(Qld ) Leader of the Opposition, springborg.com: Newsletter - July 12th

Submitted by Editor on Sat, 16/07/2005 - 01:54

* Nuttall referred to Commissioner Morris
* Labor's sleight of hand on leasehold land rents
* Bundaberg Port Authority board gets another Labor mate
* Taxpayer funds lost by Beattie government as companies fail
* We need protection from needle-stick injuries

The Leader of the Opposition
Parliament House,
Alice Street,
QLD 4000
Phone: (07) 3406 7997
Fax: (07) 3221 1496

Nuttall referred to Commissioner Morris

Strong evidence that Health Minister Gordon Nuttall deliberately lied to a Parliamentary Committee about his knowledge of problems with overseas trained doctors will be investigated by police and the CMC.

The Nationals have referred the matter because there appears to be a clear breach of Section 57 of the Criminal Code which carries a seven year jail term for deliberately providing false evidence to a parliamentary committee.

It is our view that Gordon Nuttall deliberately misled the committee about whether or not his Department briefed him on the proficiency, skills and training of overseas trained doctors.

The transcript of the hearings leaves no doubt that the Health Minister lied to the committee and his claim that he misunderstood the question is an insult to every fair-minded Queenslander. During questioning:

Mr Nuttall was asked 15 times whether or not he was briefed on the issue,

Mr Nuttall confirmed eight times that he understood the question, Mr Nuttall on 12 occasions denied he had been briefed. Premier Beattie's behaviour was also disgraceful when he attacked the credibility of the Deputy Director General of Queensland Health, Dr John Scott, after he told the truth in the hearings, contradicting Nuttall.20

Peter Beattie, true to form, went after Dr Scott by inferring that he had lied in some form of payback attempt. That slur will leave a sour taste in the mouth of every public servant.

Beattie's inaction leaves Hollis a lame duck Parliamentary Speaker

The decision by the CMC not to recommend charges against Parliamentary Speaker Ray Hollis over his entertainment expenses means justice has not been done in Queensland and won't be while we have a Premier who is too weak to show leadership.

It's incredible that the embattled Speaker can travel first-class overseas for years without first seeking approval or reporting back to Parliament, in breach of existing guidelines.

He jets off spending more than $60,000 of public money on travel and then gets his mate Premier Beattie to retrospectively okay everything.

Hollis was found wanting in relation to his entertainment expenses, so much so that the Crime and Misconduct Commission referred the matter to the Department of Public Prosecution.

Unfortunately Queensland Parliament now has a lame duck Speaker who has not followed his own rules. How can he expect others to take him seriously?

The Nationals respect the position and role of Speaker but do not respect Mr Hollis in the role and neither should the Beattie Government.

Labor's sleight of hand on leasehold land rents

Labor's sleight of hand in promising to freeze leasehold land rents to farmers was one of the oldest and most cynical tricks in the book.

Labor had been caught out on its sneaky plan to double its take from rural leasehold land rents from $9.78 million in 2004-05 to $18 million-plus in 2005-06.

But now the Premier and Minister Robertson are trying to play Father Christmas by promising to freeze rents at last year's rate.

It's the oldest and most cynical trick in the book ...first come out and confess to the plan for a 100 per cent increase in rents and then say ..oh we feel sorry for you and it's part of the Blueprint and here's a fair go relief package.

The plain fact is Minister Robertson was caught out and it wasn't until yesterday when he responded to an Estimates Hearing question from The Nationals that he finally revealed his plan to double the rents.

With all the bad press Labor is having, and after lecturing councils about not ripping off windfall profits from ratepayers through higher valuations for the past three months, Beattie told Robertson to leave lease rents where they were and get out and tell everyone what kind and generous blokes they are.

Obviously he and Robertson think that this sort of false benefit is all that's needed to hoodwink city voters into believing Labor is fair dinkum about its Blueprint for the Bush.

Bundaberg Port Authority board gets another Labor mate

Politicisation of State Government boards is continuing with the appointment last week of Labor mate Gary Parr to the Bundaberg Port Authority Board.

Mr Parr joins three-time failed Labor candidate for Hinkler Cheryl Dorron on the board.

Labor has made an internal decision to replace the current Member for Bundaberg Nita Cunningham at the next election and Mr Parr's appointment is aimed at lifting his profile.

The Beattie government obviously hasn't learned anything from the Dr Death debacle and the electricity crisis.

The chair of the Bundaberg District Health Council Viv Chase was appointed because he's a Labor mate and the fact we now have a Royal Commission into the Bundaberg Hospital is testimony to his ineffectiveness.

Mr Chase's main contribution to the current examination of Queensland's public health system has been to criticise The Nationals Member for Burnett Rob Messenger for speaking out.

A key reason our electricity system plunged so deeply into crisis was that Labor mates appointed to the boards of power corporations kept quiet about the shabby maintenance and lack of upgrades while Beattie and Mackenroth ripped out massive dividends to prop up their budgets.

Port authority boards should include people who understand and are committed to ports, trade and transport issues, not people whose sole qualification is their loyalty to the Australian Labor Party.

Taxpayer funds lost by Beattie government as companies fail

At least 13 companies had been either liquidated or had an administrator appointed after receiving lucrative grants from the Beattie Labor Government.

Last week during Estimates hearings in State Parliament, The Nationals asked the Minister for State Development to explain just how much taxpayers' money had been lost in cash grants to the failed companies and how many jobs had been lost as a result of their failure.

If we believe Minister McGrady then the Government keeps track of its cash grant recipients - making sure promised jobs are being delivered and the conditions attached to the grants are being met.

But here are 13 clear examples of where this is simply not happening and taxpayers have lost a minimum of $330,000 as part of the bargain.=20

Because the Beattie Labor government is so secretive, taxpayers may never know exactly how much money they have lost as part of this Government's desire to run around picking winners.

In addition to the 13 companies there are serious concerns about whether taxpayers had lost out on cash grants awarded to another four firms, where we believe the agreements had been terminated or suspended because of a failure to deliver the jobs promised when they were originally awarded the grants.

The Beattie Government continually tells us it is open and accountable. If that's the case rather than hiding the details for eight years the Minister should come clean and tell us just how much money we've lost, how many jobs haven't been delivered and just what's been done to recover taxpayers' money.

We need protection from needle-stick injuries

The case last week of a five year-old girl receiving three needle-stick injuries in a school playground has highlighted our calls for the immediate introduction of retractable needles.

We have grave concerns with Beattie Government's needle distribution program and the number of used needles that are being carelessly discarded to end up on our streets and in our children's playgrounds.

What concerns me is how many children remain at risk in Queensland playgrounds, parks and beaches because of Labor's refusal to introduce retractable needles.

The Beattie government's own figures reveal nearly five million needles were distributed by Queensland Health in 2003-04 as part of its needle and syringe distribution program, representing a 25% increase over the previous two years.

Certainly the program has health benefits in providing needles for drug users but I'm very concerned by the risk to the rest of the community.

We need a needle exchange program but how many used needles and syringes are actually returned to the place of issue?

What makes it worse is that now Queensland Health uses automatic dispensing machines which means health professionals are no longer involved directly.

People are put at risk from contracting blood borne diseases due to used needles not disposed of in sharps containers for safe destruction.

This debate is not just about drug users. Our health professionals need to be protected and they deserve to be able to use retractable needles and syringes today.

2004 authorised by L. Springborg, Parliament House, Alice St, Brisbane QLD 4000



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