Tuesday, 17 February 2015

The Palaszczuk ministry includes a majority of women. But don't expect a revolution

Extract from The Guardian

In an environment where to succeed women must play by masculine rules, it’s unrealistic to expect mere numbers of women to bring about much change
palaszczuk ministry
‘Assuming that the selection is based on merit, it is significant that there are more women in cabinet than their proportion in caucus.’ Photograph: AAP
The news from Queensland is very interesting for those interested in gender equity in power. Not only is Annastacia Palaszczuk the first female party leader to win from opposition, Queensland is the only state that has had two female premiers. The ACT has had more than one but the states so far have rested on the record of only one. All states, bar South Australia, have had one female leader, and all those women have represented the Australian Labor party. Palaszczuk’s win is a good sign of continued gender shifts but what is much more interesting is the gender balance of her cabinet.
Eight of the 14 new ministers sworn in on Monday are women, more than half. The deputy leader is also female, another first. A mix of old and new faces, five of the women in cabinet are newbies, but so are many other members. The cabinet experience of members is at least as good as the last cabinet, so gender is not the factor there. The allocation of portfolios is also diverse and not gender-based with Jackie Trad, for instance, named minister for transport, infrastructure, local government and planning and trade, and the first Indigenous female member, Leeanne Enoch, having been allocated housing, public works, innovation and science. Yvette D’Ath is the attorney general.
Assuming that the selection is based on merit, it is significant that there are more women in cabinet than their proportion in caucus. The majority female numbers will hopefully not be used as ammunition by those wanting to undermine the new government, but as evidence that there is a plethora of underused female talent that is finally being recognised. The experience of our first female PM, Julia Gillard, and the flak now flying against Peta Credlin suggest that media and critics will continue to target prominent powerful women more viciously and personally than their male peers, so we will have to wait and see the response to this strong female presence in Queensland government.
What we need to look out for now is whether the predominance of women in cabinet, though only just a majority, will make a difference to policies. There are real risks in raising expectations that numbers alone will make much of a difference, especially in the present politically volatile environment.
The experience of the 40 years since the UN International Women’s Year in 1975 are not very positive. We have had a scattering of female leaders, but few are followed by other women. The dominance of neoliberal market models has meant economics-driven macho interests have redefined all areas of policy. Even child care and domestic violence policies have been defined by their costs and benefits to GDP.
In an environment where women can only succeed by competing on masculine terms, it is problematic to assume that mere numbers of women alone will bring policies that can improve women’s lives. At best, we can hope that social issues and care are higher on the agenda than they generally are.
Any higher expectations of gender policy shifts in a very fragile new government might just be unrealistic and damaging to more radical future changes. 

Thuggish attacks on the Human Rights Commission should not be tolerated

Extract from The Guardian

George Brandis, the attorney general, has endorsed his colleagues’ attacks on an agency in his own portfolio. This is not ‘good government’

gillian triggs
‘A good government would understand and respect the important responsibility that the Human Rights Commission fulfils.’ Gillian Triggs launches the children in detention report. Photograph: AAP

Good government, Tony Abbott told us, started last Monday. It was a short-lived experiment. By Thursday, we were subjected to the undignified spectacle of the prime minister and his senior colleagues throwing punches over the release by the Human Rights Commission of a report on children in immigration detention.
Rather than grapple with the substance of that report or its recommendations, Abbott and his ministers immediately took to the airwaves to launch an attack on the commission itself.
Appallingly, George Brandis, the attorney general, endorsed his colleagues’ cynical attacks on the commission, an independent statutory agency within his own portfolio. It has since been reported that Brandis offered the president of the commission, Gillian Triggs, an inducement to resign.
The children in detention report is a substantial and thorough piece of work by the commission. Labor welcomes the release of the report. As indicated by my colleague Richard Marles, the shadow minister for immigration, Labor will work through the findings and recommendations contained in the report and respond appropriately. The government, which insists it is “careful”, “methodical” and even “grown up”, will clearly do no such thing.
I want to make a broader point. This is about more than the debate about asylum seeker policy. Good governments work hard to protect the rights of children. But more fundamentally, good governments respect the place of independent institutions in upholding human rights in this country. Good governments respect the importance of free and open debate about government policy.
The government’s broadside on the Human Rights Commission, a body within my shadow portfolio, shows us just how little respect this government has for the role of independent institutions in a robust democracy, and for our human rights framework.
A good government would understand and respect the important responsibility that the Human Rights Commission fulfils. The commission is Australia’s national human rights institution and has a recognised role under international human rights law. An impartial and independent agency with a statutory mandate, the commission promotes respect for basic human rights in a number of ways. It resolves individual complaints, investigates Australia’s compliance with international human rights standards and works to promote awareness of human rights in the community.
The Human Rights Commission has given opinions on the policies of all governments. It rises above the partisan fray and this should be respected by the government of the day.
Unfortunately, the current government and its acolytes in some segments of the media want to drag the commission into a party political debate. The Australian has printed implausible opinions from supposed legal experts claiming that the commission should not uphold international treaties, as opposed to domestic law. It is in fact obliged by its founding statute to uphold human rights treaties, a number of which are actually annexed to that statute.
Government ministers have not even bothered to find some tenuous figleaf of principle to cover their political attack. They have resorted directly to personal smears on the commission’s leadership, questioning the integrity of respected public office-holders who dare criticise government policy. This is thuggish behaviour, and we should not tolerate it.
It is incredible that the Liberal party, who under Malcolm Fraser established the first incarnation of an independent human rights commission, has descended to this new nadir. Truly that party has lost its soul. What sort of liberals howl with rage at criticism from an independent body? What sort of conservatives sneer with contempt at the very idea that government ought to respect basic rights and freedoms?
The people of Queensland, the state Brandis represents, recently made clear how they felt about the thin-skinned, bullyboy style of the Newman government. Newman’s political soulmates in Canberra should be on notice. Australia wants governments with the ability to weather criticism with dignity, that have the integrity not to attack those institutions we have put deliberately beyond their control. Abbott and his ministers should be ashamed of themselves.

Queensland election 2015: Ferny Grove result to stand as LNP gives up on legal challenge

Extract from ABC News

The election outcome in the Brisbane seat of Ferny Grove will not be challenged in court by the Liberal National Party (LNP).
The party was caught off-guard by the Electoral Commission of Queensland's (ECQ) change of heart last Friday over referring the result to the Court of Disputed Returns.
It came a day after the ECQ declared ALP candidate Mark Furner as the successful candidate in Ferny Grove by more than 400 votes, after preferences.
The issue in Ferny Grove was the revelation that Palmer United Party candidate Mark Taverner was an undischarged bankrupt, invalidating his candidacy.
The ECQ initially said it would seek the court's ruling on whether a by-election was warranted.

Court unlikely to reject result, says Antony Green

The final result revealed Mr Taverner received 993 votes, with 353 of those "exhausted" with no further preferences for Labor, the LNP or Greens candidates.
ABC election analyst Antony Green said if every one of these exhausted ballots had instead been votes for the LNP, Labor would still have won the seat by more than 100 votes.

He said this meant it was more likely the court would reject the by-election option.
As the ECQ declared results in the last of the state's 89 electorates, it also announced that based on further legal advice, it would not take the Ferny Grove result to court.
In response, LNP state director Brad Henderson said last Friday the party would take its own advice on the matter.
But Mr Henderson released a statement on Monday night saying the LNP was dropping the matter.
"After considering advice, the LNP will not be referring the Ferny Grove election result to the Court of Disputed Returns," he said.
"The LNP will now focus on providing a stable and competent alternative government for the people of Queensland over the course of the next Parliament.
"The LNP places on record its thanks and appreciation of the contribution made by its candidate and former member for Ferny Grove, Dale Shuttleworth, and his family."

Meanwhile, Labor's trimmed-down ministry has been sworn into office at Government House in Brisbane.

Monday, 16 February 2015

Queensland's new Labor Cabinet sworn in at Government House

Extract from ABC News

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk's trimmed-down ministry has been sworn in at Government House in Brisbane.
The 14-person ministry, a "mix of experience and fresh faces", was sworn in by Governor Paul de Jersey.
Ms Palaszczuk announced her new 14-person ministry on Sunday afternoon following the first Caucus meeting of the new Labor Government.
Eight women including one indigenous MP were among those sworn in as new ministers.
Five of the new ministers are new to the front bench, while Cameron Dick and Kate Jones are set to return to the front bench as Health Minister and Education Minister respectively.
During the election campaign, Labor promised to cut the number of ministers from 19 to 14, and have just one assistant minister, compared to the former LNP government's 12.
Labor claimed the move would save $23 million over three years.
Ms Palaszczuk was sworn in as Premier on Saturday, alongside Deputy Premier Jackie Trad and Treasurer Curtis Pitt, but officially also takes over the Arts Ministry from today.
Prior to today's ceremony, the Premier's father, former state MP Henry Palaszczuk, said he always believed his daughter would lead the state.
"Well, if you go back to her high school days, I think in the year book of when she was in Year 11 she said she wanted to be Prime Minister, but I think being Premier of Queensland is a huge honour a wonderful opportunity," he said.
"She's the 39th person in Queensland to achieve that honour and I feel so proud of her."

New ministers will struggle: Springborg

Labor MPs appointed to the frontbench for the first time will struggle with "supersized portfolios", State Opposition Leader Lawrence Springborg says.
Speaking on ABC 612 Brisbane, state Liberal National Party (LNP) leader Mr Springborg said running the "$50 billion business of government is certainly a big challenge as it is".
But Ms Trad said those new ministers with previous cabinet and parliament experience "have got the greater share of responsibility".
"What we've basically got here is Australia's most unprepared and inexperienced government in our history," Mr Springborg said.
"It's going to be very difficult for these new ministers, the majority of whom have not have ministerial experience and certainly many of them weren't in parliament before last state election."

New Cabinet

  • Annastacia Palaszczuk: Premier, Minister for the Arts
  • Jackie Trad: Deputy Premier, Minister for Transport, Minister for Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning, Minister for Trade
  • Curtis Pitt: Treasurer, Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations, Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships
  • Cameron Dick: Minister for Health, Minister for Ambulance Service
  • Kate Jones: Minister for Education, Minister for Tourism, Major Events and Small Business, Minister for Commonwealth Games
  • Anthony Lynham: Minister for State Development, Minister for Natural Resources and Mines
  • Yvette D'Ath: Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, Minister for Training and Skills
  • Jo-Ann Miller: Minister for Police, Fire and Emergency Services, Minister for Corrective Services
  • Bill Byrne: Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, Minister for Sport and Racing
  • Mark Bailey: Minister for Main Roads, Road Safety and Ports, Minister for Energy and Water Supply
  • Leeanne Enoch: Minister for Housing and Public Works, Minister for Science and Innovation
  • Steven Miles: Minister for Environment and Heritage Protection, Minister for National Parks and the Great Barrier Reef
  • Coralee O'Rourke: Minister for Disability Services, Minister for Seniors, Minister assisting the Premier on North Queensland
  • Shannon Fentiman: Minister for Communities, Women and Youth, Minister for Child Safety, Minister for Multicultural Affairs
  • Stirling Hinchliffe: Leader of the House, Assist Minister of State assisting the Premier
Mr Springborg said the five rookie Labor MPs appointed to the frontbench would struggle in Cabinet.
"First-time ministers who are first-time parliamentarians are going to have significant issues, not only learning the ropes of Parliament, but also these major portfolios," Mr Springborg said.
"And as they are going through the particular restructuring and reorganisation it will all but ensure the machinery of government is going to ground to a halt."
The LNP is expected to announce its shadow ministry in the coming week, but Mr Springborg said they may have more than just 14 shadow ministers.
"I'll be discussing with party room tomorrow," Mr Springborg said.
"I'm not very keen on the business of supersizing portfolios because I do know how difficult it is to run major portfolios.
"We will be very much looking at the experience that we do have. We will be looking at the lessons which we have to learn from the last state election, and there will be many and making sure that the talent we have there will match the team in government."
Ms Trad, who will also take on three major portfolios including transport, said the new Cabinet had more experience than the previous government.
"This Cabinet actually has more cabinet experience and probably more parliamentary experience than the Newman cabinet only three years ago," Ms Trad said.
"This is a very experienced, very competent Cabinet and I think the Premier's done a great job putting it together."
Ms Trad said the ministry was enlarged under the previous government.
"The ministry was enlarged under the Newman government ... so more money was being spent on more ministers and more assistant ministers to run around and do not much," she said.

Independent MP wants to be speaker

Independent MP Peter Wellington says he would like to be appointed speaker of State Parliament.
When announcing her ministry line-up yesterday, Ms Palaszczuk said she had yet to turn her mind to who would take the job.
But Mr Wellington, who helped Labor form minority government, has put his hand up.
"I think anyone would love to be speaker, it's be a great privilege to be speaker but that's a matter for parliament," Mr Wellington said.
"The standing orders make it very clear it's a vote on the floor of parliament and it'll be up to members of parliament to choose who they want to be speaker.

"I think it'd be a great privilege to have a real independent [speaker] in our parliament. It's never happened in the history of Queensland before."

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Queensland election 2015: Annastacia Palaszczuk sworn in as new Premier

Extract from ABC News

Photo: Treasurer Curtis Pitt, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, Queensland Governor Paul de Jersey and Kaye de Jersey with Deputy Premier Jackie Trad following this morning's ceremony. (ABC News: Chris O'Brien)

Queensland Labor leader Annastacia Palaszczuk has been sworn in as the state's 39th Premier at Government House in Brisbane this morning.
Ms Palaszczuk took the oaths of allegiance at a ceremony which began at 9:00am, coming two weeks to the day after Queenslanders went to the polls.
"I congratulate you on your appointment," Queensland Governor Paul de Jersey said as Ms Palaszczuk signed the paperwork to install her as the new Premier.
Ms Palaszczuk's swearing in was followed by two others - Jackie Trad as Deputy Premier and Curtis Pitt as the Treasurer.
The three will share all portfolios over the coming days until a full ministry is sworn in sometime in the coming days.
Ms Palaszczuk was commissioned as the state's next premier following a meeting with the Queensland Governor yesterday.
He invited her to form government following the Electoral Commission of Queensland declaring the 89 seats which make up state parliament earlier that day.
"It's an extremely humbling experience," she said outside Government House on Friday.
An interim ministry will also be sworn in this morning.
Labor won 44 electorates and will have the crucial 45 to form a minority government with the support of independent Peter Wellington.

The MP for Nicklin on the Sunshine Coast yesterday said he was proud to be backing Ms Palaszczuk to form a minority government.
The Liberal National Party finished the election with 42 seats and Katter's Australian Party (KAP) with two seats - although they have yet to announce which party they would back.
KAP MP Rob Katter said he and Shane Knuth wanted to work with Labor to achieve positive changes in the state.

"We sit on the cross benches for a purpose cause we are not aligned with the LNP we are not aligned with the ALP but I guess in the context of the previous parliament where we were all treated like rubbish by the government I think we can quite easily have a happy working relationship with the ALP."

Short hours for all workers & Machinery is displacing labour

BRISBANE, MAY 4, 1895.

The Editorial Mill.

Our Motto: “Socialism in our time.”

Non-unionism – Long hours for all workers. Unionism- Short hours for some workers! Legislative enactment – Short hours for all workers!” These words were printed on the banners in the WORKER eight hour cartoon last week, and generally speaking contain about 19cwt. of truth to the ton. When there were practically no trade unions, the working classes were kept at dreary, monotonous toil for 15 to 16 hours per day. When the men engaged in various occupations became sufficiently educated to recognise the power of combination, in many instances the 15 hour day was reduced to eight, and the reduction thus fortunately secured had a direct beneficial influence on those trades in which the workers were too ignorant or too down-trodden to combine. Half a century of effort to establish a universal eight hour day by the old trade union methods has taught the organised wage-earners its impossibility, and that while a number of industries in which the eight hours might be advantageously put into operation are conducted on the ten or twelve-hour system, the eight-hour boon is at the risk of being lost to the trades which now enjoy it. Very few trade unionists rely now-a-days on the old weapon – the time-honoured strike – to achieve the three eights. The aid of the all powerful Parliament is now invoked to accomplish this and many other reforms. Here and there some formalised “has been” who is in a good apparently-permanent job, and enjoys his weekly Saturday-night gallon or two of beer, may object to what he calls the extreme views of those who would march the Labour Army right up to and through the doors of Parliament, but he is fast disappearing. He is rapidly joining his departed and humble friend who was satisfied with that position in life to which it had pleased God to call him.

* * *

The advance of the eight-hour movement is no longer retarded by a difference of opinion as to the wisdom of allowing politics to be discussed at trade union meetings; the main obstacles are the opposition of the employing class and capitalists who consider it is not to their advantage that the working classes should work only eight hours – and the want of knowledge and apathy of the unorganised workers who will not use their power politically to obtain for them. It is a curious fact that aged workers accustomed to labour for twelve or fifteen hours daily would not know what to do with themselves if they had the eight-hour boon conferred upon them. They become so accustomed to the monotonous round – work, eat, and sleep – that leisure is a bore. Sydney Webb and Harold Cox mention a case in which a labourer still in the prime of life often remarked, “I yate Sunday more'n any day of the week;” and the late Mr. Christie, when secretary of the Sydney Brewery Employ'ee Association, often sadly spoke of an old man so accustomed to work late every night in the week at one of the large breweries in Sydney that when the eight-hour system was granted him and his fellow employ'es he did not know what to do with himself, and his wife expressed the opinion that he was far happier when he had to work ten and twelve hours daily. Humorists may claim that in this latter case the free drink obtainable in the brewery may have had much to do with the old man's liking for late hours. Still, the fact remains, a few of the old-time employ'es feel that their leisure hours under the eight-hour system would be a bore and a nuisance. Happily a new class of worker has arisen – the educated wage-earners who realise that a full and complete life should be open to all who are willing to work with hand or brain; a class who do know what to do with their leisure hours – who do not waste them in vice, but, in many instances, devote their time to acquiring a knowledge of science and the beauties of literature.

* * *

Eight hours work is enough for any man or woman. There may be, and no doubt is, difficulty in applying the system to several occupations; but in the majority of trades and professions the eight-hour system can be put into vogue with very great advantage to both employer and employed. All men who do eight hours work per day for six days in the week do more than justify their existence.
Dr. Richardson, a man qualified to express an opinion, says: “taking it all in all, we may keep our minds on eight hours as a fair days time for work. We may consider justly that a person who works hard and conscientiously for eight hours has little to be ashamed of, and that for health's sake he has done what is near to the right thing; if he takes an hour to get to and from work, two hours for meals, three hours for reading or recreation, and one hour for rising and going to bed, including in this the daily bath which is so essential to health, he is in good form for good health. It matters little then what his occupation may be, since this laying-out of time is well laid out for mind and body.”


Gradually, and latterly with great rapidity, machinery is displacing labour in printing establishments. It is not so many years ago that “fliers” were required to take the sheets from the press as they were printed. Machinery was invented to do the work and the “fliers” usually boys, had to seek fresh employment. Ten years ago in large daily newspaper offices, dozens of boys and young men were employed in folding the newspapers as they were rapidly printed. A folding machine – or addition to the already almost perfect printing machine is invented, and exit the folding boys. Now appears in Australia another new invention, which will probably lead to the discharge of many men and boys from the machine room of both newspaper and job printing establishments. This invention is the new Cleathero feeder, which (according to the Sydney DAILY TELEGRAPH) seems to be faultless, and is now working to complete satisfaction on a double demy Wharfdale at the Government Printing Office, Sydney. A ream (or, if desired, several reams) of paper is placed on the feed-board, which rises automatically as each sheet is taken from the top, so that the top of the pile is always at the same height. By a very ingenious arrangement the sheet is “fluffed” or arched at each corner, by rubber fingers, which effectually separates the top sheet, a little foot then comes immediately under the sheet, and keeps the corners tight while the top sheet is pushed along by two rubber wheels to the grippers, another rubber finger near the cylinder, catching hold of the sheet to make it perfectly straight before the grippers take it, so that perfect register may be guaranteed.

An important feature in this apparatus is that by a clever arrangement a bell is made to ring just before the last few sheets are taken, so as to give the machine-minder due notice to put another ream on; but supposing the minder is busy and cannot come for a few minutes, no harm is done, because directly the last sheet is taken the machine stops of its own accord. Practical men who saw the feeder were unanimously enthusiastic about it, and as the contrivance can be fitted to any size of machine and any thickness of paper, it seems that a way has at last been discovered of avoiding the numerous and costly defects of hand-feeding. In England the Cleathero has been largely adopted – notably in the offices of the ILLUSTRATED LONDON NEWS, THE GRAPHIC and the “London Post office Directory.” The WORKER urges the employ'es who are displaced by these new inventions to do their level best in the advocacy of State and municipal co-operation. The only hope the working classes have to save themselves from a slavery worse that that which afflicted the low-paid wage-earners of a hundred years ago, is to make the State or the municipality the employers in all industries where practicable, and to arrange for the State or municipality to provide employment for all those persons who cannot obtain work from private employers at a living wage. There is nothing visionary about this scheme. Many workers have ratepayers votes, and more workers have parliamentary votes. Let us all, who with brain or hand work for wages, use our votes and our tongues to put the scheme into operation as soon as possible. 

Annastacia Palaszczuk new premier of Queensland after Labor wins 44 seats

Extract from The Guardian

Labor set to complete a remarkable recovery after 2012 wipeout as Thuringowa and Townsville are declared in the party’s favour

Queensland premier in waiting Annastacia Palaszczuk. Photograph: Dan Peled/AAP

Annastacia Palaszczuk will take power in Queensland after the electoral commission declared enough seats for the party to form a parliamentary majority with the independent Peter Wellington.
Palaszczuk emerged as premier elect after nearly two weeks of electoral uncertainty amid a close contest punctuated by a legal dispute over a disqualified candidate and the Liberal National party claim it should retain caretaker government for perhaps months.
Confirmation that Labor had the numbers to govern in the state’s 89-seat parliament came when the commission declared the north Queensland seats of Thuringowa and Townsville in its favour on Friday afternoon.
That gave Labor 44 seats to the LNP’s confirmed 42 in a huge swing away from the Newman government, deposed less than three years after the greatest electoral landslide in Australian political history.
Key to Labor’s unexpected victory were preferences from Greens and other minor party candidates, which had punished the former Bligh Labor government in 2012.
Among the close results was Pauline Hanson’s 184-vote loss to the LNP’s Ian Rickuss in Lockyer. The electoral commission has rejected Hanson’s request for a recount.
Labor’s 44 seats include Ferny Grove, a result the LNP may choose to dispute because of the role of a Palmer United party (PUP) candidate later disqualified because bankruptcy affected the result.
However, in a clear blow to the LNP’s hopes of clinging to power, the commission said on Friday it would not refer the Ferny Grove result to the court of disputed returns.
It reversed its earlier decision to lodge a court petition after receiving “additional expert legal advice”, the commission said in a statement.
This was in “regard to the final count in Ferny Grove, the winning margin, the number of votes for the PUP candidate and the distribution of preferences”, it said.
It followed revelations that the LNP could have secured at most another 353 votes in the PUP candidate’s absence, less than Labor’s winning margin of 466 votes.
The LNP’s hopes of regaining office hinged on the court ordering a fresh election in Ferny Grove which they would then have to win while securing the support of the two Katter’s Australian party MPs, who are yet to commit.
Palaszczuk and LNP leader Lawrence Springborg visited Queensland governor Paul De Jersey after the result was declared on Friday.
Palaszczuk told reporters: “This afternoon, the governor has invited me to form government. I have accepted that offer.
“It is an extremely humbling experience and tomorrow the interim ministry will be sworn in here at government house.”
The incoming Labor government avoided big-ticket promises as part of its campaign pitch, which hinged on retaining assets to slowly pay down government debt, modest spending programs and incremental savings.
Its first months, if not years, in office will be focussed on winding back LNP changes to governance and pitching itself as a consensus government rather than one that divides.

Labor’s election promises

  • revamp the Crime and Corruption Commission and hold a public inquiry into links between political donations and government contracts and approvals
  • scrutinise the Newman government approval of the Acland mine expansion by major Liberal party donor New Hope
  • restore the $999 limit for secret political donations and retrospectively force disclosure for all donors who did not have to declare contributions under $12,400 under the LNP. work with electoral commission towards a “realtime” disclosure system for donations
  • run a $6mn commission of inquiry into organised crime. Appoint task force of legal bodies, police and justice officials to review and change LNP’s “unworkable” criminal gang laws aimed at bikies
  • consult justice officials on possibility of new state bill of rights. Publish advice
  • restore community rights to legally object to and appeal planning decisions on mining projects
  • stop dredge spoil dumping in Caley Valley wetlands, ban all dumping in world heritage area, in view of Abbot Point coal port proposal
  • oppose dredging at Abbot Point until mining company Adani can demonstrate the financial viability and need for the project
  • abandon government investment in a railway for miners to open up the Galilee Basin
  • spend $20mn a year trying to reverse environmental degradation of the Great Barrier Reef
  • move quickly to ensure new reef strategy included in joint commonwealth report to Unesco to try and stop “in danger” listing this year
  • commit to governing by the “Fitzgerald principles” - act without regard to personal or partisan interests and make appointments on merit
  • restore the parliamentary committee system
  • retain port and power assets but merge to find savings and use about $1.3bn a year of dividends to pay down general government debt of $46bn.
  • save $645m over four years by cutting government spending on consultancies, contractors and advertising
  • spend $32m over three years reinstating courts such as the Murri, drug and special circumstances courts to divert offenders from the mainstream justice system.
  • set up a state productivity commission and a jobs body for regional workforce planning
  • pay $7mn a year in reparations for Indigenous wages stolen by past governments
  • immediately repeal Newman government laws that expanded sand mining operations on North Stradbroke Island 

Queensland election 2015: Independent MP Peter Wellington 'proud' to back Labor into office

Extract from ABC News

Independent Queensland MP Peter Wellington says he is proud that he is backing Labor leader Annastacia Palaszczuk to form a minority state government.
With all seats formally declared, Labor won 44 seats - one short of an outright majority.
Speaking shortly after Ms Palaszczuk left Government House on Friday afternoon as Premier-elect, Mr Wellington told the ABC it was a historic day and he was proud to play his part.
He said Ms Palaszczuk seemed excited as she spoke briefly to waiting media.
"And rightly so, when you think three years ago the challenges she's faced with her small band of members in Parliament," he said.
"To think they've slain the Liberal National Party, you know, they are now the Government of Queensland.
"I'm proud that I've supported Annastacia - and we won't agree on everything but I know her heart's in the right place and I certainly believe I've done the right thing for Queensland.

"She understands very clearly that if they choose to introduce laws into Parliament I'll be voting for them or against them according to how I think my constituents want me to vote.
"I've known Annastacia for many years and I feel confident that she will do the right thing, she will include us - Queenslanders - and I think it'll be a good government.
"I have confidence that under Annastacia's leadership we'll see a Government with stability, a Government that's going to include all Queenslanders and not a Government that's going to pick a fight with anyone who disagrees."
Mr Wellington said he and Ms Palaszczuk shared concerns on issues such as government accountability and the transparency of political donations.
"Getting rid of the Liberal National Party's secret donation laws, empowering our Crime and Corruption Commission to be a real watchdog with the powers that I know it can have - these are important issues," he said.

"In relation to any of Annastacia's legislative agenda, she knows very clearly that there's no certainty I'll be supporting any of those changes lock, stock and barrel."

Friday, 13 February 2015

Tony Abbott's promised industrial relations crackdowns face Senate defeat

 Extract from  The Guardian

PM’s pre-election promise to monitor conduct of unions and business groups, and strengthen industrial laws, meets crossbench opposition
construction stock
The Australian Building and Construction Commission was going to be a ‘tough cop on the beat’ for the building industry. Photograph: Joel Carrett/AAP
Two of Tony Abbott’s long-promised industrial relations crackdowns appear headed for Senate defeat with the Palmer United party and crossbench senator Ricky Muir set to join Labor and the Greens in rejecting them.
The prime minister promised before the election to re-establish the Australian Building and Construction Commission as a “tough cop on the beat” for the building industry and to set up a new registered organisations commission to monitor the conduct of unions and business groups.
Labor and the Greens oppose both bills and now a spokesman for the Palmer United party has confirmed both PUP senators intend to vote against them. A spokesman for Motoring Enthusiast senator Muir said he was also “very likely” to vote against them.
Both bills were set to be debated this week but have now been deferred by the government as it seeks more time to lobby and win the crossbench votes.
The looming Senate defeat comes as the government is seeking to recover from Monday’s damaging leadership spill motion and as Abbott said Senate obstructionism had been the only mistake in last year’s budget.
He said the only thing the government got wrong with its 2014 budget was that it had “failed to get legislation through ... a Senate controlled by our political enemies” and that the only promises he had actually broken were spending cuts to foreign aid and the ABC.
The government has given mixed messages about whether it remains committed to key budget measures stalled in the Senate, including higher education reforms and the Medicare co-payment, which has already been twice revised.
The tougher industrial laws were part of the government’s election pitch, and are often touted as the answer to scandals such as the wrongdoing at the Health Services Union.
The building and construction industry (improving productivity) bill was introduced almost as soon as the government won office in 2013, and the fair work (registered organisations) amendment bill – described by Abbott as “very significant legislation” – was introduced in the middle of last year.
Labor argues legislative changes it made in government already strengthened the Fair Work Commission’s investigative powers and penalties were increased.
In a submission to a Senate committee early last year, the workplace relations minister, Eric Abetz, said: “The government considers the fair work (registered organisations) amendment bill 2013 as a high priority piece of legislation ... This policy has been well ventilated for some time and the government has a very clear mandate to implement it as a matter of extreme urgency.”

Queensland election 2015: Labor prepares to form minority government as vote counting draws to close

Extract from ABC News

Labor leader Annastacia Palaszczuk could be sworn in as Queensland's premier as early as today after the final election votes are counted.
By the close of business on Thursday, the Electoral Commission of Queensland (ECQ) had declared 82 of the 89 seats in Parliament, including Ferny Grove, which was referred to the Court of Disputed Returns.
Although the writs were due to be returned on Monday, Governor Paul de Jersey said earlier this week he would commission a new premier when all seats were declared.
Labor is on track to secure 44 electorates and will have the crucial 45 to form a minority government with the support of independent Peter Wellington.
The Liberal National Party (LNP) is expected to finish with 42 seats, and the only hope it has of minority government will be to win the backing of the two Katter MPs and victory in a Ferny Grove by-election, if one is held.
Labor's Mark Furner was declared winner in the north-west Brisbane seat by more than 400 votes after preferences, but the LNP is expected to push for another election after the Palmer United Party candidate was disqualified for being an undischarged bankrupt after the January 31 poll.
PUP candidate for Ferny Grove, Marc Taverner, got 993 votes, and 353 of those were "exhausted" with no further preferences for Labor, the LNP or Greens candidates.
ABC election analyst Antony Green said the simple presence of an unelected ineligible candidate was not in itself enough to overturn a result.
"If every one of the voters who cast these '1'-only ballots had voted for the LNP candidate in the absence of Taverner on the ballot paper, Labor would still have won Ferny Grove by more than 100 votes," Mr Green said.
"That makes it harder to argue that Taverner's presence on the ballot paper has affected the outcome in Ferny Grove."

Pauline Hanson loses election bid

One Nation founder Pauline Hanson has failed in her bid to be elected to the southern Queensland seat of Lockyer.
LNP incumbent Ian Rickuss pipped Ms Hanson by 184 votes after preferences.
Mr Rickuss said the arrogance displayed by senior LNP figures contributed to the previous government's downfall.
"Look, I think the LNP government could have sold its message a lot better," he said.

"We've done some good, we did make some good changes, but the people I don't think appreciated some of the arrogance that was being shown particularly the hierarchy."

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Queensland election 2015: Campbell Newman's demise no surprise, says Anna Bligh

Extract from ABC News

Updated Wed 11 Feb 2015, 4:41pm

Former Queensland premier Anna Bligh says the downfall of Campbell Newman has come as no surprise to her.
Ms Bligh was speaking for the first time since Mr Newman's defeat in the state election 11 days ago.
She said there would now be a return to accountability in Queensland.
"There is nothing about this result or what's happened to Campbell Newman that surprises me," Ms Bligh told ABC News.
In 2012, Labor was overwhelmingly defeated by the Liberal National Party (LNP) led by Mr Newman.
He campaigned heavily on what he called Labor's economic incompetence and the need for a tougher stance on law and order.
During the bitter campaign, Mr Newman consistently rejected questions from Ms Bligh about his integrity.

Ms Bligh quit politics the day after the 2012 election and Annastacia Palaszczuk was later elected as the party's Queensland leader.
Coming into the January 31 poll, the LNP held a majority of 73 seats to nine over Labor.
Labor now looks set to win 44 seats and form a minority state government with the support of independent MP Peter Wellington.
"What Annastacia Palaszczuk will bring back to Queensland is a sense of accountability, transparency, she'll be a great listener and a very good performer.
"I think we've seen a Government with a big majority is not necessarily good government.
"Queensland voted against it and I know that Annastacia's heard that message loud and clear."
Ms Bligh also served in a minority government under premier Peter Beattie and said it would work well this time too.
"I know that it can work.
"If you look back at that time it was a good strong government that got things done."

Ms Bligh now lives in Sydney.

Abbott has failed to make the one promise that could save him: to be fair

Tony Abbott
Tony Abbott has promised to ‘socialise’ decisions before they become final. Photograph: Stefan Postles/Getty Images
They don’t add up to much. Tony Abbott is promising new tactics but not a change of heart. Missing from the list of pledges made in Canberra on Monday was the big promise that might save his government: to be fair.
The issue of equity is deep, obvious and unacknowledged by Abbott in the multiple mea culpas he delivered.
The polls haven’t turned against the prime minister because Peta Credlin needs her wings clipped. His captain’s picks aren’t really the problem. He’s not on the nose because his backbench is restive. The Senate has been embarrassing but hardly the cause of the dramatic collapse in his standing over the past year.
That collapse began with a budget that was seen as manifestly unfair. “It was bold and ambitious,” he told the media on Monday. “We did, with the wisdom of hindsight, bite off more than we could chew.”
But Abbott is still fighting for that budget. He’s tweaking what can be tweaked and has ditched measures he knows have no hope in the Senate. But hindsight hasn’t persuaded him to abandon the underlying strategy of making students, pensioners, the sick and the unemployed pay a high price to rescue the nation from its fiscal difficulties.
“We will socialise decisions before we finalise them,” is Abbott’s new mantra. It’s startling to hear him use the “s” word as a compliment. But listen closely and it’s clear he’s not talking about sharing anything with the electorate. He’s not talking equity.
All he’s promising from this time forward is consultation: every month he will hold a full cabinet meeting and at least every two months he will talk to the chairs of his backbench committees. “I want to harness,” Abbott said, “... all the creativity and insights that this party room has to offer.”
Mechanical proposals emerged one after the other as the media circled the wounded prime minister. He will stop awarding knighthoods in the order of Abbott. Ministers can now pick their own junior staff. A family package will soon be unwrapped. Small business can once again – despite the wretched state of the revenue – look forward to tax cuts.
“All of us have had to have a good, long, hard look at ourselves over the last few weeks,” said Abbott. But if they identified anything fundamentally wrong with his government, he was not going to say. For a man who still faces political annihilation, he has very few big-picture insights to offer.
What about the fundamental values of the Coalition? How can the government restore its fortunes until the question of fairness is addressed? Until then, how can voters know what Abbott means when he declares his government is “back at work for the people of Australia”?
Abbott comes from a political tradition where fairness mattered. The old Democratic Labor party was in many ways narrow-minded and vengeful, but it sought fair outcomes for working Australians. Those values could guide Abbott still.
It’s no mystery to the pollsters who advise his government that equity is a fundamental issue with the electorate. Whether Abbott sees this is not so clear. He says he has peered over the precipice, but has he looked behind him to see what’s pressing his government to the edge?
On Monday he might have delivered a mea culpa that would have won him all the time he needed to recover. It could have been his Churchill moment, the point at which he squared with the people and began to earn their trust.
He could have talked as he did about the big tasks ahead, about leading a government that wouldn’t shirk the challenges Australia faces. But he might have added a promise: that when he asks the Australian people to make sacrifices for the good of the nation we will all share the pain. 

Coalition's first day of 'good government' but the message hasn't changed

Extract from The Guardian

The fact that the talking points haven’t changed even as the Abbott government back-pedals furiously on its major policies is an insult to the intelligence of the electorate
Tony Abbott during question time on Tuesday 10 February
Prime minister Tony Abbott attempts to press the reset button during question time on Tuesday. Photograph: Mike Bowers for Guardian
The first day of “good government” was a bit of a farce. The Coalition is in the process of winding back major policies but it hasn’t changed its talking points. So its messages are contradictory. And, while professing love and loyalty, some very senior figures managed to deliver some very pointed barbs.
The problem with the talking points becomes very obvious when you get the “daily notes” and read along while the politicians are talking.
Tuesday’s note began: “As of today, we’re back to work for the people of Australia.” Which does kind of raise the question of what they were doing before. Even deputy Liberal leader Julie Bishop didn’t seem able to take that line entirely seriously. She leapt to her feet in the party room and declared. “That’s it. People move on so quickly. Leadership spills are so yesterday.” Perhaps you had to be there.
The “debt and deficit disaster” lines are still there, under the heading: “If asked – pressure on budget revenues, returning budget to surplus.
“We know the budget is under pressure. The Abbott government was elected to fix Labor’s debt and deficit disaster and return the budget to surplus, and we won’t shirk our responsibility,” MPs are advised to say.
But the government is in the process of back-pedalling on its previous fiscal strategy, which was supposed to be about ending the aforementioned debt and deficit disaster. It isn’t looking for alternative, fairer budget savings to those it put forward in last year’s budget – or not that it’s telling us about anyway.
It is now proposing to return to surplus via the “New Zealand” road, by keeping expenditure growth very low. Cuts are needed only to offset new spending, like the upcoming small business tax cuts and the new childcare policy. Nothing will hurt household budgets. As social services minister Scott Morrison said on Tuesday, the government now has to “make incremental gains on the deficit and the debt”. Or, as Abbott said during question time, the government was “still doing what it can”.
Treasurer Joe Hockey told the party room the government could not throw out its existing (stalled) budget savings – including the (already-twice revised) Medicare copayment and the higher education changes – because otherwise Australia would “never get back to surplus”.
And Abbott was still telling parliament the copayment was essential because Medicare was “unsustainable”.
But he has also told the doctors and the Senate they have an effective veto on any Medicare changes – nothing will happen unless the doctors agree and the Senate signals support beforehand. Given the views of both the Senate and the doctors on the copayment, that seems almost the same as throwing it out.
Under the heading “If asked – Medicare changes”, MPs are advised to tell us “there will be no new proposals that don’t have the broad backing of the medical profession” and that “it is clear no one supports Labor’s policy of doing nothing. We will work constructively with health professionals and patients to deliver genuine Medicare reform”.
Former minister Mal Brough repeated his call to the party room that the copayment should be dumped because it is the wrong place to be looking for savings. But health minister Sussan Ley said part of the problem was the word “copayment”, which was seen by the public as a “dirty word”. She doesn’t even call it a “price signal” any more. Last month she said she now called it a “value signal” because it meant we “value the services our GPs provide”.
And the word “copayment” does not appear in the speaking notes. The subject is now referred to as “Medicare reform”.
Nor could the government explain how it would decide who will get the $20bn-plus tender to build the next generation of submarines. It could not reconcile promises made to South Australian Liberal backbenchers to have an open tender process for Australia’s new submarines, with the formulation of defence minister Kevin Andrews at a press conference with the same South Australian backbenchers that it was a “competitive evaluation process”.
The future of the prime minister’s chief of staff, Peta Credlin, being debated by senior ministers in public on Tuesday behind a veneer of civility and carefully chosen words, is a distraction for the government and gives the lie to the second talking point: “This Coalition government has shown that it will not go down Labor’s path of chaos and dysfunction.”
Communications minister Malcolm Turnbull’s line about it being the “greatest mistake” for politicians to allow themselves to be “bullied” by media figures such as Alan Jones was pretty pointed also.
But the fact that the talking points have not changed, even as the government recasts its strategy from “crash through” to “desperate survival” is an insult to the intelligence of the electorate.
Oh, and there’s no reference in the talking points to “good government starting today”.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Queensland election 2015: Campbell Newman resigns as Queensland Premier

Extract from ABC News

Campbell Newman has resigned as Premier of Queensland following the state election 10 days ago.
Mr Newman visited Governor Paul de Jersey had a 40-minute meeting to tender his resignation, pending the appointment of a new premier.
"In accordance with my constitutional duty, I have agreed it is my obligation to remain in office as caretaker Premier until that time," Mr Newman said in a statement.
"It is a duty I take seriously and one I will continue to undertake to the best of my ability."

Labor and the LNP have been tussling over who will claim power after a clear majority did not emerge in the state election on January 31.
They entered negotiations with independent Peter Wellington and two Katter's Australian Party MPs to form a minority government.
Labor succeeded in securing Mr Wellington's support meaning it had the crucial 45 seats to form a minority government.
Ms Palaszczuk planned to visit Mr de Jersey by the end of Wednesday to seek permission to form government.
The LNP looks likely to win 42 seats, and would need to secure Ferny Grove in a by-election and the support of two Katter's Australian Party MPs to win power.
It is unclear at this stage whether a by-election will be called in Ferny Grove after a candidate was disqualified.
Palmer United Party candidate for Ferny Grove Mark Taverner, who had received 1,000 votes, was found to be an undischarged bankrupt and therefore ineligible to run in the seat.
The Electoral Commission of Queensland announced on Sunday it would refer the northern Brisbane seat to the Court of Disputed Returns after the seat was declared.

The court will then determine whether to order a by-election.

Queensland election 2015: Labor leader Annastacia Palaszczuk to seek Governor's permission to form government

Extract from ABC News

Queensland could have a Labor government by the end of Wednesday, with Labor Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk saying she will seek permission from the Governor to form a minority government with independent Peter Wellington.

A small number of seats are undeclared, but Ms Palaszczuk said Labor was on track to win the two it needs, Ferny Grove and Maryborough, or 44 seats.
The LNP looked likely to win a 42 seats, and would need to secure Ferny Grove in a by-election and the support of two Katter's Australian Party MPs to win power.
Counting wraps up on Tuesday, with the seats expected to be declared by the evening.
"I will be speaking to the Governor (Paul de Jersey), and I would expect Campbell Newman to do the honourable thing and resign his commission," Ms Palaszczuk said.

"I am confident over the next few days Labor will be able to form government.
"What we've seen in the last 24 hours is an arrogant attempt by Lawrence Springborg to cling to power."
It is unclear at this stage whether a by-election will be called in Ferny Grove after a candidate was disqualified.
Palmer United Party candidate for Ferny Grove Mark Taverner, who has so far received 1,000 votes, was found to be an undischarged bankrupt therefore ineligible to run in the seat.
The Electoral Commission of Queensland (ECQ) announced on Sunday it would refer the northern Brisbane seat to the Court of Disputed Returns after the seat was declared.
The court will then determine whether to order a by-election.
Mr Wellington said it was unreasonable to expect Queensland to remain in a state of limbo until the outcome of any by-election was known.
"It is farcical for the new leader of the LNP to seek to hold on to power until then leaving the Newman appointed senior public servants to govern the state," Mr Wellington wrote on his Facebook page.
"The Governor has the responsibility to hand the reins of government to whoever is able to deliver the 45 seats and should not be drawn into hypothetical scenarios involving the future of the electorate of Ferny Grove."
Mr Wellington helped former Labor premier Peter Beattie form his first government in 1998 after Labor won 44 seats.

'Governor could opt for longer caretaker period'

Dr Tracey Arklay from Griffith University's Centre for Governance and Public Policy told The World Today the uncertainty over the election outcome was unprecedented.
She said it was up to the Governor to decide what happened next.
"Now the Premier, having lost his seat, that throws up a lot of tricky dilemmas here," she said.
"He'd have to resign his commission to the Governor and then I imagine the Governor would have to decide who he appoints as the premier.
"At this stage the LNP is still the caretaker government, so it's possibly likely that will be (LNP leader) Lawrence Springborg."
Dr Arkley said the Mr de Jersey could make a call on the matter before the court had ruled on whether a by-election would be necessary in Ferny Grove.

Labor MP Jackie Trad, tipped to become deputy Labor leader, said it could take up to six months for a court determination.
She called on the LNP to relinquish control as caretaker government by Tuesday evening, which is the deadline for postal votes to be received.
She said the LNP did not have the numbers.
"This is nothing more than a sneaky, arrogant and hungry grab for power when the will of the Queensland people was clearly delivered," she said.
"It is clear that Campbell Newman as the caretaker premier will not have the numbers in parliament to provide a stable government or to pass legislation, which is the primary responsibility of politicians."

LNP not giving up without a fight

The LNP's parliamentary leader, Lawrence Springborg, would not give up caretaker government during such uncertainty and accused Labor of being power hungry.
Mr Springborg said no party had a clear majority and the LNP would stay on in caretaker government until an outcome was more clear.

"That is at least what we have to do for the next few days," Mr Springborg told 4BC Radio.
"The Governor then will consider what options are available to him.
"It is wrong for Labor or anyone else to run around tripping over themselves to snatch the keys of the executive building when the result has so far to go to actually be clearly determined.
"People shouldn't jump the gun. You could have the possibility of a government changing in the next few days, then changing again in the next month or so.
"Labor - there is almost an indecent haste and expectation from them that they should grab the keys of government.
"This needs to be properly done."
While the LNP remains hopeful of winning, former premier Rob Borbidge and deputy premier Joan Sheldon have been hired to review the party's disastrous result in the election campaign.

Palmer 'sorry' about Ferny Grove, may field new candidate

Federal MP Clive Palmer has apologised to Queenslanders for running a bankrupt candidate in Ferny Grove, but said he would field another PUP candidate if there was a by-election.
"It's important to keep faith with the people of Ferny Grove and to try to make amends for what we've done," Mr Palmer said.

"So we'll certainly be happy to play a key role there, and of course we will be playing a key role in that election."