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Nov 142012

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.

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  5 Responses to “Steve Minnikin on public transport, entitlement and fair evasion”

  1. Just a reminder to everyone who uses Carindale Connect to keep away from any personal attacks. Disagreements are always welcome but we want to keep it a welcoming forum. Comments that cross the line and become abusive are not published. Thanks!

  2. Dean,

    I dare say your parking fine was issued by the Brisbane City Council, not the State Government, so try not to blame Steve for everything wrong with the world.

    And it’s government protocol to require a written request if you want an issue taken further. Social media doesn’t quite cut it when you need the machinery of government (the public service, not electoral staffers) to find an answer on something for you. It would also be a breach of the Privacy Act to give you detailed responses on facebook. So grow up and write a letter!

    And yes, Steve understands people’s frustrations with Brisbane public transport, thats why he ordered Translink to conduct a network review to overhaul the region’s services? But again, these things take more than a week. You have to be sure what you’re doing is right. It’s happening. Translink just released it’s proposed route changes to begin June next year.

    So IMHO Steve is doing things about PT and his electorate. Maybe not in the way most convenient to you but the government needs to do things in certain ways sometimes. Like route change consultation and whatnot. Please get your facts straight before you rant here.


    • Thanks John for being yet another person to defend a system that doesn’t work and is ailing – both our public transport system and our system of government – and defending someone who has and will only rise to his own level of incompetence as a public leader. You’re one of those who keeps the cogs grinding instead of turning freely and smoothly. I refuse to write letters or enter into correspondence with people who take weeks and months to respond, and only have rhetoric and empty promises in reply anyway. I recently attended a community forum and listened to over 30 people complain about local and state government leaders doing nothing in response to some reasonably serious community issues. The saddest thing is not our government – it’s when the public just gives up responding and complaining, feeling and knowing that nothing will be done anyway, so what’s the use? THAT is why I don’t write letters John. Communication with the bureaucracy via letter writing is like living in the movie The Lake House.

  3. A longish speech to say what?

    1. Blame the previous government.
    At some point you need to stop blaming, accept the circumstances that we are now in and move on. Blame doesn’t help anyone, and quite frankly the public are sick of hearing it. Tell us about your transport strategic plan for the future. Is there one?

    2. A JFK quote about what people can do for their country.
    Most of us are law abiding citizens that contribute to society on a daily basis.

    3. Talk about fare evaders. Why talk about it in parliament? Steve, you are the Transport minister – develop and implement mechanisms to police the fare evaders. It’s in your power. It is your portfolio.

    4. Congratulating yourself on the Park and Ride facility. Pat on the back there.

    Steve, you need a better speech writer.

  4. Steve,
    While I don’t support ‘stealing’ in any form, I suspect that most of the ‘sense of entitlement’ you mention stems from the growing number of people resenting the high public transport costs. Brisbane public transport is now one of the most expensive (and still slow, dysfunctional) systems IN THE WORLD Steve! Foreign visitors to Brisbane are genuinely astounded at the fees and poor function of our systems.

    Wages and income have not increased, but every cost of living has. While families struggle, including now many middle class, hard working families, it gets tougher to meet the bills, and the numerous public transport cost increases in such a short space of time, have sucked the incentive to go to work out of many people’s lives. While you’re asking people to do the right thing and see the bigger picture, you could also see the bigger picture. This speech shows little, if any, understanding of people’s resentment and frustration with Brisbane’s public transport system, and gives no responsibility for rising costs. People have been patient for too long, waiting for the promised, undelivered, results to come from having to pay more.

    Throwing a JFK quote like that in is an insult Steve. How about instead of asking people give even more blood and contribute even more of everything we’re already giving, YOU and your colleagues work a little harder, giving up a few of your ‘entitlements in office’, to decrease the cost of living. There is a lot of blame in your speech Steve, no empathy. While you’re concerned about a minority spreading a behaviour to more people, I genuinely hope more people wake up and start challenging things. Your speech is asking people to ‘suck it up’ and put up with increased costs for a still sluggish system. Both Labor and now the LNP have done nothing practical to decrease vehicle use on roads. You have only put more buses on roads, creating further congestion and fustration, while forcing people who use them to pay more to cover your costs.

    When things get tough, Steve, a sense of entitlement, born from resentment, frustration and concern for the future, is inevitable. Instead of blaming everything on what you’ve inherited from the previous government (blame is a sign of poor leadership), and requesting us to ‘ask what we can do for our country’, how about you start doing something for us that’s real, practical and a solution to our public transport, economic, social and environmental challenges.

    This speech is a bitch and whine about a few people who are struggling and sick and tired of an ailing public transport system. While there always have and will be a few who will try for free transport, an increased number of those people indicates unrest and dissatisfaction with things. How about a few less school awards and nursing home visits, and you spend some time on public transport, especially buses, for a couple of weeks, paying fees out of your own pocket, and see what real people face everyday?

    Good luck. You’re still punching way above your weight Steve.

    PS: And unless your assistant was calling me recently to arrange for you to return my $85 for a parking fine, for parking outside my own house, I am not interested in speaking to you or returning your call. I’m interested in solutions, not rhetoric.
    And try learning some more social media Steve and responding to people online, instead of requesting them to ‘put it in writing’ or ‘come and see you’. Welcome to a new world. Meet the people where they stand Steve – not where you are most comfortable hiding and operating. There is no automatic respect for your position Steve. You need to earn it the hard way with action and hard work, solutions and real effort.

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