House debates

Thursday, 16 August 2007

Questions without Notice

Local Government

2:23 pm

Photo of Bruce ScottBruce Scott (Maranoa, National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is addressed to the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Transport and Regional Services. Would the Deputy Prime Minister update the House on projects the government is undertaking in cooperation with local government. How are these projects assisting regional communities and are there any alternative views?

Photo of Mark VaileMark Vaile (Lyne, National Party, Deputy Prime Minister) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for Maranoa for his question. As the member for Maranoa would well recognise, the coalition government works very closely and cooperatively with local government in many different ways in delivering programs across Australia. In his electorate of Maranoa there was a welcome project under the Regional Partnerships program, which was a $200,000 grant to the Blackall Shire Council to assist with the establishment of the Blackall cattle spelling centre.

These programs are very much needed in regional Australia. They are funded by the coalition Commonwealth government but they are delivered through local government because we believe in the fantastic role that local government has to play in the Australian system—and the structure in Australia—to deliver programs very efficiently to local communities. And local communities want their involvement as well. These projects help to drive economic growth in local areas because they are delivered by local government authorities.

The member for Maranoa asked whether there were any other views. We know there are other views and they emanate from the Queensland Labor government, who believe that local government is not doing a good job and do not want to give the people in those areas a say in doing that. In fact, the Queensland Labor government want to completely emasculate local government in Queensland. That is up to them, but we believe that the people in those local government areas deserve to have a say in what happens in their communities and in what their elected representatives do. But emperor Beattie in Queensland has got a different view. Here is an Australian politician who believes that he will rule for another 100 years if he so wishes. How arrogant is this Premier—he is unbelievable. After last week, the federal government announced that we would provide the support of the AEC to local councils to seek the views of their constituents—to allow people to have their say and to exercise freedom of speech in Australia. He actually legislated to sack any council that dared to seek the assistance of the federal government to obtain the views of their ratepayers on amalgamations. It is just outrageous in this day and age.

But today we saw where the real power in the Queensland Labor Party lies; it lies in the union movement. You only need look at the front page of the Australian to see power broker Bill Ludwig sending a very direct message to the Leader of the Opposition. But he has already sent a message to Labor candidates in Queensland. He said:

I’ve sent the word out to the candidates. What the state Government has done is fair.

‘I have sent the word out to candidates and they have all gone back into their shells in Queensland.’ They are not commenting on this. They are not interested in representing the interests of the people they purport to represent because Bill Ludwig has told them to shut up and he sent the message down here to the Leader of the Opposition to do the same thing. So we know where the power lies. It reminded me to go back and have a look in that great publication The Latham Diaries about the involvement of the union movement in the Labor Party. You do not even have to get inside it—you can read it on the cover. But inside it, on page 254, where the former leader of the Labor Party was trying to reform the involvement of the union movement in the Labor Party, he spoke about their participation. He said:

I’m not opposed to unionism per se, just the idea of six union secretaries sitting around a Chinese restaurant table planning the future for everyone else.

That is exactly what they do. He sort of pinged the Labor Party on that in saying that the unions own the Labor Party root and branch. If you read the article that quoted Bill Ludwig today, you can see that as clear as the nose on your face. The Leader of the Opposition cries a few crocodile tears about what is happening to local government in Queensland—he tries to walk both sides of the fence—but he has got form on this as well. When he was the head of the premiers department at the time that Wayne Goss was the Premier of Queensland, they did exactly the same thing to local government without any consultation at all. So the Leader of the Opposition has got form. We can now see exactly what is going on with the involvement of the union movement. I said this last week: it is about the unions’ involvement in local government. They are going to sit on every committee in Queensland. This is proof positive that the Labor Party is totally owned and controlled by the union movement and any future Rudd Labor government would be owned and controlled by the union movement.