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For Labor ex-minister, a time of atonement

Then Minister for Education Cameron Dick and Premier Anna Bligh talk with student Brydie Milburn during a visit to Eimeo Road State School in Mackay, February 21, 2012.

Then Minister for Education Cameron Dick and Premier Anna Bligh talk with student Brydie Milburn during a visit to Eimeo Road State School in Mackay, February 21, 2012. Photo: Peter Wallis

Former Queensland education minister and attorney general Cameron Dick is the first of Labor’s deposed ministers to speak at length since the March 24 state election.

And he has used the opportunity to one-up Premier Campbell Newman’s four pillars - tourism, resources, agriculture and construction - with five pillars of his own.

‘‘Equality, freedom, fairness, opportunity and community - they’re the values that inspire me,’’ he said during a broad-ranging interview.

Qld premier Anna Bligh and treasurer Andrew Fraser speaking at a post Qld state budget CEDA lunch in Bribane.

Qld premier Anna Bligh and treasurer Andrew Fraser speaking at a post Qld state budget CEDA lunch in Bribane. Photo: Glenn Hunt

Last week, brisbanetimes.com.au approached several of Labor’s former Cabinet members to gauge their feelings about their new lives four months after the party's savage election loss.

Most felt it was not yet time to speak publicly.

Former treasurer Andrew Fraser, whose five-bedroom inner western suburbs home is empty and up for rent for $780 a week - did not reply to numerous requests.

Labor’s former golden girl Kate Jones (former Member for Ashgrove) and Stirling Hinchliffe (former Stafford MP) also said no.

Ms Bligh herself is known to have been overseas for almost the entire time since the election loss.

So it was left to Mr Dick, formerly the member for Greenslopes, to speak on behalf of his former government.

Mr Dick served just one term (2009-2012) and believes he may have more to offer to Queenslanders in some capacity in the future.

A lawyer by training, Mr Dick is returning the bar and to his own firm, specialising in industrial relations law.

However, he would not dismiss the possibility of standing again at the next state election, admitting that he had the ALP in his DNA. (His brother, Milton, is a former ALP state secretary and now the Brisbane City Council’s opposition leader.)

Cameron Dick joined the Labor Party in 1989 as the Goss government came to power.

‘‘I am a Labor man. I always have been and I always will be,’’ he said, shrugging off suggestions the Labor brand in Queensland was irreparably damaged.

As we worked through the interview, he described how he felt the party should have concentrated more on the economy during the election campaign, emphasising the decisions it had made.

‘‘I do think Labor fell into the error, or seriously miscalculated and under-estimated the desire for Queenslanders to hold onto the AAA credit rating,’’ he said.

‘‘And I think the concern Queenslanders had generally about government debt and deficit.

‘‘And I think we were unable to effectively tell our story about investing in infrastructure to keep jobs.

‘‘I mean, that was the strategy we took as part of the global financial crisis.’’

He is frank about his view of the LNP government, mindful that Labor was whitewashed at the March 2012 election.

He believes the LNP government gives the impression of being a very old, conservative government, despite many youthful MPs.

‘‘I do have that sense that we have gone back in a time machine, that this government is very conservative,’’ he said.

‘‘Their whole approach to Queenslanders who are in same-sex relationships, axing money to Queensland community organisations that support those sorts of relationships.’’

The uneasy balance of asking settled public housing residents to move and make room for newer families, has also left the former MP uneasy.

He says the Newman government is entitled to make these decisions, but he worries they are not the decisions that the people who voted in the LNP voted for.

‘‘I don’t think that speaks of what Queenslanders see their state has become,’’ he says.

Readers might say, "well he would say that,’’ but Mr Dick also admits candidly that the people of Queensland absolutely rejected Labor at the state election.

‘‘I acknowledge that Queenslanders did not judge us well and we need to atone for that and to apologise for that,’’ he said.

And he agreed that Labor never really addressed the Health Payroll issue in the mind of the public.

He was cautious but frank in his assessment of how this was seen by the general public.

‘‘I think by not holding anyone to account for that, I think Queenslanders judged the former premier and the government very poorly.’’

As a former education minister, he was shocked by the government’s original decision to cut the Fanfare Music concerts among schools.

However he reserved his criticism for the LNP Attorney General Jarod Bleijie’s proposal to name and shame ‘‘as a last resort’’ serial child offenders.

‘‘I think it is a very regressive thing,’’ he said.

‘‘I think the experiences of most individuals who have experience in the criminal justice system including juvenile justice, know that the one of the critical aims of the juvenile justice system is to get kids out of a life of crime and committing criminal acts.

‘‘And many people come into contact with the criminal justice system do so on a one-off basis.

‘‘But by publicly humiliating them and their families, I think it will have a retrograde or regressive effect.

‘‘And I am not aware of any evidence anywhere that it actually stops re-offending.

‘‘And until that evidence is forthcoming I think that it should be opposed as a very backward step in our justice system in Queensland.’’

Cameron Dick served as attorney general from March 2009 to February 2011 and education minister from February 2011 to March 2012.

31 comments

  • ‘‘I do think Labor fell into the error, or seriously miscalculated and under-estimated the desire for Queenslanders to hold onto the AAA credit rating,’’ he said.

    Yeah, that was really front and centre of my mind, when I went to vote, NOT!

    Commenter
    Neil
    Date and time
    July 30, 2012, 7:09AM
    • Cameron, try tapping into Labor (human?) values to understand your failure, not LNP spin.

      Commenter
      WorriedQueenslander
      Location
      Brisbane
      Date and time
      August 03, 2012, 7:40AM
  • He should have reserved his harshest criticism for former ALP Minister Paul Lucas who appeared to be responsible or at least at the heart of so many of the ALPs debacles.

    He should have said the dog whistling triple A rating shouted by the dimwit LNP sycophants drowned out the ALP accomplishments.

    He should have said that it appeared the ALP were not listening to the public and the 6 suburbs around the dirty project known as Airportlink would have agreed that Stirling Hinchliffe was not listening to the voters.

    He should have said that former Treasurer Fraser should have concentrated on selling how prosperous Queensland is and left Bligh to attack the simpleton Newman (for which she was admirably capable of).

    He should have said the the simpleton M.P. for Ashgrove only has the guts to sack people and dictate to them.

    At least he got it right when he said the simpletons LNP party only has the guts to attack the weakest Queenslanders.

    Commenter
    J. Fraser
    Location
    Queensland
    Date and time
    July 30, 2012, 7:11AM
    • You're wrong JF. The LNP attacked Labor at it's most vulnerable areas, the financial and the lack of a clear direction. That's not dim-witted or the act of simpletons.

      The lack of clear direction killed their chances. If they had come out and said "The AAA rating will be restored in 2017-18 when finish the job of clearing up after the GFC, and the floods"

      Instead most of the party thought they would lose and didn't show up. Personal attacks on the opposition were signs of desperation, and people aren't stupid. When you have a choice, you go with the party with the best plan for what's ahead.

      Now the LNP are in power, it's obvious that the lack of scrutiny during the campaign allowed the LNP to mask their true colours... that of a chimera between the conservatives and the rural right. Their ideological approach to government, slashing the public service numbers, and government programs is a harbinger of what's to come. The unfunded election promises and the electoral bribery of the middle class suburban voters will send this state backward morally.

      Slashing red and green tape is shorthand for allowing developers to make money without consideration of what the people care about. We care about protecting our environment, our living areas, our local economies, and our morals from the negatives of unchecked development.

      True conservatives should uphold the rights of communities to reject unwanted development proposals because of the unwanted change. They have been hijacked by Geckos upholding the tenet of Greed.

      Commenter
      Peter of Brisbane
      Date and time
      July 30, 2012, 10:25AM
    • @Peter of Brisbane

      At a complete loss as to why you would be telling me this ?

      Finance was (unbelievably ) drowned out by the dog whistling of the economy that had Trasher Abbott using it every day, every media conference, every opportunity & the LNP went along with it , not because they thought every Queenslander had a degree in economics.

      All political parties lose their way after time in office, and if the opposition is rubbish (Qld. 2009) or they don't listen (see original Comment) to the public then usually nothing can save them.

      As for the rest of your "Reply" ... read more of my Comments and you will soon know that I had a very good inkling (via experience of the simpleton Premier & LNP) of what was coming for Queensland & Queenslanders and express it at every opportunity.

      (Dog whistle or Galton's whistle ).

      Commenter
      J. Fraser
      Location
      Queensland
      Date and time
      July 30, 2012, 10:45AM
    • @J Frazer And what Bligh accomplishments do you refer to? Was it the selling off of public assets? was it the wonderful election campaign that the ALP ran? was it the wonderful Bruce Highway system that floods constantly and causes 1 out of every 6 deaths nationally? was it the promise of 100,000 new jobs and then hired 28,000 public servants in the last 3 years to make this sham look half believable? now Newman has to shed public servants that should never have been hired in the first place, was it the $85 Billion debt run up by these amateur blowhards? was it the borrowing of money just to pay public service salaries? Was it the great water management plan that destroyed thousands of homes during the flood, many lives lost and homeowners bankrupted due to Insurance companies ambiguous cover?
      7 Labor seats remaining does that tell a story of accomplishment?

      Commenter
      Labor sucks
      Date and time
      July 30, 2012, 11:57AM
  • ‘‘And in the present day it means that people have the opportunity to be the best person they can be, regardless of circumstances or background or where they came from,’’

    Where was that for the last 15 years, that is the ideal of the party I used to vote for

    Until Labor wake up and get back to what they used to stand for rather then what the polls say and knee jerk policies they won't get my vote again.

    Bring in the ability for labor members to elect their party leader and I will become a member straight away until then I am now a Greens voter, not completely happy with their policies but couldn't live with myself voting for the backward Liberal party run by the little dictator who does not relise running a state should not be run like a business.

    You need to understand sometimes social welfare is more important than balancing the books

    Commenter
    Labor of old
    Location
    Brisbane
    Date and time
    July 30, 2012, 7:55AM
    • All the ALP MPs were complicit in eveything that A Bligh did in different ways since she became Premier. Her Legacy still continues in QLD starting with her broken promises.

      Commenter
      Acushla
      Date and time
      July 30, 2012, 8:38AM
      • I am still not sure exactly what it was the Anna Bligh did to make so many people hate her. She was hard working, seemed to care for the people of Qld, had to deal with drought, rwo devastating cyclones and a flood. She was let down by some of her senior ministers which she had inherited from Peter Beatty as well as retirements of some fairly competent ministers. In her last term she tried to bring in some fresh blood - some more sucessful than others - but she had limited resources to work with. I think many people in Qld just tired of Labor and listened to the LNP spin - especially those who had limited experience of the little general. I myself, who is obviously a Labor supported was unhappy with the rubbish coming from some of the ALP ministers. But the reason I vote for Labor is the fact that it does look after the working man and those most in need in our society. I agree with Cameron on the values he described Equality, freedom, fairness, opportunity and community’’ The LNP seem to be about taking revenge on the people of Qld for keeping them out of Government for so long. They a spiteful, angry people who have only one value - the almighty dollar and how much can I get of while in office. Definitely not my kind of people and not the people I want to run Qld. Labor will be back and Qld will be better for it (hopefully having learnt some lessons - like don't take the voters for granted).

        Commenter
        Hewy209
        Date and time
        July 30, 2012, 11:06AM
      • Ditto for Campbell Newman. Very ditto.

        Commenter
        Honour
        Location
        Brisbane
        Date and time
        July 30, 2012, 11:15AM

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