QIRC) awarded 25,000 of Queensland’s lowest paid public servants and council workers a “safety net” increase of $32 a week. Public servants also received at 2.2pc increase in wages but inflation came in at 3.2pc.
“Last year the Commission noted that in recent years the Queensland Minimum Wage has not kept pace with real wage growth, measured by the average weekly ordinary time earnings (AWOTE),” the QIRC report read.
VLAD convictions zero.
Despite all of Campbell Newman’s rhetoric about the threat of bikies and crime in Queensland, the number of convictions from arrests remains at zero. In 2013, the Newman Government implemented a series of anti-association laws called the Vicious Lawless Association Disestablishment (VLAD) designed to crack down on a prescribed list of criminal gangs.
Forty four defendant’s cases remain in progress. The laws are currently subject to a High Court challenge which has been reserved in decision. A announcement on its findings is expected in coming weeks.
Tweets of the week – Journo’s stakeout
Along with Dr Bruce Flegg being summoned to LNP HQ on Friday, two other MPs, Ros Bates and Peter Dowling appeared as well. This evolved into rather a long day for journalists as they staked out the premises.
@9NewsBrisbane’s Katherine Feeney takes a shot across the bonnet of Ros Bates’ car with media in background.
— Katherine Feeney (@katherinefeeney) October 3, 2014
The Courier Mail’s Sarah Vogler takes a shot of Ros Bates leaving and Katherine Feeney in the background.
— Sarah Vogler (@SarahLVogler) October 3, 2014
A lot of street tweeting and retweeting going on.
— Amy Remeikis (@AmyRemeikis) October 3, 2014