Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Campbell, Cost Cutting & Confusion

Campbell Newman’s enormous swag of LNP members have been officially on the job for a month now, and if one thing has become obvious, it’s that there is a lot of them. Finally, with Jackie Trad looking certain to hold South Brisbane for the ALP, we can finalise numbers, leave the campaign behind, and get some governing done.
That’s not suggesting that the business of governing hasn’t been going on during the past few weeks since the Queensland ALP Government was demolished. A lot of decisions have been made, and even more have been promised. This is the way of a new government determined to sweep clean. So clean, in fact, that the seven ALP members who survived the massacre won’t even have offices in the Parliament House.  It’s not hard to believe that Parliament House wasn’t built to house a government the size of this one, which is Premier Newman’s reason for consigning the poor ALP members to Woop-Woop.
I’m not convinced though. The Legislative Assembly has 89 members and everyone one of them has to have a functional office, regardless of party affiliation. It feels a little like a classic Nationals gerrymander, where the boundaries were shunted this way and that to keep the city-slicking ALP scum well away from the seat of power.
I wasn’t in Queensland during the infamous Joh years, or the aftermath, although I heard about them. We all did. The legend of Joh is tied up with his determination to strangle anything resembling opposition, and to hell with your rights as a human being. Protests weren’t just photographed for the next day’s tabloid; “they” were photographing you for your file. Bjelke-Petersen saw public protests as a menace which disrupted traffic, upset pedestrians, motorists and shop keepers, and were mainly made up of "grubby left wing students, Anarchists, professional agitators and trade union activists".
As the reverberations of increased gun-related violence in Queensland is traced back and associated with an increase in the presence of bikie gangs, Campbell Newman is talking about enforcing laws already on the books,  which restrict the right of bikies clubs to ‘assemble’.  According to Gold Coast.com.au 
The LNP opposes the anti-association laws, and vows to repeal them, yet will consider using them anyway?
Mr Newman on Sunday said the Liberal National Party (LNP) government will consider "using the laws it inherited from the Labor party" to declare it illegal to associate with or be a member of particular bikie gangs.
Mr Newman reaffirmed his government's commitment to repeal the anti-association laws in favour of legislation that targets people who accumulate unexplained wealth.
Even considering using these laws opens the gate for Premier Newman to blame the former ALP Governments of Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland for being soft on crime. It’s inevitable. Along with the Big New Broom comes the free set of Steak Knives – all the better to blame the previous government with.  Get used to hearing “it’s all Labor’s fault,” a lot over the next few months.
The Blame Game had even more to offer, when one of the Bikie leaders pushed his beard aside to display the redness of his neck. Apparently, it’s all the fault of the affiliated Sydney-based clubs who let in bikies of Middle Eastern origin. Apparently they have a different ‘moral code’. It even appeared that the Courier Mail was in agreement.
In the course of its reporting on Queensland chapters of bikie clubs The Courier-Mail has identified several club members and associates of Middle Eastern origin.
Well sorry, Camel, but this Bikie business is your culture. If there are people exerting their moral code all over your culture, and the only response you can offer is violence, then you should expect the police to get involved. I’m not a fan of anti-association laws either, but it’s a better option that getting shot in the undies department at Big W.
Meanwhile, the seven ALP ministers are finding their way to their new offices, happy to legally assemble anywhere they can, including any available phone box and the back of my Barina. Not only are these ALP members being moved from the traditional opposition offices, they’re being moved to another building entirely. When the Fitzgerald Report included the provision that the Opposition must be provided with “appropriate resources and information”, I’m pretty sure that it was to prevent petty acts like this one.
Other new LNP Cost Cutting measures include
·         The axing of the Premier’s Literary Awards ($230,000 annually)
·         The axing of the ClimateSmart Home Service seven months earlier than planned (one-off saving $5m)
·         The axing of ‘The Smart State’ Number Plates in favour of The Sunshine State ($15,000 annually)
·         The Solar Dawn Project has lost $75 million in funding from the State Government
·         It’s also likely that the Queensland Climate Change Fund will be axed, saving $430 million
I don’t think it’s much of a surprise that Premier Newman is cutting programmes; his priority is to pay down the state’s debt and he has the mandate to do it.
The really controversial decisions made in Premier Newman’s first few weeks in office are the personnel changes. Department heads have been rolling down the steps, many of them replaced with notable LNP heads. Michael Caltabiano is a former Liberal high-flyer who lost both his council and local government seats and found himself on the outer. He’s back in the inner circle now, heading up Newman’s Transport and Main Roads department. That he’s an engineer and not a bureaucrat shouldn’t matter in running a multi-squillion dollar department. Should it?
The Bjelke Petersen legacy is one of great economic development, when Brisbane really did evolve from the small country town still visible in parts of the Brisbane’s inner suburbs, to a much larger country town. Yes, I’m mocking Brisbane, but mocking with love. This change during the Bjelke Petersen years was the first in a series of Great Leaps Forward for Brisbane. Since then, we’ve seen the city – and other Queensland cities - grow ever taller, and what feels like half of Victoria has moved north to the sunshine and cheaper real estate.
But Premier Newman is intent stripping Queemsland to it’s bones, at least in terms of expenditure. He’s hoping Newman’s legacy won’t be a Great Fall Backwards.

No comments:

Post a Comment