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Monday, 9 February 2015
Page: 225

Mr NEUMANN (Blair) (18:00): I am aggrieved as a Queenslander at what Campbell Newman and the LNP government have done to my beloved home state. In 2012 the then Labor government was reduced to just seven seats. Political commentators joined the LNP in proclaiming that Labor in Queensland was dead, in light of the worst defeat of any major political party in Australia's electoral history.

After two successful by-elections in Stafford and Redcliffe, Labor still had a David-and-Goliath battle against a cashed-up LNP government that had all the advantages of incumbency, which still had over 70 seats, despite some parliamentary defections. As we know, on Saturday 31 January 2015 the Queensland branch of the Australian Labor Party achieved one of the greatest political comebacks in Australia's electoral history. With a swing of 10.9 per cent the Labor Party won back 35 seats, bringing the Labor Party in the Queensland parliament to a total of 44 seats—one shy of being able to form government in its own right. I commend Annastacia Palaszczuk, the opposition leader in Queensland, Premier elect, and her parliamentary colleagues for the great work they have done and for their electoral success.

Political commentators and numerous deposed LNP members agree that the people of Queensland were angry with Campbell Newman's government and its harsh, unfair agenda that involved mass sackings, funding cuts and asset sales. Campbell Newman spent almost three years saying that money was tight but then wasted $2.6 billion on a Taj Mahal—a new executive building in Brisbane's CBD.

He managed to pork barrel his own seat—$18.5 million—for a strong local plant, three times the amount of any neighbouring electorates. Then he had the hide to come out to Ipswich, to my electorate of Blair, and promise $1.5 million for a criterium track for the cycling community of Ipswich—but only if electors re-elected his government and only if the Ipswich LNP member was re-elected.

I commend respected local journalist Joel Gould of The Queensland Times for calling out Campbell Newman for this political blackmail. This happened not just in Ipswich but elsewhere as well. In the neighbouring electorate of Ipswich West, Campbell Newman promised $100,000 for shade sales for the North Ipswich Reserve football grounds, but only if the LNP member for Ipswich West was re-elected. This story went all around the state. This smacks of Bjelke Peterson's tin-pot dictatorship. This is what happened all the time throughout Queensland. We saw this in provincial newspapers and on websites everywhere: LNP members were only guaranteeing for their community if they were re-elected. They would only govern for their own, the LNP in Queensland, not for all Queenslanders.

Campbell Newman told voters in the 2012 election that he had a plan for economic growth that did not rely on asset sales. After the election he claimed that he had no choice, because he wanted to privatise assets. He went around the countryside saying that these were not asset sales. These were weasel words. The day before the election, in a debate with Annastacia Palaszczuk, he admitted they were asset sales.

He promised in 2012 that he had a plan for a four per cent unemployment rate in Queensland that did not rely on asset sales. He lied. He said government workers would have nothing to fear from the LNP government in Queensland if he was elected in 2012. He lied again. Then he sacked 24,000 of them, including 4,800 health and hospital workers—which included 1,800 nurses and midwives. I can tell Campbell Newman and all those people here that, on election day at the three big polling booths in Ipswich and Ipswich West where I was, there was not one person in a nurse's uniform or a health worker's uniform that did not take a Labor Party how-to-vote card. And I was there all day at those booths.

Unemployment was supposed to reduce to four per cent. It was 5.5 per cent when Campbell Newman and the LNP government came to power. It is over six per cent. In Ipswich it is 8.9 per cent; and, in many suburbs in Ipswich, youth unemployment rates are over 20 per cent. That is what happened. That is what happens when you sack workers and you sack health workers and public servants. You cut the funding.

Regarding education funding cuts in Queensland, a Queensland kid in primary school now gets $165 less under the Campbell Newman government than they got when the previous Labor government was in power. A high-school child gets $203 less. If you happen to go to high school or primary school and you have a disability, in Queensland now, under the Campbell Newman government, you get $1,770 less than when they came to power back in 2012.

You do not sack people, you do not cut funding, you do not have 240,000 people on the waiting list to get into hospital for surgery and then expect people to go and vote for you. That is the arrogance of the appalling government that we had in Queensland. That is why I am aggrieved at what they did. They claim they were cutting debt and deficit, but guess what? It went up $15 billion under them—$15 billion higher—because they had their priorities wrong. It was the same old Liberals, and now it is in Queensland. Wrong values. Wrong ethics. Wrong morals. That is the problem they had because they got their priorities wrong. They went about cutting and pillaging and sacking.

Family Planning Queensland lost $700,000. Community groups in my electorate and elsewhere lost money. Funding for services given to councils was slashed. For example, the Ipswich City Council Community and Cultural Service Department was slashed. The funding for the councils around South-East Queensland was slashed. I could not get over it, because Campbell Newman was the former Mayor of Brisbane. He went out there, slashing funding for councils which give front-line services to people in their communities, and the government claimed it was all about cutting red tape and bureaucracy. The people of Queensland woke up to them. The Newman government said that they would not do this, and then they went and did so.

This is a reminder to the current Abbott government. They said they would be a government of no excuses. As happened in Queensland, I expect at the next federal election the people of Australia will recall the fact that the Abbott government broke promises on education, on health, on the GST, on the ABC, on SBS and on pensions. They will recall that at the next federal election, and there are plenty of marginal seat holders who did not vote for the Prime Minister this morning who might remember it as well. Take the Prime Minister's statement this morning: he said only the voters can get rid of him. When did we elect a president here in Australia! We have a Westminster parliamentary democracy. It was a dig at all those people who did not vote for him this morning. The LNP members in Queensland who voted today in the party room know the electoral consequences, because Labor won state seats from Bundaberg to the Torres Strait. At present, my electorate is the most northerly Queensland Labor seat federally—Ipswich and up through the Somerset region. But, up the coast, there are now state Labor seats held all the way. That is why the Queensland LNP members were so outspoken; they saw what happened on 31 January.

But what happened during the Queensland LNP tenure? What happened there? Not a peep from federal LNP members in relation to the slashing of funding in Townsville hospitals and hospitals in Cairns and Mackay and elsewhere. Funding for their schools was slashed as well. They did not defend their communities. They sat by, mute, while Campbell Newman and a Brisbane-centric government failed to look after regional Queensland. It is no surprise, by the way, that in Moreton Bay, Ipswich, Logan and right up the Queensland coast the Queensland public took retribution for what the Newman government did to them and their communities. It is a message to a Prime Minister who says he has 'good government' from today. I wonder what he thought about his government since September 2013, if he says that good government starts today! What type of government has he delivered to the people of Australia if he thinks that good government starts today? Good government has not been operating since September 2013. They have broken promise after promise and they will go the way of the Queensland LNP government.

Campbell Newman lost his seat because of what happened; the people of Ashgrove turfed him out unceremoniously. I want to congratulate local member, Jennifer Howard, who won her seat in Ipswich, Councillor Jim Madden, who won Ipswich West and Jo-Ann Miller, who won her seat. And I congratulate Steve Leese and Liz Hollens-Riley, candidates in Lockyer and Nanango for their fine efforts in the campaign.