The Queensland Liberal National Party leader, John-Paul Langbroek tried to restore some democracy in Queensland last week. Perhaps it is because his party can see that if democracy is not restored - by restraining the pursuit of the ALP's private financial power through government - no other political party may ever have a chance to govern again, simply because the ALP has become so rich and its power so far-reaching, and arguably it is less a government than a commercial corporation. Langbroek's reforming initiatives have taken two forms: 1. to call for a referendum into privatisation and 2. to submit a bill to make inquiries into corrupt systems and specific activities in Queensland. Predictably this bill was killed by the ALP on the 2nd reading.
See also"Anti-privatisation e-petition calls on Queensland government to resign"
LNP Leader should not give up trying to restore democracy to Queensland
The Queensland Liberal National Party leader, John-Paul Langbroek, has attempted to restore some democracy in Queensland over the past two months. Perhaps it was because his party can see that if democracy is not restored - by restraining the pursuit of the ALP's private financial power through government - no other political party may ever have a chance to govern in the foreseeable future, simply because the ALP has become so rich and its power so far-reaching, that arguably it is less a government than a commercial corporation.
Langbroek's example should be followed by other politicians and other States.
Reform needs to take place on at least two levels - reigning in corruption by legislating for transparency and to limit cronyism between government, political parties and private entities - and to engage the public more vigorously in their self-government - i.e. democracy. Greater engagement of citizens is imperative because this is the only power left in politics which may be capable of overcoming commercial corporate power which has now merged with a government whose only weakness is its estrangement from the actual electorate.
So far Langbroek's reforming activities in in this regard in parliament have taken two forms:
1. to call for a referendum on privatisation (see p.3143 of Hansard) i.e. public engagement in an issue it knows the public don't agree with the government on  and
2. to submit a bill to make specific inquiries into corrupt systems and activities in Queensland.
This bill was first read on 28 October 2009. It was voted down, not surprisingly, by the majority Labor government on 25 November 2009.
The bill was of extraordinary importance, but to understand it, you need to understand what has been going on with ALP finances. It was of extraordinary importance because it potentially affects the Federal government and potentially every state government. This is because of a massive blurring of boundaries between the ALP, government and business, at Federal and State level, notably involving Labor Holdings P/L, Labor Resources P/L, the Progressive Business organisation and the Advance Lobby Group, and various State Investment Companies, such as the Queensland State Investment company.
The Queensland Premier, Anna Bligh, has rightly accused the Liberal National Party of doing the same thing, i.e. having 'holding companies' where moneys coming in need not be called political donations because they are not going directly to the political party and can mingle with other earnings. So the argument, on the face of it, is the Wolf's when he is accused of eating little lambs. "Didn't you have roast lamb last Sunday yourselves? Why does that make me bad and you good?"
The problem is that this very big ALP wolf might eat all the sheep and leave none for anyone else, so it means that all the other wolves will have to start regulating their industry and cooperate with the lambs for the stability of the whole. Of course the wolves are the political parties and the lambs are the voters. The industry is politics and the problem seems to be that it has become confused with financial investment, notably in property assets and development.
All over the country, State parliaments are making laws to ensure that the interests of financiers and developers take precedence over those of the electorate.
Cliche's like, "We were elected to make hard decisions," do not justify the failure to consult the community.
Regulation of the industry means rigorously separating political parties from exploiting their positions in government for private sector or party profit. This is especially necessary if ALP financial interests - private, personal or party - have lead ALP governments to pursue unpopular policies and to make undemocratic laws in order to create an advantageous economic and regulatory climate for their members, friends and organisations. The reason that it is especially necessary is that the ALP is allegedly probably one of the richest political parties in the world and rules this land from coast to coast against mostly puny or unenthusiastic opposition parties.
Corruption, Cronyism and Unethical Behaviour Bill - details:
The Commissions of Inquiry (Corruption, Cronyism and Unethical Behaviour) Amendment Bill 2009 was a Bill for An Act to amend the Commissions of Inquiry Act 1950 by inserting new terms to have it inquire into corruption, cronyism and unethical behaviour. Its terms are particularly informative of problems in the Queensland Government, but the same processes and some of the same people and organisations seem to be involved in similar activities in other states. People should encourage Opposition politicians in other states to try to bring in similar bills.
Details from the bill
‘(7) The commission is to inquire into the following—
(a) the matters and circumstances that led to, and permitted to continue, the breakdown in integrity and incidences of misconduct in the public sector in relation to the payments received or sought by Mr Gordon Nuttall whilst a Minister, despite the Crime and Misconduct Act2001 and the bodies and powers created under it;
(b) the circumstances and procedures relating to all contracts of Queensland Government departments, or Queensland Government owned or controlled entities or appointments to Queensland Government boards or boards of Queensland Government owned or controlled entities in relation to which Mr Gordon Nuttall had Ministerial responsibility;
(c) the allegations made by Ms Jacqueline King that she and Mr Scott Zackeresen complained to the office of the former Premier, the Honourable Mr Peter Beattie, in 2002 about misconduct by Mr Gordon Nuttall, and the circumstances surrounding the cessation of their employment allegedly as a result;
(d) the circumstances that led to Sunsuper Pty Ltd, a superannuation fund with over $12 billion of funds under management, a substantial portion of which funds are the superannuation investments of Queenslanders, deciding to withdraw $100 million of the funds from the management of Queensland Investment Corporation and place those funds under the management of Trinity Property Trust (‘Trinity’), or a Trinity-related entity, and the coincidence of the payment by Trinity, or a Trinity-related entity, of $1m to Mr Ross Daley (or his company Veritate Pty Ltd), the then senior executive of the political lobbyist Enhance Group, and any other person;
(e) the dealings between Ministers, former Ministers, ministerial staff, former ministerial staff or persons exercising delegated authority on behalf of the Queensland Government, or Queensland Government owned or controlled entities, with lobbyists concerning access to government, the grant or withholding of approvals, the awarding of tenders, the entry into contracts and other decisions;
(f) the relationship between members of the Queensland Government and persons who have been appointed to the judiciary or magistracy by Labor Attorneys-General between 1998 and 2009;
(g) the termination of the employment of Mr Scott Patterson by the Labor Government and the failure of the Crime and Misconduct Commission to adequately address matters raised by Mr Patterson;
(h) the adequacy of the following legislation and government policies, with a view to advising on a coherent, uniform, consolidated and harmonised scheme for stipulating standards of conduct and supervising the integrity of government business in Queensland—
• Auditor-General Act 2009
• provisions of the Criminal Code dealing with
misconduct in public office
• Electoral Act 1992
• Financial Accountability Act 2009
• Charter of Fiscal Responsibility under the
Financial Accountability Act 2009
• Government Owned Corporations Act 1993
• Judicial Review Act 1991
• Local Government Act 1993
• Ombudsman Act 2001
• Police Service Administration Act 1990
• Public Sector Ethics Act 1994
• Public Service Act 2008
• Right to Information Act 2009
• Whistleblowers Protection Act 1994
• Witness Protection Act 2000
• Code of Conduct for Ministerial Staff under the
Public Sector Ethics Act 1994
• Codes of Conduct for Public Sector Entities under
the Public Sector Ethics Act 1994
• Code of Ethical Standards issued by the Members’
Ethics and Parliamentary Privileges Committee of
the Legislative Assembly of Queensland
• Queensland Contact with Lobbyists Code and the
Register of Lobbyists
• Ministers’ Code of Ethics published in the
Queensland Ministerial Handbook;
(i) any other matter raised with the commissioner during the commission of inquiry that the commissioner considers worthy of investigation for the purposes of the inquiry.’.
On 10 November in the Queensland Parliament Mr Langbroek said to Premier Bligh, "Last week the Premier admitted that her Labor government had spent $62.7 million on advertising in 2008. Given that the annual report of the Electoral Commission indicates that a referendum could be held for less than a quarter of that amount, will the Premier now hold a referendum on privatisations to give Queenslanders a chance to have their say, or is it the case that the Premier wants to be heard but refuses to listen?
Ms Bligh, the Premier of Queensland, responded by attacking the opposition for its past record of failing to oppose her government's privatisation. Bligh thus avoided dealing with the two substantial issues:
1. that the wide population does not support privatisation
2. that they were not asked by the government prior to the election because the issue was not put to them
3. that Mr Langbroek is asking for their opinion to be sought and empowered now via a referendum.
Mr Langbroek also asked Premier Bligh why surveys being distributed to householders still did not canvas citizens' views on privatisation.
"Mr LANGBROEK: My second question without notice is also to the Premier. I refer the Premier to the ‘Have your say’ surveys currently being distributed by Labor MPs in their electorates seeking community feedback. Given that the Premier and her Labor Party are spending $1.9 million of taxpayers’ funds to sell the privatisation agenda, will the Premier explain why her local MPs ask for feedback on 11 issues, none of which is privatisation?"
The Premier's response was that Mr Langbroek's party had prepared the way and that the government stand for "jobs" and that it was selling off assets to pay for "a modern Queensland with better services and better infrastructure."
In other words, she failed to answer the question, talked of a very vague mandate, and implied, by reiterating the government's usual justification of privatisation that the ends justify the means and the citizens have no say.