When CQ and NQ voted so strongly against Labor’s coal policies at the last federal election, the Premier said she had “had a gutful” of the ongoing fight about the approval of the Adani mine in the Galilee Basin.
She made it sound like she understood the importance of the coal industry to Queensland’s prosperity.
She made it sound like she understood the size of the support for coal jobs in CQ and NQ.
But this week’s events show coal jobs are just as much at risk at this Queensland state election as they were last year’s federal election.
Before I tell you about this week’s doings, let me recount the recent history of coal in Queensland’s politics.
Deputy Premier and Treasurer Jackie Trad tells Queensland coal miners they had better start re-skilling.
Bob Brown’s #StopAdani Convoy rolls into Clermont on the 28th before finishing up with a visit to Airlie Beach
On May 18, to media astonishment, the Queensland “coal vote” sees Labor’s Bill Shorten lose a so-called “unlosable” election.
This is the bit you may have missed.
Last October 22, 2019, The Australian published an explosive report showing that despite what the Premier said after the May federal vote, that entire time the Queensland Labor Party was secretly planning an overhaul of laws to make mining impossible.
The Queensland Proposal
The project even had a name – the “Queensland Proposal”. The intention was to overhaul Queensland’s laws in a way that would target new projects, prevent new mines and change Queensland’s economy forever.
A Plan to Shut Down Mining
In 2018, the Palaszczuk Government hired - at taxpayers’ expense - Australia’s top environmental lawyers to find/suggest environmental laws that could prevent the approval of new projects in Queensland. It was specifically aimed at mining but it could scoop up all sorts of development.
Talk about handicapping Queensland in the prosperity stakes.
How Did I Not Know This?
The Australian had got the story through a Freedom of Information search of the internal Queensland Government emails of Tim Seelig relating to Adani. Mr Seelig is a well-known anti-coal activist who was made Labor’s top advisor in the Department of Environment and Science.
The Premier simply refused to answer questions about it, even in Parliament. The Queensland Proposal has never been made public.
Now to Join The Dots This Week
- This week the CFMEU – one of the most activist unions – left the “Left” faction of the Queensland Labor Party. It also threatened to pull its election support for Queensland Labor. Among the reasons it gave is that Labor doesn’t support the Queensland coal industry.
The CFMEU cited the Palaszczuk Government’s refusal to approve the New Acland mine expansion and said Labor had lost touch with its working class roots, preferring trendy, green elitists in the city. Glad they noticed.
- The media reported that Labor had disendorsed its Whitsunday candidate, Tracey Cameron. As the daughter of a coal miner, she is a strong supporter of the coal industry.
After campaigning for 10 months, about 10 weeks out from the election, Ms Cameron was forced to step down and was told the Premier will not support her campaign. Branch members were not consulted because the Premier had already picked her replacement - the sister of a sitting Labor MP from Brisbane. So there’s a dash of cronyism as well.
Two local Labor branches have closed as a result of a mass walk out in protest at this treatment, but apparently that is a price the Premier was willing to pay in order to shape her next caucus.
If Tracey Cameron’s experience is any guide, she doesn’t want voices for coal in that caucus.
The Week Wasn’t Over Yet
- Meanwhile, in the federal parliament, Labor teamed up with the Greens to move a motion to disallow federal funding for a feasibility study into a proposed “new-generation”, coal-fired power station at Collinsville.
Now the two things regional Queensland need to thrive are water security and cheap, reliable electricity. They underwrite primary industries like agriculture and mining and they underwrite secondary industries from food processing to the smelting of aluminium.
Given our high-quality coal resource, why wouldn’t we want to learn more about HELE coal plants?
Clearly Labor and the Greens prefer virtue and ignorance over practical paths to prosperity.
Actions Speak Louder Than Words
Don’t expect honesty about the anti-coal campaign.
But actions like the Whitsunday affair and the CFMEU tirade show you the truth.
The “Queensland Proposal” remains secret – but it is presumably still active, as the Premier has not said otherwise. Tim Seelig is still a top advisor to the Palaszczuk Government. Jackie Trad waits in the wings.
And wherever it can, Labor happily joins with the Greens to chip away at the coal industry.
With 234,000 unemployed Queenslanders and the biggest economic downturn in 75 years, continuing with plans to wreck one of the pillars of Queensland’s economy is downright vandalism.
Agriculture Disdained as Well
Of course, the coal industry is not the only Queensland pillar under siege from this Green-Labor partnership. The Palaszczuk Government has forced through laws that have actively harmed agriculture as well.
Ask any farmer about the laws that have been inflicted on their industry. It would make your toes curl. Even their property rights have been ridden roughshod over. Government bureaucrats can now enter properties without having to inform the owner for a whole raft of reasons.
In five years, the Palaszczuk government hasn’t built one dam – despite an historic drought and continued population growth.
We have also learned the impact of Labor’s vegetation management laws in a drought. Farmers have lost fodder in the mulga country, while agriculture across the state face increased bushfire risks.
New COVID Restricted Areas
Since I last wrote, the following council areas have been categorised as restricted areas: Brisbane, Ipswich, Logan, Moreton Bay Shire, Redland Shire, the Lockyer Valley, the Somerset Region and the Scenic Rim.
A “Restricted Area” is not the same as a “Hot Spot”. A Restricted Area is a location in Queensland that has tougher COVIDsafe restrictions than the rest of Queensland. If you are travelling to a restricted area, you need to obey the tougher restrictions.
Rules for the Restricted Areas
In the areas listed above, both public and private gatherings – of all kinds – are restricted to a maximum of ten.
This means you can have 10 people in your home at one time, counting yourself and the members of your household who normally live there.
So, if five people normally live in the household, you can have five visitors at the same time. It doesn’t matter if they are from different households.
The same rule applies to public gatherings – for instance, in a park.
Reduced Gatherings For the Rest of Queensland
For everyone else in Queensland, outside these restricted areas, the maximum is 30 not ten. So you can have a gathering of 30 to your home, counting yourself and your household as part of the 30.
Public gatherings are also restricted to a maximum of 30 persons too.
Will This Affect Weddings in Gregory?
My offices have had anxious enquiries from families planning weddings. After a lot of chasing around, the firm advice is that the choice of venue dictates the number who can attend.
So a garden wedding at home, or a wedding at a local beauty spot like a park, must be restricted to a maximum of 30 persons including the celebrant.
However, if you go to a commercial venue like a pub or a sports club, then the four-square metre rule and their COVIDsafe event plan applies. So that is one person per four-square metres of venue space.
Dancing is still absolutely banned for guests at a wedding. However, the couple getting married may share their first dance. The couple getting married may also share a dance with their respective parents.
Border Restrictions and Hot Spots
Queensland has closed its borders to Victoria, NSW and the ACT. These have been declared as corona virus “hotspots”. People travelling from these states must complete a 14 day hotel quarantine at their own expense.
People are still allowed to come to Queensland from the other states ( TAS, SA, WA and NT) without completing a quarantine.
The road borders remain closed and people needing to enter Queensland should come by air. This link will let you read about entry passes and exemptions.
Agricultural Worker Exemptions
Importantly, the exemptions for essential agricultural workers seem to be working smoothly. These go in the first instance to DAF who then passes their approved candidates up to Queensland Health for final approval. This means the process can take a bit longer than a week.
If you need any assistance, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
The lack of clarity around some of the decisions about health-related quarantine exemptions have been baffling, with public exposure in the media seeming the only way to achieve a sensible outcome.
You can’t send people with open, post-operative wounds to take their chances in a locked hotel room for two weeks. Yet we saw exemptions refused for a brain-surgery patient returning from Sydney and for a two year-old Queensland toddler who had just had open-heart surgery.
What Requirements did Danni Minogue Meet?
Surely, Queensland Health can produce a checklist of the requirements for home quarantine – and if they can be met and proved – then home quarantine it is.
This hotel quarantine for returning Queenslanders is not risk free. You may be randomly allocated a room where people who had corona virus have been confined for two weeks. The pillows, the mattress, the blankets will be the same ones they used. How clean the hard surfaces are, depends on the quality of the hotel cleaners.
Can Sick People Have a Crack at Meeting Them Too?
When you add in the other health impacts of isolation, Queensland Health should be finding ways for Queenslanders who have compromised health to isolate at home.
There has been no information released around the exemption process in terms of what medical criteria is being applied to make these decisions. This is important because believe me these applications pass through many bureaucratic hands. This means clear rules are crucial.
Cruellest Cut of All
However, the cruellest refusals have been reserved for NSW border residents needing urgent medical attention.
I can’t see why medical emergencies are not automatically exempt. In this situation the person would already be in the safe care of Queensland Health. You couldn’t be more securely supervised.
The Need for Human Decency in all of This
I was so embarrassed for Queenslanders when the Premier rebutted media enquiries about this by saying, “Queensland hospitals are only for Queenslanders”.
First up, that is untrue – we treat any Australian and we have reciprocal arrangements with some countries as well. For instance, if you were in London and needed NHS treatment, you can receive it.
But most emphatically this comment just lacks human decency, as the federal health minister pointed out.
It smacks of the Premier playing with COVID restrictions for political gain. As did the decision to allow two men to fly from Melbourne without quarantine, in order to erect a boxing ring. There must be not a single bloke in Queensland who could do it!
This morning the Premier and the Chief Health Officer announced that organised, mass events for Schoolies – like beachfront concerts – will not be held this year.
Instead of heading to one or two locations for mass events, school-leavers are being encouraged to celebrate their graduations in a more diverse way. They are free to visit any of Queensland’s many beautiful destinations with small groups of friends, but all the normal COVIDsafe restrictions will still have to be observed.
I’m sure our Year 12’s would argue with me, but I think they may find they have a more special and memorable Schoolies Celebration as a result.
If You Need Help – Please Call
If you need help with any of these COVID restrictions, or with any other government issue - please don’t hesitate to call my offices.
If we can’t help you, we can usually give you the contacts for the right person who can. Gregory Longreach is PH (07) 4521 5700. Gregory Emerald (07) 4913 1000.
Thank You for Reading
Thanks for reading and staying up to date.
As always, I welcome any comments or information by return email.
You can raise any issues with me the same way, or by going to my website at Lachlanmillarmp.com. You can find scholarships, grants, community events and my speeches, newsletters and media releases there as well.
Kindest Regards – and stay safe,
Lachlan Millar MP
Member for Gregory and
Shadow Minister for Fire, Emergency Services and Volunteers.