2013, the year in State politics.

January 4, 2014 – 12:01AM

Amy Remeikis

State political reporter

Australia 1

It was the Year of the Snake. The Year of Quinoa. The Year of the Selfie. And in Queensland, the year of the bikie.

2013 had a lot going on the world over. But in the sunshine state, the government was motoring through legislative changes. In just 13 parliamentary sitting weeks – which run for three days each – 64 Bills were passed into law. Of those, 18 had been introduced late in 2012. A further 71 Bills were introduced during the parliamentary year – two were discharged almost immediately, 59 were sent to committee for review and 23 Bills were referred until this year.

Not surprisingly, the state’s first law officer – Jarrod Bleijie – introduced 22 of the 60 pieces of legislation the government put forward. Education was Queensland’s next big legislation point – and John-Paul Langbroek introduced six bills. Treasurer Tim Nicholls followed with five pieces, while ministers Mander, McVeigh, Cripps and Emerson introduced three pieces each.

Premier Campbell Newman put forward two, as did David Crisafulli, Lawrence Springborg and Jack Dempsey. Jeff Seeney, Tracy Davies, Jann Stuckey, Glenn Elmes, Andrew Powell, Mark McArdle and Steve Dickson introduced one each. Only Ian Walker was without a piece of legislation to his name.


Breaking down the other numbers – 655 MPs rose to make statements to the house with 305 being made by ministers. Given the number of issues being considered, it is no surprise 126,594 Queenslanders signed 126 petitions which were tabled in parliament.

Parliament resumes on February 11. But before it does, take a look back at the year that was.


January 2013

Campbell Newman rules out exceeding the 14,000 public sector job cuts already announced.

Campbell Newman declares 2013 to be a year of growth for Queensland

Queensland experiences its second major mass flood event in just two years.


February 2013

Parliament resumes

David Crusifulli given new ministry of Local Government, Community Recovery and Resilience

Ros Bates resigns as Minister for Science, IT, Innovation and the Arts citing ill health.

The government vows to go it alone in changing succession laws

Penelope Wensley’s term as Governor is extended until July 2014

Department of Transport and Main Roads stood aside director-General Michael Caltabiano is sacked.

In a statement, Queensland Premier Campbell Newman confirms he had given Mr Caltabiano, who remained on full pay, notice that his employment will be terminated from March 15.

The Member for Redcliffe Scott Driscoll comes under fire for alleged financial mismanagement and sexual harassment of employees while he was president of the Queensland Retail Traders and Shopkeepers’ Association.

More allegations come to light about consultancy fees paid by the Regional Community Association Moreton Bay to his wife’s company Norsefire.

Education Minister John-Paul Langbroek announces the government will look into designing its own education reform, but does not entirely rule out taking part in the federal government’s Gonski plan.

Peter Costello hands down the final Commission of Audit report to Treasurer Tim Nicholls “on time and on budget”.


March 2013

A 28-page executive summary of the 1000-page Commission of Audit is publicly released. It recommends the sale and outsourcing of state assets and services.

The government commits to responding to the report in two months time. Campbell Newman maintains the government will not sell assets without a mandate; meaning taking the matter to election. As yet the government has not ruled out long-term leases.

Scott Driscoll continues to be attacked over his dealings. He defends himself in parliament and says he is the victim of a smear and innuendo campaign. A CMC investigation begins

The Commission of Inquiry into the bungled Queensland Health payroll system, initiated by the previous government, begins.

It is revealed that sensitive documents relating to the Fitzgerald Inquiry had been mistakenly made public while others had accidentally been destroyed.

Campbell Newman and Attorney General Jarrod Bleijie both publicly call for an explanation from the Crime and Misconduct head Ross Martin and the Parliamentary Crime and Misconduct Committee charged with overseeing the watchdog body.

Mr Newman accuses the PCMC of being more “lapdog” than “watchdog”.

CMC Chair Ross Martin announces he will be taking permanent leave as he has cystic fibrosis and needs a lung transplant.

The Parliamentary Crime and Misconduct Committee inquiry into the release and destruction of Fitzgerald documents begins.

Campbell Newman says a “new standard in government accountability has been set” with the public release of his diary and that of his ministers. Mr Newman said it was the first time in Australia that the diaries of senior government officials have been made available to the public.

Council de-amalgamation votes occur – all four, Douglas, Livingstone, Mareeba and Noosa vote yes.

The government flags a program where justices of the peace help adjudicate minor civil disputes up to $5000 in Brisbane, Ipswich, Southport, Maroochydore and Townsville.

The government promises to introduce the nation’s “toughest” anti-hooning laws.

Ground is broken on the new government building on 1 William Street

Campbell Newman defends fundraising “round table” dinners, where (for an annual $11,000 fee) business and industry stakeholders can have access to various ministers, saying the party “has to raise money, because we are up against the unions”.


April 2013

The Gonski education reform negotiations between the state and federal government begin to publicly break down

John-Paul Langbroek announces Great Teachers = Great Results education policy.

Queensland Rail is moved from being a Government Owned Corporation to a statutory authority, which gives the government more control.

The government prepares its commission of audit response.

Scott Driscoll resigns from the LNP just hours before he is due to face a ‘show cause’ hearing with the party executive.

The government calls on the federal Labor government to release disaster relief funding

The Malone review into the Rural Fire Service is released, calling for more funds.

Alex Douglas and Carl Judge, independents since their late-2012 resignations from the LNP, announce they have joined Palmer’s United Party

The Callinan and Aroney Inquiry into the CMC is handed down


May 2013

The Queensland Plan summit is held in Mackay

Plans are announced to change the definition of ‘worker’ under compensation laws to bring the state’s definition into line with the federal tax office model.

Queensland “in the spirit of compromise” amends its succession legislation, creating a “hybrid model” which is passed, clearing the way for the Commonwealth to pass its laws.

Queensland signs up to the NDIS, which is almost overshadowed by the most ridiculous news story of the year – “sandwich-gate”.

The QCA announces electricity prices are to rise 22.6 per cent or $268 a household in the next financial year

A commission of inquiry is ordered into Racing Queensland

Water prices rise by $1 a week

Barry O’Sullivan wins pre-selection and is named the successor to Barnaby Joyce’s Senate spot.


June 2013

Budget is handed down. Treasurer Tim Nicholls reiterates the choice between raised taxes, cut services and asset sales. Levies and fees rise by $181.

The federal education minister Peter Garrett is banned from speaking at two Queensland state schools.

Joe Hockey’s wife, Melissa Babbage is appointed to a Q Super board.

The ‘Flegg Tapes” – a series of recordings allegedly made by the member for Moggill, Bruce Flegg in 2011 are made public by The Courier Mail. Conversations range from the possibility of Mr Flegg leaving his seat to commentary on other LNP MPs.

John Bjelke-Petersen, son of Joh, quits the LNP

Labor begins its pre-selection process for the next election

The union transparency legislation is passed, which curtails unions ability to run campaigns

A joke menu disparaging prime minister Julia Gillard is produced by a Queensland restaurant during a fundraiser for the LNP.


July 2013 – Estimates hearings

Queensland signing up to Gonski looks increasingly shaky

While the premier is on holidays, deputy Jeff Seeney announces the pay rise politicians have to have – 41 per cent or $57,000 increase to base salaries. Public sentiment continues to turn against the government until the premier returns and freezes the pay rise and establishes an independent tribunal to determine what Queensland MPs are paid.

The government offloads 200 social housing homes.

State coroner Michael Barnes finds employers and the state and federal governments all share the blame in the deaths of three young Queensland men during the Commonwealth home insulation scheme

Changes are flagged to youth justice laws, which include naming and shaming and transferring teenagers to adult prisons following their 17th birthday.

Echo and Crown are invited to talk about possible additional casino licences with the government.

Electoral reforms are proposed – public funding threshold raised from 4 to 10 per cent and the declared donation limits are raised.

The government announces plans to outsource 90 per cent of its social housing.

Estimates hearings put the salary of the premier’s chief of staff, Ben Myers, under scrutiny.

The government ups the stocking density limit for free range eggs from 1500 to 10,000 per hectare.

The LNP state conference is held – the premier becomes upset by a joke federal Nationals leader Warren Truss makes at his expense.

The government responds to the Callinan and Aroney review into the CMC and among the changes, complainants are told to accept the risk they may face prosecution if found to have made a baseless or vexatious complaint.

The Auditor-General releases a report finding the Labor scheme, which saw private patients treated in public hospitals, has cost the state $800 million.

The schools closure consultation process is closed two weeks early

Tim Carmody hands down his final report after the Queensland Child Protection Commission of Inquiry


August 2013

$2 million of inner city land is donated by the government to the charity Youngcare

The government vows to meet its election commitment to extend the North Stradbroke mining leases

An amendment is made to the union transparency legislation to stop unions from establishing separate companies to run campaigns

Two term Redlands MP Peter Dowling’s private life makes international headlines after photos he sent his mistress are made public. One which features his penis in a glass of red wine earns him mention on Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show and the nickname ‘plonker’. He resigns as the chair of the ethics committee.


September 2013 – Federal election

The Keelty review into emergency services is handed down, recommending “major overhauls”

Clive Palmer wins the federal seat of Fairfax and warns the LNP his party will turn its attention to Queensland next

Public service core values are released

Bikies are put on Cabinet’s agenda after a brawl in Broadbeach on the Gold Coast

Labor calls for an inquiry into Ros Bates’s fundraiser activities, believed to have been referred to the CMC by the Electoral Commission Queensland

Schools closure announcement is made. Six of the eight named schools will close at the end of the 2013 school year.

A 1am lockout and 3am curfew for the state’s pubs and clubs is put on the table

Barry O’Sullivan’s formal Senate nomination is delayed by the Queensland government because of the ongoing Flegg Tapes investigation

Parliament House is revealed to need $1 million in security upgrades

The government announces the department of community safety will be renamed Fire and Emergency Services. Corrective Services will be rolled over to the Justice Department, while Queensland Ambulance Service becomes part of Queensland Health/


October 2013

The government announces changes to workplace laws which will force unions to give 24 hours notice before going to a job site.

Changes are made to workers’ compensation laws which put a 5 per cent threshold on common law claims, angering unions and the legal community

The government’s bikie laws are introduced and passed just two weeks after they were first discussed.

Security is beefed up at government buildings and key minister’s homes as a precaution against retribution because of the bikie laws

Up to three new casino licences are announced by the government, including one for Brisbane, but only to developers who build ‘integrated resort developments’.

Scoping studies are ordered for Powerlink and SunWater

Treasurer Tim Nicholls calls the LNP’s goal of 4 per cent unemployment in six years a “stretch target”.

The Queensland Plan summit is held in Brisbane.

Daylight saving hits the agenda and is quickly knocked back down.

The government passes laws which would enable it to overrule a court’s decision and keep declared prisoners in jail, in response to Robert John Fardon’s bail application

A war of words is sparked between the government and the judiciary when the Premier accuses judges of “living in ivory towers”.

Ros Bates apologises to parliament for claiming she was a registered nurse

Barry O’Sullivan’s appointment to the Senate is delayed until at least February.

The independent remuneration tribunal returns with its decision on politician’s salaries – they receive a 5. 35 per cent increase

Acting CMC head, Ken Levy, writes an opinion piece in support of the government’s bikie legislation


November 2013 – last parliamentary sittings for the year

The CMC parliamentary oversight committee calls Dr Levy forward for a public hearing to ask if he had any contact with anyone in the government before writing his opinion piece. He says he did not.

Further PCMC hearings are held in secret. Labor, including PCMC members, begin calling for Dr Levy to resign from his position.

A war of words breaks out between the government and the PCMC. The committee releases transcripts of hearings with Dr Levy and the head of the premier’s media unit which appear to contradict each other.

The PCMC recommends the Dr Levy investigation be taken over by a select ethics committee.

The government agrees and then sacks the entire PCMC membership. It later names a new committee, where a LNP MP holds the controlling vote.

Calls are made to reinstate the state’s house of review.

The Fair Work Harmonisation law is passed.

Steve Irwin’s Reserve is granted protection from mining

New industrial relation laws are passed six weeks after they were first introduced.

Changes to the state’s cycling laws are flagged – including a 1m safe passing distance for motorists.

Campbell Newman breaks his silence on Clive Palmer and reveals the reason for the party fall out was Mr Palmer wanted preferential treatment, which had been speculated about when Mr Palmer resigned from the party the previous year.

Michael Caltabiano is cleared of any wrong doing by the parliamentary ethics committee.

Scott Driscoll resigns from parliament ahead of an expulsion vote, after the parliamentary ethics committee found him guilty of contempt of parliament and misleading the house. He is called before the Bar of parliament to give his side of the story and later fined $90,000.

Mr Driscoll’s wife, Emma, is charged over her alleged role in her husband’s business dealings.

The premier is threatened by an activist from the online group Anonymous via an online video which goes viral over the government’s bikie laws.

Thousands of people protest the bikie laws.


December 2013

Asset sales are put firmly back on the agenda.

The Tenant Advice and Advocacy Service loses all funding and closes.

The Plenary Group are announced the PPP contract winner to build 10 new state schools by 2019.

The mid-year budget review is released. Debt is revised down, but so is revenue.

The government signs an education funding deal with the LNP federal government – $794 million over four years.

QCA releases two draft determination of electricity prices for the upcoming financial year, one with the carbon tax repealed and one with it remaining in place – both mean an increase.

CITEC is put up for sale by the government.

Scoping studies are ordered for assets the government is considering selling, if given a mandate at the next election.

Campbell Newman says the government “intends” on going full term.

Tension between the judiciary and the government continues to simmer.

The Royal Commission into the Rudd government home insulation program begins in Brisbane. Rudd and Garrett could be called.

Minor parties begin making preference deal plans for the next state election.

The government responds to the Carmody report.

The Auditor-General releases a report which finds contestability may not achieve the government’s “desired outcomes”.

The CMC finds no evidence of electoral bribery in the Flegg Tape investigation. The LNP executive releases a statement which says there is now “no impediment” to Barry O’Sullivan taking his Senate spot.

Robert John Fardon, the man who sparked the government’s sex offender laws, allowing it to keep certain prisoners in jail regardless of the court’s decision, is released on parole. The court declares the government’s legislation “invalid”.

The CMC releases a statement that on advice from the DPP, prosecution of Michael Caltabiano would “not have reasonable prospects of success” and therefore no criminal charges will be laid.

The Brisbane Times

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