Senate debates

Monday, 19 June 2017


Queensland Government

10:04 pm

Photo of Chris KetterChris Ketter (Queensland, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

The recent federal budget saw a lack of investment in educational infrastructure. In the case of infrastructure $1.6 billion was cut this financial year, and over four years investment declines from $7.6 billion this year to $4.2 billion in 2020-21. This is from a government which claims to be focused on jobs and growth. There is a government which is focused on jobs and growth, and that is the state Labor government in my home state of Queensland. I want to take time in this adjournment debate to talk about how the Queensland state Labor budget is delivering jobs for Queenslanders. In particular I would like to talk about how the state budget has provided an extra $200 million over two years, allocated to councils, through the Palaszczuk government's successful Works for Queensland program. This additional funding means the program will pump a total of $400 million into local communities throughout the state. This funding is about kick-starting projects and getting people working as soon as possible. Across regional Queensland councils are telling the state Labor government that this program is already creating jobs, building great community infrastructure, and that they want to see more invested.

The Queensland Labor government has listened and in fact in this budget they are delivering. Current projects in construction range from roadworks to upgrading parks and playgrounds and even to delivering renewable energy infrastructure. The initial Works for Queensland spend saw councils with more than 700 projects approved, supporting almost 6,000 jobs across our regions in Queensland. They note that these projects are having an enormously positive impact on regional communities and I am excited to see this continue. Every member of the Palaszczuk government is absolutely focused on creating local jobs and the extension of this program shows their commitment to regional communities. Every council in the regions will benefit with additional funds allocated to Far North Queensland, $53 million; North Queensland, $34 million; Central Queensland, $22 million; Wide Bay-Burnett, $39 million; Mackay-Whitsundays, $17 million; Western Queensland, $20 million; and the North-West, $15 million. Councils are encouraged to nominate, by 28 July 2017, projects for the second round of funding. All approved projects are expected to be completed by June 2019. The Works for Queensland program is part of the State Infrastructure Fund.

How does this stack up with the Deputy Prime Minister's claims last week? Last week Mr Joyce launched into an explosive and unacceptable tirade aimed at the Queensland Labor government. Mr Joyce asserted that there was nothing in the Queensland state budget for regional Queenslanders. How truly wrong he is. He cried foul over the Rookwood Weir, as though he has a few thousand jobs for Central Queensland in his back pocket. Nothing could be further from the truth. The federal government has monumentally failed to deliver for Central Queensland, despite having the resources to do so. If Minister Joyce and his rabble were serious about getting Rookwood Weir off the ground they would be funding the project in its entirety. The number of fake announcements from the federal government around job-creating projects is at an all-time high. Since their re-election, Mr Joyce and the LNP have promised a litany of projects to be delivered in Central Queensland. However, we have yet to see anything come to fruition.

The pick of these has to be the failed $30 million Bowen Basin jobs package. And don't get me started on their hollow promises in respect of decentralisation. These were promises from the 2016 election campaign. However, we are well on from that and not one job has been created, not one sod has been turned and not one business has been boosted. The Deputy Prime Minister's claims around the lack of commitment to Central Queensland from the state Labor government are appalling and untrue. In terms of delivering for regional Queensland, this has to be one of the best state budgets in recent history. As the Premier said, 'This budget will deliver a jobs bonanza.' The fact is that there is roughly $85 million earmarked for projects and services in and around Gladstone alone. This was confirmed in the Gladstone Observer only a few days ago.

Instead of playing politics, the Deputy Prime Minister should really be focusing on how he can create more jobs in central Queensland. He should be focusing on the workers who have been sacked from Aurizon, the miners who have been on indefinite stand-down that Cook Colliery, or the thousands of retail, hospitality and fast food workers who are about to lose their penalty rates. People in Central Queensland deserve better than petty politics and it is high time that the Deputy Prime Minister acknowledged this.

The fact of the matter is that the Queensland state Labor government is delivering for Queenslanders. They are creating the jobs that our regions so desperately need. They are not the ones making 'Not Actual Infrastructure Funds', or NAIF, as it is otherwise called, and they are not the ones currently being subjected to a Senate inquiry around their models of funding. So, let's be clear, it is with good reason that we announced a Senate inquiry with the following terms of reference:

a. the adequacy and transparency of the NAIF’s governance framework, including its project assessment and approval processes;

b. The adequacy of the NAIF’s Investment Mandate, risk appetite statement and public interest test in guiding decisions of the NAIF Board;

c. processes used to appoint NAIF Board members, including assessment of potential conflicts of interest;

d. the transparency of the NAIF’s policies in managing perceived, actual or potential conflicts of interest of its Board members;

e. the adequacy of the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility Act 2016 and Investment Mandate to provide for and maintain the independence of decisions of the Board;

f. the status and role of state and territory governments under the NAIF, including any agreements between states and territories and the Federal Government; and

g. any other related matters.

The only government budget that does not deliver for Queenslanders is that of the Turnbull-Joyce government. I have said this before in the chamber, but I have to say it again: what an absolute failure this federal budget has been for working people across all of Queensland. In this budget, we see tax cuts for the wealthy, tax cuts for multinationals, a tax hike for working people and devastating cuts to our schools.

Mr Turnbull sent us to the hustings for two long months last year, promising jobs and growth. He fielded candidates all over Queensland, making hollow promises to invest in our great state, lifting the hopes of Queensland voters that our state would finally be offered more support than was offered in the Abbott-Hockey era. He has monumentally failed to deliver. Instead, the Prime Minister has delivered a tax cut to millionaires and a tax hike to working Queenslanders. Residents of Point Piper and Toorak earning $1 million get a $16,000 tax cut; Queenslanders earning $65,000 get a $325 tax hike. Mr Turnbull and Mr Joyce have replaced the two per cent debt levy on incomes over $180,000 with an extra half a per cent tax hike for everyone, shunting the tax burden back on to low- and middle-income earners. How did it get to this?

The Liberal-National party has 21 members, of the 30 House of Representatives seats, who are from Queensland, but not one of them is up to the job of getting our state its fair share. Not one federal Liberal-National party member was prepared to stand up to their mates and stick their neck out Queensland. As a result, Queenslanders are being hit with higher taxes and cuts to education, with nothing in return. This is a government that loves to pretend it is helping Queenslanders, but there is nothing new in its budget for our great state.


No comments

Log in or join to post a public comment.