David Marler

David Marler

Queensland reporter at No Fibs
David is a full time Queensland carer for his son and in quiet times contributes to NoFibs.
David Marler

Latest posts by David Marler (see all)

David Marler

The wrap from the sunshine state with @NoFibs #QldPol reporter, @Qldaah.Youth employment payout

With Queensland named the second highest in youth unemployment in the nation, at 13.4 per cent, The Sunday Mail has reported that the Abbott Government proposes to pay incentives and expenses for unemployed who stay in work.

An allocation of $40 million has been set aside to pay youth to relocate to find work. A further $157 million will be shared amongst long-term unemployed aged 18-30 years who hold down a job for two years.

The worst effected area of Queensland remains Cairns, according to a Brotherhood of St Laurence report. Over the past 2 years, youth unemployment has jumped 88pc to an average of 21.6pc in the year to February 2014.

High youth unemployment is a factor in contributing to high youth crime rate. Unfortunately, the Newman Government has sought to “get tough on crime” through a new “name and shame” policy rather than provide increased job incentive programs.

On Thursday, The Cairns Post reported a 13-year-old boy had been put through the courts system for stealing $9.60 worth of cigarette lighters. The magistrate threw out the case, suggesting to prosecutors that it should have been handled in a different way.

Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie refused to accept his new policies had any influence on this case.

“The recent tough but fair amendments to youth justice laws specifically target arrogant repeat young offenders, not kids who make a silly mistake and learn from it,” he told the paper.

More on Queensland’s unemployment history here.

Jailed for 3 months under VLAD, a desperate homeless man

A homeless man from Rockhampton was released on bail this week after being held on remand for three months under the Newman Government’s harsh Vicious Lawless Association Disestablishment (VLAD) laws. Anthony James Parry, 36, had posed as a Rebels bikie enforcer to recover a debt he was owed. He faced a maximum jail sentence of twenty-five years under VLAD.

However, Justice Peter Applegarth ruled that the prosecution was not able to produce any evidence that Parry was actually an enforcer, least of all a bikie.

The media had dubbed Parry the ‘crying bikie’ after he broke down before Queensland’s Chief Magistrate Tim Carmody at his first court appearance in January after having been thrown into solitary confinement.

It’s another in a long list of failed uses of the VLAD laws which have previously seen people arrested and jailed in solitary for congregating at pubs and eating ice cream together.

The old gross-debt, net-debt trick

The Newman Government has spent $6m on an advertising campaign and slogan based website, Strong Choices, for its pitch to Queenslanders on its plan to sell asset sales after the next election. It seems an odd election platform given that the previous Bligh Government suffered a massive defeat after it sold part of Queensland’s state-owned rail infrastructure.

Strong Choices likens the state budget to a family budget. However, this is far too simplistic an analogy. Where family income is rigid, state governments have multiple means at their disposal to raise revenue; raise levies/duties, raise royalties, increase gambling tax, issue more government bonds (borrowings), sell assets and increase payroll tax.

The Old Gross Debt Net Debt TrickThe advertising campaign also likens the government’s borrowings to a mortgage. However, the Queensland Government doesn’t have any loans from any banks. It issues government bonds or notes to the market. In that, it is more like operating in the share market than trying to pay off a home loan.

The Queensland Government’s Treasury Corporation (QTC), issues bonds and notes to the market on a regular basis and returns funds to the government, government utilities and local governments throughout Queensland.

In 2011, economist Stephen @TheKouk Koukoulas explained how the bonds market worked as the Abbott-led opposition began to criticise the Gillard Government for rising gross debt levels.

Very similar language is now being used by the Newman Government that Koukoulas references in his piece, “Gross debt – gross ignorance”.

Professor John Quiggin from the University of Queensland described the Strong Choices website as “rigged”, as it didn’t tell the whole story. A strong advocate against both the Bligh and Newman Government’s asset sales, he argues such a policy depletes a solid revenue stream and actually makes the state’s economy worse rather than resolving debt issues.  The sale of a state’s asset forgoes revenue, that fiscal stream ultimately flows to the buyer who is potentially offshore.

@GeneTunny is not as opposed to asset sales. The former Treasury economist sees the problem with the Newman Government’s Strong Choices program as being a PR exercise rather than a constructive assessment of the states finances. He believes the key to making a decision on the sales is to have Treasury delve into the pros and cons of the strategy. His piece is: Strong Choices poorly received by public – Treasury needs to do a lot more work.

Asset sales are a quick fix. They make the government’s budget sheet look good and politicians can ride the fiscal wave of popularity it brings. However, once the cash is absorbed into the system there is relatively no change to the long-term outlook. Within three years, Queensland will no doubt be back in the same situation, selling more assets.

Overall, Strong Choices is a blatant attempt to not tell the whole story. As we place more demands on states and territories for services, Treasury officials and economists call out for true taxation reform and efficiencies in the revenue streams.

This would require federal, states and territory governments to actually talk, which may just be too hard.

The final word this week on asset sales goes to Brisbane Times columnist @JohnBirmingham who describes the day the @StrongChoices Twitter account began to follow him; Mr Strong Choices thinks you’re an idiot.

NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell falls down and Campbell Newman goes to ground

The wrong Premier: The Courier Mail publishes NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell on its front page.

The wrong Premier, an easy mistake to make: The Courier Mail publishes NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell on its front page.

When last we saw Campbell Newman, he was all over the media, directing traffic from far North Queensland in the wake of Cyclone Ita.

Queensland’s media had been unable to ask him any direct questions about the $5000 donation to his re-election fund from embattled Australian Water Holdings in exchange for a meeting. All answers have come from third party spokespeople or statements.

As New South Wales Premier Barry O’Farrell was questioned in Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) hearing into AWH, Campbell Newman vanished from Queensland’s television sets. He declined media requests as O’Farrell resigned his Premiership over an undeclared donation of an expensive bottle of wine from lobbyist, Nick Di Girolamo.

Di Girolamo had also met with Newman in 2007 and claimed a $5000 donation was made into his re-election campaign in exchange for the meeting. From his overseas trade mission, through written statements, Newman denied all knowledge of the payment but was quick to repay it.

He surfaced briefly on Saturday, staying close to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on their royal visit to Brisbane. He’d had the perfect run to avoid the media: trade mission, Cyclone Ita, Easter, Royal visit and no Queensland parliamentary sitting this month.

The O’Farrell shock flared concerns over Newman’s planned changes to Queensland’s Crime and Misconduct (CMC). In parliamentary committee, five former commissioners, Julie Cork, David Gow, Ann Gummow, Judith Bell and Philip Nase wrote expressing their concerns.

9 News Brisbane: "I can actually pronounce the name, it's Nick di Girolamo." Premier Campbell Newman answers questions about AWH meetings.

9 News Brisbane: “I can actually pronounce the name, it’s Nick di Girolamo.”

Current chair Dr Ken Levy fronted the parliamentary hearing to voice his opposition, followed by his predecessor Ross Martin QC, who had also been present during the Fitzgerald Inquiry. Tony Fitzgerald QC’s opposition letter was also read out.

Not all drug dealers are bikies

After a dip in popularity for the VLAD laws, the Newman Government in January spent $500,000 on a PR campaign to convince Queensland of the dangers bikie gangs posed.

However, not all drug dealers turn out to be bikies, as this week police allege the Hannan family of Helensvale ran a multi-million dollar drug empire.  The suburban couple were jobless but managed to buy a $1.1 million home on the Gold Coast.

 A system of accounting had hidden the proceeds but it wasn’t good enough to fool police.

Walter Sofronoff’s resignation

ABC 730 Queensland’s Matt Woodworth published his Right To Information (RTI) request into the mysterious resignation of Queensland’s Solicitor-General, Walter Sofronoff. Sofronoff refused to betray client confidentiality by talking to the media about his reasons for quitting.  The resignation letter did not give any further insights.