Transcript of Speech by State Member for Chatsworth Steve Minnikin. Queensland Parliament. 13th September.
It is my absolute pleasure to speak on the Appropriation (Parliament) Bill 2012, the Fiscal Repair Amendment Bill 2012 and the first budget of the Newman government. As the Treasurer has rightly stated, this budget is the most important one to be delivered in a generation. The reason for its importance was clearly demonstrated on page 1 of the incoming government brief for the Treasury portfolio that the Newman government received back in March 2012. It stated, and we all know the lines—
Queensland’s fiscal position and outlook is unsustainable and restoration must be an urgent priority for this term of government.
This budget provides for $7.8 billion in fiscal repair measures and, as the Treasurer correctly stated, resets the clock as we break from the addiction to debt and deficit that characterised Queensland’s finances under those economic illiterates opposite. The state of Queensland currently pays around $650,000 per hour in interest payments as a result of Labor’s economic incompetence, or just under $11,000 per minute. I will give periodic updates throughout my speech on how much interest we continue to rack up over the next 10 minutes or so. Already, since I began this speech, the interest debt clock has ticked over another $11,000 for the people of Queensland.
It is important to put the historical financial context in place before describing the 2012-13 budget initiatives in detail. How did it really get to this? Who could forget the $1.1 billion white elephant that is the rusting Tugun desalination plant, or the $600 million wasted on the failed Traveston Crossing Dam which ripped apart the people of the Mary Valley, or the former government making it more expensive for Queensland motorists after breaking their election promise to not introduce the 9.2c a litre fuel tax, or the $350 million spent on the Wyaralong Dam which Labor then decided not to connect to the South-East Queensland water grid, or the absolute debacle of the Queensland Health payroll fiasco which is going to end up costing taxpayers potentially more than $1.25 billion? In fact it was only last Saturday’s edition of the Courier-Mail’s colour magazine supplement, Qweekend, which stated, inter alia, that the Queensland Health payroll catastrophe was perhaps the greatest stuff-up in Australian Public Service history. I have taken the liberty of tidying up the language slightly with this quote as I respect the dignity of this hallowed chamber.
I recognise the mandate that the LNP was entrusted with on 24 March of this year and the responsibility that obviously came with this result. We will not pander to vociferous minority groups or vested interests, but rather we will work for the forgotten men and women across the state who strive to work hard, educate their kids, be rewarded for the fruits of their labour and be able to make their own individual choices in life. Interest clock update since I began this speech: $22,000.
The LNP made a promise to all Queenslanders that we would work for them—not in spite of them—to deliver better services, reduce the cost of living, legislate responsibly with common sense and get the state moving again. I made a promise to the people of Chatsworth that, if honoured by being elected, I would work as part of the LNP team to cut the burgeoning costs of living. Wherever I campaigned throughout the electorate, it always came back to this single fact—memo to those democratic socialists across the chamber in opposition: ‘It was always about the economy, stupid.’
I am delighted to speak in support of the first conservative budget delivered in 15 years. It is a tough budget but it is a budget that will enable the Newman government to deliver on its commitments to the people of Queensland, reduce the fiscal waste the former Labor government burdened our great state with and get our economy moving again. It will enable the Newman government to build a strong four-pillar economy, lower the cost of living, deliver better infrastructure and planning, revitalise front-line services and importantly restore accountability in government. Interest clock now at $33,000. This once in a generation budget is not in itself the solution to the mess of Labor ineptitude that we as a government inherited, but it is the medicine the state needs in order to truly build a brighter future for the electorate of Chatsworth, which I serve, and Queensland as a whole.
Undertaking a fiscal repair exercise of this magnitude was never going to be easy. It never is when conservative governments have to continually come into office and clean up the financial mess of Labor governments that spend with reckless abandon. Niccolo Machiavelli wrote in the famous treatise on Renaissance statecraft The Prince—
And it ought to be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things. Because the innovator has for enemies all those who have done well under the old conditions, and lukewarm defenders in those who may do well under the new. This coolness arises partly from fear of the opponents … and partly from the incredulity of men, who do not readily believe in new things until they have had a long experience of them.
The interest debt clock has now been added to by approximately $44,000. The constituents of Chatsworth and Queenslanders overall will benefit considerably from the measures allowed for in this budget. Already, the Newman government has delivered on its key election commitments to lower the cost of living by freezing car registration for more than 21⁄2 million vehicles; freezing electricity tariff 11, thereby saving families on average $125 annually on their electricity bills; providing an $80 water rebate for households; halving public transport fare increases; and rewarding regular commuters with free travel on the TransLink network after nine journeys. There is a $15,000 first homeowner grant—
A government member: Hear, hear!
Mr MINNIKIN: Thank you. We have also reinstated the stamp duty concession for a principal place of residence, saving Queenslanders up to $7,175 when buying the family home.
Mr Ruthenberg: Helping working families!
Mr MINNIKIN: I will take that interjection. The interest debt clock has now racked up approximately $55,000 since I began this speech. Additionally, we have committed $1.3 billion to construct, expand and develop hospitals across the state. There is an amount of $456.5 million to expand and improve social housing services across the state, $146.9 million over four years to deliver an additional 1,100 new police officers by 2016, $200 million over two years to state school P&Cs to chip away at the maintenance backlog in state schools and $53.6 million over four years to roll out the equivalent of a full-time teacher aide to an additional 150 prep classes each year in areas of greatest need.
All politics is local and there are some great budget initiatives for the people in my electorate of Chatsworth. Indeed, the ability for Chatsworth P&C committees such as Mayfield State School to address their woeful toilet block facility should they choose or to assist the Gumdale State School with master planning facilities is a wonderful feature of this budget. This budget initiative will allow local school communities to become empowered to look after their own needs and wants. The interest debt clock has now racked up approximately another $66,000 since I began this speech.
Mr Crisafulli: Stop speaking!
Mr MINNIKIN: I am going to keep going to highlight the economic illiterates opposite.
I am also pleased that we were able to roll out early the new Carindale park-and-ride facility at the corner of Old Cleveland Road and Creek Road. I note with keen interest that the Newman government was able to deliver this facility at less than $2,000 per car park bay as opposed to the previous Labor government administration that constructed two park-and-ride facilities towards the end of their reign at around $37,000 per car park bay. Vacuous and clueless!
It was also pleasing to see that funds have been allocated to employ a local coordinator for multisports at the Clem Jones Centre to support eight clubs. Despite the negativity being drummed up by the Labor Party that the Newman government does not have the interests of parents, carers and people with disabilities in mind, we are absolutely committed to delivering a record investment in funding for disability services in the current financial year. I have met several Chatsworth families over the last couple of months who care for disabled children and young adults. My admiration for them is immeasurable. In the blink of an eye, through car crash or accident, any one of us or a member of our family could require disability support. The interest clock has now hit approximately $77,000.
I am especially pleased that the Newman government has increased funding for specialist disability services to $959 million, clearly proving our commitment to improving disability support in Queensland. I am particularly delighted that the Chatsworth electorate will receive funds to construct purpose-built housing in Carina to assist spinal cord injury patients exiting the Princess Alexandra Hospital. The interest debt clock is at $88,000. The Newman government is investing $15 million over three years for the Elderly Parent Carer Innovation Trial, which seeks to alleviate unmet need for elderly parents who can no longer care for their adult disabled child. The trial is all about flexibility. Other benefits to Chatsworth include an upgrade of social rental housing properties within the electorate, which will be a welcome boost.
Finally, whilst it is true that all politics is local, we are privileged to sit in this hallowed chamber to represent the people. We are, indeed, servants of the people. There is a human dimension to the necessary fiscal repair exercise that needed to occur from a greater good or Pareto efficiency principle. In early 2009 I was made redundant from my senior executive role in an ASX 200 listed company as a result of the GFC. It was gut wrenching and a difficult time for my family. It was character building and I did bounce back. Notwithstanding this fact, I do empathise with all public servants who have lost employment as a result of the budget we have had to hand down and, as the Premier has already stated, we are genuinely sorry. Let us never forget, though, that the Newman government did not create this economic mess. We inherited it from an economic illiterate Labor government, which included the members for Mulgrave, Mackay and Inala at the helm. They just do not get it. The alternative strategy to begin fiscal repair would have involved slugging every man, woman and child another $1,000. Given the exorbitant cost-of-living situation we are facing right now, how could we have done this? By the way, as I begin to wrap up my speech, the interest clock has hit $110,000 since I began. Can honourable members believe it?
The great Winston Churchill once stated, ‘The inherent vice of capitalism is the equal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.’ The preparation and presentation of the Appropriation Bill 2012 and the Appropriation (Parliament) Bill 2012 was a massive undertaking by the Treasurer and I congratulate him, along with the Premier and their cabinet colleagues. I commend these bills to the House.