The following is a speech by Ian Kaye (Member for Greenslopes) on June 6th 2014 in response to the Queensland State Budget. You can add comments and questions at the end.
Today I rise in support of the Appropriation Bills handed down by the Treasurer in this house on Tuesday. Firstly, I congratulate the Treasurer on delivering an equitable, measured and eminently sensible budget in what has been a very difficult two years pulling our finances back from the brink. I also give thanks to the Treasurer’s staff, both in his ministerial office and in Treasury. The countless hours of work it has taken to prepare this budget should not go unnoticed. When this government took office in 2012, we were always honest with Queenslanders regarding the challenges we faced in bringing our finances under control. Getting our finances back on track in the past two years has been a difficult process. We have had to rein in our spending and we have had to make some extremely difficult decisions, but we have done this not for our own benefit but because we want the best for Queensland’s future. We want everyone to experience the benefits through responsible management of the state’s finances.
There is still a great deal of work to be done, but we are seeing the recovery of the state’s economy and essential services. I can see the results in my community: shorter wait times for public housing, increased police officers on the street with a reduction in crime rates, increased efficiency in our hospitals and a renewed confidence in our schools, thanks to massive funding boosts from this government. I was also pleased to see that there are no new taxes in this budget. There have also been much welcomed increases to the health and education budgets and the vital injection of funding to child safety, following the recommendations of the Carmody inquiry, and also to disability services.
I was particularly pleased to see the injection of funding to build and support our law and order program. I commend the Treasurer for the allocation of more than $44 million to the Safe Night Out strategy and I also commend him on his allocation of funding for an additional 267 police officers. This is an important part of the Newman government’s strategy for addressing crime and it is much appreciated, particularly by those of us who have come from a law enforcement background. On the point of policing, it should be noted that a police officer gets to see people from all walks of life and all situations and, obviously, deals with crime on a daily basis. A police officer also gets first-hand exposure to the waste and inefficiency that was operating in government, the difficulties in our hospitals and the difficulties in our schools. It is what drove me to put up my hand in the first place. Certainly I am proud to be part of a government that is actually addressing those areas that I witnessed first-hand were broken. What is more, I have many friends and former colleagues who tell me that things are improving. Whilst change can be difficult, it is not the negative atmosphere that some would have us believe. We have revitalised front-line services and we are empowering the Public Service to make a difference, not just go through the motions. The extra funding to health will be of great benefit to all Queenslanders and I note the $224.5 million allocated to continue delivery of the Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital, which will service families in my community. Funding allocations for community and disability services in the greater Brisbane area will also benefit some of the most vulnerable members of my community.
My schools are big winners in this budget. Eleven schools in the Greenslopes electorate have been allocated more than $1.56 million in additional funding via the Great Results Guarantee. In addition, three schools have been allocated capital works funding for much-needed additional accommodation and infrastructure repair. Cavendish Road State High School will receive $2.26 million and my old high school in Mt Gravatt has been allocated $551,000. Those are two fantastic local schools whose programs are helping so many students to excel. I am proud to have schools such as those in the electorate. Another important funding allocation in this budget is $901,000 for the rectification of Early Childhood Development Program facilities at the Nursery Road Special School. I am sure the staff, parents and students will be pleased to see that funding allocation.
I am also happy to note that Energex is continuing to carry out replacement works at the Coorparoo substation with a further $9.8 million to help increase network reliability and capacity. With increased demand in this area, this ongoing upgrade is timely and most welcome.
With housing a big issue in my electorate, I am also pleased with the announcement that $7.5 million, together with land transfer, has been allocated towards the construction of an additional 57 units in Mount Gravatt East with the Brisbane Housing Company. I believe that will mainly benefit seniors. I note that, under the direction of the Minister for Housing and Public Works, the Greenslopes electorate’s waiting list for high-needs housing has dropped significantly and this will further contribute to addressing the problem of housing in my area. Well done, Minister Mander and department staff. This is an important funding decision and I welcome it.
I also welcome the $789,000 allocated to address the problem of homelessness in the community. It is good to see that this money will be spent not only on housing people who find themselves in the unfortunate position of homelessness, but also it provides a number of innovative measures to prevent people from falling into homelessness in the first place. Programs to assist people in obtaining and maintaining their housing and maximising their capacity to be independent, self-reliant and connected to appropriate social supports are ground breaking and save both resources and time in the long run.
If it were so easy to reduce debt, why did the previous government not do it when they had the chance? If hospital and housing waiting lists were so simple to reduce why was it not done before the 2012 election? We all know the answer to that. Previous governments only knew how to spend money; they had no idea how to manage it. As we saw with the previous government, it is no good to say you care about people if under your management hospital patients waited up to a decade for surgery, desperate Queenslanders waited just as long for housing and the whole time debt levels blew out to unprecedented proportions.
There is much more in this budget that I could speak on, like the second police helicopter based at Archerfield, funding for public library resources and the many other things that members have covered in their speeches. I look forward to communicating the benefits of this budget to the Greenslopes electorate. As a government we need to look ahead of more than just the end of our noses. We need to look long term and think about future generations to come. That is exactly what this government is doing.
I am proud to be part of a government with a strong plan—a plan that will deliver us better roads, better schools, better hospitals and make Queensland a safer place and give us a brighter future. I support the bill.