The disease affecting the LNP is an addiction to lobbyists

Last week NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell was forced to admit that he lied to ICAC and resigned after that was proven.

“He, like many of his liberal colleagues, just either can’t seem to commit to a culture of open declaration, or merely forgets them to suit his circumstances,” Queensland Parliamentary Leader of the Palmer United Party, Dr Alex Douglas said today.

“In Queensland, the culture of lobbyists not just determining policy, but also linking in business ventures with politicians or their associates, continues unabated.

“These lobbyists reward their political associates very handsomely.

“Questions relating to AWH and its subsidiaries coming out of ICAC including those right up to Premier Campbell Newman remain largely unanswered.

“In contrast to former Premier Barry O’Farrell’s denials subsequently leading to his  resignation, Queensland Premier Campbell Newman said he paid the money back before he was questioned in ICAC.  Therefore, according to his logic, then he had done nothing wrong as he publicly denied nothing.

“Clearly with the Premier repaying the money, $5,000 and $12,500 there is a clear admission something was wrong and although 6 years had passed, the Premier was keen to repay it prior to the ICAC hearing.   It was clearly wrong and it was significantly more than a bottle of Grange.

“The role of the Premier’s former right-hand man used as both an instigator and conduit for funds – Mr Greg Bowden, remains unanswered.  The LNP Government appears to be ignoring demands to protect the public interest.

“Irrespective of the role of Mr John Grayson, the Director-General of the Department of Premier and Cabinet in AWH and its subsidiaries, there are wider questions about the roles of all manner of lobbyists in the LNP Government and their close association with the executive of government.

“The significant weakening of the CMC will no doubt lead to much difficulty in prosecuting any real issues of political corruption in Queensland.

“Clearly the role of lobbyists in Queensland politics is ensured at least into the medium term by the actions of the LNP to date.

“The Palmer United Party have repeatedly stated they will ban lobbyists from involvement in political parties.

“The LNP is addicted to lobbyists.  They claim to have dealt with the problem, but it appears they can’t do without them   That may be the best reason to reject both lobbyists and the LNP. “

Gaven community groups share $46,000 in gambling grants

Member for Gaven Dr Alex Douglas MP has announced that three community groups in the Gaven Electorate will share $46,000 in funding from the state’s two gambling benefit funds.

“I’m delighted that three worthy organisations in my electorate have successfully applied for funds to improve and maintain  facilities at their headquarters,” he said.

“Not only is this a financial boost to them, but an acknowledgement of their volunteer work which they contribute to our community.”

Vietnam Veterans Federation Brisbane/Gold Coast Sub-Branch will receive $22,453 to  install a dust extractor at its workshop in Nerang.

Nerang Senior  Citizens Club will receive $17,804 to paint its building and purchase white-goods.

Gold Coast Mountain Bike Club will receive $5,890 to purchase maintenance equipment.

The Senior citizens have received funds from the Jupiter’s Casino Community Benefit Fund, established in 1987 from taxes on casinos paid to the Queensland Government.

The other groups received funds from the Gambling Community Benefit which provides grants with revenues sourced from gaming taxes placed on Golden Casket lotteries, wagering, keno and gaming machines.

Alex Douglas MP consults with local community over asset sales

Member for Gaven Dr Alex Douglas MP wants to hear his constituents’ views on asset sales at a forum he is hosting next Thursday, May 1st at 5 pm.

 “As their local State Member, I want to hear how people feel about selling the state’s assets  to pay off our state’s debt which has been grossly exaggerated by the Treasurer ,” he said.

 “I dispute the Treasurer Tim Nicholls’ argument that we need to sell assets as the only way of saving our state because the facts show a very different story.

 “Our state NET debt is somewhere between $13 and $25 billion, which is $67 billion less that what the Treasurer is stating as our GROSS debt.

 “I believe our state actually has a strong cash position and it would be foolish to sell our assets.

 “I encourage our local community to attend the forum at my electorate office in Nerang,  and for those unable to attend but wanting to complete the Strong choices submission form, there are forms available in my office.

 “One needs to look at the financial position in total, in particular our NET state debt,  rather than concentrate on GROSS  debt which the Treasurer and Premier are highlighting in their push to sell assets.

 “Government-owned corporations’  debt  makes up 70 % of state gross debt. It is returning an average 9 % return – 3½ times the Federal official interest rate.

 “Queensland’s state income is expected to rise by at least  2 percent this year and expenditure growth is less than that. State growth is 4 %  currently and Australia’s best.  It could be 6 % if the LNP Government better managed the state.

 “Our interest payments on our NET debt are less than one-third of that stated by the Treasurer, at worst at $1.6 billion annually, not $4 billion annually.

 “We have net assets of $170 billion. Our consolidated balance sheet, including our state balance and our  100 %  owned QIC balance sheets put us in a very strong cash position of a $10 billion surplus.

 “That’s why it is important to look at Queensland’s financial status as a whole, rather than as what the Treasurer is doing, picking out figures to push his argument for asset sales.”

Why does NSW believe in an independent crime and corruption commission, but Queensland doesn’t?

Queensland Parliamentary Leader of the Palmer United Party,  Dr Alex Douglas MP says the resignation of New South Wales Premier Barry O’Farrell after failing to acknowledge a $3000 bottle of wine  gift  underpins the importance of an independent crime and corruption commission.

“Former New South Wales Premier Nick Greiner says that on  balance the resignation proves the case for an independent crime and corruption commission,” Dr Douglas said.

“Yet here in Queensland Premier Campbell Newman has made three significant changes to the Crime and Misconduct Commission,  the Parliamentary Crime and Misconduct Commission  and the appointment of members to these structures which remove  its independence.

“Critically Campbell Newman has proposed a new Crime and Corruption Commission removing misconduct from its role, he has endorsed a temporary CMC chair who has lied to the oversight committee and he also ignores convention by appointing a government member as PCMC chair.

“Campbell Newman  has also removed the bi-partisan approach  to the PCMC and the CMC.

“The end result is that the existing CMC and soon to be CACC will not be independent.

“Not only will the CACC be unlikely to make the tough decisions, it will not undertake the tough investigations because it is political.  All Queenslanders are worse off for this.”

Dr Douglas joins five former commissioners of the Crime and Misconduct Commission critical in the downgrading of the CMC’s mandate to identify and investigate public sector corruption in Queensland and fear that the LNP government has placed its own self-interest in avoiding scrutiny above the public interest.

They said the removal of the bipartisan support clause is inconsistent with the declared position of the government that it wants a strong and independent CMC.

“If the current Independent Commission Against Corruption  investigation into Eddie Obeid  in New South Wales has taught us all anything it’s that birds of a feather….,” Dr Douglas said.

The myth of asset sales to pay down gross debt in Queensland

Queensland Parliamentary Leader of the Palmer United Party, Dr Alex Douglas MP says Gladstone Port, energy assets and  Mt Isa Rail Line must be kept in state ownership else the state will lose its competitive edge.

“The Mt Isa Rail Line is a critical asset which must be kept in state ownership for new mines coming on. Similarly, competitive advantage will be lost once we lose control of our ability to sell better priced power to potential new businesses,” he said.

‘This has built our state economy previously.

“To value Gladstone Port at effectively $800 million when it has a near 50 percent return before the coal gas goes online is to steal irreplaceable assets from the public.

“Whilst the Treasurer Tim Nicholls is spending $6 million to sell the LNP Government’s message that public asset sales are the only way of saving our state, the facts are very different.

“Under the direction of  Premier Campbell Newman, the Treasurer has repeatedly claimed Queensland’s GROSS debt of $80 billion will paralyse growth in our state, but a closer look at the true state of finances paints a very different picture.

“Our state NET debt in Queensland is somewhere between $13 billion and $25 billion. There is a $67 billion difference from that stated by the Treasurer.

“Additionally, Government owned corporations’ debt is 70% of state GROSS  debt and is returning an average 9 percent return – 3½ times the Federal official cash rate; state income is expected to rise by 2 % this year and expenditure growth is less than that.

“Despite this, GOC debt and some net debt,  state growth was 4 % in 2012-13, and is estimated at 6 %  in 2013-2014.

“Our interest payments on our (net) debt are less than one-third of that stated, at worse at $1.6 billion annually, not $4 billion annually.

 “We have net assets of $170 billion. Our consolidated balance sheet, including our state balance and our GOC balance sheets put us in a very strong cash position of a $10 billion surplus.

“We don’t need to sell anything. The Treasurer clearly has run out of ideas and is now trying to see whether he can fool the public.

“Just because this incompetent State Government can’t offer any other real solution to Queenslanders when times are tough other than to sell off the family silver – why would anyone think they would do any better in good times?”