Huge numbers seeking financial counselling are considering bankruptcy

Up to 80 percent of people seeking financial counselling  on the Gold Coast are considering bankruptcy, according to an anti-poverty forum in Nerang today.

Member for Gaven, Dr Alex Douglas MP called the forum as part of Anti-Poverty Week to educate people about ways to access assistance through community and government agencies.

“People living in Coomera and Pacific Pines are amongst the highest percentage of people facing  mortgage and rent stress, resulting in further social and personal problems include relationship breakdowns, domestic violence, crime and gambling,” he said.

“A financial counsellor at the forum said a significant number of people left counselling until they were on the brink of bankruptcy.

“There were a number of hardship cases highlighted today including a pensioner who  said he had been directed by State Penalties Enforcement Register (SPER)  to cut back on his food consumption by $3 to $5 a week simply to meet government commitments.

“There was much discussion on housing and whether empty-nesters should be allowed to stay in four-bedroom government housing when there is a dire need for housing.

“The consensus was that a request to move by government housing should be seen as reasonable, allowing families to have accommodation that suits their family size.

“Escalating costs of water, power and fuel were also put forward as major contributory reasons for spiralling debt and out of control family budgets.

A senior financial counsellor with UnitingCare Community, Carol O’Brien, and Vicky Rose of Nerang Neighbourhood Centre,  said it was important for people experiencing financial hardship to seek help and not feel embarrassed about the situation before it worsened.

“Vicky said if they were short of money that food parcels were aways available at her centre to help people get through the bills’ crisis.

“Both speakers agreed it was important to ask for help so they could keep up with the bills, else this was the start to mounting debt and bad credit history.

“Certainly a food parcel is preferred to getting funds from a credit card or personal loans from friends, which could be difficult to repay and put a friendship to risk.

“Their advice was for people to access help, rather than taking drastic financial steps which might be irreversible .

“For instance, selling the family home maybe a short-term solution that they will regret in the long-term.

Dr Douglas said he was happy to connect hardworking people from community groups including St Vincent de Paul, Nerang Neighbourhood Centre and  YMCA Housing with the financial counselling services provided by UnitingCare Community.

“I’m concerned there are so few of these financial services available on the Gold Coast, particularly since the LNP government decided not to fund these services, leaving the Federal government to shoulder the responsibility,” he said.

“The irony is that the LNP government’s job cuts combined with escalating price of power and water has led to significant hardship in our community.”



Strong stand against asset privatisation in Queensland

Along with six cross-bench MPs in the Queensland Parliament, I have signed an accord today against asset privatisation. We are united in our stand against asset sales and long term leasing of assets.

We are opposed to the privatizstion of all strategic state owned assets.

These include: 

Electricity networks Powerlink, Energex, Ergon Energy

Ergon Energy retail business

Electricity generation businesses Stanwell Corporation and CS Energy

All ports including the Port of Townsville and Port of Gladstone

All rail assets including the Mount Isa Rail Line

All water assets

Further we are opposed to the long term leasing of these assets as announced by the Government, as privatisation by stealth.  These assets are owned by the people of Queensland.

The accord was signed by Member for Condamine, Ray Hopper; Member for Mount Isa, Mr Rob Katter; Member for Dalrymple, Mr Shane Knuth; Member for Gladstone, Ms Liz Cunningham; Member for Yeerongpilly, Mr Carl Judge;  Member for Nicklin, Mr Peter Wellington; and myself.

Accord Against Asset Privatisation

New disaster management should have been held over until inquiry

New disaster management legislation has been debated in State Parliament.  This legislation is being considered at a time when a major issue that occurred in the most recent flood disaster is being actively debated at the Senate inquiry into the Queensland Government.

It would have been better for this legislation to be held over until those serious matters were discussed in that inquiry. What are they, you may ask?

Those matters will primarily be the Grantham disaster, what really occurred in that flood and the subsequent disaster response. These are very serious matters—they involve the cabinet, the police and the bodies that assisted that response—that not only leave questions but also probably require further forensic investigation.

The other matter is the spectacular flood that occurred in Toowoomba at the same time, with the tragic loss of life. Too many questions from that also remain unanswered.

Here is my speech

2GB’s Alan Jones also refers to these issues

The future of opera house nets in Queensland waterways?

Member for Gaven Dr Alex Douglas MP wants to know if the State Government has any plans to ban the use of opera house nets in public waterways.

He placed a question on notice in Parliament yesterday to the Minister for Environment and Heritage Protection, Mr Powell asking him about the future of these nets following the recent trapping of two platypus in the Nerang River.

“I’m sad that our precious wildlife is being destroyed with these lethal nets,” he said.

“These nets are banned in the public waters of Tasmania, Victoria, the ACT and parts of New South Wales  and I would like the department to prohibit them in our public waters.

“It’s particularly distressing because platypus are much loved wildlife and their numbers are declining in our waterways.

“I’ve also heard of reports of native freshwater turtles, water rats and diving birds being trapped in these nets.

“We need to protect our species, particularly those that are native to Australia, and the banning of these nets will be critical in protecting platypus.

“As well, there are many Australians who have never seen a platypus in the wild so regulating against these nets will make this experience more likely.”

Rats deserting a sinking LNP ship

Today the Queensland Police Union has confirmed that there have been six sitting LNP members who are looking for support to run as Independents.

Member for Gaven, Dr Alex Douglas, himself a former LNP member, said that he was watching the end game play out for the party after internal polling has identified many of the current back and front benchers will lose their seats.

“The focus of the party now is to salvage what it can  by putting key people in the life boat but letting many others go down with the sinking ship,” he said.

“An analysis of who is on the life boat and who is not will expose the two factions  as they fight it out for funding to hold their seats.” 

 Dr Douglas said that the key to good government in the future will be community champions who are in the chamber as policy aligned independents but people who put honesty and integrity before party.

“For those who believe that the police union are just mischief makers, they’re fooling only themselves,” he said.
“Isn’t it the police those same people are placing their trust in?

“When the rats finally desert the ship, there is no hope of saving the ship.

 “So it will be with the SS Campbell Newman.”