Labor’s ‘Cuts Bus’ arrival in CQ sparks debate over promises
HOPING to reheat Central Queenslander angst over Campbell Newman’s deep cuts to the region’s public service sector, Queensland Labor dusted off its ‘Cuts Bus’ for another awareness-creating journey through Rockhampton this morning.
Three years ago, former Newman government Treasurer and aspiring Premier Tim Nicolls was in the cross sights of ‘The Cuts Express’ during a campaign visit to Rockhampton and this time around, it’s another former Newman Assistant Minister and aspiring Premier, the LNP’s leader Deb Frecklington who is the focus of the ‘Cuts Express’ scare campaign.
Small Business Minister Shannon Fentiman and Mines Minister Anthony Lynham were two of the 13 Labor Ministers expected ride on the bus during its 3,800km journey through regional Queensland.
They stepped off the bus at Queens Park to join incumbent Labor candidates for Rockhampton, Barry O’Rourke and Keppel’s Brittany Lauga to shine a spotlight on the LNP’s unreleased costings for its $26.3 billion worth of election promises, claiming the party would need to cut 31,819 public service jobs, along with cuts to hospitals, schools and roads funding to pay for them all – claims rejected as lies by the LNP’s candidates for Rockhampton and Keppel.
Given the LNP wasn’t anticipated to explain how it would pay for its election promises until the last week of the campaign, Ms Fentiman was asked by The Morning Bulletin how Labor could justify the bus tour based upon the assumption more than 30,000 jobs would be cut.
“What we do know is what Deb Frecklington has said. She said she’s going to recklessly race to a surplus, she’s not going to borrow, she’s not going to sell assets and she’s not going to increase taxes,” Ms Fentiman said.
“So that leaves only one thing. It’s pretty simple maths. It means cuts.
“We don’t know where the cuts are going to be and who’s going to lose their job, but we do know that over 31,000 Queenslanders are going to lose their job because of Deb Frecklington’s reckless rush to a surplus, just like she recklessly rushed to open the borders.”
With voters rushing en masse to cast their votes early, and Labor still yet to formerly release their own costings, she was asked whether it might be time for legislation to be put on the table forcing political parties to reveal how they would pay for their election promises, allowing voters to be informed prior to casting their ballots.
“That’s exactly why the Treasurer Cameron Dick stood up a month ago and released a statement that said ‘here are our finances, we’re going to using existing funding and borrowings to fund our election commitments’,” she said.
“We have been upfront and clear from the very beginning before the formal election campaign even began.
“But what have we even seen from the LNP. They have $24 billion in unfunded election commitments and with all those election promises that she’s made, it can only mean cuts, and here in Central Queensland, that’s going to be devastating.”
Ms Lauga claimed that meant more than 1300 frontline workers would be sacked across Central Queensland.
“That means fewer nurses at the North Rockhampton Nursing Home and less teachers at Yeppoon State High School,” Ms Lauga said.
“Our region has been through all of this before. When the LNP was last in government under Campbell Newman they cut programs, sacked staff and sold state assets.
“That included cutting 197 health jobs in Central Queensland including 41 nurses and midwife positions. And they will do it all again under Deb Frecklington.”
Mr O’Rourke said after doing such a good job getting through the COVID-19 pandemic, the last thing Queensland needed was an LNP government hellbent on sacking frontline workers.
“They have pledged more than $26 billion in unfunded promises, promised no new taxes and want to deliver a surplus in four years,” Mr O’Rourke said.
“There’s only one way they can achieve this, by sacking nearly 32,000 Queensland workers.
“Only Labor has an economic plan that will keep Queenslanders in work, and deliver jobs for Queensland workers in mining, manufacturing, tourism, services, and new enterprises.”
Dr Lynham said Central Queensland would suffer under Deb Frecklington because the LNP had not learnt the lessons of the past.
“Deb Frecklington recklessly called for the border to be opened against health advice 64 times,” Dr Lynham said.
“Imagine the impact that would’ve had on our resources industry. Now she wants to recklessly rush to a surplus that will mean cutting tens of thousands of Queensland jobs.
“Queenslanders can’t afford to risk Deb Frecklington and the LNP.”
Local LNP candidates hit back against Labor’s claims
LNP candidate for Rockhampton Tony Hopkins responded to the arrival of the Cuts Bus and the claims made by Labor’s politicians saying they were “100 per cent untrue” and his party’s costings would be released next week.
“Lying is what Labor does when it doesn’t want to talk about its record,” Mr Hopkins said.
“There will be no forced redundancies in the public service under an LNP Government.
“In fact we will recruit thousands more frontline teachers, police, doctors, nurses and other health workers.”
He said the only threat to jobs in Queensland was the threat of another four years of a Labor Government.
“The LNP has a plan to create 150,000 new jobs and get Queensland working again,” he said.
“The LNP will build new dams, roads and bridges in the regions to create jobs, including four-laning the Bruce Highway and delivering the real Rookwood Weir.
“The LNP will pay for its promises by growing the economy after years of stagnation under Labor.”
By contrast, he said Labor was the first party in Queensland to ever fight an election with no plan, no budget and no costings.
“Only an LNP Government will get Queensland working again.”
Keppel candidate Adrian de Groot said the LNP would pay for its promises by growing the economy after years of stagnation under Labor.
“The only threat to jobs in Queensland is the threat of another four years of the Palaszczuk Labor Government,” Mr de Groot said.
“In fact, Queensland has had the worst unemployment rate in the nation for the last four years.
“The LNP will build new dams, roads and bridges in the regions to create jobs, including four-laning the Bruce Highway and delivering Rookwood Weir.”
He said the LNP would kickstart the economy before Christmas with a $300 rego rebate for every driver in Queensland.
“The LNP’s $300 rego rebate will put a $1.1 billion stimulus into the economy before Xmas and give drivers a break into the bargain,” he said.
“Only an LNP Government will get Queensland working again.”
Fast facts about Labor’s Cuts Bus
- Will travel more than 3800km over the next 12 days
- Visiting regional cities in Queensland
- Visiting nearly 80 electorates from Currumbin to Cook
- 13 Ministers to board the bus at varying stages of the tour