I rise to speak tonight about the parlous state of the Queensland economy and the way that it is directly related to the Queensland government's failure to plan.
There's a cheesy old saying: 'If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.' As cheesy as it is, it's pretty apt when it comes to government planning. A government that doesn't plan, doesn't keep an eye on the projects currently underway and doesn't look to the future for the next project to take off a shelf will fail to keep the economy moving.
Last week the Morrison government announced $1.9 billion of investments in road and rail projects in the southeast corner of Queensland. I have to commend the work of the member for Forde, Bert van Manen, and his hardworking wife, Judy, for their lobbying for these projects in his electorate. They are absolutely relentless in working for this stuff. It's great news for South-East Queensland. But Queenslanders learn to be a bit sceptical, and I've lived in Queensland long enough to know that for now it's just an announcement.
Now we've got to rely on the state government for implementation, but they have a tendency to stare at their own navels rather than getting on with delivering projects. The Queensland government are absolutely atrocious when it comes to planning, and I've got to say it's hard to know sometimes whether that's their active political strategy or just ineptitude. We know that, when it came to the case of the Adani mine, it was their active strategy. They could say one thing in the regions and another when they were in the cities, by delaying and stalling and putting off getting on with the project.
Part of me wants to see the good in people, and I want to see some humanity in the Palaszczuk government. Maybe it was just a series of unfortunate events that created the need to release 105,000 megalitres of water from the Paradise Dam in the Burnett region. It doesn't seem all that likely, but let's test it out; let's hope for the best. But how disheartening that would have been for the people, say, of Stanthorpe, who have no water at the moment and who will lose fruit orchards and a few seasons worth of wine grapes shortly because the government didn't secure water for their region. How disheartening it would be to see that water being flushed away, after Labor axed $50 million in subsidies for water cartage and fodder. What a phenomenal waste.
The Paradise Dam was built in 2005 by the then Bligh Labor government. And—here's an acronym—ANCOLD,the Australian National Committee on Large Dams Inc., wrote in their Physical and computational scour modelling system analysis—case study for Paradise Dam, Queensland in 2015 that the damage that had been done to the dam was caused by the intense velocity and movement of water through the Burnett River in the 2010-11 and the 2012-13 floods. ANCOLD is full of very serious scientists and engineers who really know their stuff when it comes to water. They did a full analysis and used a water simulation tank in Sydney, building the dam to a 1:70 scale and fully testing everything.
Their report came out in 2015 and it helped inform Building Queensland, in 2016, of the need for the repair work. Despite Building Queensland's recommendation, back then, that those repair works start, the Palaszczuk government, as usual, did nothing about it. So at this point Queenslanders have a right to know if the minister for natural resources, Dr Lynham, will allow Sunwater to fix the dam to a standard that means it can withstand the type of river flow that the Burnett is famous for. Remember, the Palaszczuk government fail to plan.
One of the more frustrating aspects of a government which fails to plan is not just that they don't do the important things, like making sure the Paradise Dam can continue to operate at its current height; it's also that, instead, they are wasting money on things that are not important. While they're not investing in dams and while they're not repairing infrastructure, they're blowing $250 million cheques on bonuses for public servants. For a state with a $70 billion debt to throw another $250 million at our already oversized public service is insane. And, to do this, the Palaszczuk government politicked on infrastructure spending and blamed the Morrison government for failing to give them more moneyfor Queensland infrastructure—but they can always find money for their other pet projects.
Last week, Prime Minister Morrison announced that the Commonwealth would increase funding for the Gold Coast light rail project by $157 million, up to $269 million. The Premier herself acknowledged that this project would create 760 construction jobs, but she's holding out for more funding from the Commonwealth—while budgeting for bonuses. It is a clear sign that growing the public service is more important to Queensland Labor than construction jobs, and it is so frustrating to watch. So all credit to the PM and to the member for Forde for keeping a straight face when the Premier said, 'I've always said we work best when we work together.' I wish she would work with the federal government. This lack of infrastructure spending, combined with two new land taxes from the Queensland government this year—an increase in land tax and a foreign land owner levy—has really squashed the confidence that the Queensland property market might have been boosted with following the election.
After the stultifying impact of federal Labor's capital gains tax policy on the national property market and the lack of enthusiasm for it from voters, you would think that Treasurer Jackie Trad would have worked out how jittery the market is and how fragile the environment in our economy is in Queensland.
You would think the Queensland government would do all it could to encourage the market into action. But, yet again, Labor fail to plan. They fail to look to the horizon, and they fail to look out for unintended consequences. The Property Council of Australia released their annual survey results in October, which stated: The confidence levels of Queensland's property industry have fallen over the last quarter, following the State Government's announcement of land tax increases and a new foreign land tax surcharge. The Property Council goes on to point out what many economists know, and it's simple: that disincentivising investment costs local jobs. Taxing investment ultimately hurts Queenslanders, because investors just go and find another place to invest their money. The Property Council finished off with this:The Queensland Government was rated in the survey as the lowest performing state government across the country.
I will repeat that one: 'the lowest performing state government across the country'. So there you have it; the proof is there. Yet again Labor's failure to plan fails the people of Queensland.