Click here to read my speech in full – 160217 – Addressing alcohol fuelled violence
Click here to read my speech in full – 160217 – Addressing alcohol fuelled violence
Good news for flood affected communities around Caboolture, particularly for resident on Flowers,
Many community groups have contacted my office to express their delight at the State Government’s changes to liquor and gaming laws which will make it easier to hold fundraising and community events. The new laws passed by the Government will allow groups to hold events without the need to obtain liquor permits. From 1 July this year, community groups such as P&Cs and Rotary Clubs will be able to serve drinks without needing a Community Liquor Permit. These common sense amendments mean community groups in Glass House will soon have the freedom to enjoy a drink responsibly without the hassle of filling out huge forms and paying fees. This Government also has a strong agenda to reduce red tape in the liquor and gaming industries and a range of changes will be implemented from 1 January 2014. My office has fact sheets on both of these announcements so give us a call if you would like one to be sent to you – 5435 2013.
Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Jarrod Bleijie has reminded Queenslanders that the Labour Day public holiday is no longer in May.
From this year, it will now be the first Monday in October.
“While I realise some calendars still have the old date, it’s now business as usual on the first Monday in May,” Mr Bleijie said.
“The Newman Government reversed the previous government’s decision to move the Queen’s Birthday public holiday from the second Monday in June to the first Monday in October, and instead moved Labour Day to this date.
“We decided to keep the Queen’s Birthday public holiday consistent with all other states and territories with the exception of Western Australia.
“By moving the Labour Day public holiday from May to October, it will break up the concentration of public holidays that generally fall in the April-May period.
“This move will provide a break for Queenslanders during the second half of the year because of an even spread of public holidays.”
A review of the 2011 amendment to the Holiday Act 1983 found that most people were in favour of Labour Day being moved to the latter part of the year instead of the Queen’s Birthday public holiday.
In the review 95 per cent of the respondents supported the move of a public holiday to the second half of the year.
The move was also supported by The Courier Mail survey last year where more than 70 per cent of voters wanted the Labour Day holiday moved.
[ENDS] 26 April 2013
Mr POWELL (Glass House—LNP) (5.07 pm): I rise to speak on the Education and Care Services National Law (Queensland) Bill 2011. As speakers before me have outlined, the principal objectives of this bill are, firstly, to apply the education and care services national law—which from here on will be called the national law—set out in the schedule to the Education and Care Services National Law Act 2010 of Victoria as a law of Queensland; secondly, to amend the Child Care Act 2010 so that it no longer applies to the early childhood education and care services that will be covered by the national law; and, thirdly, to make consequential amendments to other legislation.
I and the LNP certainly support the best possible start for all Queensland children when it comes to their education and to their care. Certainly I have that in mind for my own children, and I would hope that parents across the state do. I believe and accept that a lot of this national law goes a long way to achieving that best standard across the state. My understanding is that the law will bring into effect a uniform national quality framework as well as a number of key features.
The national quality framework, as the shadow minister indicated, includes the national law, the national regulations, the national quality standard and the prescribed rating system. It aims to provide a national approach to the regulation, assessment and quality improvement of early childhood education and care and outside hours school care. It aims to do that by creating a single system to replace existing separate licensing and quality assurance processes in each jurisdiction of a preschool—that is, kindergartens in Queensland—long day care, family day care and outside school hours care. It also aims to institute a new national quality assessment and public rating system. It gives primary responsibility for approval, monitoring and quality assessment of services to state and territory authorities, and it establishes the Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority to oversee the framework.
Other features of the law include a perpetual service and provider approval system, which replaces Queensland’s existing three-year licensing scheme, assessment of providers and supervisors of education and child-care services, aligning management and oversight responsibilities, the ability to grant temporary and permanent waivers to ensure adequate flexibility, and the power to publish information including non-compliance information and each service’s rating level.
As with any legislation—and I heard the shadow minister go into some detail on this—particularly legislation that is national legislation where we are assigning Queensland state responsibilities to a national law, there are always going to be concerns. The shadow minister did a stirling job of highlighting the concerns of the LNP, the concerns of the Child Care National Association and those concerns that have been identified by the department itself.
I think the two main concerns relate to cost of living. The department in its information for families has identified this cost impost for families. At a time when families can least afford it, when there are cost-of-living increases across-the-board, this will be another slug on families. We know the federal child-care benefit and the child-care rebate may cover half of these costs, but the increase for families especially with two or more children will significantly impact upon those families in very uncertain times.
Furthermore, the coalition’s review of the 2009 forecast for the COAG changes indicates most of the cost increases will impact in Queensland as early as 2015. The second big issue other than the cost-of-living increases is the potential shortage of staff. It is interesting that the Australian government’s Productivity Commission has already commented upon the shortage of qualified staff needed to meet this initiative. It has said that the government’s timetable is optimistic, and I quote—
• The supply of suitably qualified workers is likely to take some time to respond, and exemptions from the new standards
(waivers) will be required. Government timelines for reform appear optimistic.
That is taken from the Australian government’s Productivity Commission draft report overview of 30 June 2011. As I said, though, there are a lot of positives in this bill, and I look forward to hearing the debate and the consideration in detail. I do acknowledge the work undertaken by the committee in preparing its report and the information that the members of that committee have shared this afternoon.
In summing up, I will turn to a related matter and raise with the minister my concern that we have missed yet another opportunity to address an ongoing issue for a number of schools in the state around this child-care legislation. I have raised this issue before in this House and I know other members have as well, and that is there are a group of schools, albeit independent schools mainly, Montessori schools and Steiner schools, in particular, that are looking for a change in the legislation to allow them to take 3½-year-olds. Currently any child under four has to be educated or cared for under child-care legislation. Unfortunately, that then precludes schools who offer pre-prep programs. In the case of Montessori and Steiner, as the minister may well be aware, they commence their cycle 1 or can commence their cycle 1 at the age of 3½. No-one is saying, and certainly not the schools in question, that they should include children who are incapable of meeting certain standards in an educational environment, in a school environment, as opposed to a child-care environment. So we are talking about things like toilet training and a level of independence. The schools have very strict guidelines and policies around which children would be acceptable at 3½.
Montessori schools, in particular, have a very well established curriculum that includes elements in four main areas such as practical life, sensorial, language and mathematics. Considerable emphasis is also placed on creative arts, music, science, geography and cultural studies, and the acquisition of one’s own first culture as the child’s central development drive in this first cycle of development. A lot of those things are already being picked up in child care now as we move our education further down the age bracket. What we are achieving under child-care legislation we are not allowing under education legislation. I think the frustration that a lot of these schools are having is that there is a function example within another jurisdiction—namely, the Western Australian jurisdiction—where such legislative approval would be given to schools like Caboolture Montessori School to undertake cycle 1 education of 3½-year-olds. This was first brought to the attention of former minister Welford when he was the minister for education. I brought it to the attention of Minister Wilson when he was the minister for education in 2009. I now bring it to the current minister’s attention and hope that we do not waste another opportunity like we appear to have now to address this. For the minister’s information, the legislation in Western Australia is called the Western Australian Children and Community Services Act 2004. The particular clause in that act that is relevant in this matter talks about the meaning of a childcare service. It states—
(1) A ‘child care service’ is a service for the casual, part-time or day-to-day care of a child or children under 13 years of age,
or such other age as may be prescribed for the purposes of this subsection, that is provided—
(a) for payment or reward. Whether directly or indirectly through payment or reward for some other service;
(b) as a benefit of employment, or
(c) as an ancillary service to a commercial or recreational activity.
It goes on to state that the term ‘child-care service’ does not include specifically under subsection
(e)— care provided to a child enrolled at a school if
(i) the child has reached 3 years of age; and
(ii) the care is provided in the course of the child’s participation in an educational programme and the School
Education Act 1999.
When former minister Welford was presented with this information, we were told the time was not right. When Minister Wilson was presented with this information, we were again told the time was not right. As we move into this national law era, my understanding would be that the time is perfect for us to address this issue. If it is working and working well in Western Australia, then surely it can work here in Queensland. If the minister does not address this in his summing-up, perhaps in further discussions at a later date I am happy to bring down representatives of Caboolture Montessori School and other Montessori, Steiner and independent schools. This applies to Nambour Christian College and other colleges that have pre-prep programs that are now having to meet the significant requirements under the Child Care Act. I would be pleased to meet with the minister on this matter. Hopefully we can address it sooner than later. It seems to be a glitch that continues to hang on, and I think there is a viable solution to it.
The Waste Reduction and Recycling Bill 2011 was introduced into Parliament on 3 August and has now been referred to The Environment, Agriculture, Resources and Energy Committee (EAREC), of which I am a part of. The EAREC will now consider the policies to be given effect by the Bill and its conformance with fundamental legislative principles. The Committee are calling on individuals, organisations and communities to submit their written comments in relation to this Bill by Friday 2 September before it is presented to the House on 23 September 2011. If you would like more information on the Bill or how to make a submission you can call my office on 5435 2013 or type the following link into your web browser – http://www.parliament.qld.gov.au/work-of-committees/committees/EAREC/inquiries/current-inquiries/Waste-Reduction-and-Recycling-Bill-2011.
Mr POWELL (Glass House—LNP) (6.12 pm): I rise to address the report tabled by the Environment, Agriculture, Resources and Energy Committee with regard to the 2011 Appropriation Bill.
In particular, I address my comments to the Environment portfolio. There may have been some Queenslanders who lived in hope that a new Labor environment minister would actually bring a fresh and outcomes focused approach to managing our richest and most precious resource—our environment. The estimates process quickly dashed that hope. There is a new minister but the same spin. In the short time available at both the estimates committee hearing itself and to me now, I want to
touch on perhaps the worst examples of this spin. What should be the jewel in the crown of our state’s natural beauty—our national parks— continues to be a thorn in the side of this Bligh Labor government. The confusion is not on my part; it is clearly the minister who is confused. Despite a damning 2010 report by the Auditor-General and now a new glossy draft master plan called Naturally Queensland 2020 and the promise of consultation, our national parks are in no better shape than they were 12 months ago. Sure, some 100 more national parks have management plans, but at least 400 still do not. Some now have a statement of intent, as if that somehow absolves the government of its legislative responsibility under the Nature Conservation Act. We have a promise of all parks having plans by 2015—four more years before this government has
to meet its own legislative imperative.
Meanwhile, even in protected areas that have plans we see waste and disastrous environmental outcomes. I used just two examples to highlight these outcomes during the estimates hearing. I could have used dozens more. On Fraser Island, we can see what happens when common sense is not applied to $3 million in expenditure on infrastructure upgrades. A year 12 geography student will tell you that when it rains perched lakes like Lake McKenzie fill up. So why build vegetation barriers below the high-water mark? So you can rip them down again? Why build toilets with doors that will not lock? Why build dingo-proof eating areas with gates that do not self-lock? And why build all-access walking tracks with steps in them? Waste, waste and more waste. In Byfield National Park in the Keppel region we have witnessed what happens when the local voice is drowned out by small Brisbane based lobby groups. In the words of the Stockyard Point Progress Association, there are recurring themes: a lack of consultation about critical decisions, the revocation of good-faith negotiations, the tendency to facilitate allowable damage in parks to drive unpopular management decisions and, most disturbingly of all, unjustifiable decisions that are causing environmental damage in localised settings. So even in the rare situation where there are protected area management plans, they are simply not delivering true environmental outcomes.
This evening I am pleased to hear of the action undertaken by the government regarding the allegations of the disgusting trade in dugong products. It is a shame that the minister was unable to provide this information on the day or even in the time since. I hope that when concerned Far North Queenslanders make future reports DERM investigators will respond quickly and decisively. But I doubt it. Clearly, DERM is struggling under the pressure of reporting to three separate ministers, for not only
has it continued to fail to meet its legislative obligations under the Nature Conservation Act but also it has lost touch with even its most intimate and pivotal stakeholders. For Australia Zoo to be overlooked when convening a state-wide crocodile management forum is a travesty. One of the pre-eminent crocodile research organisations in not only Queensland but also the world does not rate an invitation to a crocodile management forum. I will be holding the minister to her word and trusting that this never happens again.
Then there are koalas. The minister in her opening statement waxed lyrical about the continuing support that this government is giving to koala habitat acquisition and partnership programs. With much fanfare, the government announced a $48 million package of strategic koala habitat purchases and investment in research. Conservationists and koala carers in this state should be alarmed. That funding is now only $24.5 million. What the Bligh Labor government did not tell us when it first announced the package is that the funding was conditional on the introduction of a new tax and that, because of its ineptitude, the funding is now lost somewhere in the out years—if it is there at all. All I can say is: watch
Time does not permit me to speak at length about more of the LNP’s serious concerns. There is the massive underspend in fencing of national parks—yet another example of where this government has dropped the ball when it comes to being a good neighbour. There is the questionable allocation of funds to clean up our waterways following January’s funds. There are underspends in rainforest and green land acquisitions. The list goes on. Only one thing is certain following this estimates season: there may be new faces in the Labor cabinet but it is the same waste, the same mismanagement and the same spin.
Mr POWELL (Glass House—LNP) (3.48 pm): I rise to oppose the motion that is before the House and to do so in the strongest terms. This motion is a farce. On a day that we are supposedly celebrating a more transparent parliament and a more transparent and open committee system, where both parliamentarians and the general public as a whole get to review legislation before the House, we see this motion brought forward. We see this lazy government stumbling at its first hurdle on one of the biggest bills to be introduced to this House this session.
We know why this bill is urgent. It is not because of a predetermined implementation date of 1 December 2011; it is because, ultimately, it is a tax—a tax that is going to feed the coffers of this tired Labor government so that it can spend it not only on waste recycling but also on various other activities that it has had planned for many years. This is a broken promise. This is another Labor broken promise. The government is on the record saying in the lead-up to the last election that it would not introduce a waste levy, that it would not introduce a waste tax. That is not unlike its federal colleagues, who went to the last federal election saying that they would not introduce a price on carbon, that they would not introduce—
Ms SPENCE: I rise to a point of order. I think the shadow minister is debating the legislation rather than the motion, which actually moves this legislation to committee. He is clearly debating the substantive part of the legislation and that is for another occasion.
Mr Seeney: No. No, he is not.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr O’Brien): Order! Member for Callide, I do not need your assistance. There is no point of order. The point of order should have been on relevance on which I would have ruled that the member for Glass House will come back to the motion before the House. There is nothing in this about carbon tax. You will refer to the motion that is before the House. It is a procedural motion. The member for Glass House has the call.
Mr POWELL: I return to the intent for this legislation to be enacted by 1 December. The only reason for that is so that it can start feeding the coffers. What have members opposite been doing for the past 18 months on this issue? The estimated funding to be raised by this levy has been flagged in the budget papers for 18 months. Government members have had 18 months to introduce this piece legislation. Just because they have been dillydallying does not mean that this House must rush through this urgent piece of legislation without the proper scrutiny under a new committee system that they themselves have brought in and in which they have encouraged members of the public to participate. And then at the first opportunity to provide the public with a chance to have a say on a piece of legislation that is going to impose further cost-of-living increases on each and every bill they pay—on top of all of the other cost-of-living increases we have seen, whether it be water, electricity, rego or fuel; this will be yet another burden on each and every individual in Queensland—those opposite are not giving the broader Queensland public the opportunity to have a fair say on this important piece of legislation. If ever a bill needed to be given careful and full consideration by a committee, this is it. It is the biggest legislative change for the waste industry in over 20 years. As I said before, ultimately it is a tax; it is an impost on the cost of living for each and every Queenslander. The impacts of this bill are enormous. The relevant committee will have a conga line of stakeholders and members of the public wanting to address this bill. The minister has already mentioned them. However, the minister knows very well that there is a difference between consulting and hearing and then doing nothing, and consulting and actually taking on board the recommendations and suggestions of each and every one of those stakeholder groups that have already been approached and been involved in the system to date but have not had an opportunity to air their concerns in public about this dangerous piece of legislation. If we intend to rush it through in less than two months, they will not have an opportunity to air their concerns on this piece of legislation in public so that all can hear.
In line with the request of the Leader of the House for more public hearings, this bill offers the government an ideal opportunity to get out there and to hear the views of each and every Queenslander when it comes to introducing a new waste tax. We should hold hearings not only here in Brisbane, where a lot of the peak organisations that the minister mentioned can attend, but also throughout Queensland. There could be hearings in Toowoomba. Toowoomba Regional Council could explain how it is going to have trouble implementing this waste tax because it is still struggling with the amalgamation of its council and with bringing together a regional waste strategy. We could have hearings on the Sunshine Coast or in Cairns where there are likely to be significant impacts on their alternative waste technology. This bill does not need to be rushed through. This bill needs to be thought through carefully. It needs to go through the new committee system because the people of Queensland and the stakeholders need proper consideration on this.
Ms Darling: It is going to committee.
Mr POWELL: Going before a committee for less than six weeks does not constitute going to committee. It should be up to the committee to determine how long it requires to address this bill properly. As the Leader of the House has said, it should consider how much public input should be garnered in the consideration of this bill. The committee needs to decide how long it needs for this process based on its workload. It is not for this government to determine a bill of significance urgent, and definitely not on a day like today.
2 August 2011
Resumed from 24 March (see p. 861), on motion of Mr Dick— That the bill be now read a second time.
Mr POWELL (Glass House—LNP) (12.27 pm): I rise to make a brief contribution to the Neighbourhood Disputes Resolution Bill 2010. I note that the objectives of the bill are to provide rules about each neighbour’s responsibility for dividing fences and trees so that neighbours are able to resolve issues about fences or trees without a dispute arising and to facilitate the resolution of any disputes about dividing fences or trees that do arise between neighbours. I notice also that the fact sheet provided by the justice department in this regard does suggest other general changes including clarification that the ownership of a dividing fence on a common boundary is shared equally between neighbours; a new statutory framework giving the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal, QCAT, jurisdiction to make orders in disputes about trees or fences; two new forms—notice for contribution to fencing work and notice for overhanging branches; the distinction between a retaining wall and a fence; and clearer rules for pastoral and agricultural fences.
The general gist of this bill will go a long way to resolving those prickly issues that arise in our communities from time to time. The explanatory notes go on to state that relationships between neighbours are never static or predictable. Neighbours can be friendly, hostile, distant or close. Fortunately, in my experience, the relationship with my neighbours has certainly been very amicable.
Upon moving to the Sunshine Coast nearly a decade ago, I can recall my property had a number of trees with overhanging branches of a very old nature, including one extremely old avocado tree. The neighbour had apparently been very keen to see it removed for some time. I was very keen for it to be removed. In this instance he actually assisted me in removing it. Together we carted the debris off to the dump. I know that is not the situation in all cases. This review and ultimately this bill when enacted will go a long way to resolving those situations where there is a less than amicable relationship between neighbours. I just want to draw attention to a couple of aspects of the bill. I will speak initially on dividing
fences. I note that the bill does make some attempt to discuss the role of the state when one of the owners of the properties is the state. I talk in particular of clause 25, ‘Contribution—particular state land’.
The explanatory notes state— This clause caters for the owner of land adjoining a parcel of unallocated state land. If unallocated state land becomes freehold land, then the adjoining owner can recover the relevant contribution to the fencing work for a sufficient dividing fence (already constructed) from a subsequent owner. The State must notify the new owner of this obligation. It kind of makes sense. The part that I am seeking clarification around is where a landholder has issues regarding the state’s responsibility—say, in the instance of a national park where the boundary fencing is not kept up to date or is not there in the first place, or where the state is dragging the chain when it comes to constructing a fence on that boundary. What role will this bill have in resolving issues where a landholder has concerns with the state? Will the state be taken to QCAT because of its negligence? We do not need to go far into the past to think of instances where the government has had commitments to improve boundary fencing, particularly on national parks, and has failed to deliver on
that. As the Deputy Premier sums up this debate later on today, I would be interested in whether he could address the situation where one of the owners is the state, particularly in relation to a national park.
The other aspect of this bill largely tackles the tree issue. The bill places paramount importance on the safety of any person and promotes public safety. I think many constituents of Glass House will be very pleased to hear that that is the case and that indeed the bill will go a long way to addressing the conflict that can arise from overhanging branches or roots. One constituent in particular took the time to email me when he heard that this bill was being considered. I would just like to read his email because I
think it summarises a lot of the feeling out there in the electorate around these matters. He states—
Dear Mr. Powell,
I believe that the above bill is currently before the House. I have been told that, if passed, this bill will provide a much more manageable and equitable system of handling disputes between neighbours than the present system, which requires an appeal to the Supreme Court. My wife and I own a property and on our neighbours adjoining property are two extremely large gum trees which have the potential to severely damage our property should they be brought down in a storm. It is our intention to discuss the situation with the neighbours and attempt to settle it amicably, however should this not be possible we would not be able to access the Supreme Court option as we are age pensioners.
I would strongly request that you give this Bill your support as it will replace an adversarial situation with one of arbitration, which I’m sure you will agree is far preferable.
Sincerely. Mr Alan Jackson.
I thank Mr Jackson for taking the time to share those sentiments in regard to this bill, and I certainly pass them on. I understand that the shadow Attorney-General has raised and will continue to raise some concerns we have with elements of the bill. But I think in general the intent of it is well meant and it will resolve a lot of issues that we face in our electorates.