Friday, 31 May 2013

Newman’s Broken Promise Confirmed As Power Bills Rise Even Higher Than Expected

Media Release.

Shadow Treasurer Curtis Pitt says Campbell Newman has betrayed Queensland families yet again, with information Gazetted this morning suggesting that electricity prices are set to rise by 22.5% next financial year.
“Campbell Newman promised Queenslanders, in writing, that he’d ‘lower’ their power bills,” Mr Pitt said.
“It was a reckless promise and clearly a shameless pre-election stunt that Mr Newman never had any intention of honouring.
“Queensland families already struggling to pay their bills will be devastated by Mr Newman’s broken promise.”
Mr Pitt said the Queensland Competition Authority (QCA) determination for electricity prices in 2013-14 would include an increase of $266 for the average household.
This is higher than the Government’s forecast increase of 21.4%, or $253.
“This year electricity bills rose on average $140, and next year they’ll increase by $266.
“Every time a Queenslander opens their electricity bill, they’ll think about Campbell Newman’s broken promise.
“Not only was it a pre-election pledge by Campbell Newman, but as recently as February, his senior Ministers were still pulling the wool over Queenslanders eyes.**
“On top of the power price surge, insurance taxes are going up, water bills are going up, the fire levy’s going up.
“Queenslanders didn’t vote for Campbell Newman so that he could arrogantly break his promises and hammer Queensland families with massive cost of living increases.”
Based on Gazetted information* for Tariff 11 this morning, final determination tables as per new rates from 1 July 2013.
Consumption (kWh)
2012-13 Bill
2013-14 (Final)
Difference ($)
Increases (%)
Single person
Two Person
Four person
Six Person
*rounded figures based on Gazetted information
**Statements from Friday, February 22, 2013, discussing the draft QCA determination:
Mr Nicholls:
“This increase is simply unacceptable. The government is committed to finding ways to reduce it, and to reduce the impact on Queensland families.
Mr McArdle:
“The Government understands the cost of living pressures that Queensland households are under, and increases like this are just not acceptable.
“The Newman Government will ensure it is reduced to the lowest level possible.

Thursday, 30 May 2013

LNP MP’S Talk the Talk but Can’t Walk the Walk

Media Release.

29 May 2013

The Newman Government's 2 per cent hike in the insurance duty exposes the hollow words of the Liberal National Party's Federal MPs in north Queensland.
Senator for Queensland Jan McLucas said the Member for Leichhardt, Warren Entsch, and the Member for Dawson, George Christensen should be embarrassed that Campbell Newman has made insurance more unaffordable for home owners.
"The Queensland LNP Government's decision to raise the insurance duty from 7 to 9 per cent is a cruel slug on Queensland home-owners," Senator McLucas said.
She said Mr Entsch and Mr Christensen had both raised false expectations they would take action to make insurance affordable.
"Talk of 8 point plans and submissions to policy development committees is cheap unless there's any real action."
"Mr Entsch's comment today that the insurance duty increase is bad policy is just more empty words because he knows his own party is not listening to him," Senator McLucas said.
"I notice the once vocal Mr Christensen, like Member for Cairns Gavin King, hasn't said a word about his own party's decision."
"The cost of living has risen dramatically in Queensland since the election of the Newman LNP Government, with electricity price hikes and other increased charges set to hit households."
"It's bad enough that north Queenslanders still reeling from Cyclone Yasi have to struggle with insurance companies and be forced to pay higher premiums."
Senator McLucas said the LNP's decision flew in the face of the recommendations of the HIH Royal Commission, the Henry Review and the Johnson Report that the insurance duty should be abolished.
"The Gillard Government is investing $100 million in flood mitigation works across Queensland, putting downward pressure on premiums."

Senator Signs the Road Safety Pledge

Media Release.

29 May 2013

Queensland Senator Jan McLucas this week signed the Fatality Free Friday Road Safety Pledge and is encouraging others to join the campaign and take care on the roads.
The Fatality Free Friday Road Safety Pledge asks road users to be especially conscious of road safety and safe road use practices for one day, in the hope that this will have a flow on effect.
Joining the Minister for Road Safety, Catherine King at Parliament House in Canberra this week, Senator McLucas signed the pledge ahead of Fatality Free Friday - this Friday, 30 May.
"In recent weeks in Cairns, we've seen and felt the tragedy of road accidents. It devastates families and communities," Senator McLucas said.
"We all need to play our part in making our roads safer."
"We need to slow down, we need to keep our cool in those frustrating moments on the road, we need to leave our phones alone when we're driving."
Whilst the target is to have a fatality free Friday, the campaign is more than just a single day; it is ultimately aiming for a longer term community change.
"It's up to us. Every time we get behind the wheel, it's up to each driver to do their bit to keep our roads are safe."
For more information, visit 

Anthony Albanese MP: Transcript of doorstop – Parliament House, Canberra

May 29, 2013

Subjects:   Australian Jobs Bills; Ford; Parramatta to Epping Rail Link; Sydney infrastructure; Senator George Brandis; Electoral reform; Party reform; Kevin Rudd

ANTHONY ALBANESE:   Last night, the House of Representatives passed the Australian Jobs Bill.  That was an important piece of legislation.  It’s about ensuring that Australian working families and the Australian economy benefit from major projects.  What it requires is to have plans put in place for projects over half a billion dollars to secure Australian jobs.  So plans about issues such as procurement of resources, procurement of steel, procurement of all the products that go into a major project in the construction industry, or in other sectors of the economy, which actually give consideration to Aussie jobs.
This is important for Australian manufacturing.  The Labor Party is the party that believes in Australian manufacturing.  Last night, in voting against this legislation, the Coalition confirmed yet again that they won’t stand up for Aussie jobs.  Just like in the car industry where they’re planning to rip off $500 million at least, and a potential of a further $1.5 billion cut to the bone down the track.  It is only this Labor Government that will stand up for Australian jobs and the legislation was overwhelmingly voted for by the cross benchers – they got it, the Labor Government got it and it was just the Coalition that once again stood isolated, unprepared to stand up on these issues.
Happy to take questions.
QUESTION: Given that you’ve given industry assistance to, for example, Ford, how can you guarantee the companies benefiting from this jobs plan will continue to provide jobs and to exist into the future?
ANTHONY ALBANESE:   The analysis by the Department suggested that this could be of benefit for Australian companies of some $6.4 billion.  The analysis suggests that if you have to put these plans in place – and we’re only talking about major projects worth $500 million or more – surely, under those circumstances – where you have a project worth that much money, delivering that much money to the proponent of the projects in order to attract capital to go ahead with the project such as that – surely it is not much to ask that analysis and effort be put in place to secure Australian jobs as part of the procurement process, as part of ensuring that we have a national benefit to these major projects.
Now, with regard to Ford, the loss of those jobs is regrettable indeed.  We know that Ford, compared with the other companies, didn’t have in place an appropriate export orientation behind their future agenda.  But we want to make sure that we put in place proposals, including making sure that there are regional jobs plans.  We’ve stated with regard to Ford, that we will put in place assistance in Geelong and Broadmeadows.  I notice when Tony Abbott speaks about Ford, he just speaks about Geelong, he doesn’t worry about Broadmeadows.  But we will put in place proposals consistent with our approach on all of these matters, which is about securing the national economic interest and that’s what the Budget was about – securing jobs and growth for the Australian national economy.
QUESTION: If there is such a focus on job creation, why is it that the $2 billion Epping to Parramatta rail link has been shelved?
ANTHONY ALBANESE:   We didn’t defer it.  The State Government has refused to go ahead with this project and I think that’s unfortunate.  I would be prepared to sit down with them, put it back on the agenda and bring it forward.
What we did with state governments was ask them to put forward projects that they wanted included in Nation Building 2 that begins in 2014-15.
Now, we put forward funding for a range of major infrastructure projects in our Budget just a fortnight ago.  The State Government, for reasons of – I’m not quite sure, it’s hard to explain why you would say ‘no’ to the funding that was on the table.  I got asked a question about this today on radio which was ‘either-or’ with regard to a reference to the fact that we have funding for the F3 to M2 Link in the Budget, funding for the potential extension of the Sydney motorways.  We’ve put $5.5 billion into Sydney infrastructure since we were elected.  The Howard Government spent $300 million, that’s all, during 12 years of office.  You could have had all of it.
The Parramatta to Epping Rail Link was chosen because of the vital need to ensure that Parramatta is Sydney’s second CBD; ensuring that road and rail links don’t just go to and from the CBD in Sydney, that Parramatta is truly able to grow as an economic hub.  You could have indeed had the North West Rail Line, and Parramatta Council had a proposal well developed for it, go through Parramatta.  But when the O’Farrell Government got in, perhaps because it was supported by the former Labor government as well as this Federal Labor Government, they chose to reject that funding.  Construction could have been under way right now.
And I make this point: there has been no construction begun on any infrastructure project by the O’Farrell Government in Sydney or anywhere else, none.  There are ideas and proposals, and some of those are worked through and infrastructure does take time, but this is the project where construction could have begun, it should have begun.  But we can’t force a state government to build an extension to a state government rail line.
QUESTION: Do you think it will ever happen?
ANTHONY ALBANESE:   I think it must happen.  This is a rail line that has been half built.  This is a rail line which would bring enormous benefit and access to the high-value jobs in the hub that is around the Macquarie region.  This would bring benefit to Western Sydney.  It would also bring benefits because at the moment if you want to go to the Macquarie sector – where you have those high-value jobs, high-tech jobs, jobs in pharmaceuticals, in information technology, et cetera, and access of course to Macquarie University – you’ve got to go into the city and then out again.  It makes no sense.
Part of what has to happen in Sydney is ensuring that transport routes don’t have to go into the city and out again because the crunch point in terms of congestion on the rail line is the City circle.  Now, we have no action on the second harbour crossing.  We have no logical extension which would have been the Parramatta to Epping Rail Line.  We support it.  We’ve kept the funding there in the Budget as part of Nation Building 3, hoping that the State Government realises how vital this project is, and you would have had construction well under way on this rail line.
Construction can commence on the F3 to M2 Link in 2014, where we have agreement between the State Government – and I expect their funding to be in their budget.  That’s an example which shows that you can have Federal and state governments sit down, work out a proposal, in this case with a private sector operator as well, Transurban, and achieve a good outcome for the people of Sydney and NSW.
The same thing could have happened on Parramatta to Epping.  The State Government chose not to.
QUESTION: Senator Brandis has been briefed by ASIO last night, [indistinct]…
ANTHONY ALBANESE: How do you know that?
QUESTION: He says he has been briefed by ASIO last night and he has accused the Prime Minister…
ANTHONY ALBANESE:  That was a joke.
QUESTION: Sorry.  They are few and far between.  And he says the Prime Minister has misled Parliament.
ANTHONY ALBANESE:   You want me to comment on what George Brandis says about a discussion he had with ASIO.  Get serious.  Get serious.  I’m not comment on a briefing to which I wasn’t a part of between a security agency and a shadow attorney-general and frankly, I’m pretty surprised that the shadow attorney-general is commenting on briefings from ASIO.
I don’t intend to do it.  I don’t care what he says.  I don’t intend to comment on a briefing between ASIO and the shadow attorney-general to which I wasn’t at and frankly, security briefings that I’ve had, I don’t comment on.
QUESTION: On electoral funding reform, is it a bad look for the parties to be basically feathering their own nests before the election or are there merits to this electoral reform?
ANTHONY ALBANESE:  There are absolute merits to this reform.  We have a situation whereby currently the electoral donation is $12,100.  That is a major step forward from where it was.  A few years ago, when I first engaged in politics, there was no disclosure of donations at all, many years ago.
What we’ve seen is change so that there is increased transparency in the system.  Now, the Labor Party put forward a proposition of moving to $1,000.  We weren’t able to secure the passage of that legislation through the Senate.  What this change does is $5,000, but it’s not indexed.  It’s $5,000 permanently, so a significant shift in terms of transparency of the system, and I think that is of considerable benefit.  And when it comes to electoral reform, I think commonsense tells you that where possible that should be done in a bipartisan way between the Government and the alternative government.
Surely that makes sense, rather than it be a matter for partisan politics where a government attempts to secure a majority in order to advantage the government and retain office over the alternative government.
QUESTION: So did you make an honest attempt to get that thousand dollars through the House and the Senate?
QUESTION: So you canvassed people?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: It was voted against.  It was voted against.  It lost.
QUESTION: So that’s the only reason that this deal has come about, is because the deal you wanted couldn’t get through?
ANTHONY ALBANESE:  Well, it lost.  It was put to the Senate, and it lost, and in terms of the going forward with this proposition, I think if I was standing here, and it’s not my legislation, but if I was standing here saying the Labor Party has a partisan piece of legislation that is opposed by the alternative government, the Coalition, three months out from an election, I think there might be a bit of criticism from yourself.
QUESTION: Just further on that, Independents want more transparency and lower donation thresholds.  So do the Greens.  Why couldn’t you have struck a deal on that side of Parliament, why did you need to go to the other side?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: I think I answered that pretty clearly.  The idea – and I can’t be more explicit – that a government has a proposition that is opposed by the alternative government, and the alternative government isn’t, I hate to tell you, it’s not a choice between Adam Bandt and Julia Gillard or Tony Abbott.  The choice at the next election of who will lead this country is between our Prime Minister Julia Gillard and the leader of the Opposition Tony Abbott.
QUESTION: [Inaudible question]
ANTHONY ALBANESE: I’ve stated very clearly, I can’t do it more explicitly than that.  It is my view that, where possible, electoral issues should be conducted in a bipartisan way.  I can’t be clearer than that, and I make no apologies for that.
QUESTION:  The administrative fees are backdated to April.  Is that because Labor’s struggling to find enough funds ahead of the federal election?
QUESTION: And why has it been backdated?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: That’s when the legislation was begun with in terms of the process.  It’s not my legislation.  I haven’t written it.  But I assume that it is normally the case when legislation is prepared, quite often it’s prepared on the basis of from the time of preparation or from the time of agreement.
QUESTION:   Do you think that Labor is broke and needs the extra money?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: No.  And I note that there’s a direct quote from me in one of the papers today that the journalist concerned didn’t have the courtesy of contacting me or my office about that, and it’s wrong.
QUESTION: The idea that that had to be both major parties agreeing, I mean, so what, this issue is this – sort of lives in this separate world where it has to be bipartisan, you can’t pass it the way you normally pass legislation?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: You’ve asked the same question a number of times.
Well, it might seem odd to you, perhaps that’s why you’re a journo and I’m in politics – some people report, some people do.  What I know is that if I was standing here saying we’ve got a partisan piece of legislation on electoral reform, I think you’d be very critical of it.
QUESTION:  So you want a fight with Tony Abbott?
ANTHONY ALBANESE:  I think people would be really critical of electoral reform.  I can’t be clearer than that.  I think where possible, electoral reform should be conducted in a bipartisan way wherever possible.
QUESTION: I disagree.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: You can disagree with it, but it’s my position and it’s been my position the whole way through.  I might add that that is totally consistent with the way that most electoral reform issues have been dealt with, not just in this Parliament but in previous Parliaments as well, and that when there has been attempts to have partisan differences, and there are differences within the political parties over a range of things such as voluntary voting.
If it was the case that a government was able to or endeavoured to abuse its position to entrench its current electoral position by changing future outcomes, I think that the media would quite rightly be very critical.
QUESTION: On another question of reform of the caucus, do you support the idea of the caucus appointing the executive?
ANTHONY ALBANESE:  Let’s be clear about what used to happen.  What used to happen was that the factions and the faction leaders – and you know, I am not immune from those issues – would determine, there’d be a ballot not in the Caucus.  The ballot would be within the Left, within the Right, they’d do it within the respective state branches of the Right.  So there would be little ballots in little rooms and then a slate presented to the Caucus.
I was here from 1996 to 2007 as a member of the Opposition.  During that time there were ballots for leadership and deputy leadership.  There weren’t ballots held in the Caucus.
QUESTION: If it is a deal between the two major parties, if it’s a deal to be struck between Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott, while then in the agreement that Julia Gillard and Wayne Swan signed with Rob Oakeshott is the 3.1 actually explicitly outlined electoral donations?
ANTHONY ALBANESE:  I have answered the question.
QUESTION: You haven’t.
ANTHONY ALBANESE:  I have answered the question.  You disagree with me.
QUESTION: Just back on the Caucus reform, do you think there should be some changes to the way the executive is appointed or should be in the hands of the leader?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Look, I think in terms of the reforms that the Party needs, very different from talking about the executive and the way that that it’s chosen.  What I want to see is a democratisation of the Party from the grassroots up.  I want to see more power given to individual members of the Party, and I want to see that across the spectrum.  I think it’s worthy of consideration of the Party membership having a say in the leadership of the Party.
QUESTION: [Inaudible question]
ANTHONY ALBANESE:  I think it’s worthy of these issues being debated within the Party, at the next national conference.  I’ve been an advocate, for example, of members directly having a say over who goes to the ALP national conference.  There’s been some reforms in NSW and I give Sam Dastyari and John Graham a great deal of credit.  Measures such as election of the policy committees have meant that members have been able to participate.  I want to see more direct democracy in the Party.
Now, if you could have a Caucus ballot which was a genuine Caucus ballot where there weren’t groups and people were not chosen by the factions, then I think that would be worthy of consideration.  But my view is that any party leader in 2013 and beyond who isn’t able to get the frontbench they want would be placed in an extremely difficult position.  I also say that when I look at the frontbenches from 1996 to 2007, I can’t look at you and say that I agree that that was the best team that was available.
QUESTION: There’s been some disquiet on the back benches in recent days over a number of issues.  Are you 100 per cent certain it’s not Kevin Rudd supporters agitating behind the scenes, as reported in some of the papers today?
QUESTION: So you can categorically deny there is no new push?
ANTHONY ALBANESE:  Absolutely.  I’m a friend of Kevin’s.  I make no secret of that.  I’ve been a friend of Kevin’s for a long time I will be for a long time.
Kevin’s been consistent about all of this.  Some journos do the sort of jump around and jump at shadows.  Kevin is doing his job.  I was with him and Wayne Swan in Brisbane at a very successful press conference about the Cross River Rail project, and I know that Kevin’s continuing to do his job as the Member for Griffith.  I expect that he will continue to do that, and the only discussions that I’ve seen Kevin Rudd engaged in are issues of policy that are of interest to his electorate.
And so I think in terms of people looking for motivations that simply aren’t there and trying to join unconnected events is, I think, just not the case.  The fact is that internal issues were resolved, resolved clearly and we’re all getting on with the campaign of going forward to the next election.

Newman’s big new taxes to hammer far north families

Media Release.

Shadow Treasurer and Member for Mulgrave Curtis Pitt says next week’s State Budget will cement the Newman Government’s position as a serial offender when it comes to breaking election promises.
“The Newman Government’s second budget will include the most tax and price rises in living memory,” Mr Pitt said.
“The Premier and the Treasurer have broken promise after broken promise and it’s families that will pay the price."
“At the March 2012 election the Premier promised to cut the cost of living by taking $120 a year off household power bills; $80 off water bills; and freezing car rego costs,” Mr Pitt said.
“He has failed on each count — power bills are expected to skyrocket by around $140 on average this year and $250 on average next financial year. The Newman Government has already quarantined its $80-year saving on water bills to the south-east corner and even then it is just a one-off rebate, not the ongoing annual saving promised to voters."
“The LNP promised to freeze car rego costs but since the election added an escape clause claiming it always meant to exclude CTP costs.”
Mr Pitt said on top of the promises broken by the Newman Government in its first year, the June 4 State Budget would break more by lifting taxes, fees, and charges.
“In December last year the Treasurer Tim Nicholls said the 2013 State Budget would not contain new taxes, but now it seems it will contain little else,” Mr Pitt said.
Taxes, fees and charges to be increased included:
• Car insurance tax: UP (averaging $73 for family with two cars)
• Home and contents insurance tax: UP (average $25 increase)
• Mortgage duty tax: UP
• Life insurance rider tax: UP
• Professional indemnity insurance tax: UP
• Fire levy: UP (extra $11.20, for metro homes, NEW levy of $90 for rural households)
• Payroll tax: UP (threshold increase deferred, leaving more Qld businesses liable)
“While the Premier said before the election he would save householders $330 on their household bills, they are likely to be paying $500 more instead,” Mr Pitt said.
“In addition to this the average family in regional Queensland will be facing tax slugs of more than $185 with the imposition of a new fire levy."
“Families living in flood and cyclone areas are worst hit by the insurance tax hike with overall increases in taxes potentially exceeding $200 per year.”
When you add in the new tax slugs in the Budget the total cost of living increase in regional Queensland is over $680.
Mr Pitt said the arrogant Newman Government believed its huge majority would insulate it from a backlash against its big new taxes, fees and charges.
“Not only did Campbell Newman hide these tax increases before the last election, but just last week the Treasurer said he’d be getting the budget back to surplus and he ‘wouldn’t tax Queenslanders into their grave’.
“Within days the Premier and the Treasurer have yet again gone back on their word."
“You simply can’t trust this Government to deliver on their promises, especially when it comes to the cost of living.”
Mr Pitt said Queensland was already going through a Campbell Newman-inspired economic slump.
“The cruel cuts inflicted on Queenslanders by Campbell Newman in the last Budget have already caused thousands of job losses and economic growth to slow."
“The last thing we need is more tax increases that Campbell Newman never told anyone about.”

Newman Government closes more health services

Media Release.

Member for Mulgrave Curtis Pitt expressed outrage at the latest Queensland Health closure in Cairns by the Newman Government, this time the Medical Aid Subsidy Scheme office on Sheridan Street.
Letters mailed out to patients say the office will close on Friday 31 May.
Mr Pitt and Cairns Regional Councillor Rob Pyne – who has personally relied on the service for almost 20 years – have called on the Newman Government to explain the closure to the people of the region.
“The people of the Far North didn’t vote for Campbell Newman so he could shut down local health services,” Mr Pitt said.
“The Medical Aids Subsidy Scheme is an important program that supports patients who need access to things like hearing aids, walking frames, wheelchairs and other medical products."
“Clearly the LNP is centralising these services so they can sell them off to the private sector. That won’t make it easier for patients to access these services, it’ll make it harder."
“How many jobs will be lost and how will these services be provided in the meantime?"
“The last thing we need in the far North is the ‘Americanisation’ of our health system."
“This Government’s ‘outsourcing’ agenda is just privatisation by stealth, and it’s clear that everything’s on the table."
“Gavin King and the other LNP MPs have a lot of explaining to do. How can they stand by while this crucial service is closed and patients are shunted off to Brisbane?”
Cr Pyne said the closure of the Cairns office would hit local patients hard.
“I’ve personally relied on this service for almost 20 years, and the professionalism and support provided by local staff has always been a big help,” Cr Pyne said.
“It makes no sense to send locals to Brisbane to get the same support and services they can get here."
“It’s sad that these kinds of services are being closed down in Cairns at the same time that the LNP Government has three local members who are supposed to be representing our interests."
“I’d call on the LNP to change their minds and leave this service open – and to leave other health services alone too.”

Newman Must Come Clean On Budget Job Cuts: Pitt

Media Release.

Shadow Treasurer Curtis Pitt says the Premier must reveal the full extent of further job cuts in the upcoming budget.
“In last year’s State Budget, Campbell Newman broke a key election promise and sacked 14,000 workers,” Mr Pitt said.
“In response to the Costello Audit report earlier this month, the Treasurer said a further third of the government workforce – or 66,000 jobs – could go over the next five years."
“The Premier had two occasions in Parliament where he could’ve corrected the Treasurer, but instead he refused to rule the job cuts out."
“Mr Newman has arrogantly broken promises to workers before, thinking his huge majority insulates him from any backlash."
“It now looks like next week’s Budget of big new taxes is also going to include thousands more job cuts.”
Mr Pitt said conflicting media reports this morning showed the Newman Government in pre-budget chaos.
“In The Courier-Mail this morning, the Treasurer tried to say the job cuts were over. On the Brisbane Times website, the Health Minister admitted jobs are set to go from the Health Quality Complaints Commission."
“The Health Minister’s uncovered the Treasurer’s deceitful attempts to hide his job cuts."
“It was the LNP’s cuts to jobs and services that have stalled our economy."
“If Campbell Newman break’s yet more promises, at the same time as raising taxes and increasing the cost of living, it could have dire consequences for the Queensland economy.”

Newman government officially wipes its hands of homelessness

Media Release.

Shadow Housing Minister Jo-Ann Miller says the Newman Government has today carried out one its cruellest cuts, officially refusing to accept federal funds to keep open the essential support organisation the Tenant Advice and Advocacy Service.

Mrs Miller said Housing Minister Tim Mander – who clearly had no idea of the critical role TAAS performed in keeping vulnerable Queenslanders in housing – had doomed the organisation by refusing to accept the federal government’s $2.5 million funding offer.

“He has officially consigned TAAS – along with the people who rely on it and the people who staff it – to the dust bin,” Mrs Miller said.

“This is a deliberately cruel and callous act. This is funding that would have kept TAAS offices throughout Queensland opened for the next six months after the Newman government slashed the organisation’s funding and the federal government stepped in."

“The TAAS service provides a vital frontline service to the community that no other organisation in Queensland offers but clearly Mr Mander does not understand this."

“You need only look at his comments in relation to TAAS to see he does not have a clue about the services that it provides."

“Mr Mander has said he is a bricks-and-mortar Minister when it comes to solving our social housing problems of this state. But why is it that he has not made public his decision to sign the Commonwealth National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness for 2013/14 earlier this week?"

“And why is it that the Minister continues to play politics and refuses to accept the $2.5 million on offer by the federal government to continue the TAAS service?"

“Mr Mander’s argument that he would rather spend $2.5 million on its homelessness plan is hypocritical, as the TAAS service supports people to remain in their accommodation and not become homeless."

“You only have to look at the Premier’s Facebook page to see that this government does not value the importance of TAAS – he says local MPs can duplicate this service because they have copies of the appropriate legislation."

“Every person who has ever used the services of TAAS – in fact any clear-thinking person – understands that is garbage.”
Mrs Miller said the LNP government had today proven that it does not care about battlers.

“To date we have still not seen one piece of evidence to show that the Newman government has a plan to solve homelessness in this state – their only plan is to play politics on a very important issue and that is obscene.”

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Grants to boost science and maths graduates

Media Release.

Sharon Bird MP.
Minister for Higher Education and Skills 

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Six universities will work with schools to inspire the next generation of professionals in science, technology, engineering and maths.
Minister for Higher Education and Skills Sharon Bird today announced $5.2 million for seven priority projects in round one of the Australian Maths and Science Partnerships Program (AMSPP).
AMSPP grants help improve student engagement in maths and science courses, through partnerships between universities, schools, and other relevant organisations.
Minister Bird also opened the second round of the AMSPP, which makes available more than $16 million for competitive grants.
“These grants will help develop new and innovative ways of teaching and learning maths and science. Activities vary from developing virtual classrooms and new online resources, to linking students to scientific mentors,” Minister Bird said.
Other projects will raise national awareness of informatics, build teachers’ skills through learning programs and internships, and provide teaching modules in line with the incoming Australian Curriculum.
“A strong grounding in maths and science is essential for many careers and very helpful in life in general. However we know that many children lose interest in these subjects early on in their schooling,” Minister Bird said.
“By improving students’ experience in the classroom we also improve their career opportunities in the future. The benefits of these programs will reach students across Australia.”
Applications are currently open for the competitive grants round of AMSPP, with submissions due by 23 July 2013.
Further information on the grant recipients and the next funding round can be found at


Media Release.

Bill Shorten MP.
Minister for Emploment and Workplace Relations
Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation

May 27, 2013

Flood victims in Queensland will be hit with even higher insurance premiums under a Budget measure announced by the Newman Government today.
Premier Newman’s decision to increase the insurance duty from 7 to 9 per cent will drive up insurance for Queensland families, particularly Queenslanders in North Queensland who have already been hit hard by steep rises in premiums.
This is despite the HIH Royal Commission, the Henry Review and the Johnson Report recommending that insurance duty be abolished, and the parliamentary Wake of Disasters report recommending that Queensland have a 12 month moratorium on insurance duty in the North of the State.
True to form, the Liberal National Party will hit those who can least afford it; Queensland families which have suffered through the floods and struggled with the complexity of insurance in recent years.
This is a slap in the face for Queensland families straight from the hand of the LNP Government and in complete contrast to the work of the Gillard Labor Government.
This tax hike on Queensland families is in stark contrast to the Gillard Labor Government’s consistent efforts to not only increase flood insurance coverage but put downwards pressure on premiums by funding flood mitigation work.
The Gillard Labor Government is investing $100 million to reduce flood risk, including funding for Roma and Ipswich in Queensland, and bring about real reductions in insurance premiums.
That’s because minimising damage from flood and other natural disasters is the only sustainable way to reduce insurance premiums over time.
The Gillard Government has delivered important, consumer focussed reforms in insurance including;
  • Standard definition of ‘flood’ – something no other government has been able to achieve
  • Key Facts Sheet – one page, in plain English, to save consumers from 20 pages of jargon and uncertainty
  • Flood data portal – because more information means real choice for families looking to protect their homes
The Gillard Labor Government has been pleased to see flood coverage in insurance policies increase from three per cent to around 83 per cent.
The Gillard Government’s plan has been widely welcomed by insurers and communities as a step forward for dealing with risks and lowering costs for consumers and business.
The Newman LNP Government has taken a retrograde step that will hurt Queensland families.

Bill Shorten MP. Superannuation, Workplace Health and Safety.


Bill Shorten MP.
Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations
Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation
28 MAY 2013

MICHAEL BAILEY: Rockhampton is just a shining city and at long last the water quality report is being released today about what’s happening with the mine releases into the mighty Fitzroy river and it looks like thumbs are up and the green light could be on for more water release from the mines.

BILL SHORTEN:That’s good news.

MICHAEL BAILEY:Yeah it all helps the bottom line, doesn’t it?

BILL SHORTEN:Yeah and also quality of life.

MICHAEL BAILEY: Quality of life absolutely. Talking about quality of life, Bill, super. What’s happening with that because it’s going to go from 9 to 12 per cent?


MICHAEL BAILEY: We hope, although I do believe the Leader of the Opposition wants to freeze it for two years, is that right?

BILL SHORTEN:Yes, superannuation is part of people’s wages packet, their remuneration. We passed a law increasing it from 9 to 12 per cent over the next 7 years. So for business people listening, it will increase by a quarter of a per cent this year, a quarter of a per cent next year and five lots of half a per cent over the following five years. So it’s not a fast increase.
It’s always been part of people’s wage rises. We think it’s important because we don’t want people to have to depend on the Age Pension. When people retire and they are living a lot longer than they were 30, 40, 50 years ago, they want to have some control over their own lives.
So increasing compulsory savings in the long term will mean that a 30 year old working today, on average wages – a nurse, or a teacher, or a mechanic – will have about $127,000 extra when they retire, if we increase the super from 9 to 12.
My concern is that superannuation should be above day to day politics, but the Opposition have said they will freeze it for at least two years. What that means is that if you’re a 30 year old, you will probably have $20,000 less when you retire than you otherwise would because you can’t get that money back that you didn’t save.

MICHAEL BAILEY: Is small business jumping up and down, like every year, there is that yearly pay rise and they’ve got to find that extra quarter of a per cent. Will that break small business do you think or put them to the edge over time?

BILL SHORTEN: No, because history shows it doesn’t. When superannuation went up from 3 to 9 per cent between 1992 and 2002, so it’s not the first time super has gone up. What happened between 1992 and 2002 is that employment rose at the same time as super going up. There was no spike in real wages. Employment rose, business profit as a share of the economy or GDP, it rose. Unemployment fell.
So increasing superannuation is not a set of circumstances whereby it leads to greater costs. The only way it could be a greater cost is if you never ever give someone a pay rise ever. Now the last time we had seven years of no pay rises was during the convict era.

MICHAEL BAILEY: Gee, that’s going back a few years Bill.

BILL SHORTEN:Yeah I admit some of my ancestors did get a free trip from England but that was in the 1830s. In all seriousness when people get worried and the Opposition, I think, mischaracterise it when they say it’s a tax on business. It’s not, because it’s offset against people’s wage increases. We all know that overtime people’s wages do go up.
 So I’ve got historical evidence of when it was increasing and it didn’t have any of the bad consequences. The plus is, it’s not just the individual account which starts building up, but it means we’ve now got $1.6 trillion in savings.  That makes us the third largest market in the world in terms of savings. There’s not a lot that Australia comes third in.
The beauty of having that much money in our own economy, going to our share market, going to infrastructure, going to other assets, is that we don’t have to borrow so much money from the rest of the world. When you’re not borrowing money from the rest of the world, to the same extent as you otherwise would, you pay less interest rates on it.

MICHAEL BAILEY: Bill I know there are over 22500 individuals in Capricornia who will be listening this with great intent with of course the freeze for two years, they are missing out on money. But small business, you say, will cop it sweet. It’s like with the GST, remember Australia was going to fall apart when the GST was introduced, but we survived didn’t we?

BILL SHORTEN:Well yes, but what I would say is that there are two sets of numbers. In Capricornia, actually, it’s nearly 50,000 people who will have their increases frozen for two years.
In terms of small business, again, I’ve got to stress that the record shows that these increases, say if you were going to give someone a 3 per cent pay rise, or 3 and a quarter per cent pay rise, it gets discounted from that quarter of a per cent that you’re passing on in super. It all comes from the bottom line.
So we’ve put a submission in for the national wage case for the minimum wage where we say the superannuation increase should be taken into account.
This is a Labor government who is not naive or silly, we are very clear; we say that superannuation is a part of people’s remuneration increases. What we also say is that jamming it at 9 and a quarter per cent is denying people now a more comfortable retirement. I think that’s dumb.

MICHAEL BAILEY: Well it seems to be dumb to me. But what about workplace health and safety, is that crippling some of the businesses do you think or is it making just a safer workplace?

BILL SHORTEN: Well we now have national laws in place for everywhere except Victoria and WA. What it means is if you’ve got a business in Rocky who is doing business in another state in Australia you’ve got the same rules. That means far less red tape.
 No I don’t believe it is. You’ve always got to make sure paperwork isn’t greater than the outcomes you’re seeking to prevent. Workplace injury in Australia is far more common than people realise. It does cost the Australian industry billions of dollars every year. Not to mention the individual hardship.
So having safer workplaces ultimately saves businesses money because if you’ve got someone who gets injured at work that costs money in rehabilitation, compensation payments, loss of morale.
I think that good safety does make sense.

MICHAEL BAILEY: It does make sense. An extra burden, maybe, but in the long term you’re saying it saves money.

BILL SHORTEN:There’s no short cuts here are there. If someone gets hurt…

MICHAEL BAILEY:They are hurt.

BILL SHORTEN:That’s right – if you do your back and can’t lift your kids on their birthday, or if you suffer some sort of permanent impairment – that’s with a person for the rest of their life.
The workers compensation doesn’t ever compensate people for their injury it’s just some form of financial restitution to help them get by with their injury.
I’ve never met someone who’s been injured at work who wouldn’t if they could find that magic wand go back to the day they got hurt and instead undo the hurt. They don’t want the compensation, they don’t want to be hurt.

MICHAEL BAILEY: I think you’ve said it all. So super, it’s all systems go but you’re very fearful of course of Tony Abbott freezing it for two years.

BILL SHORTEN: I am, if it’s only two years. A previous Liberal government came in in 1996 and said they were going to increase super to 15 per cent as the Labor government of 1996 said. But they decided it was never a good time to do it.
My problem is that you’ve got people now in their 50s and 60s retiring. I wish they invented compulsory super when Robert Menzies was Prime Minister, then people would have bigger accounts.


BILL SHORTEN:You know people would argue now is not a good time to save money. But the problem is it’s never a good time to save money. But if you don’t, we are now living longer, the reality is that Australians are redefining what it is to be retired. It’s 20, it’s 30, it’s 40 years of life.
We haven’t got enough saved. Superannuation is anti-inflationary as well because if people aren’t, admittedly it’s only a small proportion, but if they’re not spending it all now it keeps downward pressure on prices and instead savings is something that keeps real value in the community for people.

MICHAEL BAILEY:It does and time is running out. That’s the Honourable Bill Shorten MP, the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations and Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation. You’ve got a long title and a half haven’t you Bill?

BILL SHORTEN:Yeah, when I’ve travelled overseas…no I’ll tell you when the titles have seemed a bit silly is when I put my business cards into brail, because I’m very interested in people with disabilities and having brail on your cards just reminds people that we all come in different shapes and packages and just because someone has an impairment we shouldn’t just stop making the effort to communicate. But I do concede that trying to get the title into brail was a little hard.

MICHAEL BAILEY:Good to see you’ve got a sense of humour too. Bill Shorten thanks very much for talking to 990 4RO.

BILL SHORTEN:You have a nice day. Thank you


Parramatta to Epping Rail Link; Sydney infrastructure funding

Transcript of Interview with Ian ‘Dicko’ Dickson and Sarah Morice, 2UE Breakfast

The Hon Anthony Albanese 

Minister for infrastructure & Transport 

SARAH MORICE:  Now, there’s been a kick in the guts for Western Sydney this morning, particularly Western Sydney commuters, with word the Federal Government has shelved the Parramatta to Epping rail link. Now $2 billion earmarked for this rail link has been shifted to fund projects that are not due to be built for – wait for this, another six years.

IAN DICKSON:  Anthony Albanese’s the Federal Minister for Transport, he joins us now. Good morning Minister.


IAN DICKSON:  Now look, the Government’s been running a pretty strenuous hearts and minds campaign in Western Sydney, we’re told it’s going to be the battleground upon which the election will be won or lost. Why has the funding been shifted?

ANTHONY ALBANESE:  Because the State Government refused to spend it. We’ve had, since 2010, money on the table to build the Parramatta to Epping rail line, the State Government runs the rail system, short of breaking in to State Government owned land and building our own rail system, we couldn’t get this done because the State Government simply doesn’t support the Parramatta to Epping rail line being built at the current time.

SARAH MORICE: Minister, as Dicko was saying there, you know, Western Sydney is being hailed the hot spot for this federal election, and people in Western Sydney are being told they’re cared about, that we’re, you know – basically the governments want to do everything they can to get their vote really. That’s the message that’s been coming through.
When you hear something like this, you can understand I guess why they would be disappointed, particularly when we know this was promised just before the state election. It was a federal sweetener really, to help Kristina Keneally keep power, it didn’t work, but can you understand why people in Western Sydney will be so upset when they hear election pledges, and then they hear today those pledges are gone?

ANTHONY ALBANESE:  I’m upset too. I want this project to go ahead and if New South Wales changes its mind, and decides that it actually wants this important rail line built, then I’d be very pleased to sit down with them and make sure it gets done. The fact is that had the O’Farrell Government not shelved this project, construction would be well underway right now. One of the reasons why we made the commitment prior to the 2010 election was that there weren’t many infrastructure projects in Sydney that you could announce and actually get going during a three year term of office.
With this project, half the lines are already built; it’s a matter of extending it. This is about making sure as well that all the road and rail links don’t just go through the CBD. We need to build Parramatta as Sydney’s second CBD. I’m a big supporter of this project and I can’t understand why the State Government are so hostile to this project going ahead.

SARAH MORICE:  Could it be though because they have signed on to Gonski, and as a result of that they seem to be getting a bit of funding from you guys, from the Federal Government, including things like WestConnex and the F3 to M2 link, so I guess their money’s now tied up in that? Because that was sort of all related to Gonski and, you know – you guys are giving them money to do other projects that are now becoming priorities?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well they’re getting record funding on education, record funding on health, record funding on the range of community services. And $5.5 billion we have committed to Sydney alone as part of more than $23 billion we’ve committed to New South Wales. Now during the entire Howard Government period, there was only $300 million spent on Sydney over those 12 years.
SARAH MORICE:  Minister if we take that sort of funding out of it, if you were, you know, in New South Wales and you’re the Premier, and you had to decide what was more important, is it the – you know, the F3-M2 link, is it WestConnex, or is it the Parramatta to Epping railway, what would you have chosen?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well the truth is that we had 80 per cent of the funding on the table for the Parramatta to Epping rail link. I certainly would have proceeded with that, construction would have been underway on that project. Then the F3 to M2 that we put funding in, in this Budget, of $400 million a couple of weeks ago, that’ll be matched by New South Wales, that’s a project where construction will commence in 2014. The WestConnex project according to the New South Wales Government – the construction time of that will start later on.
So you could have done all of it because they are staged projects. The Parramatta to Epping rail link was the one project in Sydney where construction could have commenced, indeed be well underway by now.

SARAH MORICE: Alright Minister, than you very much for your time there. Federal Transport Minister Anthony Albanese.




Minister for Finance and Deregulation










Last night, the Gillard Government’s Not-For-Profit Sector Freedom to Advocate Bill 2013 passed the Parliament, banning the use of gag clauses in Federal Government contracts with the not-for-profit sector.
In 2008, Labor removed these clauses which were used by John Howard’s Coalition Government to prevent organisations from criticising government policy.
“Gag clauses are a well-worn Liberal Party tactic,” Minister for Finance and Deregulation, Senator Penny Wong, said.
“Liberals cut to the bone and then silence organisations who rely on government funding from speaking out.”
As a result of this Bill, any clause in Commonwealth agreements that restrict or prevent not-for-profit entities from advocating on Commonwealth law, policy or action will be prohibited.
However, gag clauses are currently in place in Queensland under Liberal Premier Campbell Newman, and, recently, New South Wales Premier Barry O’Farrell flagged his intention to introduce them into funding agreements with community legal centres.
Minister for Social Inclusion, Mark Butler, said gag clauses limit important advocacy on behalf of the community and those most in need.
“This Government recognises that a strong, independent and innovative not-for-profit sector is essential to building an inclusive community,” Mr Butler said.
“Introducing gag clauses shows a complete lack of respect for the independence of the not-for-profit sector.”
Assistant Treasurer David Bradbury has called on Tony Abbott and Kevin Andrews to publicly condemn the use of gag clauses by his Liberal state colleagues.
“Tony Abbott and Kevin Andrews should get on the phone to Campbell Newman and Barry O’Farrell and demand they stop their attacks on the not-for-profit sector,” Mr Bradbury said.
“Unless they do, it will prove that, deep down, the Coalition still supports gag clauses and will unleash them again if they ever get the chance.”

Newman Government Must Fund Critical Tenant Services

Media Release.

Friday, 24 May 2013 

Queensland Senator Jan McLucas said the Australian Government has offered a $2.5 million package to the Queensland Government so that critical advice and advocacy services to vulnerable tenants can continue for another six months.
Visiting the Tenants Union of Queensland's North Queensland office today, Senator McLucas said the local service has been critical in helping tenants in the Cairns region keep a roof over their head and avoid becoming homeless.
"The Newman Government cut this important service last year, leaving Queenslanders without critical tenancy advice and advocacy services.
"The Australian Government stepped in and provided emergency support to ensure the services could continue.
"Like so many of Campbell Newman's decisions, cutting this important community service is so short-sighted. They seem to have no regard for the people affected."
Providers' contracts end on 30 June 2013 but the Newman Government has refused to budge on its decision to de-fund the service.
The service is recognised as a core state and territory responsibility — every other jurisdiction in Australia funds tenant advice and advocacy services. Last month all states and territories agreed in principle to continue providing these services.
Mr Butler said the loss of this service would hurt most for older Australians, people with a disability and people living in caravan parks who are most vulnerable.
"The most effective way to reduce homelessness is to prevent people becoming homeless in the first place and services such as QTAAS help to do exactly that," Mr Butler said.
"The Commonwealth has stepped in to try and find a solution in good faith but we can't do all the heavy lifting ourselves – at some point the Newman Government, who are actually responsible for delivering these services, have to stand up."
The Gillard Labor Government had invested an unprecedented $26 billion in housing and homelessness since coming to government.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Further Australian Support For Polio Eradication

Media Release.

Prime Minister, Minister for Foreign Affairs


Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Foreign Minister Bob Carr today announced further funding to help eradicate polio – a debilitating disease that continues to strike the world’s most vulnerable people, especially children.

Australia will provide $80 million over four years from 2015 to 2018 to help finish the job and achieve worldwide polio eradication.

This contribution follows a $50 million commitment to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative from 2011 to 2014 announced by the Prime Minister at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth in October 2011.

The Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister applauded the leadership shown by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Health Organization, UNICEF and Rotary International on polio.  The Gates Foundation is contributing US$1.8 billion for the Polio Endgame Strategic Plan  2013 - 2018, which is one-third of the total budget.

Australia has a proud history of support for polio eradication.  From 1912 to 1972, more than 30,000 cases of paralytic poliomyelitis were reported in Australia, and a number of polio survivors in Australia today still live with the pain and debilitation of post-polio syndrome.

It was Australia’s Sir Clem Renouf who, as President of Rotary International in 1978 and 1979, led the international campaign to vaccinate every child against polio. As a result of these early efforts by Rotary, the global community came together in 1988 to launch the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.

Since 1988, there has been a reduction in the number of polio cases by 99.9 per cent.  Following the certification of India as polio-free in 2012, polio remains endemic in only Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria.  The world now has polio eradication within its reach.  This would be the second disease to be eradicated globally after small pox and a major victory for international aid and public health.

The new contribution brings Australia’s total commitment to polio eradication to over $130 million.  Our aim is to help eradicate polio and strengthen routine immunisation.

Number of kids in Child Care hits one million

Media Release.

New figures have confirmed the number of children receiving child care services in Australia has hit one million for the first time, Early Childhood and Child Care Minister Kate Ellis said today.

Ms Ellis said the latest quarterly snapshot was further evidence that the Gillard Government's measures to improve child care affordability were working - that includes the decision not to means test the child care rebate.

"This is a very strong result and a testament to the Government's work in building a more affordable, accessible and higher quality child care sector," Ms Ellis said.

"The number of children receiving child care across Australia has increased by nearly 20,000 in just one quarter and nearly four per cent over the year."

"Make no mistake, there is still plenty of work to do to increase the availability of child care in many locations but this result is encouraging."

In addition to increases in children, the number of approved child care services across Australia increased by more than 600 over the year to 15,147.

There were increases across every form of child care, from long day care to outside school hours care.

Also, the number of families using approved child care services increased by more than 20,000 over the year to 726,130.

Ms Ellis said the new statistics meant the Labor Government had increased the total number of children in child care by more than 200,000 since coming to office.

"That achievement alone would equate to tens of thousands of parents being able to return to the workforce and pay off their mortgages more quickly," she said.

"That's great for families and great for the economy."

More than a quarter of all children aged up to 12 years were now receiving child care.

Ms Ellis said the Government had paved the way through a range of measures, particularly the major increase in the Child Care Rebate.

"Our Government is investing a record $22.1 billion in direct child care assistance to parents over the next four years, more than triple that of the former Coalition Government," she said.

"Our decision to increase the Child Care Rebate from 30 per cent to 50 per cent of out-of-pocket costs, and increase the cap on the rebate from $4354 to $7500 per child per year, continues to reduce the cost to families."

"Importantly too, only Labor has committed to not means test the rebate so that all families are receiving vital fee assistance.

"We've also moved to increase quality care standards so parents can have peace of mind knowing their child is receiving the best care and attention."

The Child Care Update (September Quarter 2012) can be found at