New wind farm could boost Queensland renewables

May 26 2016 – 10:26AM

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State-owned Ergon Energy has offered a power purchase agreement to Mount Emerald Wind Farm in far north Queensland.

If accepted, the agreement will secure 170 megawatts of renewable energy for Queensland and will mean the state’s wind energy production will increase by 15 times.

Queensland's wind energy production could rise to a point where it could power a city the size of Mackay.
Queensland’s wind energy production could rise to a point where it could power a city the size of Mackay. Photo: Charlie Riedel

“To put this project into further perspective, the electricity it could generate could power a city of the size of Mackay,” Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk told parliament on Thursday.



Source : Brisbane Times

Queensland to catch up on age of consent laws for anal sex

May 25 2016 – 6:38AM

Amy Remeikis

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After decades of inaction, the Palaszczuk Labor Government will introduce legislation to standardise the age of consent, bringing an end to one of the State’s most discriminatory laws.

Under current legislation, the age of consent for vaginal sex is 16, but anal sex, which is still referred to as sodomy under the Criminal Code, remains illegal until a person is 18.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk's government will bring in legislation to standardise the age of consent.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s government will bring in legislation to standardise the age of consent.  Photo: Bradley Kanaris

It has meant that teenagers, particularly young gay men, have had issues accessing safe sexual practice information, with practitioners forced to inform those seeking information on anal sex, about the illegality of the act.

Queensland is the only jurisdiction where the ages of consent are different and Health Minister Cameron Dick said following advice from an expert panel, it was the only course of action the government could take.

“By making this change, we are addressing the disparity between the age of consent for penetrative sex, which has resulted in adverse consequences for young people in this state,” he said.

“It is clear that inconsistent age of consent laws act as a barrier to young people accessing safe sexual health information. It is time that Queensland modernised its framework.”

Along with that modernisation comes a groundbreaking step, with the government releasing its draft Sexual Health Strategy, a first for Australia, which aims to provide better information regarding sexual health and contraceptive options, as well as having better medical services, with improved training for sexual health workers, Mr Dick said the strategy would “support and improve” the sexual health of Queenslanders and built on the work already being done in the sphere, as well as provide education on sexuality itself and improve service access.

The last time the State ventured into its citizen’s bedrooms to change laws regarding consensual sexual conduct was in 1990, when the Goss Government passed legislation overturning homosexuality as an offence.

But the age of consent disparity remained, with a growing number of LGBTIQ advocates, health workers and educators lobbying successive governments to standardise the law, pointing to it as a continued discrimination against the State’s gay community, and proving potentially dangerous for young people seeking information.

Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath announced the government intended on examining the issue during last year’s Estimates hearings.  Almost a year later, Mr Dick’s legislation, expected to be introduced into parliament on Wednesday, will work to right a wrong almost three decades in the making.


Source : Brisbane Times

Proposed changes to Sunday penalty rates ‘unfair’ says Annastacia Palaszczuk

December 22, 2015 – 2:38PM

Amy Remeikis

Queensland political editor

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Sunday penalty rates compensate those who would otherwise be enjoying family time, Queensland's premier says.

Sunday penalty rates compensate those who would otherwise be enjoying family time, Queensland’s premier says.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said proposed changes to Sunday penalty rates were unfair, but she would wait to see where the federal government fell on the Productivity Commission report.

In its final report into workplace relations released on Monday, the commission recommended Sunday penalty rates, which set down that workers earn double their usual rate, be brought into line with the lower time-and-a-half Saturday rate.

The federal government has said it would examine the recommendations and take any changes to the next election.

Annastacia Palaszczuk: "Now we see the federal government is looking at stripping that away."

Annastacia Palaszczuk: “Now we see the federal government is looking at stripping that away.”

Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

But that hasn’t stopped unions from speaking out against proposed changes to the rates, which would hit the most vulnerable and lowest-paid workers hardest, and Ms Palaszczuk said those who gave up their Sundays for work deserved to be compensated.

“On a Sunday people are giving up quality family time to go and work and now we see the federal government is looking at stripping that away,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

“It’s not fair because families, our mums and dads out there, their children, go and work on a Sunday when they could be spending time with their family at home undertaking family activities.

“That is why they are paid more.

“The report has just been handed down. It’s going to be very interesting to see where the federal government lands on this particular issue.”

New Employment Minister Grace Grace said any proposed lowering of penalty rates was a “step in the wrong direction”.

“Penalty rates have been around for many years and a lot of them are negotiated through awards and agreements and we think that it is a backwards step to take that take-home pay that workers depend on away from them for the hours that they are working.

“…As employment minister, there’s no evidence to suggest that if you cut penalty rates it is going to mean more jobs.

“We believe that penalty rates have been here for a long time. They are part of workers’ take home pay.”

Queensland unions have vowed to take the fight over penalty rates to the next election, in much the same way they fought against privatisation at the last state poll.

Source : Brisbane Times

Annastacia Palaszczuk scorns Tim Carmody and Margaret McMurdo

May 8, 2015 – 11:02AM

Amy Remeikis

Queensland state political reporter

Denise Morcombe, with husband Bruce, is "disgusted" with the fighting.

Denise Morcombe, with husband Bruce, is “disgusted” with the fighting. Photo: Harrison Saragossi

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has told the state’s judiciary to “sort their issues out now’ as the feud between the Chief Justice and the state’s top judges continues to spill into the public.

Various media outlets have published emails between Chief Justice Tim Carmody and President of the Court of Appeal Margaret McMurdo, showing the continued animosity between the pair after they were tendered to the Court of Appeal on Thursday.

Founder of child protection group Bravehearts Hetty Johnston.

Founder of child protection group Bravehearts Hetty Johnston. Photo: Harrison Saragossi

It is the latest chapter in the ongoing dispute between Justice Carmody and key members of the judiciary who have railed against what they consider the Chief Justice’s unsuitability for the role and closeness with the former LNP government.

Ms Palaszczuk, who has shied away from commenting on the dispute, said it was beyond time it was resolved.

“In relation to the courts, there is separation of powers, but obviously there are serious issues down there and they need to resolve them,” she said on Friday morning.

Chief Justice Tim Carmody.

Chief Justice Tim Carmody. Photo: Daniel Hurst

“I think it is a matter for them to sort out, but I think the public would share our views that it needs to be sorted out now.

“I met with the Morcombes yesterday, they have been through a lot. I think they want closure.”

The emails discussed Justice McMurdo’s concerns regarding Justice Carmody’s meeting with leading child safety advocate Hetty Johnston ahead of the appeal of Daniel Morcombe’s convicted killer Brett Peter Cowan.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk is concerned by ructions within the legal community.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk is concerned by ructions within the legal community. Photo: Harrison Saragossi

The meeting was publicly declared in Justice Carmody’s diary and was also attended by an independent third party.

But late last month, Cowan’s lawyers announced their intention to file an application to have Justice Carmody disqualified from hearing their client’s appeal.

On Thursday, Justice Carmody took the extraordinary step of withdrawing from the appeal hearing, saying he would not allow the court to become a “Dickensian bleak house”.

Denise Morcombe, who with husband Bruce have been waiting for the outcome of the appeal since November last year, took to social media to express her anger at the delays.

“Shame in the legal process, this has become [personal], this is NOT JUSTICE FOR DANIEL,” she wrote.

“Shame on you all. I am disgusted.”


The Brisbane Times

Annastacia Palaszczuk sacks MP Billy Gordon from the ALP

March 29, 2015 – 11:21PM

Amy Remeikis

Labor MP Billy Gordon has been sacked from the Labor party.

Labor MP Billy Gordon has been sacked from the Labor party. Photo: Facebook

Appalled, shocked and sick to her stomach, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced she had made the decision which may cost her government, just two months after coming to power.

Ms Palaszczuk wasted no time on Sunday announcing she had asked Labor state secretary Evan Moorhead to expel Cook MP Billy Gordon over his failure to disclose elements of his past, including criminal convictions.

She said she made the only decision she could and had advised him to resign, which could spark a byelection in the north Queensland seat.

Given Labor holds power only through the support of independent MP Peter Wellington, the decision could cost Ms Palaszczuk government.

Mr Gordon said he was was considering his future and would consult with lawyers, family and supporters before making a decision.

“I am presently weighing up my options after the advice I have received from the Premier that she has asked for my expulsion from the Labor Party,” he said in a statement.

“I am very concerned that I should be afforded natural justice in any determination that my tenure as the Member for Cook should be terminated because of her move to see me expelled from the Labor Party and her wish for me to resign as a Member of Parliament.

“The Premier has previously requested that the Police Commissioner investigate whether I have transgressed any law and that process should be allowed to continue its natural course.

“Any other attempt to remove me from the Parliament and force me to resign is a denial of natural justice.”

Mr Gordon said he would have eye surgery on Monday and that he was concerned about the impact the situation was having on his children.

“The member for Cook has let me down. He has let the Deputy Premier down, he has let the party down, he has let my government down, he has let the people of Queensland down,” Ms Palaszczuk told media in Townsville just after noon, speaking without notes.
“I have always maintained integrity is fundamental to any government I lead. Today I am prepared to put my premiership on the line.

“This is a very serious issue. Just half an hour ago, I spoke to the member for Cook. I told him, very clearly that, today I would be writing to the state secretary to expel him from the state Labor Party.

“Secondly, I told the member for Cook he would not be sitting with the state Labor parliamentary team.

“I also told the member for Cook, in the best interests of the party, in the best interests of the Parliament and in the best interests of Queensland, he should resign as a member of Parliament.

“As you can appreciate, it is one of the toughest calls I have had to make.

“I did not enjoy making that call, and I think everybody would appreciate that the member for Cook is extremely upset at the moment and I have asked the State Secretary, Evan Moorhead, to provide the necessary supports around the member for Cook during this very difficult time.”

Ms Palaszczuk said she believed in the principles of integrity former Labor leader Wayne Goss had advocated and could do nothing less.

“Let me come back to the central issue,” she said.

“The member for Cook was dishonest with me.

“He has let me down, he has let my deputy down, he has let my team down and he has let the people of Queensland down.

“The non-disclosure, to look me in the face and be dishonest – there is no second chance.

“And I believe the most honourable thing for the member for Cook to do now is to resign.”

Mr Gordon came to prominence on Friday when it was revealed he had not paid child support to his former partner and mother of his two children, having actively failed to lodge tax returns to avoid doing so.

Ms Palaszczuk said then she had ordered Mr Gordon to “get your house in order”, but believed after a discussion with him that there were no other issues.

But a letter sent to Ms Palaszczuk and several other MPs from Mr Gordon’s ex-partner asking for help with recouping her child support also contained allegations of domestic violence. On Friday evening, after a website linked to former LNP MP Gavin King published the allegations, Ms Palaszczuk referred the matter to police.

A crisis meeting was called by Labor heavyweights on Saturday, where Mr Gordon was asked to disclose any further issues.

On Sunday, Mr Gordon’s criminal record was made public, which he had not disclosed to the party during the preselection or when he first spoke to Ms Palaszczuk and Deputy Premier Jackie Trad following the child support claims.

Leaving the press conference to applause, Ms Palaszczuk said she would “get on with the job” of governing Queensland and would let the chips land where they fall.

“We will continue to work hard each and every day,” she said.

“But when it comes to integrity and accountability, I will always stand up for my principles and the prinicples my government adheres to, even if it means putting my premiership on the line. Because I have campaigned on integrity and accountability, I have modelled myself in the tradition of Wayne Goss and his stance on integrity and accountability and I will not put that to one side for one single moment.

“For one single moment, I will not put that aside.”

Ms Palaszczuk’s decision to sack Mr Gordon from the ALP came 30 minutes after Deputy Opposition Leader John Paul Langbroek challenged the Premier to release all correspondence discussing the allegations.

Mr Langbroek said Ms Palaszczuk had credibility issues she must deal with.

“It is important that, while Billy Gordon may have character issues to deal with, Annastacia Palaszczuk has credibility issues,” Mr Langbroek said.

He said the Premier did not on Friday ” ‘fess up” to the people of Queensland in Parliament when Mr Gordon’s issue were raised.

“It is important for the people of Queensland to know when did the Premier first know about these allegations, what did she do about them,” he said.

“And importantly, why didn’t she do something earlier.”

Ms Palaszczuk on Friday referred allegations to police of Mr Gordon abusing a former partner from a relationship a decade ago.

Mr Langbroek said the newer allegations, revealed by Mr Gordon after a meeting with senior ALP figures, raised questions about Ms Palaszczuk’s leadership.

“We would like to know the whole email trail; when did the Premier and other ministers know about these allegations, what did they do about them, and importantly, why didn’t they do something earlier.”

In 2013,Mr Gordon also stood as Labor’s federal candidate for the seat of Leichhardt in the federal election, polling 44.3 per cent of the vote, behind the LNP’s Warren Entsch.

Mr Langbroek said Labor’s candidate recruitment issues were a matter for the ALP.


The Canberra Times

Queensland Election 2015: Campbell Newman resigns as premier

February 10, 2015 – 8:54PM

Amy Remeikis

Queensland state political reporter

Campbell Newman has tendered his resignation as Queensland Premier.

But he will remain as caretaker Premier until Queensland has an answer as to who will govern the state.

It is a question which has been left open since the January 31 election.

Labor Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk arrives at Government House on Tuesday.

Labor Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk arrives at Government House on Tuesday. Photo: Nick Wiggins/4BC


A hour after Mr Newman tweeted his intention to visit the Governor, a statement was released.

“This morning I tended [sic] my resignation as Premier of Queensland to his Excellency the Honourable Paul de Jersey AC, pending the appointment of a new Premier,” he said.

Campbell Newman has resigned as premier.

Campbell Newman has resigned as premier. Photo: Glenn Hunt/Getty Images

“In accordance with my constitutional duty, I have agreed it is my obligation to remain in office as caretaker Premier until that time.

“It is a duty I take very seriously and one I will continue to undertake to the best of my ability.

Not to be outdone, Labor leader Annastacia Palaszczuk also tweeted her intention to visit the Governor later in the afternoon.

She said it was a “courtesy call” to update His Excellency on the situation.

Earlier, newly-elected Liberal National Party leader Lawrence Springborg said “delicate” discussions with the two Katter’s Australian Party MPs were continuing.

Mr Springborg, LNP president Bruce McIver, and Katter’s Australian Party founder Bob Katter were spotted meeting at Waterfront Place in Brisbane’s CBD but left when spotted by the media.

Katter said they would wait until seats had been declared before announcing their support.

The third crossbencher, long-term Independent Peter Wellington, has already thrown his support behind Labor which would give the party the numbers needed to govern.

While counting continues, the LNP is expected to win 42 seats and Labor, 44.

A spokesman for Labor leader Annastacia Palaszczuk said they were still watching and waiting on the seat count.

The LNP is pushing for the state to remain in caretaker mode until all seats have been declared – including Ferny Grove, the result of which has already been disputed and is headed to the Court of Disputed Returns as soon as the count is finished.

The Palmer United candidate was discovered to be an undischarged bankrupt and therefore unable to stand for office.

It is understood to be the first time in modern political history that an election result has been disputed before the seat has been declared.

If the court declares the Palmer candidate’s votes affected on the seat’s result, it could declare it void, sparking a by-election.

That would be the only chance the LNP has to retain power. It would need to win the by-election and then win the support of the two Katter party MPs to form government.

The pair released a list of 21 priorities on Monday, among them, the right to move on fruit bats, an ethanol mandated percentage in fuel and an inland highway.

A spokesman for the Electoral Commission of Queensland said 10 seats had been declared already and electorates would continue to be progressively declared as the count was finalised.

That was not expected to happen on Tuesday.

On Monday, an ECQ spokesman said the count was not expected to be finished in all seats until the end of the week.

Caretaker provisions continue to remain in place.

A spokeswoman for Mr Springborg said Mr Newman’s actions were “consistent with what the LNP has said”.

“The LNP respects the office of the Governor and this is a matter for the Governor not politicians,” she said.

Stay informed. Like the Brisbane Times Facebook page.


Source : The Brisbane Times

Queensland Election: Ashgrove Plan gets $18 million

January 11, 2015 – 4:15PM

Amy Remeikis

Queensland state political reporter

Annastacia Palaszczuk and Campbell Newman hold competing signs at the Samford Road-Wardell Street intersection in the seat of Ashgrove.

Annastacia Palaszczuk and Campbell Newman hold competing signs at the Samford Road-Wardell Street intersection in the seat of Ashgrove. Photo: Amy Remeikis

It’s called the Ashgrove Plan and it’s $18 million designed to keep the seat yellow and blue.

Premier Campbell Newman ventured into the outskirts of his electorate for his first campaign appearance, with a $5 million commitment to help the Mitchelton Youth Club expand.

He later appeared, sans media, outside the Ashgrove Woolworths where he met the first “real” people of the campaign, which began on Tuesday.

Premier Campbell Newman addresses the party faithful in Ashgrove for the first time in the campaign.

Premier Campbell Newman addresses the party faithful in Ashgrove for the first time in the campaign. Photo: Amy Remeikis

It gives rise to LNP backbencher fears from October, that Ashgrove would receive the bulk of the party’s promises, with their electorates to focus on the whole of state cost of living relief measures, and Strong Choices plans.

But Mr Newman said every electorate would have its “own strong plan”.

The Ashgrove Plan includes the previously announced widening of Waterworks Road between Trout Street and Betheden Terrace, a $7.5 million jointly funded project with Brisbane City Council.

Premier Campbell Newman and wife Lisa watch gymnastic students work out at Mitchelton Youth Club.

Premier Campbell Newman and wife Lisa watch gymnastic students work out at Mitchelton Youth Club. Photo: Amy Remeikis

A further $3 million is promised to Enoggera State School for its school hall, while $1 million is being committed to a new training area in St John’s Wood and a re-sealing of the Ashgrove Bowls carpark.

Stage two of the Walkabout Creek upgrade has been slated to be completed for $1.5 million and Mitchelton State High School would receive $160,000 to fix its basketball court. The maroon CityGlider bus service would be extended and environmental works at Kedron Brook would go ahead.

The Samford and Taylors Roads intersection would also get a look in, but it hasn’t been costed.

The new commitments come on top of the more than $100 million the state government has spent on the electorate since Mr Newman came to power.

He holds the seat by 5.7 per cent.  The Labor candidate, Kate Jones, the former member and Bligh government minister, has been running a grassroots campaign, door-knocking and politicking, mostly away from the media glare.

Mr Newman is also planning a quieter local campaign, as both sides seek to wash away the residual bitterness from 2012.

He launched his Ashgrove Plan to a small group of party faithful outside the youth club complete with glossy brochure, which he said every electorate could expect.

“Every electorate in Queensland will have a strong plan, just like Ashgrove,” Mr Newman said.

“There is an overall plan for the state and there are other plans and policies for the economy and education and health etc, but every area will have its own strong plan.

“I think it’s exciting.”

The campaign continues this week.



Source : The Brisbane Times

Queensland Labor party members to gain power to vote on leadership

Cameron Atfield

Brisbane Times and Sun-Herald journalist

Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. Photo: Wayne Taylor

Preselections for Labor’s Queensland parliamentary leader and its Brisbane lord mayoral candidate will be opened to party members in a move set to be approved at the ALP state conference later this month.

But a more contentious proposal to have Queensland’s Labor Senate candidates selected by the party’s membership is expected to run into significant opposition.

In one of his first acts after he was returned to the prime ministership in June, Kevin Rudd pushed the reform, whereby the federal parliamentary Labor leader would be decided by a 50/50 split of caucus and rank-and-file members.

Queensland opposition leader Annastacia Palaszczuk.

Queensland opposition leader Annastacia Palaszczuk. Photo: Glenn Hunt

Fairfax Media understands the proposal to select the Queensland parliamentary leader, to be put forward to the conference on November 30, will differ from that model.


Instead, Queensland is expected to emulate the British Labour Party, which evenly allocates three voting blocs – the party membership, the caucus and members of affiliated unions.

Brisbane’s Labor lord mayoral candidate would also be decided in a primary-style fashion, with a 50/50 split between party members within the local government area and members of affiliated unions.

While both those proposals are understood to have widespread support within the party, a more contentious matter will be the selection of Labor’s Senate candidates.

The Labor Left is understood to support the direct election of Senate candidates, whereas the Australian Workers Union-backed Right faction is opposed.

The Labor Unity faction is divided on the issue.

Queensland Labor Party state secretary Anthony Chisholm said there would be a “broad range” of reform agendas discussed at the state conference.

“I think the recent experience of the federal leadership ballot has a lot of people excited about bringing that change in at a state level,” he said.

“I’m sure the debate will be an exciting one.”

Mr Rudd’s federal reform led to a post-election primary-style campaign between Anthony Albanese and Bill Shorten for the Labor leadership in the wake of the party’s federal election loss.

While the popular rank-and-file choice, Mr Albanese, lost out to Mr Shorten, the process was largely praised for energising a Labor base that was otherwise demoralised by the Coalition’s convincing victory.

Mr Chisholm said the federal leadership ballot was partly responsible for more than 2500 people joining the Queensland Labor Party in recent months.

“We normally get about five-to-seven hundred a year, so the fact we’ve got 2500 in the space of three or four months shows you what a phenomenal increase it’s been,” he said.

State Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk said she supported the proposed changes to how the person occupying her role as parliamentary Labor leader would be selected in the future.

“It’s something that has been adopted at a federal level and has been well received by rank and file branch members,” she said.

“I’ve previously said that if it works at a federal level, it is a system that could be rolled out for the states.”

Mr Rudd was unavailable for interview, however his spokeswoman said the former prime minister was in favour of more Labor reform in his home state.

“Mr Rudd instigated historic reforms within the Labor Party and would welcome more,” she said.

The state conference will be held at Queensland University of Technology’s Gardens Point campus on November 30.

The Brisbane Times

Newman government ratchets up ‘war’ on unions

August 8, 2013 – 12:01AM

Amy Remeikis

State political reporter

Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie introduced legislation to crack down on unions.

Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie introduced legislation to crack down on unions. Photo: Harrison Saragossi

The Attorney-General has made the latest move in the battle of wills between the government and the unions.

Parliament passed the Criminal Law Amendment no 2 Bill just before 11pm on Tuesday night.  Included among the higher penalties for drug traffickers and graffiti offenders was an “anti-avoidance” amendment to the union transparency legislation which was passed in June.

The Together Union had attempted to circumvent the government’s legislation, which would have required the organisation to hold a ballot each time it wanted to run a political campaign over $10,000, by establishing a separate company to deal with the union’s finances and campaigns.

On Tuesday night, Mr Bleijie amended the Industrial Relations Transparency and Accountability Act, to include “anti-avoidance” provisions “to cover entities associated with an industrial organisation”.


The move means any corporations or companies established by unions will be subject to the same rules and laws as the union itself.

Together Union president Vivienne Doogan called the late-night amendment “outrageous”.

“To target one particular union with legislation has probably never been done before,” she said.

“It just shows how desperate this government is to shut unions down.”

Ms Doogan said the union was seeking legal advice on the amendments to see what avenues were available to fight the changes.

“It is a blatant war against unions,” she said.

Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk, who had spoken out against the amendment on Tuesday night, said the changes were the latest in an ideological “ongoing attack by the Newman Government on workers and their representatives”.

“Once again, these amendments are being applied just to the union movement,” she said.

“They are not being applied to other entities; it is just to the union movement.”

But Mr Bleijie said the changes, which will apply to 32 employer associations and 34 trade unions registered in the state, were “to give the grass roots members…more of a say on how their organisation is run”.

“Industrial organisations can no longer try to circumvent the legislation by creating separate entities to handle their political campaigns,” he said.

“These amendments will give power back to grassroots members, who deserve to have a say on how their membership fees are spent.”

Brisbane Times