Newman Government obstinacy – Fire ants march on Gold Coast
Fire ants. A tiny creature with a detrimental impact to Queensland’s South-East and potentially Northern New South Wales. Last week the Queensland Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) confirmed nests had been found on the Gold Coast near Yatala. Read more at our @NoFibs report here.
Spinning assets into votes – Newman’s leasing plan
The asset leasing plan has been approved by the Newman Government party room this week. Members were “recalled” to Brisbane amid media fanfare for the “special Monday meeting”. The deal would see the Newman Government re-elected and in exchange voters will have the privilege of having their assets leased to private companies. Treasurer Tim Nicholls has crunched the numbers and come up with a figure of $37 billion of which he’ll allocate $25 billion to state debt, $86 billion to new infrastructure programs and $3.4 billion to a new mysterious cost of living fund.
However, the next day Nicholls admitted it would take five years to lease enough assets to get the required cash flow.
“We anticipate that the program of asset leases will take five years to complete,” he told the media.
On Sunday, Premier Campbell Newman and Tim Nicholls announced what the cost of living fund would actually do. By diverting $3.4 billion of the proceeds into electricity power bill rebates, the Newman Government hopes to offset the costs associated with the solar feed-in tariff. The Liberal National Party has long blamed the solar feed in tariff for driving up power bills. It was setup by the previous Labor Government which allowed some households to collect 44 cent per kilowatt hour from power companies for energy they put back into the grid. Nicholls had even gone so far as to label these people as “solar powered, champagne sipping, latte drinkers” in parliament.
Campbell Newman also promised to lower power bills ahead of the 2012 election and imposed a year long pricing freeze after taking government. The first price increase after the freeze was lifted in 2013 resulted in a price bulge of 22.6 percent or an average of $268 as power companies played price catch-up.
No doubt there will be a lot of political blame directed at the Labor party in the lead up to the 2015 Queensland election as the LNP attempts to sway voters with $3.4 billion cash incentive.
Turmoil on the Reef
ABC’s Mark Willacy has spoken to three former directors of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority to reveal how chaotic management of the natural wonder has become. A contentious issue amongst the authority was the decision to dump millions of cubic metres of dredge spoil at sea from the Abbot Point project, a decision which has recently been reversed by the Newman Government in favour of land placement.
With the federal Abbott Government cutting their budget by $3 million, the authority now intends to cut up to 17 staff and five senior directors. Departure of three of these directors and twelve other staff so far represents a loss of 200 hundred years of combined experience and expertise.
Former director Jon Day revealed that the original Abbot Point decision was a factor in his departure.
“There was a huge reduction in morale in the agency as a result of that decision but (also in) other decisions. I stress this isn’t the only decision that’s upset some of the staff,” he told viewers.
Dr Paul Marshall explained how the enthusiastic nature of staff was eroded.
“There used to be an exciting place to work, there was always a buzz around the floors and now people are just too busy to even look up and, you know, it’s actually getting quite grim,” he explained.
Dr Adam Smith explained that general confrontation was part of his decision to exit.
“I had some robust discussion with some of my leaders and that was part of the factor in leaving,” he said.
Current GBRMPA Chairman Russell Reichelt denied there were any staffing morale problems in the authority.
“I do come with a lot of support from staff and I feel confident that I can lead the agency in the right direction,” he confirmed.
The farcical investigation into Dr Bruce Flegg
It began as a Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC formerly CMC) investigation under the previous Labor government when whispers that LNP MP for Moggill, Dr Bruce Flegg had been given inducements to vacate the seat in favour of new LNP leader Campbell Newman. Post 2012 election, the scandal was given new life when recordings of conversations Flegg had with party bosses were given to The Courier Mail and subsequently to the CCC.
Describing it as a “nightmare”, this week Dr Flegg detailed the farce that was the raid on his home, at one point agents left without taking the computer they had confiscated.
“An hour later I got a phone call and (sic) said the computer we seized, sorry we forgot, we left it at your place, would you mind dropping it down to us. Which I did,” he revealed.
Dr Flegg was accused of lying under oath to the corruption body but the CCC ultimately sought no prosecution over this.
“But the CMC (sic) has failed to take any action against a false statement under oath laying a complaint against me. I believe that’s a major failing.”
Dr Flegg is banned by the LNP hierarchy from running in his home seat of Moggill at the next Queensland election. Instead, branch members have been given one choice for pre-selection, that of newcomer Dr Christian Rowan.
Dr Flegg was not given a reason why he was unable to run for the LNP and is currently considering his career in politics.
Carl Judge abandons PUP
Palmer United Party state leader, Carl Judge has quit the organisation to become an independent. Judge ran at the 2012 election as LNP, securing the Labor stronghold of Yeerongpilly for the party. After clashes in the party room, he quit the party to become an independent. When Clive Palmer kicked off his new party, Judge joined up alongside fellow parliamentarian Dr Alex Douglas who had also recently quit the LNP.
Judge was scheduled to move to the seat of Kawana to take on Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie but cited his desire to stay in Yeerongpilly as a factor.
“Palmer United Party was not going to run a candidate in Yeerongpilly,” he said. “This electorate over the last six months has resonated with my heart and mind, how much it means to me to be the member for this electorate.”
With both Douglas and Judge departing PUP, the make-up of the Queensland Parliament is now 73 LNP, 9 Labor, 4 Independents and 3 Katter’s Australian Party (KAP).
— Amber Austin-Wright (@AmberAW) October 9, 2014
Queensland slips down OECD rankings
Queensland has crashed under Campbell Newman in the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) rankings with Australian Capital Territory (ACT) named the best place to live and work in Australia. High employment, income levels and housing has the state lagging behind the rest. Queensland’s health is poor, placed sixth and making the top 20 percent of OECD regions. Education is also down to the bottom 37 percent of the world.
If the political parties aren’t talking about these things in the upcoming election, ask why not?
Scott Driscoll charged
Former LNP MP for Redcliffe has been charged with 16 charges of fraud and soliciting secret commissions whilst a MP. The disgraced politician quit the party and parliament last year forcing a byelection which resulted in a 16pc swing to Labor.
The CCC is alleging Driscoll sought $400,000 from supermarkets Coles and Woolworths in exchange for supporting their push for extended trading hours across Queensland. As Driscoll was head of the Queensland Retail Traders and Shopkeepers Association (QRTSA) and a sitting MP, the prosecution will pursue charges relating to section 442B of the Queensland Criminal Code.
However, the CCC makes it clear in a statement that neither Coles or Woolworths paid any such amounts to Driscoll.
“The CCC will not allege that the man ever received the secret commissions,” the statement reads.
Scott Driscoll’s wife Emma has also been charged with counts of perjury in giving false evidence to the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission (QIRC) on behalf of QRTSA.
A lengthy story, you can read more on the Driscoll story at “Norsefire Burning”.
Who’s donating to the LNP?
The straightforward answer is no one really knows. After the donation laws were changed making donations under $12,500 non-declarable, the LNP $5,000 a plate dinner was given the green-light to go ahead at a secret location last Thursday night. Guest speakers representing three levels of LNP rule in Queensland were former Prime Minister John Howard, current Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Premier Campbell Newman and Lord May Graham Quirk. The dinner was expected to raise $500,000 in one night for the party coffers.
In stark contrast the Labor party held a lunch sausage sizzle for seniors and journalists earlier in the day at Moorooka Bowls Club. Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk pointed to the economic gap between constituents and the government.
“While I’m here having a sausage sizzle with the mums and the dads, the Grange will be flowing at the $5000-a-head secret fund raiser,” she said.
The LNP have amassed a huge war chest ahead of the Queensland election. Before the donations rule changes, in May, 2014, it was estimated the party was raking in $70,000 per day, raising $12.6 million in the second half of 2013. One of the biggest donors was electricity retailer ERM Power which paid $42,500 through sponsorship, donations and fundraising.
— Chris O’Brien (@COBrienBris) October 9, 2014
Trend unemployment for September rises to 6.4pc
Tweet of the week – What if Campbell Newman was left alone?
— Not Campbell Newman (@Can_do_Campbell) October 11, 2014