The Queensland government is clearly one of our very worst
It takes a woman to tear down another woman and Judith Sloan has risen well to that challenge below. She gets it pretty right but I think she should given more credit to Annastacia for unusually relaxed lockdowns during the pandemic. I was hardly bothered by them at all
We hang out a fair bit in Queensland. We bought a place over a decade ago and happily spend several months a year in the Sunshine State – that’s when we are allowed to.
We had been given an early glimpse of how bad the Queensland government was when we were buying the place. It was a legislated requirement to provide prospective buyers with an environmental assessment of the property for sale. (It had been the brainwave of the husband of Labor premier Anna Bligh who was a senior bureaucrat at the time.)
The form consisted of page after page of detailed questions that the property owner was expected to answer or attempt to answer. You see: ‘not applicable’ and ‘don’t know’ were acceptable answers. Quite a lot of forms we received had ‘don’t know’ to the question: is there a swimming pool on the property? Clearly many vendors were simply taking the piss. I should add that the real estate agents weren’t taking the government directive too seriously either.
Fast-forward a decade or so and it’s clear that the performance of the Queensland government has deteriorated further. I’m not talking here so much about its reaction to Covid – I’m pretty sure the wooden spoon goes to Victoria, with Western Australia not far behind.
Even so, it’s hard to erase the memories of those mindless observations of the then chief health officer, Jeanette Young – she is now Governor of Queensland!
Needless to say, there were various low points in Queensland during the times of Covid, including that memorable comment from the premier Annastacia Paluszczuk – now commonly referred to as Red Carpet Anna – that Queensland hospitals were for Queenslanders, thereby preventing some seriously sick people, including children, living in far north New South Wales from crossing the border.
And who can forget the bumbling, incoherent commentaries of the then health minister, Stephen Miles? On the basis of that performance, he is now deputy premier. (OK, I made that bit up; he is deputy premier because of some factional stitch-up.)
Of course, no one expected Red Carpet Anna to become premier; she was made the leader of the opposition as a sort of seat-holder at an Oscar’s ceremony because there were so few Labor parliamentarians after Campbell Newman stormed into office. But Newman managed to storm out of office just as quickly and the daughter of a former senior Labor politician and deal-maker got the top job because it would have looked tacky to remove her at that point.
To give you some examples of just how bad the Queensland government is, it’s hard to go past the current kerfuffle surrounding the government-run DNA laboratory. A part of Queensland Health, which is a disaster story in itself, at some point the ‘managers’ – I can’t call them real managers – decided that the cut-off point for testing should be double the international standard.
What this has meant is that baddies who might otherwise have been indicted because of forensic evidence were allowed to roam the streets because some ‘manager’ in Brisbane had decided that a new standard should apply which allowed the lab to get through the backlog and save money. Unsurprisingly, the first reaction of Red Carpet Anna was to cover it up, claiming there was nothing to see. Were it not for the dogged efforts of a journalist, this gross failing by a public agency would never have seen the light of day.
It’s also hard not to laugh at the Queensland government’s recent attempt to extend the land tax base for Queensland properties. The cunning minds at Queensland Treasury pondered how to extract more money from those well-heeled investors with properties in other states as well as in Queensland.
The Queensland treasurer, Cameron Dick – who is slightly more competent that his predecessor Jackie Trad – hoped to include the value of all investment properties for the purpose of calculating the land tax on Queensland properties. Sadly, NSW premier Dominic Perrottet refused to cooperate by releasing any details of investment property ownership in his state, which was a slight problem.
Of course, for anyone caught in this tax trap, an answer of ‘don’t know’ to the question about interstate properties could have done the trick. But in the end Red Carpet Anna was sufficiently embarrassed by the whole cack-handed exercise that she dropped the new tax.
Mind you, you wonder why the good folk at Treasury ever bothered given that the extension to the land tax arrangements was going to net a mere additional $20 million per year. Note here that the state has debt in excess of $100 billion, has more public sector workers per head of population than any other state and has a media department in the premier’s office whose staff wouldn’t fit in the newly constructed and unused (and paid for by Queensland taxpayers) quarantine facility in Toowoomba.
Then there’s the absolutely unconscionable proposal to amend Queensland’s industrial relations laws to exclude any competitors of registered trade unions. I guess it’s just a coincidence that currently registered unions happen to be affiliated, either directly or indirectly, to the Labor party and are also major financial contributors. (I’ve written about this before – it’s not too late. Queensland Speccie readers should contact their local member to express their outrage. The opposition has been slow to lodge its vehement objections.)
Aimed directly at the nimble and innovative Red Unions – their representation of nurses, in particular, has gone extremely well – the perverted (and completely self-serving) logic of the minister is that other unions can be established but they cannot represent their members industrially. Indeed, it will be an offence were they to attempt to do so under the amended legislation.
There is absolutely no doubt that the legislation is a violation of the ILO conventions on freedom of association and freedom to form associations, conventions which the Australian government has signed. But the Queensland government doesn’t care, claiming the amendment is needed to avoid ‘employers and employees being confused’. What, like being confused by choice at the supermarket?
Let’s face it, competition and choice are not the mantras of Red Carpet Anna who seems to prefer to spend her time with her new bariatric surgeon boyfriend attending gala events, often paid for by the Queensland taxpayer.
Perfect, she no doubt thinks.