As Queensland and rest of the country continue to manage the devastation of drought, the Federal LNP Coalition Government has stumped up even more funds to fight feral pests and weeds*.
At the same time the Palaszczuk Labor Government is again paralysed in inaction when it comes to extra drought support, especially when it comes to managing pest and weeds.
Liberal National Party Shadow Minister for Agriculture Tony Perrett said the Palaszczuk Labor Government was failing to properly respond to the state’s worsening drought situation.
“Despite the deteriorating drought, all Labor can commit to is cutting freight subsidies for essential fodder and water from July 1 next year, saving them $50 million over the forward estimates.
“While the Federal LNP is ramping up its assistance to farmers and their communities, Queensland Labor continues to ignore practical support like assistance with managing pests and weeds and instead just cuts support.
“Cutting drought support during drought is a disgrace and quite rightly needs to be called out.
“While Queensland loses the battle against pest and weeds in this state, Labor Minister Mark Furner continues to play politics with rural and regional Queensland.
“This is the same Palaszczuk 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.
“This is the same Minister that politically sanitised a three-year inquiry into invasive weeds in Queensland to ensure Labor didn’t have to spend anymore money on rural and regional areas.
“There is something deeply unsettling about the Palaszczuk Labor Government’s blatant failure to uphold its obligations to the management of the state’s drought support, pest, weeds and biosecurity obligations.
“This is yet another example of the Palaszczuk Labor Government’s anti-farmer and anti-regions agenda.
“It is time for Labor to stop cutting support and to start funding the assistance our drought affected communities need.”
* $10 million extra to combat feral animals and weeds: https://minister.agriculture.gov.au/littleproud/media-releases/%2410m-feral-animals-weeds
As the majority of Queenslanders enjoy a well-earned break over the Christmas and New Year season it is important that we don’t forget out hard working essential and emergency service workers still on the job.
Our essential ambulance officers, nurses and doctors will be manning our hospitals and making sure those who need it get the health care they deserve.
Queensland police officers will continue to patrol and remain on standby to ensure we all have a safe holiday period.
Our firefighters continue to put their lives on the line as bushfires rage across Queensland and the rest of the country.
This fire season has been nothing short of a nightmare and our professional volunteers who work and protect lives and property will not be forgotten.
While the majority of Queenslanders will get an opportunity to stop, reflect and relax this Christmas it is essential that those who keep the work spinning are remembered.
On behalf of the entire Liberal National Party team and the communities we represent I want to say thank you to our hard working, important and emergency services workers who do such a great job saving lives and protecting property.
LNP Leader Deb Frecklington
The Palaszczuk Labor Government’s treatment of the 2011 flood victims has been heartless from start to finish.
In a fresh blow revealed today, Government owned corporations SunWater and SeqWater are looking to appeal a court decision which blamed them for the damage.
LNP Leader Deb Frecklington said it’s a kick in the guts for flood victims just five days out from Christmas.
“These families have gone through enough,” Ms Frecklington said.
“They’ve waited nearly a decade for pay-outs and now it appears the delays will drag on due to Labor inaction.
“Labor is putting insurance companies ahead of the flood victims who lost everything. Government policy is directed by the ministers, not insurance bosses.|
“This is Labor’s mess and it needs to be cleaned up.
“This is a heartless blow just before Christmas.
“When Labor announced they won’t appeal for their proportion of the blame, they gave victims false hope and only told half the truth.
“Annastacia Palaszczuk is in charge of SunWater and SeqWater.
“This entire process has been handled appallingly by the Palaszczuk Labor Government.
“Annastacia Palaszczuk still hasn’t apologised to the victims and needs to do so today.
“This is yet another example why she is the weakest Premier in Queensland’s history.”
Renters and landlords have just over a week left to respond to major reforms to Queensland’s residential tenancy market.
LNP Shadow Minister for Housing and Public Works Michael Hart called on Labor to extend the consultation process by a month.
“Labor’s consultation needs to be extended by a month at least to give people an opportunity to have their say,” Mr Hart said.
“We have grave concerns for the future of Queensland’s rental market if these reforms are rushed through.
“Hiding a consultation process during Christmas shows that Labor aren’t fair dinkum.
“Industry has said that the cost of these changes could drive annual rental costs up by as much as $5000 a year or $100 a week.
“Following an industry briefing this week, it’s clear that Labor Minister Mick de Brenni doesn’t understand the impact of his own changes.
“Labor also needs to come clean and say whether it will apply to public housing as well.
“Most Queenslanders would be horrified at that extra cost alone, particularly pensioners and those on fixed incomes who are already struggling to make ends meet.
“Labor’s proposed changes will also scare-off mum and dad property investors who are trying to save for their retirement.
“No one disputes that safety is important, but Labor’s proposed changes go way too far.
“With a third of Queenslanders living in rental properties, these changes deserve proper scrutiny and analysis.
“If the consultation period isn’t extended, then the whole process is a complete sham.”
Background: Consultation closes on 28 December 2019: https://www.getinvolved.qld.gov.au/gi/consultation/7153/view.html
Regional roads are turning into trails of neglect as the backlog of maintenance blows out to a staggering $5.3 billion under the Palaszczuk Labor Government.
LNP Leader Deb Frecklington said Labor’s failure to maintain the regional road network was putting the safety of motorists at risk.
“While Labor is fixated on Cross River Rail in South Brisbane, roads across Queensland are becoming more and more dangerous for motorists,” Ms Frecklington said.
“The backlog of road maintenance is blowing out because regional Queensland is not a priority for the Palaszczuk Labor Government.
“Regional Queenslanders are being short-changed by Annastacia Palaszczuk and it’s putting their safety on the road at risk.
“Labor only has band-aid solutions rather than a serious, long-term plan to maintain the regional road network.”
The $5.3 billion renewal backlog* figure was revealed during Estimates this year and the Queensland Audit Office expects it to rise to more than $9 billion over the next eight years**. The renewal backlog includes maintenance work like widening roads, fixing potholes and improving safety.
“The LNP has a job-creating infrastructure plan to improve roads, which includes a 10-year plan for the Bruce Highway, Queensland’s economic artery from Brisbane to Cairns,” she said.
“Investing in regional roads is also an investment in creating local jobs.
“Annastacia Palaszczuk’s Bruce Highway Trust was set up two years ago but it hasn’t held a single meeting.
“The Bruce Highway Trust is another Labor infrastructure lie.
“Only the LNP will manage the economy on behalf of Queenslanders to deliver the infrastructure like roads this state needs.”
Question on Notice No 3: https://www.parliament.qld.gov.au/documents/committees/TPWC/2019/Estimates2019-20/qon-29Jul2019-TMR.pdf
The next generation of Queensland farmers remain in the dark on the future of agriculture education following Labor’s decision to close the state’s last reaming training colleges.
Ag Colleges in Emerald and Longreach closed their doors on Friday but regional communities, as well as the agriculture industry, are unaware of what happens next.
LNP Shadow Minister for Agriculture Tony Perrett said the absence of information from Labor on the future of agricultural education was causing worry and confusion, especially as drought continued to devastate many areas of the state.
“The deadline for the Ag Colleges to close has come and gone, but the Palaszczuk Labor Government still doesn’t have a plan to close the education gap left by shutting them down,” Mr Perrett said.
“It is absolutely disgraceful that one year after Labor announced the closure of the colleges, Labor Minister Mark Furner doesn’t think creating a pathway to jobs for young regional Queenslanders is a priority.
“Young people in regional Queensland need access to training so they can get the skills they need for jobs in agriculture.
“The Labor Government’s own Rural Jobs and Skills Alliance (RJSA), which was established to advise on agriculture education, has sounded the alarm about the Ag College closures and warned the situation was ‘critical’*.
“RJSA said the closure of the Ag College operations had left an immediate gap in essential training delivery for the agricultural industry and training provision in some regional areas’*.
“It also warned that it was, ‘particularly concerned about transitional arrangements associated with training for schools as well as the provision of specialised training’*.
“With members such as Queensland Farmers Federation, Growcom, AgForce, CANEGROWERS, Cotton Australia, Nursery and Garden Industry Queensland, Queensland Chicken Growers Association, Irrigation Australia and TABMA Australia** – RJSA’s opinions on the state of agriculture education in this state cannot be ignored.
“There aren’t many people left in Queensland’s agricultural industry that haven’t condemned Labor Minister Furner’s mismanagement and botched handling of the state’s Ag Colleges.
“There is still no commitment on timeframes, outcomes or funding to deliver rural and regional Queenslanders the agriculture education they deserve.
“With a regional youth jobs crisis, it’s clear Queenslanders cannot afford this culture of secrecy and arrogance from the Palaszczuk Labor Government.
“This entire botched Ag College debacle is yet another example of the Palaszczuk Labor Government’s anti-farmer, anti-region, anti-jobs agenda.”
* What are the transition plans for the Queensland Agriculture Training Colleges? https://www.qff.org.au/blog/transition-plans-queensland-agriculture-training-colleges/
** Rural Jobs and Skills Alliance members and structure: https://www.qff.org.au/projects/rural-jobs-skills-alliance/
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.