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Jul 23, 2014

Newman government backtracks

"In retrospect it becomes clear that hindsight is definitely overrated!" Alfred E. Neuman. (No relation to Campbell)
Cartoon: By R May
In the wake of their second crushing by-election defeat, the Newman government has decided to reverse some of its more controversial, or at least idiotic decisions made in the last couple of years.
It’s sometimes said that the first step to recovery is to admit that you have a problem.  The government seems to be doing this, which is something we should give them credit for.
Their task is made more difficult though, in that they apparently have little idea what the problem really is: 
Mr Newman left the door open to wind back other controversial decisions. …
… “They want us to have a good relationship with the judiciary, they want those sort of arguments to cease and desist and they want the focus of everyone to working for Queenslanders.” 
The Courier-Mail had earlier revealed Cabinet would today discuss scrapping several of the most contentious elements of reforms to Queensland’s corruption watchdog and tough anti-bikie legislation. 
The Queensland Premier spent yesterday briefing senior LNP MPs on his plans after the Government suffered a massive 18.6 per cent swing against it in Stafford. 
It is understood the Government will reintroduce a bipartisan appointments process for the chair of the newly named Crime and Corruption Commission. 
The controversial decision by Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie to remove the bipartisan parliamentary committee’s role in appointments was heavily condemned by former corruption inquiry head Tony Fitzgerald in one of his numerous salvos at the Newman Government. 
Cabinet will also discuss removing some of the harshest aspects of the criminal motorcycle gang legislation that Mr Newman has repeatedly insisted he does not like but were an important weapon in the war against rebel bikies. 
It is also understood Cabinet members have been assured there will be no reshuffle and each will fight on to the election and be tasked with better selling the Government’s achievements. 
A senior Government source last night said Mr Newman had briefed colleagues that the Stafford result showed the Government’s pace and extent of reform had worried Queenslanders and they must now act. …
The problem with the biker laws is not pink jumpsuits, nor isolation of these prisoners as the LNP seems to believe.  The entire act is draconian, from its aim of outlawing the act of associating through to huge penalties for being, or having been a member of an organization since declared criminal.  There were already sufficient laws to do with all aspects of criminality among these groups; making these laws unnecessary.
The idea of 15 – 25 year mandatory prison sentences for being, or having once been, a member of a currently declared organization is an anathema to fair minded Australians, and have no place in a free society.
Asset sales are going to have to be done and should be.  In a modern nation state there is really no reason for the government to run commercial enterprises.  On budgetary issues they have been respectable, although they have not yet produced a surplus.
Since taking office just over two years ago, the Queensland government has been something of a showpiece in how not to do it.  A massive majority seemed to convince the LNP that it was immortal and could act in any way it pleased, and it did.
The massive loss in the Redcliffe by-election earlier this year taught it nothing other than to pay lip service with “We’re listening.”
There is probably little likelihood of a Labor win in next year’s election; that would require a stunning turn-around in a state still suffering from buyer’s remorse from the Labor years. 
The real danger though, is where protest votes from the sizable chunk of voters who find the LNP no better will go. 
Palmer United is the elephant in the room here.  Well funded, widely publicized, under scrutinized, and led by a populist with a pathological hatred of Newman, it’s potential to hold the balance of power and render the state government unworkable should not be underestimated.
It is difficult to understand why a government that is not travelling well in the polls and by-elections would rule out a ministerial reshuffle. 
Newman needs to reconsider this, given that the issues he wants to change are all the products of one minister, Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie. 
Bleijie had two years since his law degree in a provincial law firm doing ‘commercial law’, (read conveyencing work) when he was elected to state parliament.  With the training wheels barely off his work practice, he was made Shadow Attorney General.  It is hardly surprising that this guy’s screw-ups have overshadowed anything that the government has actually done.
Newman really needs to tramp him.

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