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Wednesday, 12 September 2012
Page: 10456


Mr NEUMANN (Blair) (19:45): Tonight over 14,000 Queenslanders are experiencing the cold, hard reality of living without a job. Yesterday the Queensland LNP state government handed down its first budget and announced the sacking of 14,000 people, including over 4,000 health workers. And they did this with glee. The Queensland Treasurer, Tim Nicholls, said: 'This is an exciting time to be the treasurer of Queensland.' The fact is that the Queensland budget has done nothing more than attack working Queenslanders, who have felt it across the length and breadth of the state and in my electorate of Blair. The LNP state government did this using the discredited figures from the Costello audit to claim they were reducing debt because they needed to, when in fact they are doing it at the same rate as the previous Labor government. I commend all Queenslanders to read an article by John Quiggin, Federation Fellow in Economics and Political Science at the University of Queensland, who takes apart the Costello critique and makes it quite clear that the report's treatment of debt was 'absurdly alarmist'. This slash-and-burn mentality is based on a politically driven gross exaggeration and distortion of Queensland's debt.

The Queensland Premier demonstrated his economic credentials when he compared Queensland to Spain. By sacking 14,000 public servants in Queensland, perhaps he is trying to reach Spain's unemployment rate of nearly 25 per cent. These mass sackings demonstrate the disingenuous nature of the LNP's promises. Before the election, Campbell Newman promised that public service jobs were safe. He said that Queensland public servants had nothing to fear from him. He gave assurances, solemn promises. Now he has embarked upon mass sackings, including of 45 nurses in Townsville. He said that front-line services were not being dispensed with, but in fact they are and he is recalibrating what is front line. Last week, the Queensland Minister for Health said that 2,754 full-time-equivalent jobs would go from Queensland Health. Yesterday we found out it was very different. It was many more than that. Yesterday the budget delivered another version, and stated that 4,140 health jobs were to be slashed.

I have spoken to public servants in my electorate, many on the front line and many full time. Many were in tears about losing their jobs and many were in tears with anxiety about losing their jobs. These cuts to preventative front-line services and cuts to the numbers of those who treat ordinary Queenslanders cover a range of areas, including pathology services, breast screening, vaccination services and TB clinics. They are not just in Brisbane; they are in Ipswich, in my electorate; in Emerald; in Townsville; on the Fraser Coast; in the Darling Downs; and across the length and breadth of the state. What Campbell Newman and the LNP state government are doing in Queensland is an abrogation of their responsibility for Queensland's health. What they are doing is unsafe and unnecessary. It is an attack upon the quality and service delivery of Queensland Health.

I suppose Mr Newman expects the federal Labor government to pick up the shortfall. The cuts to nutrition services, mental health services, women's services and nursing services are inexcusable and a disgrace. These cuts have been slammed by the Queensland Nurses Union and the Australian Medical Association. The Queensland LNP government would prefer to treat health problems rather than take proactive measures to prevent them. Where is the detail about the impact on the health services of Queensland?

Campbell Newman is just the foretaste. He is the forerunner. I urge all Queenslanders to think about this. Do not let Campbell's Queensland become Abbott's Australia. What we are experiencing in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria is indicative of what we could expect under a federal coalition government. Campbell's Queensland would be Abbott's Australia, if the Leader of the Opposition became the Prime Minister. Their policies are one and the same. Tony Abbott takes pride in these policies and says he is very supportive of them. His policies are the same—a commission of audit and the sacking of public servants. He proposes to sack 20,000 of them, and perhaps many more if he is going to pay for the $70 billion black hole.

We have seen how this affects Queenslanders. We have seen how it affects funding in Queensland. We have seen how it affects services in Queensland. We have seen how it affects Queensland children, Queensland mums and dads and Queensland businesses. Business is shot and confidence is gone in electorates like mine, in working-class areas like Ipswich and the Somerset region, in regional and rural areas. Funding for services like the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail and the Rural Fire Service is slashed and gone. It is a disgrace. (Time expired)