Friday, 19 April 2013 00:00
Hansard, 18 April 2013
FINANCE AND ADMINISTRATION COMMITTEE: REPORT, MOTION TO TAKE NOTE
Dr FLEGG (Moggill—LNP) (11.18 am): I, too, would like to speak to this motion that the House take note of this particular report. I would like to say at the outset that this is a very constructive committee from both sides of parliament that would perhaps belie some of the stereotypes out in the community about how politicians from different parties or Independents can work together. I would like to thank the staff of the committee, and I would like to thank the Integrity Commissioner and his very small staff, because we did impose a big work burden on them. This report draws attention to the role of the Integrity Commissioner and canvasses some issues that would see a substantial increase and/or variation in his role, and of course it deals principally with the review of the Lobbyists Code of Conduct.
It extends the requirements for lobby registers to the opposition, and it deals with the meaning of a third-party client. This is pretty critical to getting a workable system for transparency around lobbying. It deals, in particular, with what must be reported to the Integrity Commissioner and how that is published, and it no doubt puts a great deal more onus onto lobbyists. The chairman of the committee, the member for Coomera, dealt with those matters which are dealt with on page 11 of the report.
If we continue with a system where this only applies to third-party clients—organisations like trade unions, environment groups and industry groups are not required to be lobbyists, nor are large corporations that have their lobbying component in-house, as none of them are required to report currently—and we put more of a public onus on the 20 per cent that are registered lobbyists, we will have a system that is not workable. This is an inconsistent approach if we go ahead with it, and that is the reason the committee has made some of the statements that it has.
Last year we saw public debate centred on something as basic as what is lobbying. This is dealt with in 2.11 of the committee’s report, but it is apparent that the media is certainly still not clear about what is lobbying. If you look at some of the comments in the report, this has even flowed through to some lobbyists who clearly do not understand the definition of what is lobbying. What we saw last year could even be described as a circus, where every casual encounter on the street, every administrative or minor e-mail or phone call, every function that a minister attended suddenly became lobbying without recognition of the critical ingredient that makes it lobbying—and that is that it is a contact in an effort to influence government policy, contracts et cetera.
I notice that Santo Santoro was mentioned by the Manager of Opposition Business. If I bump into Terry Mackenroth on the street, it is not a lobbying contact unless he is seeking to influence government policy, and any intelligent debate needs to be framed around this. Most of the matters discussed in the report were about what matters are to be disclosed. If we continue with a system where 80 per cent of lobbying is exempt from disclosure but lobbying firms—the remaining 20 per cent of lobbying—must disclose the details of their clients et cetera, we will actually go backwards because the firms seeking to influence government policy will go to industry groups, environment groups, set up community action groups or use a union. We would be foolish to think that construction or building firms did not have contacts or influence in parts of the union movement. They would set up somebody who would voluntarily lobby for them because that is not captured under the present provisions, and we will end up with a system that is even more opaque than the one we have at the present time or they will simply seek private influence in other ways.
It is not fashionable to say that the lobbying industry serves a valuable service, but it does. It is difficult, particularly for small and medium enterprises, to get their view across to government and to work out how government works. This is an important industry and it is important that we get this right. I commend this report to the House.
Wednesday, 20 March 2013 00:00
Hansard 7 March 2013
PRIVATE MEMBER'S STATEMENT
Dr FLEGG (Moggill—LNP) (2.33 pm): Colleges Crossing on state controlled Mount Crosby Road is familiar to most Queenslanders from the traffic reports in recent years where it is announced that the crossing is closed due to flooding. Downstream is the Moggill Ferry which invariably is also closed at the same time. Colleges Crossing is no small rural road, as the previous Labor government claimed. It is, in fact, a state controlled road linking Brisbane with Ipswich and carrying some 11,000 cars a day—although traffic counts have dropped a bit in the last couple of years not surprisingly because it has been closed so often. This is a vital link for our community—people live on one side of the river and work or attend school on the other—as well as for the broader community of Western Brisbane and Ipswich for whom this is the major link between these two major South-East Queensland cities.
The fact that nothing has been done is another reflection of the years of neglect that we have had under the Labor government. Some $14-odd million was spent by local government in flood reconstruction of the park adjoining Colleges Crossing which was washed away shortly after its completion—another good example of what the LNP have been banging on about: that we should not just be rebuilding things after a flood but we should do them bigger and better. This crossing has no pedestrian crossing, despite tens of thousands of people living on either side of it. It has no safe cycle link. It is just a river-surface level causeway. This is a very, very big issue for the constituents of Moggill and Ipswich West as well as the broader communities around them. This area has no public transport whatsoever and Moggill Road is one of the worst commute roads if one has to go down Moggill Road to go over the Jindalee bridge. Emergency services are frequently disrupted.
I have written to the Premier and to the transport minister in relation to this issue. We are very keen to see some long-term planning. It would be highly desirable and appropriate to study the options of an elevated causeway or a bridge which might stop the constant dislocation of these communities. I have extended an invitation from myself and the member for Ipswich West to the transport minister to come down and meet with our community to have a look and discuss this issue. I look forward to his response to that invitation. I leave members with the question: where else do we have a major state controlled road carrying 11,000 cars a day that is closed at the drop of a hat every time it rains?
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