Legislative Assembly 1041 2 October 1991
NOTE: There could be differences between this document and the official printed
Hansard, V o l . 3 1 9
WEDNESDAY, 2 OCTOBER 1991
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. J. Fouras, Ashgrove) read prayers and took the chair at 2.30 p.m.
CRIMINAL JUSTICE COMMITTEE
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I have to inform the House that today I received from the Chairman of the
Criminal Justice Commission the report entitled Regulating Morality?—An Inquiry into Prostitution in
Ordered to be printed.
The Acting Clerk announced the receipt of the following petition—
From Mr Hollis (94 signatories) praying that any proposed changes relating to child-care centres
be preceded by a Green Paper and a six-month commentary period before any legislation.
The following papers were laid on the table—
Orders in Council under—
Workplace Health and Safety Act 1989
Workers’ Compensation Act 1990
Canals Act 1958-1990
Fauna Conservation Act 1974
Land Act 1962
National Parks and Wildlife Act 1975
Newstead House Trust Act 1939
Workplace Health and Safety Act 1989
Marine Parks Act 1982
University of Southern Queensland Act 1989
University of Central Queensland Act 1989
National Parks and Wildlife Act 1975
Rules under the Education (Senior Secondary School Studies) Act 1988
Statute under the Queensland University of Technology Act 1988.
Legislative Assembly 1042 2 October 1991
South East Queensland Passenger Transport Study
Hon. D. J. HAMILL (Ipswich—Minister for Transport and Minister Assisting the Premier on
Economic and Trade Development) (2.31 p.m.), by leave: The South East Queensland Passenger
Transport Study is now complete after 21 months of extensive research and consultation. It is the most
thorough public transport study ever conducted in Queensland. The SEPTS report includes five
volumes: the report itself, a summary, appendices one and two, and a critique by a group of eminent
professionals. I am sure that honourable members, particularly those representing electorates in the
south-east region, will find it very useful and interesting reading. But the south east is not the only
region of the State which has transport problems. The Goss Government has clearly demonstrated—in
this and other issues—that it is concerned for the entire State, not just one region or section. This year,
passenger transport studies have been launched by my department in the Cairns-Mulgrave area and
the Thuringowa-Townsville region and there are plans for detailed studies on the Gold and Sunshine
Coasts. This Government has already completed and implemented recommendations from a
passenger transport study for Maryborough-Hervey Bay and a study has been completed in Mackay.
Studies are nearing completion at Rockhampton, Gladstone and Caboolture.
The SEPTS report contains 49 recommendations, some of which have already been implemented
or are in the process of implementation, and others will require much more examination and discussion.
Futuristic proposals such as moving sidewalks, telecommuting and electronic road charging are certainly
not going to receive a high priority and the report does not suggest that they receive a high priority.
However, suggestions to overcome immediate problems such as providing public transport access for
students at the Queensland University of Technology will certainly be given very close attention, as will
many of the suggestions for easing the travel problems confronted by the handicapped. I reject some
of the uninformed comments which have been made in some quarters that the report is too vague or
that it will be quickly consigned to the backburner. The report does not answer all of the region's
transport problems. But it provides a blueprint for future planning to address those issues and to help
prevent future problems. The SEPTS report is now available for public comment and for Government
consideration, and I am certain that its recommendations will lead to some very real and visible benefits
for south-east Queensland.
Report on Overseas Trip by Minister for Environment and Heritage
Hon. P. COMBEN (Windsor—Minister for Environment and Heritage) (2.33 p.m.), by leave: My
ministerial statement concerns a report on my recent overseas trip. It covers some four pages of close
typing. Therefore, I seek leave to table the statement and to have its contents incorporated in Hansard.
REPORT ON THE VISIT OF
THE HONOURABLE PAT COMBEN M.L.A.
MINISTER FOR ENVIRONMENT AND HERITAGE
TO HAWAII, WESTERN PROVINCES OF CANADA AND
WESTERN STATES OF THE U.S.A.
Wednesday, 12 June to Wednesday, 26 June, 1991
I wish to report to the House on my recent visit to Hawaii, the Western Provinces of Canada and
Washington and Oregon State in the United States of America. The visit was designed to
Legislative Assembly 1043 2 October 1991
provide first hand information on the management of national parks, especially those receiving
high levels of visitor usage; the involvement of native peoples in the management of natural areas;
the management and interpretation of World Heritage sites; the protection and presentation of
fossil sites, recycling and waste minimisation initiatives and river management and coastal
I was accompanied on the trip by my wife, my Research Officer, Ms Liz Bourne, and the Acting
Deputy Director-General of the Department, Mr. Tom Tolhurst.
I table for the benefit of Honourable Members my itinerary for the trip and a number of technical
reports, management plans and other material obtained in the course of this trip. Other material
has been lodged in the library of the Department of Environment and Heritage.
National park management issues were examined in Hawaii, in the Canadian Provinces of Alberta
and British Columbia, and in Washington State. The Hawaii Volcanoes National Park provided an
opportunity to examine how an active volcanic area was managed and interpreted. Of particular
relevance was a visit to the Thurston Lava Tube which has many similarities to the Undarra Lava
Tunnels in northern Queensland which are soon to be protected within a national park. Thurston
Lava Tube receives a very high level of visitor usage but good interpretive signage and walking
track construction have ensured that impacts have been minimised.
Managing visitor impacts was also a major theme of our discussions with staff in the Rocky
Mountain national parks. With annual visitation of over 5 million people, these parks are
experiencing considerable pressures not yet seen in Queensland. This pressure has created
management problems for the parks staff in trying to resolve the conflict between meeting visitor
demands for better access and facilities and the need to ensure the ecological integrity of these
areas is retained. The staffing levels and resources made available to manage these parks is
considerable by Queensland standards and yet it appears it is still inadequate to address many of
the needs identified by the Parks Service staff as priorities. The comparative roles of a truly parks
system run by the national government versus the provincial parks system was also an interesting
point of discussion with many of the park managers we met. Following the release of the Canadian
Government's Green Plan in 1990, it was interesting to see the efforts being made by the Western
Region of the Canadian Parks Service to implement strategies across all of their areas of operation
to ensure they minimised their own environmental impacts eg. waste disposal and energy use and
so provide a role model for the local community.
The level of commercial activity which has been allowed to develop within Banff National Park was
a sobering experience. Having an entire township within the park has caused the Parks Service
additional administrative and management problems with considerable resources having to be
directed towards what are essentially local authority matters. In addition, there have been growing
conflicts between wildlife such as bears and elk with tourists and residents of the town, requiring a
major public education program.
One of the highlights of the trip was our visit to Wood Buffalo National Park in northern Alberta.
This 4 million hectare park was created to protect a vast area of boreal forest and wetlands which
contained the largest remaining free ranging herd of wild wood bison in North America. Of particular
interest to us was the way in which the local Parks Service officers interacted with the local Indian
tribes over whose traditional lands the park had been declared. We met with members of the Cree
and Chipewyan bands who were represented on the Wildlife Advisory Board for the southern part
of the park following a land claim settlement with them in 1986. This Board helps manage the
resources of the national park and we discussed with them issues such as their hunting and
commercial trapping activities in the park and how this was regulated. The issue of allowing
traditional aboriginal owners the right to hunt and gather on claimed national park lands in
Queensland is a matter of considerable debate and I was therefore interested to see how the
Canadians were dealing with this on their national parks.
The overall impression was of a good, co-operative arrangement between the Parks Service and
the native people of the region that ensured the park's conservation values were retained but at
the same time allowed the Indians the opportunity to continue with their traditional hunting and
trapping practices. With the increase in fur farming and the opposition to wild trapping of animals
from some quarters, the economic significance of trapping to the local
Legislative Assembly 1044 2 October 1991
economy is decreasing. Expanding opportunities for nature based tourism are being pursued by
the Bands such as their investment in a tourist lodge at Fort Chipweyan on the southern edge of
the park and guided tours through the park and its lakes system. This type of tourist activity has
obvious implications for similar activities in and around Queensland's national parks system,
especially in those areas where there will be a close involvement of local aboriginal people in park
management. While in Alberta, we also took the opportunity to visit the Tyrrell Museum of
Paleantology and its Field Station within Dinosaur Provincial Park in relation to the future protection
and presentation of the Riversleigh fossil fields in north west Queensland. This Museum was
established in 1985 at a cost of $35 million to provide an educational and interpretive centre based
on the extensive fossil fields of the Red Deer Valley. It is a major exhibition and research centre
and one of the largest palaeontological museums in the world. Our visit to the Field Station,
situated approximately 100km away in Dinosaur Provincial Park, provided us with a good
opportunity to examine the feasibility of establishing a similar facility at Riversleigh. However, I have
to acknowledge that the money needed to establish such a centre in Queensland are beyond our
resources for some years. Many of the presentations and interpretive ideas could, however, be
incorporated in a small scale facility at Mt. Isa or Riversleigh.
During the trip, we visited five World Heritage sites - Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Woood
Buffalo National Park, Dinosaur Provincial Park, the Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump and the
Canadian Rockies National Parks - and were interested to see how this listing was a major feature
of these areas' interpretation for visitors. Unlike the controversy that has plagued the World
Heritage listing of sites in Australia, the North American experience would seem to indicate the vast
benefits that can flow from such international acknowledgement of the heritage values of these
areas. Appropriate signage, displays and literature available for visitors in all of these areas proudly
proclaims their World Heritage status and it is hoped that similar recognition can be given to the
Wet Tropics, the Great Barrier Reef and the Great Sandy Region.
We were fortunate to also have the opportunity while in Canada to have detailed discussions about
the management of the Fraser River in Vancouver, British Columbia with the Co-ordinator of the
Fraser River Estuary Management Program (FREMP). This five year Program was established in
1985 and involves more than 60 different Federal and provincial government agencies. As well as
being the site of one of the major ports on the west coast of North America, the Fraser River
estuary also supports a multi-million dollar salmon fishery and is an important resting and feeding
area for migratory birds. The Greater Vancouver area contains over one and one half million
people and the Fraser River is also an importnat recreational resource for this population.
Our discussions about FREMP related particularly to its inter-action with other agencies and how
development applications affecting the river were handled. This is of particular relevance to the
future management of the Brisbane River as well as Moreton Bay. Through appropriate
designation of the environmental and other values of each section of the river, potential developers
can quickly gauge whether their project is likely to meet with approval or not. The co-ordination
activities of FREMP ensure that project applications can then be quickly processed by all relevant
approval agencies through an Environmental Review Process to provide recommendations for
environmental protection. Seven Work Groups have been established to deal with issues such as
port and industrial development, habitat protection and recreation as well a Standing Committee to
review water quality programs. The second phase of the Program aims to build on the initial
planning studies and the success of the Environmental Review Process. This will include using the
reports of the Working Groups to develop policies and guidelines and to prepare Area
Management Plans for selected estuarine areas. I was very impressed with the ability of this
Program to balance the competing demands of a major industrial port while at the same time
ensuring that the environmental qualities of the estuary were maintained. There are many
important lessons we can learn from the Fraser River experience that are directly applicable to our
future management of the Brisbane River and Moreton Bay and I hope we are able to achieve a
similarly high level of co-operation between all the agencies involved.
Legislative Assembly 1045 2 October 1991
Our one day visit to Portland in Oregon enabled us to gain a broad understanding of that state's
initiatives in the areas of waste management, recycling and composting. The shortage of suitable
landfill sites close to their cities and their disposal charges have provided a major incentive to invest
in waste minimisation schemes and to ensure a relatively high level of recycling occurs. Our
discussions with officers of The Department of Environmental Quality were very enlightening and it
was interesting to compare their waste management programs with some of the initiatives this
government has undertaken. We also visited a number of recycling centres, including specialised
sites where used tyres and garden waste were converted into useful material. Of particular interest
was a brief visit to a newly opened municipal composting plant which took unsorted domestic
garbage and converted it into a fine organic mixture which is used as soil enhancing compost. This
$28 million plant is capable of handling up to 600 tons of garbage a day, or about 40% of the cities
domestic rubbish and is the first major plant of its kind in the United States.
May I conclude by stating that my overall impression of environmental management in Western
North America was that it is not of a much higher standard than ours in Australia, but that huge
amounts of money were being spent due to the higher population numbers and past inappropriate
practices. It is my belief that withsimilar amounts of money able to be spent in Australia and
Queensland we would be able to present a far better picture of successes than has occurred in
Absence of Minister for Tourism, Sport and Racing
Hon. T. M. MACKENROTH (Chatsworth—Leader of the House) (2.34 p.m.), by leave: I wish to
inform the House that the Minister for Tourism, Sport and Racing will be absent from the House during
Mr ARDILL (Salisbury) (2.35 p.m.): I present the annual report of the Travelsafe Committee for
1990-91. I acknowledge the hard work of members of the committee, which involved considerable
travel. I thank the members of the committee for the efforts that they have put into the operation of the
committee during the year: the Deputy Chairman, the Honourable Vince Lester; Mrs Bird; Mr Dollin; Mr
Fenlon; Mr John Goss; and Mr Springborg. I also thank the three staff members who worked at
different times with the committee during the year: Mr Don Bletchly, Mr Rex Klein and Mr Rob Downey.
Their work is certainly reflected in the committee. The reports produced by the Travelsafe Committee
represent the collective efforts and wisdom of members of the committee and reflect credit on those
involved. I move that the report be printed.
Ordered to be printed.
QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE
Sir Max Bingham
M r C O O P E R : In directing a question to the Premier, I refer to the recent controversy involving the
Chairman of the Criminal Justice Commission, Sir Max Bingham, namely the issue of his driving in
Queensland on a Tasmanian licence, which was the basis of the furore involving some police,
politicians and the CJC. I ask: after Sir Max
Legislative Assembly 1046 2 October 1991
found it necessary to explain the situation to the Premier, did he or any person acting on his behalf brief
journalists, either on or off the record, over the ensuing weekend, thus giving the so-called story an
impetus which ensured that it would severely embarrass the CJC Chairman?
Mr W. K. GOSS: Let me say at the outset that after being absent from Brisbane for most of last
week I had the opportunity to have a long conversation with Sir Max Bingham on Monday night. I think
it is fair to say that we both found that to be a very positive and constructive discussion which reassured
both of us about a number of matters in respect of which we had been concerned the previous week. I
was able to personally and directly give Sir Max an assurance of my support and confidence, as I had
the previous week on the telephone, and I formed the view that he was more than satisfied in that
regard. Indeed, both the commission and the Government hold the view that we have a positive and
constructive working relationship and a basis on which to proceed to enable us to achieve our goals.
In relation to the specific thrust of the Leader of the Opposition’s question—this matter first arose
on a Channel 7 news item where it was raised by the secretary of the Police Union. Subsequent to that,
on Friday night, Sir Max Bingham delivered to a member of my staff a copy of the Crown law opinion
which had been furnished to the Police Commissioner, who had furnished it to Sir Max. I rang him
Saturday morning, after having read the Crown law opinion, and told him that it appeared to me to be a
persuasive one in relation to his position. I also advised him that I had received confidential information
to the effect that certain documents and other information would be provided by certain police to the
Sunday newspapers and that, with his concurrence, I proposed to make a limited comment. I said that I
would say to the relevant journalists from the Sunday newspapers—who ring me each Saturday
morning once, twice or three times for the ritual cross-examination—that the Government and I found
Sir Max’s explanation of his position to be persuasive, that we were not concerned about it, but that we
would seek a briefing from the Police Commissioner to the Police Minister on Monday. I do not think
that that occurred until the Tuesday or the Wednesday, but that is what I said I would say. I said that if
there was an attempt to embarrass Sir Max, as had been suggested to me would be occurring in the
Sunday newspapers as a result of the involvement of certain police, we would, subsequent to that, if it
became necessary, release the Crown law opinion or, if he required me to do so, I would. I spoke to
journalists from both newspapers and told them that, if they were writing a story, we would like to make
a comment. As I say, I did that after discussing the matter with Sir Max Bingham and gaining his
concurrence in that course of action.
In the days that followed, according to the best information and conclusions that I can come to, an
attempt was made by certain people—I do not believe that it was any member of this House—to
generate conflict in relation to this issue. There is an agenda in certain sections of the media and
certain sections of the community that seeks to generate the appearance of conflict and distrust
between the Government and the commission. Sir Max and I are both well aware of that, and we are
going to do our best to ensure that it does not happen again.
Referendum on Daylight-saving
Mr COOPER: In directing a second question to the Premier, I refer to his surprise about-face on
the issue of a referendum on daylight-saving and note that this is the fifth position that the Premier has
taken on the issue. In view of strong criticism by the Queensland Confederation of Industry of the
Premier’s backflip and surprise within the business community, which believed that he had made his
final decision on daylight-
Legislative Assembly 1047 2 October 1991
saving following his Government’s implementation of it, I ask: does the Premier agree that his
Government now has a major credibility problem with the business sector? Do the Premier’s own
actions not equate to “bumbling and inept leadership”, which were the words that the Premier used
when he was describing a former Premier?
Mr W. K. GOSS: There was a moment in the last couple of weeks when I wondered about my
own credibility. It was at the stage when I realised that I was considering a course of action that Russell
Cooper had been asking for for a year. I thought to myself——
Mr Cooper: Two years.
Mr W. K. GOSS: Two years. I thought to myself, “Russell Cooper has been demanding a
referendum. He has been jumping up and down, whining and moaning the length of Queensland,
calling for a referendum”——
Mr Cooper interjected.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I warn the Leader of the Opposition under Standing Order 123A.
Honourable members, when I am on my feet I demand that I be accorded the respect due to the Chair,
and I demand that members be silent. I will not have everybody screaming out——
Mr Lingard: The Premier is standing up.
M r S P E A K E R : Order! The Premier is waiting to answer the question.
Mr Lingard interjected.
M r S P E A K E R : Order! I warn the member for Fassifern——
Mr COOPER: I rise to a point of order. Mr Speaker, the member for Fassifern was perfectly
correct in pointing out that the Premier was on his feet while you were on your feet. You have always
demanded that every member of this House be seated when you are on your feet. You have made
that ruling consistently.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I remind the Leader of the Opposition and the member for Fassifern that
the member for Fassifern was the Speaker in the Forty-fifth Parliament, and that he is not the Speaker
in the Forty-sixth Parliament. I now call the Premier.
Mr W. K. GOSS: I did have this personal crisis when I realised that I had come to the Russell
Cooper position, but I was reassured when I spoke to many Queenslanders, including the odd–—
Mr Veivers: What about the one in the phone box out west?
M r S P E A K E R : Order! I ask the honourable member for Southport to cease interjecting.
M r W . K . G O S S : Mr Speaker, I was in the phone box.
Mr Cooper: The Laidley cowboy, weren’t you?
Mr W. K. GOSS: Is Laidley in Crows Nest? I find the attitude of the Leader of the Opposition just
laughable. What sort of leadership is it when a party’s leader runs up and down the State for two years
saying, “I want a referendum. I want a referendum”, and, when he gets it, he moans and whines?
Opposition members interjected.
M r S P E A K E R : Order! I ask honourable members to cease interjecting.
M r W . K . G O S S : All that has happened here is that I have been prepared to admit that for once
in my 40 years I made a mistake.
Legislative Assembly 1048 2 October 1991
Mr PREST: I ask the Premier: is he aware of the latest employment statistics for Queensland?
Can he report to the House on the picture that those statistics paint for job prospects in Queensland?
Mr W. K. GOSS: It is important that we avoid the approach that is being adopted by members
opposite, which is to knock the Queensland economy and try to undermine confidence in the good
things that we have got going in this State. Nothing symbolised that better than the pathetic efforts of
the Leader of the Opposition yesterday in his Budget reply speech, which droned on forever. The facts
are that Queensland has the best record on creating employment. It is a State in which the
fundamentals are better, the economic management by the Government is better than any other State
and the sense of optimism and the positive approach of people and business are leading to a better
job-creation record than that of any other State. Because it knows it is a positive approach and not a
negative, knocking, whining approach such as we saw yesterday from the Leader of the Opposition, the
Government is committed to continuing that record.
Let me briefly give members some of the facts. In the last quarter, Queensland was the only State
to show positive employment growth, with an extra 14 000 jobs. Further, Queensland recorded a sharp
rise in overtime hours worked in the June quarter, the only State to show any rise at all. As well, all
available job vacancy series are showing a substantially better trend than those in other States. Those
indicators suggest a picture of trend improvement both in absolute terms and relative to other States.
As such, during the remainder of this year, we expect the State’s labour market to show recovery ahead
of the national trend. Treasury advice to the Government is that, during 1991-92, employment growth in
Queensland could be up to two percentage points above the national average.
As proof of our commitment to a positive approach to the economy and to employment
generation, I refer honourable members to the Budget, particularly the reference in the Budget papers
to boosting employment. The initiatives include a record capital works program of $3 billion estimated to
create approximately 8 000 jobs, a $70m—21 per cent—increase in employment and training initiatives
to try to make up for the serious and disgraceful neglect of TAFE and training under the previous
Government over many years, and a special $8m—66 per cent—increase in funding for international
and domestic promotion and marketing of Queensland as a tourist destination, assisting in the creation
of 20 000 jobs. Tourism is Queensland’s third-biggest industry, yet this is the first Government to treat it
seriously and to give it the priority that it should have in our State’s economy. This is the first
Government to allocate responsibility to a senior Minister, and it showed its credentials by providing an
$8m promotional budget, something the previous Government was not prepared to do because it
never treated tourism seriously and it never afforded it the priority or the funds that were required. The
previous Government talked about it, but there was never any substance there; we have done it. As the
fastest-growing industry in Queensland, tourism has the capacity to create a substantial amount of
employment, to continue to show the good record of this Government and to continue the trend that all
commentators have observed, that is, the fact that Queensland is leading the other States when it
comes not just to job creation for working men and women but generally in terms of coming out of the
recession because of the positive approach of the Government and its tight economic management of
Mr PREST: I ask the Deputy Premier and Minister for Housing and Local Government: is he
aware that the Queensland Liberal Party convention resolved to sell
Legislative Assembly 1049 2 October 1991
the existing stock of public rental accommodation? What is his response to the Liberals’ major housing
Mr BURNS: I was surprised to read in the Sunday Sun that a motion carried by the Liberal Party
conference called for the selling of existing stock of welfare rental housing. That is Thatcherism at its
worst. I always think that the measure of any Government is how it looks after the battlers and the poor.
Out of the 37 000 houses that the Government has in Queensland, more than 20 000 of its tenants
earn less than $250 a week. Many people—widows, people who have been dispossessed, people who
have been bashed by their husbands and kicked out of their homes—who rent from the Government
earn only $220 a week from a supporting mother’s benefit and from assistance given to them by the
Federal Government. The Government rents those people a home for $38 a week, yet the Liberal Party
says that it will sell those houses up and put those 20 000 people on the street.
An Opposition member: You’re exaggerating.
Mr BURNS: No, I am not exaggerating at all. This is exactly what happened in England. Thatcher
decided that she would sell off council houses. What happens is that only the best houses sell. All the
very badly maintained houses that were left in stock after members opposite had been in power for 32
years will not sell. As a result, as the Liberal Party sells off the best stock to its mates, the poor people
will live under poor and deteriorating conditions. Today, the average private housing rental in
Queensland is around $150 a week. If the Liberals were in a coalition Government with the Nationals,
people who under the present circumstances are paying rent of $38 a week would pay $150 a week.
That rental will have to be paid out of a wage of $220 a week. Members opposite call that fair! That is
why the fat cats from the Liberal Party never talk about the battler, the ordinary person and people who
are living in difficult circumstances.
Mr Beanland interjected.
Mr BURNS: The honourable member carried the motion. He voted for it. He is not interested in
those people one bit.
Mr Beanland interjected.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member for Toowong will withdraw that comment. It is
Mr BEANLAND: I withdraw.
Mr BURNS: The Liberals say that people should buy a home. No-one will lend people who are
earning $250 a week money with which to buy a home.
Mr J. N. Goss interjected.
Mr BURNS: It is all right for the fat cat from Aspley. He lives in his classy condominium. The idea
of throwing 30 000 Queenslanders on the street is only part of it. This year, in joint ventures with private-
enterprise builders, the Government will build 3 000 houses. The money that will be spent on those
houses will provide great stability for a number of small builders throughout the State. Many members
write to me, telling me about builders in their areas who are not being given enough contracts and
asking for the provision of more houses in their areas. Yet the coalition partners have carried a motion
saying that they will build no more public houses—not another one. There will be not another dollar for
the master builders, the plumbers, the electricians and all the rest. That job-creation money will be
gone. Instead, the Liberals will flog the houses off to their landlord mates and put those 37 000 people
out on the street.
Legislative Assembly 1050 2 October 1991
Bus Services to Inala
Mr PALASZCZUK: I have two questions, the first of which I have been waiting to ask for the past
seven years. I refer the Minister for Transport to an article in the Satellite of 2 October headed “Buses
roll through Inala”, and I ask: will he confirm the story and, if it is true, outline to the House the initiatives
introduced by the Government and whether they are good news for the people of Inala?
Mr HAMILL: Obviously, the honourable member is looking for good news for Inala, and it is good
news. For as long as the member for Archerfield has been in this House, it has been an ongoing source
of concern to him that the Brisbane City Council has not offered bus services into the suburb of Inala. In
other words, in the same way as the people of Wynnum were long denied bus services by the Brisbane
City Council, so too were the people of Inala. Earlier this year, the situation in Wynnum was rectified.
The Brisbane City Council now provides bus services to the people of Wynnum. In the case of Inala, it
had been a source of ongoing concern and annoyance to the people that they had been left out.
Through negotiations between the State Government and the Brisbane City Council, a local private
operator will now be subcontracted to the Brisbane City Council to provide services.
Mr Veivers: It’s about time, too.
Mr HAMILL: It is about time. A succession of conservative Transport Ministers sat by in this place
and ignored the aspirations of the people of Inala with respect to their having a decent local bus
service. This Government has been able to bring about something which was only ever talked about
previously. I will cite an example of the improvement in the quality of service that is being provided for
the people of Inala. The people of Inala will receive better services on the weekend and better after-
hours services. Previously, the services offered in Inala from Monday to Friday operated between 5.45
a.m. and 6 p.m., with nine local services and four to the Darra Railway Station and servicing Sumner
Park. Following this Government’s initiative with the Brisbane City Council, new schedules will operate
from an hour earlier in the morning—4.45 a.m.—through to 9 p.m. They will include 19 services to the
Inala Plaza; 38 services to an interchange at the Corinda Railway station and six to the Darra Railway
Station/Sumner Park. That will be a substantial improvement in service to the people of Inala and a
substantial improvement in the amenities for the people of Inala.
Mr Veivers: What did that cost?
Mr HAMILL: In a way, this Government has pre-empted the SEPTS report. SEPTS actually
suggested that Inala was one of the first areas that ought to be provided with an integrated system. We
did that before the SEPTS report was produced. The question was asked: what was the additional
cost? I am pleased to say that the contract which will now be entered into with the Brisbane City Council
and the subcontractor to provide the service to Inala will involve no extra expenditure. Because of
increased patronage to the whole of the Brisbane City Council operation, it is anticipated that an
additional $80,000 will have to be provided under the subsidy arrangements which have been
longstanding with the Brisbane City Council. In other words, we have substantially increased the level of
service with no appreciable cost to the taxpayer. That is efficiency; that is productivity; and that is
delivering good services to the people of Queensland and Inala in particular.
Mr PALASZCZUK: How sweet it is! In directing a question to the Minister for Employment,
Training and Industrial Relations, I refer to training opportunities in Queensland, and I ask: is the
Minister aware that the current difficult economic climate requires a special effort on training? What is
the Government’s response to these concerns?
Legislative Assembly 1051 2 October 1991
Mr WARBURTON: Had not this Government recognised the very important link between training
and employment in the State of Queensland, and had not the Government consequently seen fit to
inject a very substantial amount of money into training by way of the last Budget, I would have been
very, very concerned indeed. It is very nice to be able to stand here today and be part of a Government
that has recognised the importance of training in this State—as distinct, of course, from what happened
under a number of previous Queensland Governments when TAFE—technical and further
education—in this State was left to rot on the financial vine. Year after year, Budget after Budget,
opportunities for people to be trained in TAFE declined. I agree wholeheartedly that in these times of
economic hardship we must put tremendous emphasis on training. That has been done by this
Government. It is nice to know that this is also recognised by industry, business and commerce in this
State. That is distinct from what was said yesterday in the Budget debate by members of the
I refer to an article that appeared yesterday in the Courier-Mail which quoted a representative of
the Confederation of Industry. I believe that the Confederation of Industry summed up the position very
succinctly indeed. According to that article, the industry spokesman said—
“Increasing the number of TAFE places would act as an incentive for businesses to start in
Queensland or relocate from interstate . . .”
The industry spokesman said also—
“. . . creating more TAFE places would be an investment in the economic future of Queensland.
The government has placed increased emphasis on expanding the manufacturing section of
TAFE, which is great.”
According to the article, the Queensland Confederation of Industry spokesman went on to say—
“ . . . businesses were already attracted to Queensland because of the State’s lower taxes and
well-established transport and communication infrastructure, and more skilled youth would increase
The message is very loud and clear. This Government has seen the positive, important link between
training and employment in this State. It has been recognised far and wide in the business, industry
and commerce sectors as the way to go. Everybody in this House today should recognise and be
prepared to admit that the way in which this Government is proceeding in respect of training—the
injection of massive funds and the creation of a further 11 000 places to meet that unmet demand—is
something of which we can all be proud.
Sir Max Bingham
Mr BORBIDGE: In directing a question to the Premier, I refer to his admission this afternoon that
he did canvass with the media the issue of Sir Max Bingham’s Tasmanian driver’s licence. I ask: did the
Premier make contact with any journalist in a manner that could have been interpreted as seeking to
generate adverse publicity for Sir Max?
M r W . K . G O S S : No.
Mr BEATTIE: I ask the Deputy Premier, Minister for Housing and Local Government: what
progress is being made in cooperation with the Brisbane City Council and the Federal Government on
the issue of urban renewal in Fortitude Valley, New Farm, Merthyr and Teneriffe? What is the current
position? Will there be maximum consultation with the local community?
Legislative Assembly 1052 2 October 1991
Mr BURNS: Mr Beattie has shown a very keen interest in this matter. After his election, the Lord
Mayor, Mr Soorley, made it quite clear that he was interested in redevelopment in the Valley area. In
fact, during the election campaign, he raised the issue a number of times. The Government has always
been interested in an urban renewal program.
M r S P E A K E R : Order! There is too much audible conversation in the Chamber.
Mr BURNS: We were approached by Jim Soorley to place an officer from my department on the
task force that the Lord Mayor set up to look at that Teneriffe/Valley area. As a result, we appointed a
person from the Local Government Department and contributed a small amount of money towards the
investigation. It became fairly clear straightaway that there are a number of environmental and social
matters that need attention. A great deal of consultation will need to be undertaken before we start to
talk about regenerating that area. A lot of people who live there are quite happy to be there. In fact,
they have bought into the area because they want to live under the conditions that prevail there today.
In some areas of the Valley, the business sector is depressed. That must be addressed. Trevor
Raddacliff, who was involved with South Bank and, I believe, the Riverside Centre redevelopment, is a
well-known planner. He was appointed by the Lord Mayor to head the task force. People involved in the
urban development field and a person from my own department were placed on the task force.
In the next day or so, it is proposed to bring down a report. I think it is ready for publication at this
stage. The Lord Mayor is preparing to release it for public comment. I want to have a look at it. I will be
looking for practical answers—very sensible and feasible answers—because a lot of money could
become available to us through the Commonwealth Government’s better cities program. About $56m is
supposed to be available from that source. If we get some good proposals for urban renewal, that is
one area that we should be considering. As soon as the task force produces its report, the next thing is
fairly wide consultation with the local community. We must consider the environmental issues, social
issues, and the commercial impact of any such recommendations. We will be trying to find some
practical answers and to help if we possibly can.
Statewide Heritage Legislation
Mr BEATTIE: In directing a question to the Minister for Environment and Heritage, I refer the
Honourable Minister to this Government’s commitment to the introduction of Statewide heritage
legislation. As the Minister would know, that is of particular interest to my constituents in Brisbane
Central. I ask: could the Minister give the House an outline of progress with this legislation?
Mr COMBEN: The honourable member would be well aware that the Heritage Properties
Protection Act is already in place. It is an interim piece of legislation until 10 March 1992. We expect
that, during the next month or so, further legislation will go to Cabinet for consideration. An extensive
amount of consultation has taken place, and I appreciate the interest shown by the member for
Brisbane Central in terms of getting people to take part in that consultative process. The Government
has consulted very widely with local government and also with the planning fraternity, with churches in
terms of the special place of churches, especially in terms of the liturgy, and with property developers.
The Government is seeking a workable and balanced piece of legislation for protecting the essential
elements of the Queensland heritage whilst allowing people to get on with their rightful job of protecting
and using it. In those terms, we are looking for balance and for the best legislation in Australia. The
long consultation period, supported by my colleagues in the Cabinet and on the back bench, will well
and truly be worth while.
Legislative Assembly 1053 2 October 1991
We can look forward early next year to proper heritage protection—something which members opposite
never provided. When they wanted to protect a building such as the Bellevue Hotel, they took the
wrought iron off and put it underneath the Story Bridge. Ten years later, they said, “What are you doing
selling the wrought iron?”
Disposal of Pesticides
Mr ROWELL: I direct a question to the Minister for Primary Industries. In response to a letter
written by me to the Minister regarding disposal of pesticides stockpiles that still exist in Queensland,
the Minister indicated that it had become apparent that the Brisbane City Council is not able to handle
the quantities involved due to limited space at Willawong and that Willawong will now only be used to
process wastes generated in Brisbane. The Minister indicated also that discussions regarding an
alternative Class A secure landfill site and treatment plant are at an advanced stage. I ask: can the
Minister tell the Parliament where the pesticides Class A secure landfill and treatment plant will be, and
will the Gurulmundi secure landfill be used for those pesticides?
Mr CASEY: I am a bit on the fringe here in relation to the question asked by the honourable
member. My colleague the Minister for Police and Emergency Services is handling most aspects of the
matter in relation to disposal, which is under consideration by the Government. My department has
been responsible for carrying out a number of tests and inspections in different areas in Queensland
that have been referred to us by the Minister for Police and Emergency Services. That work will
continue. It is quite clear—everybody in this Chamber realises it—that the Willawong dump is, as I
mentioned in my letter to the honourable member, totally unsuitable for the quantity of pesticides that
must now be disposed of. As to future disposal, people can be assured that the Government will not
proceed with a site until it is absolutely certain that it is secure.
Drought Loan Assistance
Mr ROWELL: In directing a question to the Treasurer, I refer to the drought aid package
belatedly announced by the Government after it was made to realise that the dry spell was in fact a
severe drought, and I ask: in view of the fact that many farmers and graziers still find it difficult to qualify
for concessional drought loan assistance, can the Treasurer outline the eligibility requirements for such
assistance and indicate approximately how many applications for such assistance have been received
by the QIDC and how many have been approved?
Mr De LACY: I thank the honourable member for the question because it is an important one
and it needs answering. In the course of answering it, I ought to make the point that members of the
Opposition who seek to score cheap political points on the backs of farmers and graziers who have
been plagued by drought are not doing those rural people any good and, at the end of the day, they
are not doing themselves any good. As members opposite are talking about who found out first or last
about the drought, Tom Burns was out there three weeks ago talking to farmers. A week after that visit,
the Leader of the Opposition decided that he must make a much-publicised drought tour to send out
the signal that Opposition members also know about the drought. It may well be that he had other
interests in mind. He may have been looking to see whether he could identify a seat that he had not
been pushed out of.
M r S t o n e m a n interjected.
M r S P E A K E R : Order! The member for Burdekin will cease interjecting.
Mr De LACY: When the Leader of the Opposition was out there, he said something to the effect
that he had not met anybody and he did not know of any farmer who was
Legislative Assembly 1054 2 October 1991
eligible for drought assistance. In direct answer to the honourable member’s question—applications are
coming in at the rate of 200 or 300 a month and approvals are going out at the rate of about $1.5m a
month of interest subsidy. The Government is making available $1.5m a month by way of interest
subsidy. That subsidises total loans of about $12m a month. Each month, $12m worth of credit—or
lending—is being subsidised by the Queensland Government through the QIDC, yet members of the
Opposition are walking around saying that nobody is receiving any assistance from the State
Government. That is a direct answer to the honourable member’s question.
The honourable member asked also about eligibility guidelines. Those guidelines have been spelt
out and they have not been changed. They are the same as those that were in place under the
previous Government. The only difference is that the amount of assistance available has been
quadrupled. In the past, a single family was eligible for interest subsidy on debt of up to $100,000.
Now they can access interest subsidy on loans of up to $400,000. That is the significant difference
between what happens now and what was in place before. There is some confusion out there. A lot of
farmers do not know what is available to them. When members of the Opposition go out and
deliberately try to confuse the issue to further their own political gains, one has to wonder what their real
objective is and whether they are concerned about drought, Queensland and battling rural producers. I
came away from the region impressed by those rural producers and the optimistic and constructive way
in which they were facing very difficult times while members of the Opposition carry on in their usual
negative, knocking, carping, whingeing, point-scoring way.
Mr G. Quaid; Southedge Station
Mr BREDHAUER: I refer the Minister for Primary Industries to the controversy over the clearing of
freehold land on Southedge and particularly the developer’s actions in pushing debris into rivers and
creeks, and I ask: will the Minister outline the position of the Water Resources Commission in relation to
any breaches of the Water Resources Act perpetrated by the developer?
Mr CASEY: This is a very serious question that must be taken into consideration by all members
of this House. Everyone knows, because it has been given much publicity, that in recent weeks George
Quaid, “developer extraordinaire”, “friend of the National Party”, “get away with anything under the
National Party Government”—one can give him any nickname one likes—has completely clear-felled
some 50 000 hectares of land on his property at Southedge Station along the Little Mitchell River and
the Mitchell River itself north of Mareeba. It is 50 square kilometres of land. Most people probably do
not know what the country is like in that area. Most of the country away from the river is fairly sparsely
timbered, but the river banks and the streams have always been very heavily timbered. All this timber
has been felled straight into the creeks, the Little Mitchell River and the Mitchell River itself. I flew over
the property last Thursday to have a very close look at it all. It can be described as nothing other than
rape and devastation of the landscape. There has been total destruction of the environment in the
region for a long period.
Mr Katter: Is he building a dam there?
Mr CASEY: The honourable member says that he is building a dam, but there is no application
before the Water Resources Commission for any dam construction by Mr Quaid or any other person on
the Mitchell River or on the Southedge property. Should such an application be received by the
Department of Primary Industries, a full environmental impact study will be required before any
consideration can be given to it. On 16 August, Mr Quaid was issued with a show cause notice as to
why he should not be
Legislative Assembly 1055 2 October 1991
prosecuted in accordance with the Act and he was given until 1 October to remove all of the timber
from the streams, because that is where the major offence has occurred. That work has been
proceeding, but at a rate that quite clearly was not going to result in all the timber being cleared by 1
October, as required under the show cause notice. Last Friday, Mr Quaid contacted the Commissioner
of Water Resources in Brisbane, seeking an extension of time. That extension was not granted
because he had already been given six weeks in which to carry out that work. As of yesterday, 1
October, he had not complied fully with the direction given to him. Consequently, evidence is being
collected by the Water Resources Commission of the Department of Primary Industries. This will be
forwarded to the Crown Solicitor to take whatever action is recommended by him. This also relates to
other work in other sections of the property that is still continuing, and it is apparent that a similar
offence is being committed.
Development of Plantations, Kuranda
Mr BREDHAUER: I refer the Minister for Primary Industries to claims made in the Cairns Post on
Monday, 30 September, that the actions of the Queensland Forest Service in planting plantation
timbers near Kuranda is akin to the clearing of 50 square kilometres of land on Southedge station, and
I ask: can the Minister outline procedures undertaken by his department to minimise interference with
land and waterways in such circumstances?
Mr CASEY: This week, in the Cairns Post, another developer in Cairns made great play on a
comparison between what the Queensland Forest Service was doing on open forest land in State
forests near Kuranda and what Mr Quaid has done. The area that Mr Quaid cleared was something like
50 000 hectares. The land in the State forest comprises 200 hectares. It is being cleared for plantation
work in accordance with strict environmental guidelines, including the retention along streams and
watercourses of the normal timber. Clearing can take place only on slopes of between 9 per cent and
15 per cent and on rich country, which is totally different from anything being done by Mr Quaid. As I
said, it is in accordance with all the environmental guidelines followed by the Forest Service in State
forests throughout Queensland. It is happily supported by the Department of Environment and Heritage
within these ecologically sound guidelines. The work will continue. Pinus caribbaea plantations will be
created, and that will be an asset to the timber industry of far-north Queensland. There will be
sustainable timber development that can be used by the industry for many years to come.
Bread Industry Authority
Mr HORAN: In directing a question to the Minister for Primary Industries, I refer to representations
made in this House by the members for Barambah, Rockhampton North and Townsville regarding the
turmoil in the bread industry. I also refer to my personal representations to him on this matter. I ask: as
the Bread Industry Authority is obliged under the Act to report to the Minister on the efficiency and
effectiveness of the regulations by 13 October, can he give an assurance that this report will be tabled
in this House as soon as possible after that date?
Mr CASEY: Just to set the record straight, the first thing I should say is that the Bread Industry
Authority is to report to the Minister who will then make a further submission to Cabinet in relation to
that report, or whatever the recommendations of that report may be, before it is further considered.
Once I have that report and that process is completed, I give the assurance that the House will be
informed, as required by an Act of this Parliament. However, let me simply state that the current
situation is that the Bread Industry Authority has sent me a draft copy of its report. As a result of my
perusal of that
Legislative Assembly 1056 2 October 1991
report, I have asked the authority to address further points that are not addressed in the report.
Currently, as I understand it, that is being processed by the Bread Industry Authority.
Mrs EDMOND: I ask the Minister for Transport: is he aware of persistent rumours that the
Department of Transport is still actively considering the original Main Roads Department proposal for a
section of Route 20? Can he address the uncertainty this has raised in the community?
Mr Elliott: Wake up!
Mr HAMILL: It might be most edifying for the House, Mr Speaker, if the member for Cunningham
were able to answer a question on Route 20. However, rather than waste the time of this House, I
might get on with a substantive answer to the question asked by the honourable member for Mount
Coot-tha. In August 1990, I made a statement in this House indicating that no major construction work
could be envisaged on Route 20 for at least 10 years. I stand by that commitment. At the time, I
indicated that works may be carried out to remedy safety hazards along that corridor of roads, and I
indicated in particular the open level crossing at Enoggera as a site deserving of such attention.
Mr Beanland: When are you going to fix it?
Mr HAMILL: I assume from the comments made by the member for Toowong that he wants to
see major construction work carried out along Route 20, and I will certainly communicate that message
to the residents who have been working very hard in local area consultative committees along the
length of the route and who are very concerned indeed to ensure that the suburban streets—after all,
that is what they are—should not become a corridor for heavy traffic flows, particularly heavy freight
traffic flows. I am sure that the people who live in the area will be happy to know that the Liberal Party is
advocating that those suburban streets should be turned into a freeway on the western side of
Brisbane. That is certainly neither the intention nor the aim of this Government.
It is certainly the case that better traffic demand management is needed. In that context, the
SEPTS report is most instructive because it contains a range of initiatives designed to reduce reliance
upon the private passenger vehicle. The communities in the western suburbs will be the great
beneficiaries of that. With respect to certain areas of Route 20—there is some speculation in the Rouen
Road area that major construction work ought to be undertaken in that area. The proponents of the
argument for major construction seem to think that it would be desirable to construct a major
thoroughfare in close proximity to the Rainworth State School. Given this Government’s overall
commitment to road safety, its commitment to school zones, and its commitment to reducing the road
toll, I can think of nothing more repugnant than running a major thoroughfare in close proximity to a
primary school. But, of course, the Liberal Party wants to see major construction work. I am sure that
the member for Mount Coot-tha will convey the sentiments expressed by the member for Toowong to
the people who live in that area.
Mr BEANLAND: I rise to a point of order. I have not indicated that I want major work done there.
I did ask the Minister, though, when he is going to fix up the level crossing at Everton Park.
M r S P E A K E R : Order! There is no point of order.
Mr HAMILL: I have received correspondence from the member for Toowong in which he argues
for major construction work to take place in the Rouen Road area. I can only construe from that
correspondence that he would like to see the sort of heavy
Legislative Assembly 1057 2 October 1991
construction in the area that was envisaged by the previous Government. I want to make sure that the
area surrounding the Rainworth school is safe for schoolchildren. The member for Mount Coot-tha has
been very strong in her support for school zones, and I support her wholeheartedly in her concern.
Route 20 needs to be seen for what it is, that is, a collection of streets that will take a fair volume of
traffic through the western suburbs. It should not be the major freight route. It should not become the
western freeway. The department will be looking very closely at complementing the Gateway Arterial
system to the west of Brisbane, but not along Route 20.
Home Security Advisory Program
Mrs EDMOND: I ask the Minister for Emergency Services: can he advise the House of the status
of the $500,000 home security advisory program that was outlined in the State Budget?
Mr MACKENROTH: The home security advisory program was launched yesterday at the
Carindale shopping centre. It is already proving very popular with people who live in that area who came
along to look at the display which outlines the dos and don’ts of home security. The display that is now
out and about has been booked up for shopping centres until the end of March next year. Presently, a
second display is being built and it is expected that that will be out on the road within a month. A third
display will be built and taken to north Queensland. The display is proving popular with people. The
Government is concerned about the increasing incidence of breaking and entering offences in people’s
homes. The advisory program is only one part of the measures that the Government will undertake to
ensure that the number of house-breaking offences decreases. The Government is trying to make the
members of the general public more aware of the need to take some security measures in their own
Yesterday, one of the matters I mentioned was that most house-breaking offences and most
burglaries happen between 9 a.m. and noon. Most people tend to lock up their homes at night, but
forget about doing so in the morning. Of course, burglars are well aware of this, and most offences
happen at that time. The public needs to be educated to take precautions. The Police Service has
embarked on some measures, such as Operation Daybreak, which are designed to get out there and
hit the numbers of people who are committing breaking and entering offences. This Government has
had quite good success with Operation Daybreak at this stage and expects that it will have further
successes over the coming months. I can assure all members that the Government and the
Queensland Police Service are committed to doing something to prevent escalating home burglaries,
and will continue to decrease that incidence over the coming months.
Home Ownership Made Easier Scheme
Mr COOMBER: In directing a question to the Deputy Premier and Minister for Housing and Local
Government, I point out that when he launched the Home Ownership Made Easier scheme, the boast
was of an interest rate of 14.9 per cent—claimed to be a godsend to battlers. I ask: now that bank
interest rates are as low as 12 per cent, as with the ANZ Bank, will the Deputy Premier reduce all Home
Ownership Made Easier interest rates to match the lowest bank rate to help the low income families he
piously claims to represent? If not, how will the Minister help the battlers, who are now caught in this
Government’s interest rate trap?
Mr BURNS: I thank the honourable member for the question. I have been waiting for a few days
for someone from the Liberal Party to ask such a question, because it seems that its members do not
understand the scheme. This Government has had three letters from its thousands of HOME clients in
relation to interest rates since interest rates
Legislative Assembly 1058 2 October 1991
came down. What this Government does tell people is that their interest rate is guaranteed for 10
years. Members of the Liberal Party who go back over the last 10 or 15 years and look at some of the
schemes that have been around during that time will find that people who borrowed 15 years ago are
currently paying 5 per cent interest. Can those members guarantee anyone the same interest for a 10-
Liberal Party members interjected.
Mr BURNS: Can those members guarantee anyone that interest rates will not go back up under
the Liberal Party? Can those members guarantee anyone that interest rates will not go up? They
Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member for Currumbin asked the question. I suggest that he listen to
Mr BURNS: If the members of the Liberal Party have a look at the interest rate pattern over the
last 10 years, they will find that there are slight dips, and they go back up again. Interest rates will go
back up again. The problem that the Liberal Party is having with the HOME interest rate is that this
Government still offers the lowest fixed interest rate available. Of all the other companies that are
offering fixed interest rates, none is offering 10-year interest rates as low as this Government is today.
One can get 13.4 per cent currently with the Home Ownership Made Easier Scheme. Anyone who
borrows for 10 years knows that for those 10 years the interest rate is fixed and knows that that is part
of the program that makes it so comfortable. Why, even though there had been no advertising, did
20 000 people ring up wanting to be in the scheme? Those people wanted to be in it because this
Government was offering them low interest, a low start, and a fixed interest rate over a long period.
Protection of Koalas
Mr BRISKEY: I refer the Minister for Environment and Heritage to the extremely important koala
habitat within my electorate and the many people who are working for the protection of koalas and their
habitat, and I ask: what plans does the Minister have to assist these people with their work?
Mr COMBEN: I appreciate the question from the honourable member. This morning, the
honourable member and I attended an outreach of the Conservation Biology Conference at
Redlands—the first ever held in Queensland, and one of the biggest ever held in Australia—to talk
about urban renewal and urban wildlife corridor habitats, especially the work being done by the
honourable member and the Redland Shire Council. Len Keogh, the chairman, was there and we
spent a very fulfilling morning talking to a number of groups, such as the Koala Protection Society, and
to Don and Christine Bennett who have for a number of years looked after koalas. In the Redlands
area, koalas are under a major threat and what this Government has suggested——
Mr Katter interjected.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I warn the member for Flinders under Standing Order 123A for interjecting
Mr COMBEN: The Redlands area has one of the highest and most intense representations of
koalas found anywhere in Australia, and measures need to be taken to ensure that this natural area is
preserved and maintained. This Government has suggested to various conservation groups, and the
Redland Shire Council—and I will be approaching Jim Soorley later this afternoon with the same
idea—that some sort of koala consultative committee be established to examine the range of options
available to protect that area, to enhance the koala habitat, and to work with the local community. If
that is done, then there is an opportunity to ensure that the Redlands area remains the
Legislative Assembly 1059 2 October 1991
koala heart of Australia and, as such, a great tourist attraction and a great natural asset. I look forward
to working with the member for Redlands to ensure that the koala in that particular area is protected.
Mr BRISKEY: I thank the Honourable Minister for his response and his support. I ask the Minister
for Environment and Heritage: in view of the concerns of some Moreton Islanders over regulations
regarding dogs and trikes, what does he plan to do regarding their concerns?
M r C O M B E N : I am not sure what the honourable member said. I could not hear.
M r S P E A K E R : Order! The Minister did not hear the question.
M r B R I S K E Y : In view of the time remaining, I request that this question be placed on notice.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! The question will be placed on notice. The time allotted for questions has
MATTER OF SPECIAL PUBLIC IMPORTANCE
M r S P E A K E R : Honourable members, I have to advise the House that, pursuant to the Sessional
Order agreed to by the House on 16 July 1991, I have received a proposal for a Special Public
Importance debate. The proposal submitted by the honourable member for Mount Isa is for a debate
on the following matter—
“The need for a total community effort to combat and alleviate the serious effects of the
extreme drought in south-east Queensland and other parts of Queensland.”
I now call the member for Mount Isa to speak to the proposal.
Mr McGRADY (Mount Isa) (3.37 p.m.): I welcome the opportunity to participate in this debate for
I believe that it will give the Queensland Parliament the opportunity to rise above party politics and
discuss the plight of real people, real families, and life in the drought-affected areas of this State.
However, already today in question-time, the Leader of the Opposition tried to make this a political
issue. Let nobody be under any illusions: people in the drought-stricken areas of Queensland are
hurting, and hurting badly. Already we have seen the leaders of the two opposition parties in this place
posturing and taking every available opportunity to get television and newspaper coverage, but while
they were posturing on properties throughout Queensland, the Premier, the Treasurer, the Minister for
Primary Industries, the Minister for Land Management and, of course, the Deputy Premier were here in
Brisbane discussing with industry ways and means of assisting the people who are suffering as a result
of this terrible drought.
The drought is without doubt causing untold problems to so many people in country Queensland.
Droughts and floods are all part of the history of this nation and over the years many authors and poets
have made fortunes and reputations writing about the plight of country people during these times. I can
assure all honourable members that there is nothing glamorous or romantic about drought. The
drought is a disaster for people who live on properties and people who make up the small communities
of this State, and it is sad but true that over the years a number of people have tried to capitalise on
the assistance which Governments have offered to people in these drought-affected areas.
Legislative Assembly 1060 2 October 1991
This was illustrated back in 1989 when the Public Accounts Committee inquiry brought forward a
unanimous decision and outlined some of the rorts in which some of these pillars of the establishment
participated. These people, who did not need the assistance, bludged off their mates, did country
people in genuine need a great disservice, and provided ammunition to those people in our community
who hold the view that Governments should not support rural industries in times of crisis.
Today, this Parliament has been presented with a perfect opportunity to rise above petty politicking
and grandstanding and speak out in one voice to bring to the attention of Australia the plight of so
many of our people. The Premier’s northern and rural task force has been in a position to see at first
hand the problems being experienced by so many of our people. Listening to some people in this
Chamber, one would think that this Government had sat back and done nothing for these drought-
affected areas. First of all, I believe that the Treasurer of this State, Keith De Lacy, deserves the
support of this Parliament and, indeed, the people of Queensland in his efforts to support and secure
Federal assistance from his counterparts in Canberra. I believe that the industry also has to have a
good, hard look at itself to see what action can be taken in the good years to protect itself against the
droughts which, as we all know, are part of life in this State.
The problems of drought and floods and the costs associated with assistance are too big for State
Governments to meet alone out of their normal form of revenue. I have raised in this Parliament on two
previous occasions the need for a national disasters fund to be funded by a levy on taxpayers
throughout the Commonwealth. Whilst this is not the occasion for further discussion or debate on this
particular issue, I would suggest that all honourable members take cognisance of what I have said on
previous occasions and give some thought to that proposal. I honestly believe that this Government is
doing a good job of assisting the people who are today suffering as a result of the drought. No doubt
we can all claim that more needs to be done, but, as we all know, there is no bottomless bin from which
the money can be dished out. Maybe those people on the Gold Coast and other parts of this State
who did not wish to take up the Treasurer’s relief by way of land tax could in fact do as the Treasurer
has suggested and simply hand back that money so that it could be used to alleviate the problems on
For the information of honourable members, I point out that this Government has not been sitting
back doing nothing at all. The Government’s drought relief effort has been more than doubled to some
$33.5m. The eight-point plan that was announced recently by the Minister for Primary Industries in
conjunction with the Premier resulted in an immediate $5.3m injection for the Rural Adjustment Scheme
for subsidising interest rates and providing additional loans for carry-on finance; $6.6m extra in fodder
freight subsidy; $1.5m for stock agistment arrangements under which producers will receive a 75 per
cent reimbursement for freighting stock back to the properties after the drought breaks; $2.7m worth of
concessions on land rents comprising low-interest deferral for drought-affected producers; up to $1.1m
in rebating water charge increases on drought-declared properties; the waiving of minimum charges
and deferral provisions for electricity charges and the suspension of the fixed charge provisions for
irrigation and power tariffs for affected producers; a special 008 telephone number in the new Drought
Information Centre, which is operating 90 hours a week and providing details on all available
assistance; and $200,000 for non-Government organisations to provide emergency relief for rural
communities affected by drought.
Today, most of the south-east corner of this State is drought-declared. This debate will give the
Opposition the opportunity to come forward with clear, constructive and credible policies and
suggestions. For so long the National Party in Queensland has claimed to represent the people of
country Queensland. Let me repeat what I have said before in this Chamber time and time again, that
is, that when we travelled the State as
Legislative Assembly 1061 2 October 1991
members of the task force, we met people in whole communities who had never been visited by their
National Party representatives over many years. The plight of many isolated communities is an
indictment of the neglect by the National Party in this State. Comments were made to me that there
have been no Housing Commission houses built in the isolated areas and that the people have been
taken for granted for many years. Need I mention the effect on country people of the consumption tax
which is supported by both the opposition parties in this State? Today, Opposition members are talking
about relief for country people, yet the imposition of that tax will have a devastating effect on the
people whom they purport to represent.
One of the main recommendations to come from the task force was that a rural unit be set up
under the leadership of the Deputy Premier, Tom Burns. That unit will be of great assistance and
benefit to all those people who today live in country Queensland and who are suffering as a result of
this drought. As members of Parliament, we should forget the nonsense that goes on from time to time
in this House; we should come out and speak with one voice and tell the people of this State that we
know that they are suffering, that there are problems out there in country Queensland and that the
Queensland Government is prepared to help. However, at the same time, we must make it perfectly
clear that there is a limit to the amount of funds that we as a State Government can provide to country
Queensland. The Australian Labor Party in this State, through the Goss Government, is prepared to
assist—it has been out assisting—the people of country Queensland. Government members know that
those people are hurting. We understand their problems, and we stand here today ready and willing to
help our colleagues in their hour of need.
Hon. N. J. HARPER (Auburn) (3.47 p.m.): The Opposition agrees very strongly with the need for
a total community effort to combat and alleviate the serious effects of the extreme drought being
experienced throughout much of Queensland—not, as the Labor Party suggests, merely in the south-
east part of Queensland. The drought is much more widespread. It extends to the north, to the west
and to the north west. We agree wholeheartedly with that need, but the first essential is to understand
what drought is all about. In initiating this debate, the Government has shown its contempt for the
primary producers of Queensland. Honourable members should note how many Ministers are on the
Government benches. The Minister for Land Management is there, and there is one other Minister who
probably knows more about the road to Cracow than most of them. The Minister for Primary Industries
and the Treasurer, the two people who have a prime responsibility in the area, are not sufficiently
interested to sit in the Chamber and listen to a constructive debate, yet they have the audacity——
Mr EATON: I rise to a point of order. The Minister for Primary Industries is receiving a delegation,
partly dealing with the drought, and that is why he is not present.
M r S P E A K E R : Order! There is no point of order.
Mr HARPER: The member for Mount Isa has the audacity to suggest that the total community
needs to combine. Of course we do, but we need a little bit of sincerity from the Government benches.
Unfortunately, no-one on the Government side really understands the position. Some should have
more understanding. Probably the Deputy Premier has the most sincere understanding and knowledge
of the effects of drought in Queensland and what it is all about. We have a Minister for Primary
Industries who spoke of people having to accept that Australia is a dry continent and who asked,
“When does dry weather become a drought?” One must doubt the sincerity of a Government that
initiates a debate of this nature but maintains a Primary Industries Minister who is so ill-informed—so
illiterate, I suppose—when it comes to drought. The same Ed Casey will not accept the challenge that I
have issued to debate his false and misleading statements about drought aid and alleged rorts. Here
again, we have the member for Mount Isa, in common with Casey, who either has not read the report
of the Parliamentary Accounts Committee or, if
Legislative Assembly 1062 2 October 1991
he has, certainly has not understood it. He talks about drought rorts and the report outlining some of
the drought rorts. I challenge him or anyone on the Government side to bring forward evidence of those
alleged rorts and tell the people of Queensland how many prosecutions were launched, how they came
about and how many succeeded. None of them! At my instigation, on the advice of the Crown Solicitor,
prosecutions were launched and were proceeded with, but how many of them succeeded? Let the
member for Mount Isa bring out the facts and show the people, from the thousands and thousands of
drought relief applications that were made and the drought relief that was given, how many rorts were
established. Let him come out with some of the facts.
I worry about whether this debate is simply one more political ploy, or does the Government now
recognise the folly of its politicisation of drought in 1989? It has reversed its stance, as did the Premier
with daylight-saving; he has done a complete backflip. He and his Treasurer and his Primary Industries
Minister have virtually reintroduced the drought relief schemes that they helped to abolish. Primary
producers have every right to be sceptical of the bona fides of the belated recognition of their plight by
the Labor Party at both State and Federal levels. Removal of drought from the phenomena known as
natural disasters was done at the instigation of John Kerin and his boys from Canberra, many of whom
this Government chuffed up here to be part of the present Government. It is no wonder that those
people are giving the same sort of advice now as they were in the past. The Federal Labor Government
has to accept responsibility for removing drought from the phenomena known as natural disasters. Now
this Government recognises how stupid it was and how ill-advised and ill-informed it was. The present
predicament affects not only primary producers but also the rural community as a whole. It affects not
only the farmers, the graziers and the grain-growers but also the business communities in the rural
areas. Combined with the effects of the drought is an economic depression, the responsibility for much
of which again rests with the Labor Government in Canberra.
Mr Ardill: It’s worldwide, and you know it.
Mr HARPER: And much of which is as a result of the effect of worldwide prices. While
Governments overseas are hell-bent on subsidising and assisting their primary producers, the Prime
Minister, who extols the virtues of free markets, refuses to assist primary producers in Australia.
How serious is the Premier who, on 19 November 1990, which is nearly 12 months ago, said that
“the State Government recognises the crucial contribution made by the rural sector to Queensland’s
overall economic performance” and that “we recognise there are problems and we are doing something
concrete to alleviate them”? He stated further—
“The Government is aware that sections of the rural community are facing tough economic
times. It is a situation that we are concerned about and constantly monitoring.”
That is what the Premier said in November 1990. A month ago, on 29 August 1991, he admitted that—
“Up until now there has been no effective planning and coordination of State Government
services to rural communities.”
He said that at much the same time as his Treasurer, in his Budget Speech in this place, brushed off
the rural depression with a few brief words about depressed commodity prices and emerging
drought—and I repeat “emerging drought”. Mr Speaker, you have an understanding, but you are sitting
in the chair. A month ago, in September, the Treasurer spoke about an emerging drought. Good
heavens, the drought had well and truly emerged; it was born long before then! That is how much the
man who has responsibility for financial assistance to the rural community, the people of Queensland,
knows about drought.
Legislative Assembly 1063 2 October 1991
If as the motion states there is to be total community input, total community involvement and effort
to combat and alleviate the serious effects of drought, the first thing is to get a Treasurer and a Primary
Industries Minister and a few others who understand what the subject is all about. We on this side of
the House support a total community effort to combat and alleviate the serious effects of the extreme
drought. As I said, the drought affects much of Queensland. I refer to my own home area of Wandoan.
It is a pity that the Minister for Primary Industries is not in the Chamber, because in Wandoan he is
remembered for many things. Wandoan was the centre of the major postwar reconstruction scheme in
Queensland, introduced by a Labor Government. Since 1984, the Wandoan district has not had a
decent grain-growing season. Wandoan has the second-largest grain storage railhead facilities in
Queensland. Do honourable members know how much grain went into those storage facilities in 1988?
It was 23 tonnes. That is how much went into the second-largest storage facilities in Queensland. This
year, no grain will go into those facilities. The drought affects not just south-east Queensland but other
areas in the State.
An Opposition member interjected.
Mr HARPER: The Minister for Land Management will not even give drought-affected graziers a
permit to graze their cattle along the roads. I have tried to get approval for graziers to do that. The
Lands Department has told me, “No, that is against Government policy.” Cattle cannot eat the grass
that is going to waste out on the roads. The Minister will not even allow that. Let the total community be
fair dinkum. Of course, that includes this Premier and this Treasurer. They have to introduce meaningful
rural adjustment schemes. They have to provide more money for our initiatives. The Primary Industries
Productivity Enhancement Scheme should receive more funding, because that will help to overcome
the problems caused by droughts. The Premier and the Treasurer should talk to the banks. When I was
Minister for Primary Industries, I regularly talked to the banks. I did not just occasionally talk to them, I
had regular meetings with them. They came to me regularly.
Mr NUNN (Isis) (3.58 p.m.): It is interesting to follow the honourable member for Auburn. I am
pleased that he remembers Wandoan. I can remember times in Wandoan in the sixties when there
was a six-year dry spell. Right at the end of that dry spell, we had a bit of a good season and a wheat
crop. That was followed by the grandaddy of all mouse plagues. I am sure that Mr Harper will remember
the sending of a delegation to see the Premier of the day. I am not too sure what his name is, but he is
confronting somebody down at the Inns of Court, I think. That delegation confronted the Premier of the
day and asked for some assistance. Do honourable members know what they got? They got
nothing—nil, nought, nothing! It is quite hypocritical of the Opposition to talk about any uncaring
attitude which it may perceive to exist within the Government.
I have no hesitation in supporting the decisions that the Government has made in relation to
drought relief. The Opposition has always tried to depict the Government as uncaring in its attitude to
the rural sector. Nothing is further from the truth. It does Opposition members little credit to try to
politicise the situation.
Mr Harper: Who’s politicising? You fellows are politicising.
Mr NUNN: Not at all. Mr Harper has just blatantly politicised the situation, trodden on the necks of
his own constituents and reminded us that, in the 1960s, there was in power an uncaring Government
which refused absolutely to give any relief to the farmers of the Wandoan area during and after that
mouse plague. This is a time when the Government and the Opposition should rise above politics. I am
sure that even though Mr Harper is a small man, he could rise to great heights.
Legislative Assembly 1064 2 October 1991
Mr Ardill: Would you ascribe to that fellow a feeling for rodents?
Mr NUNN: Probably. This is a time when the whole community should band together to make
sure that primary producers and their industry survive this crippling drought. The wide-ranging measures
that will be introduced will give much-needed relief to those in need. The Rural Adjustment Scheme’s
provision of concessional loans at 6 per cent interest instead of 8 per cent as previously charged has
been warmly welcomed, as has been the decision to have the introduction of the new rate backdated
to 1 July. The drought relief package, which includes new spending as well as Budget allocation, totals
$33.5m. It also includes subsidies in relation to restocking and freight on fodder. That has also been
warmly welcomed by the farming community. It is important to note that the 1 000 kilometre limit has
been abolished. Land rents, water irrigation and electricity charges have been either deferred or
effectively rebated. The people in the country also welcome that. All in all, it is a satisfactory package
that has been well received by the rural community. The drought is being monitored, and if it continues
the drought relief measures will be reviewed.
I have no doubt that there is one single phenomenon that forces farmers and graziers to take
uncalculated risks, that is, drought. No-one can accurately predict drought, and no-one can with any
certainty foretell when it will end. It seems to me that there is no coherent plan to deal with drought
when it occurs. I know that the most time-honoured way to deal with drought is to hope that it will not
happen, and, when it does, to throw some money at it to make it go away.
Mr FitzGerald: What a lot of twaddle!
Mr NUNN: Not at all. Governments can declare shires drought stricken and can offer aid in various
forms. That is acceptable as far as it goes. Everyone knows that the drought will end one day, and
everyone knows that the drought will come back, but for the life of me I cannot comprehend why no-
one really tries to change the system of dealing with drought. Some form of insurance exists for just
about every eventuality, but not for drought. Very few people—and this includes Governments—try to
prepare for it, yet it is one of the most costly things to confront both the Government and industry. I do
not pretend to know the answer, but there must be one. I have heard discussions on compulsory farm
savings. I have also heard suggestions that the Government should set aside part of its Budget on a
yearly basis in the certainty that droughts will continue to occur. Other people say that water is the
answer. It is about water that I want to talk. I find it rather hypocritical of the Opposition to criticise this
Government in regard to its policy for drought relief. But that is the way of Oppositions. Do not get me
wrong. I am not saying that this Government is perfect at all. What I am saying is that all Governments
should support the rural sector to plan properly to deal with the ravages of drought.
I want to be constructively critical when I talk briefly about the Isis section of the Bundaberg
Irrigation Scheme. As honourable members would know, the Isis scheme has been in the finishing
stage for 22 years. It was a relatively small scheme that was tacked on to the larger Bundaberg
scheme. As far as irrigation schemes are concerned, it was not estimated to cost a lot of money. It was
used by the Queensland Government of the day as a political tool in its bitter confrontation with the
Federal Government. However, the delays turned what was a relatively low-cost scheme into a high-cost
nightmare. It will be finished around the end of this year. However, that will be at the end of a six-year
dry period in the Isis area that has culminated in a severe drought. If proper planning procedures had
been implemented in the first place, the scheme could have been finished long before the drought,
and more prosperous farmers would have been better equipped to withstand the rigours of the drought.
I point out that after 20 years, at the time of the 1989 election, there was still no expectation that the
previous Government would provide the funding to finish that scheme.
Legislative Assembly 1065 2 October 1991
I do believe that the farmers in the Isis area should recognise the part played by the Minister for
Primary Industries in having the scheme finished. As well, he was very prompt in responding to a
request from the farmers in the “Promised Land”—a pocket of very fertile land isolated from the rest of
the arable land at Childers. Those farmers asked me to approach Mr Casey to investigate the viability of
a separate scheme for their area. Negotiations are proceeding. They will arrive at a price for water that
is acceptable to everybody. I feel sure that the scheme will proceed. If it does proceed, it will further
drought proof more farms in the Isis region. However, if we do not provide those people with water, their
farms may no longer be viable in times of future droughts. Lose the farms and the mill could be lost,
and, with it, the viability of a whole community.
There is another farming community in the Isis electorate, that is, the cane-farmers of Hervey Bay.
Those people face two prospects. They can succumb to the combined effects of drought and low
returns and sell their farms to property-developers. Again, lose the farms and risk losing the
Maryborough mill, and the economy of Maryborough will again suffer. The alternative is to extend the
Maryborough irrigation scheme to include farms between Maryborough and Hervey Bay. I have seen
departmental graphs that indicate that a dry farm converted to an irrigated farm has a rise in production
of 120 per cent. Sugar-farmers in Isis have confirmed this. As a matter of fact, one farmer from a large
property added “and a bit more”. Nowhere can I find evidence of any attempt by the previous
Government to plan for the supply of water to those farms. I have asked the Minister to meet with
farmers in that area with a view to having his department compile a report on the viability of such a
scheme. I am not saying that all problems can be solved in this manner. I am well aware of the diverse
nature of primary industries.
I now turn to the small-businesspeople in country towns who support the property-owners in their
areas in times of drought as well as at other times. They seem to miss out on any concessions, and it
may be time that we gave some thought to their plight. There must be an answer to the drought
problem. We have not found one yet, but neither did anybody else over the years. Planning,
forethought and a will to assist in a spirit of cooperation will provide an answer to drought. I am sure that
nothing is impossible to a community which has smart men such as us to help guide them. I am sure
that Mr Harper would agree with me in that respect.
M r E a t o n interjected.
Mr NUNN: There would be no comparison, I am sure.
Mr BEANLAND (Toowong—Leader of the Liberal Party) (4.08 p.m.): Primary producers and rural
centres around this State have been hard-hit by Labor’s recession. In more recent years, Labor’s high
interest rates of more than 20 per cent, coupled with low commodity prices and a trade war which
involves the agricultural policies of the European Community and the United States has meant that the
farming community and the rural centres of this State have had no natural buffer to protect them from
the current drought and to allow them to combat its effects. We must appreciate that, because all of
those other events happened at once, the farming community of this great State does not now have
the capital, the wherewithal, to combat the drought. After all, it is not the fault of the farming community
that Australia is in a recession—the recession that Labor said we had to have. It is not the fault of the
rural community that, in recent years, interest rates have been well over 20 per cent and inflation rates
have been at 9 per cent, 10 per cent and more. That has meant that our primary producers have been
hard-hit. They have not been able to place themselves in a position of having sufficient funds available
to stock whatever they need—food for the livestock or grain for seeding—in order to get through the
Legislative Assembly 1066 2 October 1991
It is worth while noting that the severity of the drought will cost the rural community of this State
between $500m and $1,000m in lost production—a very sizeable sum indeed. It is one of the worst
droughts that we have had in 80 years. On top of that, some 64 000 people have been placed on the
unemployment scrap heap. The fact that some 17 000 of those people worked in the agricultural,
mining and fishing areas places a great burden on the pastoral and agricultural community in this State.
In that time, some 24 000 jobs were lost in the manufacturing sector. Job vacancies are down 38 per
cent, with overtime down some 12 per cent. All of that has an enormous effect on country areas—the
provincial and rural areas—of this great State of ours. In addition, the Government has been closing a
number of Government offices—courthouses, Lands Department offices and, of course, the Primary
Industries extension service offices, which has placed a greater strain than usual on Queensland’s rural
communities. Those are the sorts of matters of which the Government should have been taking note
for some time. It is quite clear that the drought has been around for more than just a few days. On 5
September, the drought was described as “dry weather”. It is only in more recent days that it has
become a natural disaster. Three weeks ago, the State Treasurer, Mr De Lacy, was still saying that we
were having dry weather. At that stage, he had not found the drought. I am not sure whether it was
Tom Burns, Keith De Lacy or Wayne Goss who belatedly arrived on the scene and discovered the
severity of the drought and the effect that it is having on Queensland’s agricultural community. In the
past two months, at a time of severe drought, the very large Department of Primary Industries suffered
a reduction of 332 personnel.
If one looks further at the way in which the Government operates, one sees that it has failed to
acquire Queensland’s fair share of funds from the Federal Government’s water program. We received
only 9 per cent of the funds available to the States, that is, some $2.4m out of some $37.9m—hardly a
fair share. Consequently, the Government must constantly consider such matters to work out how it can
acquire its fair share of assistance for Queensland’s agricultural community. Managing for drought is
about managing for the risks involved in carrying out an agricultural business, particularly given the
variability of climate in this State. Drought represents the continuing risk that seasonal conditions will not
be adequate to sustain agricultural activity. As previous speakers have mentioned, drought is not new
to this State. One risk is that of severe damage to the land. We have in Queensland a land-care
program. There is also the risk of a permanent run-down in the capital of a farm, the loss of a farm’s
resources and the extreme financial risks faced by individual producers that may threaten their
prospects in the industry. I have just pointed out the effect that the severity of the recession, low
commodity prices, very high interest rates and the trade wars are having on our farming community. As
such, drought is on a par with the other main risks of farming, including economic pressures which
affect farm cost structures, and those factors combine to produce the uncertain environment in which
farmers must operate.
At this time, the Labor Government should be looking at specific objectives. It must be improving
the knowledge, expertise, skills and information base of our agricultural and rural industries and should
not be cutting back on the extension advisory services. It is unfortunate that Mary Poppins—the
Minister Ed Casey with his pink umbrella—is not here to participate in this discussion. I aim my remarks
at him in particular because he is directly responsible for many of the cut-backs and the effects of those
cut-backs on our farmers, agricultural people, rural communities and country towns. One must not
forget country towns because small shop-keepers, local farmers and local butchers are all affected by
the severity of the drought and the cut-backs in services by the State Government.
Mr Harper: One Minister out of 18.
Legislative Assembly 1067 2 October 1991
Mr BEANLAND: Yes, one Minister out of 18 is in the House, and the Minister who should be
here is not here to participate.
Mr Quinn: The rain-maker.
Mr BEANLAND: As the honourable member for South Coast says, the rain-maker himself, or
Mary Poppins. This Government should ensure there is adequate protection of Queensland livestock
resources, the minimisation of livestock stress and adequate protection of land, water, vegetation
resources and native plant and animal species. It should be facilitating the effects of structural
adjustment processes within agricultural and rural industries. Government has been turning its back on
these matters. It should be alleviating the hardships suffered by primary producers and those in rural
industries on an individual needs basis.
In the past, I have stood in this Chamber and asked for greater flexibility and the need to cater to
the specific needs of our primary producers for the financial and other assistance that we give as a
State Government and a Parliament. This Government needs to integrate all elements of Government
policy-making at local, State and Federal levels to take into account the risks associated with managing
variable climatic conditions. It is not good enough to simply appoint the Government’s chief bureaucrat,
Mr Kevin Rudd, to supervise this operation under the eye of the Minister for Housing and Local
Government, Mr Burns. More is needed in this area. It highlights the inadequacies of the Minister for
Primary Industries that the Government had to do this at the eleventh hour. A risk management
approach needs to be taken not only at farm management level, but also—and more importantly—at
Government policy levels. We have not been getting that from this Government. It has had this callous,
could-not-care-less attitude towards primary producers.
The Government should recognise that an effective drought policy requires a comprehensive,
consistent and integrated approach to the issue of climatic variabilities at all levels of Government. This
approach must be taken and Government policies and programs need to recognise that climatic
variability is one of the principal sources of uncertainty and instability that affects rural industries.
Government policies and programs should reinforce the capacity of primary producers to adopt self-
reliable, sustainable farm management strategy. However, all we have seen are cut-backs in the
extension advisory services at the very hour when they are most needed. Initially, emphasis must be
placed on appropriate incentives to enable primary producers and rural businesses to manage within
the constraints of prevailing seasonal conditions. Assistance arrangements need to be made to cope
with these more extreme situations which occur in this State from time to time. The success of
Government policies and programs in sustaining a development philosophy should be assessed in this
Dr FLYNN (Toowoomba North) (4.19 p.m.): Yesterday in this House, I placed a motion on the
notice paper calling for a debate on the drought and, although that motion was called “not formal”
today, I am very pleased to have the opportunity to speak in this debate and cover the main points that
I want to raise. Firstly, the House has formally acknowledged the severity of the drought in south-east
Queensland and in other parts of Queensland. The rainfall we have had this year on the Darling Downs
and surrounding areas makes this year, at best, one of the driest five years in the last 100 years. It is
useful to put the matter into some historical context so that people understand the gravity of the
situation. For instance, the rainfall in Warwick is at the same low level as it was during the 1930 and
1855 to 1866 droughts. Therefore, conditions in Warwick are the worst—or as bad as—they ever have
been in recorded history. Likewise, Chinchilla is another very badly affected area. The rainfall there is as
low as it was in the most severe
Legislative Assembly 1068 2 October 1991
drought recorded there in 1921, and it is actually getting worse. The severity of the drought is obvious.
Apart from looking at rainfall data, the drought is obvious in terms of the damage it is doing to stock
and the land itself.
Secondly, I wish to put on the public record my praise for the hard work and efforts of all drought-
affected Queensland farmers and my praise for their courage. Because of the uncertainty of the
drought, because it is prolonged and because of the grinding hardship it causes, I believe it is the worst
of all the adverse phenomena faced by people on the land. They continue to work through this drought
to survive it and show the same courage and resolve as the early pioneers in our country did when they
opened up the land in the first place. Thirdly—and this is the crux of this debate—I ask all politicians to
work together to put the interests of Queensland farmers first, to make sure there is a total community
effort and to give up the political point-scoring that has gone on at times. Political point-scoring has
occurred over the last month, and the worst of it has come from the members of the Liberal Party. The
member for Toowong must have been eating his spinach lately. According to a recent newspaper
report, the member for Toowong told the Premier and the Government to get off their backsides and do
something about the drought. He was probably sitting on his backside when he said that. The Liberal
Party Leader’s idea of touring the drought-affected areas is to come up to Toowoomba and spend time
in the offices of the Chronicle and the local radio stations giving us a belt. That is all right, if he wants to
do that, but I am prepared to give him another chance and ask for constructive action in the future. I do
not think that members of the Opposition have been as bad in terms of political point-scoring; in fact, I
think they have been more constructive. However, the trouble I have is that whenever they come into
this House to raise a matter of importance concerning a problem that exists in rural areas of
Queensland, such as this drought—it is currently the most severe and currently the most important
problem, but other problems have occurred over the last 18 months—no matter what the problem is,
they make about the same amount of noise. A classic example is the member for Warrego, who is not
present today but who commented on the disastrous floods at Charleville. Obviously, the floods were a
disaster for Charleville, and the Government was making a relief effort for which it has been widely
praised throughout the community. The member for Warrego, however, continued to come into this
Parliament and predict doom and gloom and that, as a town, Charleville would die or cease to exist, but
that has not happened.
In future, I ask members of the Opposition to help people who, like me, were born in the city, who
live in provincial towns that have quite close links with rural communities and who are interested in the
problems being experienced in the bush. If we are to understand the nature and gravity of the
problems, they should bring forward that problem in the Parliament and give it some perspective. I am
reminded of the Richter scale that is used to measure the intensity of earthquakes. A reading on the
Richter scale allows one to predict the extent of damage that is likely to occur. If an earthquake
measures one or two on the scale, no-one except the seismographer will notice it. If the reading is four
or five, people will notice the shaking and probably get a fright, but it is not likely that a lot of property
damage will occur. A reading of seven, eight or nine obviously indicates a major disaster.
Mr Harper: Does it help you if I explain to you that 23 tonnes of grain went into a 100 000 tonne
storage facility? Storage for 100 000 tonnes took 23 tonnes of grain.
Dr FLYNN: Yes, it does. People like me need more of that type of information and constructive
ideas to put problems into perspective. Basically, members of the Opposition represent a very large part
of rural Queensland and they will probably continue to do so, just as members of the Labor Party are
likely to be the Government for quite a long period. I ask members of the Opposition in the future to
maintain some type of perspective on problems that they mention in Parliament. The main point that I
wish to make during this debate is that, as I understand it, the Queensland Labor Government is
Legislative Assembly 1069 2 October 1991
providing every drought assistance measure that the National Party provided when it was in power. I
think that is a very important point, and I ask members of the Opposition to comment on what I have
said. If I am wrong, I would like them to explain to me why I am wrong. The member for Mount Isa has
basically explained the current level of the Government’s package. I will not go through it in detail, but
funds have been allocated to the Rural Adjustment Scheme. Subsidies of 50 per cent apply to the
haulage of fodder and water, and there are 75 per cent subsidies applying to stock returning from
agistment. The Government has also provided some additional concessions in terms of land rents and
rebates on water charges, and is waiving or suspending electricity costs or irrigation power tariffs. The
Government is also trying to provide information to people on the land through a 008 toll-free number,
and additional funds for community organisations that are dealing with the social costs. As I understand
it, that level of assistance is the same as that which was provided under the schemes that were
administered by the National Party Government in the past. However, this time, that level of assistance
may not be enough and will obviously depend on when rain falls. Because this Government is providing
the same level of assistance as was provided by the National Party Government in the past, it does not
necessarily mean that that assistance will be adequate. I believe that the Government has to look at
what is needed, and not just at what has been done in the past.
Mr Harper: A lot depends on the attitude of the people administering the Rural Adjustment
Dr FLYNN: That is obviously the case. I believe that members of the Opposition have a
responsibility to provide that type of information to the House, and I have no doubt that they will. The
relief package should be kept under review, and the Government needs constructive ideas. Many
farmers and rural community organisations have stated on the record the inadequacies of the current
system, and they are quite right. A typical example is a report that appeared in Toowoomba’s Chronicle
on 24 September describing the plight of Mr Len Von Hoff of Gaza, near Tara. His property has been
drought-affected since earlier this year and most of his cattle have been agisted at Roma. The article
details how much that arrangement is costing him and states that the agistment property has become
more severely drought-affected. He is returning his cattle to his own property, which means that,
because his property is still drought-declared at the moment, he will not be eligible to receive a subsidy.
Obviously, he has to keep the cattle somewhere and they may as well be on his property because
there is nowhere else for them to go. He has pointed out this anomaly, and I agree with him. The
Government probably should look at similar cases because this is not a new anomaly. As I see it, the
purpose of this debate is to try to find some common ground and acknowledge the fact that this
Government is now doing everything that has been done in the past during disasters.
M r S t o n e m a n : That is not right.
Dr FLYNN: Perhaps the honourable member can point out why that is not right. The Government
should also be prepared to move forward from the present level of assistance if the need becomes
even more extreme and if more should be done during this drought than any previous Government in
Queensland has had to do before. Both the Government and the Opposition should work out what is
needed and provide the necessary assistance.
Mr PERRETT (Barambah) (4.28 p.m.): The greatest single disaster that could befall the
Queensland economy would be the total collapse of the agricultural and livestock industries. At the
moment, producers are being hit with a “double negative”, that is, the rural recession and the
horrendous drought. Many Queensland producers have lost their confidence and their hope. Even
without the complications brought about by the drought, many of them were facing severe difficulties in
maintaining their operations. Therefore, it is very pleasing indeed that the Government has recognised
their plight. It is
Legislative Assembly 1070 2 October 1991
my belief that the package that the Labor Government has brought down does not go far enough. I will
elaborate on that later. One of the major problems that I see is the fact that the Government was so
long in realising—at least in admitting—that Queensland did have a drought. In the House today, the
Treasurer mentioned that he had recognised about three weeks ago that there was a drought. Of
course, at about that period, the people of Queensland saw the Primary Industries Minister with the
pink parasol stunt, which did not impress too many people at all. On 10 May, I issued a press
statement saying that drought was looming if it did not rain soon. The signs were apparent then—the
feed quality was deteriorating, planting was not taking place, and there were all sorts of
problems—even in May. Four months later, the problem has arisen, just like I predicted it would. So, it
was very disappointing to see this Government take so long to admit that there was a real problem.
As I said, country people are in utter despair at present. Even if there are significant rains
tomorrow, it is not going to rain dollar notes. There might be some green feed coming through that will
help the stock situation, but it is going to be quite some time before these people get dollars in the
bank. Many of these people will not get enough dollars in the first year even to meet their interest
commitments. Therefore, it is very important that this Government is tolerant and gives these people
time to survive this serious situation.
I also comment on the part that rural women play in this horrendous situation today. Quite often, it
is the rural women and children who suffer the most. Rural women are the ones who are responsible for
putting a meal on the table, putting clothes on the backs of children, and so on. When credit has been
cut off from the local bank, one can understand why many of these people are having nervous
breakdowns and finding it very difficult to cope. Every day, horrendous stories are heard. One that
came to my notice today was about a country woman who was boiling dam water and skimming it so
she could make up her baby’s bottle, wash nappies, etc. There was no house water left and the creek
was dry. It would cost $200—which these people cannot afford—to buy 1 500 gallons of water. Of
course, subsidies are available if the water is bought for cattle, but there are no subsidies for water for
people. That is very sad. It is the sort of matter that I would like to sit down with Mr Casey, Mr Burns, Mr
McGrady—whoever wants to sit down with me—and discuss. I find this very difficult, because on 18
September I wrote to Mr Burns offering assistance, in a bipartisan manner. I offered to discuss the
Opposition’s seven-point plan and to talk the problems through in an effort to try and work things out in
the interests of Queensland’s rural community. To date, I have to report to this House that I have not
had a reply.
Mr Beattie: Have you checked your mail?
Mr PERRETT: Yes, I have. Further to that letter, on 6 September I wrote to Mr Burns inviting him
up to the South Burnett area, into my own electorate, and I offered to assist him in talking to the people
who were hurting. Once again, I have not had a reply. I wrote to Mr Burns because my experience has
shown me that Mr Casey is usually pretty longwinded in answering his mail also. This is very
disappointing when members on the other side of the House are talking about a bipartisan approach.
Certainly, I want to assist in that area, but when my letters are not acknowledged, it makes it very
difficult. I guess that is how the people of the Isis Shire felt. Earlier this afternoon in this debate,
honourable members heard the member for Isis make mention of the situation in Isis. One particular
headline states, “The Isis shire baffled over Casey”. According to the article, the people of the shire
have been refused a delegation to meet with Mr Casey.
As I said, I believe that the drought aid does not go far enough. It will go quite a long way, but my
belief is borne out by some of the comments from some of Queensland’s rural industry-leaders.
Farmers who are facing financial problems feel that they will benefit little from the State Government’s
drought assistance package that was announced recently.
Legislative Assembly 1071 2 October 1991
Graziers in the central Queensland region are saying that it will do little for those people who are
struggling but who, nevertheless, are holding their heads above water. The President of the
Cattlemen’s Union, Kerry Martin, said the package has some good points—and this we have to
acknowledge—but it left a lot to be desired in other areas. Ian McFarlane, the President of the
Queensland Grain Growers Association, said that the package did not go far enough to answer the
problems for the grain industry in Queensland and would do nothing to maintain breeding herds in the
These are the problems. Certainly, the people affected by drought must receive proper assistance.
Through common sense by the members of the Labor Government, little things could be done to bring
about sensible drought mitigation. For example, a 50 per cent freight subsidy could be given on fodder.
Many people believe that they can get a 50 per cent freight subsidy, but it is impossible to get a 50 per
cent freight subsidy on hay, simply because the bulk-to-weight ratio will not allow the transporters to
load to their full capacity. Therefore, it probably works out to something like a 25 per cent to 30 per cent
subsidy. It is far short of a 50 per cent subsidy. Another way in which assistance could be provided is by
relaxing the regulations that restrain road trains and B-doubles from going into certain areas of this
State. There is fodder available in certain places, particularly in New South Wales, but it would be much
cheaper to haul this fodder into Queensland if regulations were relaxed to enable those road trains to
enter areas—under special permits, I might say—to deliver this fodder. Fodder can be brought in a lot
cheaper than it is at present.
One matter of concern to the Opposition is the new Government policy of user pays in the
Department of Primary Industries. Just when the industry can least afford to pay, it is faced with these
increasing costs. Of course, added to that are the cuts in services provided by the Department of
Primary Industries, the cuts in personnel who carried out those very vital operations in times of
need—particularly in times of drought. No doubt primary producers find it very hard to swallow when
they hear that the amount of $100,000 is to be spent on greening the Expo site while they see their
cattle and sheep die. They also find it very difficult to believe that the money given in this drought
package that honourable members have been talking about is approximately the same amount as this
Labor Government gave to buy the seats of the members for Maryborough and Isis——
M r S t o n e m a n : To try to buy them.
Mr PERRETT: The honourable member has probably hit the nail on the head—to try to buy
them. The rural industries of Queensland need a package much bigger than the package that is being
given to shore up that particular area, which will be affected by World Heritage listing.
This drought is a serious matter. It cannot be taken lightly. We in the Opposition are very
concerned about the rural industries and the people involved in them and would welcome the
opportunity to work hand in hand with this Government to bring about any measures possible to assist
Mr SPEAKER: Order! The time for the debate on the Matter of Special Public Importance has
Debate resumed from 1 October (see p. 1021) on Mr De Lacy’s motion, to which Mr Cooper had
moved an amendment.
Legislative Assembly 1072 2 October 1991
Mr WELFORD (Stafford) (4.39 p.m.): It is my great pleasure to speak in the debate on the Goss
Government’s second Budget. The election of the Goss Labor Government represented a breath of
fresh air across a whole range of areas in Government in Queensland, and nowhere is this more
evident than in this Government’s responsible management of the State’s finances. I do not intend to
engage in mudslinging or talk about the many years of the management of the finances of this State
by the previous Government simply to criticise. Instead, what I want to do is look at the two Budgets
that this Government has brought down since it came to office in 1989 and take stock of the Budget
achievements of this Government.
The view has often been expressed by those on the conservative side of politics that Labor
Governments are poor economic managers. However, I am proud to say that this year’s Budget and
last year’s Budget put paid to that lie peddled by the non-Labor parties. As Gough Whitlam once said,
what really riles the conservatives in this country is not that Labor Governments are poor economic
managers but that they are good and determined reformers. At the end of the day, every element of
our reform program, including those reforms recommended by the Fitzgerald corruption inquiry, will cost
money. That is taxpayers’ money, and our job is to extract the maximum value out of every dollar of
taxpayers’ money that we spend. That is what these two Labor Budgets have been all about.
Let us look at the Goss Government’s record and what has been done in the 1990 and 1991
Budgets. As I said in my maiden speech to the Queensland Parliament, what distinguishes a Labor
Government and the Labor Party from the conservative parties is a fundamental principle. What
distinguishes us from the unprincipled policies of political expediency of our opponents is the
fundamental principle of social justice. In the context of disciplined financial management, we have a
responsibility to allocate this Government’s resources in accordance with that principle of social justice.
There are four basic principles which constitute the social justice strategy which underpins our Budgets.
Those principles are expressed in the Budget papers as—
“The four principles of social justice which now apply in Government decision making are:
Equity: A fair distribution of economic resources and political power.
Access: Fair and equal access to good quality public services in areas essential to achieving
and maintaining a decent life-style.
Participation: The opportunity for full participation in social and political life and in decisions which
affect people’s lives.
Equality: Equality of opportunity without discrimination.”
One could speak of many areas in which this Government has delivered on those principles in the
context of its Budget, but let me focus on the massive boost that has been provided to four major
areas: education and child-care, seniors, environment and the Fitzgerald reforms.
Before the election, I talked a lot about our children’s education in my electorate and in my area.
High-quality educational opportunities for people of all ages are crucial to guaranteeing that we
maximise the potential of our community, the potential of our children, and achieve economic security.
Our first Budget backed this talk with a 14 per cent or $223m increase in funding for education in
Queensland. This saw the employment of more than 1 000 extra teachers and, at the same time,
better teaching quality was provided through improved salaries and career structures, which recognise
teachers as the true professionals they are and which we expect them to be. Previously, they were the
Legislative Assembly 1073 2 October 1991
worst-paid professional teaching service in Australia. What else did we do in our first Budget in 1990?
We provided 2 300 additional tertiary places with a budget allocation of $121.3m. We increased school
grants by 56 per cent to $39m so that parents did not have to dig into their own pockets to pay for such
basic school items as toilet paper and photocopy paper. We increased school textbook allowances by
26 per cent on a budget of $20m, which provided further relief to parents of children at school and a
300 per cent increase in our commitment to getting back to basics in education by enhancing literacy
and numeracy standards.
Non-Government schools also received significant increases, in the order of 14 per cent, in their
funding. In our very first Budget, we provided $173m to fund five new primary schools, five new
secondary schools and eight new preschools, an increase of 29 per cent. I am not going to stand by
while a generation of our young people are condemned to a degrading life without jobs and without
hope. Our kids need our help right now to gain a good education and work skills to build their secure
future. I argued strongly for our Government’s firm commitment to better education and training
opportunities in our 1991 Budget. So I am pleased that this Budget delivers an extra 10 000 TAFE
places and a massive $188m—9.8 per cent—increase in funding for education. That is an increase of
more than three times the amount necessary to cover inflation and brings our total education budget to
$2.1 billion this year. Remember our election promise to increase education spending by $250m over
three years? Well, after only our second Budget, we have already kept that promise, and more. We
have now increased education spending by more than $260m in real terms, an increase of 23.4 per
cent in only two Budgets. That means that this year we will see almost 500 additional teachers, smaller
classes and more schools. We are getting back to basics with improved literacy and numeracy, our
Budget allocation for which has now trebled since we were elected in 1989. More than $60m will be
provided this year in direct funding of further increases in textbook allowances and school grants for our
local p. and c. associations in Stafford and Everton Park. In that regard, I seek leave to incorporate in
Hansard a diagram which shows the comparative representation of Education Department spending.
(Graphic can be viewed on p.1073 of Vol. 319)
Mr WELFORD: The associated program of assistance to parents is our program for child-care
services. Our first Budget injected an amount of $8.4m into child-care, up from less than $1m under the
previous Government. We have already established an Office of Child Care, and already more than
2 000 additional child-care places have been provided in Queensland, with another 3 500 to come this
financial year under an allocation of $13.4m.
Legislative Assembly 1074 2 October 1991
It is not just our young people who are important to this Government; our older mums and dads
now benefit from a generous new Seniors Card. This has been an outstanding success with senior
citizens in my area. Fourteen per cent of the Queensland population is already aged 60 or over. The
Seniors Card has been an innovative facility which gives seniors in our community the rights, respect
and care they expect and so rightly deserve. It is available to anyone over 60 years of age on an age or
Veterans Affairs’ pension and, to anyone who is 70 years or over, on no means test whatsoever. Last
year, we provided an initial allocation of $12.8m to provide for the benefits under the Seniors Card. In
this year’s Budget, that has been expanded to $17.2m. More than 220 000 Seniors Cards have
already been issued, and a wide range of Government and private sector concessions are provided
under the card. In this year’s Budget, we have further expanded the Government concessions available
to Seniors Card holders. We have increased the maximum pensioner rate rebate from $160 per year to
$180 per year from 1 January next year. The Seniors Card has been one of the great successes of the
Goss Labor Government. It is our way of saying “Thank you” to senior citizens who put so much into our
community. We know the difficult financial stresses which pensioners and senior citizens are under in
these days, and our Seniors Card initiatives are one way of protecting senior citizens from those
Environment and heritage
We have kept our promise on the environment, too. Our Budgets have been green Budgets. Last
year’s Budget saw an increase of 58 per cent to almost $80m for the Department of Environment and
Heritage. That included $10m for new national parks, and almost one million hectares in national
parks—17 new national parks—has been achieved since that time. The purpose of our national park
estate, of course, is to secure biodiversity—to secure throughout Queensland those vital features of our
natural heritage for the enjoyment of future generations and the current generation. As I have
previously said in this Parliament, the benefit and values of our natural heritage can be enjoyed by all
people, including the residents of my electorate, only so long as Governments take the initiative
necessary to secure our national park estate. This year’s Budget provides a further 24 per cent increase
in funding for environment and heritage to a massive $98.2m, an increase of 103 per cent since our
Government was elected in 1989. It also includes a 15 per cent increase in funding for the national park
acquisition program, bringing the total funding for that program in this financial year to $11.5m. Again,
in that regard I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard a diagram which shows the relative amounts for
the national park acquisition budget between 1989 and 1992.
(Graphic can be viewed on p.1074 ofVol. 319)
Legislative Assembly 1075 2 October 1991
Mr WELFORD: Our funding for environment and heritage will secure Fraser Island and its
nomination as a world-class national park and World Heritage area. We have provided a $36m funding
package to ensure that this magnificent island and its outstanding natural features are protected for our
children and our children’s children. The wet tropics rainforest, which saw a dispute between the
previous State Government and the Federal Government, cost millions of dollars of Queensland
taxpayers’ money, has now been turned round to the advantage of the entire community, and we are
putting $19m towards protecting our wet tropics rainforests, again for future generations and for the
benefit of all Queenslanders and all Australians. Our funding for environment and heritage is dedicated
to developing a world-class system of national parks and World Heritage areas throughout our State.
That is what this Government will deliver in its first three years in satisfaction of the commitments that
we made prior to our election in 1989.
Police and Fitzgerald reforms
If ever there was a single important issue upon which our Government was brought to office in
1989, it was to clean up corruption in Queensland. That is a task which we have taken seriously and
which we have followed through in our Budgets. Prior to 1989, Queensland had the worst-managed
police force in Australia and fewer police per head of population than any other State in Australia. We
have backed up our commitment to the Fitzgerald reform program in the police force and elsewhere
with a $15m allocation in last year’s Budget to the Criminal Justice Commission, enhanced this year to
$17m. The Criminal Justice Commission will be dedicated to the reform of the criminal justice system
and to the fight against organised crime. I am pleased to see that already more than $4m has been
frozen in actions by the Criminal Justice Commission against the assets of suspected criminals. The
Criminal Justice Commission has an extremely important role to play. It lays the foundation for cleaning
out the cupboard, so to speak, of corruption in Queensland and putting Queensland on the path to a
secure and honest future in terms of the management of our units of public administration.
But the Electoral and Administrative Review Commission is also performing an important function in
this regard. In my view, EARC is the unsung hero of the reform process in Queensland. It has run an
efficient operation which has delivered already nine comprehensive reports into reform of Queensland’s
electoral and public administration system. There are 10 more reports to come. Already, we have
cleaned up the corrupt electoral system, which for years saw the massive gerrymander deprive
Queenslanders of a fair and equal say in the Queensland electoral system. This State now has
provisional boundaries which are based on the fair and just system of one vote, one value and on
which Queenslanders will go to the polls at the next election. We have cleaned up local authority
elections as well so that those elections will now be based on the fair and just principle of one vote, one
value. There was never a basis for one Queenslander having a weighted vote over the votes of other
Queenslanders. The reforms that we have secured through our funding support for EARC have
ensured that these goals are substantially achieved. The 1991 Budget allocation for EARC has been
increased by $500,000 to almost $3.5m this year. EARC will continue to provide reports to the
Parliament and to the parliamentary committee, of which I am a member, which will see an opening-up
of the system of government in Queensland. We will have new laws which will give Queenslanders
access to Government information and documents which give information about Government
decisions. We will have new laws which give Queenslanders rights to appeal and contest administrative
decisions made by bureaucrats, and we will give bureaucrats the right to blow the whistle on corruption
in units of public administration under new whistle-blowers protection legislation on which EARC will
This year, the police will have a further increase in their Budget allocation. Last year’s allocation
totalled $378.6m. That money was allocated to set a clear direction of
Legislative Assembly 1076 2 October 1991
reform in our police force, to provide more police and better facilities. It included a 14 per cent increase
in ongoing expenditure for capital works compared to an overall increase in all Government areas of
only 7 per cent. More than 100 of the 139 Fitzgerald reform recommendations on police have already
been implemented. In the last Budget, $9.5m was allocated to provide for 400 extra police, and $12m
to upgrade and provide improved education and training for members of the Police Service. The
personal safety of all Queenslanders is a high priority with our Government. So in this Budget a record
$423m, or an 11.7 per cent increase, has been directed towards achieving our goal of 1 200 extra
police in our first term. In this regard, I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard a diagram which shows the
recurrent expenditure budget of the Queensland Police Service between 1987 and 1992.
(Graphic can be viewed on p.1076 of Vol. 319)
Mr WELFORD: As I said, the personal safety of all Queenslanders is a high priority for our
Government. The incidence of breaking and entering offences committed against homes and
businesses throughout Australia is on the increase. The fight against crime needs a combined effort on
the part of the public and the police. We have established Neighbourhood Watch programs, and we
continue to support their establishment throughout Queensland. A Neighbourhood Watch program has
already been established in Everton Park. I continue to support residents in their involvement in that
important community effort. To further provide for community-based crime prevention, this Budget
provides a massive increase in funding—indeed, $500,000—to establish a household security advisory
unit to improve home security for us all. The Home Security Advisory Unit, which was launched
yesterday by the Minister for Police and Emergency Services, Mr Mackenroth, will be of assistance to
residents in my electorate and area as much as it will to residents throughout the State.
Some people have suggested that not much has been achieved by our Government. But the
catalogue of achievements that I have just outlined shows how much has indeed
Legislative Assembly 1077 2 October 1991
been achieved in such a short time. It shows just how hard our Government has worked to bring about
real change for the benefit of all Queenslanders. The big changes have been in the important issues.
Those changes, which have occurred in a steady and planned way, will ensure that never again will we
return to the lackadaisical and uncommitted approach to those important issues of police, senior
citizens, education and the environment which I have just outlined. It is important to remember that all
of this has been achieved in difficult economic times. It has required an immense amount of financial
discipline. The discipline that our Government has imposed upon itself is twofold. Firstly, we have
delivered on the reforms and the financial commitments that I have outlined in this debate in a context
in which we have provided for no new taxes and no increases in existing taxes. We have also ensured
that any capital expenditure on social items such as schools, hospitals and police stations is funded out
of recurrent income, that is, income from each year’s Budget. We have not funded our achievements in
our last two Budgets by running up big debts like those accumulated in other States.
One of the most important contributions that the Government can make to the business and
industry sectors in Queensland is in the comparative advantage that our Budget provides in the level of
taxation compared to other States. The 1991 Budget further enhances Queensland’s position as the
low-tax State. There are no new taxes in our 1991 Budget. Indeed, it leaves Queenslanders paying the
lowest tax per head of population of any State in Australia. Again, I seek leave to incorporate in
Hansard a chart showing the relative amounts of tax paid per head of population throughout Australia.
Mr WELFORD: That chart shows quite clearly that, in terms of the tax impost on our population,
Queensland is streets ahead of every other State. We have achieved reforms while keeping our fingers
out of the pockets of our citizens. We have kept our fingers out of the pockets of small-businesspeople
in Everton Park so that they can get on with the job of developing and investing in Queensland. In this
year’s Budget, we have increased payroll tax exemption levels by 20 per cent to $600,000. We have
also increased land tax exemption levels by 15 per cent to $160,000. In all these respects, in this
Budget we have provided for a climate in which business can grow and expand and in which services
will be delivered to the people of Queensland without diving into their pockets to balance our Budget.
As I said, we have done better than simply balance the Budget. We are not accumulating the
debts that other States have accumulated. Indeed, as we did last year, this year we have budgeted for
a net surplus. In other words, in terms of the financing requirements of our Budget we have a negative
net financing requirement. We will not have to borrow, beg or steal to fund our initiatives in this
Budget—as grand as they are. In an endeavour to show how Queensland compares in this regard to
other States, I note that the New South Wales Budget, which was brought down only a few weeks ago,
has provided for a Budget deficit of more than $1.7 billion. In Victoria, the Budget deficit is estimated to
be in excess of $2 billion. This year, we have budgeted for an $11m surplus. Queensland is the only
State in Australia to record that achievement. By doing so, we are
Legislative Assembly 1078 2 October 1991
not accumulating debt. On the contrary, we are paying off debt. By paying off our debt in last year’s
Budget and in this Budget, we will be reducing our interest bill on Queensland’s debt—a legacy of the
previous Government—thereby reducing the burden on Queensland taxpayers this year and in future
Our Government knows that our future and the future of all Queenslanders depends on balanced
and responsible economic management. This year’s Budget lays the foundation for a secure future for
our families and our children in the years ahead. We all know that times are tough. People need jobs,
and they need them now. The Goss Government is working hard to create those jobs. Just look at our
capital works program. By improving the efficiency of our public service, we have saved almost $700m
since we came to Government. We can now use that money to build more schools, hospitals and
police stations. That is an extra 8 000 jobs and better services from which we all benefit. Add to that the
$14 billion in major investment projects that are supported by our Government, and our employment
growth in the forthcoming year will be well above the national average.
It is families such as ours—families such as the families in my area and in Everton—who are the
big winners of these first Labor Budgets in 34 years. Our Government—the Goss Labor
Government—has delivered on the reforms that were promised, and reforms which families needed.
Above all, by getting our priorities right, we have honoured our commitment without raising taxes or
introducing new ones. I am proud to be able to stand here and support the Budget achievements of
our Government over these past two years. The Budget is about reforms which help our families, but it
is also about financial responsibility and sound economic management. We are a Government based
on discipline and hard work, and the fruits of our Budget are clear evidence of that.
Wayne Goss and I realise the struggle that all families have to make ends meet in these tough
economic times. There are no easy solutions, only hard work to produce the sensible policies that
create jobs and hold down taxes. That is why, once again, we have delivered on our election promise.
There are no new taxes in this year’s Budget. I am proud to be part of the Goss Government, because
we have a plan. We have a strategy. And we are working hard to make sure that Queensland leads the
rest of Australia into the future.
Mr CONNOR (Nerang) (5.10 p.m.): That was rather an inspirational finish to the speech by the
honourable member for Stafford. I note that the Minister for Justice and Corrective Services is in the
Chamber. I rise to speak in the Budget debate mainly from the perspective of business and also from
the point of view of the Gold Coast. I speak on those two subjects because the business community
and the Gold Coast are the big losers in this Budget. I note that the Treasurer was on the Gold Coast
this week at a breakfast at the Chamber of Commerce. I will give him full marks for at least going down
into tiger country. It certainly took some courage. I would say that he received a great deal of respect
from the local community for doing that. He was down there trying to sell the unsellable to the business
community. In relation to land tax—as we know, $70m or thereabouts is raised from about 400 or 500
shops in and around Surfers Paradise. With that in mind, the Treasurer was certainly trying to do the
From the business point of view, land tax would have to stand out as the most hypocritical
presentation of a tax policy that I have come across. On the one hand, the Treasurer put out a
statement that he had reduced land tax by 14 per cent and that he would save taxpayers $40m, yet,
on the other hand, the Treasurer’s Budget Estimates show that he expects land tax receipts to increase
by $25m over the previous year’s Estimates from $190m to $215m. On the Gold Coast, the member
for Cairns—the Treasurer, Mr De Lacy—got away with it for about a day or so. It took a day or so for us
Legislative Assembly 1079 2 October 1991
fully disseminate the information—the truth—on what was hidden, or attempted to be hidden, in the
Treasurer’s Budget Estimates.
Not very long ago, I visited the Treasurer’s electorate of Cairns. As Cairns is quite a distance from
Brisbane, people there are still coming to grips with the misinformation that their local member had
been peddling. The Treasurer will probably get away with it in north Queensland for a little while yet, but
the people are learning. The backlash is coming as the shop-keepers, the small retail tenants, receive
their land tax assessments. It will become obvious to them that they have been sold a pup. Probably
the most worrying aspect of what the Treasurer presented in the House—and I picked it up in February
of this year—is the proposal for this Labor Government to adopt a piece of legislation similar to that in
South Australia, that is, the quarantining, or the passing on, of land tax as outgoings in commercial
leases. That is the last nail in the coffin of this Labor Government with the business community of
Shortly after the Government came to power, I spoke to some of the bigger businesspeople on the
Gold Coast. They were saying, “We can work with this Government. This is a different sort of Labor
Government. Mr Goss is somehow different from Mr Cain.” If we remember, Mr Goss said, “We will do
for Queensland what Mr Cain has done for Victoria.” Businesspeople said that they could work with this
somehow different, first Labor Government that has ever had fiscal responsibility, but that position has
changed markedly. Now the same businesspeople are crying on our shoulders saying, “Why did you
not tell us that this was what a Labor Government is like?” Some of them went public and took on the
potential wrath of the Labor Government. They went to the press to show their dissatisfaction. The
Noosa north shore decision was the last nail in the Government’s coffin as far as the business
community is concerned.
Mr Barber: Come to Noosa and tell them that.
Mr CONNOR: I am talking about the business community.
Mr Barber interjected.
Mr CONNOR: We will see at the next election how the honourable member does in Noosa. I turn
now to the quarantining of land tax and ask honourable members to try for a moment—and this would
be very difficult for the Treasurer of a Labor Government—to place themselves in the shoes of the
landlords of some commercial premises.
Mrs Woodgate: Watch it!
Mr CONNOR: I might add that most of the big shopping centres are owned by superannuation
companies and trusts with which the people the honourable member represents have invested their
retirement funds. The honourable member should think about that for a moment. The landlord is in the
process of trying to work out what rent he will charge for one of his shops in a small shopping centre.
The tenant coming into the shop invests a lot of money in the fittings and as a result wants a long
lease, for example a 10-year lease. This is not unusual in some shopping centres, especially when
many of the tenants are investing $200,000-plus in fittings and establishment costs for the retail outlet.
The landlord says, “The rent I need on these premises is $500 a week or $2,000 a month.” He realises
that he has certain outgoings and fixed costs such as rates, taxes, maintenance and the like. These
fixed costs are included in the lease document as an additional charge and are what is known as
outgoings. He does not have to factor those costs into his base rent. The base rent is purely what he
needs to recoup to justify his investment in the shopping centre. As a result, in this case the landlord
needs to return only $2,000 a month after meeting fixed costs. Then the spectre of land tax and
quarantining comes into the picture. For example, if land tax this year on such premises is equivalent to
$200 a month, the landlord might decide to charge $2,200 for the rent as a result of the proposed new
quarantining of land tax legislation. The landlord is no longer
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able to pass this land tax on in the form of an outgoing and the tenant wants a 10-year lease. How
does the landlord know what the land tax will be next year? He does not.
We also know that prior to its election and upon its election this Government said that it would not
allow taxes and charges to increase faster than the consumer price index or inflation. We have already
seen the Government totally shatter that promise in relation to land tax with an increase from $90m to
$197m in just two years.
Mr J. H. Sullivan: Can I ask a question?
Mr CONNOR: Go ahead.
Mr J. H. Sullivan: If income tax receipts were to double, but the rate of income tax were to
remain static, does that mean that the Government has increased income tax by more than the CPI?
Mr CONNOR: Yes, it does. We cannot even believe what this Government puts in writing in
relation to its commitment not to increase taxes. This is also known as bracket creep. The member for
Glass House might have heard of it. Is he saying that bracket creep is not an increase in income tax?
Of course it is, even though there is no legislated change.
Mr J. H. Sullivan: I might listen to somebody sensible. Dr Watson has got something to say.
Mr CONNOR: I have the floor at the moment. This Government has been prepared to accept two
increases in taxes which, over a two-year period, allowed for a 100 per cent increase in tax receipts.
With that in mind, we cannot rely on the land tax increase being kept to the rate of inflation. Therefore,
we will have to factor that risk—that likely increase in land tax over and above CPI—into a lease.
Therefore, this landlord cannot charge $2,200 per month as the rental; it will have to be $2,000 for his
original or base rent, $200 for the existing land tax, plus an additional factor to allow for increases in
land tax over and above inflation in the future. The landlord knows that the history of this Labor
Government is to allow for 30 or 40 per cent increases in land tax on individual premises and in some
cases as much as 1 000 per cent in one year. This must be allowed for on that basis.
In a case where there is a long lease that is linked to the inflation rate and the net rent cannot be
increased over and above the inflation rate, the landlord must start with a base rent that will allow for
land tax increases above the inflation rate. If the $200 per month for land tax is likely to increase to
$300 next year and the landlord is only allowed to increase his rent by $205 because of the inflation
rate, the landlord will have to make up for that additional $95 increase in his or her initial base rent. The
year after, the same thing might happen. Land tax might go up to $450, but the landlord will only be
able to charge $215 in rent because any rent increase is linked to inflation. Effectively, the landlord is
$230 per month behind as a result of the increases in land tax over and above the inflation rate, which
is the only increase that the landlord can allow for. The landlord is in a quandary. He will have to
dramatically load the initial base rent and, in the present economic climate, he will never be able to
attract a tenant. On that basis, the shops would remain empty; but in reality, they would not even be
built in the first place. The result will be a large number of empty shops, and a large number of
construction workers who will no longer be building shopping centres. One only has to look at the Gold
Coast to see an example of that. The quarantining of land tax will serve only to make that scenario
When the economic climate eventually improves sufficiently, dramatic increases in base rents will
occur to cover the expected increases in land tax for which this Government is now infamous. Those
massive increases in base rent will also mean that tenants will have to pay much higher stamp duties.
Many people do not realise the
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expenses involved in owning a shop. For example, there is the cost of the lease and the massive cost
of stamp duties spread over a contract price that may extend the lease to 10 years. From now on, if the
proposed Government action eventuates, people will be paying a tax on a tax because they will be
paying stamp duty on land tax, which is very unfortunate.
Mr De Lacy: The reduction we gave was 14 per cent.
Mr CONNOR: That was in the rate.
Mr De Lacy: But 0.35 per cent is stamp duty, so the difference is 13.6 per cent profit, or how
much better off they will be. Have you done your sums, or are you just standing up and making a
Mr CONNOR: How can it be the case that the Government received $190m last year? Where
was the promise of keeping taxes to the rate of inflation?
Mr De Lacy: It is 3.5 per cent this year.
Mr CONNOR: What about the year before? The Treasurer has wiped away last year’s increase as
though it never happened. Now he is saying that the Government’s commitment was not one of no
increases in tax rates.
Mr De Lacy: In revenue.
Mr CONNOR: It was no increases in taxes—or was it no increases in tax rates? What was the
Mr De Lacy: No increases in tax rates.
Mr CONNOR: That was the promise—no increases in tax rates? Is the Treasurer sure of that?
Mr De Lacy: Yes, and there were no increases in tax rates.
Mr CONNOR: That was your commitment when the Labor Party went to the polls in 1989—no
increases in tax rates?
Mr De Lacy: That is right—written in blood.
Mr CONNOR: No increases in tax rates?
Mr De Lacy: That is right.
Mr CONNOR: That is different from the way I understood it. I stand corrected.
Mr De Lacy: Sometimes it takes a long time to get through.
Mr CONNOR: Right. Tenants will not be able to afford both the much higher base rent and stamp
duties on long leases. Landlords will offer much shorter leases and will allow for smaller base rentals
because, by doing so, they will not be exposed as much to the massive increases in land tax that they
cannot pass on. The result will be leases for much shorter periods, which is not in the interests of the
tenant, or, alternatively, massive base rentals, which would not be able to be passed on in the present
economic climate. The security of small shop-keepers, who are, supposedly, the people the
Government is trying to protect, will not exist and their investments of many hundreds of thousands of
dollars will be put at much greater risk.
Initially, the effect of quarantining land tax will be, in the depressed commercial property market
that presently exists, to dramatically devalue commercial real estate. The devaluation could be as great
as 10 per cent because that is the likely effect on the bottom-line return for commercial properties as a
direct result of not being able to pass on land tax as an outgoing expense. As I said earlier, in the
present economic climate, landlords will not be able to include that additional cost as a factor in the
base rent because people simply will not be able to afford it. In the short term, that will have a
Legislative Assembly 1082 2 October 1991
depressing effect on Queensland’s commercial property market and will do no-one any good. It should
be remembered that large shopping centres are owned predominantly by superannuation funds and
trusts. Generally speaking, superannuation trusts are funded by people who invest their retirement
savings. The proposal to increase land tax could have a detrimental effect on the retirement incomes of
those investors. In the medium and long term, the market will partially bear the additional costs and the
tenant will pay more in stamp duty. As I said earlier, firstly, tenants will be paying stamp duty on land
tax, which they did not have to do before. Secondly, long leases will effectively become a thing of the
past because of the necessity to include potential land tax increases as a factor in long leases. Thirdly,
as a direct result of a lack of confidence in this Government’s honesty in relation to increases in taxes,
base rentals will be much higher.
I turn now to mention a few individual minuses that are affecting the Gold Coast and business
generally. Firstly, the Gold Coast again missed out in the Budget on the necessary construction funds
for the Gold Coast rail link. There is no funding for construction of a rail link south of Beenleigh. The
sum of $8m that was allocated is purely for land resumption and for further reports and research. The
proof of this assertion is the fact that the contract for the rolling stock that is required for the high speed
train has been postponed indefinitely. I noticed today’s press report indicating that Mr Hamill has
acknowledged that it could be as late as the end of the century before the Gold Coast “ghost” train
becomes a reality. I have named it the Gold Coast “ghost” train because, under this Labor Government,
it will be a phantom.
Mr T. B. Sullivan: Why did the coalition sell it off?
Mr CONNOR: The reason that the original rail line was sold was that it was totally unacceptable. It
had the old narrow gauge and it wandered all over the place. It was totally useless.
Mr Elder interjected.
Mr Szczerbanik interjected.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Mr Hollis): Order! the members for Albert and Manly should
resume their usual places if they want to interject.
Mr CONNOR: As I was saying, the Gold Coast has missed out again. The Minister for Transport,
Mr Hamill, said that the Gold Coast rail link would be constructed by the end of 1994, but he is now
forecasting the end of the century, which will mean it will be built in 10 years’ time, if the people of the
Gold Coast are lucky. This is a Government that promised in writing——
Mr Elder interjected.
Mr CONNOR: I have worked it out that, at the present funding rate, it will be the year 2011 before
it is finished, but that is beside the point because it will never be finished with this Government. Mr
Hamill, in both a letter and a brochure, reinforced his Government’s promise to keep the Gold Coast rail
link on schedule. Within two or three months, the Minister was back-pedalling. Mr Hamill sent the letter
to me in February of 1990, just after the election. I bet he regrets that. Within two or three months, the
Minister was back-pedalling, suggesting, in fact, that the rail link would be finished at the end of 1995.
This occurred when the Minister realised he was not going to receive the funds in that particular
Budget—that is, last year’s Budget. Again, I wrote a letter to the Minister following this Budget, when
there was no money allocated to the project, to find out what the proposed date would be for the rail
link’s completion. The Minister could not answer the question. Now, I know why—because he was going
to do government by press release, as is seen in the media today. The rail link is just a name to most
people who do not live on the Gold Coast. Many people in my electorate of Nerang moved there
because of the promise of the rail link. People moved there because they wanted cheap transport
Legislative Assembly 1083 2 October 1991
to Brisbane and a high-speed rail link. In addition, a large number of businesses moved into the Nerang
area in the belief that a high-speed rail link would go right past and bring customers to their door. That
was the whole idea of that industrial estate at Nerang. People who moved their businesses there are
not very happy about it.
Mr Nunn: A lot of people moved from the Gold Coast to Hervey Bay. They much prefer to be in
Mr CONNOR: There is still a pretty big growth rate on the Gold Coast, and the Gold Coast can
afford to lose a few people to Hervey Bay. Through the Temporary Chairman, I ask the Treasurer, Mr
De Lacy: when is he going to supply the promised funding to the people on the Gold Coast for their rail
link? I hope that the Treasurer will answer that question in his reply. If the he does not, the Gold Coast
will no longer be available to day-trippers. At present, the incredible traffic jams on a Sunday afternoon
and evening on the Brisbane/Gold Coast corridor is something to be seen. The traffic jam extends for
tens of kilometres, and a one-hour trip to Brisbane can take the best part of an afternoon. The lack of
this rail link will stop pensioners and low income earners, supposedly represented by the Labor
Government, from having access to the Gold Coast. It will also stop the Gold Coast from developing in
a way that it needs to develop. On the one hand, Mr De Lacy is sucking $70m-plus out of just 400 or
500 shops situated in the middle of Surfers Paradise and Broadbeach. However, Mr De Lacy will not
come back with the necessary funding to keep the Gold Coast viable with a rail link—a promise that the
Labor Government made on gaining office.
The other big losers, of course, in the second De Lacy Budget are prisons and the families of
Queenslanders. The Treasurer thought that the escape rate was bad so far this year. My figures show
that, as of yesterday, it was 81. The position will worsen. I think the Minister for Justice and Corrective
Services is batting for his century. I will be there to catch the ball in December, because I think he will be
struck out by then. In a prison system that needs 2 000 prison officers, the Minister cannot expect to
maintain the same level of efficiency and security, and reduce the number of staff to 1 300, as
proposed in Mr De Lacy’s own Budget papers——
Mr De Lacy: We let the prisoners out.
Mr CONNOR: The Government has been doing that at a very successful rate—81 so far this
Mr De Lacy: And now we have to put them back in again.
Mr CONNOR: I do not understand. The Labor Government could just as easily put money into
the prisons system to keep prisoners inside instead of paying police officers overtime to catch
escapees. This is what is proposed in the Budget—to reduce the number of prison officers to 1 300-odd
. Based on Mr De Lacy’s own figures, 306 prison officers will be taken out of the prisons. The Minister
for Justice and Corrective Services is saying that, although that might be what the Budget papers say,
that is not the case. That is what the Minister is peddling to prison officers.
Further, I ask the Treasurer: are his figures in the Budget paper correct, or is the information that is
being peddled to prison officers right? I would like confirmation on that as well. The Minister for Justice
and Corrective Services can breath a sigh of relief because I will not be talking about the party this
afternoon. I have had words with Mr Beattie, the member for Brisbane Central, and I will be putting that
back for a little while. Dealing with my electorate, I ask: what has happened to the Boonooroo Park
Mr Elder interjected.
Legislative Assembly 1084 2 October 1991
Mr CONNOR: I will take that interjection from Mr Elder, the member for Manly. There are no
drugs and corruption in prisons in Queensland.
An honourable member interjected.
Mr CONNOR: I am just answering the question now. But what do we find today? Drugs are being
grown in Townsville prison.
T h e T E M P O R A R Y C H A I R M A N : Order! The member for Nerang will return to the Budget.
Mr CONNOR: Money is not going to the prison officers and the prisons to enable the prisons to
be run effectively. Without the necessary funds, security levels are falling to an abysmal and all-time
low. That is why these escapes are occurring. Because the funds are not available to ensure adequate
security, drugs are being grown in Townsville prison. That is what is happening. That was found today.
Mr Smyth: How big were the plants?
Mr CONNOR: I do not know. Does it really matter what sort of drugs and how many are being
grown in the prison? The fact is that security is at an all-time low because the level of funding for prisons
has been drastically reduced and the morale of prison officers is at an all-time low. They have just totally
rejected the award——
Mr De Lacy: Your leader recommended a cut of 7 500 in the public service. We cut a couple and
you are complaining. How do you reconcile that?
Mr CONNOR: The ABS figures show that, as a result of cronyism, the public service in
Queensland has been increased by 7 500. If one allows 1 500 to meet the Government’s pre-election
commitments, one finds that the Government has stacked the bureaucracy with 6 000 of its cronies.
We have been able to find a few hundred, but the Government has tucked them away in little areas all
over the State. As I was saying, so far this year 81 escapes have taken place because of a lack of
funding. That is what it is all about. The Government cannot reduce the staffing levels by 18 per cent in
one year and still expect prison officers to perform. It is going to have to go out and beat them with a
stick, and I believe that that is what the Minister is trying to do at the moment. I will get back to my own
electorate. Where is the primary school that was promised for Boonooroo Park? Construction of that
school should have been started last year. The funding has not even been provided for it to start this
year. I suppose that Mr De Lacy is hoping that the private school system will take up the slack.
Ms SPENCE (Mount Gravatt) (5.40 p.m.): The annual Budget debate is one of the most
important functions of Parliament. Our role as elected representatives is to scrutinise the Budget and
pass judgment on it on behalf of the people of Queensland. It is the most profound way in which the
Executive is accountable to Parliament. Over the past three decades of coalition and National Party
rule, those principles of accountability of the Executive to Parliament fell into disarray. It is a hallmark of
this Government that it welcomes accountability through a thorough debate on the Budget and upon
the Estimates. On behalf of the people of the Mount Gravatt electorate, I intend to examine this
Government's priorities as reflected in its Budget expenditure.
When the Treasurer presented his Budget Speech on 12 September, he emphasised that this
Government was again able to deliver a Budget that would create jobs, reduce taxes and improve
services without compromising the State's financial integrity. There is no inherent conflict between
economic efficiency and social justice. In fact, through economic efficiency we can bring about social
reform. In these difficult economic times, Australians look to their Governments to aid sustainable
economic recovery and foster employment opportunities. The unacceptable high level of
unemployment that we are now
Legislative Assembly 1085 2 October 1991
experiencing should not be tolerated. It touches us all. The community is demanding real jobs for real
people and this Government has responded to those demands.
This Budget directly boosts employment opportunities through a 35 per cent increase to $3 billion
in the State's capital works program, generating an additional 8 000 jobs in 1991-1992. In total, this
Government's building program will generate 35 000 jobs and create an infrastructure of hospitals,
schools, housing, police stations and Government buildings for future generations. Other measures to
generate employment include an $8m increase in funding for international and domestic tourism
promotion and marketing assisting in the creation of 20 000 new jobs in tourism and related
employment. This Government has provided for an unprecedented 21 per cent or $70m increase in
funding for training and employment initiatives, resulting in 9 400 additional training places, mainly
through the TAFE system. Finally, our modest but significant increases in the numbers of teachers,
nurses and police will provide more jobs for Queenslanders. These measures will not ensure that
Queensland escapes the impact of the recession. However, the good management by this
Government of our economy will ensure Queensland's economic recovery well ahead of the national
Clearly one of the most important contributions our Government can make to the business and
industry sectors in Queensland is in the comparative advantage it provides in the level of taxation in this
State compared with that in other States. This Government has enhanced the competitiveness of
Queensland business and industry by maintaining a low-tax environment. It has kept its election
promise. There are no new taxes, no increases in existing tax rates and no increases in charges above
the CPI. Payroll tax concessions ensure that at 5 per cent Queensland's payroll tax remains the lowest
of any State. Of particular significance to many of the residents of the Mount Gravatt electorate is the
reduction of and exemptions from land tax provided for in this Budget. Many remember the promises
made by the Liberal and National Parties to reduce land tax, but in their last 20 Budgets they ignored
the issue. I am particularly proud to announce that this Government has decided to exempt retirement
villages from land tax, as I have had the privilege of working towards this end on behalf of the
retirement village residents in my electorate. As well, religious, charitable and educational organisations
will be exempt from land tax and the maximum land tax rate on the unimproved value of freehold land
has been reduced. The total cost of these land tax concessions is some $40m and will mean no real
increase in revenue from land tax this year.
The standard and availability of housing are most crucial influences on the quality of life of families
and individuals. In this important area of housing and home-ownership, this Government can justifiably
be proud of overturning the previous Government's shameful neglect of housing initiatives. Because
the coalitions had no conviction for social justice, they failed to use the public purse to ensure
Queenslanders had adequate access to public housing or home-ownership. Thus many Queenslanders
have spent a lifetime renting accommodation when, with assistance, they may have pursued home-
ownership. Their 32 years of neglect has created a situation in which there is a three-year waiting list to
obtain public housing in my electorate. We all pay a price for poverty, disadvantage and homelessness,
and this Labor Government has responded to the challenge of reforming public housing in this State.
The $620m provided in this Budget will assist 8 000 Queensland households to own a home of their
own. People who have found it impossible to obtain home loans from banks and other lending
institutions because they are single or divorced or low-income earners, or even because they are
women, now have access to Government home loans. Last year, 2 800 families whose home
repayments had reached unaffordable levels because of interest rate rises received Government
assistance to overcome short-term difficulties. Apart from providing more housing and home loans, the
Legislative Assembly 1086 2 October 1991
Government has also stepped up its maintenance program to improve the condition of its older housing
I turn now to education. This Government places the provision of high-quality education which
allows individuals to maximise their potential and achieve economic security as a high priority on its
social justice agenda. We can justifiably have pride in our spending on education, which has rectified
the past neglect of the State's education system and brings Queensland's education funding into line
with national standards. Our election promise of increasing education funding by $250m in our first term
has already been exceeded in this our second Budget. Education funding has been increased by
$260m in real terms, and the $2.1 billion Education budget for this year is an increase of 9.8 per cent
on our last budget. This money will fund 768 extra teachers, new school buildings, a doubling of
expenditure on foreign language teachers, the appointment of an additional 100 specialist teachers,
literacy and numeracy programs in schools and computer education. As well, this Budget fulfils the
Government's election promise of introducing a remote area incentive scheme for teachers—another
promise the Nationals made but never delivered. This scheme, which has been allocated $3.2m this
year, will benefit rural and remote Queensland as better qualified and experienced teachers will be
encouraged to remain in remote areas. Our spending on non-Government schooling is the largest in
the State's history, as is our assistance to parents. Funding for school grants has been increased so
that hard-working p. and c. associations are relieved of the burden of providing basic items for their
school and $21m has been provided for school textbook allowances, which have increased from $65 to
$68 for Years 8, 9 and 10 and from $150 to $156 for Years 11 and 12.
Finally, this Budget sets aside $7.1m for the new student education profile which will replace the
old TE score. The new system, which was developed after consultation with parents, teachers and
education experts, means that the present Government has fulfilled its pledge that students will no
longer have 12 years of schooling reduced to a three-digit number. Our spending on education has
important social justice implications. It means that Queensland children will no longer be disadvantaged
in comparison with other Australian children. It means that those born in disadvantaged circumstances
will be given equality of opportunity in the school system. It means that the student from Weipa is
provided with an equally wide range of opportunities as the student from Macgregor. We are investing
in this State's future by investing in our most important asset, our children. I believe history will record
the priority we have given to education as one of this Government's finest achievements. But we all
know that these days education does not finish with high school. One-third of our students are looking
for places at universities. The shortfall in university places is a shameful indictment of the anti-
intellectualism of previous Governments. An examination of this Budget reveals an allocation of $17.6m
for 2 000 university places and $15.9m for nurse-education places. Although tertiary education is
primarily the responsibility of the Commonwealth Government, this State Government has not turned its
back on a problem it inherited, and the additional places will go some way towards fulfilling future
Another demand is the whole area of vocational education and training. If we ignore that demand,
we condemn those already at risk within the context of a recessionary labour market to the bleak
prospect of long-term unemployment. If we meet that demand, we can ensure that Queensland
emerges from the recession with a labour force well placed to compete on a world economy. For many,
access to our TAFE and senior colleges provides critical opportunities for future employment prospects.
Years of underfunding by the previous State Government meant that, when this Government came to
office, the participation rate in vocational and training courses in Queensland was approximately 20 per
cent below the national average. Through increased funding and
Legislative Assembly 1087 2 October 1991
more efficient use of existing resources, over the next three years the Government aims to increase the
level of TAFE participation rates in Queensland to at least the Australian average. This will mean more
places in TAFE colleges and adult education programs and an increase in student contact hours. The
magnitude of the Government's commitment to training is reflected in the record allocation of $405.5m
to the Department of Employment, Vocational Education and Training, which is an increase of 21 per
cent over the previous level of funding. We have recognised that it is not enough to provide training for
training’s sake. Training is a means to an end, and the end is employment. The TAFE sector has
targeted industry growth areas, where people with skills are needed. As well, $750,000 has been set
aside in seed funding to help Queensland industries establish their own training in the workplace.
Particular attention will be given to industry sectors traditionally without formal training arrangements. I
am particularly pleased that TAFE colleges have become involved in the provision of child-care, with
child-care centres at the Logan and the Bundaberg TAFE colleges due to open next year. These
represent a starting point in addressing the needs of parents wishing to access training or retraining in
It would be obvious to all parents of young children that, over the past two decades, the provision
of child-care has changed dramatically. From an informal operation, it has developed into a network of
preschools, kindergartens, long day care and occasional-care centres, family day-care schemes and
vacation and after-school programs. Consumer demand has directly influenced the diversity of care
available, with about one in three children under five in Queensland enrolled in some form of child-care.
Many parents cannot afford to question the quality of child-care as they have enough problems finding
a child-care centre within their locality. There is an alarming shortage of child-care places for very young
children, and especially for babies. This Government recognises that readily available and affordable
child-care is a factor in many people, particularly women, being able to take advantage of expanding
employment opportunities. This Government has committed more of its Budget than has any previous
Government to child-care places, and it is well on the way to achieving its goal of creating an additional
6 000 child-care places in its first term. However, I am well aware that even this commitment will not be
sufficient to meet the demands, particularly of parents with very young children. Our responsibilities for
the care of Australia's youngest generation must always be at the forefront of our agenda until such
time as parents can work or study secure in the knowledge that their children are enjoying quality child-
care. It may come as a surprise to many parents that there has never been a requirement for child-care
workers to hold formal qualifications before being entrusted with the care of the young. With new State
Government regulations to come into force later this year, child-care in Queensland is poised to enter a
new era. The changes will reflect the need for training, as well as set standards for quality facilities.
As a woman, I am proud of this Budget's commitment to assuring women of an equal place in
Queensland society. Anti-discrimination legislation to be introduced into Parliament later this year will
outlaw discrimination on certain grounds, including sex, marital status and pregnancy in areas including
work, education, housing and the provision of goods and services. To ensure that women have a say
about the workings of Government, steps have been taken to ensure that appropriately qualified
women are considered for appointment to Government boards, committees and authorities. It is
incredible in 1991 that it should be so, but I stand here today to report that this Government has made
the following firsts: the first women's adviser to the Premier; the first woman departmental head; the first
woman master of the Supreme Court; the first woman District Court judge; the first woman industrial
commissioner; and the first woman Director of Equity within the Department of Education. We have
come a long way in 20 months, but then we have taken a long time to get here.
Legislative Assembly 1088 2 October 1991
The Government also recognises that safety is a key concern for women and we are committed to
ensuring the right of all women in Queensland to live free of the incidence or fear of violence. Violence
against women is a community problem about which I have spoken before in this place. Obviously,
throwing money at the problem does not solve it. However, money is needed to fund services that the
problem demands. In Queensland this year, $6.3m for support services for women and children
escaping domestic violence, $367,000 for the provision of three youth refuges and $502,000 for seven
services for youth initiatives will be spent coping with problems that need not exist. We will also spend
over $4m in upgrading and developing new rape crisis and sexual assault services; nearly $2m on
providing a Statewide domestic violence counselling service; a quarter of a million dollars on the
Nightwatch program to provide security patrols on suburban trains; $80,000 to the Police Service
Domestic Violence Unit; $550,000 to the Sex Offenders Squad and $40,000 for the Police Service
Women's Safety Project. It is truly a sad indictment on our society that such staggering amounts of
money must be allocated to heal wounds that should never be inflicted. This is not the lucky country for
victims of abuse. The extent of our shame is reflected in the large budgetary expenditures required to
keep women and children safe from abuse. Although I am pleased that my Government is wise
enough to tackle these problems, it gives me no pleasure to reflect on their need.
I turn now to the subject of the Police Service. Under the previous Government, Queensland had
the lowest police-to-population ratio of any State in Australia. This is an area in which inadequate
spending over the years has had the most impact, leaving some areas of the State—and my own
electorate of Mount Gravatt is one such area—with gross police understaffing and escalating crime
rates. In this Budget, Queensland's Police Service won an extra 300 operational officers, which will
meet our commitment to increasing the operational strength of the Police Service by l 200 in this
Government’s first term. We were elected in December 1989 on a platform committed to the reform
process outlined in the Fitzgerald report, including rebuilding the State's Police Service. The reform
process was designed to transform a police force which Fitzgerald had found to be debilitated not only
by entrenched corruption but also by poor organisation and administration, deficient leadership,
inadequate resources and techniques. The problem was compounded by the negligence of previous
Sitting suspended from 6 to 7.30 p.m.
Ms SPENCE: Those very same individuals who have been put in their rightful place on the
Opposition benches in this Chamber now criticise our commitment to reforming the Police Service. They
have quickly adopted an Opposition culture—no credit where credit is due; just knock every reform and
every good intention. We make no apologies for our reforms, which include the civilianisation process
that has seen police who were carrying out office duties replaced by civilians, thereby allowing
experienced officers to return to operational duties. The recruiting of civilian directors and managers for
specialist positions has also provided knowledge and expertise previously lacking in the police
organisation. Fitzgerald's recommendation that the training of police be moved to other institutions has
been implemented with the introduction of a two-semester university-based program. This new program
now provides the new recruits with a mix of basic work skills, a knowledge of the criminal justice process
and the foundation of the social sciences.
Another reform is the regionalisation of the Police Service. There is no doubt that regionalisation is
an expensive process. Funds totalling $9m have been provided to establish autonomous police regions
throughout the State. However, it is a necessary process for decentralising decision-making. What our
reforms and budgetary priorities mean to the people of the Mount Gravatt electorate is firstly, and most
importantly, extra police out on the beat. Already, my constituents in the Robertson and Macgregor
Legislative Assembly 1089 2 October 1991
have contacted me to thank me for the extra police presence in their neighbourhoods. Secondly, more
police will allow police quicker response times and the capacity to offer more services. I was very
pleased to attend the official opening yesterday of the Queensland police home security display at
Carindale. It is gratifying to see police taking a pro-active role in educating the community with regard to
home security. I am sure that we all can benefit from their expertise in this regard. It is my belief that
community-based policing such as Adopt-a-Cop, Crime Stoppers, Neighbourhood Watch, police
citizens' youth clubs and Safety House are the answer to the prevention of crime. After all, crime is not
a Government problem or a police problem; it is a community problem, and only community
involvement will find solutions. I believe that this Government has shown its willingness to give the
community the resources to do that.
This Government's environmental achievements include increasing the national park estate,
protecting north Queensland's wet tropic rainforests, initiating heritage protection and coastal protection
and promoting waste minimisation. Essential to our approach has been the participation of
conservation groups and other community groups in environmental planning and decision-making. This
year, the Government will introduce a new environment protection Bill to replace existing piecemeal and
ineffectual laws covering air, noise and water pollution. The focus will be on prevention, rather than
treating problems after they occur. Tougher new penalties for pollution will be introduced, and the
issues of waste management, land contamination, vehicle emissions, ozone layer depletion, odours,
smoke and industrial chemicals will be addressed. A quick look at the budgetary funding for our
environmental initiatives reveals an expenditure of $11.5m for new national parks, $2m for pollution
control and recycling, $1m for coastal protection and $1.2m for a heritage program. These are just a
few funding priorities. In total, this Government has allocated a record $98.257m budget to the
Department of Environment and Heritage for this financial year. This represents an increase of nearly
24 per cent over last year's allocation, and a massive 103 per cent increase over the previous
Government's last environment budget.
In the concluding minutes available to me, I congratulate the Treasurer and the Cabinet for their
fine economic management. I reiterate that there are no new taxes in this Budget. Journalists and
economists have called this a remarkable Budget—a steady course in the seas of recession; a Budget
to be envied; a helping-hand Budget; a Budget for the workers; and a Budget that is well received by
industry leaders. Those who doubted this Goss Government’s commitment to fiscal conservatism have
been proved wrong. We have repaired years of neglect in the salaries of teachers, police and health
workers to bring them into line with national standards. Yesterday in his Budget reply speech, Mr
Cooper criticised those salary increases. I have no doubt that if the National Party was still in power,
those public sectors would still be the poorest paid Australians in their fields. It is a credit to the fiscal
discipline of this Government that long-overdue salary increases can be provided and that we can still
allocate expenditure for important social reforms.
In my electorate, the Budget delivered a new classroom block to the Robertson and Macgregor
State Schools. In the former school, the block was needed to alleviate overcrowding, and, in the latter,
it was needed to replace a block that was destroyed by fire. An additional $1m has been granted to the
Mount Gravatt Research Park to promote business ventures.
I am also pleased to report that on 7 November, a neighbourhood centre, in which we have just
finished investing $165,000, will officially open in Mount Gravatt. Since my election to this place, I have
been involved with a community group to establish that centre, which will provide a focus for the people
of Mount Gravatt and surrounding areas.
Legislative Assembly 1090 2 October 1991
That type of support centre, which has long been needed in the area, is already a busy place that is
establishing courses and welfare services for the whole community.
The fact that this Government has a profitable hand on Queensland’s economic tiller means that
we can meet our election promises. As I speak, I am mindful that this Government, which was given the
challenge of two major floods in its first few months, now faces the challenge of steering Queensland’s
economy through the worst drought in our history. Since coming to Government, we have not been
blessed with boom economic circumstances. However, I believe that we have responded to community
needs within a framework of responsible economic management. I support the motion before the
Mr NEAL (Balonne) (7.36 p.m.): Members have been treated to the second Labor Budget, which
has once again been framed on the solid financial base that was laid down over many years by the
National Party. Members have also been treated to the rhetoric of the Treasurer and Government
members who would like all members to believe that this State’s solid financial position results directly
from the Treasurer’s careful husbanding of its finances. Nothing could be further from the truth. Given
the strong financial position that the Treasurer inherited from the National Party Government, even a
financial ratbag would have been hard pressed to financially sink the ship in less than two years. The
Government claims to have the benefit of hindsight in that it has only to look at the financial ruin in
which Labor Governments have left other States to avoid repeating the same performance in this
State. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Queensland is on the same roller-coaster ride to
financial ruin as the other States have been on under Labor. Perhaps the only thing that can be said is
that the downhill slide may not be as fast; however, the mess at the bottom is exactly the same.
When the Labor Party won the last election, it boasted how everything would be done better than
ever before. The Labor Party was going to bring in all the experts and make sure that everything
happened a lot more efficiently and effectively. Everyone would be better off and everyone would be
much happier with the way things would go. The only people I know to be happier are those people to
whom the Labor Party gave jobs, and many of those came from interstate. When Labor came to office,
most people realised that changes would take place; that was inevitable. However, many of those
changes have not been for the better and many are having far-reaching repercussions. The Premier
could not even be original when he forecast that the Budget would be all about jobs, jobs, jobs. The
New South Wales Premier, Nick Greiner, had already coined that phrase in the run-up to his election.
The Treasurer makes the claim that the national recession has hit us far harder than we expected
in terms of high unemployment and declining economic activity. I acknowledge that the national
recession has a direct bearing on any State’s economy. However, the Queensland Government must
cop a lot of the blame for adding to the decline of economic activity in this State. When elected, the
Labor Party proclaimed loudly what it would do, that it was a whole new ball game and that it was all
powerful and would call all of the shots. The Labor Party’s policies have turned away both foreign and
domestic investment. Indeed, the Department of Business, Industry and Regional Development reports
that Queensland’s development slowed dramatically during 1990. That decrease was largely
attributable to the low level of new development proposals and the suspension of the $600m
Tully/Millstream hydroelectric scheme. Most of the projects currently under way were started when the
National Party was in office. Labor has lost the multifunction polis for the Gold Coast, also the Comalco
smelter expansion and the China Steel project, both proposed for Gladstone. It has scrapped the Cape
York-North Queensland Enterprise Zone and has failed to address the problems associated with the
new port facilities for the Yabulu nickel treatment plant, and the list goes on.
Legislative Assembly 1091 2 October 1991
All of those lost and deferred projects and the loss of confidence add up to a loss of jobs. To
compensate for the loss of jobs in private enterprise, the Treasurer’s answer was to increase
Government spending in the public sector, increase public service staff numbers and increase the
spending in employment and training initiatives. When will the Government realise that the only way to
overcome unemployment is to create a better environment in which private enterprise can flourish?
Whether the unemployed are trained or untrained, the jobs are simply unavailable. The Treasurer
claims to create an investment climate by reducing taxes, reducing debt and making the public sector
more efficient. They are high-sounding but hollow words that will not stand up to practical scrutiny.
Queensland is the low-tax, minimum-debt State only because of the National Party’s careful and
disciplined budgeting in previous years. Although low taxes and an efficient public sector are important
factors in encouraging business into the State, many more factors are to be taken into consideration.
One of the main factors to take into consideration is the overall attitude of the Government to
development and its establishment requirements. They are of great importance. Low Government
charges are of no benefit if the project cannot get off the ground in the first place.
The Treasurer is less than honest in his land tax reduction claims. Although a reduction from 2.1
per cent to 1.8 per cent on unimproved value of freehold land equates to a 14 per cent reduction, the
Treasurer cannot deny that the Government has already frozen the Valuer-General’s unimproved
valuations at 1990 levels thereby denying owners of freehold land the natural drop in land tax, which
would have ensued as a result of the drop in land values. When annual valuations were introduced,
people were told that any increases or decreases would be reflected in the land values and hence flow
through to the amount of land tax that they paid. The Government has frozen those values at levels far
higher than those that now prevail and has, as a result, locked freehold land holders into a higher land
tax bracket. Indeed, the land tax take will rise from $197m to $215m—a rise of 9 per cent, well above
the rate of inflation. The Opposition has stated clearly that, under a coalition Government, land tax will
be scrapped. It can be done and it will be done.
Mr Livingstone: Where will you get the money from?
Mr NEAL: I hear the honourable member saying, “Where will you get the money from?” I inform
him that I recall clearly the same questions being put to the National Party when we said that we would
scrap death duties, transport tax and all the rest of it.
Mr Livingstone: Where are you going to get the money from? What are you going to cut to do
Mr NEAL: In those days, many members of the Opposition—and even members of the
Government—said that it could not be done, that death duties could not be abolished. It was done and
the benefits flowed through to the State. That is exactly what will happen this time. At the appropriate
time, the Leader of the Opposition will announce how that will take place. The increase in the payroll tax
exemption threshold by 20 per cent to $600,000 will certainly be of benefit to small business. The
trouble is that members of the Government have blinkered vision. They do not know what it takes to
encourage business. The increase in the payroll tax exemption threshold by 20 per cent to $600,000
will certainly be of benefit to small business. However, whichever way one looks at payroll tax, it is wrong
in principle. It is not a tax on productivity or profitability, but a tax on employment.
Mr Livingstone: Will you take an interjection? You talk about payroll tax. What State in Australia
has a lower payroll tax than Queensland?
Mr NEAL: It has to be paid regardless of profitability. I am not arguing about whether or not this
State has the lowest payroll tax.
Legislative Assembly 1092 2 October 1991
Mr Livingstone: This State has the lowest in Australia.
Mr NEAL: This State has always had the lowest payroll tax in Australia. I believe payroll tax to be
wrong in principle because it is a tax not on profitability but on jobs and employment. It has to be paid
regardless of the profitability or otherwise of an enterprise. Indeed, big companies which may be going
broke still have to pay payroll tax. Under the guise of public sector efficiency, the Treasurer claims that
this Budget continues Queensland’s comprehensive program of micro-economic reform. What I would
like to know is: what has been done? All I can see that has been done is that the Government has
sacked thousands of public servants and others in semi-Government bodies and then put more on.
Rural Queenslanders will testify to the success of micro-economic reform by this Government: court
houses have closed down; rail services have been cut; DPI officers have been transferred; there is a
lack of adequate police numbers; and the control of hospitals, fire brigades and ambulance services
has been taken out of local hands. Most of the sackings have been dressed up as redundancies with
the big payouts being met from the budgets of the particular departments. For the most part, the
people being brought in are mates of the Government and usually on bigger money than the people
who were sacked. The Government is cutting down in many of the wrong departments and increasing
staff in areas which will not return a cent or create any lasting benefits for the State.
There are some departments which create prosperity by the services that they provide to private
industry to enable it to get down to work in creating jobs—departments such as Primary Industries,
Resource Industries, Transport and Lands. There is little evidence of any boost to those departments.
Indeed, some sectors have suffered a reduction. The Treasurer seems to have some pretty strange
ideas about fiscal responsibility. He places great store in a balanced Budget and so do I. However,
cutting funding to productive areas to make way for non-productive spending is most certainly the
downhill slide to which I referred earlier. The Treasurer speaks of micro-economic reform, but as yet it
appears that the talk has not translated into action, apart from some shirt-tail agreements on increased
superannuation and wages which have been thrashed out between the Prime Minister and the ACTU.
What has this Government done with regard to increased efficiency on the waterfront? Reform of
the waterfront in all areas is of paramount importance and yet precious little has been done. On any
world port yardstick, Australian ports do not even measure up to a 50 per cent efficiency rate. The
waterfront is long overdue for a complete overhaul. The snail’s pace with which the Government is
carrying out reform is a clear indication that it has no intention of upsetting its union mates. The
Australian nation is down on its proverbial knees and still we have to tolerate restrictive work practices
which deny us competitiveness against other countries in world markets. There are a host of areas in
which this Government could be assisting to speed up reform, but it is still sitting on its thumbs.
One of the amazing things to happen in the past couple of weeks is the Government’s discovery of
the present widespread drought. Both the Premier and Treasurer suddenly find that the State is in the
grip of a bad drought and that it might unbalance the Budget. It is most unfortunate that the Budget
has not given greater consideration to the incidence of drought. Unfortunately, the lack of budgetary
planning for drought highlights this Government’s lack of understanding of rural areas. The Treasurer is
on record as having stated recently that primary producers have had it too good for too long.
Apparently, that was not the case some years ago up Mareeba way. The Minister for Primary Industries
claimed at the farmfest a few weeks ago that it was not a drought at all but was just a “dry spell”, and if
primary producers’ stock die, so be it.
Legislative Assembly 1093 2 October 1991
Mr De LACY: I rise to a point of order. The honourable member alleged that I said that primary
producers have had it too good. I have never said that. I resent him making that statement and ask
him to withdraw it.
Mr NEAL: I accept the Treasurer’s explanation and I withdraw that statement. This current
drought is shaping up to be one of the worst in living memory. Rainfall records for the past 100 years
are showing that this current period is the driest on record in many areas and there are no general rains
predicted before April or May of next year. Primary producers across the board, with few exceptions, are
facing the bleakest outlook ever. With wool returns bringing about 40 to 50 per cent of last year’s
returns, no grain crops of any consequence, sugar in trouble, small crop-farmers being put out of
business by a flood of cheap imports and cattle prices down, coupled with severe drought, rising input
costs and high interest rates, one can understand the lack of confidence and the pessimism which
prevail in the country. Many producers are in deep financial trouble. It is interesting to see that the
Government is implementing the tried and tested drought relief measures introduced by the National
Party. Thank heavens common sense has prevailed in that regard. I will now make a prediction. I bet
London to a brick that there will be some rorts of the system somewhere.
Mr Welford interjected.
Mr NEAL: The honourable member must make no mistake about that; there will be rorts of the
system. All I plead is that the Government does not throw the baby out with the bath water by making
the eligibility criteria too restrictive. People are desperate and need help. It is an unfortunate fact of life
that there will be the odd person who abuses the system. However, the Government must take an
overall view and realise that if the primary producers are going to the wall so too are the business
people in country towns who are dependent upon the prosperity of the district for their livelihood, which
in turn means fewer jobs and higher unemployment. While drought relief measures are of great benefit,
they are of no use to producers who cannot get carry-on finance, which at this time is one of the most
important ways of giving them breathing space. Many times previously, I have witnessed a crash in
commodity prices or a drought, but this time the producer has had to endure both—a severe slump in
commodity prices combined with a severe drought.
Banks must be encouraged to carry through their clients and minimise foreclosures. Any strong
moves to foreclose on clients will precipitate a crash in land values—which is not in anyone’s interest,
least of all the banks—because not only does the producer lose all his equity, but also the banks may
lose much of theirs. It is a time for cool heads and strong nerves. I believe that if the will to assist exists,
a way can be found. For example, moratoriums can be placed on debts, and, unpalatable though it
may be, financial institutions can defer interest and redemption payments. They can also cut interest
rates and rewrite contracts. In the years that I have been a member of this Parliament, I have seen that
very action taken. Producers who are in trouble should talk to their lending institutions and seek
financial counselling. By getting together and discussing the situation at the earliest opportunity, a
producer experiencing financial difficulties will be doing both himself and the lending institution a favour.
This applies equally to small businesses that also need assistance to survive.
In the many years that I have been a member of this Parliament, I have seen commodity prices
crash and I have witnessed droughts. During that time, I have assisted many people in obtaining
financial help. I cannot speak too highly of the roles played by the Agricultural Bank and the Rural
Reconstruction Board, most private banks, pastoral houses and hire purchase companies. If people talk
to representatives of these institutions, a scheme can usually be worked out to save their properties. I
wish to especially commend the old Rural Reconstruction Board because it saved many primary
Legislative Assembly 1094 2 October 1991
producers and businesses from financial ruin. Although I was a member of the Government that
established the QIDC, which took over from the Agricultural Bank and incorporated the Rural
Reconstruction Board and various other Government assistance schemes, I must say that I no longer
have the same faith in that organisation’s policies and capacity to fulfil the functions of the former
organisations that are now under its control.
Mr Ardill: Why not?
Mr NEAL: The honourable member should just listen and he will find out. Much damage was
done to its credibility by the witch-hunt carried out by the inquiry into its function. All I can say is that
over the years prior to the introduction of the QIDC, I unashamedly made representations to the RRB
and the Agricultural Bank on behalf of many of my constituents—some of whom I knew, but many of
whom I did not know until they sought my assistance.
Mr Palaszczuk: And you still do not know them.
Mr NEAL: The honourable member is just showing his ignorance. I had many red-blooded
arguments with the top people of those organisations, but not once did I believe I was applying political
pressure; nor did I believe that they thought I was doing so. They were strong-minded men; not weak-
kneed, lily-livered pansies. I want to know how a member of Parliament can make positive
representations to the QIDC on behalf of a constituent without the fear of having his name, the name
of his constituent and business details spread throughout the media. The few written submissions I
have made in recent times have been done with great trepidation. The replies—which have been in the
negative—arrived long after the deadlines expired.
As a result of the Polichronis report—which was nothing short of a political report—the Treasurer
said that the QIDC must be kept at arm’s length, yet the other day I noticed that he was not too proud
to clutch a report to his bosom and make political mileage out of the fact that the QIDC has made a
profit. I do not disagree with the QIDC’s general commercial lending policy. However, in relation to the
Government’s assistance schemes, I believe that if the Government is not prepared to lay down policies
and guidelines that are flexible enough to cater for the requirements of those people who have the
chance to remain viable but who are not strong enough to handle a normal commercial bank rate, the
Government’s will to assist is lacking and the QIDC might just as well be regarded as another banking
institution. If this is the case, the QIDC should be totally privatised and should operate in full competition
with private lending institutions. I know that when the Treasurer decreed that the QIDC would operate
on fully commercial rates of interest, its clients had the opportunity to state why they should remain on
the concessional rate. This morning, I heard the Treasurer’s answer to a question relating to the $1.5m
that is being paid each month on interest subsidies. I want to know whether that sum is being paid in
respect of those concessional loans, or whether in fact the money is being paid in respect of
applications for drought relief to assist in meeting repayments. I want to know whether that sum
consists of the payments that are being made each month to producers who have already been
granted a concessional rate of interest, or whether it is $1.5m that is being paid in respect of drought
relief interest subsidy schemes. I must state that, during the recent crisis, I have not heard of anyone
who has received the interest subsidy, apart from those people who applied to retain the concessional
interest rate when the Government changed its policy in the early part of 1990, or whenever it was.
Undoubtedly, a number of people received a concession in interest rates, but in my view the QIDC has
a vital role to play. If the Government is fair dinkum about providing assistance in this drought and if it
has the will to assist, it must ensure that the QIDC fulfils its financial assistance role.
Legislative Assembly 1095 2 October 1991
In spite of low commodity prices, high input costs and high interest rates, the Government decided
to increase land rentals by 100 per cent or more in sheep areas and by 200 per cent or more in cattle
areas. Under present circumstances, the Government stands condemned because, when it did so,
scant regard was paid to the Carter report which referred to good times and bad times. Mr Carter never
intended the increases to apply in conditions dominated by the wool price crash and the high interest
rates crisis, and that was clearly evident early last year. The Government has now had to retreat,
somewhat, on land rentals. The Government should reinstate the old rental levels, at least until the
drought breaks and commodity prices improve. There is not much more that I would like to say in
relation to the Budget. However, I will endeavour to cover other areas in the debate on the Estimates.
In conclusion, I believe that the Budget has been framed for short-term gain. It is big on welfare
spending and is a Budget upon which the Labor Government would hope to go to an early election.
This Budget is also a recipe for long-term disaster. Productive areas have suffered cuts to fund
increased spending in non-productive areas. The minimisation of tax increases and reductions in a
couple of areas have not been complemented by a will on the part of the Government to get projects
off the ground. Little has been done to restore the confidence and stability required by business to
invest in this State. Rather, the reverse has applied.
Mr ELDER (Manly) (8.01 p.m.): As the Treasurer said in his Budget Speech, 12 months ago this
Government brought down the first Labor Budget in 34 years. It was a Budget recognised at that time
by leading commentators as being the most responsible of all the State Budgets in both social justice
and fiscal terms. Surprisingly—and I understand why—the Chamber has not heard a lot of commentary
from Opposition members about editorials or comments made in our newspapers in Queensland in
relation to the Budget. For the record, I refer to an article in the Courier-Mail——
Mr Coomber: You can’t quote that.
Mr ELDER: I will quote it, because it is the type of material that my friend has missed. The article
in the Courier-Mail states—
“A profitable hand on Queensland’s economic tiller. The State Treasurer, Mr De Lacy, says
that his 1991-92 Budget positions Queensland to take advantage of its leading role in the
expected economic recovery. It does. He also says it is a caring Budget. It is. The chief quality
evident is responsibility, commonplace in Queensland’s Budgets, but a refreshing change for most
Australians. Unfortunately for most Australians, the beneficial effects of the Goss Government’s
second Budget, brought down yesterday, will be observable only from afar . . . The Goss
Government deserves full credit for its own fiscal rectitude . . . Mr De Lacy’s second Budget is a
It goes on. I quote another comment from the AAP State political correspondent—
“The Queensland Government yesterday produced a Budget that cuts payroll and land taxes,
provides money for more jobs, training and education and is predicted to bring home a surplus. It is
pitched largely at the private business sector and job creation, while looking after the Labor
Government’s pet ‘social justice’ areas such as the environment, education and police. Unlike other
States there is a reduced debt burden, no shedding of public servants and no new or increased
taxes . . . Queensland Confederation of Industry executive Mr Clive Bubb welcomed the Budget,
describing it as responsible and as good as could be expected under the present economic
Opposition members must have really hated reading that. I could refer to the Sun, as that newspaper
says it all, but I think I will leave it at that rather than take Opposition members through more pain.
Legislative Assembly 1096 2 October 1991
Mr Coomber: What did it say about daylight-saving?
Mr ELDER: The honourable member should sit back and now listen to what the Sun had to say
about the Budget. It said—
“Treasurer Keith De Lacy yesterday brought down the Budget other States would have liked to
deliver and the Commonwealth should have delivered. It positively attacks the main problems
besetting the State, providing impetus for business and jobs to stem the growing army of
unemployed . . . the State Government has shown a willingness and the wherewithall to tackle the
problem head-on . . . Payroll and land tax concessions, while not introduced immediately to
maximise their effect, are a message to business that Queensland is prepared to show the way to
the rest of Australia. Funding boosts in the tourism and building sectors have the potential to
generate tens of thousands of jobs, while retraining will also be more widely available . . . The
Budget has been roundly applauded by most sections of the community, their endorsement
drowning out churlish claims from the State Opposition that it is ‘anti-jobs and anti-development’ .
. . He and his Government can today take some credit for putting people back into politics.”
The first Labor Government Budget set new standards of fiscal discipline in this State and created
Queensland as the pre-eminent State in terms of financial performance across-the-board. It had wide-
ranging programs of social reform rectifying years of neglect in the vital areas of education, health and
police. I have to say that this second Budget, as the Treasurer has said, and as all who have
commented on it have agreed, will consolidate and enhance those achievements.
In the area of education, this Government continues its commitment to bring education funding
into line with existing national standards. In doing so, it will address the previous Government’s neglect
of Queensland’s education system, so demonstrably illustrated by the previous Government’s lack of
initiative and financial support in that area. Prior to its election to office, and then when it assumed
office, the Labor Party promised to increase funding on education by $250m in its first term. In 1990-
91, some $1.9 billion was provided in education funding. That was a massive $140m real increase in
education funding. It was, at that time, by far the largest increase by any Government in this State’s
history. The Goss Government has met that commitment to increase funding, not in its first term, but
within two Budgets. Education funding has been increased by $260m in real terms. This Budget
provides a further $2.1 billion for the Education Department, an increase of some 9.8 per cent on the
allocation last year. In this Government’s first two Budgets, an additional $418m has been provided for
education, and as I said, it is meeting that commitment. That is an increase of $261m in real terms.
Capital funding in this Budget amounts to some $158.4m—much needed to redress inactivity in the
past. It follows the Government’s allocation of $173m last year in its first Budget.
In 1989, my electorate was in desperate need of additional facilities and resources. With a
provision in last year’s Budget and continued funding in this year’s Budget, the residents of Alexandra
Hills now have a much-needed primary school to meet the needs of a rapidly growing area. This
Government is committed to providing the best educational facilities and services to the children of this
State. The school built at Alexandra Hills, Hilliard State School, is a good example of that commitment.
Built at a cost of $3.5m, the buildings, fittings and resources at the school are first rate. The school will
serve the area well into the next century. It is a fast-growing community. It is a much-needed school
facility in an area that has been lacking these facilities for a long time. In fact, the area has been
growing so fast that this Government has needed to look at supplying an additional teaching block. This
year, that block is under construction. It will provide an extra 100 places at the school. That funding
requirement will be met from this Budget. Not
Legislative Assembly 1097 2 October 1991
only did the electorate need additional facilities, but also existing school housing needs were under
The growth in the Birkdale area is finally being met by this Government by the provision of a new
full teaching block, including accommodation—much-needed accommodation—for its music program.
That is being provided at a cost of some $250,000 at Birkdale South State School. Alexandra Hills
State High School has an enrolment of some 1 500 students. It is by far the largest high school in the
Redlands area, and I would imagine it is close to being one of the largest in the metropolitan east
region. Ongoing capital works funding is being provided to the school for the provision of a home
economics block extension, remodelling of the general studies art block, construction of a general
studies science block and, surprisingly—and we had a lot to do with it; in fact, everything to do with
it—the construction of a school oval. The dilemma of a high school of that size not having a school oval
is bewildering to me. At the moment, it has an area of 40 yards by 40 yards to cater for the recreational
and sporting requirements of students. I find that perplexing, to say the least. Upon my election, I was
called to the school to see the problem, and I was absolutely dumbfounded. I acknowledge the fact
that the previous Government provided the high school campus in that area, although I always knew
that the previous member for Redlands was under a bit of pressure at that time and he needed an
electorate fillip. Obviously, the high school was it. All I can say is that the high school may have been
provided as an electoral fillip, but it was short term, because the new member for Redlands now sits on
the Government side. So hastily was that construction carried out that the people responsible forgot the
oval. As I say, the school has 1 500 students. Teachers, students and parents had to suffer for five
years before this Government, upon election, did something about it. After visits by me, the Minister for
Education and the Minister for Administrative Services, the oval has been constructed. I thank those
Ministers for moving so quickly in that regard. In addition, major draining problems were rectified in the
process. The total cost was in excess of $450,000. I can assure not only the residents of Alexandra Hills
but also all people throughout Queensland that this Government will provide schools with the best
facilities and services available for the benefit of the children of this State.
The quality of education throughout this State will be enhanced by the establishment of school
support centres. Some 45 of these centres will be provided across Queensland. For the residents of the
Bayside and Redlands area, that need will be met by the bayside support centre to be established at
Capalaba High School. Each centre will provide access to specialist services not usually available in
schools. A couple I could mention are professional development assistance for principals and teachers
and the provision of curriculum development throughout the schools. The new support centres will
mean that more teachers and specialist educators will be available to all school communities
throughout Queensland. It will be of particular advantage to those living in regional areas.
In a major boost to public health services, the Queensland Health budget has topped the $2 billion
mark for the first time. I am pleased to see that the Minister is in the Chamber. Total health funding will
grow by 12.3 per cent to reach $2.023m. Total health funding will grow by some $221m over last year’s
Budget. For the second year in a row, the Goss Government has committed a major funding boost to
public health services. Of course, there may be misguided rhetoric from the Opposition side in relation
to this Government’s performance in the area of health, but that boost to funding is in stark contrast to
the neglect and incompetence of previous Governments in this State. This injection of extra funds
allows the State Government to tackle some of the inadequacies inherited from our predecessors and
to push ahead with policy commitments to provide a fair and equitable health system to all
Queenslanders no matter where they live.
Legislative Assembly 1098 2 October 1991
Services will be maintained in real terms. This Government will deliver on its election promise to
Queensland nurses, and new projects will be introduced in high-priority areas. When one takes into
account the predicted inflation rate, this year’s $2 billion allocation represents a massive increase in
recurrent funding of 7.2 per cent in real terms. In a tough but responsible Budget, health spending has
been accorded a high-priority status to address the neglect of previous administrations and to take into
account the growth in demand for public health services in this State. The major components of the
Budget are wage justice—much-needed wage justice—for Queensland nurses in the form of a new
nurses award and a new career structure for them at a cost of $87m—$80m in capital works and $17m
for new and enhanced services.
While I am on the subject of capital works, I would like to comment on the Minister’s assistance in
providing continued funding on top of a $3.2m allocation for the provision of a 24-hour accident and
emergency hospital at Wynnum. In 1981, the then National Party Government built a 40-bed hospital in
Wynnum. Since that time, occupation and capacity have never been above 50 per cent. In fact, it may
have been a hospital by name, but it was certainly not a hospital by nature. In the end, it was virtually a
residence for some frail and ill, elderly people. Honourable members can imagine the torment and
anguish of parents who rushed children into the Wynnum Hospital for emergency treatment only to find
that they had to go to Royal Brisbane Hospital or Princess Alexandra Hospital because that hospital did
not have available a 24-hour accident and emergency service. As a result of the commitment of this
Government and the Minister, who is in the Chamber tonight, that money has been forthcoming and
those extensions have gone ahead. The Wynnum Hospital now has an outpatients clinic. It now
provides a 24-hour accident and emergency service. Low-risk medical admissions are taken in. The
hospital has X-ray facilities. A dental clinic is attached to it. All in all, after years of complaining and
protesting by the local residents, it was up to this Government, upon its election, to find the money to
be able to move ahead with the construction of those extensions. This year, extra funds will be provided
so that a young chronically disabled living unit can be established. That unit will provide some 20 beds
for young people from the south side of Brisbane who have serious head injuries. I commend the
Minister for his initiatives in that area.
That major boost to public health services follows on the 1990-91 increase of 10.2 per cent.
Although we heard pathetic platitudes in the Budget speeches last year about our efforts with health
spending, the fact is that, after inflation and other factors were taken into consideration, that
represented a 2.5 per cent increase in real terms. In its first two Budgets, the Goss Government’s
spending on health has risen by 10 per cent in real terms—a major achievement in terms of its policy
commitment to ensure equity and social justice for Queenslanders. That commitment to public health
services contrasts starkly with the decades of neglect of the Nationals and Liberals in the provision of
health services. The State’s high growth rate, increased demand for free health services and the rising
costs of medical technology were swept under the carpet by the former Government. It strangled
funding for health services in this State. On many occasions in this Chamber in previous Budget
debates, and again in this Budget debate, the opposition parties have indulged in selective amnesia.
However, honourable members forget that in the five years prior to the election of the Goss
Government spending on health did not even keep pace with inflation, let alone increase in real terms
to account for population growth and increased demand. I note that it is very quiet on the western front
at the moment. During that time, funding for public health was going backwards. However, in just two
years, funding under this administration has increased to levels never possible under the funding
policies of the previous Government. The opposition parties continually have the gall to indulge in
hypocrisy of the worst kind by accusing the Government of underfunding the health system, when the
problems it is addressing are a direct result of
Legislative Assembly 1099 2 October 1991
their neglect through years and years of underfunding. The honourable member for Burdekin might
shake his head, but it is absolutely true. He should go back and examine his Government’s Budgets.
No amount of grandstanding by Opposition members will absolve them of the guilt of underfunding in
those areas, particularly the Health portfolio.
On coming to office, this Government promised also to reform the police force and provide
adequate resources to meet the community’s security needs. With that in mind, in just 20 months
Labor has turned around the years of neglect in the police force and started rebuilding the Police
M r S t o n e m a n : Take a run up to the Burdekin.
Mr ELDER: Opposition members are responsible; they cannot bleat about it after the event. They
were in Government for 32 years and are totally responsible for the neglect in all the public service
areas. Two successive Budgets by this Government have increased police funding by 13 per cent and
11.4 per cent respectively. Opposition members cannot deny that, because it is contained in the
Budget. This Budget provides a record $424.8m for police, including $44.1m, or an 11.4 per cent
increase in current expenditure, primarily to fund extra police. Provision has been made for an
additional 400 operational police. As well, the Budget provides $500,000 to establish a Householder
Security Advisory Unit, which will work in conjunction with the private sector to address the increase in
break-and-enter offences. Recently, I was pleased to be accompanied by the member for Mount
Gravatt at the launching of that initiative. At that launch, tremendous interest was shown by the local
population in the Carindale area. I am pleased that the Police Service and the private sector have been
involved in a joint project of that type. As the unit travels around the south-east area of this State and
throughout the north, it will receive a tremendous response.
Additional funding for capital works will see a record number of police stations and facilities
upgraded or constructed throughout the State. Included in continued capital works funding is the
Capalaba Police Station in my electorate. I am pleased to say that the construction of that new station
is on track. The station will include a Juvenile Aid Bureau, a video interview room, a breath-analysis
section, offices for general administration, a uniform section and a CIB. The new station is being built at
a cost of $1.6m and will be operational by January next year. It will provide in my electorate a much-
needed police presence—again one of many initiatives by this Government in the area of policing.
Many of the new stations that will be opened throughout the State will address the problems of the
local communities and they will provide that much-needed police presence. Since coming to office 20
months ago, the Government has improved and advanced police salaries and conditions. This Budget
also continues that commitment. It was well recognised by all commentators that Queensland police
were underpaid by the previous Government. Since its election, the Government has responded and
given police a 38-hour working week. It has allowed the police to receive two 3 per cent indexation pay
increases. In March this year, the Government provided a 5 per cent interim pay increase, which is part
of a permanent pay increase that police can expect to receive in coming weeks. The Government has
also abolished 13 ranks and restructured the service so that there are now seven broad bands of rank,
which allow multiskilling. It also allows police to receive pay increases comparable to the skills that they
possess. The Government has looked at improving morale in the police force. Following
recommendations from the Police Service, the Government has provided police with new uniforms
which are made of better material and provided them with new rank insignias and shoulder patches.
The new uniform looks very smart and appears to be very durable. When it was worn by many officers
recently at the community function at Carindale, it received favourable comment from all present. The
Government has established for the first time an industrial relations section in the Police Service to
address directly any industrial problem that police might
Legislative Assembly 1100 2 October 1991
have. It has established also a personnel section, with personnel officers assigned to each region to
deal with the many personal problems that police have, including critical instant distress debriefing and
other problems for which police need support and infrastructure within their own organisation. This
Government has provided that support. With the handing-over of a police residence at Rosalie to the
chaplaincy service, it has also, for the first time, provided a home for police chaplains. Of course, that
will allow police chaplains better access to police so that they can deal with their personal problems and
with those suffered by their families. The Budget includes an initiative of $190,000 to fund expenses
incurred in that process. As I said earlier, the increase in the Budget allocation for police has been 11.7
per cent and demonstrates clearly the Government’s commitment to rebuilding and revitalising the
Queensland Police Service.
Last year, the Government’s new HOME and HOME Shared programs achieved amazing results.
During the past 12 months, a staggering 5 798 loans, worth in excess of $450m, were made to married
and single Queenslanders. The two programs have created thousands of building jobs and helped
countless families who previously had no hope of getting into their own homes. This Government is
providing those programs. In fact, this Government is now the largest lender of home finance for owner
occupancy in this State. Each month, HOME and HOME Shared loan approvals average more than
630, pouring around $53m into Queensland’s job-creating economy. This represents an incredible
achievement by this Government, and in particular by the Deputy Premier, Tom Burns, that brings
home-ownership within the reach of many thousands of Queenslanders, both married and single, who
12 months ago would have had no chance of having home-ownership available to them.
Mr Coomber: Helping the battlers.
Mr ELDER: It helps the battlers. I was quite appalled by the honourable member’s comments
earlier in the debate about helping battlers. He would not know a battler if he fell over one.
Mr Coomber: We have got them on the coast.
Mr ELDER: That is the honourable member’s problem. I ask him to tell me how many battlers he
has in his electorate. I can tell him how many there are in mine. I can tell him my background. I will bet
that my background concerning this matter far outweighs any experiences that he would have had in
dealing with those who were in poor and low socio-economic circumstances. I will not go into the
comments that he made during this debate, suffice it to say that they were appalling.
The Government has also upgraded assistance schemes for existing home-owners with serious
permanent financial problems because of unforeseen circumstances far beyond their control. Inside a
year, this Government has firmly established the popular new home-ownership programs, despite the
doubts—and they still exist—and criticisms of our conservative political opponents. The evidence far
outweighs their criticism. But we still hear of the doubts from them. This Government is giving
Queenslanders low-deposit, fixed-interest home-ownership. As I said earlier, the interest rates are fixed
for 10 years. Some 15 years ago, the interest rates were fixed at 5 per cent, and those who took out
loans still benefit.
Mr Coomber: They are 3 per cent higher at the moment.
Mr ELDER: It has nothing to do with the rates being 3 per cent higher at present. That is the
problem. It is over the honourable member’s head, I am afraid.
Dr Watson interjected.
Mr ELDER: The honourable member should not comment; it is well and truly over his head. As I
said, inside a year the Government firmly established this popular program.
Legislative Assembly 1101 2 October 1991
Queenslanders who had no chance whatsoever of buying a new home and who were trapped
indefinitely as renters are now enjoying the home-ownership that they never had previously. I will cite an
example, if I have it here somewhere.
Dr Watson: You probably lost it.
Mr ELDER: It would not matter; I can recall it. The entire electorate of Manly had no more than
504 units of public housing. I can recall that, earlier in this debate, a conversation occurred between the
Treasurer and a number of others about the provision of rental assistance in Labor electorates. I inform
the honourable member that upon my election I was appalled to find that the Government could hardly
cater for those who were on the waiting list. In my electorate, there is a waiting list of thousands, and it
will be four years before I can provide any rental assistance for people. That is an absolutely appalling
state of affairs that had been allowed to occur by the previous administration. This year, a total of
$620m will be provided under the Government’s home-ownership programs. It will assist 8 000
Queensland households to own a home of their own. That is the difference between this Government
and the previous Government. The standard and availability of housing is one of the most crucial
influences on the quality of life of families and individuals in this State. This Government has recognised
that that basic requirement was needed and it has acted accordingly. Many of the problems that exist
manifested themselves after 34 years of inactivity in this State. To use an old cliche, as far as this
Government is concerned, “We put our money where our mouths are.”
Mr STEPHAN (Gympie) (8.26 p.m.): I am pleased to join in this debate. The member for Manly
has just spoken about battlers. If anybody knows about battlers, it is the Labor Party—it is creating
more and more of them. By its policies, the Labor Party is ensuring that there are many battlers in this
country at present.
Mr Elder: That’s rubbish. Get out in the suburbs and have a look.
Mr STEPHAN: If the honourable member would like to stand up and say that there is not more
unemployment now than there was two years ago and that his friends in Canberra, Melbourne and
Adelaide are not doing anything to help him, I believe that he cannot add up too well at all. If he is
proud of what his friends, his counterparts and the policies of this Government are doing, I do not see
too much hope for the rest of us.
A previous speaker—Ms Spence, I think it was—was very keen on blaming the previous
Government for many things. She blamed it for causing the long waiting list for Housing Commission
homes. The Housing Commission now has a longer waiting list than it had a few years ago. People are
now being told that they will have to wait for 12 months.
Mr D’Arcy: There is better housing available.
Mr STEPHAN: I hope it is better housing. I hope it is four times better than it was in the past.
However, the previous Government did not tell applicants that they had to wait at least 12 months
before their application would be considered.
Mr Elder: You were telling applicants in my area they had no chance; they could go elsewhere.
Mr STEPHAN: I have not heard of people being told that they had no chance at all. The
honourable member may have told them that when he was elected, just to try to make a big name for
himself, and then may have said to them, “We will cut it back. It will be only 12 months.” As far as I can
see it, that seems to be a strange sort of mentality to have.
Mr ELDER: I rise to a point of order. I ask that that comment be withdrawn. At no time have I
ever made those comments to my constituents. I have told them exactly the truth in relation to the
Housing Commission allocation in my area.
Mr STEPHAN: It is a bit thin. I will withdraw it. However, I did not say that the honourable
member said it. I said there is every indication that he may have said it.
Legislative Assembly 1102 2 October 1991
Mr ELDER: I rise to a point of order. I ask for a withdrawal.
Mr STEPHAN: I am not too sure what I have to withdraw. What I said was that there was every
indication that he may have said it. Obviously it upsets him, so I will withdraw the comment.
I turn now to the comments made yesterday by the member for Maryborough in the Matters of
Public Interest debate. As in previous times, he had his speech-writers working overtime to try to protect
him. He needs all the support he can get to protect him. His comments should be borne in mind. I
notice that Mr Nunn is in the Chamber. He will need a bit of support, too. There was every indication
that when the member for Maryborough came into this place, he came in as a champion of the timber
Mr Nunn: You came up to Maryborough especially to see me.
Mr STEPHAN: When I was in Maryborough for that meeting, the honourable member was hiding
at the back of the hall. There was room on the stage for him, but neither he nor Mr Dollin was up there.
That meeting, which was called to protest the decision made about Fraser Island, was attended by a
considerable number of people.
Mr Nunn: Was it you who knocked off the donation bucket up the back of the hall?
Mr STEPHAN: Was there a donation bucket there? I did not realise that there was a bucket
there in which to put donations. I am surprised that the honourable member went to those lengths to
put a donation bucket in that hall. He did not call that gathering together, so I am surprised that he took
that measure. I remind honourable members of what Mr Dollin said during this debate.
Mr Nunn: He’s secure, too.
Mr STEPHAN: I realise that this is upsetting the honourable member. Yesterday, Mr Dollin said—
“The Premier and the Goss Government have kept their commitment to stand by the workers
and families of Maryborough and have developed a range of measures that will not only ensure
that individual timber-workers who are displaced will receive long-term support and alternative
employment but also (be) secure . . . ”
After the package was announced, Mr Dollin was heard to say that that would at least ensure his re-
election at the next election. That does not do too much for anybody’s confidence.
Mr Elder: What did you do after the National Party interfered with sand-mining on Fraser Island?
What compensation package did you have to offer?
Mr STEPHAN: There was not very much there, either. There is not very much in this lot, either. I
notice that the Premier is in the Chamber, and I will deal with that matter later. Mr Dollin said also—
“I have never hesitated to tell them”—
his Cabinet colleagues—
“to their face just what had to be done for Maryborough. As a result of Mr Fitzgerald’s
representations . . . ”
In his maiden speech, Mr Dollin stated—
“Timber is one of the very few renewable resources of this planet. Some minerals may be
worth more monetarily, but a hole in the ground is neither renewable nor sustainable.
Queensland’s limited timber resources can be extended if they are managed responsibly.”
Legislative Assembly 1103 2 October 1991
Mr Dollin then said—
“Until now, most of my working life has been spent in the timber industry . . . I hope that I can
impress upon members of this Parliament the importance of the timber industry . . . ”
Obviously, Mr Dollin has failed to impress on members, including his own Cabinet colleagues, the
importance of the timber industry, which has been wound down in the Maryborough and Cooloola
After that particular package was announced, one press release stated “Fraser Island package a
disgrace”. It must be remembered that, in the long term, hardwood timber is of far better quality than
other timbers that have been put forward. This Government has offered no alternative supply of
hardwood timber to replace the timber that has been lost from Fraser Island and the Cooloola region.
Mr Nunn: You ask the blokes on the barge. They were hauling hollow logs full of sand from
Fraser Island to Maryborough for 130 years.
Mr STEPHAN: Hollow logs full of sand? Is that what Mr Dollin says they have been taking from
Fraser Island? Mr Nunn does not know much about the timber in Fraser Island if he believes that they
have done nothing but remove hollow logs full of sand. Nothing could be further from the truth. I am
surprised that the honourable member has made that statement. The package was worth nothing in
Gympie; it was not worth very much in Maryborough, either. If it was, Mr Nunn and Mr Dollin would not
be as concerned as they are. An article in the Gympie Times stated—
“Gympie workers who made up one third of the total workforce affected by the logging ban
can expect no long term projects to adequately replace jobs lost as a result of the ban.”
The Premier has admitted that that is the case. In a letter to the Widgee Shire Council, he stated—
“I acknowledge that to date there has been closer consultation with committees and interest
groups in Maryborough and Hervey Bay than there has been with Widgee Shire Council.”
The Premier is now saying that he wants to give a little bit of compensation and consideration to the
Widgee and Gympie regions, which lost one-third of their work force as a result of that decision. Let me
consider what was offered in that compensation package. There will be a thinning of softwood
plantations in the Maryborough/Gympie region and, I believe, down to Kilcoy. That should happen
anyway under usual management arrangements in pine plantations in that area. This is not extra
compensation; it is part of the work that would be carried out at any time. Roads on Fraser Island are to
be upgraded. Because many tourist operators conduct tours on Fraser Island, road upgrading has
already taken place there. The Government claims that it is doing more road upgrading to cater for the
increased numbers of tourist operators who will go there. If that is what the Government believes will
happen, it might be disappointed. In many instances, areas that have been World Heritage listed have
had no increase at all in tourist trade.
Mr Nunn: What a load of tripe!
Mr STEPHAN: If the member had listened to what was said at that meeting in Maryborough, he
would have heard that statement. They are not my words. That was said by one of the speakers at that
meeting in Maryborough.
The woodchip program has been talked about for quite some time. It is estimated that there are
1.7 million cubic metres of woodchip available in excess of current requirements. That may be so, and it
may not. Some pine forests should be chipped
Legislative Assembly 1104 2 October 1991
together with hardwood forests on Fraser Island, not as a result of the cessation of logging. One factor
that may be of assistance in that regard is the Maryborough heritage project. That would be of
assistance to Maryborough. Tied up in that package was $900,000 for a road in Maryborough. About a
month ago, the road was finished. It had already been built, yet the Government was holding that up
as another amount of money for compensation. In addition, about $200,000 or $300,000 is to be used
to employ two or three people to go up there as a PR exercise. What is this? Is it the “return Nunn and
Dollin” project? Is it designed to return them to this place as members? It is certainly a wish gone bad.
Let us consider what the timber-millers have had to say about it. They are concerned about the
future of the milling industry. One of them wrote to the Premier, but he has not yet received a reply.
Mr Nunn: Who was it?
Mr STEPHAN: It was Perry Corbet from the Gympie Timber Company. He is very concerned.
Because of losses that the company will face in the future, it is left with no choice but to close down or,
alternatively, to purchase a sawmill further west for the purpose of obtaining an allocation of logs. In his
letter, he states—
“20 to 25% of a small allocation is a big loss and reduced throughput makes us totally
Then he asked the Premier—
“What assurances will the Government give our company that the allocation, after being
purchased, won’t also be relinquished for National Park purposes? Now Wayne if your party does
not want this industry, don’t kid us around, tell us the truth so that we can close down with dignity.”
The Premier has not even given that fellow the courtesy of an answer to his letter. Those people want
to know where they are going. They want to know what the future is. If they must purchase another
allocation, will they still face the situation that exists now and be unable to continue logging even with
People in some parts of north Queensland are beginning to ask, “Why the difference? Why is so
much money being spent on Maryborough when the same compensation package and the same
interest was not given to us?” Tied up in this is the decision to transfer some of the forest area of the
Conondales to national parks. About 7 000 hectares are to become part of national parks and 3 000
hectares of State forest are to be excluded from any timber-production activities, which adds up to
10 000 hectares. In a ministerial statement, the Minister for Primary Industries said—
“. . . these recommendations are only a first step towards any eventual Government action in the
Conondale Range area.”
Even the Queensland Timber Board had something to say about it. It stated—
“. . . the industry will lose up to 15 percent of its annual cut from the managed State Forests of the
Conondales. This will have an adverse economic effect on the nine sawmills which draw supplies
from the region and on their employees.”
As an example of that, last week I visited one of the mills at Woodford. The millers are in a very
difficult position. They should have spent more than $1m on upgrading their mill to enable them to
keep up with the modern technology that is available. However, because of the decision to transfer
some of the forestry area into national parks, it appears that the mill will close down. The 30-odd
employees who work there will lose their jobs. I said earlier that the Government was making the
battlers, and members will have an idea why I said that. By putting them out of business, the
Government is turning those people into battlers. If Government members think that that is assisting
industry, I have
Legislative Assembly 1105 2 October 1991
bad news for them. I suggest that they talk to some of those people—not talk at them, but listen to
what they have to say. They should show an understanding of their problems and give the impression
that they want to help.
I turn to the World Heritage listing of Fraser Island. On 1 October, the proposed listing was
presented to the authorities. Included in that listing is Camp Kerr, the military training reserve at Tin Can
Bay. The original Fitzgerald recommendations for World Heritage listing did not include that area, but, in
all its wisdom, the Federal Government has decided that it will include the artillery range in the World
Heritage listing. I wonder what the reason for that is. Is the World Heritage listing meant to close down
the army reserve? Does it mean that the firing that has been going on there for the past 40-odd years
has not done any damage to the environment of the area? I would like to think that at least some of
those shells left their mark where they landed, yet that area was recommended for World Heritage
listing. I cannot follow or understand the Government’s attitude on that.
Mention has been made of drought assistance. Some fairly severe fires have gone through the
pastoral areas. I want to mention two things. One is the molasses that Mr Casey has so wonderfully
found in the past week or so. A few days before he did that, I telephoned Mr Casey’s office to
determine why molasses was not being made available from the southern part of Queensland—from
Maryborough to Bundaberg. I was told by someone in Mr Casey’s office that there was no problem and
that plenty of molasses was available. I said that that was not the story I was getting from primary
producers who had orders placed for two or three truckloads and wanted to fill their tanks. I was told it
could not be supplied. I asked one of these men to ring this gentleman, and he did so. Surprise,
surprise— within a short time, 9 000 tonnes of molasses, which was to be exported to New Zealand,
was found. Why would we be thinking of exporting molasses to New Zealand when cattle are short of
I compliment the rural fire brigades and the Fire Service for the way they have handled the recent
very severe fires in the State. These fires have been controlled with the assistance of very dedicated
officers. At times it looked as if these fires would get completely out of control, but no houses have
been lost. However, there has been a severe loss of grass. Even though the grass was dry, in many
instances it was food for cattle and could have been mixed with the molasses or grain. It would have
made a very good buffer to feed the cattle, which under normal circumstances would have eaten the
I turn now to look at what a National Party Government would do, even though it is very difficult to
say from the Opposition side of the Chamber exactly what we would do. Over the last 30-odd years the
National Party has operated very successfully and it left the State in a very good, sound financial
position. The National Party would certainly abolish land tax. After a lot of pressure was brought to bear,
the present Government has seen fit to reduce land tax. It was only after it began to feel the heat and
the reaction to the National Party’s decision to abolish land tax that the Government took this decision.
The Government has also improved payroll tax concessions. This has occurred each year for many
years. As the inflation rate increases, so, too, should the threshold of payroll tax be increased. The
National Party has decided that it will lift these payroll tax concessions a little higher. A conservative
Government would reintroduce the northern enterprise zone. When the Labor Party took office, it went
out of its way to talk about regionalisation, but the regionalisation that it has been referring to is not
from Brisbane to other centres; it will take services away from smaller centres and put them into larger
places such as Maryborough, Bundaberg and Rockhampton. The Government is merely transferring
some of the responsibility away from the smaller centres. I am not saying that Gympie is a small centre,
but it has certainly not been on the receiving end of any of these regional offices
Legislative Assembly 1106 2 October 1991
and I thought that would have been the case. Gympie is a very stable centre with a tremendous
amount to offer. I would not like to think that, because it is represented by a member of the National
Party, the Labor Party would make a decision that it would not give anything to it. This would be a very
childish attitude to take and one that will not go unnoticed if it happens.
A National Party Government would reactivate the plan for the electrification of the railway line
north from Mackay. It must be recognised that the electrification of the railways in Queensland has
been very successful and has ensured smooth and comfortable transportation for passengers. We
would ensure the go-ahead of the Tully/Millstream project. This Government is filibustering about this
project, although I do not know why. Perhaps it thinks it will recover some of the land and save the
trees. In fact, this hydroelectric scheme is the cleanest type of electricity generation project and one that
will continue without enormous amounts of money being spent to maintain it. The National Party would
ensure that the State’s essential services of health, education, police, emergency services, family
welfare and primary industries are funded so that they can service a decentralised State. The Labor
Government is going out of its way to ensure that there will be not too much left for the primary
producers of this State. It does not think too highly of what they have to offer. For example, one of the
Public Sector Management Commission recommendations is that the DPI vigorously investigate the
issue of existing Commonwealth programs, including the funding of farm counsellor positions and
pursue opportunities for funding of the program by banks. They are shifting the responsibility and
hoping that someone else will take up the cause.
There is a recommendation that the fruit and vegetable market reporting service at Rocklea be
offered to the market trust or chamber. If the service is not taken up by these organisations, then it is to
be discontinued with the consequential saving of three staff. It is that saving that is very important to
the Government. A further recommendation is that the Standards Branch cease inspection of fruit and
vegetables sold within Queensland at both wholesale and retail markets. This is an example of what is
in the Government’s mind for primary industries. I turn to the rationalisation of research stations. The
Government’s idea of rationalising research stations is to close them down. The stations at Redlands,
Rocklea, Bowen and Walkamin are some of the stations that the Government has in mind to close
down or rationalise. The Government has built up a hollow-log mentality and if it can find any money
that could have been used or should have been used and has been saved, it will get its hands on it
and spend it wherever it can. This is a well-known trend in the Labor Party. The Queensland Labor
Government has just begun to dabble in schemes that will ensure that it will end up in much the same
way as Cain, Bannon and Wran finished. They found it easy to raid so-called hollow logs, with
disastrous results in the southern States. Right across Australia, Labor has established a record of
spendthrift policies, but that did not bother the Queensland Premier. Prior to the last election, he
“Just as business has prospered under the economic stewardship of John Cain in Victoria and
John Bannon in South Australia so too will business prosper under a Goss Labor Government in
That statement is an indication of the Premier’s thinking at the time and of what he thinks now. It is
certainly also an indication of Labor policy that is going bad—very bad indeed. Mr De Lacy is looking
across at me and grinning, but this morning I heard him say that Mr Burns went to the downs three
weeks ago and found the drought before anybody else did. What a statement! A few weeks ago, the
Minister for Primary Industries said that producers should realise that there is a difference between a dry
spell and a drought. I wonder whether the Primary Industries Minister realises what the difference is.
Legislative Assembly 1107 2 October 1991
Mr Stoneman: You know, he is the laughing-stock of the whole of the primary industries
Mr STEPHAN: I have noticed that, since he made that statement, Mr Burns has taken up the
role of Government spokesman for Primary Industries. He has set up a task force, and Mr Casey has
been very quiet indeed.
Mr Stoneman: There is Mr Casey; there is Mr McGrady; and there is Mr Burns. They have about
seven Ministers for Primary Industries.
Mr STEPHAN: The Labor Party has got a few, and it needs all the assistance it can get at the
M r S t o n e m a n : Mr Foley looks like a good prospect.
Mr STEPHAN: I do not think Mr Foley would help very much with his resources out in the
suburbs. I do not think they would go down very well at all. Before the time for my speech runs out, I
wish to spend a minute or two on the environment protection legislation and the public consultation that
is supposed to be taking place throughout the State.
Mr Elder: You know all about public meetings. I have heard you have been to some very
successful public meetings.
Mr STEPHAN: The member for Manly knows all about them, too.
Mr Elder: Are you going to chip in to cover the debt?
Mr STEPHAN: I attended a public meeting in Maryborough.
Mr Elder: It was 700 light.
Mr STEPHAN: I learned a little bit about what goes on at the back of the hall, and I have also
learned a little in the last couple of days about how to run a public meeting when the aim is public
consultation. For example, in relation to the environment protection legislation, the Labor Government
placed an advertisement in the Gympie Times stating that a meeting would be held in Gympie on
Wednesday, 2 October. There was no mention of the venue because that would have let everybody
know where the meeting was to be held. If people wanted to attend the meeting, they had to ring a
telephone number, and afterwards they would receive a booklet. I rang the telephone number, and I
received a little package. I wanted to let people know that this consultative process was happening, so I
put a note in my weekly report. I was inundated with requests from those who wanted to know what was
in the package.
Mr D’ARCY (Woodridge) (8.56 p.m.): After the tirade from the member for Gympie, I wish to
congratulate the Treasurer on the Budget that has been brought down in fairly difficult economic
conditions Australiawide. I think that the most important promise that Queenslanders can rely upon the
Goss Government to keep is that, during its three-year term, there will be no new taxes. That promise
has been adhered to. At a time when economic conditions are not easy throughout Australia,
Queensland has performed better than all the other Australian States. The fact is that Australia is in a
recession, and some people would even call it a depression. Under those circumstances, for the
Queensland Government’s to meet its commitment is certainly a major feat. As many Government
members have already pointed out, this Government has not only fulfilled its commitment but also
been able to meet many of the other policy objectives, particularly in the area of social reform, that the
Queensland public expect a Labor Government to meet after such a long period of conservative rule. It
has already been mentioned that this Government has concentrated on improving education facilities
Several members of this Parliament have mentioned that significant increases in education
expenditure, particularly in the general education field, have been provided by
Legislative Assembly 1108 2 October 1991
this Budget. However, it is even more pleasing for me to note increases in funding allocated to TAFE
education which have resulted in increased opportunities for education and training.
Mr Rowell: It depends where you live.
Mr D’ARCY: The fact of life is that my electorate is a densely populated area. Because it is a
Labor area, in the past it was neglected and disadvantaged for a long time. Now the area has a new
TAFE college that is making available a large number of places to students. Moreover, this Government
intends to implement a record capital works program worth $3 billion that will provide a boost to
employment opportunities in that area by providing an additional 8 000 jobs. New employment and
training initiatives costing $70m are expected to result in a 21 per cent increase in employment
opportunities, and should result in an additional 9 400 training places being made available by TAFE.
The new TAFE college at Loganlea has been a boon to the area, but even that facility has not been
able to produce many of the required courses.
Presently, there is insufficient room for the 4 000 students who attend the college to undertake the
courses that will give them the skills that are in great demand. Therefore, the TAFE college will benefit
greatly from the $400,000 in additional funding that will be provided through the initiatives implemented
by this Government. It is hoped that the types of courses that will be established this year will be in the
fields of light engineering and air-conditioning that have previously not been available to people who
live in my electorate and surrounding areas. These are the types of things within the Logan area that
are needed—those boosts in employment–initiated education. There has also been a general boost,
probably the biggest, in education that meets the Labor Party’s commitment in the last few years.
There is a consolidated revenue increase of about 8 per cent. That is rather major when one thinks
about the way general economies are going in many areas. Revenues are falling. It is interesting to
note as well that one of the taxes that most Governments detest—and it is certainly one that the Labor
Party is not in favour of, but it is absolutely necessary as a major tax—is payroll tax. Again, the base
has been lifted. Eventually, in July 1992, it will be $600,000. They are the types of absolutely necessary
things that the Treasurer has been able to incorporate in Government programs.
The other industry that has been suffering in this time of recession, and is one industry that can
actually improve the economic conditions in the State, is tourism. It has been mentioned that lower air
fares, brought about as a result of competition between airlines, a new airline coming into the market,
and deregulation, has meant a significant increase in tourism. It makes a lot of sense that the Treasurer
was able to increase funding in that area by some $8m. This means that not only are jobs created but
also it gives the tourist industry, which had been hampered by the previous Government, the impetus
that it needed to provide additional promotional campaigns that will filter through the entire industry. Of
course, this will mean a positive return in some areas.
This Government has already received a positive return, as I said, in the area of education.
Education funding increased by $250m in the first Budget. It has been increased in real terms by
$260m in the Government’s second Budget. These are the areas in which the Treasurer can be proud
of his achievements.
The other areas that particularly interest me are those of environment and conservation.
Queenslanders have been promised protection of the environment. The funding of $11.5m has been
provided in the Budget so that by the end of 1991-92 more than 2.9 million hectares of new park estate
will have been added to the national park estate. These are areas in which Labor voters have missed
out for a long time, although people in other States have been used to them for the past few decades.
Legislative Assembly 1109 2 October 1991
Because I am a member of the Deputy Premier’s committee on housing, I have been impressed
by the increased funding for housing. This subject has been mentioned by previous speakers, but for
the average Queenslander to be able to acquire a home under a Government scheme that is realistic,
factually based on real budgetary terms and is working, is something that was never achieved by
previous National/Liberal Party Governments. Today, it was ridiculous to hear some of the Liberals in
the House talking about the interest rate that is charged. Most of those honourable members would not
have a clue on the subject, because I do not suppose they even understand how the banking system
works. Under the HOME scheme, the Deputy Premier has provided a fixed interest rate over a 10-year
period. There is not a banking or financial institution of any description in this country that will risk a 10-
year fixed interest term.
Mr Dunworth: There would be at 10 per cent.
Mr D’ARCY: There is not one.
Dr Watson: There are.
Mr D’ARCY: I would like the honourable member to tell me of a financial institution that could risk
a 10-year fixed interest term. There is not one. The honourable member does not know what he is
talking about, as usual. The loans of most banking or financial institutions are for one, two or three-year
terms. There is no fixed interest rate, I think, over a three-year term. This Government is offering a 10-
year term. As usual, the Liberal Party members do not know what they are talking about. They have no
concept of the basis of economic policy and so we hear the usual guff that the Labor Government gets
from members of the Liberal Party. They have failed totally to understand economic conditions in this
Liberal Party members interjected.
Mr D’ARCY: Listen to the rabble! The fact of life is that the members of the Liberal Party have
never understood economic policy as it relates to the ordinary person, or the “battlers”, as the Deputy
Premier likes to describe them. By fixing a 10-year term at that rate, this Government has provided
protection for small home-owners. In my electorate, and in other electorates where similar damage has
been done, people are not able to budget for long-term commitments, particularly when it comes to
housing. Housing is one area in which inflation will reduce the cost of investment in the long term.
Again, that is something that Liberal Party members would not understand. The fact is that a budgetary
rearrangement can always be reached on a set of figures. When the banks went berserk and raised
their interest rates to 15 per cent and 20 per cent, battlers were taking out loans that in saner times no-
one would have taken out. Nevertheless, those people took them from finance companies—a lot of
which are going to the wall at the present time—and their interest rates went to 20 per cent, 21 per
cent, and 22 per cent. Of course, the monthly payments on these loans also increased by 21 per cent
and 22 per cent. Quite frankly, nobody could afford it. It sent families to the wall. That is the policy that
Liberal Party members want to reintroduce, where there is an unreal market value fluctuation that just
changes overnight, which is what happened. The Government is making a sensible contribution to the
long-term stability of the housing market. People know that their repayment is $300, $150, or $100 a
month and that it will stay at that level for 10 years. It is enough for average people to say that they
have stability in their home loan. It is something, obviously, that the conservatives in this House do not
understand. I congratulate Mr Burns on the initiatives being taken in that regard. Members opposite do
not understand the basis of this Government’s achievements.In Australia, and in Queensland in
Mr Dunworth interjected.
Legislative Assembly 1110 2 October 1991
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Mr J. N. Goss): Order! I ask the member for Sherwood to
interject from his usual seat.
Mr D’ARCY: I am used to the rabble, Mr Temporary Chairman. It does not faze me. Having sung
the praises of the Budget, it must be acknowledged that we are living in difficult economic times. When
one looks at it on a national, local and worldwide basis, one realises that it is not going to be easy in the
next decade. The test of this Budget will be whether or not in 12 months’ time an adjustment has to be
made. I believe that the Treasurer has set his figures well and that within that term those figures are
going to be able to be sustained. But, let us face it, the current economic climate is not good. I do not
think that anyone realistically expects it to improve significantly in the next 12 months. Although there
have been some areas of improvement, Queensland is suffering probably the worst drought in recent
times. There is certainly a downturn in prices.
The Liberals like to refer to my world travels. What they do not understand is that Australia has
been in the grip of agricultural product drift, as I would describe it. Australia has been competing against
world agricultural markets which have not been playing fair. The Japanese, the Americans and the EC
have not been playing fair. They have been subsidising, dumping, and pulling every trick in the book,
while Australia to a large extent has been playing on a level playing field and asking the world trade
organisations through the GATT agreement—particularly at the Uruguay round of talks—to come to an
agreement on agricultural subsidies and to stabilise agricultural products throughout the world. It has
not happened, but at least the door is still open. I think that Australia and Queensland owe it to our
agricultural producers to keep that door open and leave open the way for negotiation.
It is my firm belief that even with the current economic conditions, in time the nations of the world
will have to reach a stage at which they can no longer continue to engage in dumping, subsidisation
and cross-subsidisation. Australia is good at sugar production, meat production, wheat production, the
production of cereals and so on. It is important that during this period of drought our producers are able
to keep up production, because eventually this country will reap the rewards. It would be my contention,
having been a free trader all my life, that it is time we started to take a more aggressive and competitive
stance in negotiations with our near neighbours and the people with whom we deal. The fact is that the
passive resolve of a market force that we have been promoting over the last decade has not worked.
When George Bush arrives, I do not think there will be much use in the farmers protesting about
American subsidies, because to some extent the United States is in the same boat as the other nations
with which it is dealing. They are stealing our markets in areas where they obviously should not.
The Australian farmer—the Australian producer—is one of the most efficient in the world. Over the
last century, given a task on a reasonable playing field, he has proven that he is able to produce a
product that is highly competitive on the world market. However, obviously he cannot compete against
unfair market forces, and that is exactly what has been happening during the last decade or so. Having
seen the initiatives that are taking place throughout the world and seeing what is happening with GATT,
knowing that the Uruguay round of talks is still open and that the group of nations with whom we are
associated met in Cairns and formed an agreement, I know that inroads are being made into that
market. I say that we have to keep that area alive.
I also believe firmly that it is time that initiatives were taken in the tertiary treatment of many mineral
products that have not been utilised in this State. In many instances, it is money, and on many
occasions it is competition; in other cases, it is just the simple fact that we have exported far too much
technology. Nations that have lower income levels have been able to exploit Australian technology and
know-how in the area of tertiary treatment of mineral products and primary produce. I think it is time that
as a nation and as
Legislative Assembly 1111 2 October 1991
a State we put a lot more effort into that area. As I have said before in this Chamber, we have been
duchessed by a National Party Government that had no concept of the power of the multinationals, the
way in which the multinationals handled things, the way in which they accumulated debt for railway
lines, ports and so on right throughout the State that this Government and Queenslanders will pay off
for many years to come. The deals that should have been done to allow for the tertiary treatment of our
mineral products were not done. The expertise in this State and in this country is still in the export of
primary and mineral products. The fact is that of the $48 billion that goes out in product, $15 billion
goes out in primary product, $15 billion in mineral product and, I think, only $9 billion in manufacturing.
Mr Rowell: We’re not competitive, are we?
Mr D’ARCY: We are not competitive, but we are a small nation. Shortly, I will deal with another
matter that relates directly to this subject. We are not competitive because we have a problem. The
conservatives on the other side of the Chamber continually blame the worker. They claim that it is
always the worker who makes us less competitive. It is not the worker at all; it is a series of economic
conditions that exist in Queensland and throughout the world that relate largely to the failure of
Governments to provide some direction. At last, we are getting direction from this State Government
and from a national Government which allows us to claim that we will be competitive. However, we must
be competitive in terms that we understand, that is, 17 million people in the Antipodes—as the Liberals
would say. Because of our geographical position, we have massive problems with transport in reaching
markets, which are always changing. We must bolster the markets with which we are presently dealing.
It is worth reminding members that 36 per cent of our exports go to Japan. We export only 14 per cent
to the European Community, which includes Britain; 10 per cent to the United States; 6 per cent to
Korea; and 3 per cent to Taiwan, which is basically a part of China. We must remember those figures
and export competitively to those places. They are the markets for which we should continue to
produce and to which we should export our primary and secondary produce.
Under the Nationals, we failed to take advantage of the secondary and tertiary treatment that was
available in Australia. I am a fierce advocate of the MFP, which Queensland lost to South Australia.
However, that does not stop the Queensland Government from heading in that direction. If one studies
MFPs, one learns that their success relates directly to the fact that people of similar talents, particularly
in the field of economics, like to congregate together. The problem is that the Nationals left us with port
facilities all along the coast with ships moored off them. We knew in the fifties and sixties that
Gladstone should have had such a facility. The former Government took that benefit from Queensland.
Gladstone could have been the site for the tertiary treatment of minerals. Had such a development
taken place, it would be of tremendous advantage today. Gladstone has a tremendous harbour. During
World War II, MacArthur said that he could fit the American fleet in Gladstone harbour. It is true.
However, when the Nationals were in Government, they robbed Gladstone and the people of
Queensland and left us with debts that have not allowed us to accumulate proper port facilities. If the
facilities had been constructed in Gladstone, today we would have tertiary treatment plants there.
However, because of the previous Government’s attitude, that is not the case. This Government has to
hasten slowly, but it will head in the direction of establishing a manufacturing base in areas such as
Gladstone, and Queensland will become a leader in manufacturing industries in Australia.
I turn now to casinos, in which I have always held an interest. I do not intend to drop a bucket on
anyone, but I must state that the arrangement arrived at when the Jupiters Casino Agreement Act was
passed by this Parliament in the early eighties was aborted by the Jupiters development board in the
late eighties. I will instance what occurred to a
Legislative Assembly 1112 2 October 1991
constituent of mine because of the way Jupiters rorted the system. This Parliament granted Jupiters a
trust which gave the Minister of the day certain powers to change the legislation to allow different
entrepreneurs to come and go. A public issue of shares in the casino was then floated and was
oversubscribed. Many of the people who bought shares were people who had bought shares for the
first time, some of them being constituents of mine. At that time, the Jupiter organisation applied under
the Jupiter Casino Agreement Act, which was altered by the National Party by Order in Council, to
establish what it called a Jupiters development board which, in reality, allowed the trust that was
supposed to be the vehicle for management and control of the property to become merely the landlord
of the operation. The reason that Jupiters gave the casino control officers was that it wanted to go into
other tourist ventures. It claimed that, because of the trust arrangement, it was confined to only
Broadbeach Island, which was a load of rot. The real reason that Jupiters made that application was to
obtain a tax dodge that existed at that time before Treasurer Keating closed the loophole.
Last Friday, we saw the charade of Jupiters tendering for a new casino in Brisbane in order to
eliminate competition. It now wishes to drop the development trust and enter again into the original
trust. In the meantime, the people in my electorate who took shares in the original trust were asked by
the development company to buy extra shares. They were sent a letter which stated, “If you want to be
in the new trust, you have got to put in an extra $1,000.” Many of them did not do it, either because
they did not have the money or because they did not understand. Those shares were taken up by the
entrepreneurs at the head of the consortium. The Jupiters trust share—the original share that was
authorised by the Parliament—dropped to about $1.60. Meanwhile, the development share, which the
management company could have bought at par, rose immediately to $5 or $6. In reality, those people
were tremendously disadvantaged by something that that company did and that the National Party, as
the Government, allowed to happen by Orders in Council. It was a rort. Last Friday, it was a shame to
see that that very same company had to go back to its share-holders and say, “We want to present a
united front for the whole thing. We are going to put it all back in the trash can again.” That occurred
despite the fact that many public share-holders in this State had missed out.
I congratulate the Treasurer on the Budget. I look forward to the figures contained in it being
cemented in history. As I said, the most important thing about the Budget is that it includes no new
taxes but it provides massive increases in allocations to health, education and the environment. That is
a commitment that this Government has made to the people of Queensland.
Mr COOMBER (Currumbin) (9.23 p.m.): It is a pleasure to enter this debate and to follow “Bill the
Battler” from Raby Bay.
Mr Beattie: Be nice to him.
Mr COOMBER: The member for Brisbane Central made a few comments about the Budget, but
the only figures that he can add up correctly are those contained in the bills that he issues to his clients.
Being a lawyer, he is expert in that.
Mr Elder: I am interested to hear you talk about battlers.
Mr COOMBER: The member for Manly talks about battlers. At least I have been a battler.
Perhaps I am no longer a battler, but at least I have been there. My colleague Dr Watson has expertly
explained the shortcomings of the second De Lacy Budget, a Budget for the wrong State at the wrong
time. It is a Budget that really snubs the Gold Coast. The Gold Coast and other tourist areas in
Queensland have been insulted by the lack of direction offered by this Budget. The tourist industry has
been hoodwinked with statements of extra funding to market tourism in Queensland. The fact of the
matter is that, depending upon what savings may be found in the Budget from the Queensland
Legislative Assembly 1113 2 October 1991
Tourist and Travel Corporation, money may be available to market Queensland as a destination. Here
is the real reason for the sacking of 41 staff from the Queensland Tourist and Travel Corporation. Those
poor people form part of the savings. There are 41 jobs on the scrap heap to help fund the marketing
of Queensland tourism. The Gold Coast really has been snubbed with an insulting allocation of less
than 2 per cent of the extended capital works program. With more than 10 per cent of the State’s
population living in the Gold Coast region, the Gold Coast has been allocated little more than $55m out
of a massive $3 billion.
The idea of a huge capital works program was to provide and stimulate employment. With
unemployment on the Gold Coast at the highest levels in the State, this Government has condemned
the kids on the Gold Coast to a life on the dole. The Gold Coast deserved a better deal. Let us look
further to see what else has been taken away from the Gold Coast to fund works in other electorates,
mainly Labor electorates. Where is the funding for the new hospital at Robina? The population in the
Gold Coast region is exploding. Land was purchased for a future hospital at Robina. What is the future
of this facility? I suggest that its future is similar to that of the Gold Coast railway—the link to Brisbane;
the link to relieve some pressure on the Gold Coast highway. This Budget again stalls the construction
of that facility for at least another five years. This Government has deserted the Gold Coast, and at the
next election its voters will reflect their disgust with Labor. The rail link is a priority. Not to include in this
Budget funding to start the construction is criminal.
It is interesting to note that today’s Gold Coast Bulletin was quite critical of the Minister’s statement
that the railway would be finished by 1995. It is quite clear from the South East Queensland Passenger
Transport Study that the completion date for the Brisbane to Robina link has now been put back to the
year 2000. That was categorised in the report. However, Mr Hamill——
Mr Bredhauer: Have you read the report?
M r C O O M B E R : Yes, I have had a quick look at the report.
Mr Bredhauer: The report goes for a couple of thousand pages. You can’t have read it in the
last day and a half, for Heaven’s sake.
Mr COOMBER: Of course it does. But at least I have the capacity to skim through and pick out
the salient points concerning my region. The Transport Minister, Mr Hamill, still believes that the Gold
Coast rail link is a very desirable development and needs to be completed this decade. It is a pity that
he cannot get his figures right and get the rail link on track.
This Government is milking the Gold Coast dry to fund projects in other areas. Land tax of some
$70m is used to fund capital works in Labor electorates. This Government could not even return the
land tax revenue to an area from which it was collected. Add to this the stamp duties collected from
conveyancing, payroll tax and workers’ compensation, all of which are collected from Gold Coast real
estate and Gold Coast businesses. I inform the Treasurer that the Gold Coast is sick of this happening
and that business is revolting against those excessive charges. I ask the Treasurer: where are the funds
collected by the disbanded Gold Coast Waterways Authority? Where are the dredging programs using
funds collected from sea-bed leases, boat licences, pontoons, etc? Let us look at the harbour
corporation’s allocation of works. The work is being carried out at Abbot Point, which is in a Labor
electorate; at Hay Point, in a Labor electorate; at Mourilyan, in a Labor electorate; on Thursday Island,
in a Labor electorate, and at Weipa, which is in a Labor electorate. That is where the funding is going.
Funding raised on the Gold Coast is being used in Labor electorates. But it gets worse. Page 53 of the
Capital Works Budget paper, which deals with the policy area of transport, sets out the programs
Legislative Assembly 1114 2 October 1991
on which the money will be spent. I am sure that all Liberal and National Party members are interested
in this. Let us see the cronyism of this Government. Some $100,000 will be provided for the Bethania
rail interchange, which is in a Labor electorate. The next program is that of Brisbane City Council bus
acquisition, for which $333,000 will be provided. The next is the Burpengary rail interchange, for which
$200,000 is allocated. That is also in a Labor electorate. The sum of $734,000 will be expended on the
Cairns transit mall, which is in a Labor electorate.
The sum of $150,000 is provided for ferry pontoons at East Brisbane and New Farm—in a Labor
electorate. Improvements will be made to an Ipswich bus stop—in a Labor electorate—at a cost of
$119,000. The sum of $4.8m is allocated for the Kuraby-Beenleigh rail duplication project—in a Labor
electorate. The sum of $200,000 has been provided for the Norman Park rail interchange—in a Labor
electorate. The sum of $115,000 is allocated for the Northgate rail interchange—also in a Labor
electorate. A further sum of $1.017m is provided for the Petrie rail interchange—in a Labor electorate.
An allocation of $100,000 is made for a Springwood bus interchange—in a Labor electorate. A
Townsville bus interchange—in another Labor electorate—has been allocated $500,000. The list goes
I turn to the policy area relating to social welfare and housing. I invite members to peruse those
figures. The sum of $50,000 has been provided for a jetty at Bamaga. The Doomadgee water supply
weir has been allocated a sum of $1m. A sum of $3m has been provided for the Mornington Island
water supply scheme. The Thursday island sewerage scheme has been allocated $540,000. All those
projects are located in a Labor electorate. The sum of $8.853 has been provided for housing
construction in the Torres Strait outer islands—a Labor electorate. A further $15.731 has been allocated
for Aboriginal housing construction. Whenever I go away with members of the Parliamentary Committee
of Public Works, people are happy to say, “We are happy to have Aboriginal settlements in our area
because they vote Labor.”
I invite members to consider the child-care centres listed under “Community Services
Development”. The sum of $8.974 has been provided for child-care centres in Labor electorates. I refer
to “Long Day Care at Capalaba, Coolum, Smithfield, Tewantin, Thuringowa, Brisbane City and
Salisbury”. Does that not make one sick?
I turn now to the policy area of health. In Bundaberg—a Labor electorate—the sum of $950,000 is
allocated for “Fit Out Shell Floor”. An allocation of $2.265m is made for a new psychiatric unit in
Bundaberg. Caboolture—a Labor electorate—is getting a new hospital at a cost of $3.758m. This year,
the hospital at Cairns—a Labor electorate—will receive an air-conditioning system with an allocation of
$500,000. The redevelopment of the Childers Hospital will commence this year with the provision of
$1.128m. That is also a Labor electorate. In Ipswich—another Labor electorate—hospital wards will be
air- conditioned with the allocation of $150,000. As well, an alternative energy system is to be
developed this year in Ipswich with the provision of $800,000. Stage 2 of the Logan Hospital—in a
Labor electorate—has been allocated the sum of $9.4m. In Mackay—another Labor
electorate—construction of a new dental clinic is to commence this year with the allocation of $1.19m. A
maternity unit is to be built at Maryborough—a Labor electorate—with an allocation of $850,000. The
list goes on and on.
I turn now to the issue of land tax. The Liberal Party will abolish land tax, not make adjustments to
the land tax rates to effect a cosmetic reduction for the benefit of the media. The Treasurer has not
fooled anybody. Land tax will continue to increase. The land tax figures included in the Budget
documents are only estimates. Let us wait until the actual collections commence. That is when we will
see the real figures. It is impossible to suggest that business will receive a 14 per cent reduction in land
tax payments when the estimates are increased and this Government has increased the exemptions to
Legislative Assembly 1115 2 October 1991
institutions. In effect, that will reduce land tax collections by some $40m. My rationale suggests that
more land tax will be collected from a smaller number of contributors. It would be foolish to suggest that
more businesses will be created in this recession. In fact, in many cases land tax may well be a debt
payable by the mortgagee or liquidator.
Through the Office of State Revenue, the Treasurer is in collusion with the Valuer-General to
artificially increase land tax payments. The Valuer-General’s Department has changed its thrust in
valuing land. Land tax calculations use as their basis the unimproved capital value. The Valuer-General
has to value the raw land. I am suggesting that land is now being valued at its greatest potential
applicable to the zoning of the land or council consent applicable to that land. I cite one example. A
road reserve in Barnard Street, Labrador was sold by the Land Administration Commission in two
parcels. In 1987, one length of that road reserve, 120 metres long, was sold and annexed to a caravan
park for $20,000. Two years later, the second length of the road reserve—some 180 metres in
length—was sold for $300,000. That represents an extraordinary increase. Land tax is passed on to the
public. I advise every business to declare, and apologise to their customers about, land tax and having
to collect that tax on behalf of the Government.
I do not really believe that this Government has any understanding of the impact of land tax.
Businesses are being squeezed. One of the big losers is the caravan park industry. Land used for
caravan parks is usually a holding zone for future urban development, but, these days, caravan parks
are the homes of many people. This is the best accommodation that they can afford. Land tax is
forcing the closure of caravan parks, the retrenchment of staff and the reduction of services. I cite as an
example one caravan park on the Gold Coast. Land tax on that property has risen from $11,800 in
1987 to $27,000 in 1988, $46,000 in 1989 and $77,300 in 1990. Ten years ago, the tax was only
$2,800. This year, the tax bill for that caravan park will continue to rise. The increase in land tax will
equate to an additional $4.50 per site per week. The general rate of council rates and charges, which
also is calculated by using the unimproved capital value, is only $8,000. Land tax on the same
valuation is $77,300. Land tax and council rates equate to some 27 per cent of caravan site fees. That
caravan park operator has addressed the land tax increases in the following manner. Each year, he
reduces his staff numbers by one staff member to compensate for land tax. That is a disgrace. The
impact of land tax is being felt right up the coast. It is being felt in Rockhampton, Townsville and Cairns.
I turn to what I believe is one of the fundamental tenets of this Budget. One of the Budget
documents that were supplied by the Treasurer stated—
“Inflation is expected to reflect cyclical recovery pressures in Queensland, and is expected to
be slightly above the national average of 3%.”
I ask the Treasurer what he used for his CPI figures in the calculation and presentation of this Budget.
In one document, he quoted 3 per cent. This afternoon, he quoted to the member for Nerang, Mr
Connor, 3.5 per cent, yet when he presented his estimates for motor vehicle registration fees, he stated
on page 21—
“The estimate for motor vehicle registration fees is based on the following assumptions:-
a general fee increase of 4.9% in line with CPI, effective from 1 July, 1991 . . .”
What is the Treasurer actually charging? Is he charging the real CPI increase or will he manufacture
one to suit his own revenue demands? Is it 3 per cent, is it 3.5 per cent or will he manufacture 4.9 per
cent? Which CPI figure is the Treasurer using? Is he using year to year from June to July, or is he using
some magical figure half-way through when the CPI figure suits the revenue requirements?
Mr De Lacy: We use the figures that are current at the time the increase is applied.
Legislative Assembly 1116 2 October 1991
M r C O O M B E R : So 4.9 per cent is the CPI rise to 30 June?
Mr De Lacy: When we made the decision, yes.
Mr COOMBER: Why does the Treasurer then quote 3 per cent? Why does he defraud
Queenslanders? Why does he lie to them?
Mr De Lacy: When we made the decision to put the increase on, it was 4.9 per cent. The trouble
with you people is that we explain it to you rationally but we can never get it through because you are
M r C O O M B E R : So the Treasurer is taking the CPI figures to March 1991? Is that true?
Mr De Lacy: How many times do I have to explain it to you?
Mr COOMBER: I ask the Treasurer to show me the figures, because I believe he is taking the
figures from the March quarter and not the June quarter. Let us consider where the moneys that are
collected and raised by this Labor Government are spent. Let us look at the priority that the
Government places on law and order.
Mr Schwarten interjected.
T h e T E M P O R A R Y C H A I R M A N (Mr Stephan): Order! The member for Rockhampton North!
Mr COOMBER: The priority that the Government places on law and order is to rank it number
five in its expenditure lists—to rank it after education, health, transport and the public service. It is a
shocking state of affairs that the Government would not try to protect the people of Queensland by at
least recognising that law and order is of much greater importance and to state that that is consistent
with the Government’s three-year commitment to increase the number of operational police. That is a
disgrace because it is a play on words. It is a disgrace to the people of Queensland.
There is one piece of good news in the Budget: pensioner rebates on rates and charges have
been increased by $20. However, it still does not meet the 20 per cent that can be claimed on most
rates and charges throughout Queensland, which are about $1,000 a year these days. Once again,
these Budget documents are window-dressing and gloss over the truth. On one page it is stated that
Queensland’s State Government net debt declined by $428m. That is very good and it sounds very
good in the media. It sounds good when it is espoused by the Treasurer, but the fact of the matter is
that during the past two years the Queensland Electricity Commission made prepayments of debt
amounting to $389m. That cannot be repeated. It is a once-only payment, and we will see a deficit next
In relation to dividends—$61.5m will now be collected by the Government. It will seek a return on
its equity in the QIDC, the Queensland Investment Corporation and the Queensland Electricity
Corporation. We are seeing hidden increases because the statutory authorities are having to raise
contributions to meet that return. It is just another way of imposing another new tax. One area that is
close to my heart is the Auctioneers and Agents Fidelity Guarantee Fund. We see at 30 June $101m.
We see also that $43.6m of that will be syphoned off. How it is to be spent, nobody knows. One would
expect that it would be spent on housing, but that is not set out in the Budget documents. As expected
and as the Liberal Party said earlier this year, the fund has been plundered. The REIQ, which
supported the changes to the Act, is now having second thoughts. It realises the implications of not
having the money there and the problems that will come from that.
I will take a couple of minutes to reiterate that the most important issue for my electorate in this
Budget is the funding of a sand by-pass plant at the Tweed River. That money is not recovered in the
Budget. Mr Comben states that it was carried over in funds, but I would suggest that that money has
been reallocated to other jobs. This Friday, Mr
Legislative Assembly 1117 2 October 1991
Goss and Mr Greiner meet to discuss the sand by-pass for the Tweed River. It is of immense
importance to the Gold Coast because it guarantees a continued sand source to southern Gold Coast
beaches. The previous National Party Government addressed this matter and spent $16m restoring
beaches from Kirra to as far north as Tugun, but the work that was undertaken is now at risk from
erosion unless the sand by-pass system is finalised. So that Mr Goss will know when he is talking to Mr
Greiner, I advise him that the negotiations have been done. The technical experts have looked at the
problem and come up with the solutions. Now it simply has to be agreed upon and funded. Mike Ahern
was the last Premier of this State to try to negotiate a fair deal. Mr Wal Murray started the negotiations
at 70 to 30 in New South Wales’ favour, expecting that Queensland would come back asking for a fairer
and more equitable funding arrangement. That did not happen and consequently the Gold Coast
beaches have continued to erode and suffer.
No-one has to tell the Premier about the impact of tourism on the Gold Coast. We need to be able
to guarantee that our beaches will remain there. They are seen all over the world when the Indy race on
the Gold Coast is televised to the rest of the world. I ask Mr Goss to resolve the situation when he
meets Mr Greiner on Friday. This is possibly the last chance that this Government will get, because New
South Wales is in a position to simply go ahead and do its own work. The Tweed River is silted, but
Tweed River dredging contracts have been tendered for and let. That sand will be stockpiled and sold.
If that happens, there will be no need to worry about what happens to the bar at the mouth of the river.
I ask the Premier to please resolve this matter. It has been ongoing since 1970. Probably four Premiers
in Queensland have discussed it and possibly four Premiers in New South Wales have also debated
the matter. I hope that this time we get it right and finish the matter once and for all.
Dr FLYNN (Toowoomba North) (9.47 p.m.): Much has already been said about the macro-
economic effects of this Budget. The Budget reduces State debt even further. It creates 8 000 jobs and
boosts training opportunities through the record $3 billion capital works program and the massive 21 per
cent increase in TAFE spending. As well, it provides significant real increases in the vital Education,
Health and Police portfolios in line with the needs of Queenslanders and our pre-election commitments.
The Treasurer and the Budget Review Committee deserve praise for the framing of this Budget. It
provides a sensible but imaginative approach in this time of drought and recession in Queensland.
There are no losers as a result of this Budget. But after this, our second Budget, and after nearly two
years in office, I would like to consider in some detail the effects of our Government's economic policy
on the city and citizens of Toowoomba.
In my maiden speech in this Parliament in March 1990, I identified five key areas of concern in
Toowoomba. They were: firstly, the lack of regional autonomy in the formulation and implementation of
Government policy and provision of services; secondly, an acute housing shortage especially affecting
students and low income families; thirdly, law and order issues; fourthly, chronic underfunding of
Toowoomba General and Baillie Henderson Hospitals; and, fifthly, the need for a fourth State high
school. In just under two years our Government has directed increased resources to all of these areas.
Toowoomba—a regional centre of growing importance
There is no doubt that Toowoomba is growing in importance as a regional centre for the Darling
Downs and south west. The trend towards centralisation in Brisbane has been stopped and now the
wheel is turning in the other direction. Toowoomba has been a real winner under the Goss Government
because of its decision to decentralise Government administration. By my reckoning, 160 new positions
have been created in Toowoomba since December 1989. These include 22 positions in the Darling
Downs Regional Health Authority, 49 positions in the agricultural branch of Primary Industries, 15 in the
Education Department, 33 teachers, 14 teacher aides and 13 police. By the end of this year, I expect
Legislative Assembly 1118 2 October 1991
a further 39 positions. These include another 10 Lands Department officers, as that department
completes its regionalisation process; five Emergency Services personnel; another five in Primary
Industries—one in agriculture and four in forestry; three in Family Services; and five in Corrective
Services. By the end of this year, regionalisation will have delivered 199 new positions to Toowoomba.
These 199 new jobs will be permanent. They will bring 199 new families to Toowoomba.
The economic impact of this Government-generated growth should not be underestimated. These
new jobs contribute to the increasing economic diversification and resilience of Toowoomba and the
region. As a typical parochial politician fighting hard for the home team, I am of course delighted by this
shift in jobs from Brisbane to Toowoomba, but they were not put there to please me. They were put
there to increase the regional autonomy of Government departments. The theory is simple. The best
decisions are made by people with local knowledge. Red tape is cut if the piles of paperwork on
Brisbane desks are reduced. Now we have the situation where nearly all decision-making power in
Health is vested in Dr Cumming, the Regional Health Authority Director. He knows whom to consult in
the community and likewise the community knows who the accountable officer is. Queensland Rail has
significantly upgraded the regional autonomy of Toowoomba with the appointment of Mr Glen Dawe,
the general manager of the Primary Industries freight division. While this position has a commercial
focus, and is not equivalent to the south-west general manager's position that was abolished in 1983, it
is a significant upgrading nonetheless. Lands and Primary Industries are rapidly following suit. The
placement of these senior positions in Toowoomba does more for the city than provide a few well-paid
people to browse through the local shops. It means that the special problems of the region are
recognised first hand by senior public servants who have the power to make decisions. Simply put, it
brings Government closer to the people and makes Government more accountable.
There also have been public service positions lost from Toowoomba since December 1989. Most
notably, these have been in Family Services following the relocation of the regional administration
centre to Ipswich, and in the railways because of increasing technological developments. I view the loss
of jobs in Queensland Railways with some concern. Technology cannot be halted. Members of the
public demand efficiency for their tax dollar. The individuals concerned have been protected, but the
loss of blue-collar positions in the public and private sectors is a problem for young unemployed people.
As well as providing training initiatives, I think all Governments need to be vigilant and, wherever
possible, should develop work opportunities for the semiskilled.
Housing shortage remedies
Even the most one-eyed among members of the Opposition and their supporters would
acknowledge this Government’s achievement in housing over the last two years under the stewardship
of Tom Burns and his senior staff. In my maiden speech, I spoke of Toowoomba’s housing crisis that
has been caused by the recent upsurge in growth, especially at the University of Southern Queensland,
and the chronic shortage of public rental housing. In 1989-90, Toowoomba’s vacancy rates, which were
regularly published by the REIQ, were consistently around 0.3 per cent to 0.4 per cent and were
invariably the tightest in the State. Frequently, I saw the human side of this problem when desperate
families came to me for help at my electorate office. Occasionally, I have had to help them out with
overnight motel accommodation while crisis accommodation was found. This year, as a result of a
range of Government housing policies and increased private sector investment in housing,
Toowoomba’s housing crisis has eased. The REIQ vacancy rate in Toowoomba during September was
2 per cent—the highest for at least two years. It is still the second lowest in the State, but even allowing
for the seasonable factors involved, it indicates significant improvement.
Legislative Assembly 1119 2 October 1991
This Government has worked hard to redress the shortage in public rental housing. In 1990-91,
134 units of accommodation were built in Toowoomba and 457 allocations were made. This basically
kept pace with demand so that the queue did not lengthen. In 1991-92, the target is to build 92
additional dwellings and the department will also regain the use of 35 homes formerly used by the
Defence Department, making a total of 127. It is expected that there will be 426 allocations, which is
approximately 60 per cent of the current waiting list. In summary, nearly 900 families will be offered
public rental housing in Toowoomba in this Government’s first two full years. Of equal importance is the
fact that a range of other housing policies has helped to contain the increasing demand for public rental
accommodation. In 1990-91, more than 6 800 families were assisted in home-ownership through the
immensely popular HOME and HOME Shared schemes. The department cannot provide a regional
break-down of approvals at this stage, but I have had quite a few calls from constituents who are full of
praise for Tom Burns and his department. The Budget also provides funds for another 8 000 loans in
The community rent scheme is another new initiative for this year, and will provide 30 community-
based schemes across the State, including Toowoomba,which will secure rental accommodation for
1 200 households at any one time—up to 3 000 over the full year. The sum of $4m will be provided to
employ local housing managers, to cover administration costs, and to provide rental assistance for the
tenants who will be housed by the private rental market. Short to medium term accommodation will be
provided to low-income households with acute needs while they wait for permanent public rental
housing. Groups who have been traditionally disadvantaged will be targeted, that is, youth, Aboriginal
and Torres Strait Islanders, and those who are affected psychiatrically. This innovative scheme will plug
many of the gaps in current Government programs and will ease the increasing burden carried by
agencies such as the Salvation Army and the St Vincent de Paul.
The community housing partnership program, which is a new name for HAAS, has also received a
big budgetary boost—an increase from $9.1m to $14.6m. This scheme provides 90 per cent of
construction costs to community groups that provide long-term housing and will target the aged, single
people and people with disabilities. The church or community groups must provide the land and 10 per
cent of construction costs. In Toowoomba this year, I have attended the opening of three HAAS
projects that have been built in conjunction with the YWCA, Symes Thorpe Nursing Home and St
Patrick’s parish. I have seen the quality of the accommodation that has been provided and I have met
some of the residents. I look forward to Toowoomba receiving its share of the increased funding for this
very worthwhile scheme.
Nothing is more fundamental to maintaining the fabric of society than the provision of affordable
housing at a reasonable standard. The family unit cannot be preserved if people do not have
somewhere decent to live. People cannot enjoy the peace of retirement or study successfully for a
tertiary degree if they are worrying about the roof over their heads. Last year, in total, this Labor
Government helped 28 000 Queensland households with their accommodation. This year, the
Government will help nearly 29 000 households. We are doing the job of providing housing in
Toowoomba and throughout Queensland, and I think that is Labor’s greatest single achievement in this
Government’s first two years in office.
Law and order
As I mentioned in my maiden speech, the issues of personal safety and security of property were
very important in Toowoomba in the 1989 election campaign. Toowoomba is no longer a sleepy
country town and, unfortunately, it has its share of thieves, rapists and vandals. The incidence of these
crimes is still important in Toowoomba. Crime rates are still rising in Toowoomba, especially in relation to
the breaking and entering of homes and
Legislative Assembly 1120 2 October 1991
businesses, car thefts and street-related violence and vandalism. The increase in offences in
Toowoomba is in line with rises elsewhere in Queensland, Australia and, in fact, throughout the
Western World. People in Queensland still have not reached the sorry state applying in Sydney, where
residents chain up the garden hoses at night. Anything not nailed down, no matter how mundane,
disappears. But Queensland does have a problem. It is a problem for me, the Government, the police
and the community. Importantly, our Government is tackling the problem head on. This Budget
continues the Government’s commitment to increase the number of operational police by 1 200 in its
first term. By December, this Government will be over two-thirds of the way towards achieving this goal.
The Toowoomba Police Station now has 115 police officers supported by 12 civilian staff. Additionally,
37 first-year constables are temporarily attached to Toowoomba and rotate between the various
divisions. This represents an increase of 13 operational police so far. I expect further increases next
year. In addition to providing more personnel and resources to fight the rising crime rate, our
Government has also reorganised the administration of the Police Service to allow more effective use of
resources. Toowoomba has become the regional headquarters for the southern region and an
assistant commissioner has been appointed to command. This allows the Police Service to be more
flexible in the way it allocates resources to deal with particular problems confronting a local community.
It also allows closer cooperation and consultation with the local community. This reorganisation has
allowed a number of new initiatives to be undertaken in Toowoomba recently. Pro-active car patrols and
beat patrols have been established to address general street crime, break and enters, and unlawful use
of vehicles. These proactive units are not called on to perform general duties, such as to attend traffic
The police in Toowoomba are more visible and this is having a positive effect, especially at known
trouble spots. Earlier this year, small business owners in the Bell Street mall and members of the
Transport Department came to me because of a problem in the newly opened transit centre. A small
gang of youths were threatening and abusing patrons of the transit centre and shop-owners. Word
spread quickly and businesses were being affected. This problem was quickly solved with concerted
action by the proactive units and has not recurred. Other initiatives commenced this year by this
Government include random school patrols at all hours to combat vandalism, hotel patrols to target
liquor breaches, and the appointment of an intelligence officer responsible for gathering and processing
information on local crime trends. This information allows police to address problem areas in a more
constructive and effective way. Community liaison has also improved dramatically in the last year with
the formation of the CAP Committee—Community and Police Liaison Committee. Rebuilding mutual
trust between police and the community is a vital task in this post-Fitzgerald era and an important
weapon in the fight against crime.
Toowoomba also has an Aboriginal liaison committee, a security officers committee to provide a
coordinated approach to the deployment of public—that is police—and private security resources, and a
truancy committee to deal with juvenile crime. It allows those agencies involved with children to
formulate long-term strategies to produce the best results. This dual approach of providing more
personnel, more resources and more effective policing methods is the Government’s answer to rising
crime statistics. Nothing will work without a vigilant and committed community. There is no room for
complacency. People will have to lock their cars, secure their homes, take care on the streets at night
and keep an eye out for suspicious characters.
The Health portfolio received a massive 12.3 per cent increase from this Budget, which is around 8
per cent in real terms. Admittedly, a large proportion of this increase
Legislative Assembly 1121 2 October 1991
goes towards implementing wage justice and award restructuring for Queensland nurses. Past
Queensland conservative Governments have balanced their Budgets by riding on the backs of this
State’s nurses, teachers and police. Paying Queensland’s nurses properly is a bitter pill to swallow from
a budgetary point of view, but it is the sick and infirm who will benefit the most. This important initiative
means that the most skilled clinical nurses in Queensland will continue to treat patients rather than go
into administration, or interstate, or work as drug company sales representatives. Paying nurses
properly might not have the immediate effect of reducing the waiting list for hip replacements, but it is
an important election commitment honoured, and one for which I argued strongly. After all, despite the
increasing complexity of modern medicine and modern hospitals, the old formula still works the best.
The doctor diagnoses the illness and orders appropriate treatment. It is a combination of good nursing
care in implementing that treatment and mother nature that actually cures the patient.
Regionalisation of health services in Toowoomba is only three months old, but already the people
of Toowoomba are seeing the benefits. The allocation of $3.1m over the next two years to upgrade the
Mount Lofty Nursing Home has occurred because it was identified as a high priority by the regional
director. Already community consultation has begun to identify gaps in the current provision of services
to the elderly in Toowoomba so that when a new facility is designed and built, it can plug those gaps.
There are major new policy initiatives in this Health budget, especially in relation to women’s health and
rural health, with $500,000 being allocated to improve the training of rural doctors and other health
professionals. The Cunningham Centre in Toowoomba will get a large proportion of this amount.
Services at the Toowoomba General Hospital and the Baillie Henderson Hospital will receive modest
increases for recurrent expenditure. Those hospitals will soldier on. I am confident that the process of
regionalisation will for the first time allow a true comparison to be made between hospitals and their
relative efficiencies. I hope that this process will result in more significant increases for the Toowoomba
General Hospital and the Baillie Henderson Hospital in the future.
Toowoomba schools, both public and private, are benefiting from the second consecutive year of
dramatically increased education funding—another 9.8 per cent in this Budget. Schools in my
electorate have been well catered for. The most urgent capital works priorities have been addressed.
Rockville State School will get its undercover play area completed. That is a project that I managed to
get off the back-burner and on to the agenda. Toowoomba State High School will get a new, badly
needed administration block, paving the way for redevelopment of existing office space into class
Wilsonton State School will have an old office area refurbished for class rooms, hopefully in
readiness for the school year. School maintenance has also steadily improved in the last year, and at
present I am completely free of p. and c. letters relating to such problems. The TAFE college in
Toowoomba has also done well, both in terms of capital works and recurrent funding. Stage 2 of
Toowoomba TAFE will commence this year. A new business and general studies centre worth $15.7m
and catering for 730 students will get under way. There is still no firm date for the start of a fourth high
school in Toowoomba. However, if I have my way, the argument will be about when, not if, it starts. I
might take this opportunity to point out that enrolments at Toowoomba State High School are growing
at a much faster rate than was anticipated by the Education Department. When this matter was raised
with former Education Minister, Mr Brian Littleproud, in November 1988, the Toowoomba Chronicle
reported a departmental projection for enrolment at Toowoomba State High School of 1 408 in 1991.
The actual enrolment earlier this year when I last checked was 1 503.
Legislative Assembly 1122 2 October 1991
Above average growth in Toowoomba’s south-western suburbs and to the north and west of the
Toowoomba City boundary will ensure a steadily increasing enrolment for all three State high schools in
Toowoomba. I acknowledge that there are bigger schools and more rapid growth areas to the north
and south of Brisbane, but our need is real and is steadily worsening. It cannot wait forever. I would
urge the Minister to have another look at this problem and to come up with a definite timetable.
In summary, this Budget is commendable because of its fiscal responsibility, but I am especially
proud to be part of it because it does much more. It continues to deliver on our election promises of
good economic management, more accountability in Government and more efficiency in the delivery of
important Government services—all without any new taxes.
Hon. R. C. KATTER (Flinders) (10.09 p.m.): I was very pleased to hear the previous speaker
give a graphic example of the enlightened sort of intelligence that one gets from the ALP and the
socialists. The honourable member talked about jobs created by taxing the people of Queensland. It
had all of the enlightenment of saying that in 1820 the Tasmanians were extremely well fed. For those
honourable members who are not familiar with Australian history, I point out that some 20 per cent of
Tasmanians engaged in cannibalism during that period. As I say, the creation of jobs by taxing the
people of Queensland has exactly the same logic attached to it as saying that the people of Tasmania
were well fed in the early 1800s. We all have jobs in Queensland—except the 15 per cent or 16 per
cent who have not got jobs—but the Government thinks that it is able to solve the unemployment
problem by taxing all the rich people in the State. That is how the Government is going to solve the
unemployment problem. I am sure that this Government would have done a tremendous amount for
the health of Tasmanians in the early 1800s, who adopted similar sorts of approaches to feeding the
Tonight, I rise in my place, as I have done many times over the last 17 or 18 years, to join in the
Budget debate. It is with deep regret that every time I have risen in this place to speak on a Budget I
have been able to say that the country is in a far worse state this year than it was the previous year.
That is not something to be very pleased about.
Dr Flynn interjected.
Mr KATTER: The honourable member for Toowoomba North thinks that that is a cause for great
merriment. He burst out laughing at that comment. He has a rather peculiar sense of humour. Every
year in this place the situation has got worse. Honourable members heard from the last speaker and, I
suspect, most of the ALP speakers in this place the same sort of enlightened intellectual depth that has
been brought to bear upon the problems of the nation as a whole. For those who want to know the sad
and sorry history, I can remember working in my father’s campaign and taking a terrible hiding from the
ALP in 1972 or 1973—whenever it was—because McMahon had let unemployment in this country get
to 0.7 per cent. Mr Whitlam, in his very eloquent manner—in fact, I think I have one of the actual
brochures—predicted that another McMahon Government would let unemployment in this country
skyrocket to more than 1 per cent.
Mr Hayward interjected.
Mr KATTER: I have a little history lesson for the honourable member. He will be quite educated if
he can shut his mouth and listen, but I doubt that. McMahon had also let inflation run to more than 5
per cent. In fact, if my memory serves me correctly, it reached 7 per cent. Interest rates had sky-
rocketed to 5 per cent and the current account deficit—I am sorry, it was a current account surplus in
those days—was allowed to sink to $691m. There is a slight change in these statistics under Labor.
That change is the adding of a digit to all of the figures.
Legislative Assembly 1123 2 October 1991
When Labor marched into this place in victory for the first time in 30-odd years, the person to
whom it chose to give the standing ovation was Mr Whitlam. Let us have a look at what the hero of the
members of the Government was able to achieve for his country. Inflation rose from 7 per cent to 28
per cent. Unemployment did not rise to 1 per cent, as Mr Whitlam predicted; he was able to take it up
to 6 per cent in the space of two years. This is the great hero that members of this Government have
as their pin-up boy. No longer was there a current account surplus. There had been a surplus of
$691m. Australia then had a new phrase. A digit was added and it was no longer a surplus but a deficit
of $1.4 billion. Mr Whitlam had the same enlightened intellectual capacity as the honourable member
for Toowoomba North. He discovered that he had two powers available to him. One was to tax the
people of Australia. He doubled tax in three years. He also found out with great excitement that he had
a printing press, which was a marvellous discovery. He did not have to tax people but could press a
button and out would come money. Under the great hero Whitlam, in two years Australia went from a
McMahon Budget deficit of $185m to a deficit of $4.74 billion. Again a digit was added. Any sensible
reading of Australian history will reveal that that great hero produced the greatest disaster in Australia’s
history. No Government was able to achieve what Whitlam’s Government achieved, with the possible
exception of the German Government in 1939 and the American Government in 1929.
I move on to the Fraser period. At that time, economists had a great love affair with monetarism
which, unfortunately, was the policy of the Fraser Government and the Hawke Government and will be
the policy of the Keating Government, which I am told is imminent. The way that those Governments
chose to restrain the berserk inflation rate in Australia was to impose a massive interest rate regimen.
The new tool to control inflation was interest rates. Prior to that, Governments used a concept called
statutory reserve deposits. However, I will not bore the Chamber with that concept. The Fraser years
can be best characterised by the fact that the horrific figures achieved during the Whitlam years did not
abate much. Those horrific figures remained for the next six years. I suppose that we can take great
comfort from the fact that they did not get any worse. Those who claim that the current account deficit
widened under Fraser must bear in mind that during that time the worst drought in Australia’s history
occurred. To take one example, the income from wheat in Australia in one year was $3.5 billion and the
following year it was almost nil—around $100m or $200m. When one takes into account the drought,
one realises that Fraser could claim that he did not do a bad job in many respects. At least the figures
did not increase.
I turn now to the Hawke Government. To give the Government credit, I have not found many
genuine Labor people in Australia praising Mr Hawke or Mr Keating. I suppose I can give Government
members some credit in that I have never heard any of them say anything nice about Mr Hawke or Mr
Keating, nor have I heard anyone else in Australia say anything very nice about them. Once again,
under the Hawke Labor Government, we have a digit added to the figures. There has been a sudden
quantum leap forward. Although a digit was not added to interest rates, the 16 per cent interest rate
under Fraser suddenly became 20 per cent and more. Because most people were pushed into
overdraft rates, I would claim that under Hawke they were paying effective rates of 24 per cent. The
current account deficit certainly kept up with Whitlam’s record. Under Fraser, the deficit was $6,000m
and, within three or four years, we went to $21,000m. When Hawke took Government in Australia, the
debt accumulated by this nation in its entire history since 1901 was $23,000m. Yet in one year alone,
the fourth year of the Hawke Government, we had a current account deficit of $21,000m.
With unemployment, we see the same track record as occurred with Whitlam. Under Hawke, we
just add another digit. It was 9 per cent and it increased to 10 per cent. I am
Legislative Assembly 1124 2 October 1991
disappointed that the Federal Opposition has not taken advantage of a sneaky trick of which I am
Mr Hayward interjected.
Mr KATTER: I am merely quoting figures. Perhaps the Parliamentary Library and the Australian
Bureau of Statistics have told me lies. Mr Hamill has claimed that the State Budget is telling lies. He
claimed in the North West Star that Mr De Lacy is telling lies. He is also claiming that the Railway
Department and the Auditor-General’s Department have been telling lies for the last eight years.
Perhaps he can explain that matter to members of the press. We faxed to them the relevant
documents so that they can decide who is telling the lies.
Government members interjected.
Mr KATTER: I can understand why Government members would not want to hear the figures,
because they are such a clear judgment upon the success of Labor Governments and the relevant
conservative Governments. In the second year of the Hawke Government, unemployment did not rise
to 9.6 per cent. If the CDEP figures and the increase in the public service of almost 30 000 are added
in, one finds an effective unemployment rate of 11 per cent. However, as with everything else, Mr
Keating told us that we were having a recession; that it was a recession that we had to have. Suddenly,
it became part of public policy. Before that, it was something that had to be eradicated. Never has there
been a man who could do the thimble and pea trick as well as that particular person can.
Mr Elder: I don’t know. You are doing a pretty good job.
Mr KATTER: I am simply citing the fact that the CDEP employed 56 000 people in this nation
and there was an increase of some 30 000 in the public service. That represents almost 100 000, which
adds over 1 per cent to the unemployment figures, which takes it near enough to 11 per cent.
As did Mr Whitlam, Mr Keating found that he could tax people without any particular difficulty. In
the few short years that Labor has been in office, tax leapt from $40,000m to $82,000m. Next year, it
will probably go over the $100,000m mark. If it is said that the country is in trouble, one must ask why.
This country depends upon nine items. Almost all of this country’s export earnings come from wool,
gold, tourism, sugar, wheat, aluminium, beef, coal and iron. Of this country’s $69,000m in export
earnings, $32,000m is raised by those nine items. The wool industry has been wrecked by the
decisions of the Federal Government. The gold industry has been wrecked by the decisions of the
Federal Government. Tourism has been wrecked by the decisions of the Federal Government. The
sugar industry is in the process of being wrecked by the Federal Government. I will not argue that the
Federal Government is responsible for the problems facing the wheat industry, though most wheat-
farmers blame it for the problem that exists in that industry. Although I would not totally blame the
Federal Government for what has occurred in the aluminium industry, it must be said that the area that
is required for expanding aluminium-processing in this State is the area in far-north Queensland that is
under a land rights claim.
Mr Bredhauer: That’s nonsense. You make it up as you go along.
Mr KATTER: I take the interjection from the honourable member for Cook. It will be interesting to
advise the people of Weipa that that is his opinion. There is a land claim over the areas that are
required for the expansion of aluminium production in this State. With the introduction of the ability for
people to make land rights claims willy-nilly upon any area in the State of Queensland, obviously any
company in the aluminium industry which proceeded to expand would be very, very foolish. That is
compounded by the fact that this Government is totally incapable of making a decision on the
Gladstone Power Station.
Legislative Assembly 1125 2 October 1991
Mr Hayward: That’s the thing you want to sell. Yes, I remember that.
Mr KATTER: I will take that interjection. In fairness, it is an intelligent interjection. No, I did not
want to sell it. Cabinet minutes will indicate that I was opposed to the sale of the Gladstone Power
Station for $500m. I told the then Premier, Russell Cooper, that, if he required it, in the space of three
weeks I could have negotiated an agreement that would have been acceptable to us and acceptable
to Gladstone. He felt that it was inappropriate for us, eight weeks before an election, to undertake a
decision of that dimension, so there was not much that we could do about it. Any hope of the present
Government making a decision on that matter or on anything else would be hoping for the ridiculous.
I have attended some 20-odd meetings. At every one of them I have asked the people, “If I was
selling petrol and I put up a sign that said, ‘Next week petrol will be 20 per cent cheaper than what it
costs this week’, what would happen?” At every single meeting, there was a pause of less than a
second before someone shouted, “Obviously no one is going to buy any petrol this week.” That was
obvious to all of the people who attended meetings in Mareeba, Brisbane and Barcaldine, places which
are very wide apart geographically and in every other way. Yet they answered that question
immediately. They could clearly see that fact. However, when Mr Kerin put out a neon light signal to
every single wool-buyer in the world that he was about to reduce the price of wool, and when every
single one of those buyers stopped buying wool, as of course they had to, and the price of wool
plummeted through the floor at 400 miles an hour, the only people in Australia who were surprised were
Mr Kerin, Mr Hawke and Mr Keating. Any other intelligent person would have realised that nothing else
could have happened.
We pleaded with those people not to introduce the gold tax. We said that no Government in
Australian history, regardless of its political persuasion, had ever taxed gold. There are very good
reasons why gold should not be taxed. But those clever people knew more than we did. They were
determined to tax gold, so they taxed it. As a result, almost immediately, eight mines in north
Queensland, which were vitally important to the economy of this State and which provided the royalties
which go into this State’s coffers, closed their doors. The gold reserves in Queensland dropped almost
clean in half because the companies naturally took out the rich nodules of gold and left behind ore
bodies that are now no longer viable. Because the rich nodules have been taken out, the average
grade is now so low that the mines are no longer economically viable. I regret to say that in my own
area some 200 people have already lost their jobs as a result of this clever decision.
I turn now to what the Federal Government did in relation to tourism, which is vital to a State such
as Queensland which relies heavily on it. As we all know, tourism was destroyed because Mr Abeles
wanted to get rid of 800 pilots. The reason was nothing more complicated than that. If members
opposite want to know the sort of shame that the ALP has and the smell it has hanging over it because
of its relationship with people such as that, they should read the 1987 transcript—and I will provide it for
members opposite—of the Four Corners program indicating the relationship between Mr Hawke and Mr
Abeles and what was going to happen. Every single thing that occurred in the pilots strike was predicted
by those very courageous people in the Four Corners program. We rang up and said, “Why don’t you
do a program about what is happening now in the surface transport industry? Exactly the same trick is
being pulled by exactly the same players.” They said, “No.” My railway union advisers and Transport
Workers Union advisers said that they were not going to do anything about it. They said, “The reason is
that Mr Hill has been put in charge of the ABC, and he is a great friend of Mr Abeles. He will be there to
ensure that there will be no more Four Corners programs done with the courageous sorts of exposures
that were done in years past.”
Legislative Assembly 1126 2 October 1991
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Mr Hollis): Order! I ask the honourable member to indicate
when he is going to speak to the State Budget.
Mr KATTER: I can think of nothing more relevant to the State Budget than the damage that was
done to the tourism industry of this State. It is vitally important to put on the record of this Chamber why
that damage was done, and the source of that damage. The loss of royalties in the gold industry is of
the most basic relevance to the State Budget. This year, tens of millions of dollars will be lost in royalties
from the gold-mining industry.
I turn now to the sugar industry. I cannot say that there is any explanation for the behaviour of the
Federal Government in relation to that industry. Every day of the week, the Federal Government
complains because the Americans and Europeans are dumping their wheat, sugar and other
agricultural commodities on the world market. The Federal Government’s answer to that is to remove
every single bar that has existed for all of this century against sugar coming into this State. Could
anything be more stupid, more crazy and more counterproductive than that decision? It is deeply hurtful
for people from north Queensland to see the whole economy of that region being undermined by the
actions of the Federal Government. One-third of Queensland’s great sugar industry is now owned by
Tate and Lyle—a British company run by people living in England. That is the sort of situation that
prevailed last century. The people we have to thank for that are the federal colleagues of Labor Party
members and those members in this Chamber who have abided by and been involved at every single
stage in the decisions that have been taken in Canberra.
Mr Rowell: What were they saying about foreign investment before the election?
Mr KATTER: If ever a Government rode to power on the issue of selling out to the Japanese, it
was this Government. In the first six months of this Government’s life, Green Island was handed over to
the Japanese. The Treasurer of this State is the great opponent of Japanese investment in
Queensland. Time and time again he is quoted in the Cairns Post as saying that the Japanese
investment in Queensland must be stopped. However, the Treasurer presided over the handing-over to
the Japanese of the third-greatest tourist attraction in this State, namely, Green Island. He presided
over a decision by the ALP Government to provide for a multifunction polis 3 500 hectares of the most
valuable land in this State, at the back of the Gold Coast. One of the men involved in that deal was
Eddie Kornhauser. Who was the man popping the champagne corks when the decision was made
about the MFP? None other than Eddie Kornhauser!
Mr Hayward: You were saying how bad that decision was that the polis didn’t go ahead.
Mr KATTER: I am not going to go into details on that issue. This Government is in the kitchen,
and it is baking the cake. But it is a pretty ugly cake. If I were a Government member, I would accept
criticism and admit that there might be some validity in it. The Opposition is not in the driver’s seat. The
multifunction polis certainly never came in under the National Party’s regime.
Mr Elder: One thing about you is you are consistent.
Mr KATTER: It is about time that people such as Mr Elder showed a bit of backbone. When
National Party members were in Government occupying the back benches, again and again they had
to stand up to dictatorial members on the front bench. I remind members of an incident relating to an
island in the Whitsunday region. Because of the courage of people such as the late Doug Jennings,
the then Premier of the State had to do a magnificent backwards somersault over that issue. I believe
that the member for Nicklin will tell members that on 30 or 40 occasions the former National Party
Government rejected what were called reverse onuses of proof. If members read through the Hansard
Legislative Assembly 1127 2 October 1991
record of debates at that time they will see constant criticisms by backbench members of the former
National Party Government. In the two years that the Labor Party has been in Government in this
State, not one single criticism of this Government has come from its backbench members. In their
opinion, this Government is perfect. Every time that those members put their feet on the sticky paper
with this Government, they lack courage and commitment.
Mr Elder: I was always impressed by the way you took on Bjelke-Petersen and won. That has
always impressed me. You took him on time and time again and were successful. That really impressed
Mr KATTER: I take the honourable member’s interjection. A uranium mine was scheduled for
production in 1977 at Ben Lomond. It never went into production. The then Premier of this State said
that it was going to go into production. I invite the ALP fellow who is standing for the seat of Moranbah
to ask the people of Charters Towers why Ben Lomond is not operating.
Mr Elder interjected.
Mr KATTER: The honourable member asked a question and I gave him an answer. It took me
only one-hundredth of a second to answer it. When he starts showing a bit of courage, I might listen to
him. Recently, in this country, we took out figures to prove that the Federal Labor Party had taken the
petrol-consumers of this State for a ride. Whilst the world price of oil had fallen by 4c, the price of petrol
in Australia had risen very significantly—in fact, by some 30c. Someone got 30c. We had a look to see
whether it was the service station operators who got it. The figures indicated clearly that they received
an increase of half a cent per litre. They did not get any of the 30c. Under the Hawke Government, the
service station operators got an extra half a cent a litre. Mr Hawke and the Federal Government came
to power with a promise to reduce the price of petrol. In his 1982 Sydney Opera House speech, he
said, “We will reduce the price of petrol in Australia by two cents a litre as part of our campaign to fight
inflation in Australia.” That was another promise that was honoured in the same way as the promise
that no children would be living in poverty. Instead of the price of petrol decreasing by 2c, the price
increased by nearly 30c. That is how Mr Hawke honoured that promise. We can excuse him for taking
10c a litre on top of the extortionate taxes that were already in existence, and I do not hesitate to
criticise the Federal coalition and the Whitlam Government on that score.
The interesting thing was that the Federal Government presided over the oil companies taking an
extra 20c. Those companies had given themselves a price rise of 20c a litre. That is a whopping great
$6,000m a year in extra profits for the four sisters—the four oil companies in this country. It had a
disastrous effect on all of our export industries, particularly in a State such as Queensland where
tourism and the export industries underpin the whole economy. It had a disastrous effect upon us.
Those profits have all been taken overseas by the four companies. That happened under a socialist
Government, a Government that says that it looks after the ordinary people in the State. I do not
hesitate to say that there is no way of confronting the oil companies except to do just that—to confront
them. It would appear that there is no language that they understand except the use of brute force. I
will say more about that at a later date. This Government has allowed $6,000m to be ripped off. I know
that is a much-used phrase, but it is the only phrase that leaps to my mind. The blame for the sorry,
disastrous state of the nation can be sheeted home to specific micro-economic decisions of the Federal
Government without even getting to the fact that the dollar is at its highest level in the past decade, we
have the worst current account figures of the past decade, and interest rates are still at horrific levels.
Legislative Assembly 1128 2 October 1991
Mr ARDILL (Salisbury) (10.39 p.m.): Firstly, congratulations to Keith De Lacy. The first thing that
must be said about the Budget that we are supposed to be discussing tonight is that it represents an
incredible achievement for Treasurer Keith De Lacy. The second observation I must make is that
nothing I can say will put the matter in perspective as clearly and succinctly as two newspaper cartoons,
one showing the Treasurer pulling a rabbit out of a top hat and the other showing the Leader of the
Opposition complaining that he does not like the Budget because there is little to complain about.
Despite the profligacy of the previous Government in handing out largess to its friends and big-talking
entrepreneurs who have since become the subject of bankruptcy proceedings, Queensland’s economy
is in better shape than that of southern States, including New South Wales, which has a deficit of
$900m and now, I believe, a minority Government. According to the Business Review Weekly, in the
first full financial year of Labor control of Queensland, the State has performed better than the
Australian average in eight out of nine indicators and will perform better than the average again in the
Mr Katter: You can coast for another year and a half.
Mr ARDILL: The honourable member had half an hour to make his speech and now he wants to
continue taking charge of the agenda.
Mr Elder: He said not one thing about the State Budget in half an hour.
Mr ARDILL: He said not one thing about the Budget. He talked about Federal matters. He clearly
indicates that his real interest is in Federal matters in the Federal arena. Quite clearly, he is leaving
Queensland behind for Queensland’s good. The Goss Government’s policy of reducing borrowing
resulting in lower debt servicing charges on the public is undoubtedly the correct one in a time of high
interest charges. We can reflect back to the courage of the Sleeman administration in the Brisbane City
Council, which had to take similar action to reduce loan-raising in 1976 after the period of low interest
rates which enabled the city to be sewered by Clem Jones. That is not to say that loan-raising should
be ignored when interest rates come down because no Labor Government can ignore the need for
public works which improve our life-style and provide the infrastructure that enables private sector
operators to operate efficiently and profitably. It also provides legitimate employment.
The Goss Labor Government has put into place the procedures to assess accurately what
expenditure can be provided at reasonable cost and what expenditure is essential in the public interest.
Although we can all sympathise with people who believe that they have a case for public funding, there
is no doubt that the Government will not be in the position of bailing out failing entrepreneurs who have
been living on borrowed time and borrowed finance for years and whose word is certainly not their
bond, nor can an open-door policy, which welcomes finance from whatever source and at whatever cost
for the purpose of take-overs, ever be justified again. This Government has brought certainty to the
process of investment in Queensland and must eliminate paper bags. Australia must set the rules that
govern investment to be in our interests, to the same degree that other countries do and have done for
years. Unfortunately, in Australia we have been subjected to Treasury gurus who are totally wedded to
a theory that works only on paper or in a computer and fails miserably to take account of human
variables and the human misery caused by unemployment. Quite clearly, two of the gurus of the
opposition parties belong in that category—Stone of the National Party and Hewson of the Liberal
Party. They dominated Howard and Fraser and they have been listened to far too closely for too long.
People of the ilk of John Stone and John Hewson who have never lived and worked in the real world
have damaged this country and its people and other economic philosophies must now be considered.
Anyone who thinks that by changing to John Hewson Australia will change course and conditions for
Australians will improve has failed to learn any lesson from history. This machine man, with his lack of
warmth and understanding and
Legislative Assembly 1129 2 October 1991
human feeling, this false ideologue, has no answers to Australia’s problems. His consumption tax is an
example of economic rationalism gone mad and his attitude is that of an ideologue.
Mr KATTER: I rise to a point of order. In an Australian Financial Review article John Stone stated
that he was dead against and opposed the consumption tax.
The CHAIRMAN: Order! The honourable member for Flinders has had his time. It is an irrelevant
point of order. I warn him under Standing Order 123A.
Mr ARDILL: Dr Hewson’s attitude is that of an ideologue cut off from the mainstream of human
experience. What is the situation overseas where there is a consumption tax? Every commodity
purchased repeatedly by ordinary people is more expensive than it is in Australia. Capital goods such
as white goods and cars are cheaper, but the ordinary everyday needs of the people cost more than
they do in Australia. Food is dearer than it is in Australia. Australia has vast distances from the primary
producer to the factory to the warehouse to the consumer, and it will be even more expensive here
than overseas if a consumption tax is ever introduced. Every stage will add its share of tax, because
this is not only a sales tax, but also a goods and services tax. That means that every service will be
taxed. Transport, quality control, legal advice, marketing, advertising, packaging, labelling and all other
services will add to the final price. The claim that it is fair and equitable is ludicrous. A family with three
children will pay five times for food whilst John Hewson—who by his own admission hardly ever eats at
home—will continue to eat subsidised food or the free lunch which is still available.
Mr Katter interjected.
The CHAIRMAN: Order! The honourable member for Flinders is on his last warning.
Mr Katter interjected.
The CHAIRMAN: Order! The honourable member for Flinders will withdraw from the Chamber
under Standing Order 123A.
Whereupon the honourable member for Flinders withdrew from the Chamber.
The CHAIRMAN: I call the member for Salisbury.
Mr ARDILL: The free lunch is still available to people of John Hewson’s ilk and he will enjoy it to
the full whilst the family provides the cost of his funny ideas and his particular philosophy. The average
worker who uses almost 100 per cent of his or her income on the necessities of life—and often more
than 100 per cent in these days of credit cards—would pay dearly for the horrendous theoretical
Dr Watson: How much does Keating pay for those fine Italian suits? How much sales tax does
Mr ARDILL: There is no sales tax on food.
Mrs Edmond interjected.
The CHAIRMAN: Order! Honourable members of the Government shall not interject from other
than their own seats. I would suggest that they do not interject whilst their own member is speaking.
Mr ARDILL: People such as Dr Hewson will pay less tax than at present and the less fortunate or
less affluent will pick up the shortfall. Ideologues such as Hewson have a vested interest in changing
the direction of taxation and their disposable income will then increase their capacity for overseas trips
and expenditure at the expense of Australia and Australians.
Legislative Assembly 1130 2 October 1991
Mr Palaszczuk: You can throw Dr Watson in there, too. He is a failed Federal member.
Mr ARDILL: That is correct. Australia has 10 years’ warning of what will happen if strong action is
not taken to reform our economic system. Ten years after America sneezes Australia catches the flu.
Unless the nexus is broken, we will see the same breakdown of community life that has occurred in the
USA. It must be realised that if we allow a subculture of underprivileged, unemployed and
unemployable people to develop here as has occurred in America; if we allow public services to decline
to the stage where a large group of people are disaffected and infected with hopelessness; and if we
allow our lower-paid workers to be so disadvantaged that they have to sleep in car parks and makeshift
shelters after a day’s work as they do in America today, then everyone will be affected, not only the
people who are in that position but also the affluent. Everyone will be disadvantaged by a breakdown of
law and order and personal safety. Anyone who thinks that unemployment is a tolerable situation
ignores human nature and has a lack of sympathetic understanding. Anyone such as Dr Hewson who
would tolerate chronic 6 per cent unemployment is not only lacking in sympathy but also has a death
In this day and age, humans will not accept their fate to be permanently underprivileged. A
subculture forms and in the USA it is endemic. Underprivileged and unemployed people who have
never had productive employment have now produced children who are ineducable and unemployable.
They therefore look for an unorthodox source of income and that is crime. Unless we find a means of
employing all our population, we will suffer the same malaise as that infesting the USA. Already there is
an alarming attitude in many young people, particularly street children. It is obvious in all our major
cities. The community must accept the challenge and demand that Governments provide positive
answers and take action. The laissez-faire Liberals cannot do that. Policies which rely on total free trade
philosophies cannot do that in today’s world either. Other countries will continue to ignore our feeble,
futile protests against their domestic policies. Despite lip-service that has been given to free trade, no
other country in the world besides Australia practises it; nor will they in the future, unless they are simply
trading ports such as Singapore, or sweatshops such as Hong Kong, or tax havens on some idyllic
island. In the real world, Japan, Korea, the European Community and the USA have managed their
economies by prohibiting imports that are against the national interest, by subsidising production to
build up industries, and by imposing tariffs as they see fit while naive Australians have allowed this
country to be flooded with poor quality canned pineapple, cheap trinkets and expensive goods that we
cannot afford and do not need. Tough measures are often needed in equal measure to reduce costs
by encouraging competition and to say “No” when we do not need the goods and certainly cannot
If the voters are fooled by Hewson and allow him to adopt free market policies, there will be no
hope for any of us. It is essential for Australia to change direction. This Government has clearly said
that it will support overseas investment in circumstances in which it will provide infrastructure and orderly
development, and it should be praised for setting the record straight. We should not lose sight of the
fact that Australia’s overseas debt and a large part of the imbalance in trade is caused by the
borrowings of the private sector. None of those problems has arisen as a direct result of Federal
Government borrowings, but part of the problem has been caused by unnecessary State borrowings,
resulting in a gross oversupply of electricity in Queensland—under the National Party Government—and
also in New South Wales. A lesson can be learned from the experience of other countries that have
allowed foreign investment from a single source to dominate. We should also be aware of problems
caused by unethical players, such as Japanese developers who are coming into Australia currently. In
the post-Fitzgerald era, the State
Legislative Assembly 1131 2 October 1991
arena will not be a fertile field for corruption and anti-social dealing, but I am less optimistic about the
local government arena. Recently, the Four Corners program showed that when sharp dealers and
organised crime sectors are blocked in their pursuit of a particular course, they simply look for another
route. Local government is the obvious underbelly that they would choose.
The attitude displayed by some developers—and, unfortunately, some councils—is the exact
opposite of the caring attitude of this State Labor Government. Under the administration of the
Environment Minister, the Honourable Pat Comben, there has been a great turnaround in attitude to
the environment in Queensland. Since the disastrous years of the National Party Government, when
the only reason to create a national park was that a large block of land was considered useless for any
other purpose, or when gazettal was used as a device to prevent a legitimate claim to a block of land
by an Aboriginal group being successful, Pat Comben has injected a great feeling of optimism in those
of us who care for the environment and enjoy the use of national parks for recreation. In his first term,
Pat Comben will have more than doubled the area of national parks in Queensland. I congratulate and
thank both the Minister for Environment and Heritage and the Treasurer on what has been achieved in
just two years because, as is the case with education, this Government has more than met its election
promises in relation to the environment. To turn around 30 years of neglect and more than a decade of
retrogressive action and legislation is an incredible achievement.
Anyone who cares for the environment must be saddened and upset by the onset of severe
drought conditions. On the Sunshine Coast, conditions are the worst that I can remember. There is
hardly a watercourse that is moving. There are just a few stagnant pools in creeks and rivers which
normally flow perennially. Recently, I undertook a 3 500 kilometre journey in north Queensland and the
only flowing river I saw between Townsville and the Northern Territory border was the Burdekin River,
and even its flow was very poor. The giant Flinders, Leichhardt, Cloncurry and Burdekin Rivers and
tributary rivers such as the Cape River had ceased to hold water in many reaches. To provide both for
the lean years and for worth while employment for those people who are presently unemployed, it is
essential that more effort be put into fighting the effects of drought and that funds be
earmarked—particularly Federal funds—for properly planned water storage and fodder conservation on
a national scale. I fully realise that drought can never be totally defeated by such methods, but it is
reasonable to hope to preserve breeding stock and keep people in the rural sector from walking off the
land by encouraging them to prepare for adverse conditions when times are good. This can be done in
a partnership between the Government and the financial sector without severe interest rate fluctuations
Incidentally, it is with amusement that anyone who is familiar with outback Australia greets the
occasional suggestions of filling Australia’s empty spaces with migrants to solve the world’s population
problems and of making simplistic calculations of how many more people should be brought to
Australia. The people who promote these ideas should be landed 200 kilometres outside Julia Creek
with a water-bottle to see if they still have the same attitude a week later. Australia is the world’s driest
continent and the cyclical drought conditions can be ameliorated only. As a Government, we have a
duty to provide adequate services to people who are courageous enough to live in the west, and
transport services must be improved.
I do not wish to continue speaking all night because I am sure that all honourable members have
heard enough of the debate on the Financial Statement. However, the point should be made that
Queensland’s Treasurer has produced a Budget that has generally been accepted by all sections of the
community, with the exception of the Government’s political opponents who are the only ones who
have been critical. If they came up with legitimate and constructive criticism, that would be great; but,
unfortunately, tonight this
Legislative Assembly 1132 2 October 1991
Committee has heard the most outrageous and completely irresponsible criticism which has no
connection with the Budget at all. In conclusion, I again congratulate the Treasurer and, indeed, the
Cabinet on what has been produced and on what has been done for Queensland. I reiterate the
comments made by financial experts and commentators who say that Queensland is performing better
than any other State Government in Australia. In the coming year, this State will continue to do so.
Mr PERRETT (Barambah) (11 p.m.): The State Budget is a clear statement from a Government
about how it intends to manage the affairs of the State. It is a message to the electors about how the
Government intends to treat them in the coming year. It is also a message about a Government’s
philosophy, and its way of doing things. When the Treasurer rose in this Chamber a couple of weeks
ago, he sent a very clear message to the people of Queensland. To the Treasurer’s regret, people will
come to understand that message. The message is this: concentrate resources where the votes are,
buy the welfare vote, buy the green vote, throw a few token building projects to the provincial cities, and
ignore the productive sector. It is a message highlighted by two recent Government announcements:
compensation for killing off the timber industry on Fraser Island and a token drought relief package. The
amounts in compensation were almost the same. The conscience money to save the people of
Maryborough and Isis was about as much as the Government was prepared to spend on the whole of
drought-stricken rural Queensland. People will come to understand that this Government is like every
other Labor Government regime in Australia—a prisoner of wacko philosophies, a prisoner of union
agendas, and a prisoner of the trendies aiming simply to buy votes at the next election. The result is a
Budget going nowhere.
This Budget looks suspiciously like a Labor election-year Budget with plenty of sops to the greens,
plenty of plays to the welfare vote, and nothing of long-term benefit to the economy. It is all about
doing the things Queensland cannot afford, and neglecting the things Queensland must do to maintain
a future for its people. It is a Budget that does plenty one would like to do in the best of all
circumstances. It is also a Budget that ignores many of the things that one must do. It is a Budget that
fails to address the real issues facing all Queenslanders. It fails to address properly the crippling burden
of land tax on business. It fails to address the burden of Crown land rental in rural Queensland. It fails
to address the needs to preserve jobs and create more jobs through State development. It fails
miserably on the score of infrastructure to allow private business, both urban and rural, to get on with
the job. Spending is concentrated where the votes are—in the south-eastern corner of the State. The
Government was elected to take responsibility for the well-being of the whole of the State. It was
entrusted with ensuring that the State would continue developing for the benefit of everyone. It was
given the task of ensuring that there would be jobs for all Queenslanders. It was given the task of
ensuring that there would be adequate Government services to all Queenslanders, no matter where
This Budget is the proof that Labor has failed the people of Queensland on all counts. It proves
that Labor is incapable of managing the Queensland economy. It proves that Labor is interested in
office and not in Government. It proves that Labor still does not understand what makes Queensland
tick. Queensland has a Budget that stifles development, preventing the emergence of new business
opportunities. It is also a Budget that makes it even harder for existing businesses to survive. It does
little to ease the burdens that the Government places on enterprise. Far from providing the incentive for
more jobs, this Budget positively works against the survival of those jobs that presently exist.
The people of rural Queensland can find little joy in this Budget. It promotes Labor’s trendy policy
imperatives and forces the productive sectors to pay for them. This
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demonstrates the shaky grip Labor has on the reality of Queensland today. Queensland has
unemployment, already on a massive scale, that is increasing every day. Queensland has a productive
sector that is constantly shrinking. The takers are rapidly outnumbering the makers. On the Treasurer’s
own figures, the productive sector has contracted markedly over 10 years—most of those years under a
Labor Federal Government. In the Treasurer’s review of Queensland’s economy, there is an admission
at page 40 that the wealth-makers have been feeling the squeeze. In 1979-1980, the agricultural,
forestry and fishing industries contributed to 8.4 per cent of gross State product. Ten years later, that
figure had plummeted to 5.9 per cent. The contribution from that other great wealth-maker, the mining
industry, fell from 8.4 per cent to 6.4 per cent and the manufacturing industry fell from 14.2 per cent to
12.5 per cent.
It is no coincidence that during that time Labor got its hands on the national levers. I am talking
about the same Labor Party as the one occupying the Treasury bench of this Chamber. I am talking
about the same policy platform, the same organisation made up of starry-eyed academics and trade
union bullies. The crowd who gave the people of Australia Paul Keating tossed in Keith De Lacy for
good measure. The Labor Government has wrecked the wealth-making sector of this nation by forcing
the dollar to absurd heights, by taking interest rates to heights that have endangered even the
strongest companies in the nation, let alone struggling small businesses and primary producers. The
Labor Government has wrecked the wealth-making sector by lowering protective tariffs without regard to
what the rest of the world was doing. The Labor Government has encouraged the collapse of some
primary industries by positive preferences to produce from developing nations. These preferences
mostly benefit North American or European companies that use near slave labour in those countries.
The Labor Government has wrecked the productive sector and has then bled that sector dry to provide
welfare nets to the millions that they threw onto the scrap heap. Labor has emptied the factories and
made many of the mines unprofitable wastelands. Labor has made the farms of Australia economic
disasters, and rural towns the next best thing to ghost towns. Labor has filled the cities with broken
businesses and people with little hope of finding the work that they want. Labor has condemned a
quarter of Australia’s population, including Queenslanders, to the hopeless prospect of the welfare
system. What is left of a productive industry will pick up the bill. Government gave way to political
survival a long time ago. Policy initiatives in Canberra have come to mean vote-buying and more
welfare promises, more “green” tape and nothing to do with economic growth.
Mr De Lacy: Tell us about prostitution.
Mr PERRETT: I will leave that to the Treasurer. He is in Government; he has to make these hard
decisions. That is why Governments are elected.
Labor did it federally and this crowd thought that it was such a good idea that they adopted it in
their Budget strategy. Look at the position in which rural and provincial Queensland finds itself today.
The State Labor Government has finally woken up to the fact that there is a drought. It is easily the
worst drought that anyone in this Chamber can remember. It has devastated the west and the south
west and has even struck the wet tropics. Every farming enterprise in this State has been affected in
some way, with hundreds of farming families ruined forever. On top of the rural financial crisis, this
drought has brought Queensland to its knees. Faced with that situation, what does this Government
do? It applies a few bandaids. It goes part of the way towards implementing the plan put up by the
Opposition to rescue rural and provincial Queensland. It hands out a few dollars that will undoubtedly
help a few people to overcome some immediate problems. Unfortunately, it dithered for so long that,
for some, the situation is probably not retrievable.
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The Government has refused to get back to basics with these twin problems. It has not changed
the basic anti-rural bias in this Budget. That is made perfectly clear in the Budget papers. Program
staffing is as good a place as any to start. There is a massive staffing increase in the non-productive
sectors—the areas where we would like to see staff increases if times were good. That increase is paid
for by savage cuts in staffing for those programs that actually contribute towards keeping productivity
rolling along. There will be big cuts in the Transport Department, including a thousand or so in the
railways. In a State as large as this one, what sort of nonsense is it to cut back an area that has such a
vital role to play in the development of the State and maintaining viability in rural areas? There is a
special madness in cutting back railways staff at the same time as deliberate Government policy is
making road transport less viable.
I am sure that Ministers will rave on about how National Party and coalition Governments made
staff cut-backs in the railways. They did, and we make no apologies for that. Along the way we created
a rail service as efficient and profitable as it could be, given the size and the population of this State.
We did the job, and we did it properly. We left the railways in a proper condition to provide the service
that the State needs. We did not cut out every service not making dollars and cents profit because we
realised the significance of railways infrastructure. We understand that while a line or service may not
make a profit for the railways, it may be providing a service that makes other industries viable. That is
what members of the Government fail to understand. Unlike Labor, we go a bit beyond what the
textbook theories have to say. Decades in Government taught us the realities that the Labor theorists
will never grasp. Some railway losses have to be seen as a cost burden for the whole State to bear
along the way to economic benefits that the whole State will share.
There have been major staff cuts in the Department of Primary Industries, and the Budget figures
make it plain that there will be plenty more. The Minister for Primary Industries has let the razor gang
cut the heart out of his department. The Budget papers tell us that 459 people will be losing their jobs.
As the Opposition has been saying for months, the biggest cut of all will be in the most essential areas
of the department. I cite the example of the industry service program under which the plan is to have
201 fewer positions at the end of this financial year than at the end of last year. The program
description given in the Budget papers makes it plain just how severe the losses will prove to be. It
“This program provides research, extension, regulatory and consultancy services to rural,
forestry, and water clients of the Department. The priority needs are to increase the
competitiveness and productivity of the agricultural, forest and water industries, and to establish
natural resource use practices that are ecologically and environmentally sustainable.”
How on earth do the theorists expect to improve services like that with a cut of 201 staff? Perhaps
the Treasurer will answer that. What the program statement hides is that there have already been
massive cuts in the staffing of the most essential services provided by the department. Stock-inspectors
and soil advisers have been disappearing at an alarming rate. So have the research programs that
have helped to make our primary producers among the most efficient in the world. Again, we are talking
about a Government activity which might not show dollars and cents profit. However, what it does for
the State is ensure that primary industry keeps producing food of high quality at affordable prices. It
also ensures that primary industry can maintain its export performance, with all that entails for such
things as the balance of payments, general interest rates and employment.
The greatest single disaster that could befall the Queensland and Australian economies would be
the total collapse of our agricultural and livestock-based export
Legislative Assembly 1135 2 October 1991
industries, yet this Government is cutting back on support for those industries at the time when they
most need support. Look at what is happening to the water production program. The Budget for that
program has been increased by only $2.5m—nothing like even the rate of inflation. Even the
honourable member for Salisbury, Mr Ardill—who has now left the Chamber—recognised the benefits in
providing future water storage for this State. But what can be done with $2.5m? On top of that, there
are more sackings—almost 80 this time—in an area that is vitally important to producers, that is, water-
harvesting. If the Government did not realise the importance of that before, then the current drought
must hammer the point home. We need all the water storages we can get. We should be out looking
for every stream that could provide a storage and possibly some irrigation farms. Not a single new
project of that type is provided for in this Budget. The program that the National Party started of
reconditioning bores to draw water from the artesian aquifer needs to be accelerated.
Water is one of the most important inputs to primary production. The single most important input is
land, and the Labor Government is making a total mess of land administration as well. Without the
availability of land at reasonable cost, it is impossible for most of our industries, primary or otherwise, to
make ends meet. Yet it is here that we have seen the most graphic example of the muddled thinking of
the Labor theorists and mismanagers. It is Labor shibboleth to soak the land-owners. It always has
been and probably always will be. Last year, we saw that one of the first things that Labor in office did
was to effectively end the freeholding of rural land. It was cloaked in the respectability of an inquiry, but
an inquiry that Labor appointed to get the result it wanted. That inquiry recommended a resumption of
rural freeholding land but hedged the recommendation with so many conditions that freeholding has
effectively ended. It recommended also extortionate rates of Crown land rentals at such a level that few
properties would be viable in the long term. The Wolfe report called for new impositions on land-holders,
all sorts of environmental constraints and even the imposition of farm management plans to give public
service a say in how farm enterprises are run. While it prepares all that restrictive, income-wrecking
legislation, the Labor Government is getting its pound of flesh by implementing massive Crown rental
increases originally recommended for what passes as boom time in the bush.
The Carter report was commissioned by the previous Government. Its recommendations would
have been implemented in the spirit of the terms in which they were written. Increases would have been
in line with the prosperity levels of rural Queensland. They would not have been distorted, as this Labor
Government has distorted them. They would certainly never have been used to justify the huge
increases in Crown rents. Carter’s recommendations would not have been imposed on rural industry in
its time of greatest need. They would not have been imposed to bloat the coffers of a Treasury battling
to push bulk money into trendy city schemes. Rural Queensland can take no joy in helping to pay the
$100m to green the Expo site while cattle and sheep die in their thousands for the lack of water or
fodder. There can be no joy in paying for Comben’s raiders to charge around the State seizing
productive land to provide secure breeding grounds for dingoes, feral pigs and kangaroos to wreak
havoc on the farming and grazing industries. Rural and provincial Queensland is wondering when this
Government will give it a break. It is wondering when this Government will realise that drought is more
than a photo opportunity. It is wondering when this Government will realise the magnitude of the rural
debt crisis. It is wondering when the Labor Government will go further than the penny-ante publicity
stunts of a few million here and a few million there. It is wondering when the Labor Government will
initiate a comprehensive scheme to ensure that all efficient producers are in a position to survive and to
keep supplying wealth to the State after the drought breaks.
Legislative Assembly 1136 2 October 1991
Labor did not cause the drought. Labor did cause the financial crisis in the bush, and Labor has
made the drought impossible for many producers to survive. Rural Queensland has looked vainly for
signs of hope in this Budget. It has looked in vain for some very simple things from this Labor
Government. The Minister for Land Management could use his clear powers under the legislation to cut
Crown land rentals. That power was put into the Act precisely because the National Party knew the
serious problems which can arise from time to time in the bush. Rent is one input cost totally in the
control of the Government. It is only the greed of the Labor Government which keeps rent impossibly
high. Producers welcome the deferral of rents contained in the relief package the Minister announced.
They are too polite, or too intimidated, to criticise that measure. I am neither. I call on the Government
to accept that the rents it has set are too high and I call on it to reduce them to a sensible level. I also
call on the Government to waive interest on deferred rents. All interest will do is delay financial recovery
for those producers who do survive. Greed is again the only possible explanation for the Land
Management Minister’s flat refusal to proceed with the annual revaluation of rural properties. Any bank
manager in the State can tell honourable members how much rural property values have fallen in the
past year or so. For the benefit of members opposite, I point out that cattle country has lost about 40
per cent of its value, sheep country has dropped about 60 per cent and agricultural land in places is
almost unsaleable. By denying revaluations, the Land Management Minister is ensuring that owners
continue to pay rates, rents and land taxes on the outrageously outdated valuations from the past.
That is nothing but robbery, and I accuse the Labor Government of that. Of course, the Minister says
that he cannot have the revaluations done because he is short of staff. But he is sacking staff in the
department to keep in good with the razor gang. The Treasurer has the power to relieve some of the
misery caused in the productive rural sector by rapidly climbing farm debt. He caused the problem for
many producers when he chose to order QIDC to soak producers through interest rates. He should now
be man enough to admit his politically motivated blunder and order QIDC to mount a rescue operation.
The small amount of interest subsidy allowed for in the relief package is no more than a drop in the
ocean. I suppose the Treasurer will babble on about being at arm’s length from the QIDC. He will
probably prattle about political interference. The simple fact remains that he is in Government. The
Government is not averse to using its numbers to push its pet projects through this Chamber. If this
Treasurer and this Government wanted to help, they could do so. The unfortunate reality is that Labor
does not want to help rural Queensland survive. It will put some money—a relative pittance—into
drought relief. It will blame Canberra, without pointing out that they are political bedfellows. It will ring its
hands, play the media for some publicity photos and hope for rain.
The Transport Minister had his chance to do something towards rural survival by giving up his raid
on farm finances in the form of registration increases. He could also have cut input costs by reducing
rail freights to rural centres while the drought and debt crises continue. The Minister for Primary
Industries could do a great deal. In this Budget, all he has achieved is real cuts in services. He did not
take the opportunity to argue for real assistance in keeping primary industries and rural towns viable. If
he did argue for that, he was comprehensively rolled—done over by the trendies so badly that he
should do the right thing and resign.
This Budget sees no relaxation in the charges imposed for industry services. It does see a big
reduction in the ability of the department to provide those services. It sees no significant initiatives in
providing water. It contains no reduction in water costs for people growing fodder for a starving livestock
industry. The small reductions in the drought package apply only to those properties which are
themselves drought declared. Real cost reductions are needed throughout primary industry. As far as
this Budget is concerned, the drought might as well not have existed. Even the hapless Minister with his
Legislative Assembly 1137 2 October 1991
had to know what was happening with the drought. Surely it did not just sneak up on him. Members of
his drought secretariat knew what was happening. They tried to warn him. Perhaps he just thought it
would rain. The Minister for Primary Industries should have been showing the way in Cabinet, leading
the charge to ensure that this Budget contained the infrastructure to maintain continuing viability for
primary industry and for all of rural and provincial Queensland. He should have been in there arguing for
temporary—and I emphasise “temporary”—cuts in Government charges, along with long-term structural
Again, I have to make the point that Government expenditures on rural infrastructure should not be
counted just as costs against the Budget. They are an investment in the ability of this State to produce
goods and incomes for circulation in the economy. They represent an investment by the whole of our
society in making the economy work for all of us. Unfortunately for those people who live outside
Labor’s heartland, these days the view from George Street is very blinkered. Spending is for the south-
east; paying is for the rest. There is no tomorrow. We can risk the total collapse of the wealth-
generating sectors of the economy. The imperative is to curry enough favour where the population is
and to say, “That way we can win the next election.” The sad part about all of this is that there are
Labor members who should know better. They are prepared to sell out their own constituents in the
name of Labor solidarity. They did it on gun laws. They have done it on taxes and charges. They are
doing it now on a Budget which has something to offer only one corner of the State. Once again, under
Labor, rural and provincial Queensland miss out. They had better hope that Labor does not get a
chance to present a third Budget.
Hon. K. E. De LACY (Cairns—Treasurer) (11.25 p.m.), in reply: I thank honourable members,
particularly those on this side of the Chamber, for their contributions. I think I have to say that most of
the contributions from the other side of the Chamber were pathetic. If we wanted an indication of that,
we saw it in the very last speech. It was the kind of narrow-minded bigotry which has been relegated to
the scrap heap of history in Queensland, as well it should have been. It was totally irrelevant and
narrow-minded and missed the point altogether. I know it was a speech that was written for the
honourable member by somebody else and that he had to stand up in this place and mouth it. It really
did him no credit at all to carry on in that manner. It was plain pathetic.
Is it not amazing how quickly members of the Opposition have settled into the role of Opposition,
with their opposing for the sake of opposing, being constructive about nothing but just whining,
whingeing and knocking? The Deputy Leader of the Opposition said that it was a disgrace that the
Government allowed a period of three weeks before the reply to the Budget was debated. Let me say
tonight that it was not a disgrace, it was an act of compassion. We knew that members opposite had
nothing to talk about. We knew they could not criticise the Budget, so we gave them three weeks in
which to look at it and see if they could come up with something, but they came up with nothing. A
good example was the speech of the member for Flinders. He spoke for 30 minutes and forgot to
mention the Budget. I guess I ought to take that as a vote of confidence in the Budget because he
could not find anything to criticise.
After nearly two years, the Opposition is still to produce a credible alternative economic and
financial strategy. The Opposition’s so-called alternative strategy is no more than the same old hollow
words about increasing Government spending and cutting taxes, financed presumably by increased
debt or by stardust, moonshine or I do not know what. Mr Cooper chastised my Budget for being a big-
spending Budget and then went on to argue for more spending on health, education, police, primary
industries and what have you. Both opposition parties decided to vie with each other to abolish land
tax, financed by the National Party line, “Don’t you worry about that”, or by the Hewson line, “We are not
going to tell you now, we are going to tell you about it later.” When the National Party was
Legislative Assembly 1138 2 October 1991
in Government, it found it very difficult to abolish land tax. In fact, members on both sides of the
Chamber ought to recognise that, in the last National Party Budget, land tax revenue increased from
$75m to $137m, or by 80 per cent. Now that the National Party has moved into Opposition, it is going
to abolish land tax. Is it not easy for an Opposition! Of course, the Liberals cannot be beaten; they will
also abolish land tax. In fact, they are so deep in opposition that I fully expect them to soon abolish all
taxes. And how will the Liberals abolish land tax? The Leader of the Liberal Party said: by sacking
7 500 public servants. He should go out and tell the 7 500 public servants that that is the way in which
the Liberals will abolish land tax and give relief to all their white-shoe developers on the Gold Coast.
On top of abolishing land tax, Mr Cooper said that he would risk public money on the Cape York
space base project and invest hundreds of millions of dollars in an uneconomic rail electrification
project. He also said that he would restart the Cape York-North Queensland Enterprise Zone proposal.
That issue keeps rearing its ugly head. Since the National Party has gone into Opposition, the issue
seems to have been transmogrified into a project of its own.
Mr Davies: Nineteen phantom projects.
Mr De LACY: Yes. It was simply a taxpayer-funded lurk that came up with 19 phantom projects.
A Government member: Jobs for the boys.
Mr De LACY: Taxpayer-funded jobs for the boys. Now that the National Party is in Opposition,
somehow the Cape York-North Queensland Enterprise Zone is a project—as though it was a job-
creating project in itself. That is the recipe that the Leader of the Opposition presented to us in his reply.
When pressed, Mr Cooper failed to outline how he would fund his spending and tax proposals other
than making a vague reference to examining privatisation and a motherhood statement about
increased public sector efficiency. That is very interesting. Every single efficiency initiative that the Labor
Party has introduced since it has been in Government in this State has been opposed by the National
Party. Yet it is going to fund all of this big spending with public sector efficiency.
In his speech, Mr Cooper made an oblique reference to privatisation. Some weeks ago, he
indicated that the way in which he could fund his land tax abolition was by selling off the Gladstone
Power Station. I will use that as an example to expose the fatal flaw in that strategy. If he were to sell
off the Gladstone Power Station, there are only two ways that the Queensland Electricity Commission
could raise the necessary funds to build replacement capacity. The first involves an increase in
electricity tariffs for everyone in Queensland. Those tariffs would have to be increased by 14 per cent to
raise the necessary $200m. The only other way is to resort to increased borrowings. Members know
where that has led some other States in Australia. Mr Cooper’s proposal to rip funds out of the QEC to
pay for land tax abolition would not create jobs. Rather, it would place in jeopardy the jobs of thousands
of Queenslanders by driving up the price of electricity in Queensland. It would lose that competitive
advantage for the productive sector about which National Party members have been talking throughout
this debate. The effect of Mr Cooper’s action would be to increase electricity prices for business
throughout Queensland. What does Mr Cooper do when the money from the sale of the power station
runs out? Under his strategy, he would have to find other Government assets to sell, because the cost
of land tax abolition is $200m, not just this year, but next year, the year after and the year after that.
What does he do then? Does he sell Suncorp to AMP, thereby shifting control of those funds out of
Queensland? Then what? Does he sell the
Legislative Assembly 1139 2 October 1991
QIDC to one of the Sydney or Melbourne-based banks? Does he privatise our railways, hospitals and
Mr Hayward: Mr Neal, I think, proposed selling the QIDC.
Mr De LACY: That is right. Mr Neal said that, if the QIDC is to be run commercially, it ought to be
sold off. I do not know what the option is to running it commercially. Mr Cooper and the Liberal Party fail
to understand that we are making our Government-owned enterprises more efficient, but we are
retaining them in the public sector, thereby providing funds for essential Government services. I cite the
example of the QIDC, which Mr Neal said ought to be sold off. This year, the QIDC returned to its share-
holders—the people of Queensland—more than $18m on the invested capital and reserves of $88m. I
doubt whether even a financial genius such as the Leader of the Opposition could get a return of over
20 per cent if he were given the chance.
Mr Cooper: You just pick it up and you spend it.
Mr De LACY: We picked it up and we spent it. The Leader of the Opposition is right. We spent it
on education and health and on delivering services to the people of Queensland. We gave it back to
the people by way of education.
Mr Cooper: You asked them to pay twice.
Mr De LACY: No. If they made a profit, we took that profit and redistributed it to the people by
way of education and health services. By the reasoning of the Leader of the Liberal Party, that $18m
from the QIDC is a tax. What utter rubbish! By his reasoning, BHP’s returns to share-holders of
hundreds of millions of dollars a year are taxes. The lack of understanding of the basics of finance in
the National and Liberal Parties is breathtaking. The dividends, payments in lieu of company tax and
sales tax, and capital guarantee fees represent the normal costs of any private-sector business. The
only difference in relation to our Government-owned enterprises is that the Queensland taxpayer gets
the benefit, rather than a mixture of private share-holders, the Federal Government and the banks. I
really cannot comprehend the attitude of the Leader of the Liberal Party to Government-owned
enterprises. He complains that they show a profit, and he complains—as did the Leader of the National
Party just now—that we use those profits. What is the alternative? To run them inefficiently!
Mr Cooper: You tax people and charge people to provide services, and then you hit them again
a second time—user pays.
Mr De LACY: We are not hitting them. They are making a profit. They are giving a dividend—a
profit. Does the Leader of the Opposition not understand that? I thought all members knew about
profits. Members of the Opposition are always on about profits. They are giving a profit to the share-
holders—the people of Queensland. Is that not a better way to raise money to spend on schools than
by dipping straight into one’s pocket? Would the Leader of the Opposition prefer it if we increased
taxes? We are doing it the right way. We are making our public enterprises efficient and using that
money to fund our social programs. The Leader of the Opposition may not be able to identify with that,
but the people on this side of the Chamber appreciate it.
As I said, the Leader of the Opposition went on to say that his strategy included greater public
sector efficiency. What hypocrisy! The National and Liberal Parties have opposed every efficiency
measure that this Government has introduced—user pays; closure of underutilised public facilities;
corporatisation; restructuring of the QTTC, the QTC and Queensland Railways; regionalisation; and
reductions in bloated head office bureaucracies in departments such as Education, Lands, Health and
Legislative Assembly 1140 2 October 1991
Every time that this Government introduced an efficiency initiative, the Opposition opposed it. Now it
says that it would introduce efficiency. What hypocrisy!
The member for Surfers Paradise trotted out his pathetic list of so-called waste the other day and
padded out his speech yesterday with the same material. His claims are an insult to the intelligence of
the people of Queensland. What a pathetic little fraud he has developed into in this House. The Goss
Government is setting new standards in cutting waste. There can be no greater testimony to that than
the $400m that this Government slashed from State debt last year—debt run up by the National Party
administration. I challenge the National Party to denounce that as mismanagement, just as it has
denounced every other efficiency measure that the Government has introduced. Each of those
initiatives contributed to the $400m debt reduction program, and the initiatives also enabled the
Government to bring in a Budget for 1991-92 that will create jobs, cut taxes and improve services
without compromising our financial integrity.
Mr Borbidge’s list of so-called examples of waste by the State Government showed a basic lack of
research skills. He talked about a $10m upgrading of the Executive Building in Brisbane. That is actually
necessary refurbishing to maintain the value of a very valuable 20-year-old asset. What are we going to
do—let it fall down around our ears and then house public servants in expensive rented premises? I do
not see maintenance on our Government buildings as a waste of money. It is an investment in those
buildings. Then the member for Surfers Paradise talked about a 19 per cent increase in ministerial staff
costs. The Nationals and Liberals are comparing apples with oranges. The correct increase is 4.7 per
cent. A proper reading of the Budget papers—Budget Paper No. 3, at page 29—will show that the
claim by the National Party is wrong. However, I guess there are none so blind as those who will not
The member for Surfers Paradise spoke about the establishment of Government information and
propaganda offices in Brisbane, Townsville and Cairns. Those offices are simply outlets for the sale of
Government publications, even those prepared during the last National Party administration. One can
easily pick those publications because they are the ones that are full of pictures of the Ministers. The
publications that were prepared in the past 22 months do not have pictures. The member for Surfers
Paradise referred to a $1m increase in salaries in the Cabinet Office. Of course, there was an increase
in staffing and costs for the Office of the Cabinet, because it was not properly staffed last year. Let me
say that those staff will provide central policy support for the Government in previously neglected areas
such as the status of women.
The claims by the National and Liberal Parties about so-called hollow logs were utter rubbish.
Those opposite simply fail to understand that State Governments can no longer fail to account for the
use of trust funds. All State Governments must publish their net financing requirement, or NFR, which
measures the extent to which the State is running down financial assets, such as trust fund balances,
and increasing liabilities, or vice versa. Queensland is the only State that is budgeting to have no net
financing requirement this year. In contrast, other States are budgeting for NFRs in the billions of
dollars. Now that all States have brought down their Budgets, Queensland’s Treasury has been able to
properly scrutinise all States’ Budget papers. I can now reveal for the first time what I believe are truly
comparable figures for each State’s NFRs for this year and last year. Mr Chairman, I seek your approval
to have this table incorporated in Hansard.
Legislative Assembly 1141 2 October 1991
Mr De LACY: To speak to it momentarily—for the next year in prospect, Queensland is looking
forward to a negative NFR of $11m. In other words, after cutting taxes, increasing services and that
whole range of things, we will be $11m better off by the end of the year than we are now. Compare that
to the National/Liberal Parties’ colleagues in New South Wales. At the end of the year, they will have a
further debt of $1,956m. They are racking up debt while we are saving money. It would not hurt
members opposite to have a look at some of the Budget papers and see who is doing it right and who
is doing it wrong. I should comment on Mr Cooper’s complaint that much of the increased spending this
year on health and education represents the cost of new awards for teachers and nurses. That is true. I
would like to make two points. The first is that–—
Honourable members interjected.
The CHAIRMAN: Order! Will honourable members please listen to the Treasurer.
Mr De LACY: I challenge Mr Cooper to say whether he supports wage justice for our teachers,
nurses and police. He complains that we are increasing spending in this way. The obvious question is
whether he would cancel such pay rises. The second point is a much more fundamental one. It goes to
the regular theme from those opposite that we have inherited a State in great shape. To the extent that
our debt levels were lower than those in other States and that our taxes were lower, that was done on
the backs of the teachers, nurses and police of Queensland. Their salaries were abysmally low
compared with their interstate colleagues. Indeed, provision of essential Government services was
generally well below the national average in schools, hospitals, TAFE and the like. The Goss
Government is rapidly correcting 32 years of neglect and, at the same time, reducing debt. Queensland
is the only State to do so in the middle of the worst recession in 30 years.
Legislative Assembly 1142 2 October 1991
The preoccupation of members opposite with the Auctioneers and Agents Fidelity Guarantee Fund
shows just how out of touch with modern finance they really are. The fact is that it was a previous
National Party Government which decided in 1989 to use the fidelity guarantee fund to finance a new
housing accommodation assistance scheme—HAAS. However, the National Party lost Government
before it could get is act into gear and the enabling legislation was agreed to by Parliament earlier this
year. As a result, the 1991-92 Budget provides for new funding for HAAS of about $14m with the
balance of the $43m being required to repay the Consolidated Revenue Fund, which has been funding
HAAS since 1989-90. There is simply no substance to the allegation about the use of hollow logs. For
example, the Auctioneers and Agents Fidelity Guarantee Fund retains a healthy balance of some
$70m, bearing in mind that it only requires about $5m to keep the fund actuarially sound. Mr Cooper is
similarly misguided in his claims about the Government raiding the ambulance fund. The fact of the
matter is that the Government continues to supplement the subscription service. Those subscription
moneys are now paid into a single trust fund operated by the new Ambulance Service rather than held
by individual brigades. If only the Leader of the Opposition could learn how to read Budget papers he
would not make a fool of himself as often as he does.
Land tax was mentioned by several members. I can only repeat the comments that I made before,
that the Land Tax Review Committee has been characterised by its breath-taking intellectual dishonesty
of a stature that would do the National Party proud. The tax was called cosmetic, useless, farcical, a
hoax and a fraud. People have trotted out those words over the last two days. Land tax concessions
cost us $40m. If people do not want the money, they can give it back and we will give it to the farmers
in drought-stricken areas—people who need it. All people liable to pay land tax will benefit from the
reduction in land tax rates. All steps in the progressive rating scale have been reduced by between 10
per cent and 14 per cent. On figures quoted in the press recently, reductions in tax rates will mean a
difference of some $130,000 in land tax payable to one much-publicised land-owner, the Dolphin
Centre. I am sure that land-owner would rather have that $130,000 in his pocket than in the
Government’s pocket. Similarly, the charities and retirement villages that are exempted from tax do not
regard the Budget changes as a fraud.
A number of members opposite mentioned the Government’s decision to proscribe the passing-on
of land tax to tenants in outgoings. Currently tenants of commercial premises pay land tax because
landlords require them to sign leases indemnifying the landlord in respect of land tax. Many tenants
have no recourse under their leases to even query the amount of land tax charged to them because
the landlord’s certificate is final and conclusive evidence of the amount due under the lease. What this
reform will do is restore predictability and stability to rents and restore the balance between landlords
and tenants. I am a little amused by landlords, spokespeople for landlords and members of the
National Party who speak on behalf of landlords when they say that this will be no good for tenants. If it
will not be any good for tenants, why do they not sit back and enjoy it? Why do the Leader of the
Opposition and his white-shoe mates not sit back and enjoy it? If it is not going to be good for tenants,
it must be good for landlords.
Mr Cooper: Could you say that again?
Mr De LACY: I know the honourable member is a bit slow. I do not have time. I can say things
only once. The argument that tenants will pay increased stamp duty on their leases is a furphy. Firstly, it
assumes that landlords will fully recover all land tax through increased rents over the period of the
lease. This is unlikely to be the case. Secondly, it assumes that stamp duty is a significant proportion of
rents. This is definitely not the case. Stamp duty on leases is 0.35 per cent of the total rent payable. I
will give the member a real live example. We had a look at a retail shop in a Brisbane CBD building.
The term of the lease was six years and, assuming that the landlord fully recovered land tax in
Legislative Assembly 1143 2 October 1991
the rent—that is, that he increased the rent cent for cent to cover his land tax—the additional stamp
duty would be $13.79 over the six-year period or $2.50 per annum. The landlord would have to pay
250c per year by way of stamp duty or 5c a week. To put this into context, the saving in land tax
payable due to the rate reduction included in the Budget would be $92 per annum or $552 over the six-
year period. Landlords pay $2.50 per year and they get $92 back. The Leader of the Opposition says
that this is a bad deal.
Dr Clark: That was the double whammy of the member for Surfers Paradise, if you recall.
Mr De LACY: Exactly. That is the double whammy that they have to pay. They have to pay
$2.50 a year and they get $92 back. That is the double whammy. If that is the kind of double whammy
that this Budget delivered, I can understand why it was universally received the way it was. The Leader
of the Opposition and others said that the Government has announced spending of $56m since the
Budget and they implied that somehow we are losing control. Of that figure, $38m relates to a three-
year compensation package for Maryborough/Hervey Bay, $16.5m of which comes from the
Commonwealth. We never heard about that. The balance will be funded from the State’s Budget. This
year’s State contribution was provided for in the Treasurer’s Advance and mentioned in my Budget
Speech. The other figure mentioned was a further $18m for drought assistance which was announced
last week. That figure takes no account of the Commonwealth contribution through RAS and other
assistance that we may get from the Commonwealth, but whether or not the Commonwealth
contributes, the assistance will be provided. Any prudent Queensland Government makes a provision
for natural disasters in the Treasurer’s Advance. This has been done. As this Government
demonstrated in its 1990-91 Budget, throughout cyclones and floods, the necessary funds for natural
disaster assistance were found while the integrity of the Budget was maintained.
The Liberal Party and National Party spokesmen implied that the Queensland Labor Government
is a big-spending Government that has somehow lost control of the Budget. There is a Liberal/National
Party Government in Australia that brought down its Budget last week. Mr Greiner circulated a
document titled Meeting the Challenge. Honourable members will note that it is a glossy publication
and that it typifies the National/Liberal Party trait of putting a photograph of Mr Greiner on the front
Mr Cooper: Thank God they haven’t got yours there.
Mr De LACY: My photograph will not be seen in publications similar to the one I have mentioned
because the Queensland Government circulates information in a business-like way. This Government is
not into self-aggrandisement in the way that members of the previous Government were. Mr Greiner’s
document contains a section titled “Financial Management” wherein he endeavours to prove that New
South Wales is the best-managed State in Australia. I have ordered 1 000 copies of this document
because each item that is designed to show how well New South Wales is performing contains the rider
“except for Queensland”. Under “State Tax Revenue Per Person”, the document states—
“NSW and Victoria have traditionally had the highest tax revenue per resident . . . ”
Next to that comment is a chart showing that Queensland’s rate as $988 whereas the rate in New
South Wales is $1,521. The next heading is “Severity of State Taxes” and the comment reads—
“In terms of average tax rates . . . NSW only exceeded Queensland and SA.”
Under the heading “Relative Expenditure”, the comment reads—
“NSW, WA, SA and Tasmania offer almost identical levels of Government
service . . . Queensland (is) considerably less.”
Legislative Assembly 1144 2 October 1991
Over the page, the document contains the heading “Net Debt, June 1991 (per cent of GSP*). The
“NSW’s net debt as a proportion of GSP is the lowest of any State, except Queensland.”
The next heading reads “Net Debt Charges”, and the comment reads—
“NSW’s net debt charges are lower than any other State, bar Queensland.”
The next heading states “Growth in Net Debt” and the comment reads—
“In the past five years, the growth in NSW public sector net debt has been much less than that
of other States, except Queensland.”
I compliment Mr Greiner, because I think he has told it the way it is.
I wish to respond to a query raised by the member for Balonne. He asked whether I said, in answer
to a question this morning, that there was approximately $1.5m going out of the QIDC to drought-
stricken farmers for drought relief and other relief. I can inform the Committee that so far this year more
than 600 new applications have been received. In Queensland, 67 per cent have been approved
compared to 53 per cent in New South Wales. The member referred to the criteria for eligibility, and I
can inform him that in addition to the 67 per cent approval rate, 167 applications were received last
week. The applications are being sent to the QIDC. Members of the Opposition may not know that, but
the Government knows it, and assistance is being provided.
In conclusion, I thank all honourable members who contributed to the debate. It has been a pretty
long two days. Members of the Government have a good appreciation of what is going on in this State.
If members of the National Party and the Liberal Party would remove the blinkers from their eyes and
begin to support Queensland instead of knocking the State, whining and whingeing, perhaps they may
recover a little bit of credibility. In any event, members of this Labor Government do not care. I simply
observe that it is not good for the democratic process to have an Opposition that is as pathetic as the
one in Queensland.
Item (Contingencies—His Excellency the Governor) agreed to.
H o n . T . M . M A C K E N R O T H (Chatsworth—Leader of the House) (11.58 p.m.): I move—
“That the House do now adjourn.”
Mr RANDELL (Mirani) (11.58 p.m.): Tonight, I wish to address briefly the situation facing the
sugar industry in Queensland. In the last two years, dramatic but not always wise changes have
occurred in the sugar industry, in particular in the cane-growing sector. A concerted effort has been
made by the Government in Canberra, to a lesser extent by the Government in George Street,
Brisbane, and other vested interests to remove all the regulations that have provided security for the
industry and guided it to a position where it is regarded as the most efficient sugar industry in the world.
People come from everywhere to study Queensland’s growing and processing methods. This State is
recognised internationally as a leader in all facets of the sugar industry. Experts from the United States,
Thailand, Iran, Brazil, South Africa and many other countries have come to
Legislative Assembly 1145 2 October 1991
Queensland to study the methods followed here. However, it appears that recently a concerted move
has begun to accelerate rapidly to change the industry—not for the better, but to benefit sectors other
than the cane-growing sector. First, the submission by their ABARE was totally ridiculous and so
patently out of touch with the reality of sugarcane-growing that it would have been laughable if it were
not for the fact that the bunkum espoused by the academics and theorists in Canberra was taken
seriously by Commonwealth and Queensland politicians.
We have seen the abolition of tariffs by the Federal Labor Government in the mistaken belief that
Australia could influence the world’s giant exporting nations. Under the policy of free trade—and I might
say this has been espoused not only by the Australia Labor Party in Canberra, but by some of the
Opposition members in the Federal sphere—our cane-growers have been thrown to the wolves. It also
clearly demonstrates the extent to which Australia’s agricultural trade philosophy is out of step with the
rest of the world. The Federal Government and the Federal coalition parties should take a very serious
look at their policies in regard to tariff removal for farm industries. They must take notice of the blatant
way the United States cut the Australian sugar import quota recently. That lesson should convince the
Federal Government and the Federal coalition parties that there is no level playing field in the world.
Australia is competing against other exporting nations with its hands tied behind its back by Canberra’s
trade policies. Just recently, CSR has engaged analysts at a centre for international economics to
undertake an analysis of the future of the sugar industry. These analysts have come up with a booklet
entitled Sugar—Winning in a corrupt world market. I have always had the greatest respect for CSR and
its principals who, despite being criticised roundly by segments of the cane-growing industry over many
years, I believe have always endeavoured to get the best they can for the sugar industry in
Queensland. To me, this booklet—which I have been told was commissioned at a cost of $150,000—is
nothing but a blueprint for extra income for the CSR milling sector for extra throughput of cane through
CSR mills with no thought of the cane-growers who will take all the risks of cyclical world market prices
and who will be at the mercy of corrupt and subsidised world sugar markets. I not only strongly disagree
with it, I am disappointed that CSR would so blatantly bring forward a report that so discriminates
against the cane-growing industry in Queensland and, in particular, Queensland’s family farm system.
One could be excused for thinking that CSR commissioned a report and told the analysts what it
wanted to hear in that report. I have gone public and urged every cane-grower in Queensland to get a
copy of this book, to read it right through and to realise the implications for them if the Queensland
Government or the Federal Government adopts the recommendations.
The security and the future of the cane-growing industry has always been the assignment system,
the peak system, and the acquisition of the crop, which this Government has continued. This report
proposes to do away with all of that and actually recommends complete deregulation of the whole
industry as Queenslanders know it. This book has been roundly condemned by not only me but also
every farmer organisation in Queensland. As yet, however, I have not heard one word of protest from
the Minister for Primary Industries, Mr Casey, or where he stands in relation to it. I challenge the
Minister in this House tonight to come out and openly tell the cane-growers of Queensland whether he
is in favour of this book or whether he completely rejects all its concepts. No longer can the Minister
sidestep, dance around, bluster and refuse to give his thoughts on this matter. I remind him that he is
the Minister who represents every cane-grower in Queensland. The Minister represents their well being,
just as he represents the jobs of thousands of workers and the viability of hundreds of businesses right
along the Queensland seaboard that will be put in jeopardy. All these people could suffer if this type of
theory nonsense is put into legislation. Let the Minister have the courage to come out one way or the
other. If the Queensland Labor Party and the Federal ALP do not wish to
Legislative Assembly 1146 2 October 1991
have a sugar industry that has been built up by the family farm in Queensland, let them say so now.
Let the Labor Party say to the thousands of farmers and workers that it no longer wants them and that
it will import its sugar from a highly subsidised and highly corrupt overseas sugar market.
Goods and Services Tax
Mr DAVIES (Townsville) (12.03 a.m.): I would like to talk about the tourism industry and the way
that the Liberals’ proposed goods and services tax—the GST—will decimate that industry. I briefly
alluded to the impact of the GST in my speech in the Budget debate yesterday, but I would like to
elaborate on it tonight. It is particularly appropriate that I speak on this topic now because the Australian
Tourism Conference is to be held in Brisbane on Friday, 11 October—that is next week—and one of the
speakers will be Sir Roger Douglas, the architect of New Zealand’s equivalent consumption tax. The
Liberals are proposing a GST generally believed to be in the range of 15 per cent, but that is not known
for sure, because the Liberals will not release any of the details.
Mr Bredhauer interjected.
Mr DAVIES: They are hiding. It strikes me as strange that the Federal Liberals support the GST
that the Queensland Minister for Tourism, Sport and Racing, Mr Gibbs, has christened—and
appropriately, I might say—as the “God Save Tourism” tax. This tax would affect high profile tourism
areas in Queensland such as the Gold Coast—where a lot of Liberal members come from—and north
Queensland. I find it strange, therefore, that the acting Federal Opposition spokesman on tourism, Gold
Coast Federal MP Mr John Bradford, is part of a theoretical—and I stress that it is only
theoretical—alternative Federal Government. Mr Bradford supports the GST but opposes, strangely, the
Gold Coast City Council’s proposed tourism levy. He is reported in the Gold Coast Bulletin yesterday as
saying he was steadfastly opposed to any new taxes. Surely that must include the GST! What a
contradiction in terms it is for him to take that sort of stance. Mr Bradford obviously does not care a hoot
about Gold Coast tourism. I am not alone in my criticism of the GST as it will impact on tourism. The
Australian Tourism Industry Association is also concerned. It is so concerned that on 15 August
1991—that is a little over a month ago— it wrote to the Liberal shadow Tourism Minister, David Jull,
“ . . . the industry’s enormous concern about the tax . . . heightened by an almost total lack of
detail and a genuine fear that it will undermine the international competitiveness of the Australian
The list of members of the board of ATIA reads like a who’s who of the Australian tourism industry. It is
also worth while adding that the Chairman of ATIA is Sir Frank Moore, who was previously the Chairman
of the Queensland Tourist and Travel Corporation and a prominent National Party figure in Queensland.
Mr Beanland: He was sacked.
Mr DAVIES: I will take that interjection. He resigned. He is also acknowledged as the principal
architect of the growth of tourism in Queensland over the past decade. The Australian Tourism
Commission has also estimated that a 15 per cent increase, as would apply under GST, would result in
an arrival loss of 125 000 visitors from Japan, Germany, Britain, New Zealand and the United States.
The loss of export income from these destinations is estimated by the ATC at $250m a year. The
Inbound Tourism Organisation of Australia is also concerned and has estimated that 6 000 jobs and
$372m in revenue
Legislative Assembly 1147 2 October 1991
would be lost in one year if 10 per cent of international visitors did not come to Australia because of the
higher costs associated with a consumption tax.
Given all that, it strikes me as a little bit strange that last week one Ash Forward, the immediate
past president of the Queensland Confederation of Industry, wrote in the Letters to the Editor column in
the Townsville Bulletin that my criticism is unfair because the Liberals’ GST policy “has not been
released by the Liberal Party”. First of all, I ask: whose fault is that? Surely it is not mine.
Everyone—including the Federal Liberal backbenchers—is calling out for the details. The Australian
tourism industry, represented by the ATIA, the ATC and the ITOA, certainly wants the details. Given Mr
Forward’s position, I would have expected more concern for the tourism industry from him, but then he
is a Liberal.
Police Staffing Levels on Gold Coast
Mr COOMBER (Currumbin) (12.09 a.m.): Last night I criticised this Government and the Police
Minister, Mr Mackenroth, in regard to the state of the police force on the Gold Coast. I am not being
derogatory of the police force, because the policemen and policewomen of Queensland carry out their
duties with the resources given to them by this Government. The Budget allocation illustrates the lack of
importance that this Government places on law and order. In order of expenditure, law and order ranks
fifth behind education, health, public service and transport. With crime out of control on the Gold Coast,
it is no wonder that the Police Minister is sensitive to criticism by the Liberal Party. My concern is that
the southern end of the Gold Coast in particular is left unprotected at night and at weekends. This was
highlighted last Saturday morning when a group of people was attacked near the Coolangatta Post
Office. Three calls to the Coolangatta Police Station—only 500 metres away from the post office—failed
to bring help or assistance. The fact of the matter was that the patrol car from Coolangatta was
attending a domestic dispute at Southport.
The real concern for the Liberal Party is that the Fire Service was called to attend to the assault.
This is a new twist to the term “emergency services”. I thought that this must have been a mistake, but I
spoke to the young lady involved in the attack and she volunteered that the fire officer said that in
future, if she was troubled again, she should call the fire brigade because the police were understaffed.
The people of the Gold Coast, already snubbed with this latest Goss Budget—in fact, the treatment of
the Gold Coast by this Goss Government—are asking: why are there not sufficient funds to provide
adequate police protection? The sum of $70m in land tax and hundreds of millions of dollars in stamp
duties, payroll tax and workers’ compensation payments are collected from residents of the Gold Coast.
Where is the money going?
Last night, I claimed that the Minister is trying to gag me and prevent me from speaking out about
police numbers on the Gold Coast. Mr Mackenroth spoke to me today to refute this allegation, but the
chronic shortage of police has to be exposed. Why is the City of Cairns a safe place to walk about after
hours? It was not always that safe. Police are now on the beat in Cairns. But nobody is safe to venture
outdoors after hours on the Gold Coast. The answer is simple. Other than the Gold Coast, tourist areas
in Queensland that are in Labor electorates are being given preferential treatment. The growth in
international tourism will not occur if this State is not a safe place in which to live. The Gold Coast is
expected to host one million international tourists per annum by the end of this decade. This increase in
tourism will provide an additional 40 000 jobs. But tourists will not come to Queensland if, as members
of our community, they are robbed, mugged or harassed by delinquents or street kids. Public safety,
law and order should have a higher
Legislative Assembly 1148 2 October 1991
priority for this Government than fifth out of ten areas of expenditure. Queensland needs more police
and more police cars—not more fire engines or firemen—to attend to crime on the Gold Coast.
I raised the matter of street kids assaulting people in Cavill Avenue with rats. Police agreed with me
that children were present with rats on their person and causing problems in Cavill Avenue. At least this
problem has been resolved. I hope that honourable members remember a young man who went
berserk at Burleigh Heads with a shotgun. Unfortunately, this happened on a Sunday. On that Sunday,
not one detective was on duty for the whole Gold Coast. Does this Government believe that crime will
occur only between the hours of 9 to 5, Monday to Friday? The statement about 1 200 more police is
now 1 200 more operational police—a careful manipulation of the truth—but this still means staff
shortages, with 24-hour stations being left unmanned and shut to the public. The police are there to
enforce the law. This State needs to address the run-down, understaffed, underfunded police force, but
the rules have to be the same for everybody who criticises this Government. Sir Max Bingham has
made claims about police covering up assaults committed by police officers in Queensland. Where is
the departmental investigation into these claims? Police will not speak out about their plight, so
somebody has to assist the men and women who risk their lives every day of the year.
Mr G. Quaid; Southedge Station
Mr BREDHAUER (Cook) (12.13 a.m.): In recent weeks, there has been much controversy
surrounding the clearing of land on Southedge station owned by George Quaid Holdings and situated
on the Mitchell River north west of Mareeba. Mr Quaid, it should be pointed out, is no stranger to
controversy in land matters. Southedge comprises two former special leases—one of 23 600 hectares,
which was freeholded on 18 July 1984 at a cost of $7.50 per hectare, and one of 16 500 hectares,
being the balance of Southedge holding, freeholded on 17 July 1986 at a price of $6 per hectare.
In 1986, Quaid dammed the headwaters of the Mitchell River on Southedge holding in a
controversial move which created Australia’s largest privately owned dam. This original dam attracted
considerable public comment from downstream users of the Mitchell River, including the Aboriginal
community of Kowanyama, graziers and fishermen based in the Gulf of Carpentaria. The dam also
caused significant problems for the peninsula development road between Mareeba and Mount Molloy,
which problems have yet to be rectified. In the same year, Quaid constructed a road connecting his
Southedge property with the Captain Cook Highway between Cairns and Mossman, intersecting that
highway at Wangetti.
In a report for the National Times on 21 December 1986, Murray Hogarth reported—
“Cairns developer George Quaid, the so-called Russ Hinze of far north Queensland, has
launched another bulldozer assault on the battered conservationists of the north.
In the last few months his huge machine has pushed a pilot road through more than 30
kilometres of bush—State forest, Aboriginal mission land, private leasehold and virgin forest.”
That is the type of country that Quaid was driving his bulldozers through.
In an extraordinary move, former National Party member for Barron River, Martin Tenni, helped
Quaid gain departmental approval for both the dam and the road, which required a special permit from
the State Forestry Department to traverse its land. The road was to have significant implications for the
far-north’s World Heritage listed wet tropics and remains closed to all traffic at this stage until the Wet
Tropics Management Authority
Legislative Assembly 1149 2 October 1991
can determine its future. Quaid’s name was also associated with the bitter dispute over the construction
of the Cape Tribulation to Bloomfield road. Again, I quote Hogarth in the National Times—
“In 1968 Quaid helped open up a pilot track through the Daintree rain forest which 15 years
later became the Cape Tribulation to Bloomfield Road, stirring North Queensland’s most bitter
environmental battle. It still smoulders on.”
Quaid benefited considerably from the construction of the Cape Tribulation to Bloomfield road after the
former Minister for Local Government, Russ Hinze, had intervened to allow a rainforest subdivision to
proceed on Quaid land north of the Daintree River. With the road in place, the land values for Daintree
freehold rainforest appreciated considerably.
I could also refer briefly to the opening of Cow Bay State School, which provides educational
facilities in the area north of the Daintree and a further selling point for Daintree freehold rainforest. The
political decision to force the Education Department to open this school before its time meant that it
commenced with an enrolment of 13 children and classes were held in the table tennis room of the
Forest Rest Motel at Cow Bay. Furniture was hastily arranged to be borrowed from other schools, and
the principal was advised by the regional education office at the time to visit other schools during his
school holidays to borrow photocopier paper, reading sets, educational materials and even chalk until
the school could be properly outfitted. Why George Quaid was motivated to donate $30,000 to the p.
and c. association of that Claytons school was a matter for conjecture, as was his reason for wanting
the donation to remain anonymous.
Let us be under no misconception about the gravity of the current situation. An area of some 50
square kilometres has been clear-felled of all trees and substantive vegetation. The Little Mitchell River
and various other creeks and watercourses either are, or have been, choked with trees and debris. The
current drought, which is affecting the remainder of the State, is affecting this area and certainly does
not augur well for the establishment of a substantial ground cover prior to the wet to minimise the risk of
soil erosion, which has been held out as likely in some quarters. A decent downpour will result in soil
erosion and increased turbidity of the Mitchell River. I add at this stage that the Mitchell River is second
only to the Murray/Darling as the largest river catchment area in Australia.
Some argue this issue is a conspiracy hatched by the Cairns and Far North Environment Centre
with the connivance of the Minister for Environment and Heritage to generate a smokescreen for the
new environment protection legislation. The clearing on Southedge was first brought to my attention by
the Gulf Local Authorities Development Association, a responsible and respected organisation in the
region incorporating local authority and industry representatives. I say without fear of contradiction that
GLADA is not in the grip of the greens, nor is its agenda predetermined. Other people who have
complained to me about the matter are the Aboriginal community of Kowanyama, the grazing and
fishing industries and various people whom I visited in the past couple of weeks downstream from the
Mitchell River. George Quaid is guilty of environmental vandalism. Whether he is charged with breaches
of the Clean Waters Act or the Water Resources Act remains to be determined, but there can be no
doubt that he has shown a total disregard for the environmental implications of his actions. Mr Quaid’s
attitudes to the environment are a relic of the past. Those attitudes have been tolerated and
encouraged by Governments in the past and, in some instances, are still sanctioned by departments.
This morning, I was pleased to hear Mr Casey’s comments that Mr Quaid had been refused an
extension on the show cause order.
Legislative Assembly 1150 2 October 1991
Hon. N. J. TURNER (Nicklin) (12.19 a.m.): Tonight, I intend to discuss briefly the problems we
have in Queensland relative to disposal of waste of all kinds. Waste produced by cities and industrial
and agricultural needs represents a major environmental concern to the health of not only humans but
also wildlife and animals. Unfortunately, in Australia we have a dinosaur mentality regarding rubbish or
waste of all kinds. For 2 000 years or more, man has thrown his rubbish into holes in the ground, rivers
or streams, or the sea. Technical experts should be looking at where we are going over the next several
decades, especially in the light of advances in technology and methods of disposal. Take, for instance,
the Brisbane City Council’s Rochedale dump. I consider it unbelievable that contracts have been signed
covering decades into the future provided that new technology can be used only if agreed to by Waste
Management. We are supposed to be the clever country, yet when a small group of Queensland
engineers and investors developed in Brisbane a process—neutralysis—which turned household
rubbish and liquid waste into a useful building material by mixing them and heating them with clay and
even producing electricity as a by-product, it was not used and, like the orbital engine, another
Australian discovery, will be lost to overseas countries.
As to toxic waste and radioactive waste—we should use the user-pays or the polluter-pays
philosophy, by which industry is encouraged to store and dispose of its own excess waste on site using
possibly the plasma arc technology. This was proposed by the national body set up by the Federal
Government and the New South Wales and Victorian Governments to build and administer a high
temperature incinerator method to destroy current stocks of toxic waste over a limited period, allowing
industry to set up its own disposal method and then close down the high temperature incinerators after
a period of some 10 years, rather than use costly sites such as Gurulmundi, which leave a virtual ticking
time bomb for all time and do not encourage industry to find and fund the disposal of its own waste.
Gurulmundi will be run by the Brisbane City Council in conjunction with the Government and the Murilla
Shire. I have limited time to canvass issues that have already been addressed. However, there have
been exposed serious deficiencies in the liners in relation to their location. They will be flat and they will
have no sides to them. It is a known and acknowledged fact that all liners leak and break down in time.
We are only buying time with this type of facility or landfill method. The United States experience shows
that, when using this underground liner type of method, leaking into underground water systems is
prevalent. It has been proved conclusively that Gurulmundi is located on an earthquake fault line
directly on top of the catchment area for the Great Artesian Basin. And let us look at possible
earthquakes. There have been two slight earth tremors at Saint George west of Gurulmundi in the last
week, the last one yesterday measuring 3.5 on the Richter scale. This year, Mundubbera had a tremor
that registered 3.0 on the Richter scale. Three weeks ago, Georgetown was rocked by a tremor of 4.3
on the Richter scale. Do honourable members realise that, on average every year, Queensland has
one earthquake above 4.0 on the Richter scale compared with four over 4.9 on the Richter scale every
year in Australia? I remind honourable members that the Newcastle quake registered 5.6 on the Richter
Not only is Miles on a major geological fault system but also it has the problem of toxic dust being
blown for hundreds of miles in dust storms, and recently we saw in Brisbane conditions such that
visibility was so limited that it was difficult for aircraft to fly. If a dump was established in the Miles area,
the dust would be brought through to the coastal areas, and with it pesticides that could get into beef
and affect the valuable meat export industry. I would be interested to know also whether the
Government, with its proposed contaminated land legislation, its heritage legislation and other messy
divided pieces of legislation which cannot pass the laws of common sense and in which it has
Legislative Assembly 1151 2 October 1991
designated retrospectivity, if it considers that the owner or occupier of any land is deemed to be the
polluter, can force that person to clean up any pollution. Will this apply to the State Government, the
Brisbane City Council and the Murilla Shire if and when pollution occurs through the location of a toxic
waste dump at Gurulmundi? If the Government can take properties off primary producers, will the public
be expected to pick up the tab for this proposed blunder? Possibly one of the greatest concerns relates
to the cartage of toxic and radioactive waste, with the possibility of accidents, of spillage and of
chemical fires. I believe that that type of material should be kept as close as possible to where it is
manufactured and, if that can be achieved, carted the least possible distance.
Mr FOLEY (Yeronga) (12.24 a.m.): In a few months’ time, the citizens of Queensland will go to a
referendum. This will give them the right to choose once and for all on the issue of daylight-saving.
Those who oppose daylight-saving do so often in emotive terms. Those who argue the case for
daylight-saving often express their case in muted terms. However, it is important that those who support
daylight-saving should put the case in this ultimate trial to be held before the people of Queensland.
If we are serious about promoting interstate commerce and generating jobs, we cannot afford the
luxury of a time zone different from that in the rest of eastern Australia. This has been said with great
force in the tourist industry. But it is not just that industry. All businesses increasingly rely on fast,
personal contact through phone and fax rather than the post. This personal contact is disrupted by
interstate time differences in office hours. In this respect, I am reinforced by the words uttered in this
Chamber nearly a century ago in the debate in 1894 when the then Premier, Hugh Nelson, urged upon
the House the wisdom of the Standard Time Bill. He said—and I respectfully adopt his words—
“The object of this Bill is to establish one uniform time throughout the whole of the colonies.
The inconvenience of having different local, railway, and other time has been very much felt, and if
this Bill is adopted it will do away with any inconvenience of that kind.”
A century later we face a similar challenge. At that time, each Australian colony observed the mean
solar time of its capital city and efforts were needed by legislators to bring them into line. So it is today,
and if there is to be a progressive approach to business and a serious encouragement and generation
of jobs, we should adopt daylight-saving as has been done in the rest of eastern Australia. Added
weight is given to that argument by the absolute necessity to consider energy and the environment. Put
simply, we are wasting energy by our current culture which relies upon Greenwich Mean Time and the
definition of standard time as relating to the one hundred and fiftieth meridian of longitude east of
Greenwich. In short, this daylight-wasting approach is something which is not conducive to a society
which should care about energy conservation.
Finally, of course, there are issues of life-style upon which Queenslanders will have different
opinions, depending upon the latitude and longitude in which they reside. In some cases, there will be
families with difficulties in getting children to bed while it is still light. On the other hand, it should be
noted that there have been great advantages to certain families. For example, last summer I noticed
that in my electorate of Yeronga many families took advantage of that extra hour of daylight to spend
time together after work, for example, at the Yeronga Park swimming pool. I note, for example, the
excellent work being done by Alderman Robyn Twell, the alderman for Fairfield, to encourage citizens to
Legislative Assembly 1152 2 October 1991
use Yeronga Park. Those initiatives of encouraging the opportunity for families to get out and about
after work are made that much more possible by having daylight-saving.
I urge voters to reject a return to the bad old days of daylight-wasting in Queensland. I urge those
who support daylight-saving to put their case. They should not hide their light under a bushel but put
forward the case rationally, coolly and forcefully and not be deterred by the emotive and sometimes
strident arguments which are raised against daylight-saving. It is of importance that the debate be lucid
and vigorous. This referendum should put at long last the debate to rest. True it be that different
citizens in different places have different attitudes to the issue, but this should resolve it once and for
Motion agreed to.
The House adjourned at 12.30 a.m. (Thursday).