Sunday, June 24, 2012

Newmania: The King's Speech

Tonight, King Campbell of Newmania will be taking some time to address his disloyal subjects in a pre-recorded announcement reminiscent of the Queen's Christmas Message. Unlike the recent Queen's Jubilee celebrations when hundreds of thousands of cheering Poms lined parade routes waving union jacks, tonight's address is less a celebration, and more a whimper of despair. 

Broke King Campbell used a $45,000 60 second spot,  prepurchased by the previous Government,to tell us how terribly, tragically broke the state is, and to urge us to read former Treasurer Peter Costello's interim report on our economy.

After delivering the bad news, King Campbell proceeds to the 'belt tightening' phase. This is the bit where he fails to admit that he can't deliver on his election promises because we are too poor. The timing is predictable: 92 days into his reign, the King is announcing that he cannot deliver the commitments he made in his 100 Day Action Plan

The King has been softening the ground for a week, with talk of a $100 billion dollar debt that doesn't actually exist, 20,000 unspecified public service jobs that we can't afford, and costs that are out of his control. Between chunks of economic disaster-talk, he's commanded the front page with his changes to the Civil Partnerships Act and Surrogacy Act. In fact, King Campbell has owned the news cycle. Bad news can do that.

There's more to the timing than just the First 100 Days. We're just a week away from the Carbon Tax. King Campbell doesn't mention that we can kiss goodbye to lower electricity prices - but blame the Carbon Tax;  lower water prices are looking unlikely - because we don't use enough water, and lower car registration - which is impossible because of rising CTP premiums. These are all parts of his promise to lower the cost of living in Queensland. Talk about belt tightening is spurious at best.

Newmanians, you have no-one to blame but yourselves.  I usually prefer to avoid blame. It achieves nothing. Far better to find the cause, allow the people responsible the chance to rectify the problem and learn their lessons, but in this case, Newmanians must accept the blame for electing a CouldDo LNP Government.

Okay, so the sitting Labor Government was virtually unelectable. The 'time for a change' factor was strong, combined with recent memories of the Queensland Health Payroll Scandal, Dr Death, Gordon Nuttall's convictions, asset sales, cost of living increases. Labor looked incompetent, Anna Bligh looked exhausted (and no, I'm not sure I'd say that if talking about a male politician) and Campbell Newman looked like a realistic option: fresh, decisive,  and able to unite the LNP. The CanDo team had policies, promises and positions, and Queensland voters overwhelmingly chose them over Greens (just another vote for Labor), Katter's Australia Party (too unhinged) and a raft of independents.

Why didn't you look to the South? Victoria and New South Wales had made their misakes already. They tried to warn you, yet you didn't listen. Anything had to be better than Anna Bligh, and the only 'anything' available was the LNP. Queensland was destined to repeat the mistakes of their Southern cousins, particularly as regards the public service.

In December 2010, Ted-the-Toff Baillieu led the Victorian Liberal Party to a narrow victory over the ALP, and has spent much of the past 18 months battling unions. His hatred of the union movement goes back to the early 80s when he joined the Liberal Party out of frustration at the power unions wielded. Premier Baillieu has promised just this week to cut 3,600 public service jobs. Premier Ted Baillieu said the job losses would not apply to "frontline service delivery roles". Sound familiar, Newmanians? 

Baillieu has also introduced a code of conduct for unions on publicly funded building sites, had a series of long-term struggles with nurses, teachers and police over wages and conditions, and even denied workers a public holiday for Christmas Day when it fell on a Sunday last year. Even worse, he scrapped the VCAL programme and has now stolen another $300 million dollars from TAFE education.

Like Newman, Baillieu has acted on behalf of the Christian Lobby as well:  

Shortly after his defeat of the Brumby-led Labor Party, Baillieu pushed to reintroduce the ability for faith-based groups — such as Catholic schools and charity organisations — to be allowed to discriminate against others on the grounds of their religion, gender and sexuality. This is also legal in NSW and WA. Despite attempts by the Opposition and human rights groups to smother Baillieu’s efforts, the bill was passed by the Upper House on June 15, 2011.

This law gives religious employers grounds to fire homosexual employees, or refuse to hire people with different spiritual beliefs. Religious schools are permitted to expel openly gay students, or sack a teacher who happens to be a single mother. People who are defended by this bill will face no consequences for their actions, but the victims of this will suffer enough for everyone.

Premier Baillieu did deliver an address at Victoria's Gay and Lesbian Midsumma Carnival. I can't imagine Premier,  er, King Newman being permitted to address a similar event, although the situation in New South Wales is very different.  Premier Barry O'Farrell signed a pledge to support the Mardi Gras. Sydney is home to one of the proudest LGBTI communities in the world; is it a coincidence that the ACL doesnt have as much influence in New South Wales as it does in Queensland? 

But Barry O'Farrell has upset the New South Wales Public Service every bit as  much as you'd expect. Not just job cuts, but changes to Workers Compensation has the NSW Public Sector Unions planning another round of strikes.

But here we are, less than an hour before King Campbell's speech on the tellie. Please, consider doing as he asks and reading the report into Newmania's finances. Then, when you've decided not to, take note of just how quickly the normally sympathetic media is turning against him. In just 92 days at the top, the man with the biggest majority in history has shown just how quickly he can make himself unpopular.

Play along on Twitter at #KingsSpeech.

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