Senate debates

Wednesday, 7 September 2022

Statements by Senators

Brisbane City Council

12:24 pm

Photo of James McGrathJames McGrath (Queensland, Liberal National Party, Shadow Assistant Minister to the Leader of the Opposition) Share this | | Hansard source

It is important that today I use this time to reflect on my home state of Queensland, and in particular praise the Brisbane City Council for their significant contribution to Brisbane over the last decade. In particular, I want to recognise their great work over the last three years under the leadership of Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner. While there are over 500 local government bodies across Australia, the Brisbane City Council is Australia's largest council, serving a population of over 1.2 million people. It goes without saying that the successful administration of this grassroots local government does not come without its challenges, especially with a constituency of this size. As such, much praise is due for team Schrinner's work in putting the Brisbane City Council on the map and furthering Brisbane's reputation as Australia's most liveable city.

Taking a moment to reflect upon the financial stresses and pressures facing ratepayers and small businesses during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, I will say that the Brisbane City Council's commitment to its constituents during this time was both firm and unfaltering. Rates were frozen for council residents and CBD businesses, providing much-needed support where it was due. Fast-forward to when the International Olympic Committee selected Brisbane as the host city of the 2032 Olympic Games. The Brisbane City Council got to work immediately, engaging all levels of government to ensure the timely and successful delivery of the world's largest sporting event—an event that a former Lord Mayor of Brisbane, Graham Quirk, had the foresight and the vision to argue for, for many years, saying it was Brisbane's time to hold the Olympic Games.

We have city-shaping projects like the Brisbane Metro, green bridges and the transformation of Victoria Park, which are underway thanks to the forward thinking of team Schrinner in recognising these as important infrastructure assets in readying Brisbane for the games as well as for the future. In particular, the council's commitment to city-shaping transport infrastructure is really shown in the delivery of the new Brisbane Metro. The Brisbane City Council is providing the 'turn up and go' metro that Brisbane residents need in order to get home sooner and safer. Gone are the days of inefficient and unreliable public transport, with great progress being made to link the city to the suburbs and the suburbs to the suburbs. Team Schrinner must be commended for its functional execution of fully electric, high-capacity metros that are ensuring that Brisbane remains the most liveable city in Australia.

Not only that, but the Brisbane City Council is also actively growing a greener Brisbane. More than 13,000 trees have been planted along the residential footpaths as part of the Greener Suburbs project, while bringing people together through community planting initiatives. Meanwhile, the council has also managed over 9½ thousand hectares of natural conservation areas while facilitating nature based activities and the protection of our biodiversity. A cleaner, greener Brisbane is a key priority for team Schrinner.

However, it cannot be forgotten that all this has been delivered despite the devastating flooding which affected Brisbane residents particularly hard earlier this year. The sheer volume of rain experienced had a devastating impact across the city. It affected more than 20,000 properties and almost 200 community and sports clubs across 177 suburbs, grounding CityCats and ferries and damaging roads, parks, paths and bikeways. The outstanding work of team Schrinner both during and after the floods is commendable. Under team Schrinner's direction, the council single-handedly provided more than $4½ million in rates relief for affected residents and more than $1.5 million in financial relief for community organisations. This was alongside the cleaning of 170 kilometres worth of bikeways and the filling in of more than 70,000 potholes.

We've seen Councillor James Mackay's satellite landfill imitative to streamline the waste-clearing process and Councillor Sarah Hutton's recharge station initiatives for residents without power, as well as Ryan Murphy's transport reforms. These are all fantastic examples of Brisbane City Council's getting creative to deliver for their constituents and demonstrate the initiative and the vision that team Schrinner offers Brisbane residents. It is clear that the Brisbane City Council has made an impressive commitment to build back better and protect the lifestyle of all Brisbane residents.

At all levels of government, especially local government, residents want and expect their elected representatives to deliver the basic services they need to make their life easier. But while team Schrinner keeps delivering for Brisbane, there remains one obvious handbrake on progress in Brisbane, and that, of course, is the Queensland Labor government and that shiny, shimmering red-carpet-hugging premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, from cancelling cabinet meetings—and this is true—so she can sail with her boyfriend and billionaires and celebrities on a glitzy yacht off Hamilton Island, to integrity and health crises. Remember when goons from the premier's office raided the private office of the integrity commissioner and stole the laptop and had it wiped? We all wonder what was on the laptop, don't we? What photos were on that laptop, Premier Palaszczuk? Queenslanders have clearly had enough of Palaszczuk and the rotten Labor Party in our state.

Unfortunately for Queenslanders, Annastacia Palaszczuk is more concerned with how things look than how things are, which says a lot about why she has hired the entire press gallery in Queensland to avoid media scrutiny.

Photo of Paul ScarrPaul Scarr (Queensland, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

How many?

Photo of James McGrathJames McGrath (Queensland, Liberal National Party, Shadow Assistant Minister to the Leader of the Opposition) Share this | | Hansard source

Senator Scarr, I'll answer your question. She now has a media team the size of which no premier or prime minister in Australia has ever had before. She has, across government, over 250 full-time minions, 250 taxpayer funded staff, who are all about the image of the Premier and her ministers.

Photo of Hollie HughesHollie Hughes (NSW, Liberal Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Climate Change and Energy) Share this | | Hansard source

Keeping unemployment low in Queensland!

Photo of James McGrathJames McGrath (Queensland, Liberal National Party, Shadow Assistant Minister to the Leader of the Opposition) Share this | | Hansard source

Yes, we've got low, low unemployment in Queensland, thanks to the government employing everybody in the Premier's office. In her own private media team, she has more than any particular newsroom in Queensland. She's very good at hiring ex-journos, she's very good at making sure her image is out there, but she's not very good at delivering for Queenslanders.

If you look across Queensland, there are a lot of problems in Queensland. Queenslanders have to wait over seven hours over the recommended time at emergency wards. That's seven hours over the recommended time. People are dying in ambulances outside of hospitals because the ambulances are being ramped and people are dying in the ambulances. This is what's happening in Queensland today. This is not some Third World country where they don't have operating hospitals; this is Queensland.

Photo of Hollie HughesHollie Hughes (NSW, Liberal Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Climate Change and Energy) Share this | | Hansard source

Queensland hospitals are for Queenslanders.

Photo of James McGrathJames McGrath (Queensland, Liberal National Party, Shadow Assistant Minister to the Leader of the Opposition) Share this | | Hansard source

That's right. Remember, this is the Premier who sat at the height of COVID that Queensland hospitals were for Queenslanders, not that hospitals are actually for sick people, playing this petty partisan politics. Now 40 per cent of ambulances are ramped, but the Premier has hundreds of press officers. Babies are being born on the sides of highways because regional maternity wards are being closed. The AMA recommends at least an extra 1,500 hospital beds just to meet demand.

Premier Palaszczuk and her failed dunce of a health minister galivant about the state, cutting health spending in real terms and rubbing shoulders with anyone but our hardworking frontline workers. Their priorities are cooked. Their vision for Queensland is cooked. Their service for sick people in Queensland is completely cooked, because it's Queenslanders who are paying the price of this arrogant, out-of-touch Premier who would prefer to spend her time on glitzy yachts or at the Logies. She is the Premier for first nights; she is not the Premier for overnight in hospital, because she doesn't want to see the sick state that Queensland is in because of her mismanagement.

There are 55,000 people in Queensland waiting for elective surgery. That has doubled—increased by more than 25,000—since she came to power. It gets worse: they've got a waiting list for a waiting list. There are 230,000 people are on the waiting list to get on the waiting list. Welcome to Queensland! Perfect one day, sick the next day under this malignant, poisonous Labor government who want to just play politics and not get on and ensure that Queenslanders have the health system that they deserve. I will give a teaser: I will come back tomorrow and talk about what some of those other cabinet ministers are doing in Queensland. Guess what? It's not good.