Wednesday 18 March 2009

Putting Labor out of its misery

Bryan Law shares his view of last evening's Barron River candidate forum. He went for the debate, but stayed for the coffee.

Last night, at the Yorkeys Knob Community Centre, I got a strong feeling that the Labor Party is gone from Barron River! At least for three years. Steve Wettenhall is gone. Barron River is going to elect the LNP’s Wendy Richardson as its MLA in the next Parliament.

Steve Wettenhall, Wendy Richardson, and Sarah Isaacs from the Greens, fronted a selection of around 50 voters and put forward their policies and ideas for the next government of Queensland. All three spoke coherently and confidently about their issues, and about the kind of planning and policies they wanted to see for Barron River and Queensland.

Funnily enough, the only candidate to be heckled while making introductory comments was Sarah Isaacs, who was very rudely interrupted when she attempted to explain why the Greens were trying to steer their preferences to the ALP’s Steve Wettenhall. One fisherman’s friend from Trinity Park exploded with indignation about the Greens being a 'sub-branch of the ALP' and how he didn’t want to hear any more of that guff.

I have to say that Sarah handled the interjection with grace and aplomb, and simply repeated that from her perspective, and the perspective of the Greens, the ALP had better policies than the LNP. Sarah and the Greens carried the night for commonsense and integrity, and it was clear that both the ALP and LNP candidates are aware of the need to show green credentials. Sarah commented at one point that our future depended on either (a) Greens winning office, or (b) the actual transformation of the major Parties to Green practice. There was no disagreement in the room with her statement.

But conventional wisdom holds that either Steve or Wendy will take the prize on Saturday. On last night’s performance it’s hard to see how Steve could do it.

Questions from the audience overwhelmingly displayed anger at Labor’s record on the reef, yacht club, small business, urban development, and fluoridation. Steve fought back gamely with detailed answers that were, unfortunately for him, based on a technocratic appreciation of government. He criticised the LNP’s grip on Treasury and funding. Statutory plans and Departmental intentions played a key role in Steve’s vision of the future – while Wendy Richardson attacked the Labor bureaucracy again and again for incompetence and for living in Brisbane. With allies like Queensland Health and Queensland Transport, Labor’s pushing it uphill all the way.

Steve had too few (maybe 6) allies in the audience, and when they tried to attack Wendy Richardson they failed to win the sympathy or support of the wider audience. One was a public servant involved in regional planning who tried to argue that local people had been involved in designing the regional plan. Wendy challenged the statement and the public servant had to retreat, saying she wasn’t allowed to debate the detail.

Another tried to dispute that Wendy or the LNP could be in any way sympathetic to Aboriginal people generally, or to the Mona Mona mob in particular. Wendy served it back up to her with a personal history, a strong appreciation of Aboriginal culture, and a set of policy decisions that had been announced earlier in the day by Lawrence Springborg, decisions initiated by Wendy which delivered far more to the people of Mona Mona that Steve Wettenhall had managed last week. Not only will they get their land back from an LNP government, but they will get funding for a housing and infrastructure package they’ve been pursuing for more than a decade now.
It became clear that most of last night’s audience already knew which way it was voting, and it’s not for Steve Wettenhall and the ALP.

Which is consistent with the polls around Queensland giving the LNP a swing of about 6%. Barron River falls at 4.8%. If such a swing is evenly distributed then Labor will lose 10 seats, but hang on to government (just). We might then see an effective LNP opposition and an overall improvement in government in Queensland. Or we might see Anna Bligh and her cronies retreating to the bunker and staying negative for three years.

Bur if we assume the swing will not be uniform, we can ask ourselves what will happen in seats like Cairns? The Courier-Mail today is describing Cairns as “knife-edge”. Desley Boyle has to suffer a swing against her of 8% before she falls, and it’s a measure of how seriously the Bligh government miscalculated that Desley’s seat is seriously at risk. Ross Parisi told me last night he thought the decision to call an early election cost the ALP 2%. That leaves 4% arising from weariness and general dissatisfaction.

If we add 2.1% in Cairns because of the Yacht Club, Desley Boyle may have cost her Party government. What an incredibly stupid thing to do. Maybe that’s why we’re seeing Desley pulling on a public brawl with Anna Bligh about Cabinet selection in the dying days of the campaign.

Of course Warren Pitt hasn’t helped. His arrogant act of nepotism might cost the ALP Mulgrave at 10.1%. With three days left the ALP technocrats in Brisbane are going desperately negative against the LNP leadership. It’s the gutter politics of desperation folks. And it stinks.

When I go into the booth in Cairns on Saturday, I’m going to vote 1 Greens, and 2 for the LNP’s Joel Harrop.

It’ll be a kindness to put the Labor Party out of its misery.


Anonymous said...

Bryan Law
Anybody with half a brain whether it be the left or right would not take any notice of your rambling, turn your meter off and go home and stay there.

Anonymous said...

Having vivid memories still of Johannes Bjelke Petersen and his reign of tyranny in this state there is no way I would ever vote for Lawrence's National Party and what it has stood for in the past.

Knowing what that party in that era did to people's lives makes Labor's efforts of the last ten years still pale into insignificance, even on environmental issues.

As a supporter for many years I will not be voting for Desley either because of what she has done to Cairns on a number of issues including the destruction of the Yacht Club.

I will certainly be supporting the Greens but I will be exhausting my vote as a protest to the major parties.

I'll let the political animals such as Bryan Laws live with the decisions they are going to make for Queensland as to who the clowns will be running this state after this weekend because personally I see no choice.

Anonymous said...

I think Bryan's statement that the yacht club will cost Desley 2.1% of the vote is false. I know a number of people who signed the petition, including myself, who were never passionate about the issue but decided to sign the petition because it was there, rather than because they were passionate about the issue. These people, including myself, will still be voting Labor.

I challenge you to do a petition calling for capital punishment to be reintroduced, and I bet you would get at least double to amount of signatures as the yacht club petition. Does that make capital punishment the right decision? And does that mean that the 20,000 thousand people who would sign that petition would then not vote labor if labor said that they would never bring in capital punishment? Your argument is flawed Bryan. If Desley loses it will be because there is a swing on across the state, not because of any major local issues. It's just like the 2007 federal election, if there's a swing on, there's a swing on and it won't matter how hard each sitting member worked in their electorate (or if your the prime minister!).

Sean Purcell said...

Bryan Law’s Liberal National Party spin of the Yorkey’s Knob candidates debate meeting fails on so many counts it is tempting to just let it go. I was at that meeting though, and in particular I hate to see Indigenous policy tricked around with, so I think I ought to respond.

In any election campaign, it is the opposition candidate’s prerogative to disagree with any government policy, and to play up to any and every protest group. Last Tuesday night, if there had been an aggrieved semi-automatic gun nut in the audience, Wendy would have raged against “red tape and over-regulation”, given a personal anecdote about how her son had once been saved by an automatic rifle before ”guaranteeing” the protester that she’d personally just love to give him 200 rounds of LNP ammunition and a free LNP gun cabinet. No policy, just duplicitous pandering flim flam.

Several Yorky’s locals commented that there were very few other locals at the meeting, but there were a hell of a lot of Bryan’s mates, imported National Party grudge merchants, reef vandals and climate skeptics, happily smiling and nodding at Wendy and Bryan, even more happily hooting and abusing Sarah Isaacs and Steve Wettenhall. Wendy Richardson will agree with anyone who has a grievance, but she has no LNP policy basis on which she can claim to 'fix' any of the perceived problems.

To avoid policy conflict between their minority of Liberals and their majority of Nationals, in this election the LNP are as closed-mouth as they can be about what their real policies actually are, and Wendy Richardson plays the dead policy hand like a natural. Asked point blank what the LNP’s party platform was on the development of a uranium industry in Queensland, Wendy offered no policy at all. And that’s because in this election, to cover up its awfulness, public candour on LNP policy has been officially de-neccessaried.

In contrast, Steve Wettenhall was honest and forthright about what has been achieved and the policies that the Labor government is taking to the electorate. There will be no uranium industry in Queensland under the Queensland Labor Government. Of course Steve talked about statutory planning, because planning protects the planet, it protects jobs and people, and these are the policies that the Labor party has committed to. Apart from a policy on a new hospital reference group (which we already have) and a commitment to start the 2031 Regional plan all over again, what did Wendy offer - to cut red tape? How and in what areas? For commercial fisherman so that the controls on sustainable fishing on the reef are reduced?

Wendy talked about her having a 'green' tinge but where was a single LNP policy about how that was to be achieved? There are no environmental policies from the LNP, except to remove the “red tape” regulation of run-off from farms onto the reef, and gutting the Wild Rivers legislation. Hardly 'green' policies - sounds more like National Party policies.

Bryan’s gloating suggestion that a public servant involved in the Regional Plan 'retreated' saying she 'was not allowed to debate the detail' is simply untrue. Bryan just got that wrong, miss-heard perhaps, but Bryan miss-hears too often. Not expecting too many knowledgeable people in the audience, Wendy Richardson had asserted that the FNQ Regional plan had been foisted on Cairns by Brisbane bureaucrats (boo hiss go the crowd). Disputing this, a local public servant made very clear that the plan had been drafted by her and by a group of other social planners – all locals - in the Far North. Caught out, Richardson simply maintained her position that the plan must have been drafted in Brisbane, effectively calling the audience member a liar. After several unsuccessful attempts to have Wendy admit an error, the local planner did not continue the obviously futile discussion, and sat back. That’s not good enough for Bryan though, who in his account has the local planner being so artfully silenced by the clever Richardson that she has to slink away, claiming to have been silenced by some mysterious ALP government directive on secrecy. Lovely stuff for conspiracy theorists, but it didn’t actually happen, and one wonders how Bryan managed to “miss-hear” all of that?

Bryan also misrepresents Wendy's portrayal of the LNP policy on Mona Mona. Wendy did not say that the LNP had a policy to provide housing and infrastructure to the people of Mona Mona. No such LNP policy exists, and as a well scripted spin-artist for the National Liberal Party, Bryan must have known that. Wendy simply stated that the people of Mona Mona had a vision for their future and that if elected the LNP would enter into 'talks' with them about the way forward. Pretty innocuous stuff. A direct question to Wendy at the conclusion of the forum confirmed this - there has been no commitment by the LNP to provide housing or infrastructure to the people of Mona Mona. Bryan miss-heard a lot (again), and reported it on a blog, again.

In contrast, and from a hard fact and known-policy basis, Steve Wettenhall confirmed that the cabinet decision regarding a National Park extension over a large part of Mona Mona has been reversed. Again, a cabinet commitment has been given to continue trying to work with the people of Mona Mona towards a future plan acceptable to them, which would include return of the land. This is a real local win for Steve, and for the people of Mona Mona. So is the Kuranda Range Road decision, so is the Myola decision on a population cap, all down to Steve’s representations. Despite Bryan’s cynicism, in fairness these should be described as examples of excellent work from Steve (as Sarah Isaacs eloquently pointed out) rather than a political points grabbing exercise.

For better or worse (it was crowded out with rent-a-Nationals) Steve told the truth at Yorkey’s Knob on Tuesday night. Wendy Richardson did not do that - she told the audience almost nothing about the LNPs policies and committed to almost nothing at that level.

She was a little less careful though last night at the CAST Sustainable Public Transport forum.
CAST Survey Question: Present global warming is mostly caused by human use of fossil fuels.
Wendy Richardson Survey Response: I am not sure either way. There is controversy on this...

Wendy Richardson a climate sceptic? If she hadn’t written her response down, I would have sworn I miss-heard it.

Anonymous said...

The meeting at Yorkeys Knob was attended by approx 90 voters (learn to count Bryan) and it was obvious to all that the LNP had arrived early and "stacked" the night ! Wendy Richardson reminded us all that she was a Speech Therapist at least 5 times and we heard all about her family and friends. It was time for policies to be questioned and she really didn't tell us anything new. Her statement that the Cairns 31 plan had originated in Brisbane and that there would be NO farmland left in the southern corridor was dismissed when one of the planners involved replied and we were assured that the exercise was completely worked on by LOCALS. ! There seemed to be no homework done by the LNP and very 'wishy- washy' policy promises. Steve Wettenhall and Sarah Isaacs on the other hand spoke with conviction and committment. We didn't find out about their family and friends - we don't really need to know to be able to vote. Steve Wettenhall explained very clearly the reasons behind the fishing questions and the increase in boat registration fees. Since when has the Nationals been interested in helping the indiginous people? Sir Joh even kicked out Fred Hollows from Qld because he was helping the indiginous with eye problems. No empathy in that area EVER ! The stacked LNP just didn't want to listen. I did hear that the "Meet Wendy" night last Saturday attracted about 6 people. I think the people of Barron River have already made up their mind on who to vote for.

Anonymous said...

Speech Therapist! How about a hearing aid for Bryan instead?

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't be so fast in numbering the LNP box this time.

I'd prefer a candidate with sympathy for the environment and social justice than one that sees places like East Trinity as just another real estate opportunity.

The LNP need to go back to their policies and engage in developing some knowledge and expertise in the environment field. Currently thay justy don't have the maturity to manage our environment.

The ALP is hopelessly under the thumb of the development lobby, but many MPs do actually get what's needed to be done.

In my book that's still better than a clueless LNP with a mid 20th century development mindset.

The LNP needs to be engaged and educated on the environment, only when they can demonstrate a basic level of environmental literacy should be considered a credible alternative government.


Anonymous said...

I guess Bryan might be right about the outcome, even if his report on proceedings is skewed. So, matching that to current polling, that would provide Barron River with an opposition local member in a reduced Bligh government. Make you feel like winners, Barron River electors?

Anonymous said...

Tsk Tsk! Having been surprised that people are unhappy with Labor, and that the Yorkey's meeting was not stacked as they would have hoped with their Labor cronies (perhaps some are beginning to doubt all the spin too?) it seems Labor supporters are making up for lost time now with misrepresentations and vicious comments on this blog.

I don't see any mention of my major concern that the State Government has run up a huge debt for Queensland in the last 5 years of $74 billion. Interestingly Steve mentioned I think a ‘small deficit' and extolled the virtue of this as being necessary for infrastructure development.
Why so much silence on such an important issue? After all one of the main roles of government is to manage the State’s finances and ours have been very seriously mismanaged.

Let’s get this straight – a debt and a deficit are two different things! Let’s talk about it with this example.
If you borrow $75,000 and put it in your bank account, you can look like you have a lot of money. But you actually have a large debt.

If you then spend $75,100, you could say you had a ‘small’ deficit in your bank account of $100. But this would be totally ignoring the fact of your large debt, and the interest you have to find for it, as well as money one day to repay it.

The enormous debt of $74 BILLION is what Labor doesn’t want to talk about. I have repeatedly brought this up in public and Steve never refutes it. Clearly the Labor ‘policy’ on this is “Don’t give this issue any oxygen – never talk about it.” He tries instead to confuse people by talking about a small deficit.

But people, this huge debt costs Queensland $10 million A DAY!

This has to be paid before one pothole is fixed, one wildlife officer is paid or one operation performed.

Think what could be done with this money instead of losing it – EVERY DAY.

And that is without repaying any of it, which MUST happen.

And all this debt has accrued in the best of times financially for Queensland; NOT recently due to the World Economic Crisis. Labor started out 11 years ago with a surplus but this has all changed as from about 5 years ago under Anna as Treasurer and then Premier. And what have they done with those funds?

There is very little to show for it and now we are witnessing cash grabs to fill the black hole of the interest, such as the increases on car registration.

This situation is disgusting. Treasurer Andrew Fraser told Main Roads Minister Warren Pitt in a leaked email that money from the increases would definitely NOT be for road infrastructure.

Horrifying then to see the ‘cool as a cucumber’ Fraser announce to the public, the very next day, that the move WAS to ensure improvements to road infrastructure. A complete, bald-faced lie to the people of Queensland.

And people wonder why the boaties at the meeting were concerned about why their fees have gone up 250% and the excuses given to them?

Oh and by the way, they keep their boats at the Yorkey’s Marina, which entitles them to attend a Yorkey’s meeting which was open to the public, I believe.

As far as policy goes, seems Bryan Law was listening better than most of these Labor hacks.

I explained in detail the LNP’s concern with 2025 – sorry 2031. I said the plan needed reviewing as many eminently qualified locals felt consultation had been poor. It is LNP’s policy to allow this review and proper local views to be heard.

I assured people though that there was NO intention by reviewing 2031to lose environmentally protected areas. With more time I would have spoken further of the current 2031Plan’s increased threat to the environment.

2031 creates very outmoded models of urban development. Modern thinking is for a return as far as possible to the ‘sustainable village’ concept for lots of reasons.

Instead, 2031 promotes vast suburbs of closely huddled housing with a sea of roofs on tiny blocks, far from places of employment, along unplanned highways, or sprawling high rise complexes on concrete pads.

For a start this type of development will ensure velocity and volume of storm water runoff are sharply increased by the lack of soil available around each house to absorb heavy tropical downpours (as we are already seeing at Clifton Beach and Kanimbla).

These horrifically dense acres of tin and concrete do not allow for outdoor living or shade trees. Instead they promote an isolating culture of families locked up in their airconditioned block houses, unable to have a BBQ or just play in the back yard, as it lacks any privacy or space to do so, being only a few meters from the fence lines.

Not great planning! 2031 does not even stack up environmentally!

I went on to explain the new hospital process which would empower locals to decide where this world class facility would be and what part the old hospital would play.

I also explained LNP’s proposed 3% efficiency factor designed to save money across all government departments given the debt level. Labor, in a sick ploy designed to worry the very people they claim to represent, are frightening them with assertions this will mean significant job cuts.

This is categorically not true! Efficiency means just that. Find places where waste has occurred and eliminate it. The Bligh government actually talked about the same process last year of up to an 8% efficiency cut, but never enforced it.

LNP actually support having more front line workers. We are appalled at the loss of valuable people due to poor morale and working conditions.

We currently have problems for example with far too few wildlife officers and feral animal problems are huge but still growing throughout our National Parks.

And this all under Labor’s watch. Not good environmental policy folks!

There is so much more that could be said.

But most of all - don’t be fooled people.

Labor does NOT know how to look after this state.

Sean Purcell said...

Good to see that Wendy’s up and about, but so many little content! After her very promising opening about Bryan Law having better hearing better than most, I thought Wendy was going to defend Bryan’s ludicrous assertions about National Liberal Party policy on Mona Mona! Or about how the FNQ Regional Plan really wasn’t a local product, or even that she too recalled a local public servant claiming to be under a government directive that prohibited her from talking about the detail of the FNQ Regional Plan.

Unfortunately for Bryan, and despite Wendy’s early promise, she didn’t do any of that, did she? Maybe it wasn’t a core promise – Wendy is a National Liberal Party politician - but I hope Bryan is getting a sense of what it’s going to be like for him if a National Liberal Party is elected: oiled up, used up and then hung out to dry!

To be fair, this morning Wendy didn’t have much to work with. Having grossly miss-heard the discussion on a range of issues at the Yorkeys Knob meeting, Bryan published a series of gross miss-reports lauding Wendy Richardson and canning Steve Wettenhall. What’s Wendy going to do with that, except launch into a free-association tirade about something else? Out comes the NLP voodoo economics, and Wendy contradicting Lawrence Springborg’s promise that an LNP government will ”de-necessary” thousands of Queensland jobs. There is no mention of Lawrence Springborg’s promise to roll back “ALP” red tape and regulation. Think Barrier Reef, tree clearing, commercial fishing, farm run-off, commercial development and Wild Rivers.

At any point, it is open to Bryan – in the tradition of credible publishers everywhere – to acknowledge his serious misreporting of fact, maybe offer an apology, and undertake to make a bit more effort to be report accurately in future. I’m offering $10.00 at 2:1 that Bryan won’t do it. Any takers?

Tony Hillier said...

God help Queensland should the LNP pull it off tomorrow, If their performance in opposition at the regional parliament held in Cairns last year is any criterion. They looked like the Lobotomised Nonentities Party!

Anonymous said...

Let me see, we've had ten years of a Liberal federal government more intent on building up their Scrooge McDuck money bin than sorting out rising state costs for health, education and in Queensland's case the massive population growth in SE Queensland. in recent years and the related issues of infrastructure funding for support services. roads, water, etc. etc.

Because the 'world's greatest treasurer' didn't come to the party (after all they were Labor state governments) and provide the necessary funding - even in the time of an unprecedented economic boom (thanks China), the only other option was for the Qld state government to take out these massive loans to provide the essential infrastructure for this state.

What Anna Bligh and her mob did not anticipate was the result of the neo-con 'no holds barred' economic mentality of the US under GW Bush which has created one of the worst financial crises in recent economic history.

Anna Bligh now finds herself in a quandry paying off this debt because the coal royalties that were going to be a major income source for it rapidly fizzled (20 million plus unemployed in China).

The rest is a history of political election spin.

I won't be voting for Boyle tomorrow -the Yacht Club meant a lot to me, but just think for a moment: what would Springborg and his (liberal) Nationals have done in the same economic and political circumstances?

KitchenSlut said...

My mail from a close friend and neighbour who is a left organiser for the ALP was that they were seriously pissed off after Pitt announced his last gasp nepotistic thing ala North Korea to pass the baton to the kiddie.

Jim, are you seriously telling us that a regional monopoly as we have now has served us well? Are you seriously suggesting telling us that the voters of Barron River would be derailing democracy by electing an alternative voice?

What an odd position, certainly nothing this 'anonymous' troll has ever promoted in any political context .......