Adjournment on Queensland Government
I am going to be controversial tonight because I want to defend Campbell Newman and the Liberal National Party government of 2012-2015 in Queensland. Right from its election in March 2012 the Liberal National Party government in Queensland made the tough but necessary decisions needed to stabilise the budget after not just years but decades of Labor waste and mismanagement.
The Liberal National Party reduced the rampant growth in spending while at the same time increasing funding for the front-line services that Queenslanders want in health, education, transport, and law and order. The Liberal National Party government in Queensland kept state taxes amongst the lowest in Australia and put downward pressure on the cost of living. The Liberal National Party froze car registration and reduced public transport fares by five per cent across the state for the first time in history. The party reversed Labor's $7,000 stamp duty whack on the family home and provided a one-off water rebate to South-East Queensland residents. For the business community the Liberal National Party abolished the waste tax, forced down the cost of workers' compensation premiums and reduced the burden of payroll tax, helping to boost jobs and economic growth. Through this disciplined economic management the Liberal National Party has left Queensland on track for a surplus in 2015-16 of $862 million—the first surplus in a decade.
On the economic front the Liberal National Party left the state on a track to higher economic growth, with nation-leading projected economic growth of 5.75 per cent in 2015-2016. But, most importantly, the Liberal National Party of Queensland halted Labor's debt train at $80 billion, $5 billion less than the former Labor government had planned, meaning less money on interest payments to overseas banks and more money for public services.
Then there are the achievements in health. The Liberal National Party, under the stewardship of Minister for Health Lawrence Springborg, delivered the best elective surgery waiting times in the nation. Patients treated at emergency departments within four hours went from 63 per cent to 73 per cent. The Liberal National Party obliterated the long-wait public dental waiting lists from 62,500 to zero and also ensured that, unlike under Labor, Queensland's nurses and doctors actually got paid.
And the story in education is just as good. John-Paul Langbroek, the Minister for Education, saw NAPLAN testing results improve in years 3 and 5, with 90 per cent of kids reaching the minimum national standard. One hundred and thirty independent public schools were funded across the state, enabling principals, teachers and parents to decide themselves how best to meet the educational needs of their children. And the $300 million dollar maintenance backlog in public schools left by Labor was all but eliminated.
In law and order the Liberal National Party, unlike Labor, did not shy away from tackling the thugs and hooligans terrorising Queensland families and businesses. Over 800 extra police were put on the beat, supported by new technology, more helicopters and, more importantly, stronger laws. And the statistics speak for themselves. For the year ended October 2014, car thefts were down 21 per cent, break-ins were down 20 per cent, robberies were down 24 per cent and assaults were down 4 per cent. On the Gold Coast the results were stronger, with robberies down a whopping 43 per cent.
Senator O'Sullivan: That's amazing.
Senator McGRATH: Thank you, Senator O'Sullivan. It is amazing in terms of what the Liberal National Party did to make Queensland a safer place for Queensland families. And the Liberal National Party's Safe Night Out strategy, rather than pursuing Labor's approach of nanny-state tactics shutting pubs and clubs, targeted the genuine miscreants, the few troublemakers who were spoiling the fun for everyone else.
The Liberal National Party tore up Labor's tangled mess of vegetation management restrictions, which were brought in to please inner city, Green-voting preferencing latte sippers rather than looking after the farmers on the land. This has saved up to 86 years in productive time and saved hundreds of thousands of dollars for farmers across the state. And the highly popular Royalties for the Regions program—almost half a billion dollars—delivered real improvements to infrastructure and local facilities for regional communities across the state.
These are the irrefutable facts, regardless of what the naysayers and political vampires would have us all believe. The Liberal National Party government was a good government that delivered real results for Queensland. Therefore, it is very sad to think what the future has in store for my home state now that everything old is new again and the Labor government is in power. Annastacia Palaszczuk and Labor have no plans for Queensland. They went to the last election hoping no-one would notice, but they have no plans to continue to grow the Queensland economy and deal with their legacy from before 2012. Their whole approach to the election campaign was just to send a message. They had no plans for the future; all they wanted to do was send a message. They have no plans to pay down the rest of their $80 billion worth of debt. They have no plans to invest in the infrastructure needs of my growing state. They have no plans to reduce taxes for families and businesses. They have no plans for transport, for the Bruce Highway, for the Brisbane CBD bus and train tunnel project, for the duplication of the rail line between Beerburrum and Landsborough. They have no plans to deal with the outlaw motorcycle gangs. Sorry, I made a mistake there. They do have a plan: they want to hold an inquiry! They have no plans for the four pillars of Queensland's economy: agriculture, construction, mining and tourism, which have been relegated to subcategories in megaministries. Instead, we know what Labor's plan is. They have got one plan and that is to be re-elected in three years time—actually, in two years time, because Labor are going to sit there for two years and do absolutely nothing. They are not going to make the tough decisions that need to be made to secure Queensland's future; they will call an early election. The average term of a Labor government in Queensland is two years and four months. They will call an early election and they will try and sneak back into power because they have made no decisions. They have played politics but they have not governed for the sake of Queensland.
Opposition senators interjecting—
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Order! This is an adjournment speech.
Senator McGRATH: But if you sort of scratch it a little bit, you know who is actually running Queensland: it is the union barons. The union barons are back in charge, because is going to be a government for the union paymasters—for the Queensland Council of Unions, for United Voice, for the thuggish Electrical Trades Union. Each of these had their representatives at the swearing in at Government House. Labor's union backers are back in town, senators. They chose the cabinet—
Honourable senators interjecting—
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Order! It is highly unusual to have interjections during an adjournment speech. I would ask that the senator be heard in silence.
Senator McGRATH: You know what the first act of this Labor government was? The first act of this new Labor government in Queensland was not about approving a mining project for jobs. It was not about approving some infrastructure for jobs. It was nothing like that. The first act of this new Labor government—this new nirvana in Queensland—was to shift Labour Day. It was to shift Labour Day from October back to May, because that is what the union paymasters want. They will get their public holiday in May, and that is what it is all about. It is all about rewarding their union paymasters.
Senator Bilyk: That is when it is!
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Order!
Senator McGRATH: I think the Labor senators opposite are a little bit sensitive because they know it is true. They know it is true that the union masters in Queensland are back in charge.
I must give special mention tonight to the man who made it all possible—Peter Wellington, the state member for Nicklin. Peter Wellington has only ever delivered one thing for Nicklin. Nicklin is on the Sunshine Coast, where I come from. He has only ever delivered Labor governments for Nicklin. He has never delivered better infrastructure. He has never delivered better roads or schools. He has never delivered jobs for Nambour. He delivered power to Peter Beattie in 1998, and guess what? Now he has delivered Labor power again in 2015.
Senator Bilyk: We're pretty happy!
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Order! Senator Bilyk.
Senator McGRATH: The future independent Speaker of the Queensland parliament is no such thing. With the minute that I have remaining I would like to say to our 14,000 party members across Queensland that, while the result was disappointing, I would like to thank them for their work—the many supporters who have worked so hard over the past three years. Our party does not have the money of Labor and the unions. Our party does not have their paid workforce. Our party is a party of volunteers. Our party is funded by raffles. Our party is funded by the mums and dads—
Senator O'Sullivan: And very good treasurers!
Senator McGRATH: Our party is funded by very good treasurers like Senator O'Sullivan. What I would like to say is: we have a lot of hard work ahead of us, but it is our job and our duty to deliver responsible government and freedom to Queensland, whether it is in three years time or in two years and four months.