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Tuesday, 3 December 2019
Page: 4935

Senator McGRATH (QueenslandDeputy Government Whip in the Senate) (19:39): Democracy in Queensland is once again under attack from state Labor as the sunshine state becomes the sunset state. Labor have run Queensland since they were first elected 30 years ago. They have run Queensland for 25 of those 30 years as a fiefdom for Labor factions instead of for the people of Queensland—25 years of new and higher taxes, failing infrastructure, ballooning debt, hospital waiting lists and the highest unemployment in the country. The sunshine state really is becoming the sunset state as the sun sets on our future in Queensland.

Labor know they can't win on their record in government, so they keep changing the rules to suit themselves and their union paymasters. Consider this: before the last election, they changed the voting system with 18 minutes of debate. A key recommendation of the Electoral and Administrative Review Commission was the introduction of optional preferential voting. But to Labor? Nah. They changed it after 18 minutes. They brought in compulsory preferential voting. They did a dirty deal with the Greens to change the voting system to ensure that they could rort the voting to make sure they could keep the LNP out.

Second in this trifecta of rorting democracy in Queensland, they banned developers, and those associated with developers, from donating. So Queenslanders, whether directly or even indirectly engaged in a legal profession, cannot donate to a political party at a local, state or federal level—legislation clearly aimed at damaging the LNP. Of course, those dodgy corrupt unions can still donate despite their long record of lawbreaking. So bad and so targeted was this legislation that our own party president, an engineer, had to resign from his position because he would have been in breach of this law.

And then we get to the doozy, point No. 3 of Labor's cunning plan to rort the next election—and this really is the cherry on the icing on the cake of Labor's electoral rorting: the worst financial electoral gerrymandering since the Rum Rebellion. I've always said it is not surprising that us conservatives lose elections in Queensland but it's amazing if we win the odd election. Under these changes it will almost be impossible for the LNP to ever win again in Queensland, so bad and so corrupt are these proposed laws. These laws are designed to restrict, to damage, to hurt, to stop the LNP from ever being able to campaign on a level playing field.

Under Labor's caps, it will be $58,000 for each endorsed candidate to spend at a local level and a further $92,000 to be spent by a party for each endorsed candidate across the state—effectively $150,000 for each candidate in each seat. So the LNP already is behind because we are stuck at $150,000 while Labor and the Greens are on $300,000. And then the unions enter from stage left. Whereas once the Labor Party was the political wing of the unions, it is clear that the unions are the campaign wing of the Labor Party. There are 26 registered unions in Queensland, and all support the Left of politics. You don't have to believe that Jeffrey Epstein didn't kill himself to see where this is going. Unions, under these laws, can spend up to $1 million each. That's $26 million helping Labor candidates. Remember, you can't run as a Labor candidate unless you are a member of a union and supported by a union. So each union can spend up to $87,000 in each seat, and that caps out at $1 million across the estate.

So in the marginal seats of, say, Gaven, Aspley, Whitsunday, Cairns, Mansfield or Redlands, where we've got brilliant candidates in the field at the moment, the LNP candidate will have a spending cap that maxes out at $150,000 while the Labor and Greens candidates will have a combined spending cap of $2.562 million. Let me repeat that: it is $150,000 for the LNP candidate, who funds their campaign through selling raffles, but Labor's candidate gets $150,000 and then they get another $2.562 million when the unions come in with those trucks reversing going beep, beep, beep and dumping money and helping the Labor candidate. And for good measure the Greens can chuck in another $150,000.

This is political bastardry that puts the rorting into gerrymandering. And we know why. It's because they can't run on their record. They've got a Deputy Premier who spends so much time at the CCC she has a permanent car parking space there. We've got a Premier who has found to be in contempt of parliament. They say that a fish rots from the head. In Queensland, the government is rotting from the head with a dodgy Deputy Premier. Queensland is no longer the sunshine state; it is the darkness date. These laws are designed by Labor to keep them in power, and they should be thrown out at the next election.