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Tuesday, 20 March 2012
Page: 3597


Mr CHRISTENSEN (Dawson) (21:40): The Labor state member for Mackay, Tim Mulherin, is a political deathbed convert to delivery for his electorate. In government, a local member of parliament should believe delivery to be a key part of his or her job. A local MP who has been in government for 14 years, a cabinet minister for two of them, should believe that a lot of delivery is expected of them. But sadly Mr Mulherin is a political deathbed convert to delivery for Mackay.

Right now the Bligh Labor government tosses and turns on its political deathbed. Yet, in recent days, Mr Mulherin has made promises for things which he and his government ruled out supporting before—an upgrade to the showgrounds, funding for the Mackay Stadium and the introduction of a 'royalties for the regions' scheme. It is obvious these promises have been made with a Labor loss in mind and to stem the flow of votes to the LNP. It is easy to make promises when you know you will not be in government and you know you will not have to deliver on those promises.

Let us look at his political deathbed conversions. He is a political deathbed convert to supporting the Mackay Showgrounds. The showgrounds needed $20 million to improve their facilities. After years of lobbying, in June 2010 the state government relented but gave only $5 million—enough to fix just the underground piping, drainage and wiring. When they gave it, the state Treasurer, Andrew Fraser, told the show society president that there would be no more money from the state government. Here is what the Mackay show society president had to say on 5 November 2010:

I spoke with the treasurer last Friday and he said it was the end of State Government funding and that it was time for the society to look at commercial opportunities.

Now, during an election campaign, in the dying days of the Bligh Labor government, Mr Mulherin has promised to deliver $15 million for the showgrounds. It is a deathbed conversion to delivery for the showgrounds, but really it is just a promise that will never happen, because Labor will be removed from government this weekend.

Another political deathbed conversion for Mr Mulherin is the promise of almost $900,000 to the Mackay rugby league stadium. If there is one project Mr Mulherin has tried to frustrate for most of his political career, it is the establishment of a rugby league stadium in Mackay itself. Mr Mulherin actively tried to get the funding for the stadium shifted to the Harrup Park Country Club. When Mackay and District Rugby League dismissed that suggestion, Mr Mulherin refused to talk to them anymore. Letters were sent to him and Labor Minister for Sport Phil Reeves which did not even get the courtesy of a reply. And now, as Bligh Labor fades into the twilight, Mr Mulherin dares to hold up a football at the stadium for the local press, promising $900,000 for seating. It is a political deathbed conversion to delivery for local rugby league, but really it is just a promise that will never happen, because Labor will be removed from government this weekend.

Yet another political deathbed conversion for Mr Mulherin is his newfound support for 'royalties for the regions'. That is not a new idea in Queensland. Regional Queensland has been crying out for it for some time. In fact, in September 2010 the Local Government Association released a proposal calling on the state government to guarantee $150 million a year in royalties to be earmarked for regional local governments for just five years. Not only did Treasurer Andrew Fraser dismiss the idea, but I sat in a council meeting where Mr Mulherin told all of us Mackay councillors that the state government actually spent more in regional areas than it took out. What a joke, when you consider that, in the greater Mackay region alone, about $2 billion in coal royalties is exported from our ports every year. But now, hallelujah, Mr Mulherin is a political deathbed convert to royalties for the regions. Anna Bligh actually came to Mackay to announce a $300-million-a-year 'royalties for the regions' scheme, with Mr Mulherin nodding furiously for the cameras behind her. It is a political deathbed conversion to delivery through a 'royalties for the regions' scheme, but really it is just a promise that will never happen, because Labor will be removed from government this weekend.

The big question in all of this is why these three promises have not been delivered for Mackay by Mr Mulherin prior to the Bligh Labor government crawling into its political deathbed. After all, he has had 14 years in government to deliver these promises; instead, we get them before he goes into opposition or maybe retirement. Mr Mulherin claims he has delivered some things for Mackay, but what? A new hospital without any extra staff, so no extra bed capacity, paid for by flogging off the Mackay Airport, a successful state asset? Two bridges that should have been built five to 10 years ago, as evidenced by traffic congestion, with one of the bridges running into a flood-prone creek? A convention centre promised in 2001 that took a decade to build and now costs ratepayers $1 million a year to run?

Are these seriously achievements of which Mr Mulherin can be proud? The problem that Mr Mulherin has is the same problem that Queensland Labor has: they have had 14 years to deliver and now, on their political deathbeds, they expect us to believe they are converts to the idea of delivering for Queenslanders and delivering for the Mackay region. Well, forget it. This Saturday, the voters will do them a favour. They will flick the switch off and put the Bligh Labor government out of its political misery.