The Queensland Election Campaign Launch Speech by John Bjelke-Petersen, State Leader of the Palmer United Party. 18 January 2015.

Men & Women of Queensland,

Across this state, Newman is allowing them to poison the water table, to destroy the future of regional Queensland, because Newman and his henchman don’t care about what happens in the bush!

COAL SEAM GAS

Coal Seam Gas extraction could poison our water table. Coal Seam Gas needs to stop right now, until proper safeguards and procedures can be put in place to ensure the safety of everyone and the welfare of our children. Their lives must come before anything else. What is the point of destroying the land and its’ ability to hold livestock for just a 30 years short term gain? Palmer United stands for the people of Queensland. Any government we serve in will put the interests of all Queenslanders and their children before a fast buck for others.

ASSET SALES

Many people have forgotten how and why the Newman government was elected in 2012. It was because the Labor Party wanted to sell our assets. That’s right! The Labor Party now attacks Newman for following their policy! There is no difference between Labor and the LNP. They both want to sell Queensland’s hospitals, ports and schools.

It has taken over 150 years for successive Queensland Governments to build up our assets so that each of us could enjoy the benefits we have now living in Queensland. Successive generations have toiled, passing down from one generation to the next, building on what’s been achieved in the past for all of us, so that we can be secure in the knowledge that in the future our children and our grandchildren will have an even better future. Now Newman wants to privatize Queensland’s assets. If he can’t manage our assets and make them work, why doesn’t he just resign now? The answer is because Newman knows the people who support him can make a lot of money from the sales of our hospitals, schools, ports and power stations.

If you think you’re paying a lot for electricity now – imagine what you will pay if Newman has his way. The agents, lobbyists and other consultants, friendly to the LNP, can make a killing and in the process Newman will kill the Queensland economy. No one buys anything unless they can make a profit from it. Business will only buy Queensland’s assets if they can make more money out of it. That will happen by charging you, the people of Queensland, more.

After spending tens of millions of taxpayer dollars, Newman found out 86% of Queenslanders did not want to sell their assets, so he devised a scheme to privatize them. The arrogance Newman demonstrated by these actions prove, once and for all, that he doesn’t care what the people think. Absolute power corrupts and corrupts absolutely. Newman has used that power against the very people who supported and elected him. Now, more than ever, we have to move to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.

UPPER HOUSE in GOVERNMENT

Palmer United will use its seats in Parliament to achieve the re-establishment of an Upper house in Queensland so we can ensure checks and balances are in place for all legislation.

REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT – Zonal Taxation

We need to prioritize regional development in Queensland. Through the PUP senators we will push for the reintroduction of a zonal taxation system so there is incentive for people and businesses to move to regional areas.

REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT – First Farm Buyers Grant

Under Newman, regional Queensland has suffered, families have lost their farms and the suicide rates have increased due to the lack of government support. There are many people on the ground working hard to support these farmers but there needs to be more.

Young Queenslanders have lost the ability to purchase a farm, to get a start and provide the export income and food security the state desperately needs to sustain all of us. Palmer United will seek to introduce a First Farm Buyers grant, which will provide a capital contribution equivalent to the first Homebuyers grant, but at a concessional interest rate loans for the first five years. This will act as a catalyst to allow the state’s agriculture to get going again and create real demand in country towns.

HEALTH CARE

We cannot tolerate Australians dying in the corridors of our hospitals. Health care is declining in every hospital of the state. We all know our healthcare workers such as nurses are doing the very best they can do under the circumstances. We know that the medical staff are overworked and capital infrastructure is not up to projected increases of our aging population. Why do patients, like those suffering from diabetes, have to travel such far distances for basic weekly treatment? This should be available in our regional hospitals! We will never demolish a hospital and sell the land off to property developers like the Newman government is doing. Palmer United will demand that in any government of which I am a member will not sell any school, hospital or police station.

Palmer United will prioritize upgrades of our hospitals in all areas of Queensland, which have been neglected for many years. The Maryborough hospital has been significantly downgraded and needs to be restored to its’ former capability. We need to review medical care throughout Queensland as a whole. The Kingaroy hospital, for example, was established in the Second World War. It is aged and falling apart in many areas. Health care workers in regional Queensland are over worked and understaffed. We need to carry out an urgent review to ensure people are not dying because the government has turned a blind eye to the needs of the people.

EDUCATION

We need to provide more funding to education in this country. As Clive palmer said, “A free nation can rise no higher than a standard of excellence set in the schools and colleges.” Ignorance, illiteracy, unskilled workers and school dropouts – these are the failures of an educational system in the past that also breeds failures in our social and economic system. Delinquency, unemployment, chronic dependency all result in a waste of human resources, a loss of productivity and an increase in tax supported benefits.

The cost of only 1 year’s income due to unemployment is more than the total cost of 12 years education. Failure to improve our education performance is not only poor social policy it is poor economic policy. At the start of the last century, only 10% of our adults had a high school education or a university education. Today, such an education has become a requirement for an increasing number of jobs.

Palmer United believes we must inject extra funds into the education system. It’s time to invest in ourselves. If we don’t have confidence in ourselves, who will have confidence in us? We must educate our children, our most valuable resource. We must make it possible for those with talent to go to university, no matter where they live or under what circumstances they live. This is why our ability to compete internationally and to expand our export capabilities is so important. Our universities must be given incentives to compete internationally. They were once one of Australia’s key exports and they can be again.

Palmer United believes Queensland needs more doctors, nurses, teachers and police and once in government, we will set about the important task of restoring government to be able to provide the level of service necessary for all Queenslanders, regardless of where they live.

INCREASE BUSINESS INCENTIVES

For too long, Queenslanders have lacked incentive and confidence in the economy but we want to change that. We know that all of us can make Queensland a better place if we pull together.

We find that Queenslanders are limited in what they do because of the burden of taxation and the high cost of living. Incentive has been lost and, with no activity, there’s no growth in our economy. Our economy continues to decline and revenue shrinks, and before we know it, the Government wants to close our schools and privatize our hospitals.

The lack of incentive is a behind the problems we face in Queensland today. Business happens because of networks. Queensland needs to encourage business leaders and Queenslanders to interact and come up with ideas to make the most of our commercial opportunities. We in the Palmer United Party want to maximize this because it creates jobs, opportunity and boosts the economy. Let’s face it – we are all investors as Queenslanders.

PAYROLL TAX

When my father was Premier this state was the number 1 state in Australia. Everyone wanted to live in Queensland! It had the strongest, most vibrant economy. We have to create more jobs and economic activity and we have to realize Queensland competes with all other states. My father’s government abolished death duties and as a result people and investment flowed into Queensland and the State boomed. There were jobs, jobs, and more jobs for all Queenslanders. Queensland needs to take the lead again.

Palmer United will abolish payroll tax in Queensland and when we do this our state will become the powerhouse of the nation. Companies will move their offices and their activities from Sydney and Melbourne. Queensland will boom! There is no better way to create employment in Queensland than to offer real incentive for people to do business right here in Queensland. If we want to make a difference, support me in bringing about that change and our children will be the winners. Such a change will allow Queensland to address the real serious problems that all Queenslanders and businesses face.

COST OF ELECTRICITY

Our high cost base and high cost of living, which has grown under the Newman Government has been brought about primarily by poor government decisions and policy. Firstly, the cost of electricity in Queensland is at its highest ever and this is at a time when world coal prices are at their lowest for a decade – in real terms this illustrates more than anything how incompetent the Newman government is. We can bring down the cost of electricity and Palmer United will do it by taking control of the network that currently charges more than the cost of generating power to all Queenslanders.

NORTH QUEENSLAND

Townsville is a long way from Brisbane. Cairns even further! There needs to be a Minister for North Queensland in the cabinet from the north, who will be vocal in representing the views of our northern neighbours in all critical decisions of Government. This will ensure all areas of Queensland are working together as one and supporting each other. Too many times North Queensland has been forgotten by previous governments.

TOURISM

Here on the Sunshine Coast we can do so much more. Palmer United will support the development of the Maroochydore airport into an international airport. I will work with Senators Lazarus and Senator Wang and the local member of the House of Representatives Clive Palmer to achieve Commonwealth support for such an airport. Together we will boost our tourist industry, create jobs and this will result in many construction projects. The Gold Coast, the Barrier reef, Western, Central and North Queensland can offer so much to the world! Queensland must be actively promoting the state internationally and within Australia, rather than having a Tourism minister, like in Newman’s government, that rarely leaves the state – unless she is on holidays!

ROADS & FUEL

Maintenance of roads is now, under the Newman government, carried out by contractors. This has put Queenslanders lives at risk. Palmer United will restore the maintenance of main roads to the Department of Main Roads. Abbott, along with Newman’s support, has increased the cost of fuel by raising excise taxes. This penalizes Queensland as the most major decentralized state. We will use our numbers in the Senate to reverse this decision.

INDEPENDENCE OF THE JUDICIARY

Palmer United believes in the independence of our judiciary and of the police. Under Newman, the Queensland Police force has become the LNP enforcer of Newman policy. Last week we saw the arrest of an individual because of the message he wore on his t-shirt. The Queensland Police need to stay out of the political debate.

“THIS IS THE TIME”

There are a few times in history when a generation has an opportunity to make a difference to their lives, to shape the destiny of their community. This is such a moment and for that reason, I am here, leading a strong team that can make a difference to our state and its prosperity. However you may have voted in the past, now more than ever, it’s important to think before you vote. To mindlessly cast a vote without accepting real responsibility is an insult to democracy.

If you are happy with all that is being done now, happy with Abbott and Newman, if you think what’s being done now is enough, is sufficient for your future and your families, then go Newman’s way. But if you believe, like I do, that there is so much more we can achieve together then put your support behind Palmer United and make Queensland all it could be.

When my father was first elected to government his neighbor called him the next morning and said ‘Well Joh, yesterday you were my neighbor and friend and today you are my servant.’ I know these people sitting with me here today, as the candidates for Palmer United Party, are ready to serve you, the people of Queensland.

Together we can, and we will, achieve the extraordinary. God Bless Queensland.