Saturday, 31 January 2015

Our daily bread.


The Wants of the People.

What do we people want? Our daily bread;
Leave to earn it by our skill;
Leave to labour freely for it;
Leave to buy it where we will.
For 'tis hard upon the many,
Hard, unpitied by the few;
To starve and die for want of work,
Or live half starved with work to do.

What do we want? Our daily bread;
Fair reward for labour done;
Daily bread for wives and children;
All our wants are merged in one,
When the fierce fiend, hunger, grips us,
Evil fancies clog our brains.
Vengeance settles in our hearts,
And frenzy gallops through our veins.

What do we want? Our daily bread;
Give us that – all else will come;
Self-respect and self denial,
And the happiness of home;
Kindly feelings, education,
Liberty for act and thought;
And surely that, whate'er befall,
Our children shall be fed and taught.

What do we want? Our daily bread;
Give us that for willing toil;
Make us sharers in the plenty
God has showered upon the soil;
And we'll nurse our better natures
With bold hearts and judgement strong,
To do as much as men can do
To keep the world from going wrong.


Friday, 30 January 2015

Tom Uren: a champion of Labor and the Left

Extract from The Drum

Posted Mon 26 Jan 2015, 3:23pm
Former Whitlam minister Tom Uren has died aged 93. Here, Tanya Plibersek pays tribute to a politician who was always ready to speak out for the voiceless and the dispossessed.
Tom Uren was, to me and so many of my generation in Labor politics, our great inspiration, our elder statesman, and an unstintingly generous and loving mentor and friend.
Among the last veterans of World War II to serve in the House of Representatives, Tom's wartime experiences as a prisoner of the Japanese left him not with bitterness, but with an unshakable conviction of the importance of mutual support and collective action - of the strong helping the weak, of the well helping the ill, of those who could bear a heavier burden willingly shouldering that load in the interests of all.
It left him with a deep dedication to the cause of peace and, having witnessed the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki, an abiding aversion to nuclear weapons. He was the first Labor MP to question Australia's support for US intervention in Vietnam, in August 1962, and he was a regular and stalwart presence at marches and demonstrations, jailed more than once. He also never ceased to work in the interests of his fellow veterans - from all wars. One of his proudest moments was just recently when, after a long campaign for a payment to surviving prisoners of war, he received a visit at his home from prime minister Julia Gillard to tell him the payment would go ahead.
His wartime experiences left him, too, with a great faith in the power of love versus hate. He had seen the worst of what human beings can do to one another, and his response was to seek the best: to strive, with rigour and determination, to transcend enmity and fear, to replace them with compassion and with empathy.
He would always emphasise to those of us to whom he so willingly gave his time, his wisdom, and his experience that there is no profit in hate, either in personal relationships or in politics.
Loving as he was, he could still be tough: tough in the pursuit of fairness, justice, and peace. And if you disappointed him, or he disagreed with you, he let you know. And yet, as much as we all hated to disappoint him, we never feared to disagree. For such physically imposing man, he was never intimidating. He was tall, tough, a former boxer, yet he took pride in being a gentle man.
He was tough, too, in his battles to protect the Sydney Harbour foreshore for public use and to restore and invigorate the working-class neighbourhoods of inner-Sydney
As Minister for Urban and Regional Development in the Whitlam Government and beyond, his passionate commitment to our urban environment has left an enduring legacy, in both the preservation of our heritage through such steps as the establishment of the Australian Heritage Commission, the conservation of the Sydney Harbour foreshore, and through his vision for the restoration and invigoration of old working class inner-city areas. I am particularly aware, as Sydney's representative in our Federal Parliament, of just how much we owe Tom.
The face of our city, and the survival of the working class communities within the inner city areas, is down to Tom. So too is the access all residents and all visitors to Sydney can enjoy to our beautiful harbour. His great vision was that the harbour foreshore should be open to everyone, not the preserve of the rich - that anyone could walk from headland to headland. He worked tirelessly in great battles and in small to make that true.
He strove, too, to make sure that all of us, no matter where we live, have access to the beauty and the enjoyment of open space and parks, through, for example, his position on the board of Parramatta Park Trust.
He lived a long and rich and full life, but the legacy he left Sydney will last forever.
He was one of Labor's, the Left's, and Sydney's great champions, never hesitating to state his beliefs, always ready to speak out for the voiceless, for the dispossessed, for those in need. Born in working-class Balmain, Tom lived through the grinding poverty and struggle of the Depression, and knew first-hand that the difference between prosperity and destitution is all too often simply luck. His compassion towards those grappling with adversity never dimmed, no matter his personal success.
Long after his retirement, he remained an active and committed member of the ALP. There was Tom, well into his nineties, campaigning for Labor at local government, state or federal elections. Loyal, but never unquestioning: he never held back from letting us all know when he thought we'd made a wrong decision or taken a wrong path.
Tom would often quote to us Martin Luther King's words that "Hate distorts the personality and scars the soul. It is more injurious to the hater than the hated."
The privations of war, and eventually the effects of age, left their marks upon his body. But despite all that he had endured, Tom's beautiful soul was unscarred. Unstintingly loving, fierce and gentle, we will miss him.

Tanya Plibersek is the Federal Member for Sydney and Deputy Leader of the Opposition.

Campbell Newman could stay on as Premier if he loses seat at Queensland election, says law expert

Extract from ABC News

Updated Fri 30 Jan 2015, 6:52am
Campbell Newman could stay on as Queensland Premier even if he loses his seat at tomorrow's state election, a constitutional law expert says.
Polling continues to show Mr Newman in danger of losing his Ashgrove seat, in Brisbane's inner west, where he is facing a strong challenge from former Labor MP Kate Jones.
The Liberal National Party is refusing to be drawn on any potential succession plans, sticking to the line that if Mr Newman loses Ashgrove, the LNP will also lose government.
Mr Newman has repeatedly refused to say who would lead the party and Queensland if the LNP won the state election but he lost his seat.
Those potentially tipped to take over the top job include Treasurer Tim Nicholls, Health Minister Lawrence Springborg, and Education Minister John-Paul Langbroek.
But the possibility is now being raised that even if he loses Ashgrove, Mr Newman could potentially stay on as Premier.
Professor of Constitutional Law Anne Twomey said if Mr Newman were to lose his seat, but the LNP won, he would have two options.
"One is he can resign as Premier and let somebody else take over and just drop out of politics," she said.
"The second choice is the more controversial one, and that is to stay on as Premier and seek a new seat, perhaps by persuading one of his loyal members to resign and make way for him so that there's a by-election in a new seat."
Professor Twomey said there was no express provision in the Queensland Constitution requiring the premier to be a member of parliament, so if Mr Newman lost his seat it would not automatically vacate his office as premier.
The same is true for the Australian Constitution.
At the 2007 federal election, when John Howard was defeated in Bennelong, he continued as prime minister until the swearing in of the ALP's Kevin Rudd.
Professor Twomey also pointed to a case in Quebec, Canada, where "the Liberal Party went to an election, [the leader] lost his seat but his party won government and he persuaded one of his members to resign and then took his seat, and in the meantime had become premier even though he didn't have a seat".
Mr Newman, a former Brisbane lord mayor, was elected as LNP leader in 2011 before becoming a state MP.
Some Ashgrove voters said they had not even contemplated the possibility of Mr Newman staying on as premier if they were to vote him out.

"He'd have to ask one of his ministers to step down - if he asked me to do that I'd say no," one voter said. "It wouldn't be good for the constituents of that local area."


Media Release

“During this campaign, Labor has announced a detailed policy on protecting the Great Barrier Reef, which conservation organisations described as ‘comprehensive and ground-breaking’ and ‘game-changing’,” Ms Trad said.
“In contrast, and despite the potential listing of the Reef on the UNESCO endangered list, the Newman LNP Government has failed to present a policy that Queenslanders can have any confidence in.”
Ms Trad said in addition to its Reef policy, Labor was committed to reversing many of the devastating environmental wind-backs that have occurred under Campbell Newman and the LNP, including:
  • Ensuring the ecologically-sustainable allocation of our precious water resources and repealing the water development options in the Water Act.
  • Ensuring Queensland’s vegetation management laws are strong enough to protect our remnant and high value regrowth native vegetation.
  • Boosting renewable energy and turning the sunshine state into the solar state.
  • Working with traditional owners, stakeholders and communities to legislate protections for Queensland’s pristine rivers from large-scale industrial operations.
  • Returning Labor’s ban on uranium mining in Queensland.
  • Return to the 2019 phase out of sand mining on Stradbroke Island.
  • Reinstating third party objection and appeal rights to development approvals, which the Newman government abolished overnight
“Labor is the only party at this election with the right policies to protect our environment and the capacity to deliver in government,” she said.
“If you’re voting to protect our environment this Saturday – vote Labor.”

Thursday, 29 January 2015


Media Release

Tougher sentences for organised crime, a Commission of Inquiry into organised crime and more resources for police would see a Labor Government undertake an unprecedented crackdown on organised crime in Queensland.
Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk said Labor’s zero tolerance stance against organised crime wasn’t just limited to outlaw motorcycle gangs.
“I have made clear Labor’s zero-tolerance stance against bikie gangs, but where the Premier’s focus stops at bikies, mine extends to every arm of organised crime operating in Queensland,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
“Labor’s policy will clamp down on outlaw motorcycle gangs, but also zero in on other elements of organised crime, especially those producing and distributing dangerous drugs.
“We will not waver in our bid to crackdown on the pervasive nature of organised crime.
“As well as an unprecedented Commission of Inquiry and a wide-ranging review into the LNP’s unworkable laws, we will create a new offence in the Criminal Code of ‘serious organised crime’ with penalties of up to life imprisonment.
“It’s time the politics was taken out of this debate, and everyone worked together to clamp down on organised crime.”
Ms Palaszczuk said a Commission of Inquiry into Organised Crime would be established, and a high level taskforce including police, the Department of Justice and Attorney-General, the Bar Association, the Law Society and the Police Union would conduct an immediate review into the LNP’s unworkable laws.
“A Commission of Inquiry is desperately needed in order to dig deep into organised crime networks, which can be highly sophisticated, well-resourced and have significant links to overseas crime syndicates.
“Intelligence from the Commission of Inquiry, expected to take six months to complete, will also be used to identify any gaps in legislation and resources available to police.
“At the same time, a high-level taskforce will review the LNP’s current laws, which have not resulted in one single conviction. I’d expect that review to be completed by the end of 2015.
“We will repeal and replace these laws, but they will be replaced by workable, fair laws that are developed by experts, and not rammed through Parliament with no consultation in the middle of the night.
“The laws won’t change until the taskforce and the Commission of Inquiry has reported to Government, but they will be repealed and replaced with laws that work and laws that will actually lead to convictions.”
Shadow Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath said Labor’s Keeping Our Community Safe policy also outlined plans to bolster police resources.
“Labor will go beyond the flawed laws implemented by the LNP and target all organised crime, not just crime committed by outlaw motorcycle gangs,” she said.
“This taskforce will also consider Labor’s proposal to introduce into the Criminal Code a new offence of ‘serious organised crime’ with a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
“People convicted under this new law would be declared serious violent offenders and serve a minimum of 80% of their sentence or at least 15 years in jail if sentenced to life in prison.
“This penalty represents tougher maximum penalties than those currently included in the LNP’s laws.”
Ms D’Ath said all relevant existing laws would stay in place until the outcome of the review and alternative legislation was passed after being subject to the consultation the LNP failed to undertake.
She said Labor’s policy also included a commitment of an extra $20 million over four years to help police target crime hotspots, organised crime and drug crime, and alcohol -fuelled violence.
Labor’s Keeping Our Community Safe policy includes:
- a new offence in the Criminal Code of ‘serious organised crime’ with a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
- a Commission of Inquiry into Organised Crime
- The establishment of a high level taskforce involving major stakeholders to review the LNP’s laws that haven’t resulted in one single conviction
- greater support for police with an extra $20 million over four years to focus on alcohol-fuelled violence and drug crimes
- matching any police recruitment planned by the LNP that was already in the forward estimates
- deliver improved safety equipment for police including $5 million for body-worn cameras

- negotiate the next police EBA in good faith and restore the independence of the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015


Media Release

Opposition frontbencher Jackie Trad says Campbell Newman needs to explain why he is gerrymandering his election commitments and breaking his single biggest promise to voters — to govern for all Queenslanders not just those who voted for his government.
Ms Trad said in office Labor would seek advice on whether the Premier’s irresponsible behaviour needed to be addressed by amendments to the Electoral Act or other legislation.
“Campbell Newman looked Queenslanders in the eye at his victory speech on the night of 24 March 2012 and said: ‘We will work for all Queenslanders regardless of their vote tonight.’
“In this election he is breaking that simple promise and voters know they simply cannot trust anything he says.
“By trying to blackmail voters Campbell Newman is corrupting our democratic system and returning to the worst excesses of the pre-Fitzgerald, Bjelke-Petersen era.
“He is gerrymandering his promises and effectively telling the men women, and children in non-LNP seats — including those who vote for him on Saturday — that he simply doesn’t care about them. All he cares about is himself.
“There is only one party that can guarantee it will deliver its election commitments and that’s Labor.
“Our commitments do not rely on selling our assets, potentially to foreign buyers and watching their profits head offshore.
“Our commitments will not be void in LNP-held seats.
“Labor’s track record in office has been to deliver for all Queenslanders.
“Right across every aspect of government activity Labor in office will deliver to Queenslanders on the basis of need, not their political persuasion.
“Voters can express their disgust with the LNP’s arrogant behaviour at the ballot box on Saturday,” she said.

“But if Labor wins office we will ask for expert advice on whether the type of behaviour he has displayed should be outlawed, and if so, how that might be done.”

Fact check: Campbell Newman exaggerating crime statistics ahead of QLD poll

Extract from ABC News

Law and order has been a major policy push for the Liberal National Party Government in Queensland.
Since the 2012 election, the LNP has introduced a raft of new legislation aimed at combating criminal gangs across the state.
Premier Campbell Newman has made the Government's record a key plank of his re-election campaign and says the new laws are working.
"Crime has gone down very very significantly... because of a stance by a Government that was determined to make the community safer," he said during a press conference while campaigning on the Gold Coast.
Mr Newman has continued to highlight lower crime rates throughout the campaign as proof that the LNP's policies are working.
ABC Fact Check takes a look at whether or not Queensland's crime statistics reflect the Premier's claim that crime has gone down because of new legislation.
  • The claim: Campbell Newman says Queensland crime rates have "gone down very very significantly" because of LNP policy.
  • The verdict: QLD crime rates have been dropping steadily for over 10 years, and the most recent data does not show a significant change in that trend. It is too soon to determine the impact of LNP policies on the trend, and individual statistics cited by the premier don't tell the full story. The claim is exaggerated.

The claim

Talking about the decrease, Mr Newman cited some specific offences in his press conference.
They were robbery, down 27 per cent, unlawful entry, down 20 per cent, and motor vehicle theft, down 19 per cent.
Those statistics matched up with an LNP press release issued on January 5. The release said the Government had considered offences recorded between July and November 2014.
Crime has gone down very very significantly... because of a stance by a government that was determined to make the community safer
Campbell Newman

Fact Check asked the Premier's office about his claim, and were referred to comments provided to another ABC journalist for a news story.
In that response, the Government referred to a comparison between 2011 (the last full year of the Bligh Labor government) and 2014. The drop recorded for the same three crimes is very similar.
Fact Check also asked if the Government could provide any evidence that linked falling crime rates with the criminal gangs legislation, and a spokesman for Police Minister Jack Dempsey provided this response: "Our stronger laws, along with the extra 800 police we've put on the beat and better technology for officers, have led to significant falls in reported crime".
"We have various ways of measuring the impact of our criminal gang laws, including analysis of crime statistics and feedback from frontline police officers."

What are the new laws?

In October 2013, the Newman Government introduced a raft of new legislation aimed at disrupting criminal gangs across the state.
The laws included tough bail rules, stronger penalties for offenders associated with criminal gangs and rules tightening the laws around who is permitted to own and work at tattoo parlours.
They also increased police powers in a range of areas.

Is it the right comparison?

Kerrie Carrington, a criminologist and head of the School of Justice at the Queensland University of Technology, told Fact Check the Government was selectively presenting crime data that supported its claim.
"The generic claim that crime has gone down is wrong. It's based on them cherrypicking a few offences that have gone down, and gone down by quite considerable proportions."
Professor Carrington said the Premier had correctly cited the statistics he had chosen.
"Robbery was down, extortion was down, unlawful entry was down and unlawful use of a motor vehicle was down - which does confirm the LNP's data that those are all down," she said.
But she said looking at different offences would return a different outcome. The data also shows increases in crimes including assault, kidnapping and shop stealing. Professor Carrington said that demonstrates that the data can be used very selectively.
She told Fact Check that such a short time-frame comparison was unusual, and that long term trend data was a more reliable measure. She said the Government's selective use of the data was "deeply problematic".
"Queensland desperately needs an independent crime statistics unit to prevent (data) from being misused, particularly during election campaigns. This is an abominable misuse of crime data.
"I've done a 12 year trend pattern and on that trend pattern there's been a 22.5 per cent drop in reported crime in Queensland and it's been steadily declining. It was steadily declining for the last 12 years regardless of who is in government," she said.
Professor Carrington's analysis shows that per head of population, the number of offences reported each financial year since 2001 has been steadily decreasing.

Labor was in government from the before the start of this assessment period, and the Newman Government's first full financial year was 2012-13, having won office in March 2012.
This analysis is backed up by Bond University's Terry Goldsworthy, a former Queensland Police Detective Inspector, and assistant professor of criminology, who referred Fact Check to an article he posted on Linked In, written in December 2014.
"The crime rate in Queensland has been steadily reducing for the last 10 years if you look at the overall crime, except for an aberration in 2011-12, this trend has been consistent," he said.
The University of Queensland's Rebecca Wickes, a senior lecturer in criminology, said her own research had found exactly the same downward trend in crime.
"(The crime rate has) been going down and it has been going down for quite some time," she said.

Are the new laws responsible?

Writing for The Conversation in September 2014, Assistant Professor Goldsworthy said Queensland's crime statistics don't support the Newman Government's claim that the criminal gang laws are responsible for the drop in crime.
"Police data shows that crime was already decreasing in Queensland in the 12 months prior to the introduction of the bikie laws," the article said.
It's a view that is repeated in Assistant Professor Goldsworthy's December analysis.
"In reality an ongoing trend and the employment of an extra 1000 police are more likely to be the elements responsible for Queensland's overall crime reduction than laws that have only been used minimally, on a single group, that commits a limited amount of crime."
Professor Carrington agrees that the crime statistics don't support the Government's claim.
"What we had in 2014, when you compare that to 2013 when the bikie legislation was introduced, you had a 12.5 percent increase in other offences. Those other offences include extortion, weapons offences, and they include the offences under the bikie legislation," she told Fact Check.
Crime has been on the decline in many western countries for some time now and it's due to a whole range of other features, not just policies about bikies
Rebecca Wickes, University of Queensland

She said the increase in reported offences could be an indication that the laws were working,
"It's an indication that perhaps the crackdown on bikies has brought many more of these offences to the attention of authorities and so perhaps what these increases are is in fact an indication of what this legislation is doing."
Dr Wickes told Fact Check there was "little evidence to suggest that Liberal party policies are associated with decreasing crime".
"One of the difficulties with being able to say a policy is working is to be able to demonstrate that a trend has changed as a result of a policy," she said.
"Crime rates are incredibly stable. For the most part crime rates across Brisbane haven't changed from what we would expect based on 15 years of data. There is very slight movement.
"What we know from the literature is that crime has been on the decline in many western countries for some time now and it's due to a whole range of other features, not just policies about bikies," Dr Wickes said.
She said that it was too soon to know whether the criminal gangs legislation was affecting crime rates.
"You need substantial time to go by, because one of the things that we know from studying crime rates is that you can have incredible fluctuations in a given year and it can look like crime has significantly gone up in that year or gone down in that year... but you've got to look over a long period of time."

The verdict

The experts Fact Check spoke to said Queensland crime rates have been dropping steadily for over 10 years, and the most recent data does not show a significant change in that trend. Mr Newman's claim that "crime has gone down very very significantly... because of a stance by a Government that was determined to make the community safer", and the individual statistics cited by the Premier don't tell the full story. The claim is exaggerated.


Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Abbott's Knighthood folly

LNP accused of bribing Queenslanders over projects-for-votes pledge

Extract from The Guardian

Campbell Newman to be referred to the Queensland Electoral Commission after he confirmed only electorates that voted for an LNP candidate would receive promised local projects
Campbell Newman
Campbell Newman has promised $18m worth of projects in his Ashgrove electorate if he is re-elected. Photograph: David Kapernick/AAP
An independent Queensland MP will refer Campbell Newman to the Queensland Electoral Commission over the Liberal National party’s commitment to only fund promised local projects, such as park upgrades, if the electorate votes for an LNP candidate.
Peter Wellington has labelled the move “outrageous”, accusing the LNP of only governing for some Queenslanders. He is preparing to send a letter to the QEC on Tuesday alleging Newman has contravened the Electoral Act by “blackmailing” voters into voting for the LNP.
Newman has confirmed that if the LNP wins government it will not fund promised projects in electorates if the area does not have an LNP MP, arguing it would mean the electorate had rejected the proposal.
“No longer are the Liberal National party promising to govern for all Queenslanders, but only the ones who vote for them,” Wellington said.
“In other words, if you don’t vote Liberal National, you will get nothing. This is not the Australian way and no longer are Queenslanders equal before the law. This is nothing but blackmail and intimidation. I urge Queenslanders to treat the LNP with the contempt they deserve and on election day send them a message they won’t forget.”
Wellington announced via Facebook he would be referring the premier to the QEC on Tuesday on the grounds it breached the electoral acts because it was using “outrageous bribes” to win votes.
The tactic has been declared unprecedented by any party in Queensland by Brisbane council opposition leader and former Queensland Labor campaign director, Milton Dick, who said he had not witnessed either party do it in the past 20 years in Queensland.
“It’s unprecedented that any party would attempt to, in my opinion, blackmail voters to say if you vote a certain way you will get certain projects. Commitments and promises have always been made, by both sides, and they’ve always been honoured once government is formed,” he said.
“I think it’s unheard of, certainly in Queensland, in my 20 years of experience, I’m unaware of any examples where a party has promised only if an electorate votes a certain way.”
Funding and projects at risk if the LNP wins government but loses the electorate include $1m in the Gold Coast seats of Gaven and Burleigh, with some of the money to be spent on new ambulances, upgrades to a swimming pool and local AFL club in the inner Brisbane seat of Bulimba, $1m for a skatepark facility in Rockhampton and $85,000 for shade sails in the Brisbane Redland Bay state school.
In Newman’s electorate of Ashgrove, which he holds with a 5.7% margin, $18m worth of projects have been promised if he is re-elected.
“I’ve got a strong plan for Ashgrove but I point to the other strong plans that local members who are delivering fantastic road infrastructure upgrades, things like the Sunshine Coast rail upgrade that will take cars off the Bruce Highway, everywhere across this state there are vital projects that the LNP will deliver if we’re re-elected and we can fund those projects and we will deliver them,” he told reporters in his electorate on Monday.
“I’ll just say that if we don’t have a strong LNP government those things don’t happen.”
Asked directly how he would handle perceptions of pork barrelling, Newman responded: “The people of Ashgrove, as will be the case across the state, if they re-elect an LNP government, will see infrastructure being delivered, important community facilities, support to our schools. Better healthcare, better roads and better public transport, that is what we will be delivering.”
Newman has defended the tactic, saying it is about what the voters want. “I’ll be very, very clear: if it’s in the candidate or the member’s strong local plan, that is the candidate’s plan,” he said on Sunday.
“And it is dependent on the candidate being elected. That’s pretty clear.”

Monday, 26 January 2015


Media Release

 A newly elected Labor Government will re-establish access to free, independent and impartial advice for tenants, Shadow Minister for Housing Yvette D’Ath said today.
Mrs D’Ath said the LNP had cut funding soon after the March 2012 election to 21 organisations that provided tenancy advice services to Queenslanders, forcing them to close.
She said a future Labor Government would commit up to $20 million over four years to ensure tenants had access to independent and impartial advice about their rights and responsibilities.
“Tenants in the private and public sectors were badly let down when the Newman Government took away this important source of advice,” Mrs D’Ath said.
“The vast majority of people who use tenancy advice services are ordinary people who want to know about their rights and responsibilities to ensure they’re doing the right thing and getting a fair deal from their landlord.
“If a landlord is acting in a possibly illegal or unscrupulous manner, it’s important that tenants have access to affordable and reliable advice.
“We’re talking about pensioners, lower-paid workers and others who can’t afford to pay for expensive advice but need to know where they stand and the options available if there is a dispute.”
Mrs D’Ath said that since the Newman Government had slashed funding, community-based housing services had been unable to answer a large proportion of calls they received.
She said recent data released by Tenants Queensland showed that the demand for their advice service increased by 250% during 2014.
“However their capacity to respond to the demand has been reduced by 85% due to the Newman LNP Government’s cuts which resulted in thousands of calls not being answered.
“Since the last election, almost 137,000 calls went unanswered due to the LNP’s funding cuts.
“Making these services available to more people, more often will mean more people can get advice when they need it.
“There is no doubt that the previous service was needed. In the final year before it was scrapped the Tenants Advice and Advocacy Service helped approximately 70,000 clients.”
Mrs D’Ath said the re-instated service would operate throughout the state and would also assist clients to resolve a blacklisting record, prepare for tribunals, and apply for assistance with the Department of Housing.
“Labor will also restore fairness back into the public housing system”, Mrs D’Ath said.
“Labor will scrap the temporary absences policy which requires that tenants request permission to leave for holidays and will undertake a full review of housing policies to ensure that they are fair.
“Labor believes in treating all tenants, regardless of whether they reside in public or private rental accommodation with the respect and dignity that they deserve,” Mrs D’Ath said.


Media Release

Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk says a Labor Government will start to boost funding for preventative health programs forced to scale back their operations because of Newman LNP Government cutbacks.
“Like all our commitments, our promise to reinstate basic community-based healthy lifestyle programs can be delivered with no new taxes and without asset sales,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
“On Australia Day lots of Queenslanders will be out and about enjoying our great outdoors and engaging in healthy activities and exercise.
“We can all do so much more to improve our health and wellbeing but unfortunately healthy choices are not always the easiest choices. This needs to change and a Labor government will help make these changes possible.
“This is why I am so disappointed that the LNP has cut services and axed jobs in our health system that were responsible for preventing infectious and chronic diseases and provided community based programs to promote health and well-being.
“Almost all health prevention activities in Queensland Health have ground to a halt under the Newman Government and many community-based programs have lost funding and have been forced to scale down their operations.”
She said a Labor Government would start to repair the damage done by the Newman LNP Government to two such schemes.
Labor would boost funding to the Heart Foundation Walking Groups program cut by the Newman Government and the web-based 10,000 Steps program promoted by Central Queensland University to encourage people of all ages to monitor and record their walking time and distance.
“The Heart Foundation has been forced by funding cuts to operate its Walking Groups program by taking money from other areas of its activities,” she said.
“By boosting funds to this program Labor will help expand the number of Walking Groups that operate across the state and help people exercise and keep healthy.
“Similarly, Labor will ensure funding continues for the 10,000 Steps program when its funding runs out at the end of June. There is no indication that the program will receive any further funds if the LNP wins office.”
Ms Palaszczuk said the programs would be funded for four years at a cost of $1.4 million — $1.1 million for the walking groups program and $280,000 for the 10,000 Steps program,
“While efficient hospitals providing safe, quality health care are important, Labor believes that we can do much more to assist people take responsibility for staying healthy and out of hospital,” she said.
“Unfortunately the short-sighted cuts made by the LNP did nothing to boost preventative health efforts. They were a complete false economy.
“Only a Labor Government will bring balance back to our health system — a balance between efficient treatment and effective prevention.
“And like all our commitments, these can be delivered without new taxes and without asset sales and the loss of their $2 billion-a-year revenue stream,” she said.


Media Release

Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk says only a Labor Government can guarantee the future of Wavebreak Island.
“Labor is on the record with its stand against the development of Wavebreak Island unlike the LNP that has shown it is incapable of striking any sensible balance between development and protecting our natural assets,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
“Labor’s position is well known. We have taken a stand against proposals that would destroy Wavebreak Island and The Spit.
“We announced last year our policy for supporting the establishment of a World Surfing Reserve covering southern Gold Coast beaches between the NSW border and Burleigh.
“From north to south, Labor’s commitment to the future of the Gold Coast’s unique assets is on the record.”
Speaking on the Gold Coast at a rally against development of Wavebreak Island, Ms Palaszczuk said the LNP continued to refuse to listen the people of the Gold Coast.
“Campbell Newman and every LNP MP on the Gold Coast simply take locals for granted,” she said.
“This is a beautiful part of the world and Labor has pledged to protect it instead of allowing it to be exploited.
“I challenge the LNP to match this pledge instead of hiding from the people of the Gold Coast and refusing to listen to what they have to say.”
Ms Palaszczuk said developing Wavebreak Island would severely impact the wonderful lifestyle benefits the area offered.
“There’s less than a week to go until the election and the local LNP MPs seem happy to allow development at Wavebreak Island,” she said.
“The debate has moved away from a cruise ship terminal to a very real debate about high-rise hotels, a casino and apartments on a unique local landmark.
“Labor will work with local community groups and join them in saving this region from LNP-backed development.”
Ms Palaszczuk said creation of a World Surfing Reserve between the NSW border and Burleigh would help protect and expand the region’s $1.4 billion industry supporting 20,000 jobs.
“By protecting this local asset we are protecting the economy and protecting jobs,” she said.


Media Release

Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk says a Labor Government will direct the state’s Hospital and Health Services to guarantee work for 12 months for 4,000 graduate nurses over the next four years without the need for asset sales.
Speaking on the Gold Coast today, Ms Palaszczuk said: “Labor will kick-start the careers of 4,000 graduate nurses over four years by employing each of them for a year in Queensland public hospitals.
“Unlike the LNP that cuts 4,800 jobs including 1,800 nurse and midwife positions, Labor will engage more nurses.
“And unlike the LNP, if Labor wins office these 4,000 graduate nurses will be employed over four years regardless of how individual local electorates vote on 31 January.
“Labor’s Refresh Nursing policy is an affordable and sensible way for Labor to begin repairing the damage the Newman Government’s cuts have inflicted on communities across our state.
“Our policy costing an extra $111 million over four years will employ 1,000 graduate nurses for 12 months each — kick-starting the careers of 4,000 graduate nurses over four years.
“This means 1,000 extra nurses on the frontline in Queensland hospitals. It also means that at the end of their 12-month employment period each graduate nurse will have had valuable practical experience to help them secure permanent positions in our state’s health system.
“Communities across our state are screaming out for more nurses but the Australian Nurses Federation has said that during the first year of the Newman Government, 90% of graduate nurse applicants to Queensland Health failed to get a job.
“Queensland Health’s own Workforce Analysis and Research Unit predicts a dire, state-wide shortage of registered nurses — Queensland may be up to 5,000 nurses short by 2017.
“There is a better way and Labor’s Refresh Nursing policy will address the harm the LNP has done to the aspirations of young people training to be the next generation of frontline health workers in Queensland.”
Ms Palaszczuk said the Newman Government hid behind regional health boards while instructing them to cut staff but Labor in office would be more hands-on.
“The state’s 16 Hospital and Health Services have budgets totalling $11 billion a year,” she said.
“We will direct each HHS to engage graduate nurses using funds from existing budgets each regional health service has for employing temporary and agency contract nurses — including those on 457 visas.
“A total of $83 million a year in existing funds, or 75% of what’s needed, will be provided across all Hospital and Health Services and that will be topped up by an extra 25% or $28 million a year.
“Our graduate nurses are a precious resource and an investment in our future. Our policy will ensure Queensland has a sustainable nursing and midwifery workforce capable of providing high quality care for patients in the decades to come.
“Like all of our election commitments our Refresh Nursing policy will be delivered without the need for asset sales.
“Once again there is a clear choice for voters on 31 January. The LNP sacks nurses, Labor employs them. The LNP will sell your assets, Labor won’t,” Ms Palaszczuk said.


Media Release

Queensland students will benefit from Labor’s plan to retain the best teachers in state school classrooms.
Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk said Labor’s Letting Teachers Teach policy meant the best teachers would be encouraged to stay in the classroom, rather than having to move into administrative roles.
“Our policy will modernise the teaching profession and encourage the very best to remain where they can be most effective for our students – in the classroom.
“Under the old time-honoured structure excellent teachers are expected to move into administrative roles to advance their careers.
“But to lift student performance, we want the best teachers to teach, not to be stuck in offices away from students who can benefit from their talents.
“Under our policy excellent experienced teachers will be able to be classed as Highly Accomplished or Lead Teachers with pay grades that properly reflect their value to students and our education system.
“This is a model recommended by the Australian Institute of Teaching and School Leadership and one that we will work towards.
“Students can’t benefit from the expertise of our best teachers if they are no longer in the classroom.
“International research shows that a key determinant in student outcomes and performance is teacher quality – so we will keep the best in our classrooms.
“That is why a Labor Government will establish classifications for the most effective teachers that will give them the chance to advance their careers and have their abilities recognised without the need to leave the classroom.”
A Labor Government would invest $6 million over three years to develop new classifications for excellent teachers. The Queensland Industrial Relations Commission would be asked to determine the actual salaries of Highly Accomplished and Lead teachers.
Ms Palaszczuk said in New South Wales teachers classified as Highly Accomplished teachers were paid roughly 1.7 times the level of a graduate teacher.
She said the standards to be developed would be rigorous.
“While we would never discourage teachers from becoming principals or deputy principals, or taking up other roles, we believe teachers should be free to choose to carry on teaching and be properly rewarded for doing what they do best in the interests of their students,” he said.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Queensland election 2015: Campbell Newman will not guarantee projects if LNP members not elected

Extract from ABC News


Campbell Newman says he cannot guarantee the Liberal National Party's big spending promises, even those with bipartisan support, if the party wins government but not the seat a project is in.
The Queensland Premier's comments came as the latest Newspoll survey showed a swing of up to 13 per cent against the LNP in three key seats across the state.
Speaking in Toowoomba this morning, Mr Newman said electorates that did not vote in an LNP member might not get the infrastructure the party had promised.
He said that even applied to communities where projects have bipartisan support, such as Townsville's new stadium.
In December, Queensland Labor promised to commit $100 million for the stadium if it formed government in 2015, while the LNP this month promised to put up to $150 million towards a new stadium and retail precinct.
Mr Newman said although he could not guarantee every commitment, every electorate in Queensland would get its fair share of support if the LNP was re-elected.
"We can't make commitments, of course we can't, nor can we bind the hands of someone from the other side of the political fence if they become the local member and that's our point," Mr Newman said.
"You only get these things if you have strong representation from an LNP member."
Mr Newman said infrastructure funding was a "matter of priorities".
"Every electorate in Queensland, I will say this, should get its fair share and they will get their fair share," he said.
"The priorities we are outlining, the ones derived from three years of listening and consultation, are things that we believe are the best projects or initiatives to take a community forward and only the LNP team can deliver them."
While in Toowoomba, Mr Newman pledged to create 2,000 new jobs in health and construction in the region over the next three to four years.
Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk said voters "cannot guarantee any of Mr Newman's promises".
"He still can't say whether he will get value for the assets that he has on the table," she said, in reference to the LNP's plan to raise funds by leasing state-owned assets.

Newspoll reveals 13 per cent swing against LNP

Meanwhile, the latest Newspoll survey has shown a swing of up to 13 per cent against the LNP in the electorates of Cairns, in the far north, Ipswich West, 40km outside of Brisbane, and Keppel, near Rockhampton.
The poll of 608 voters, published in today's Australian newspaper, was taken earlier this week.
It found that in those three seats, Labor's primary vote had jumped 16 points to 47 per cent, with the LNP's vote collapsing more than eight points to 43.5 per cent.
On a two-party preferred basis, Labor led the LNP 56 per cent to 44 per cent - a swing of 13 per cent.
If the support remained unchanged until election day, Ipswich West, held on a margin of 7.2 per cent and Keppel, held on 6.4 per cent, would almost certainly fall to Labor, the Australian said.
Cairns, on 8.9 per cent, would be a tight contest.
Forty-six per cent of people said Ms Palaszczuk would make the better premier, compared to Mr Newman, who polled 36 per cent.
When asked about Mr Newman's performance as Premier, 60 per cent said they were dissatisfied and 32 per cent were satisfied.
The maximum margin of sampling error on the Newspoll is plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Labor pledges $6 million for review of teacher classification

Ms Palaszczuk spent Saturday morning campaigning in Brisbane, where she announced $6 million for a review into top teacher classifications in Queensland should her party form government.
She said she wanted to create two new top level classifications to keep the best teachers in the classroom but would first fund a panel to decide how best to do it.
She denied it was little more than a plan for a plan.
"The next three years we'll be focused on making sure that we put in place a committee which is made up of teachers and the Department of Education to set the parameters right," she said.

"And don't forget too, it's the QIRC, the independent umpire, that will determine the wage."

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Queensland democracy is being eroded by links to lobbyists, open letter declares

Extract from The Guardian

Fifty prominent signatories including Alan Jones and Barry Jones call on parties to adopt accountability principles proposed by Tony Fitzgerald
Cars drive past Queensland's Parliament House in Brisbane
Parliament House in Brisbane at dusk. Photograph: John Pryke/AAP

The broadcaster Alan Jones, as well as a former editor of the News Corp Australia tabloid the Courier-Mail and a former federal Labor science minister have declared democracy in Queensland is being eroded by government links to lobbyists.
An open letter, distributed by the Australia Institute, calls on the Queensland government to adopt principles of accountability and good governance proposed by Tony Fitzgerald, the man who headed Queensland’s landmark corruption inquiry in the late 1980s.
“The erosion of accountability and transparency has damaged democracy in Queensland,” the letter begins. “Successive governments have become too close to industry lobbyists and representatives, particularly from the resources industry, undermining public trust in the political process.
“The current government has weakened Queensland’s anti-corruption watchdog, the Crime and Corruption Commission, and used its almost unlimited constitutional power to legislate without regard to proportionality or individual liberties.”
Among the 50 prominent Australians to sign the letter are Alan Jones, Greg Chamberlin, who was the editor of the Courier-Mail from the late 1980s to the early 1990s, when it reported on police corruption which helped lead to the Fitzgerald inquiry, and the former Labor minister Barry Jones.
Representatives from the anti-coal seam gas group, Lock the Gate, the Wilderness Society, the University of Queensland and former Queensland integrity commissioner, Gary Crooke QC, were also signatories to the letter, which outlined four key principles for the government to adhere to.
The Australia Institute sent the letter to the Liberal National party, the Australian Labor party, the Australian Greens, Katter’s Australian party and the Palmer United party. All have responded except the LNP.

“The LNP’s failure to commit to these basic and surely uncontroversial principles of good governance or even to explain why it won’t is capable of only two interpretations,” Fitzgerald said. “It either intends to continue to act inconsistently with the fundamentals of good governance or it considers that the public is not entitled to know how it plans to govern, if elected.
“It seems obvious that many voters will find the LNP’s present stance objectionable.”
The principles the parties were asked to commit to are:
1. Govern for the peace, welfare and good government of the state.
2. Make all decisions and take all actions, including public appointments, in the public interest without regard to personal, party political or other immaterial considerations.
3. Treat all people equally without permitting any person or corporation special access or influence.
4. Promptly and accurately inform the public of its reasons for all significant or potentially controversial decisions and actions.
Labor’s response, sent by deputy leader of the opposition, Tim Mulherin, agreed to all four principles.
“Like all Queenslanders, Labor does not want to see the corruption and cronyism of the past return to Queensland,” Mulherin wrote. “We will never allow this to occur. It was the opaque approach to past government decision-making processes that contributed to this. Openness and transparency in government decision making is integral to good government.”
He said subject to some “limited constraints”, a future Labor government would “promptly and accurately” inform the public of all reasons for significant and potentially controversial decisions.
The Palmer United party’s federal leader, Clive Palmer, and Queensland state leader, John Bjelke-Petersen, emailed the Australia Institute and said they supported the principles “100%”.
Katter’s Australian party sent a lengthy list of its core values and principles, which included voting or governing in favour of peace and welfare.
“The principles espoused by Mr Fitzgerald are motherhood statements which it is felt that all parties and candidates in Queensland will agree with in principle,” the KAP letter said. “Even those parties or individuals who we believe will totally disregard the principles would never admit to disagreeing with the actual principles. We stand by our core values and principles.”

The struggle goes on; early closing in shops 1895


The Traders and Early Closing.

The Brisbane Traders Association, which comprises a small percentage of the shopkeepers of Brisbane, are of opinion that it is not advisable to legislate for early closing until the failure or success of the New Zealand Act is an accomplished fact, and this, they contend, cannot be known until the early closing law in that country has one year's trial. The Victorian Act, they say, has proved a failure. With this statement I am not prepared to quarrel. The bastard shops legislation of Victoria was never meant to be successful. The administration of it was placed in the hands of the municipal councils, which are largely composed of shopkeepers, landlords, and the representatives of capitalists-the very persons on whose interests the law was sure to operate. This fact alone was sufficient to kill any good there may have been in the Act.

* * *

I would not like to say that the shopkeepers who compose the Trader's Association are simply trying the throw dust in the eyes of the shop employe's by reasons they adduce for asking to postpone the passing of such necessary legislation as an Early Closing Bill; but to those who know the little tricks of the employers who are always so good and benevolent when their interests are not going to be effected, the advice of the traders, I would recommend, should be taken by those who have so long agitated for early closing legislation with the proverbial grain of salt.

* * *

The good result of progressive legislation in New Zealand or other colonies, or Australasia, has never induced the employing class to urge that the same should be applied in this colony. Take the Factories Act, Conciliation and Arbitration Act, the Workmen's Wages Act, the Contractors and Workmen's Lien Act, the Shipping and Seamen's Act, and several other Acts passed in New Zealand to benefit the wage-earners. How many of these very necessary measures that we so badly require in Queensland is ever advocated by the employers of Queensland? Not one. Why, the mere mention in Parliament of such raises the indignation and opposition of the employers' delegation in the House.

* * *

No, gentlemen of the Traders' Association, your reasons are too flimsy. You do not now attempt to dispute the necessity of legislative enactment to deal with the evil of the long hour system in our retail shops, but you ask for time, praying, fervently praying, that compulsory closing in New Zealand may prove a failure. You then would be enabled to support Attorney-General Byrnes in his bitter opposition to a measure that would help to make the lives of many of our young men and women healthy and happy.

* * *

If there is need for shops' legislation in New Zealand with its cool and invigorating climate – as is fully recognised by the legislature of that country-surely the traders will not dispute that there is much greater need in Queensland where the climate is so distressing and trying to those who have to work in close shops amidst the artificial heat and fumes of the gas, and where the death rate is nearly 50% per cent higher than in New Zealand.

* * *

In New Zealand the half holiday law is in operation in 82 cities and boroughs, and from an official report I find that this law, which effects several thousand shops, including the crafty, cunning Chinaman, during the whole month of February there were only 56 breaches of the law in all New Zealand.

* * *

I regret the traders have taken up such a position. Better, far better, would it be to accept the generous invitation of the Shop Assistants' Association and help in having the question settled during the coming session. In any case early closing, like factory legislation, cannot be delayed. If Nelson and his party will not make a move this session, let the Labour Party take the question up, and by forcing it to the front they will not only earn the thanks of the shop assistants and shop keepers, but all who believe in healthy lives for this as well as for future generations.

Tony Abbott says cutting penalty rates will create jobs, but voters disagree

Extract from The Guardian

Coalition says ‘all voices will be heard’ in review of workplace relations as poll shows voters doubt lower weekend pay rates will create jobs
Money being removed from a till in Canberra
Retail leaders say the wages system is making it impossible for the sector to compete. Photograph: Alan Porritt/AAP
Tony Abbott has backed the argument that lower penalty rates will create more jobs for young people prepared to work on weekends but said his government would take any new policy to the next election.
Recent research shows a large majority of voters do not accept the contention from business and employer groups that there would be more jobs if penalty rates were lower. The union movement is preparing a major campaign against any changes to penalty rates or the minimum wage as a result of a Productivity Commission review.
Interviewed on Sydney radio on Friday, the prime minister said he thought the lower penalty rates would allow more businesses to open on weekends, providing more jobs.
“If you don’t want to work on a weekend, fair enough don’t work on a weekend. But if you do want to work on a weekend, and lots of people, particularly students, particularly young people, want to work on a weekend, you want the places to be open to provide jobs,” he said, pointing out that the hotel he uses in Melbourne closed its restaurant on Sunday night because it couldn’t afford to pay penalty rates and that he had found it difficult to find a bottle shop open over Easter for the same reason.
“I don’t begrudge people the money … but in the end there is a balance that has to be struck here and my preference will always be in favour of more jobs,” he said.
But the Abbott government faces an uphill task convincing even its own supporters to back a reduction in penalty rates on the grounds it will create jobs, research suggests.
A poll by Essential Media suggests a large majority of voters do not buy that argument.
The poll, taken in mid January, found that 81% of voters said people working outside normal hours should receive a higher rate of pay, including 69% of Liberal and National party voters. A slightly lower majority – 68% – opposed the idea of cutting weekend and public holiday rates for workers in retail and hospitality, including 53% of Coalition voters.
But only 18% of voters (32% of Coalition voters) believed that lower weekend penalty rates would mean businesses employed more workers – 63% (including 50% of Coalition voters) thought businesses would simply make bigger profits.
The government insists “all voices will be heard” in the Productivity Commission review. The workplace relations minister, Eric Abetz, said the government was “asking the Australian people to … be part of the discussion to ensure we get the very best workplace relations system that we could possibly have”.
The Labor leader, Bill Shorten, claimed the review was “a new front in [the government’s] war on fairness”, and the outcome – which the government has promised to take to the next election – was a foregone conclusion.
“Australians rely upon penalty rates for a significant part of their income,” Shorten said. “The government has an agenda to attack the minimum wage and penalty rates. Does anyone in Australia seriously believe Tony Abbott when he says he doesn’t want to reduce pay and conditions ... Australians didn’t come down in the last shower.”
The Productivity Commission chairman, Peter Harris, has promised the inquiry will be evidence-based and take into account the social impacts of any proposed changes.
“We know people hold passionate views about workplace relations,” he said. “I’d like to emphasise that the commission is open-minded and our approach will be evidence-based and impartial.

“We know that a workplace relations system goes beyond its important economic impacts, and will take account of the human and social elements of what is at stake. We are required by our legislation to account of benefits to the community as a whole, and not any particular interest group.”