Friday, February 06, 2015

Queensland Election: Independent supports Labor to govern

Independent MP Peter Wellington has announced he will "conditionally" support the Labor Party to form government in Queensland.  He has given a commitment that there will be confidence on the floor of parliament, but will be voting bill by bill.

Mr Wellington said his commitment comes despite "significant offers" from the LNP, but the experienced MP he said he would not stand for any illegal activity.

"My support is conditional on the basis that there is no illegal activity, no allegations of corruption, and most importantly, it's about providing stability to govern Queensland," he said.

"I've given a commitment that I'll make sure there is confidence on the floor of parliament, that Treasury will be able to continue to function, but if there is any proposed changes to the laws in Queensland that impact on my electorate, I'll be voting according to how those laws will impact on my electorate.  "It may be the case that on occasion, I will be voting against the Labor party's proposed agenda.

"But at this stage, I'm making it very clear I will be supporting Annastacia if my vote is necessary."

Mr Wellington said he made his decision because a lot of the same people involved in the LNP government's last term were still there.  Mr Wellington said Lawrence Springborg, who he understood to be the official LNP representative in the talks with the crossbench, was being "undermined" by his party.

"Lawrence is one person," he said.  "He is not able to totally control what happens in the Liberal National Party. "I believe he's being undermined by people in his own party."

He blamed an old adversary - Campbell Newman - for the situation within the LNP ranks.  "We have Premier Newman refusing to allow the Liberal-National Party to have a meeting to resolve the issue of leadership and because of Premier Newman's decision to refuse their members to have that meeting," he said.

"You have now got Lawrence [Springborg] put forward as the official voice of the Liberal-National Party, you have Steve Dickson the minister and member for Buderim running around, you've got Scott Emerson out there, you've got Fiona Simpson and you've got some other parties who I am not going to name, who are also out there jockeying for various groups.  That is not a recipe for stability.  "We need stability and I have made a decision.

"The Katter boys at the moment are saying wait another five days.  In five days time they might say, wait another five days.  Look, quite frankly, I can't speak for the Katter boys.  I have made a decision.  We had discussions yesterday, I spoke last night, it is up to them as to what their decision may be."

Mr Wellington said he had been promised that under a Labor government the limit for undeclared political donations would be returned to $1000 from $12,800, a key priority for Mr Wellington since the LNP altered donation legislation mid-term.

"I have a promise from Annastacia that she's agreed to," Mr Wellington said.  "More importantly, I've asked Anastasia if she would look at when those donations are being made that the donations have to be revealed there and then to the Electoral Commission," he said.  "Real time. Real time. That is  important. We need to make sure that there is no more of this secret donations to candidates or political parties.

"The whole range of issues that I have been consistently lobbying for Anastasia has agreed with and it part of her commitment."

Mr Wellington said the LNP had made "significant" offers in exchange for his support, but would not elaborate.  "There have been some very significant offers made from the Liberal-National Party not just to myself but to the members of the Katter party," he said.

"I'm not going to go into that but can I simply say my decision has been made and what I believe the right decision for Queensland.

At this stage, neither party has enough votes to form government.  The two Katter MPs have asked for more time, saying any declaration was "premature".


Greenies versus bushfire control

WESTERN Australia needs to have more controlled burns to curb the risk of out-of-control bushfires, the premier says.

FIREFIGHTERS have been working for a week to save lives and homes in the state's south from a bushfire surrounding Northcliffe.
The blaze has burnt more than 80,000 hectares of karri and jarrah forest.

Fewer controlled burns have been done in WA since 2011, when two prescribed burns at Margaret River and the Perth Hills destroyed more than 100 homes.

Premier Colin Barnett said on Thursday that more controlled burns were needed in vast forest areas despite opposition from local communities.

"I think we need to take a stronger stand," Mr Barnett told Fairfax radio.  "In those areas of vast forest, it's a natural phenomenon. You will get lightning strikes and you will get bushfires. It's been going on for millions of years."

Northcliffe resident Brad, who lives on a bush block and has held out until Thursday to leave town, told ABC radio he did not agree with prescribed burning because he did not believe it worked.

He said he would rather be forced to leave the forest-enveloped town and live with the risk of big fires than have authorities clear it every few years so the area resembled parkland.

"I think the loss of habitat, flora and fauna is far more destructive than what we've seen for the odd big fire that comes through," Brad said.

Roger Underwood, chairman of prescribed burning advocacy group Bushfire Front and veteran firefighter, told AAP this week that WA was the world leader in prescribed burning in the 1970s and '80s, but that was no longer the case.

Mr Underwood said Australia was "doomed to savage bushfires" without prescribed burns.

Emergency Services Minister Joe Francis said prescribed burns would not have prevented the Northcliffe bushfire because it was sparked by lightning.

He also said the karri and jarrah forests of the South West were the key reason they were so popular, and removing vast tracts would not go down well.


Government crackdown on 'fly-by-night' colleges

The Abbott government has flagged a crackdown on "fly-by-night" private training colleges, including potentially banning colleges from luring students into vocational courses by offering free iPads and other inducements.

New Assistant Education and Training Minister Simon Birmingham will tell the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Thursday that rorts in parts of the vocational education and training sector are as bad as those seen in the Rudd government's home insulation scheme.

Private colleges have been exposed for offering free iPads and laptops for students to sign on to ­taxpayer-subsidised courses they often do not complete.

The value of HECS-style loans for vocational students has blown out from $325 million in 2012 to $1.5 billion last year under relaxed conditions introduced by the Labor government – double the expected rate of growth.

"The absence of adequate standards around the recruitment of students, information surrounding their debts and the quality of training provided has seen this scheme abused and some vulnerable Australians taken for a ride," Senator Birmingham, who has responsibility for the vocational training sector, will say.

"Frankly, some of the behaviour is reminiscent of the fly-by-night operations established under Labor's Pink Batts scheme."

The government will consider banning inducements such as free iPads or cash rebates as well as introducing tougher marketing guidelines and enhanced duty of care requirements.

Some students are signing up for "free" courses without knowing there is a loan attached or the level of debt they are taking on, Senator Birmingham will say. 

"Training providers, students and parents have also raised concerns about students signing up for courses of only one unit – a miraculous duration to complete a higher level Diploma or Advanced Diploma level courses," he will say.

Senator Birmingham will single out the "remarkable proliferation" of Diplomas of Management and Business as evidence of the need for tougher eligibility criteria for access to VET- FEE HELP loans (similar to HECS loans for university students).

Enrolments in these diplomas surged by 170 per from 2012 to 2013 and by a further 195 per cent the following year. The 56,000 extra enrolments equates to $770 million in federal government loans.

While the government remains committed to the growth of the loan program, Senator Birmingham says it "will not support abuse of this scheme by people out to make a quick buck at the expense of the vulnerable and the taxpayer".

A Senate inquiry is currently scrutinising private training colleges and their access to federal subsidies.


Justice Betty King slams Law Institute of Victoria for delay in referring crooked lawyer to police

Your regulators will protect you -- NOT

A SUPREME court judge has slammed legal regulators after hearing it took them years to refer a crooked solicitor who confessed to stealing millions of dollars to police.

Suburban solicitor Alan John Munt, 61, confessed to ripping off almost $5 million from clients to the Law Institute of Victoria in September 2009, but it was not until December 2012 that police were called in.

Justice Betty King today criticised authorities for taking almost six years to bring Munt, who has fully cooperated with authorities, before her.

“Everyone’s got a lot of explaining to do,” Justice King said.  “I want to hear from the Law Institute of Victoria why they sat on it. What business is it of theirs to sit on it? (The victims) have waited an awful long time for it to get here. It’s not good enough.”

Most of the misappropriated money was used on personal expenses, to prop up a failing soft drinks investment, or to pay interest on a Ponzi scheme he was running from his Emerald firm.

Most of the victims were retirees who thought they were putting their savings in to mortgage-back investments.

Munt has declared bankruptcy and many investors have no chance of ever seeing their money.


1 comment:

Paul said...

"Fewer controlled burns have been done in WA since 2011"

Then when the inevitable happens its all climate change this and that.