Queensland estimates 2018: What you missed

Queensland estimates 2018: What you missed

Estimates hearings are a chance for the opposition to scrutinise the government's spending in the budget.

However, some of the more memorable moments from 2018 came courtesy of props, allegations of manhandling and fashion.

LNP member for Kawana Jarrod Bleijie raised some eyebrows with his choice of cufflinks. But there was plenty of other news from this year's estimates hearings.

LNP member for Kawana Jarrod Bleijie raised some eyebrows with his choice of cufflinks. But there was plenty of other news from this year's estimates hearings.Credit:Dan Peled/AAP

These included some "F" and "U" cufflinks, accusations of a push during hearings and a tape measure being wheeled out during a description of a scrapped sign in memory of former deputy premier Terry Mackenroth.

Commonwealth Games Minister Kate Jones became a bit creative with members' titles while holding aloft green folders containing letters from opposition members.


"Poor old mate here, the member for [Beaudesert], he got dumped for this guy and he still writes to me more than this mate," she said.

Ahead of the second week of hearings, Speaker Curtis Pitt told politicians to take a "mature" approach to estimates hearings but said there was nothing wrong with the estimates hearings process.

"But the best system will not work if the people in the system adopt the wrong spirit," he said.

More serious news included a crackdown on claim farming, Queensland's $1.23 billion SPER debt, 47 incidents reported from MPs' electorate offices, more than 150 formal complaints made about councillors, no date for the restoration of Queensland Rail's timetable, and the New Generation Rollingstock inquiry will not hold public hearings.

It was revealed the Crime and Corruption Commission has investigated the Ipswich City Council since 2016, no due diligence was performed before cabinet signed off on the board appointment of Mark Algie, there are 700 patched outlaw motorcycle gang members in Queensland, thousands of positive drug tests in prisons, and an additional $8 million expected in speed camera fines next year.

There were letters sent to dead people about their transition to the NDIS, a report into youth sexual violence released after 16 months, scrapping the Commonwealth Games would have cost more than $1 billion, Dutton Park confirmed as the location for a new school, allegations union officials swore at safety inspectors, the small numbers of male primary school teachers, and a theme park safety crackdown.

Labor continued to lean on the ghost of the Newman LNP government past for blame, despite the Newman government being defeated in 2015, and the Palaszczuk government winning its second term last November.

A search of the Hansard transcript from Wednesday for "Newman" brings up 20 entries.

Missing - at least, mostly - in action was Labor backbencher Jo-Ann Miller who only appeared at one hearing following a special caucus meeting vote, which meant government MPs needed to seek approval to sit on committees other than their own.

In 2017 and 2016, some of the best questions during estimates came from Ms Miller, the member for Bundamba, who abandoned the traditional government practice of asking Dorothy Dixers.

First-term Greens MP Michael Berkman was notable for turning up to ask questions at every day's hearings, while independent MP Sandy Bolton was there every day but one.

Unfortunately, many minutes were lost due to repetitive procedural arguments with points of order being raised about issues such as the use of "imputations" in questions, despite ministers often being quite happy to answer the question being put.

However, State Development Minister Cameron Dick said there was no attempt by backbenchers to run interference for ministers.

"If the opposition wants better answers, they should ask better questions," he said.

For one example of the start-stop nature of hearings, see this heated exchange on Thursday, involving chairwoman Leanne Linard, Education Minister Grace Grace, manager of opposition business Jarrod Bleijie, LNP MP and deputy chair Jann Stuckey and Labor MP Bruce Saunders relating to the Queensland Council of Unions' Young Workers Hub.

It started after Mr Bleijie spoke about a news article and read a brief transcript from a press conference:

Mr BLEIJIE: By 6pm, you had ruled out implementing certain elements of the program. Minister, why did you change your mind about the program between your mid-afternoon press conference and the 6pm news? Was it because the Premier’s office needed you to clean up another bungle and another mess?
CHAIR: Member for Kawana, if you have a question, I ask that you state that question respectfully—
Mr BLEIJIE: With respect, madam chair–
Ms GRACE: I am happy to answer the question.
CHAIR: I am still ruling. I am not saying that your question is out of order; I am saying that we do not need the additional comments, opinions, arguments and imputations on the minister’s behaviour.
Minister, you said that you were happy to answer.
Ms GRACE: I am happy to answer. I thank the member for the question. Can I start by saying that the question is full of preamble that is grossly false, inaccurate, misleading and the member for
Kawana knows it.
Mr BLEIJIE: Just answer.
Mr SAUNDERS: Point of order. We started today with a little bit of respect. I am asking the member for Kawana to have a bit of respect and let the minister finish her answer to his longwinded question.
CHAIR: Thank you, member for Maryborough.
Ms GRACE: The reality is–
Mrs STUCKEY: Point of order.
CHAIR: Sorry, Minister, we have a number of points of order.
Mrs STUCKEY: Point of order.
CHAIR: I am ruling on the first point of order. That is a fair point of order and consistent with the issue that I raised earlier. Deputy chair, your point of order?
Mrs STUCKEY: The member for Kawana has simply asked the minister a question about something that was publicly televised and is documented. I believe that the way the minister is
answering is not showing any respect to the questioner.
CHAIR: Thank you, deputy chair. The minister has barely answered because there was an interjection, which is why we have these points of order. There is no point of order. I ask the minister to answer the question without interruption.
Ms GRACE: Thank you very much. [The Minister continues by saying the government would not allow union recruitment of students at schools and never will, and the hub was not operating in schools on a trial basis.]

Estimates hearings will be back again in 2019.

Felicity Caldwell is state political reporter at the Brisbane Times

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