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Tuesday, 5 December 2017
Page: 9779


Senator KETTER (Queensland) (20:44): Tonight I rise to talk about the increasing likelihood that Labor will be re-elected to govern the state of Queensland with a majority of 47 seats. I don't want to jinx it, but we're getting very, very close. While I note that counting by the Electoral Commission of Queensland continues, respected ABC election analyst Antony Green declared on Friday that his figures put Labor at 47 seats, the number needed to govern outright. The 47 seats expected to go to Labor include some historical wins for us. I want to congratulate Cynthia Lui, the soon-to-be member for Cook—the first Torres Strait Islander elected to parliament not only in Queensland but in Australia—and Meaghan Scanlon, who, I think, has now been declared the winner in Gaven, putting the Gold Coast based seat back in Labor's hands for the first time in over 10 years. Also I give a particularly warm welcome to Bart Mellish, who is cautiously claiming victory in Aspley—delivering the seat to Labor for only the second time since the seat was created in 1959. We saw the Greens party throw the proverbial book at the seat of South Brisbane to try to oust Jackie Trad. My congratulations to the Deputy Premier for really taking up the fight on behalf of Labor. Her success is well earned.

I also want to put on record my congratulations to Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, who has worked tirelessly for the people of Queensland since Labor was elected in 2015. Over this time, Queensland has led the nation in jobs growth, and our economy has gone from strength to strength. This is due in large part to good, stable leadership and the smart, practical policy agenda put forward by Premier Palaszczuk and the Queensland Labor team. When we talk about job creation in Queensland, Labor can take credit on a number of fronts, funding job creation programs such as Skilling Queenslanders for Work; the Works for Queensland program, which has been an incredible success; Building our Regions; Made in Queensland grants; and the 'buy Queensland' procurement policy. I would like to spend more time on that, but I think that has been a particularly courageous move. Labor can also take credit for investing in vital community infrastructure through upgrades in schools and hospitals and restoring frontline public service positions that were slashed by the Newman-Nicholls government—new teachers, new nurses and new doctors

There are a few people I would like to make special mention of tonight. Bart Mellish took on the incumbent Liberal member, Tracy Davis, in the seat of Aspley. Bart was endorsed as the candidate for Aspley fairly late in the process, and it is a testament to how hard he worked that he was able to unseat the member of almost nine years. He knocked on very many doors—I knocked on some with him—and he made countless phone calls to voters to put forward the Labor message. Along with the member for Sandgate, Stirling Hinchliffe, Bart secured commitments for a new home for Northside Wizards Basketball in Zillmere and a feasibility study for an overpass on Beams Road at the railway line in Carseldine. Bart is particularly proud about that. He listened to the issues that were important to locals, such as the need to fix transport bottlenecks and deliver community sporting facilities.

Also working in his favour was the mediocrity, or perhaps complacency, of the local LNP campaign. To illustrate that point, when I was on one of the polling booths at a local Aspley school we saw that there were signs put up by Tracy Davis, the former member, proclaiming a promise to air-condition the hall at the school. That was a wonderful commitment, but nobody had told the P&C at the school that this commitment had been given. So the P&C people were out taking photos of that sign, because they wanted to make sure that, if Ms Davis were to win, she could be held to account. There was such chaos and dysfunction in the LNP campaign that they didn't bother to tell the school about that—and this was from the LNP's shadow education minister. But this mediocrity can't take away from the fact that Bart worked incredibly hard and earned every single vote that he got. Congratulations, Bart.

The second person I'd like to mention is Michael Hoogwaerts, the Labor candidate for Pumicestone. Unfortunately, there was not such a happy ending to the story. Michael, too, was pre-selected at a late stage and had a mammoth task to build trust in the electorate. Along with other local MPs—Chris Whiting in Bancroft, Shane King in Kurwongbah, and Mark Ryan in Morayfield—Michael was part of the team lobbying for an upgrade to Caboolture Hospital. I'm pleased to say that under a re-elected Labor government, locals will benefit from a $253 million upgrade to that hospital.

Unfortunately, despite winning a majority of first preference votes, it looks like Michael will not win Pumicestone due to One Nation preferences going to the LNP. This is one of those seats the LNP doesn't like to talk about, where it did its deal with One Nation. It likes to talk about Labor benefiting from One Nation preferences. But the preferences that Labor got from One Nation were the result of a chaotic decision by an inherently unstable party to preference sitting members last. On the Channel Nine election panel, Mr Ashby admitted that there were seats where One Nation wanted the LNP candidate to win, even while preferencing those candidates last. This is one of the many reasons why Premier Palaszczuk and Labor ruled out any deals with One Nation in Queensland. I would like to thank Michael, and I am sure I speak for many in the local Labor branches, for a campaign well fought. I extend my sincere commiserations on that result.

I also want to briefly mention Dr Anthony Lynham, the member for Stafford, who achieved a 3.5 per cent swing to him at the election. It was great to join Anthony in doorknocking in the campaign and on polling day. Transport has been a key issue for the voters of Stafford. I note the commitment to deliver a $53 million northern transitway—continuous dedicated bus lanes during peak hours all the way from Chermside to Kedron. Dr Lynham is a credit to the electorate he works tirelessly to represent and a credit to the government in his role as Minister for State Development and Minister for Natural Resources and Mines. I congratulate him on his work as a minister and I look forward to continuing my strong relationship with him.

I need to say something about Ali King, the extremely hardworking candidate for Maiwar. This is my own home electorate and I say proudly that I voted for Ali and worked with her on the campaign trail a number of times doorknocking. I was pleased to have Ali visit my regional office at the Toowong Village shopping centre, and I saw how she resonated with the voters she talked to. Unfortunately, it looks like Ali may not win the seat in Maiwar—a real disappointment and, I believe, a loss to the residents of Maiwar. However, Ali can take some comfort in the fact she has seen off shadow Treasurer Scott Emerson, once touted as a possible party leader. He had held the seat of Indooroopilly since 2009 before the redistribution. Congratulations, Ali. This was no mean feat and you should be extremely proud of the campaign you waged.

I also want to mention Dave Kerrigan, Labor's candidate in Gregory, an all-round great bloke. 'Kerro', as we call him, was born and raised in Longreach and has lived in Barcaldine for the past 33 years. After leaving school, he worked in the shearing industry for many years before starting work with Queensland Health. Kerro has held many roles, including in the field of drugs and alcohol counselling and mental health. I had a couple of opportunities to join Kerro out in the bush in the lead-up to the election and I know he has a deep understanding of his community. I particularly thank Kerro for his attempts at trying to teach me how to shear a sheep. I'm very pleased to advise that the sheep survived the exercise—so did Ketter! Kerro is a real credit to the Labor team out in the area of Gregory and I hope he continues to seek election at some point in the future. It's a real shame he wasn't elected. It unfortunately appears to be a function of the deeply ingrained voting habits across the electorate more than a reflection on his candidacy.

I also want to mention Glenn Butcher, the member for Gladstone. He was re-elected with a 7.7 per cent swing to Labor. It is a real credit to Glenn and to the local team. I want to particularly mention the Fair Go campaign run by the Gladstone Observer, which drew attention to growing inequality in some regions of Queensland and the need for representatives at all levels of government to contribute to tackling these issues.

In closing, on election night, Premier Palaszczuk in thanking the crowd for their support also thanked the long-term LNP voters for throwing their support behind Labor just this once. We recognise that there are some long-term LNP voters who have voted Labor for the first time, so we know that there is no need for Labor to rebrand itself. We have the policies. We know that Premier Palaszczuk can be trusted to deliver for Queenslanders.