The Palaszczuk Labor Government is slamming the door on desperate farmers by closing or cutting the opening hours at 18 regional Department of Agriculture and Fisheries offices.
LNP Leader Deb Frecklington said the DAF offices provide farmers with vital face-to-face help when applying for drought assistance or seeking advice on complex biosecurity issues.
An internal document leaked by public servants states that the covid crisis has given DAF a ‘unique opportunity’ to review its ‘service delivery model’ – by slashing support for farmers.
“At a time when drought-stricken farmers are looking for more assistance from the government, Labor is slashing their services after a secret review,” Ms Frecklington said.
“This is clearly a cost-cutting exercise because Annastacia Palaszczuk has lost control of the state’s finances and our debt is surging towards $100 billion.
“With two-thirds of Queensland in drought it is disgraceful that Labor is using covid as an excuse to slash services to the bush.”
The cuts will hit offices in:
Kingaroy, Bundaberg, Mackay, Boonah, Charleville, Charters Towers, Cloncurry, Dalby, Emerald, Gayndah, Goondiwindi, Gympie, Longreach, Maryborough, Roma, Hermitage, Mareeba and Maroochy.
Staff have been instructed to tell angry farmers that their services will be replicated through a help hotline and ‘digital service delivery’.
“Everyone in regional areas who has experienced the loss of banking and postal services through a ‘digital transition’ knows this means less services,” Ms Frecklington said.
“I’m calling on Annastacia Palaszczuk to stop these cruel regional service cuts.
“Unlike Labor, an LNP Government I lead will back our farmers and supercharge the regions.
“The LNP’s plan for more dams and water price cuts will help farmers produce the food and fibre we need to become more self-sufficient and create a decade of secure jobs.”
The Palaszczuk Labor Government has been accused of a covid-19 cover-up after it was revealed Queensland Health is using the pandemic to keep patients off surgery waiting lists.
LNP Leader Deb Frecklington condemned the policy after meeting with a 79-year-old Hervey Bay patient who has been refused a place on the waiting list to see an orthopaedic surgeon.
The man, who has to take daily painkillers after injuring his shoulder in a fall, was told by Wide Bay Hospitals and Health Service that he was being kept off the list due to the ‘unprecedented impact’ of covid-19.
“The Palaszczuk Labor Government is using covid-19 to cover up the waiting list crisis in Queensland Health,” Ms Frecklington said.
“The number of people wait for surgery in Hervey Bay has soared by 51% under Labor ¬– and that was before the covid-19 crisis began.
“Coronavirus is a big challenge for our hospitals, but that is no reason for patients to be kept off waiting lists – especially when they are suffering terrible pain.
“Every patient who needs surgery should be on the official waiting list.
“This policy has nothing to do with patient care.
“This policy is about protecting the Palaszczuk Labor Government.”
LNP Candidate for Hervey Bay Steve Coleman said Labor was creating a ‘waiting list for the waiting list’ to disguise its health failures.
“Everyone in Hervey Bay is grateful for the work our nurses and doctors have done in protecting our community,” Mr Coleman said.
“However, the Palaszczuk Labor Government cannot be allowed to fudge health figures.
“Labor’s record on waiting times is abysmal and they are using covid-19 to cover it up.”
LNP Member for Hervey Bay Ted Sorensen said his elderly constituent’s GP had written an urgent referral to Wide Bay HHS after assessing his injuries.
A letter from the HHS to the patient said his case had been classified as Category 3, with an appointment recommended within 365 days.
But the letter added that because Category 3 appointments were being impacted by covid-19, the hospital was unable to add the patient to the waiting list.
“Our hospital does fantastic work, but Labor’s Health Minister has a track record of lying to Queenslanders,” Mr Sorensen said.
“If someone is waiting for surgery they should be on the waiting list – no ifs, no buts.
“If and when this gentleman gets on the list, he may still have to wait a year just for an appointment.
“Labor is failing patients and lying to public. Queenslanders deserve better.”
Ms Frecklington said an LNP Government would partner with the private sector to slash surgery waiting lists and ensure patients are seen on time.
“Our hard-working nurses, doctors, midwives and paramedics need more help on the frontline to improve patient care,” Ms Frecklington said.
“Only an LNP Government will slash waiting times and put patient care first.”
A new report by Queensland’s Auditor-General has exposed major failings in the Palaszczuk Labor Government’s child protection system.
LNP Shadow Minister for Child Safety Stephen Bennett said the report was further proof that Labor could not be trusted to protect Queensland’s most vulnerable children.
“Labor’s child safety system is broken,” Mr Bennett said.
“The coronial report into the death of toddler Mason Jett Lee showed us that drastic reform is required and this new report confirms that once again.
“Labor’s failings are putting kids at risk. The LNP will overhaul the child safety system from the top down.”
The Auditor-General’s report found that:
Mr Bennett said an LNP Government would address the system’s failings by creating a new Child Protection Force.
“The focus of the LNP’s Child Protection Force will be on protection,” Mr Bennett said.
“We will overhaul the system entirely and ensure it runs 24 hours a day, with a dedicated team of police investigators to clear the backlogs and overhaul investigation procedures for high-risk cases.
“The LNP’s Child Protection Force will adopt a hierarchy and rank structure similar to the Queensland Police Service to ensure proper oversight and accountability.
“A rapid response team will be on standby for after-hours support.
“There will also be increased transparency and accountability, as well more resources and training to help frontline staff protect children.”
Key changes under the LNP’s plan to protect kids will be:
“It is time to put a stop to the child abuse horror stories we’ve all seen under Labor,” Mr Bennett.
“It’s clear that only an LNP Government will make child protection a priority.”
Water prices paid by farmers will be slashed by almost 20% a year from 1 July 2021 in a major job-boosting election commitment by LNP Leader Deb Frecklington.
Ms Frecklington made the announcement in the Burdekin today as part of her economic plan to stimulate the economy and drag Queensland out of recession.
“A major part of the LNP’s plan to supercharge the regions and unleash industry is through new dams and water infrastructure,” Ms Frecklington said.
“Today we complement our bold dam building plan by slashing water costs for farmers.
“Cheaper water means more secure regional jobs and a near 20% reduction in water costs is a major job-creator for regional Queensland.
“I want Queensland to be Australia’s food bowl and cheaper water costs will be a catalyst for that.”
Ms Frecklington said the LNP will implement recommendations from the Queensland Competition Authority (QCA) to reduce water costs by transitioning SunWater to a regulated asset-based (RAB) approach for financing asset renewals.
The RAB approach recovers costs from customers as incurred yearly rather than attempting to estimate the replacement cost of an asset at the end of its life.
By adopting the QCA’s recommendation to modernise the way Sunwater calculates its asset renewal allowances, as has been done in other states, Sunwater will be more efficient and adopt new technologies.
“SunWater currently services nearly 5,000 irrigator customers throughout rural and regional Queensland by providing water for crops like fruit, vegetables, cane, cotton and grains,” Ms Frecklington said.
“The LNP understands water prices are already too high and without affordable water Queensland businesses and farms won’t be able to employ Queenslanders.
“Our dam building plan will create thousands of secure jobs, but we need to ensure those already using water to grow our job-creating crops can afford it.”
The LNP’s dam plan includes water infrastructure projects like the New Bradfield Scheme, Nullinga Dam, Urannah Dam, Emu Swamp Dam, Rookwood Weir, raising Burdekin Falls Dam and fixing Paradise Dam.
LNP Shadow Minister for Natural Resources and Burdekin MP Dale Last said today’s announcement meant more money in the pocket of farmers and more secure local jobs for rural and regional Queensland.
“The Palaszczuk Labor Government has no plan to provide the long-term structural reform farmers need to ensure they will have access to affordable water,” said Mr Last.
“The cost of water under the Palaszczuk Labor Government is hurting our farmers and costing all-important jobs in our regions.
“Under proposed water price increases slated for just after the election, there are farmers in line for price hikes of more than 48 per cent.
“The LNP will deliver huge savings so farmers can boost productivity and employ more Queenslanders
“Only an LNP Government will back our farmers, invest for growth and supercharge the regions.”
The Palaszczuk Labor Government has failed to learn the lesson of the Federal Election by continuing to shift the goalposts on critical job-creating resource projects like the $900 million expansion of the New Acland mine.
LNP Shadow Minister for Mines Dale Last said the Palaszczuk Labor Government’s decision to politicise the New Acland approvals process would have serious implications for future projects in the state’s all-important Galilee Basin.
“Central and North Queenslanders have not forgotten how the Palaszczuk Labor Government shifted the goalposts in its attempt to kill off the Carmichael Mine project,” Mr Last said.
“Queenslanders sent a very clear message at the ballot box that they wanted to see job creating projects like the Carmichael Mine and New Acland approved.
“Labor are more interested in political stunts and hollow rhetoric and it’s clear that their own Queensland Senators have no influence over the Palaszczuk Labor Government.
“Unfortunately, nothing has changed since last year and all we have is the same old anti-regions anti-resources and anti-jobs Labor Government.
“Now more than ever regional Queensland needs job-creating projects approved and fast-tracked, not stalled because of Labor’s ideological extremism.
“If Labor cannot be trusted to approve the expansion of a 20-year-old mine at New Acland, there is no chance that it will open the Galilee Basin to the new projects we need to secure a decade of resource jobs.
“Unlike Labor, a Deb Frecklington LNP Government has a plan to build a stronger economy to get Queensland working again.
“Our bold vision is to make Queensland Australia’s economic powerhouse again, the best place to get a job and get ahead.
“The LNP will open up the Galilee Basin and develop $50 billion of projects that support 15,000 new local jobs in Townsville, Mackay, Rockhampton and throughout regional Queensland.
“The LNP will provide certainty in the approvals process to encourage investment and secure more jobs.
“Every dollar of the royalties collected from the Galilee Basin will go into a new Queensland Infrastructure Fund to build hospitals, schools and roads we need.
“An LNP government will implement our economic plan for a decade of secure jobs, to get Queensland working again and drag Queensland out of the recession by stimulating the economy.
“The foundations of the LNP’s plan for a stronger economy and secure jobs are investing for growth, unleashing Queensland industry, supercharging the regions and securing our children’s future through industries like the
The key elements of the LNP’s plan to ‘Boost the Basin’ are:
‘Today I asked the Premier to support New Acland stage 3 to save and secure Queensland jobs and she refused to do it.
‘Annastacia Palaszczuk is putting her anti-resources agenda before the jobs of resource workers and their families.
‘The Premier is the only person standing in the way of this project and she is responsible for every job that is lost by blocking it.
‘Labor has no plan for Queensland and no sympathy for New Acland workers whose jobs are at risk.
‘This project would be approved by an LNP Government because we need a stronger economy and secure jobs to drag Queensland out of recession.
‘The LNP’s economic plan will unleash Queensland industry, supercharge the regions and secure our children’s future.’