Wednesday, 26 February 2014

GOVERNMENT'S SABOTAGE OF CHILDCARE WORKERS' PAY RISE IS ANOTHER BROKEN PROMISE

Media Release


25 Feb 2014

The Abbott Government has broken another promise to thousands of dedicated childcare workers with their decision to try and block workers from receiving a wages boost.

Today's Australian reports the Abbott Government is actively fighting against the equal pay case in front of the Fair Work Commission to boost childcare workers' wages.

After repeatedly stating that a case in Fair Work Australia is the appropriate place to a grant a much-needed child care wage increase, the Government is now in fact arguing against this case.

When the Government was cutting grants that would increase workers' wages, they repeatedly insisted Fair Work Australia should be the ones to grant an increase:

"Let's let the Fair Work Commission do its work and come up with a sustainable increase for everybody."
- Sussan Ley - Interview with Luke Grant on 2GB- 27 December 2013

"So we have got, finally, United Voice taking this to the Fair Work Commission, where they are able to secure a lasting, permanent wage increase. That takes care of that."
- Sussan Ley - Press Conference - 10 December 2013

"This is an outrageous breach of trust and a cruel betrayal of our low paid and undervalued childcare educators," Shadow Minister for Early Childhood Kate Ellis said.

"The Abbott Government said to educators time and time again, if you want a pay rise, take it to the Fair Work Commission."

"But educators never expected their own government would speak out against them getting the wage they deserve."

"This is nothing but a cruel deception and a tricky political game and the cost is borne on low paid workers."

"The Assistant Minister is left with many questions to answer: will she apologise to the thousands of workers she has misled?"

"Is she inconsistent, incompetent or just untrustworthy?"

"Will the Prime Minister step in and assure workers that their own Government won't oppose the wage case?"

"If the Prime Minister continues to fight against childcare workers getting higher wages, it will be another broken promise from this government."

Abbott and Pyne signal cuts to education

Media Release


25 Feb 2014

With just 12 weeks until the Abbott Government delivers its first budget, there are clear signs today of its intention to abandon its promise to implement Labor's Gonski school reforms.

This is despite the iron-clad commitments made by the Prime Minister and the Education Minister before the election; when they went to great efforts to convince voters they supported Labor's Gonski school funding model, and the money that goes with it:

"We will honour the agreements that Labor has entered into. We will match the offers that Labor has made. We will make sure that no school is worse off. We think that money is important." (Tony Abbott, Press Conference, 2 August 2013)

"You can vote Liberal or Labor and you'll get exactly the same about of funding for your school." (Christopher Pyne, Press Conference, 29 August 2013)

"We are committed to the student resource standard, of course we are. We are committed to this new school funding model." (Christopher Pyne, Radio National Breakfast, 30 August 2013)

Tony Abbott told the Australia-Canada Economic Leadership Forum last night that "we must reduce the rate of spending growth" in education, and today, Christopher Pyne has labelled growth in education spending as "unsustainable".

"Implementing Labor's Gonski reforms involves a $9.8 billion commitment from the Federal Government over six years. If money for the fifth year of Gonski is not in this year's budget, they can't claim to have implemented the Gonski reforms at all," Shadow Minister for Education Kate Ellis said.

At a state level, Liberals understand the importance of these once-in-a-generation reforms and are lining up to warn Tony Abbott against breaking his commitments.

"Liberal Governments in Victoria and New South Wales, and even the Liberal Opposition in Tasmania have made it incredibly clear to Tony Abbott that he must not scrap the six year funding deals that have been signed with those states," Kate Ellis said.

"Without growing investment in education, it is simply impossible for Tony Abbott to keep his promise that 'no school will be worse off', or that he will match school funding 'dollar-for-dollar'."

Labor's Gonski reforms set a national minimum Student Resource Standard for all students, to be reached over time. Increases in funding are also linked to significant reforms in the quality of teaching, student outcomes and engagement with parents.

"It will take six years to make sure that every student in every school gets the national minimum resources needed to deliver individual attention and better outcomes," Kate Ellis said.

At a time when we are facing growing levels of youth unemployment, investment in skills development and education is more important than ever.

"Unless Tony Abbott keeps his commitment to Labor's Gonski reforms, youth unemployment and the gap between our most advantaged and disadvantaged students will continue to grow."

Bill Shorten Leader of Opposition, SUBJECT / S: Manus Island; Fiona Nash conflict of interest; Craig Thomson; Qantas; G20; Royal Commission.

E&OE TRANSCRIPT
RADIO INTERVIEW
ABC 774 WITH JON FAINE

MONDAY, 24 FEBRUARY 2014


JON FAINE: Well the Greens have called for Scott Morrison to resign, Bill Shorten is the leader of the Labor Party, the Federal Opposition, speaks to us this morning from our Canberra studios at Parliament House. Mr Shorten good morning to you.
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Good morning Jon.

FAINE: Does the Labor Party also call for Scott Morrison to resign?
SHORTEN: Ultimately it will be up to Tony Abbott if he gives up on this hapless Minister but I think all Australians are shocked that we’ve got a Minister for border security and immigration who tells us that one set of things happened about this tragedy, including the death of a young man – and then we find out at quarter to nine on a Saturday night, that what we were told was exactly wrong in that situation.  That what was described by the Minister was completely false.
FAINE: As soon as the Minister found out that there was misleading information he corrected it, what’s wrong with doing that?
SHORTEN:  Well Tony Abbott says he doesn’t want a wimp for a Minister, I just want someone who knows what’s going on. He was very clear, he said that he can guarantee the safety of people within the wire and there was the implication that because this young man and others were outside the wire, that somehow that they were taking their own chances then it turns out that this young man who died was not outside the wire. This is a serious issue, this is a tragedy -
FAINE: But is it a sacking offence?
SHORTEN: Well that will be up for Tony Abbott but I mean if Tony Abbott thinks that this is appropriate ministerial conduct, then what would you get sacked for in the Abbott Government?
FAINE: Well you wouldn’t get sacked for getting a detail wrong about an issue within your ministerial responsibility, whether someone’s inside a wire fence or outside a wire fence, is that a sacking offence for you?

SHORTEN: Jon, I saw how much this Government went after the ABC when they said that the ABC had got details wrong. Now I would suggest to you and I think all reasonable people would agree that the death of a young man and the implication that once he was outside the wire that he was taking the risk upon himself, this turning out to be false and he died within a facility run by Australian-funded contractors, Australian Government funded contractors, that’s as serious as it gets.
FAINE: Surely though this entire issue of the safety of people who are within our care this is the inevitable sequel to the outsourcing and offshoring of responsibility for asylum seekers which of course accelerated when your party was in Government?

SHORTEN: The government of the day, the Minister of the day Scott Morrison, has made great play of the fact that the regional processing centre Manus Island wasn’t going fast enough when Labor was in power. They made it very clear when they were the Opposition that they could do everything better than Labor, that they were the adults, they were the competent people.

Now, several months into their reign, several months into their Government, we’ve got a Minister for Immigration who Tony Abbott says ‘is not a wimp’ – we don’t need people who are wimps or not wimps running our ministries and our government, we need people who know what they’re doing.  Clearly it has astounded a lot of observers that you’ve got a Minister who comes out and says that this young man died but, you know, when you go outside the wire the risks are much greater. He went on television and guaranteed that if they were inside the wire that they would be safe. Clearly this is not the case.

The other thing is that at no stage does Minister Morrison ever embrace the culture of openness.  We know that he’s had the dragged kicking and screaming to tell us what’s going on, so that Minister Morrison is in real trouble is partly of his own making because he’s addicted to the culture of secrecy. He could have said when this first talk of the riots came out ‘I’ve been advised’, he never says that, he just says ‘I know this’ and ‘I know that’. Well if you’re the Minister who knows everything that’s going on and then you find out that everything you’ve told the public of Australia is wrong, when do you become accountable?
FAINE: The terms of reference for the independent investigation by former head of the Attorney-General’s Department Rob Cornell are not yet settled. What do you think it should cover, how wide an inquiry do you think it should be?
SHORTEN: Well we need to know how this has come to be, what are the circumstances which have led to this pressure-cooker exploding, we need to know the circumstances in which a young Iranian refugee has been killed. We need to know also what the Government knew and when they know it.

FAINE: But is about more than what happened on that night at Manus Island, is it about the contacts between the Government and the service providers, the private companies that run the facility? Is it about the relationship with the PNG police, with the locals? Is it a broader inquiry or is it just to do with what happened that night?
SHORTEN: Well you can’t I think understand what happened on the night without going to the broader questions -
FAINE: But then if the terms of reference aren’t broad enough you won’t go to those issues?
SHORTEN: Well then that will be on the head of the Government if they want to do a cover up.
FAINE: So how broad an inquiry do you want?

SHORTEN: We’ll you need to understand why this has happened. Now if you look at any situation of safety you’ve got to understand what are the circumstances leading up to it and how do you make sure it won’t happen again. The matters that you raise Jon I think are legitimate questions.  Our concern of course is that this Government, when there is political advantage, they’re all over an inquiry but when they’re on the back foot, when there is politics involved for them, then all of a sudden they are in full retreat mode, they slam into reverse gear.

I hope they don’t engage in a cover up and do as you’re asking me as potential risk that they go narrowly. People have got a right to know what’s going on, we know that dealing with refugees, people coming to Australia by boat is an incredibly complex issue and where there is very strong opinions, but at the epicentre a young man has died. At the epicentre we’ve got a Minister who told us one thing, and then has had to come out and totally contradict himself. Does this Government know what’s going on in the facilities its running or doesn’t it?
FAINE: But Tony Abbott is basically saying to the Australian people you’ve got to be tough if you’re going to stop the boats. Do you accept that equation?
SHORTEN: I don’t accept the sort of muscularity of Tony Abbott’s language, you’ve got to be smart. I just want people who are smart and know what they’re doing. The question of Mr Abbott characterising Mr Morrison is not a wimp, what’s that got to do with this issue?
FAINE: Moving on, the main beneficiary of Scott Morrison’s problems is his colleague Senator Fiona Nash, the assistant health minister, do you accept her explanations of her former chief of staff Alistair Furnival conflict of interest, that that’s now fully explained?
SHORTEN: Well the Prime Minster and the Assistant Minster for Health have continued to dodge questions on these matters every day. What we saw was the Assistant Minister for Health’s Chief of Staff had declared that running a food, lobbying business for the food industry. Now what we see is there was a conflict of interest already now determined by the Government for the Chief of Staff the Senator in question.  The Abbott Government Minister Senator came in and mislead the Senate on this occasion –

FAINE: So the Parliament’s been misled what’s the consequence, what’s your tactic or strategy when the session of the Senate resumes?
SHORTEN: Well again, we just want to know who knew what, when. The Prime Minister’s Office and the Prime Minister say that they’re responsible for vetting all the staff. If this conflict of interest was known and then decisions were being made then I think the Prime Minister needs to explain what he knew and when he knew it.

FAINE: So you’re saying that Senator Nash’s problems are internal to Tony Abbott’s office?

SHORTEN: I’m saying that we need to know what the Prime Minister knew, what Senator Nash knew, and we need to know what steps they made to tackle the conflict of interest. The chief of staff of Senator Nash is gone, the question is: is he just a sacrificial lamb for the Minister, or is he just a lone operator and the matter ends with him? What the Government needs to do is just explain what it knew and when it knew.

FAINE: From outside the bubble of Parliament, Bill Shorten, to those of us who watch parliamentarians and politicians and parties and governments come and go, this is – it seems – this is what happens because of the way your party tried to support Craig Thomson. This is where we end up, with parties looking in behind Ministers in situations that in the past would have been regarded as completely unsustainable.

SHORTEN: The Abbott Government made a virtue in Opposition of how they would operate in government. You’ve got two different Ministers who are certainly in a world of trouble, and now we see the Abbott Government who is happy to lecture an Opposition Labor, but they’re happy to set up standards themselves which they promised in opposition, which I don’t believe they’re delivering in government.

FAINE: Moving on to other things, this week will be crucial for Qantas and its staff, with different figures circulating on how many jobs may be lost. There seems no argument that there will be job losses. What does Bill Shorten say is the solution to Qantas’ problem?

SHORTEN: First of all, this week my thoughts are with the Qantas workforce, there are a lot of people who work for Qantas live in the area where I live, in the north-western suburbs of Melbourne. They work very hard, they want to be confident that for all their hard work they’re not going to get thrown to the wolves. That’s the first thing. So any approach Labor takes is how do we retain good quality jobs in Australia. We don’t believe it’s necessary for a foreign government to acquire the majority of interests in Qantas or that we can’t keep the majority Australian-owned. We would like the Government – and I’ve issued this invitation now on many occasions over the last number of months – the Government should work with us. If there’s a strategy to help Qantas go through its current difficulties with capital raising, well let’s roll up our sleeves and work together. What I don’t want to see is all those skilled maintenance crews which work out at Tullamarine, those jobs lost overseas. Because once they go we’ll never get them back again. And I am sick and tired of this government giving up on Australian industries and saying we can’t compete with the world.

FAINE: Joe Hockey says very explicitly that the reason why all these jobs are being lost is because of the appalling decisions by you and your colleagues when you were in power during the years of the Gillard, Rudd years, which have created the absolute inevitability of job losses because the economy is unsustainable.

SHORTEN: That’s just a lie, the –

FAINE: Which part of it?

SHORTEN: The idea that – not what you said – but what the government’s saying is the problem. Whatever the question, this Abbott Government always wants to act like the Opposition in charge and attack the previous Labor Government. If this government finds governing too hard, well then they should just get out of the way and let someone who is prepared to do it actually get on with it. The car industry did not have to go without a fight. Qantas can be supported without surrendering majority national ownership. The issues which have challenged a lot of Australian industries has been the high dollar, have been prices around the world and how we compete, and -

FAINE: And unsustainable subsidies, and the G20, and the leaders of the global economic movement who have been in Sydney this weekend, all say yes, we’ve got to stop propping up things that aren’t sustainable like Qantas or car industries or jobs in places where they don’t pay for themselves.

SHORTEN: Let me tell you, the rest of the world – there’s 12 other countries, including first world countries, who still subsidise their car industry. Let me tell you, eight of the 10 top airlines in the world are owned by foreign governments. So this argument that the rest of the world is more economically rationalist that us and we need to just simply give up on Australian jobs, that’s not how the rest of the world is working. We do need to be competitive, we shouldn’t be providing subsidies to inefficient companies – government intervention and support should be the exception, not the rule. But also we shouldn’t just give up on key industries. Manufacturing is the basis for a lot of our high-tech innovation in Australia, be it Qantas, be it car industries, be it Alcoa – they all contribute to fuelling small business, the training of apprentices, the development of new industry, new start-ups, the development of new technology. If we de-industrialise our manufacturing and related services base, then we’re going to miss out on the rise of Asia because we’ll have nothing to sell them other than our farm goods and our mining. Australia is a country that can still makes things, Jon, but you just need a Government who’s wants to be in a race to the top, not the bottom. And by the way, if Joe Hockey really cared about what was happening around the G20, why has he made it easier for multinationals in Australia to syphon their profits to offshore jurisdictions so they pay less tax?

FAINE: Well in fact it’s the other way around, they’ve come up with a protocol to try and make sure companies pay tax somewhere, if not in the highest taxing, at least some taxing regimes rather than not paying tax anywhere.

SHORTEN: When Joe Hockey became Treasurer – don’t judge him by his rhetoric when he’s showing off to his new pals at the G20. Judge him by what he does when he’s back home in the Parliament. And he has made it easier, not harder, easier for multinationals to remit profits to offshore jurisdictions.

FAINE: Just finally and briefly, the Attorney-General George Brandis with Chris Uhlmann on AM this morning said the Royal Commission into the pink batts situation will not automatically be given access to cabinet documents, but at the same time they’re pressing for secret documents relating to Craig Thomson to be made available to the Royal Commission into trade union activity. Is this something that the Labor party will be challenging in the High Court?

SHORTEN: On this issue of Cabinet confidentiality with the Abbott Royal Commission into the home insulation program, this issue of cabinet confidentiality has been raised. For the listeners, what it this is – this Government is breaking a principle of a 113 years.  Ever since we’ve become a nation, that deliberation of Cabinets as a rule were not released until 30 years has expired. This is to allow good collective decision making in essential to arguing without fear over all the pros and cons of all the case. In this matter, the Abbott Government is not acting like a conservative government, they’re acting like a radical government. They want to upend constitutional convention. Now the Chris Uhlamnn interview, thank goodness for the ABC, seems to see George Brandis slamming on the brakes and moving into reverse. This is nasty politics, it undermines constitutional convention, we’ve seen former distinguished Prime Ministers including Malcolm Fraser and Bob Hawke say what is going on with this crew? This is a government who, whatever the issue, can turn it into politics.

FAINE: Thank you for your time on all those issues this morning and we’ll see where the session of federal parliament gets to as another busy week gets under way. And thank you for giving us your time.


SHORTEN: Good morning, John, have a nice day.

Queensland environmental vandals to decide on World Heritage and nuclear issues

Media Release


TUESDAY, 25 FEBRUARY, 2014

The Commonwealth Department of Environment has today revealed during Estimates hearings that they are planning to hand over environmental approvals for World Heritage and nuclear issues to the Newman LNP Government.
“This is shocking news for Queensland’s environment,” Queensland Shadow Environment Minister, Jackie Trad said.
“The Newman LNP Government has proved to be the worst environmental vandals in Australia. They cannot be trusted with their current environmental responsibilities let alone the very important areas of World Heritage management and nuclear issues,” Ms Trad said.
The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC Act), was enacted by the Howard Government in 1999 to ensure that environmental issues that were of a national concern were managed in the interests of the nation.
“The loss of biodiversity and natural heritage is a national and international concern.  Environmental catastrophes associated with uranium and nuclear production – such as Ranger Mine and Fukushima – are a national and international concern. 
“These environmental issues need proper scrutiny and assessment and quite simply, the Newman LNP Government is not up to the job.
“The Newman Government has wound back every single piece of environmental protection law in Queensland, even the ones that it promised to maintain at the 2012 State election,” Ms Trad said.
“This is a Government whose Environment Minister said “[I am] still to be convinced of the degree to which we [humans] are influencing that [climate change]”, and whose Deputy Premier has declared ‘no interest in the World Heritage nomination [for Cape York]’,” Ms Trad said.
Ms Trad called on the Federal Government to exclude World Heritage and nuclear issues from the scope of discussions on the referral of EPBC powers to the State.
“If the Newman Government runs true to form and with these additional powers, regional communities will see uranium mines opening up without consultation with little environmental consideration; and Queenslanders can expect to see inappropriate developments approved within our World Heritage areas,” Ms Trad said.
“The Newman LNP Government is truly incapable of balancing development with environmental protection and I call on Prime Minister Abbott and Environment Minister Greg Hunt to abandon plans to give Mr Newman more power.” Ms Trad said.

Environmental wind back under the Newman Government
  1. Recommenced uranium mining in Queensland despite the Mr Newman’s personal promise to maintain Labor’s ban at the 2012 State election.
  2. Weakened tree clearing laws earning the description from the Environmental Defenders Office as the biggest leap backwards in environmental regulation, certainly for the last 20 years. This was despite the Premier’s personal promise at the 2012 State election not to reduce the statutory protection in Queensland.
  3. Opened up National Parks to grazing, resort developments and commercial enterprises.
  4. Reintroduced shooting permits to cull endangered and threatened flying foxes – the pollinators of our rainforests.
  5. Removed riparian vegetation protections which will increase silt and pollution into our waterways and out to sea.
  6. Cancelled every single renewable energy project in Queensland.
  7. Cancelled the waste levy turning Queensland into NSW’s dumping ground.
  8. Gutted Coastal Protection and Management laws and removing the mandatory requirement for local councils to plan for sea level rises in their planning and approval by-laws.
  9. Opened up State Reserves – ear marked to be added to the National Park estate – to logging.
  10. Removed Labor’s moratorium on oil shale extraction and production.
  11. Releasing millions of litres of contaminated mine water into the Fitzroy River Basin and out into the Great Barrier Reef.
  12. Defunded the Environmental Defender’s Office.
  13. Cut funds to Koala habitat protection.
  14. Introduced costs into the Planning and Environment Court so residents appealing inappropriate development could find themselves paying developers’ costs.
  15. Removed the requirement for flora surveys to be conducted before clearing land.
  16. Watered down or removed in the case of the Western Channel Country wild rivers protections, with irrigation and development earmarked for these pristine rivers.
  17. Sacked hundreds from the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection including many environmental officers responsible for assessing and monitoring environmental issues.

Monday, 24 February 2014

LNP NOT FAIR DINKUM ABOUT LISTENING

 Media Release

 
Health Minister Lawrence Springborg should stop hiding behind Queensland’s health boards for the cost cutting decisions inflicted on patients says Rockhampton MP, Bill Byrne.
“Time and again when decisions are made which result in cuts to patient services, the Health Minister shrugs his shoulders and says it has nothing to do with him,” said Mr Byrne.
“He’s doing it again in Central Queensland, feigning innocence and ignorance as patients tell of the pain and distress caused by forcing them to travel for treatment or to see specialists by train rather than plane."
“At the weekend, in the wake of the swing against the LNP in the Redcliffe bi-election, Premier Campbell Newman said he got the message that his government needs to start listening."
“Mr Springborg certainly needs to genuinely listen and take heed of these patients from Central Queensland and other areas throughout the state who are suffering genuine physical and financial hardship as a result of his callousness."
“I have been listening, and what I have heard from patients in my electorate are appalling tales of despair."
“The LNP promised to increase the mileage and accommodation allowances under the Patient Travel Subsidy Scheme, but what they didn’t tell anyone is that they would be funding those increases by forcing other patients to endure inappropriate 10-hour train journeys and trips that run to three or four days at greatly increased costs so they can keep appointments with their consultants."
“It is questionable that these changes are actually saving money as in some cases the train fare is greater than the air fare and the extra time involved means those patients will have to spend one or two nights extra in hotels in Brisbane."
“We are now seeing decisions based on cruel bureaucracy rather than careful consideration of what’s in the patient’s best interests."
“The Minister and the Board are quite correct when they say the subsidy guidelines have not changed."
“But what has changed is the interpretation of the guidelines and the mean-spirited attitude the Board has applied to patients who require assistance."
“Staff at Rockhampton Hospital’s travel section are severely stressed over the way they have been told to respond to patients. Those staff are being poorly led during this crisis and hundreds of patients are being adversely impacted."
“In July last year the Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service Board announced a $18.74 million surplus – a profit if you will built on cuts to patient care and forcing some people to wait longer than necessary for treatment."

“What we are seeing with the Patient Travel Subsidy Scheme is further evidence that the Newman Government’s policies are resulting in additional pain and suffering.”

‘SELFIE’ EXPOSES LNP’S JAIL SECURITY RISK

Media release

The State Opposition says a “selfie” photo posted online by a Townsville jail inmate highlights the risks to community safety posed by the Newman Government’s frontline service cuts and overcrowding.

Shadow Treasurer and Member for Mulgrave, Curtis Pitt, said the Newman Government talked a lot about throwing more people in jail, but was in reality overseeing a jail system lurching towards crisis.

“Here in Far North Queensland we have already seen overcrowding and ‘doubling up’ in cells at Lotus Glen Prison which leads to heightened tensions among inmates and that leads directly to higher risks for frontline prison officers and the surrounding community,” Mr Pitt said.

“Prison officers have previously confirmed a spike in assaults at Lotus Glen and have said the suicide-watch safety centre and detention centre can’t cope with demand."

“Now we see the LNP’s policies have allowed a major breach of security at Stuart Prison in Townsville with a prisoner accessing a smuggled mobile phone to post ‘selfies’."

“Mobile phones in jails are a major security risk because they can be used to arrange more smuggling of contraband including drugs as well as organise riots or escapes,” Mr Pitt said.

Shadow Corrective Services Minister, Bill Byrne, said the Newman Government had failed to plan for the growing prison population its own policies were creating.

“The Newman Government trumpets the fact it wants to throw more people in jail, but then does nothing to protect frontline prison officers or nearby communities from the impacts of overcrowding,” Mr Byrne said.

“The Newman Government abolished successful diversionary programs as well as the Murri Court, the Drug Court, the Special Circumstances Court that dealt with offenders while stressing the need to reduce reoffending."

“As prison populations rise inmates are spending longer in their cells and doubling up – two prisoners in cells designed for single occupants – is now becoming more and more common.”


Mr Byrne said the state’s prison population had risen from about 6100 to close to 6700 in the past six months.

SPRINGBORG’S ARROGANCE THREATENS HOSPITAL SHUT-DOWN

Media Release

OFFICE OF THE LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
THURSDAY 20 FEBRUARY 2014


Shadow Health Minister, Jo-Ann Miller, says Queenslanders should be shocked by the arrogant attitude of the Health Minister towards genuine concerns of hospital doctors about his government’s WorkChoices-style employment contracts.

“It has been doctors themselves who first described the contracts being forced on them as a form of the discredited WorkChoices regime of the former Howard Government,” Mrs Miller said.

“Mr Springborg is still trying to dismiss their concerns as just the usual to-and-fro of industrial negotiations."

“Mr Springborg is content to see doctors walk out and take jobs interstate or overseas or go into private practice and suggests they can be easily replaced. But if doctors walk out, we have no hospital system. It’s that simple."

“His arrogant comments ignore the fact that specialist doctors now working in our hospitals play a huge role in training young doctors."

“Mr Springborg needs to explain who does the training if doctors walk out."

“If they leave the public hospital system who will run our emergency departments, cardiac wards, maternity wards and every other ward in our hospitals?”

Mrs Miller said Mr Springborg did not care that his government’s take-it-or-leave it attitude threatened the closure of the public hospital system.

“But that’s not surprising from a Health Minister who sacks nurses; cuts frontline services; plans to sell of one-third of our biggest hospital, the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital; wants to privatise all hospital services; takes credit for hospital projects started by the former state Labor Government; and fails to acknowledge contributions to improved hospital performance from initiatives of the former federal Labor Government."

“Indeed it may be he is quite happy to shut down public hospitals given the LNP Government’s plans to sell off every health service they can to private operators who will put profits before patients,” she said."

Mrs Miller said Mr Springborg should also explain why he is not pursuing the Abbott Government for the federal health funds he claimed the former Labor Government cut from Queensland.

“Last year Mr Springborg could not shut up about the $103 million he claimed was stripped from Queensland’s health system,” she said.

“But now we see his antics exposed as a shallow political stunt and he is apparently content that only a minuscule amount has been paid to Queensland as part of $60 million spread nationwide."

“It is clear his antics were just a shallow political stunt,” she said.


Bill Shorten, Leader of the Opposition: A FAIR AUSTRALIA – WORTH FIGHTING FOR MELBOURNE PRESS CLUB


THURSDAY, 20 FEBRUARY 2014


[Acknowledgements]   
On Tuesday, I traveled to Point Henry to meet with employees and employers at Alcoa.
It’s a trip I’ve made many times.
As I looked out the car window, I started thinking about all the workplaces I used to visit in the Geelong region.
Avalon
Gatic
BHP Wire
Geelong Cement
Blue Circle
Kinnears
The Wool Scourers
Winchester
Cheetham Salts
All of them proud landmarks in Geelong’s manufacturing landscape.
All of them now closed.
In this time of change, on the one hand we need to move past the view that industry assistance should be motivated by a romantic attachment to manufacturing.
And on the other we must reject the idea that manufacturing somehow doesn’t matter anymore or is doomed.
Labor knows manufacturing has a future.
We also know that neither nostalgia nor fatalism is equal to the task of 21st Century economic reform.
Sometimes in the current debate on job losses and factory closures, we can fall into the trap of just referring to numbers in a column.
We need to remember these are real people and real communities for whom each closure is a devastating loss.
In the last five months, in Geelong, in Broadmeadows, in Gove and in Port Melbourne, I’ve met thousands of Australians facing the swift, sharp consequences of the economic change we are undergoing.
Australians don’t think the world owes them a living.
Australians are not looking for a hand-out.
But they are worried about what is happening.
Australians want to see a plan for their future, and for the Australia of 2020 and 2030.
The Australian people understand there’s no such thing as a job for life anymore, but several careers with constant learning and re-training.
Australians know that what matters is to have a diversified economy – one which includes advanced manufacturing.
An economy that is set up to benefit from the next wave of technological change.
One which promises to return manufacturing to our cities and to nurture a new generation of  Australians enthusiastic about making things – whether that means computer games and robots or cars and houses.
Today I want to talk about what we have to do to help Australian employees, Australian industry and the Australian economy adapt and prosper in this time of change.
What Australia needs to do to meet the challenges of this decade – and the policies we need to guarantee our national prosperity beyond the next three years.
I am determined that Labor will be the party with positive ideas for the future.
Because we need new ideas in health.
New ideas in education.
New ideas for our economy.
I know when he was Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott used his political Ouija board to channel Randolph Churchill:
‘Oppose everything, propose nothing and turf the government out’.
The Abbott model worked once – I firmly believe it will never work again.
I prefer to take my inspiration from the New Year’s resolution of John Curtin when he was elected Opposition Leader.
‘to act and think helpfully’, and not play ‘faultfinder’
Throughout my working life, from when I was a lawyer, a union representative, a superannuation fund director, the Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and a Minister – I have always been a consensus-builder and a believer in the power of negotiation.
I know that there is always more than one side to an argument.
And no-one has a monopoly on good ideas.
And that will be my approach as Labor Leader.
It’s why Labor has reached out to cooperate with the Government on drought assistance for our farmers.
It’s why we’ve avoided opportunistic point-scoring on the deterioration of the Australia-Indonesia relationship.
It’s why we support the Government’s new Closing the Gap target on school attendance, and have offered three new targets of our own.
Under my leadership, Labor will be a constructive, alternative government that offers genuine policy choices, not simply empty criticism and three word slogans.
Our policies will be driven by Labor values, and supported by hard evidence and the best science.
I think this combination of principle and logic is evident in some of the reforms of the last six years.
For example:
We created the National Disability Insurance Scheme to empower a marginalised group of people with impairments, their carers and their loved ones.
The National Disability Insurance Scheme will deliver a productivity boost to the nation ­­- and save money in the long run.
We resisted the call for harsh austerity measures and steered Australia through the Global Financial Crisis with a focus on keeping people in work and supporting growth with nation-building infrastructure investment.
We negotiated a fairer funding agreement for schools because we believe every child deserves the same opportunity for a great education and the best possible start in life.
We also know that a country’s education system is the decisive factor in its economic prosperity down the track.
Our objective is to deliver the best outcome for everyone– not to score political points or slavishly follow a hardline ideology.
People laud the Hawke-Keating generation, as a time when Labor took hard decisions that delivered long-term dividends.
These reforms to markets, regulation, trade and enterprise bargaining freed up the Australian economy.
Twenty years on, my generation needs to commit to real reform. In particular, a new national commitment to science and innovation.
This will mean making difficult decisions in order to set our nation up for the future.
We believe that government assistance for industries should be the exception, not the rule.
Provided only to industries that are willing to adapt to change and embrace innovation.
We believe government has a moral obligation to keep people in work.
But our view is not just based on our values.
The evidence is clear.
When government assists an industry in transition, the benefits are shared throughout the economy.
If we leave companies to wither, or seek to accelerate their demise– we are putting Australian jobs, skills, innovation and technology at risk of permanent and severe damage.
As I mentioned earlier, there is a misconception that manufacturing is an unprofitable sector that offers only
‘low-tech’ jobs.
This is wrong.
In 2013, 21 of Australia’s 100 most profitable companies were in manufacturing – the highest representation of any one industry.
And there is no such thing as a low technology industry.
There are only industries that have invested in remaining at the cutting edge- and those that have not.
Some commentators have argued that the closure of Holden, and now Toyota, is proof of national economic progress.
Not true.
In fact, the death of the Australian auto industry is a major backward step – a dangerous deindustrialisation.
Not only do we lose the valuable skills and highly specialised workers.
We lose an entire range of manufacturing capabilities.
Capabilities that could have underpinned more advanced and sophisticated forms of manufacturing.
The capability to manufacture fine instruments and gauges for the aerospace industry.
The capability to produce electrical systems for our navy’s weapon systems.
All of those capabilities, all of that potential, all of that opportunity, will be lost to our nation – unless we act decisively.
Because with the right plan and policy settings, Australia can capitalise on this time of transition and change.
We can seize the opportunity to reimagine our manufacturing sector – and look after the thousands of Australians and hundreds of businesses that rely upon it.
But there has been no plan from the Abbott Government.
No evidence of a determination to seize the moment.
It is easy for Joe Hockey to lecture on the need for ‘heavy lifting’ – but the Abbott Government has to do more than demand this of others.
It needs to set the example – and lead the way.
In times of economic transition, a government’s first priority should be to keep people in work.
Because a fulfilling job brings dignity, self-confidence and independence.
Unemployment guarantees only misery.
As Labor leader, I will speak out about job losses and support for existing jobs.
As Labor leader, I shall focus on new jobs too.
The Small-Medium Enterprises, the High Tech, the Start Ups, be it in health, in agriculture, in defence or financial and education services.
I believe we need to shift from a policy of ‘managed decline’ to one that focuses on development, innovation and transition.
In the immediate context of the car industry, the Government needs to assist the component suppliers – the plastic, glass and metal manufacturers – to adjust their operations and find new markets for their products.
A success story is the Palm Products factory in Moorabbin, a business that originally produced high-quality car instrument lenses, brake parts and small mouldings for Ford vehicles.
Following Ford’s announced closure, Palm Products has reinvented itself as a producer of high-quality unbreakable drink and tableware– with export markets in Europe, the Middle East and North America.
The long lead time for the closure of Holden and Toyota gives their highly skilled workers time to plan their futures.
I believe government should support re-training.
People who suddenly find themselves unemployed often experience a massive loss of confidence and a loss of identity.
The longer their unemployment lasts, the greater their deterioration in work readiness.
Yet these are highly skilled problem solvers and team players.
I was genuinely surprised by the cold-blooded heartlessness the government displayed when pushed on their plans for jobs in the future.
And I am troubled that there has been no sense of urgency– no evidence of a passion for the jobs of the future.
It’s confusing.
Because on the one hand, the Government portrays the demise of the automotive industry as inevitable– long foreseen and unstoppable.
And yet, their reaction to the one-two punch of Holden and Toyota’s closure and their statement of ‘shock’ at the Alcoa announcement suggests that they have been caught entirely by surprise.
There has been no plan for structural assistance, no retraining options forthcoming, nothing but Orwellian doublespeak of the ‘liberation’ of unemployment queues.
To me, the Government’s gravest failing is not its lack of empathy, though that is confronting.
It is its lack of understanding, its lack of imagination, its lack of authenticity.
Its only impulse is to take Australians down a path of learned helplessness from a government that offers no ideas or effort.
The death of the car industry is a tragedy, but it can also be a defining moment for Australia.
A call to arms for politics, employees, business and community.
A chance to move past the old, constricting clich├ęs of ‘picking winners’ and ‘corporate welfare’.
A time when Government, investors and business turn their energies to supporting a new generation of research, development and innovation.
A wave of Australian discovery and invention in areas like genomics, quantum computing, bionics and nanotechnology that can underpin a new era of national prosperity.
I believe we need to make science and innovation a first order national priority.
Not an enclave in the Department of Industry, without a Minister for Science.
But central to all our policies. And our prosperity.
We need an innovation-led growth plan.
-       A plan that helps innovators commercialise their ideas.
-       A plan that will ensure Australians benefit from all the amazing advances in health and medical research without bankrupting the country
-       A plan that gets Australian kids interested in science and inspires the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs
-       A plan that draws on scientific and technical applications to improve public and private sector work practices
This is something about which I am passionate, to the extent that I took responsibility for the Shadow Science portfolio myself.
And I know Our Shadow Minister for Industry, Kim Carr, is passionate about science too.
Smaller countries, with less national wealth, like Korea, Taiwan, Israel and Finland are all ahead of us on investment in research and development.
I believe Australia’s level of investment in research and development needs to significantly increase.
By 2030, global spending on research and development will increase by 250 per cent.
Driven by big investments from countries in our region – in China and India as well as emerging economic powers like Brazil.
Labor believes that making science and innovation a national policy and political priority is nothing less than an investment in Australian brainpower.
It will not be easy at a time of slowing growth and downgraded revenue – but there are no shortcuts.
Industries that invest in research and development are investing in their capacity for reinvention.
Compared to businesses that don’t innovate, innovative Australian businesses are 78 per cent more likely to report increases in productivity over the previous year.
Yet only around 25 per cent of Australian businesses collaborate on innovation.
So if Australia produces some of the finest research in the world – which we do – why don’t we have more collaboration between industries and the research sector?
Make no mistake, the science race, the race for the jobs of the future, is a race to the top – and it has begun.
If Australia is not careful we will be stuck on the blocks.
We do not have three or six years to waste.
At this very moment, too many Australian schoolchildren are being taught science by hardworking but underqualified teachers.
And there are too few Australians going on to study science – and mathematics – in our universities.
Our nation is at a crossroads: Australia can either get smarter or get poorer – we can choose to compete or give up.
And as with industry policy, success will not depend on government alone.
I do believe government can play an important role in covering investor risk, helping to create a climate of confidence and risk-taking that will encourage entrepreneurs to pursue the breakthroughs that will define this century.
As a passionate disciple of science and innovation – and a believer in Australian creativity and ingenuity ­–I want us to value ‘start-ups’.
And the hardest task for a start-up, or small firm is to raise the capital for initial research and development.
People in industry call it the ‘valley of death’.
Strategic government investment can bridge this valley – and I believe the benefits will be remarkable.
An innovation-led growth plan must support all budding industries, whether they have a focus on agriculture, or defence or the automotive industry, financial services or health and education services.
And if we are serious about turning Australian genius into wealth for our nation, why don’t we equip PhD students with the skills they need to commercialise their research?
Additional skills such as entrepreneurship, intellectual property management, project management and financial literacy?
So they can aspire to be business leaders, as well as professors.
This is a complex argument, and undoubtedly tougher to outline than ‘no free rides’ or ‘some jobs start, some jobs finish’.
But I believe the Australian people will embrace this debate, and that substance can triumph over slogans.
My work on the National Disability Insurance Scheme has given me confidence that Australians will give good ideas a fair hearing.
I think the Australian people know that this is a time for serious national debates about where Australia will be in 2020 and 2030.
That’s why my focus isn’t on Tony Abbott – it’s on the policy ideas of the future.
That’s why I want to start a conversation about an Australian economy with science, mathematics, technology and engineering at its core.
Mastering this moment of economic transition will require a national effort – one that must begin with government leadership.
Shoulder-shrugging fatalism about the death of industries is no prescription for our kid and grandkids.
Our world is changing quickly.
We can rage against the dying of the light.
Or we can reignite the light on the hill and embrace the opportunities that change offers.
Under my leadership, Labor is focused on fighting for Australian jobs – and driving innovation to create new jobs.
We will insist on a deeper, richer, political narrative about the importance of science.
We will fight for a prosperous and fair Australia, one with high-wage, high-skill jobs in profitable and globally competitive businesses.
Jobs that allow all Australians to provide for their family, fulfil their potential, and live a long and happy life full of meaning.
Fighting for jobs is Labor’s reason for being – it always has been.
And it will be our priority in the year ahead.

ENDS

QPIX CLOSURE CAUSED BY LNP’S TWISTED PRIORITIES

Media Release


“The news of QPIX shutting its doors is a sad day for our state’s arts sector in general and our screen industry in particular,” Ms Trad said.
“Its closure is directly linked to the withdrawal of funding by the Newman Government despite promises made at the last election that the LNP would maintain arts funding."
“QPIX managed to survive for 20 years and even withstood the award-winning incompetence of former Arts Minister Ros Bates but sadly in less than two years it has not escaped the Newman Government’s axe."
“This news puts into perspective the LNP Government’s priorities."
“Why is it that the Newman Government can find a deep well of taxpayer funds to waste on looking after itself with a new Executive Building, but can never find funds to support agencies such as QPIX that repay investment many times over by expanding our local arts industries?"
“The Auditor-General’s recent reports show that in the next 10-15 years the Newman Government will dip into taxpayers’ pockets and waste $2.6 billion just to justify its new Executive Building."
“It will spend $1.2 billion renting back seven government office blocks it has already sold at $237 million below their value and will also spend $1.2 billion renting the new Executive Building."
“After wasting $2.6 billion taxpayers will have absolutely nothing to show for it and will not own a single brick of the Executive Building."
“By contrast the comparatively tiny financial support given by the state government to QPIX."
“It seems the Newman government is happy to spend taxpayer dollars on itself and on attracting international stars to Queensland but couldn’t be less interested in creating local stars from our abundant talent,” Ms Trad said."

HEALTH CUTS DISTRESS CQ PATIENTS

Media Release


“The Health Minister continues to claim everything is rosy in our health system while hiding behind regional Hospital and Health Boards like the Central Queensland HHS that are making decisions that hit hard at sick Queenslanders,” Mr Byrne said.
“Examples of genuine hardship and distress are now emerging as patients tell me of harsh new cost-cutting at Rockhampton Hospital and throughout Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service."
“Terribly ill people are being driven to despair by the Newman Government’s insistence that they travel to Brisbane or elsewhere by train because it is allegedly cheaper than flying or driving."
“But patients say that the change means they are forced to spend extra time away from home, forced to stay in expensive accommodation and, in some cases, forced to endure additional pain and discomfort on long train journeys.”
Mr Byrne said that under the Patient Travel Subsidy Scheme, patients who fly for medical appointments have the full cost of their travel met by their local Hospital and Health Service.
“This is a long-standing arrangement, but now we are seeing funding applications being rejected for patients who have previously been authorised to fly to see specialists or for care not available locally."
“Those who have come to me for assistance have a genuine need to use air travel rather than the train, which we all know takes virtually all day to get from Rockhampton to Brisbane."
“Some are afraid they won’t be able to physically endure the journey, others can show that the change will cause them a financial burden they are in no position to bear."
Shadow Health Minister Jo-Ann Miller, said Lawrence Springborg bore the ultimate responsibility for the emerging funding crisis.
“The Health Minister should take off his rose-coloured glasses, stop hiding behind hospital boards, and sort out this mess,” Mrs Miller said.
“People access our health system to hopefully get better but this situation is clearly aggravating people who are already sick and distressed."
“Mr Springborg keeps saying the system is working well and, inevitably, he will pass the blame here to the local health board claiming it has the freedom to make decisions in these matters."
“But if the board doesn’t have the money to continue to fly patients for vital treatment, it is because of the funding cuts he has imposed on them. The first LNP State Budget in 2012 detailed $3 billion worth of cuts over four years."
“Mr Springborg needs to stop hiding from the consequences of his policies and come to Rockhampton to meet these people and sort out their problems,” Mrs Miller said.
Mr Byrne said the local health trust had cut into patient care last year so it could declare a profit, some of which was used to pay for a helicopter pad at Rockhampton Hospital.
“I said at the time that it was a disgrace that the trust was expected to pay for essential capital investments. The helicopter pad is something that should have been funded directly by Queensland Health,” he said.

LNP arrogance shows Gladstone asset sales a ‘done deal’: Pitt

Shadow Treasurer Curtis Pitt said a letter from Treasurer Tim Nicholls to Gladstone Mayor Gail Sellers, where he rules out meeting the Mayor about the potential sale of Gladstone Port, shows the LNP had made up their mind on asset sales.
“It’s the height of arrogance for the Treasurer to refuse a request from the Mayor to meet regarding the potential sale of one of her region’s biggest employers,” Mr Pitt said.
“It shows that within the LNP Government, the sale of Gladstone Port is a done deal."
“They’ve already sold off around $4 billion worth of Government assets, including schools around the state, and recently were caught out trying to sell off one-third of the Royal Brisbane Hospital site in Brisbane."
“The people of Gladstone need to know that the LNP and Campbell Newman will sell off anything that’s not bolted down, including their Port, and they won’t listen to the community’s views along the way.”
Mr Pitt said the LNP should get out of their ivory tower in Brisbane and discuss these issues with local residents and stakeholders.
“Surely any Government consideration of the sale of Gladstone Port would centre around how such an asset sell-off would affect the Gladstone region."
“The fact that the Treasurer is hiding behind process and refusing to meet the Mayor shows the disdain he has for the views of the people of Gladstone."
“He couldn’t even respond to the letter himself, let alone agree to the Mayor’s justifiable request for a meeting."
“In just two years, Campbell Newman and his LNP Government have not only broken promises on cost of living and asset sales, but they’ve lost touch with the people of Queensland.”

Cairns unemployment figures released.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics has implemented a series of changes to labour force reporting which have taken effect from today's data release.
This includes a change to the labour market regions resulting in a finer level of data being released. For our community, this means data is now reported for 'Cairns' which is a change from the previously used 'Far North Queensland' region.
The new formula has also been applied to previously collected data. This shows the December 2013 unemployment rate for Cairns at 9.2%.
"We still have a way to go in strengthening our economy and reaching an acceptable rate," Senator McLucas said.
"It still seems to be rather patchy with some industries dong well and others finding it really tough."
Senator McLucas said it was critical that all levels of government continued to invest in the Far North in 2014.
"We've seen more than our fair share of job losses in the last year or so in Cairns, so we need some surety that we will not be going through this again when the Abbott Government's Commission of Audit is handed down."
"Job and service cuts will only hinder our recovery and rebuilding effort."
Senator McLucas said last week's release of the national labour force figures should be a wake-up call for the government.
The ABS data showed the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased by 0.1 per cent from a revised 5.9 per cent to six per cent in January.
The last time Australia's unemployment rate was six per cent was in July 2003 when Mr Abbott was Employment Minister in the Howard Government.

A further 7,100 full-time jobs were lost across the economy in January, taking to 63,300 the number of full-time jobs lost since Mr Abbott was elected in September.

Premier must explain cost of living explosion in FNQ

Media Release


Shadow Treasurer and Member for Mulgrave Curtis Pitt has called on the Premier to explain to Far North Queenslanders why he’s broken his promise to lower the cost of living at his Community Cabinet at Tully and Mission Beach this weekend.
“Campbell Newman promised to lower electricity bills and to protect infrastructure investment and vital frontline services, but he’s failed on all counts,” Mr Pitt said.
“At the Innisfail Community forum this week, which wasn’t attended by any state LNP MPs, there was an almost unanimous view that rising cost of living pressures are killing our region."
“On average in Queensland, electricity bills this year have risen by 22.6%. Next year they’ll rise by over 13%."
“That’s after Campbell Newman promised to lower your electricity bill in his now completely discredited ‘Contract with Far North Queensland’.
“He’s also shown a complete disregard for the fact that we live in a cyclone zone and therefore pay higher premiums."
“Campbell Newman’s insurance tax increase from 7.5% to 9% has been felt really hard in our area, with some premiums reportedly rising by 1000%. That’s just compounding the misery on people who’ve already been through more than enough."
“And he’s also increased his emergency services tax, without any increase in services. It’s a revenue grab, plain and simple."
“In fact, on average Queensland families are paying $1000 more in taxes now than when the LNP was elected. Campbell Newman’s sticking his hands in the wallets of Far North Queenslanders, and we’re getting nothing in return."
“As one lady said in Innisfail earlier this week, her electricity bill has doubled, her insurance bill has tripled, and her rates bill has gone up by 30%. The people of this area will find it very hard to deal with cost pressures like that."
“It’s not just taxes. Over 200 health workers have been sacked in Far North Queensland, and infrastructure investment has been cut by the LNP by $185 million, meaning less construction jobs and less economic activity in the region."
“I hope plenty of people in our area get along to the Community Cabinet and ask Campbell Newman why he’s broken promise after promise after promise to the people of Far North Queensland.”

LNP’s electricity asset sales will cost taxpayers billions: report

Media Release


Shadow Treasurer Curtis Pitt has called on the Premier to recommit to his pledge of April last year not to sell off Queensland’s electricity network assets.
“Campbell Newman has broken promise after promise after promise. Queenslanders will remember how he promised he had a plan and he would lower electricity prices but failed,” Mr Pitt said.
“He promised to lower water prices but failed. He said he would lower unemployment to 4%, yet right now it’s above 6%."
“The Premier made a commitment in the Queensland Parliament last year that he would never sell Queensland’s electricity network assets, and Labor is going to hold him to that promise.”
“So let me be absolutely clear today that we decided to not consider divestment of Energex, Ergon or Powerlink to pay down the debt… and we certainly will not be seeking any mandate to undertake a sale of those assets at the next election.”
(Newman, Parliament, April 2013)
“For the Premier to commit to that in public, then begin a series of scoping studies into a potential sell-off of electricity network assets, just demonstrates how he can’t be trusted to keep his word,” Mr Pitt said.
Mr Pitt was speaking at the release of a new report revealing Queenslanders are set to lose billions of dollars if Campbell Newman and the LNP broke their promise and sell off the state’s electricity assets.
The report, released today by Professor John Quiggin and commissioned by the Electrical Trades Union, showed that if the Borbidge Government had followed through on their threat to sell electricity assets in 1996, taxpayers would’ve lost returns in the order of $15 billion.
“The Treasurer says selling our electricity assets will supercharge the economy, but what he really means is they will charge ‘super prices’ for electricity and make life even tougher for Queensland families,” Mr Pitt said.
“As Professor Quiggin’s report shows, selling off these assets will cost Queenslanders billions of dollars. That’s money that could be used to put downward pressure on electricity prices."
“The Victorian model of electricity privatisation has led to higher power bills and more blackouts, and that’s in a state one-eighth the size of Queensland."
“Anyway you look at it, Campbell Newman’s potential electricity asset sale won’t deliver cheaper electricity for families, it won’t deliver a more reliable network and it won’t deliver a stronger Queensland budget over the long-term.”
“The Premier can call it ‘private investment’ or a ‘non-share equity interest’ – he can call it whatever he wants – but it is still privatisation."
“An electricity sell-off now would just compound the cost of living pressures being experienced under this LNP Government."
“Already, prices went up by 22.6% on average this year, with another 13.6% increase slated for next year."
“Queenslanders have made themselves abundantly clear. They want Campbell Newman to deliver on his promise not to sell electricity assets, and they want him to deliver on his promise to lower electricity prices."
“The Premier has already failed to lower power prices, he shouldn’t betray the trust of Queenslanders and sell off their electricity assets."

Other quotes by Campbell Newman:
“The poles and wires transmissions stuff, I believe, should be owned by the people because they are natural monopolies”
“My vision for the electricity sector is that we have a government-owned, world’s best practice, efficient operation owned by the people of Queensland. That is what I would like to see.”
(Newman, November 2012)
“So let me be absolutely clear today that we decided to not consider divestment of Energex, Ergon or Powerlink to pay down the debt… and we certainly will not be seeking any mandate to undertake a sale of those assets at the next election.”
(Newman, Parliament, April 2013)

Saturday, 22 February 2014

DIRECT ACTION: IF, BUT, MAYBE


Media Release

Date:  18 February 2014


A report released today by Australian carbon market research firm Reputex exposes the difficulties Direct Action will have achieving its goals due to the complexity of designing its key elements.
“Direct Action has been revealed for the con job it is,” Shadow Minister for Climate Change Mark Butler said.
“Labor does not believe that polluting should be profitable, or that the Australian taxpayer should fork out to cover the cost of big polluters.”
The report points out the following:
  • Under Labor policy the polluters pay for the right to pollute
  • Under the Tony Abbotts policy the taxpayer pays the big polluters to pollute
  • Direct Action fails to achieve enough emissions reduction for Australia to meet its Kyoto commitment
The report identifies two key elements that are most critical to Direct Action meeting its emissions targets.
One of these is the setting of baselines, the element most widely criticised by stakeholders. Industry experts have pointed to the complexity of doing this fairly and properly and raised concerns about additional regulatory burden.
The other key element is the establishment of a secondary market to offset emissions growth.
“This has not been even canvassed in any meaningful way in the Government’s Green Paper,” Mr Butler said.
The government promised to have legislation in place within 150 days of coming into government – that was 15 February.
"Economists and scientists believe Direct Action will be costly and ineffective," Mr Butler said. 
“With only four months to go before they intend to roll this con job out, let’s hope the Government can formulate a policy which actually ensures we act to address climate change."

CORRECTING GREG HUNT'S LATEST LIES


Media Release

Date:  18 February 2014

Environment Minister Greg Hunt has made some false comments regarding Labor’s consideration of the Abbot Point Port Expansion Project while in government.
Minister Hunt told ABC radio this morning that Labor had all but finalised the approval for the project including disposing dredge spoil on the Great Barrier Reef. This is not true.
“Greg Hunt has once again been caught out in a blatant lie,” Shadow Minister for the Environment Mark Butler said.
On 9 August 2013, then Environment Minister Mr Butler, announced that the decision on Abbot Point would be deferred as he had received a number of reports regarding potential impacts of dredging and dumping to the Great Barrier Reef’s health.
“These reports related to dredge material management and environmental best practice port development,” Mr Butler said.
“The reports identified new information which had not been previously available including modelling on impacts to the Reef from dredge spoil.”
These reports were released to the public and the decision on Abbot Point was delayed to enable proper consideration of these critical reports.
Minister Hunt also told ABC radio that his government had approved a project “one twelfth the size of what the Bligh and Gillard and Rudd governments had been proposing”.
“This claim is deliberately misleading, at best,” Mr Butler said.
“Minister Hunt approved the exact project proposal that was before me when I was the Minister,” Mr Butler said.
This is not the first time Minister Hunt has been caught in a lie since becoming Environment Minister. In September 2013, Minister Hunt incorrectly accused Mr Butler of failing to deal with environmental approvals in the lead up to the 2013 election. This claim is complete rubbish.

“Minister Hunt is on a mission to re-write history. He cannot expect Australians to buy his attempts to blame his environmental decisions on the previous Labor government,” Mr Butler said.

TONY ABBOTT'S PLAN TO ABOLISH RENEWABLE ENERGY TARGET


Media Release

Date:  18 February 2014

The Abbott Government’s appointment of Dick Warburton indicates its lack of commitment to a clean energy future for Australia. Mr Warburton has previously stated he does not accept the science of climate change and has today confirmed his scepticism of the contribution of human activity to climate change.
“How can Mr Warburton be objective in his analysis of the renewable energy sector if he does not think climate change has any connection with emissions from burning fossil fuels?” Shadow Minister for Climate Change Mark Butler said.
It is also interesting that the review will be organised by Tony Abbott’s office, despite clearly falling within the environment and industry portfolios.
“Tony Abbott is preparing to break yet another promise,” Mr Butler said.
Environment Minister Greg Hunt and Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane have previously supported the Renewable Energy Target, while Tony Abbott has repeatedly questioned its role in Australia’s energy market.
“Tony Abbott has indicated he’d like to see the Renewable Energy Target abolished and he’s taking all the right steps to see that happen by removing the responsibility of the review from his ministers who support it and appointing a committee chair who does not support it.”
Previous reviews of the Renewable Energy Target have shown the policy is delivering clean energy such as solar and wind, while providing thousands of jobs and significant investment across Australia.
The existing Renewable Energy Target, where renewable energy will account for 20 per cent of Australia’s energy generation by 2020, is just part of a suite of comprehensive policies to take Australia towards a clean energy future. The industry currently attracts around $18 billion of investment and is expected to see another $18 billion through the life of the Renewable Energy Target.
“Labor’s Renewable Energy Target is driving investment in the sector, creating jobs and reducing Australia’s carbon pollution,” Mr Butler said.
“While Labor was in government, jobs in the renewable energy sector tripled, its share of the National Electricity Market grew by 25 per cent in 2012-13 alone, and households with solar panels rose from less than 8,000 to more than 1 million.”
Labor knows investment in renewable energy will position Australia to transition towards a clean energy future.
“The Coalition Government has not developed a comprehensive strategy to create the appropriate balance in energy generation and move Australia from its reliance on coal-generated energy.”
“Labor had a structure to ensure Australia would make this transition, while Tony Abbott is dismantling that structure and sending Australia backwards.”