Monday’s public holiday will mark the end of the phony election campaign and the start of the real thing.
So, it was telling that this week brought yet another integrity scandal for a Palaszczuk Minister, as well as hard evidence as to why Queensland has suffered a major failure to invest in infrastructure.
The two stories show up different aspects of the Palaszczuk government. One is an administrative failure and the other is a moral failure.
Rust Bucket State Award
But both are single examples of trends that have surfaced repeatedly under the Palaszczuk administration. And both contribute to Queensland being in the running to win the “Rust Bucket State” award.
Thank God for the Queensland Auditor General. With a manipulated parliament, no budget and no estimates, he has become the last champion of scrutiny.
Dishonest and Partisan “Own Goal”
This week his review of the Palaszczuk Government’s sports grants programs found that Labor electorates scored twice as much funding as non-government seats.
These are grants that allow clubs to build facilities that would take years to build if they had to raise the funds via sausage sizzles and raffles.
If the Premier was serious about her promise to govern for all Queenslanders, then the grant applications would have been judged on how well they met the outcomes desired by the Department of Sport.
The Importance of Sports Grants for Gregory
Usually, the Department looks at the benefit the proposed improvements will provide for club members, the wider community and so forth. In Gregory, such investment has been key to allowing towns to host district finals. That not only brings sporting benefits, but also benefits for the town’s small business as athletes and their families come and stay for a weekend.
Most importantly, it helps Gregory’s children stand a chance to compete against their city cousins who train with superior facilities in the south east corner.
Judge Applicants Fairly
This is why it is vital that applicants are judged by qualified bureaucrats in the Department of Sport, using a set of proper criteria to guide them. And indeed, they did come up with a list of worthy recipients.
Not Minister’s Favours
However, at that point Sports Minister Mick de Brenni involved himself. He used his ministerial powers to over-ride the advice of his Department. He personally changed the recipients list to favour Labor electorates, including major grants to his own electorate.
Double for Labor
In the Active Infrastructure Program, Labor electorates received $8.2 million, LNP electorates received $3.52 million and crossbench electorates received only $490, 407.
And Double Again
Under the Female Facilities grant program, Labor seats received nearly $10 million, LNP seats received nearly $5 million and crossbench electorates received $600,000.
Won’t Name the Knockbacks
Sports clubs across Queensland who were knocked back are now wondering if they were a victim of Mick de Brenni. Did they actually qualify then lose out to a Minister’s favourite? However, Minister de Brenni has cited legal advice when asked by media to name the clubs he knocked back.
The Truth about Palaszczuk Record on Infrastructure
The other telling report to drop this week was an independent analysis of infrastructure funding in Australia by the Federal Parliamentary Budget Office.
Despite the constant lies from Palaszczuk ministers, this report shows that over the last five years Queensland has spent only a tiny 3.6 per cent of its annual budget on infrastructure.
A Multi-Billion Dollar Hole
While the Palaszczuk Government was funding infrastructure at 3.6% of annual revenue, Victoria was spending 7.6% and NSW a whopping 8.1%
This allows us to figure out the underspend in Queensland. If we had kept pace with NSW and Victoria, we should have spent another $12 billion – yes, billion - over the last five years.
Well that explains the shaky feeling in the regions, where roads are falling apart and bridges don’t permit large freight transport, schools need maintenance and councils are desperate for cash to fund much needed works.
The Palaszczuk Government has made an artform of blaming the federal government for these shortfalls.
They have constantly complained that they would have invested but the “feds” wouldn’t fund their share. They have even tried this spin on projects like the Rookwood Weir where the federal government had virtually forced the Palaszczuk Government to build the project.
Thank God for the Feds
This report shows without the federal government’s contribution to Queensland infrastructure, we’d be in even bigger strife. The federal government has given Queensland almost double its contribution to other states and territories.
The Missed Opportunities
If we had invested at the rate planned for and forecast by the former LNP government, there would have been an extra $12.7 billion invested by June 2018.
That’s an awful lot of quality roads, bridges, ports, rail line, hospitals and schools.
Can You Believe It?
Last week we were treated to Palaszczuk Government ministers (all earnestly clutching their glossy brochures entitled “Queensland’s Economic Plan”) pledging an economic recovery from COVID19 based on …(ta-da) infrastructure investment!
Six Years Too Late – 9 Billion Too Little
But Labor’s four-year investment plan is $9 billion less than the former LNP government’s planned spend six years ago. It is clear that if the Palaszczuk government is re-elected for the next four years, it will be a lost decade of infrastructure.
The Department of Grunt
It is critical that Queensland receives an infrastructure investment well above “normal’, so that we can catch up. That is why the LNP has pledged to create the Queensland Economic Recovery Agency headed by a new Co-ordinator General.
The existing Co-ordinator General was created to help Queensland recover from the Great Depression. Today the office oversees major projects.
The new Co-ordinator General will not replace the existing Co-ordinator General. Instead, it will focus on securing the jobs and infrastructure we need to grow Queensland out of this recession.
Growing our Way to Prosperity
Growth is the only way we will be able to recover. The LNP realises that to do that, we need a “Department of Grunt”.
We need one body, headed by one senior public servant, who answers directly to the Premier. The buck stops there.
Hit The Ground Running
If the LNP is elected, the new Co-ordinator General will oversee a first 100-day action plan that will see the start of a slew of projects:
- the New Bradfield Scheme,
- the Queensland Dam Company which will develop our water resources including repairing the Paradise Dam and building much needed dams across Queensland
- building the second M1 and “four-laning” the Bruce Highway
- building four new Ice Rehabilitation Centres throughout the state
- and air-conditioning every school.
Restarting the Stalled Projects
Most importantly, the Economic Recovery Agency will audit all the projects that have stalled under the Palaszczuk Government to fast-track them towards successful completion.
The Agency will also oversee the establishment of an Industry Skills Council to ensure we are training Queenslanders so they can fill skills shortages and address our high unemployment.
Low Tax State- Investor Magnet
Finally, the Economic Recovery Agency will be charged with making Queensland the low tax state again and securing a billion in private sector investment.
Experts in Unfair Advantages
We are facing a government backed by unscrupulous political puppeteers who have ensured that Labor has unfair advantages.
They brought back preferential voting because, while they might not win seats outright, preferential voting means they can harvest enough greens, KAP and One Nation preferences to hold on. Seats like the ones in Townsville and Keppel are held by Labor because of the success of this approach.
They have put in place a major financial gerrymander that ensures no-one can spend as much money in the campaign as Labor. They did this by granting all unions preferential status.
Taxpayer Funded Advertising
For months now they have been using taxpayers’ funds to research voter sentiment and buy advertising promoting the Government across all media, and then some. Nearly $6 million has been spent flogging the Unite and Recover ALP slogan as a “COVID Response”.
This week saw some last minute barnacle removal.
There must be some market research showing that regional Queenslanders don’t believe Labor supports the coal industry.
Dick Discovers Coal
So this week Treasurer Dick released a report showing that demand for Queensland’s coal will continue for decades.
He is a bit late to the realization that the resources industry has been Queensland’s economic life-raft during COVID. It accounted for a whopping 80 per cent of our exports.
Premier “kind of” Approves a Mine
To further convince you that Labor is suddenly pro-coal jobs, the Premier this week announced the “final approvals” for the Olive Downs coal mine near Moranbah.
Unfortunately, this wasn’t quite true.
Except for the Bit That Isn’t
The Courier Mail has revealed that two of the five MLAs for Olive Downs have not been granted, and the other three were ticked off on the day of the Premier’s announcement.
But No Hope for New Hope
The Premier was also accused of double standards because she has refused to even look at approvals for the New Acland Mine Stage Three while it is before the courts. Yet Olive Downs is also still awaiting a Supreme Court decision.
Adani Royalties Finally Signed Off
And then there is Adani. After last year’s federal election, the Premier said there would be no more barriers put in the way of Adani, yet no effort was made to sign the royalties agreement until this week.
All Election Window Dressing
If you believe a re-elected Labor Government will not change its mind on coal after the election, you are falling for a three-bean trick.
All of this has happened in the last week before the election campaign formally kicks off. It reeks of insincere papering over the cracks.
And so, to the electorate of Gregory. While nominations for candidates have not yet closed, it would appear that our ballot at this stage will include myself, representing the LNP as well as Dave Kerrigan representing the ALP.
There are two additional candidates, both representing parties with fringe beliefs like anti-fluoridation and anti-vaccination.
ALP a No Show at Gregory Debate
The CQ News was going to host a live-stream candidates debate this week. This would have been a totally new thing for Gregory and, given the size of the electorate, a wonderful opportunity for voters to see and hear all the candidates.
Head Office Ban
However, the ALP head office banned the ALP candidate from participating and so it was cancelled at the very last moment. I understand they did that in other seats as well.
Not a Great Look
Clearly, they worry about defending Labor’s record in government over the last five years.
However, it does suggest that if the Labor candidates are elected in the bush, they will have no real influence in George Street. The experience in the three Townsville seats supports this view.
Consider Carefully for Queensland
I sincerely ask you to consider your votes carefully. There is no such thing as a safe seat. All elections have the potential to shock and can be a very close-run thing.
Early Voting in Gregory
Early or Pre-Poll voting centres have been announced. Early voting will start on October 19.
It is a more secure option than postal voting because, due to Corona Virus, all Queenslanders have been allowed to apply for a postal vote this time.
My concern is that the volume of mail may mean that some postal ballots may be received too late to count. So, if you are able to visit a pre-poll centre, that is the safest option.
In Gregory, these will be located at:
- 58 Gordon Street, Aramac
- Blackall QGAP, Shamrock Street, Blackall
- Blackwater Aquatic Centre, 30 Hunter Street, Blackwater
- Arts and Crafts Pavilion, Longreach Showgrounds, Sandpiper and Kite Streets, Longreach
- 11/160 Egerton Street, Emerald
That last one is the Emerald Executive Apartments building adjacent to the Coles Centre car park.
I would like to sincerely thank you for the privilege of representing Gregory in the 56th Parliament.
Caretaker Mode – but Offices Still Open
We now have a three week election period with the Government in caretaker mode. I want to stress that the Gregory offices will still be open and you can continue to contact us for advice and assistance.
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.
If You Need Help – Please Call
If you need help or advice related to any state 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.
Kindest Regards – and stay safe,
Lachlan Millar MP
Member for Gregory and
Shadow Minister for Fire, Emergency Services and Volunteers.