Steve Minnikin MP, State Member for Chatsworth gave the following speech in Queensland Parliament on November 13th 2012.
(11.31 am): I rise to speak about the sense of entitlement felt by some members of society that makes it challenging to have a sustainable and prospering Queensland economy. Unfortunately, as I look across the chamber to the opposition corner I see members of a previous government that did not support a sustainable economy, instead giving and pandering to feed this sense of entitlement. I am not for a minute stepping away from the fact that the government should provide for its people, but there does come a point in time when we must draw the line between giving and taking.
Given the economic position the Newman government has inherited, with interest on debt running at around $11,000 per minute, Queensland can no longer afford an entitlement mentality on the part of a growing number of people in our communities. That famous line espoused by former US president John F Kennedy comes to mind: ‘ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country’. This statement could easily apply to our own essence of citizenship within this great state.
I am extremely proud and humbled to be the Assistant Minister for Public Transport. Building an effective and efficient public transport network does not come for free by any means. Of course, this LNP government is committed to cutting waste, making savings and delivering a public transport system that meets the needs of Queenslanders, including the people of the Chatsworth electorate, whom I am very proud to serve.
The government needs to invest in providing infrastructure and support mechanisms for everyone. This can be evidenced in the recent construction of bus commuter park-and-ride facilities at Carindale in my own electorate. However, on the topic of public transport it does go both ways. Fare evaders continue to use the public transport system as if it is their birth right or entitlement. To put this into perspective, the TransLink annual report for 2011-12 estimated that fare evasion cost the public transport system approximately $18 million in lost revenue from unpaid fares. Why do some users of public transport believe that they are entitled to use the system for free and not pay anything in return?
The economic incompetence of the previous Labor government will be noted in history books for many years to come. Their track record on public transport was no better, hence the current task the minister has asked me to assist him with involving a comprehensive review of the TransLink bus network for South-East Queensland.
The public transport system does not seek to profit from users. The cost to utilise public transport is intended to go straight back into improving the system. However, in this age of entitlement some people believe that they should be able to ride the bus, train or ferry for nothing. Go cards were designed to make it easier to access public transport, to essentially make it easier to swipe on and swipe off. However, with this more autonomous way of purchasing a fare it seems a bit more tempting for a small element of society to either not swipe off and risk a penalty or, even worse, not swipe at all.
Why is it that a small number of parents knowingly send their kids to school on buses with no fares or passes, with no intention of paying their way? Why should fellow law-abiding Queenslanders pick up the slack because of a sense of entitlement by a minority? I stress that I am referring to a small segment of our society. But my concern is that this age of entitlement and reliance on government to continually support the lifestyle of a few has the capacity to increase as a permanent state of mind.
In the past few weeks I have had the great honour of attending many primary and secondary school awards nights in my electorate of Chatsworth. I have been impressed by the enthusiasm and dedication to their studies and sporting endeavours displayed by students. Generation Y do get an unfair rap for being the experts on this sense of entitlement, but the students I saw, being recognised for their outstanding efforts, show that we need to foster this attitude towards scholarship and community work that exists into our future generation.
The world does not owe anyone a living. We all need to collectively work together to build a strong economy, provide vital infrastructure and promote opportunity for growth in Queensland. Government should provide mechanisms for people who may be at a stage in their life where they require assistance; however, continual support from the government should certainly not become a way of survival for those with capacity or a sense of continual entitlement. This is why I am proud to be a part of the Newman government, which is delivering on real outcomes to ensure all Queenslanders can get back on track, as it is government’s role to stimulate the free economy, provide opportunity for all and enable Queensland citizens to aspire to reach their dreams. That is what they are rightfully entitled to in this age.