Grievance debate – Queensland Government

Monday, 21 October 2019

Mr PITT: Today in the Queensland parliament history was made, and I have to say not in a good way, with the Queensland Labor Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, being forced to apologise for contempt of parliament. This is the first time a Queensland Premier has ever had to apologise to the parliament for contempt. I say to the Queensland Premier: ‘Don’t stop there. There is a long list of things that you should apologise for when it comes to the people of Queensland, and that starts with refusing to sign the Hinkler Regional Deal.’ The Hinkler Regional Deal is a deal which drives jobs into our local economy, which creates long-term change in economic growth, which delivers vital infrastructure for our region, my electorate and that Central Queensland area.

The things we are waiting for in the Hinkler Regional Deal include the federal government putting $32 million on the table for what’s known as the Quay Street bypass. This will allow the removal of heavy vehicles and commuter traffic from the area of Quay Street, which is in the middle of Bundaberg. We announced that on 1 April 2019. We have put up $10 million for a safety upgrade for the Buxton Road intersection on the Bruce Highway—a critical piece of infrastructure. As you know, Mr Deputy Speaker Hogan, we cannot deliver roads infrastructure unless the state comes on board. We have existing infrastructure agreements for the state contribution at the moment; they continue to refuse to participate for that particular road.

We have put $7.7 million on the table to extend Urraween Road through to Boundary Road in Hervey Bay, a project that has waited 20 years to come to fruition, and the state refuses to participate. In fact, we’ve actually funded some projects for state government owned corporations in full. We have delivered $10 million for a multi-use conveyor at the Port of Bundaberg, once again announced on 1 April 2019. Fortunately, the true premier of Queensland, ‘Premier’ Trad, has accepted that we’ll be able to deliver that money. They’re happy to administer a 100-per-cent funded program by the federal government and $750,000 for a pre-feasibility study for the Port of Bundaberg outer harbour. Mr Bailey, on 14 June, said they discovered some funds in their budget—I’m fairly confident they actually weren’t aware they were committed to the projects. But that does include the Torbanlea Pialba Road flood mitigation project, the Torbanlea Pialba Road; the Bargara Road-Princess Street upgrade; and what’s known as the Isis Highway overtaking lanes between Bundaberg and Childers. But, federally, we’ve committed $24 million for Torbanlea Pialba Road, $8 million for Bargara Road-Princess Street upgrade, $4 million for overtaking lanes, and we have just the 20 per cent contribution from the state.

No. 2 on the list is their dishonesty in regards to Paradise Dam. The Queensland Labor government are being absolutely shifty again. Their first announcement was political spin at its absolute worst: ‘Great news for drought stricken farmers: free water’. The fine print was pretty fine. What it said was they were releasing 110,000 megalitres from our state’s newest dam storage, and most of that, in my view, will run out to sea, because you simply cannot pick it up and put it on a farm storage that doesn’t exist, or use it on a crop when it’s not the right part of the cycle. Then, it was a safety issue of unspecified nature. If there is a safety issue with this dam, my community deserves to know. So I say, again, to Premier Palaszczuk: walk up to a camera, walk up to a microphone and tell my community what the problem is. They have stated, would you believe, that they’ll spend $100 million to take five metres off the dam wall and reduce its storage capacity by 85,000 megalitres permanently. That is an absolute kick in the guts for the people I represent, and it is a loss of wealth.

At No. 3: the true Premier, ‘Premier’ Trad, purchased a property at Woolloongabba, which is in close proximity to the Cross River Rail project that Ms Trad was overseeing. She was referred to the CCC in July by the opposition for failing to disclose the investment on the state parliament’s Register of Members’ Interests within the time limit. She then referred herself to the CCC, personally called the CCC chairman to discuss the matter, so the chairman had to recuse himself from the inquiry. Ms Trad has since sold that home, allegedly for the same price that it was purchased, $695,500.

At No. 4: just last week, state Labor MP Peter Russo, the member for Toohey, denied he had a conflict of interest in his law firm receiving cases from the publicly funded Legal Aid service while he sits as the head of the parliament’s legal affairs committee. Russo Lawyers has been on the list of approved firms for Legal Aid cases for the past four years.

Kicking off the list at No. 5, the premier’s former Chief of Staff, David Barbagallo, a director of Fortress Capstone Pty Ltd and one of its major shareholders, a company which received a $267,500 government grant from Advance Queensland Business Development Fund to support the growth of CruiseTraka, a social media app for cruise ship passengers. Mr Barbagallo, who jointly owns 29½ per cent of Fortress Capstone with his wife, became Premier Palaszczuk’s Chief of Staff in May 2017. The Labor government in Queensland claims that the Advance Queensland grants are made to support cutting edge research or innovative ideas, products and services which lead to the creation of high-value, knowledge based and skilled jobs now and into the future. Unlike many other Advance Queensland grant recipients, CruiseTraka’s funding was not announced to the media. The matter has been referred to the CCC. Mr Barbagello resigned in September 2019.

At No. 6, and I know you’ll enjoy this one, Mr Deputy Speaker, is about the reef laws that are killing our ag industry. The Queensland Labor government has now decided that the reef laws will apply to my region, the Bundaberg region down towards Maryborough, in an area which is many, many kilometres from the Great Barrier Reef. In fact, there is real doubt about whether any of the water run-off actually gets to the reef from that region, and yet they are going to enforce these laws across our agricultural producers. These are mandatory standards. They drive up bureaucracy for our hardworking farmers and agricultural workers, they drive up costs, they make it harder for them to be competitive and have no environmental benefit to the Barrier Reef whatsoever.

At No. 7—and I know you have heard of this one, Mr Deputy Speaker—is that they are holding our tourism industry to ransom. They are threatening the personal safety of the people who swim on Queensland beaches by removing drum lines in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. Drum lines have been part of the landscape in Queensland since the 1950s. They are truly effective. When you live in an area like that, where the coast is so attractive, everybody wants to go for a swim. Summer or winter, it doesn’t really matter. This affects personal safety. I’ve got to say, and I’ve said it before, that they’re more concerned about a fish than they are about the individuals who are swimming at our beaches. They are more concerned about a fish than they are about the person who might be attacked by a shark and might lose their life or the life of a loved one. I find that absolutely appalling.

At No. 8 is the land-clearing laws, which are surely the big reason for the devastating fires, or are certainly a contributing factor. We saw a report in the Australianthat the fires at Deepwater in July 2017 were absolutely tragic. Mr Deputy Speaker, I know that you know what causes a fire. It comes down to fuel and fuel loading. It comes down to oxygen. It comes down to ignition. If you fail to manage the fuel load in national parks and other regions and you fail to give permission for landholders to back-burn to control the fuel load on their properties, then, when this builds up over a period of 10, 20, 30 and sometimes 40 years, the results are absolutely devastating. Instead of having a slow, cool back-burn, where wildlife can escape, trees can regrow and grass can regrow, you end up with a fire of catastrophic proportions that wipes out everything. That is exactly what happened up in the Deepwater region. Quite simply, the Queensland Labor government would not give permission to landholders to back-burn on their properties and protect them from these types of events.

At No. 9 with a rocket is the Adani project being held to ransom because of the Deputy Premier wanting people to exit the resources industry. Deputy Premier Trad literally went to a microphone and told the entire mining sector they needed to transition out of their jobs into something else. It is an industry of over $200 billion with over 200,000 jobs. But you can quite simply transition to something else. That is what the Queensland Labor government is saying.

Last but not least, at No. 10 is Premier Palaszczuk’s complete inability to hold Extinction Rebellion to account and keep them out of our state capital. This will get out of hand. Individuals will take this into their own hands because they are tired of being obstructed over and over again by these individuals. I say to the Premier: take real action to ensure that people like Extinction Rebellion do not hold our state to ransom because they don’t like the umpire’s decision. The umpire has made up their mind; they’ve done it fairly. They need to accept that decision. They have a right to protest, but not to hold up individuals who just want to go to work.

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