January 31st 2015

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Articles from this issue:

CANBERRA OBSERVED Is time running out for Tony Abbott?

QUEENSLAND STATE ELECTION Choice facing Queensland voters on January 31

NATIONAL AFFAIRS Will Australia strengthen country-of-origin labelling laws?

GREAT THINKERS What Edmund Burke has to say to the modern world

SOCIETY Fatherlessness linked to increased risk of child abuse

LIFE ISSUES Assassinations should be 'safe, legal and rare'

LIFE ISSUES Shocking figures on Holland's euthanasia-fest

EDITORIAL Greek elections new threat to eurozone

Economic crisis polarises European politics

EUROPE Paris attack underscores a deeper malaise

UNITED STATES Dismay and outrage at Obama's Cuba policy

CHINA Flood of Chinese 'black money' distorts property market

FOREIGN AFFAIRS Behind Sri Lanka's vote for change

CULTURE What is the point of criticism?

BOOK REVIEW French sanctuary for endangered Jews

BOOK REVIEW Quaker forger who poisoned his mistress

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Choice facing Queensland voters on January 31

by Luke McCormack

News Weekly, January 31, 2015

Christmas certainly puts people into a reflective mood. Even politicians welcome the brief pause in the media news cycle over Christmas. 

Campbell Newman

However, not long after Victoria’s Labor leader Daniel Andrews claimed victory at the Victorian state election on November 29 last year, and with Christmas wrapping-paper still visible on living-room floors, Queensland Premier Campbell Newman announced the Queensland state election for Saturday, January 31. 

In retrospect, the snap election will likely be considered a masterstroke by Queensland’s Liberal National Party (LNP). 

Compared to Queensland’s politics, Victoria’s is polarised and intolerant. In Victoria, Labor has promised to make gay and lesbian programs compulsory in all state high schools; reintroduce a law that restricts on the freedom of religious schools to employ like-minded staff; and to retain the controversial Abortion Law Reform Act it introduced in 2008, which, among other things, violates the conscience of GPs by forcing them to refer women seeking abortions to doctors willing to perform the procedure, or risk being deregistered. 

Fortunately, to date, things have not been that bad in Queensland. 

One of the first actions of the Newman LNP government, on coming to power in March 2012, was to slash $2.5 million from the radical outfit called Queensland Association for Healthy Communities (formerly the Queensland AIDS Council), which was responsible for posting a controversial condom advertisement in prominent public places around Brisbane. 

There was an outcry because they appeared in bus shelters where many school children were exposed to them and because they over-rated the effectiveness of condoms and occasional health checks in protecting homosexual men from HIV and AIDS. 

Under LNP governance Queenslanders have no longer had radical sexual practices supported by taxpayers’ money. Nor have they experienced anything approaching Victoria’s and Tasmania’s death culture, in which the law permits the killing of unborn children, for any reason, right up to the end of nine months. 

Queensland Labor’s previous term in government, under EMILY’s List feminist Premier Anna Bligh, ended in a series of very embarrassing bungles, such as: 

• The $2.7 billion Western Corridor Recycled Water Scheme for south-east Queensland, mothballed in 2013. 

• The unnecessary Gold Coast desalination plant, located at Tugun, that cost $1.2 billion. 

• The Queensland Health Department payroll fiasco that cost $1.25 billion. 

• The pledge to build hospitals in 2006 at a cost of $2.87 billion, which ended up costing $5.08 billion. 

The 2010-11 Queensland floods would not have been so devastating had Labor, 12 years previously, followed better advice and begun building a second dam, so that responsibility for flood mitigation and water supply would not have been borne solely by the Wivenhoe Dam on the Brisbane River. 

In fact, in the 1989 Queensland state election (which saw Labor topple the Nationals), then premier-to-be Wayne Goss, and his advisers Kevin Rudd and Wayne Swan, actually campaigned to terminate the Wolffdene dam project on the Albert River (see News Weekly, August 20, 2011).

One small but significant Newman government reform was listening to disgruntled voters and local councils, who were at the mercy of the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT), which was often prepared to override resident, local council and local MP opposition to controversial business applications. Now Queensland’s municipal councils have the power to block such applications.

If the LNP wishes to secure a second term on January 31, it must: 

1) address voters’ concerns about soaring electricity and water prices and related assets; 

2) better communicate its achievements in cutting waste and balancing the state budget; 

3) develop a realistic vision for job-creation in agriculture and manufacturing; 

4) fix the fishing industry crisis by relaxing overly-strict fishing quotas; 

5) highlight its achievements in breaking criminal gang activities; and 

6) “throw a bone” to its pro-family support-base and to the new wave of feminist critique by repealing the controversial Surrogacy Act altogether. 

Unfortunately, both the LNP and ALP lack a robust vision for job-creation, no doubt because of the shackles of globalisation and so-called free-trade agreements. However, the LNP is at least trying to grapple with this problem. 

Labor, having abandoned true labour values years ago, has narrowed its agenda, become out of touch, intolerant and distracted by big unions, the climate-alarmist agenda and the demands of radical feminists. Labor’s version of job-creation is to rack up debt through increased public spending, and of course the LNP’s alternative strategy of making savings is simply to axe those jobs. 

Instead, the LNP should consider establishing a development bank to fund infrastructure, that would avoid harmful asset sales/leases and prevent blowing out the budget. 

News Weekly expects that the LNP will probably win the election, although with a reduced majority. Between 15 and 18 seats could return to Labor and to independent Chris Foley in Maryborough. Katter’s Australia Party should retain its three seats. An independent or two may lose a seat. The Palmer United Party (PUP) will probably not win any seats. 

If Premier Newman loses his battle to retain the marginal electorate of Ashgrove, the LNP will probably elect as its new leader Lawrence Springborg, John-Paul Langbroek or Tim Nicholls.

As things stand, Queensland cannot afford an ALP government. 

Voters, however, should be aware that the modern LNP does not resemble the Country/National and Liberal parties of the past, which included real nation-builders who were not afraid to put Australia first, and that meant pursuing full employment. 

Luke McCormack is Queensland state president of the National Civic Council.

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