Queenslanders can have their say on the effectiveness of land management policy and the frequency of bushfires, as part of a Federal Government review.
Liberal National Party Shadow Minister for Fire and Emergency Services Lachlan Millar welcomed the inquiry as an opportunity for Queenslanders to have their say.
"The LNP tried to establish a State Parliamentary Inquiry on behalf of Queenslanders who have suffered the impacts of two intense fire seasons," Mr Millar said.
“Predictably, the Palaszczuk Labor Government refused to back this inquiry, continuing their culture of secrecy and cover-up.
“Every community that I visit that has suffered the scourge of bushfires has a lot of unanswered questions – questions that Labor refuse to answer.
“Stories of mismanaged state-controlled land and issues with getting approvals for hazard reduction burns are frequently raised.
"Queenslanders deserve to know why Annastacia Palaszczuk has overseen an 83 per cent reduction in overall fire prevention activities*.
“Queenslanders deserve to know why this Labor Government has slashed funding for the Rural Fire Service by $13 million**.”
"Our firies do an incredible job protecting the public and property, but they’re being let down by a Labor government that is failing to ensure they’re being backed up by suitable fire preparedness and land management practices.
“It is outrageous that it takes the Federal Coalition to undertake an inquiry into an area of responsibility that the State Labor Government should be managing, but Queenslanders will take any opportunity they can for the truth to come out”.
* IGEM 2018 Queensland Bushfires Review p74 (graphic): https://www.igem.qld.gov.au/reports-and-publications/reports/Documents/IGEM%20Queensland%20Bushfire%20REVIEW%202019.pdf
LNP Leader Deb Frecklington said with more communities being drought declared today, water security should be Queensland’s number one priority.
“Water security and drought is the single biggest issue facing Queensland,” Ms Frecklington said.
“That’s why the New Bradfield Scheme is so important, we need a plan and a vision to drought-proof our state.
“The LNP has a plan to build dams and invest in water infrastructure to deliver water security.
“As well as the New Bradfield, the LNP’s Dam plan includes Nullinga Dam near Cairns, Rookwood Weir near Rockhampton, raising the Burdekin Falls Dam wall, Emu Swamp Dam near Stanthorpe and Urannah Dam near Mackay.
“We know that water means jobs because land without water is worthless."
LNP Shadow Minister for Agriculture Tony Perrett said these declarations are long overdue, particularly for the regions like Gympie with significant agricultural industries.
"It is vitally important that those farmers now eligible take advantage of support on offer to assist them through this worsening drought,” Mr Perrett said.
"While it’s good news that the South East has finally been recognised as being in the drought we always knew it was in, save a thought for those in the other regions of the state that have had to endure years of consecutive drought.
"Now that the drought is biting the larger population centres in the South East, we need to see an improved drought support program from the Palaszczuk Labor Government.
“Labor need to reverse their drought cuts from 1 July next year.”
The Labor dominated parliamentary committee has politically sanitised a three-year inquiry into invasive weeds in Queensland.
Late on Friday evening (6 December 2019) the State Development, Natural Resources and Agricultural Industry Development Committee dropped its long anticipated and delayed Inquiry into the impacts of invasive plants (weeds) and their control in Queensland, with only one recommendation, that the report be ‘noted’*.
LNP Shadow Minister for Agriculture Tony Perrett said to hand down the report without any substantive recommendations showed just how ignorant the Palaszczuk Labor Government is to the issues facing regional Queenslanders.
“After three years all Labor can offer up on an issue affecting farmers and regional Queensland is more secrecy and cover up,” Mr Perrett said.
“The fact Labor admitted that it never had any intention of implementing any findings from this report** is a disgrace.
“Queenslanders were told this was their opportunity to have their say and make a real difference, but after three years and thousands of combined hours of effort there is nothing to show from it.
“While Queensland loses the battle against weeds in this state, Labor Minister Mark Furner continues to play politics with rural and regional Queensland.
“This is the same Minister who committed $5 million of state funding to match the federal government’s commitment to tackle the spread of prickly acacia, and then did not provide the funding after the federal election.
“There is something deeply unsettling about the Palaszczuk Labor Government’s apparent failure to uphold its obligations to the management of the state’s pests, weeds and biosecurity.
“This is yet another example of the Palaszczuk Labor Government’s anti-farmer and anti-regions agenda.”
The LNP members of the Committee made a dissenting report on the findings with can be found on p76: https://www.parliament.qld.gov.au/Documents/TableOffice/TabledPapers/2019/5619T2204.pdf
* Report No. 42, 56th Parliament - Inquiry into the impacts of invasive plants (weeds) and their control in Queensland: https://www.parliament.qld.gov.au/Documents/TableOffice/TabledPapers/2019/5619T2204.pdf
**Page vi Chair’s foreword: https://www.parliament.qld.gov.au/Documents/TableOffice/TabledPapers/2019/5619T2204.pdf
The Palaszczuk Labor Government’s plan to slug farmers up to $100,000 to install new water meters while drought grips the state is out of touch.
The Proposal for strengthening non-urban water measurement, which Labor has issued to relevant users, dictates that water entitlement holders will bear all costs relating to installing new meters.
The cost of a water meter ranges from $8,000 up to $100,000 per meter*.
LNP Leader Deb Frecklington said Labor’s new tax placed an additional cost on farmers, many of whom don’t have a drop of water for meters to read.
“The LNP knows drought and water security are the number one issues facing Queensland right now,” Ms Frecklington said.
“Farmers have been blindsided by this heartless tax and many of them are already under financial strain.
“Farmers are calling it the worst drought in living memory and they need more support, not another Labor tax.
“Slugging farmers up to $100,000 at a time like this shows just how out of touch Labor is with life in regional Queensland.
“Annastacia Palaszczuk needs to show some leadership and rule this out.”
Shadow Minister for Natural Resources Dale Last said the LNP supported the sustainable use of water through a modern and accurate metering system, but the timing of the Labor’s water meter tax would cruel farmers.
“The middle of a drought is not the time to be taxing farmers for water that some of them don’t even have,” Mr Last said.
“It shows just how out of touch and anti-regions this Palaszczuk Labor Government is to be asking for farmers to pay up during drought
“Water costs are high enough without another Labor tax.”
Mr Last encouraged farmers and water holders to make their voice heard during the Government’s consultation**.
* See page 14 of Proposal for strengthening non-urban water measurement:
“Annastacia Palaszczuk must stop dragging out flood victims’ pain and decide against appealing the Supreme Court’s class action ruling immediately.
“The Premier told Queenslanders a decision would be made today, but she has failed to follow through.
“It has taken eight years for flood victims to get the compensation they deserve and Annastacia Palaszczuk continues to string them along.
“The court’s decision was clear – the Labor Government’s dam operators failed to manage the dams in accordance with the safety manuals.
“The Premier needs to accept the umpire’s decision - all landholders and businesses want is a fair go and fair compensation for Labor’s incompetence.
“Annastacia Palaszczuk must apologise for the incompetence of the Bligh Labor Government – a Government she was part of.”
The terms of reference released for the commission of inquiry into the causes of the engineering and structural failures at Paradise Dam, have been exposed as a complete sham.
Liberal National Party Leader Deb Frecklington slammed the Labor Government’s refusal to provide Queenslanders and residents of the Wide-Bay Burnett region the answers they deserve.
“Labor’s terms of reference for the inquiry explicitly exclude any investigation into the entire construction process of Paradise Dam as well as the time directly after in which Labor’s Peter Beattie oversaw,” Ms Frecklington said.
“This reeks of another Labor political coverup. Unfortunately, this has all the hallmarks of the coverup being worse than the crime.
“In the GHD technical report released into the structural issues at the Dam it directly cites that issues were identified as early as 2006*.
“It is pretty clear that if Labor were serious about finding the answers to Paradise structural issues it would have included the construction and planning time period from 2002 onwards.
“Any chance of a bi-partisan and independent inquiry have now been dashed.
“It is crystal clear that Labor are looking to save face and protect those involved in the original construction of Paradise Dam.
“This is a scandal of the worst kind and the buck stops with Annastacia Palaszczuk.
“The Palaszczuk Labor Government is anti-regions, anti-dams and anti-jobs.
“Only the LNP has a plan for the future to deliver water security for Queensland.”
* page 24-25 GHD Sheer Strength Review:
The Palaszczuk Labor Government must reverse their cruel cuts to drought subsidies for Queensland farmers and announce urgent water infrastructure funding in the upcoming Mid Year Fiscal and Economic Review (MYFER.)
LNP Deputy Leader and Shadow Treasurer Tim Mander said it was a callous decision by Annastacia Palaszczuk to cut freight subsidies used by farmers during the crippling drought.
“Drought and water security are Queensland’s number one issue and Labor must announce a funding package in the mid-year budget update,” Mr Mander said.
“Money should be put on the table to build dams and water infrastructure such as Nullinga Dam, Urannah Dam and raising the Burdekin Falls Dam Wall.
“Labor must also outline how they are going to fund and fix the Paradise Dam debacle.
“Annastacia Palaszczuk needs to reverse her cruel cuts to drought subsidies.
“More than 66% of Queensland is drought-declared and instead of supporting our farmers, Labor is cutting desperately-needed assistance that keeps starving animals alive.
“The Palaszczuk Labor Government is holding Queensland back.
“Only the LNP has a job-creating infrastructure plan to get Queensland working again and that includes The New Bradfield Scheme to help drought proof Queensland, create tens of thousands of jobs and give regional communities much needed water.”
A new report has shown that regional Queenslanders are missing out on massive electricity savings because the Palaszczuk Labor Government has stacked the market against them.
The Queensland Competition Authority annual report found that residents in South-East Queensland are pocketing savings of more than $300 a year on their power bills thanks to price competition among retailers.
Small businesses in SEQ are saving more $400 a year on average.
LNP Leader Deb Frecklington said her plan to extend retail electricity competition into regional Queensland – where Labor is blocking competition – would deliver comparable savings to households north of Gympie and from Toowoomba west.
“Electricity consumers in the regions are being ripped off by Labor,” Ms Frecklington said.
“Consumers in the south-east can shop around for the best energy deals from 22 different companies – but in the regions the only choice is Ergon.
“The LNP will smash Labor’s electricity monopoly in the regions and ensure that every Queenslander can shop around for the cheaper electricity deals.
“The LNP’s plan will deliver average savings of more than $300 for regional households and more than $400 for small businesses.
“Labor is ripping off regional Queenslanders, but the LNP will bring their power bills down.”
Shadow Energy Minister Michael Hart said a Deb Frecklington LNP Government would provide a community service obligation (CSO) to Ergon to reduce the cost of regional distribution – allowing private retailers into the regional market.
“Labor is running a regional electricity monopoly and squeezing cash from consumers who have no choice but to pay inflated power prices,” Mr Hart said.
“Every electricity bill in regional Queensland comes with a secret tax that goes straight to the Palaszczuk Labor Government.
“Regional Queenslanders deserve fair electricity prices and that’s exactly what the LNP’s reforms will give them.”
The Queensland Competition Authority’s report factsheet can be accessed at this link:
The following tables from the report show how residential and small business consumers have benefited from the introduction of retail price competition in South-East Queensland.
Consumers who shop around between private retailers and obtain the lowest market offer can save more than $300 a year off their annual bill, on average.
The LNP has slammed the Palaszczuk Labor Government for its handling of the Paradise Dam debacle and keeping the Wide Bay community in the dark.
“Labor has been dragged kicking and screaming to hold an inquiry into Paradise Dam,” LNP Leader Deb Frecklington said.
“The people of Wide Bay have been in the dark for months over the safety of the dam and why it had to be drained to a staggering 42 per cent in the middle of a drought.
“Labor’s handling of this issue has been a debacle and it’s destroyed all trust in the Palaszczuk Labor Government in Wide Bay.
“Jobs are being destroyed in Wide Bay right now and the public deserves answers.”
LNP MP for Burnett Stephen Bennett said Labor’s announcement today failed to address key community concerns.
“Labor still hasn’t released the terms of reference for their inquiry, which means we don’t know if it will get to the bottom of what’s happened,” Mr Bennett said.
“Our region has been waiting anxiously for clear information about what is wrong with the dam and what Labor’s plan is to fix it – and we’re still waiting.
“The people of Wide Bay should have been respected and fully informed, but Labor are taking them for granted.”
LNP MP for Bundaberg David Batt said that the LNP moved a motion to establish a Parliamentary Inquiry into the design and construction of Paradise Dam debacle in October*, but Labor voted it down.
“A bi-partisan Parliamentary Inquiry would have given the people of Wide Bay the truth they deserve.
“The secrecy surrounding Labor’s decision has made a bad situation far worse.
“Water security investments made in the region based upon the dam’s reserves are now very uncertain.
“The region doesn’t know if the dam will ever return to 100 per cent capacity and that’s incredibly damaging to future investment in Wide Bay.”
LNP MP for Callide Colin Boyce said reducing the level of Paradise Dam to 42 per cent had been a disaster for farmers and businesses in the region.
“This is a massive scandal and the buck stops with Annastacia Palaszczuk,” Mr Boyce said.
“The Palaszczuk Labor Government is anti-regions, anti-dams and anti-jobs.
“The LNP gets that water means jobs and a Deb Frecklington Government has a plan to build water infrastructure projects in regional Queensland – including the drought-busting New Bradfield Scheme.
“Only the LNP has a plan for the future to deliver water security for Queensland.”
Hansard: October 16 Motion on Paradise Dam, Parliamentary Inquiry - Page 96 - www.parliament.qld.gov.au/documents/hansard/2019/2019_10_16_WEEKLY.pdf