Local & Queensland Economy – Speech 3 November 2016

Mr WHITING (Murrumba—ALP) (10.12 pm): I want to begin by paying tribute to the member for Bundaberg. I do not think you could find anyone with a better heart. This woman has the courage of a lion. I am proud to call her my friend and Bundaberg should be proud that she is their member.

I am going to talk about the great economic news that is happening in our state, and that is something that the other side cannot argue with. I want to talk about some great economic news from the electorate of Murrumba. We have heard today how the economic conditions in Queensland have continued to improve under Labor, with economic growth up 1.2 per cent in real terms in the June quarter. This makes it 3.8 per cent higher this year, as we have heard the Treasurer say. It cannot be denied that we have recorded the strongest economic growth in four years. Our gross state product increased 3.2 per cent in 2015-16, up from 0.8 per cent growth the previous year. That is four times the growth rate under the failed former treasurer Tim Nicholls. Household consumption has risen 2.4 per cent, as we heard the Treasurer say, in 2015-16, and that shows that confidence amongst Queenslanders is growing. They are going to ignore the circus they are conducting over on the other side because they know what is happening out there.

We can see that that strong sentiment and strong growth is reflected in the local economy in North Lakes. The most spectacular example of this growing confidence is the massive expansion of Westfield North Lakes and the arrival of the new Ikea. The new $170 million Westfield project was commenced last year after the completion of the $80 million first stage. The new Ikea and Westfield will create 4,700 jobs in construction and a further 900 in retail upon completion. The North Lakes Sports Club is a $25 million project that will generate 100 construction jobs and 120 hospitality jobs when complete, and stage 2 of the $75 million Primewest North Lakes development is expected to be completed later this year. There is glowing economic news coming out of our area. Business is booming in Murrumba and it is booming in North Lakes. That is something that the other side cannot run down. They cannot call this state the Spain of Australia anymore. There is also the Boutique Hotel at Lake Eden, which is a $3.8 million construction. All of this shows that there is growing consumer confidence amongst my residents despite this mob opposite, who are trying to run down our economy just to prove a political point.

 

Institutional Child Abuse – Speech 8 November 2016

Speech in support of the:

LIMITATION OF ACTIONS (INSTITUTIONAL CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE) AND OTHER LEGISLATION AMENDMENT BILL

Mr WHITING (Murrumba—ALP) (8.00 pm): I rise to speak in support of the government bill. Once again, I want to congratulate the Attorney-General on shepherding this bill through to this point. I think it will be one of the many achievements of this parliament and obviously for the Attorney-General as well. When it passes I think it will be something we can all look back on with some pride. I also want to acknowledge the good work of the member for Cairns. He is a very passionate advocate for the victims in this case. I acknowledge the work that he has done in getting it to this stage as well. I would also like to thank the witnesses and survivors, the people who have shared their stories of what they have endured. This bill is very important to them. I will talk very quickly about exactly why it is important.

The bill retrospectively abolishes the limitation periods that apply to a claim for damages brought by a person where their claim is founded on the personal injury of a person resulting from the sexual abuse of the person when that person was a child and the sexual abuse occurred in the institutional context. Importantly, the bill will create a more accessible civil litigation system for survivors of child sexual abuse and—the critical part—enhance access to justice. I think that is the key phrase: it enhances access to justice. That is what animates many of the people who have brought this issue forward and many of the people who have talked about this. In a broader context for many of us in this House that is one of the values or the things that drives us—that access to justice—especially those on this side. If we can ensure that more Queenslanders, especially those most in need, have access to justice that is a thing of which we in this House can be proud.

I say to the advocates and the survivors who will now have this access to justice that I know this may not be all that they want, but it does provide access to justice for so many more Queenslanders than before. I know that those advocates and survivors who are telling their story up and down Queensland will be thanked as they take the story of what has happened and talk about the bill that should be passed. They will be thanked and people up and down the state will acknowledge the fine work that they have done. I hope that does help them on their journey. I say ‘journey’ because I know that this is still a journey for many of those survivors and the people who have suffered. It is a journey. Maybe they will get there one day; maybe they will not. However, they will remember those steps along the way, and this is a major step.

I will talk briefly about one such advocate who is a friend of mine. I worked with this particular friend about 20 years ago. He was always a very good man. I was actually at the party where he first met his wife. I was there that afternoon. They married and had some wonderful children. I have met his children. I have seen them on social media as well. They are very fine and wonderful children. Once people have such wonderful children in their care there are certain things that they think about. They start to think about justice and how they can best protect those children.

I have three young children myself now, the youngest under one year old. Listening to the debate tonight I am constantly thinking about how best to protect my children. That is something that many of us, if not all of us, in this House tonight who have children have been thinking about; we have been thinking about them when we have been listening to this debate today. I say to my friend that I understand him and I thank him for what he has done. Queensland will thank him as well.

I turn to the reasons we need this bill. Obviously we have read through a lot of the testimony and we have heard that some of the worst cases of institutional abuse happened here in Queensland. As a historian I can say that there are many good parts of Queensland history and there are some darker parts that need to be acknowledged as well. Those cases of abuse which happened in our institutions are something that must not be forgotten or brushed over. They must be remembered and acknowledged. I have been listening to some of this testimony, especially about Neerkol, and these stories are horrific. There are certainly things that we will not forget and that will propel us to act in the future.

One of the things I noticed about becoming an MP compared to a councillor is that I have people coming into my office imparting these stories of what has happened to children whom they know. That is something we are not quite ready for when we become an MP. However, it is something we must steel ourselves for—to listen to those stories and help them out with moving on that journey.

I want to pay tribute to the member for Pumicestone. He has worked closely with one of the survivors who has told their story in the passage of this bill. It is quite harrowing to read through the testimony of this particular person. I thank the member for Pumicestone for his support of his constituent. Some of the things that are mentioned in this—and I will only touch on this—are countless physical and sexual assaults; being photographed naked; being forced to watch inhuman acts; and he mentions a cattle prodder as well as receiving a beating so bad it still haunts him to this very day. As I said, we are never quite prepared as an MP to hear these things. Because we are here and we are animated by access to justice, we are in a position in this parliament tonight to do something about that. It will be a great honour to take this action.

Finally, as we have heard, this particular bill also allows JPs to hear minor matters in QCAT. Once again, I want to acknowledge the great JPs who do their work in the electorate of Murrumba, especially my friend Rob Shore. We are recognising the longest serving JPs in my area with a ceremony in the office. I am glad to tell the House that in my absence the former member for Murrumba Dean Wells will be officiating, guiding and giving advice to all those JPs in Murrumba who will be coming along. I have to say that once I said that the former attorney-general, who was an attorney-general under the Goss government, was going to be there we had a lot more people coming through and they wanted to chat to him.

Mr Springborg interjected.

Mr WHITING: If I were there that would be a line-ball call. I would like to thank the Attorney-General once again. I commend this bill to the House.

$100,000 Grants Available for Sport Precinct Planning

Local sporting groups will get a big boost through a new program from the Palaszczuk Government that will deliver funds for the master planning of sport and recreation precincts in Murrumba.

The Sports and Recreation Planning Program will allocate grants of up to $100,000 to local governments and peak sporting bodies to develop new and improved planning documents for sports precincts.

“In such a fast growing area, Council and state sporting bodies need better planning so as we have enough playing fields in the right places for the right sports.

“These funds will help them master plan these precincts so we can get them happening faster.

“This program complements the Get Playing Places and Spaces and Get Playing Plus programs, which deliver the funding to build the fields and clubhouses.

“This funding will be great for so many new sporting projects in the area.

It would be welcome to see it used to deliver new sporting fields at Griffin, Morris Road at Rothwell, and perhaps a new synthetic athletics track at Zammit Oval in Deception Bay.

“We’re looking to get a synthetic track at Zammit Oval and this grant program can really help us,” said Deception Bay Little Athletics coach Adam White.

“If this program helps us get the new track on the table, we’re all for it,” said Adam

The Planning Program opened on 10 November and proposals are due by 30 January 2017.  See www.qld.gov.au/recreation/sports/funding/grtants-funding for more details.

 

Community at the heart of new vision for South East Queensland

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The draft South East Queensland Regional Plan (SEQRP), released recently, unveils a 50 year vision for the South East, with a focus on community, affordable living, future jobs and maximising existing infrastructure.

Member for Redcliffe Yvette D’Ath said the plan, formed through extensive consultation with the region’s 12 councils, industry and the community, will deliver a sustainable future.

“The population of South East Queensland is expected to grow to over 5.3 million people in the next 25 years and the draft SEQRP is all about catering for this growth sustainably,” Ms D’Ath said.

“The Moreton Bay region alone is expected to grow to 655,000 people, with thousands of additional people wanting to make our great community their home.

“We know that these new residents will need great places to live, work and raise their families.

“With this is mind the plan focuses on affordable living – not just affordable housing – and looks at the way that people interact with their community and the services around them.

“Having been informed by extensive community consultation the draft SEQRP also recognises the importance of preserving the things that people love about living here in Moreton Bay including our beautiful natural environment, diverse culture and relaxed way of life.

Member for Murrumba Chris Whiting said that the new plan got the balance right between sustainability and growing jobs.

“Importantly, inter-urban breaks are maintained and protected between Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast,” Mr Whiting said.

“The draft SEQRP highlights the importance of development in well-serviced areas that are convenient to employment and emphasises the role of public and active transport.

“The draft SEQRP will drive employment growth through an economic blueprint which identifies areas where our emerging knowledge and innovation industries can thrive while also acknowledging our existing strengths in tourism, agriculture and construction.”

 

“We want the SEQRP to be shaped by South East Queenslanders and I encourage the community to have their say during upcoming consultation sessions across the region or online.”

Residents across South East Queensland are being called on to have their say on the draft plan with extended public consultation open until 3 March 2017.

There will be 22 community events where residents can talk to a planner during November and December in each of the 12 council areas.

Residents in the electorates of Redcliffe or Murrumba can come and speak with a planner at:

Moreton Bay Saturday 26 November 10 am – 1 pm Caboolture Hub 4 Hasking St, Caboolture

 

For more information on the draft SEQRP, the public consultation and the community events: www.qld.gov.au/shapingseq

Chris Whiting MP has opened nominations for his second annual Murrumba Volunteer Awards.

‘There are so many people who give so much to our community through volunteer work,’

‘Many volunteers in our community work so hard and it is important that we all recognise their efforts,’ Mr Whiting said

Nominations are open now, and will close at 5pm on Thursday 1 December 2016.

‘Last year we recognised volunteers from across our community, who help out in a variety of fields from their local progress association to putting on local carols at Christmas,’

 ‘Anyone who gives their valuable free time to help better our community can be nominated for one of these awards,’

‘I encourage anyone who knows someone who volunteers to consider nominating them for an award,’ Mr Whiting said.

Nominations can be submitted to the Murrumba Electorate Office at Rothwell Central, 743 Deception Bay Rd, Rothwell – next to the Commonwealth Bank, or via email: murrumba@parliament.qld.gov.au or phone: 3448-2100.

 

Building a stronger financial future for Queenslanders

facebook Alarming statistics show almost one in three households nationally experience financial stress, and more than three million adults are excluded from financial institutions and their banking products.

Queenslanders facing financial hardship are vulnerable to predatory lenders, spiralling debt patterns and poverty, affecting relationships, housing, health and life outcomes.

To help build a stronger financial future for Queenslanders, the Palaszczuk Government recently released the Queensland Financial Inclusion Plan and, as part of the plan, announced a commitment of $25 million over four years from 2016–17.

The funding is for a new Financial Resilience Program, including more financial resilience workers and counsellors, continued emergency relief and the opening of Good Money stores.

In delivering the plan’s initiatives, the government will partner with non-government, corporate and finance sectors.

The government will work together to better prepare Queenslanders for cost-of-living pressures and to provide access to safer, more affordable banking products, which is good news for families, individuals and our state.

For more information, visit www.qld.gov.au/financialinclusionplan.

Palaszczuk Government delivers more $$ for Mental Health Services

PrintThis Queensland Mental Health Week, I am calling on all Queenslanders to join with our government in valuing mental health.

About one in five Australians will experience a mental illness in any given year, and almost half will experience a mental health problem at some point in their lives.

Yet when we came to Government, three years of LNP cuts had driven Queensland’s staff and spending on mental health services to the lowest level in Australia.

We’ve now started the job of turning this around.

We have opened new youth residential rehabilitation facilities and new mental health facilities, and we are replacing the Barrett Adolescent Centre that was catastrophically closed by the Newman Government in 2014.

 
In this coming year, we will spend $1.55 billion on mental health, alcohol and drug services.

But we know there is more to be done.

This week, our government has announced Connecting Care to Recovery – our new plan to improve mental health, alcohol and drug services across the state.

Over five years, we will target $350 million of additional funding towards extra investments in mental health, drug and alcohol services.

As a government, we are dedicated to fulfilling our goal of Queenslanders being among the healthiest people in the world by 2026, but as a community we all have a role to play in valuing one another’s mental health.

I urge all Queenslanders to make an effort and put their mental health first this week.

If you’re not sure where to start, try here:

  • Practise relaxation techniques or meditation
  • Get enough sleep by aiming for eight hours every night
  • Visit www.healthier.qld.gov.au for healthy eating and exercise tips so you can:
    • Eat a well-balanced, healthy diet
    • Exercise regularly – try about 30 minutes every day

If you or someone you know needs support you can phone 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84) or Lifeline on 13 11 14.

New Child Safety Staff to Protect Queensland Children

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The Palaszczuk Government is investing an additional $7.8 million a year to hire 82 new permanent child safety workers.

Chris Whiting MP, Member for Murrumba says that these new workers are in addition to the extra 47 positions that were allocated in the 2016-17 Budget, bringing to 129 the number of additional positions to boost child safety services, bring down caseloads and keep Queensland children safe.

“The Nicholls/Newman government cut 225 staff from the Department of Child Safety, and the Palaszczuk Government are making sure that extra staff are in place to improve services by reducing caseloads,”

“Child safety staff are dedicated and hard-working, and the work that they are doing is getting more and more complex,” Mr Whiting said.

Mr Whiting said that the additional 82 permanent positions will include front line child safety officers, support officers, team leaders and administrative officers.

 

The new staff will include:

  • 48 Front Line Child Safety Officers
  • 20 Front Line Child Safety Support Officers
  • 7 Front Line Senior Team Leaders
  • 7 Front Line Support Administrative Officers

“Recruitment for the additional 82 staff will begin immediately, and the location of them will be determined in the next fortnight,” Mr Whiting said.

Boundary Rd Interchange Night Works

This image was taken by Above Photography

This image was taken by Above Photography

I have been advised by the Department of Transport and Main Roads that there will be regular night works happening at the Boundary Rd / Bruce Highway interchange from this weekend.

Works will start on Sunday 9 October and continue through to Monday 31 October, weather permitting.

Works will include centre median widening, signage relocations and electrical works. This will require lane closures at night on the Bruce Highway, near Boundary Road.

These closures will affect northbound lanes between 9pm and 5am, and southbound lanes between 8pm and 4am

At least one lane will be open for traffic at all times.

Reduced speeds, traffic controllers and signage will be in place to ensure the safety of motorists and road workers. Motorists may experience minor delays and are encouraged to follow the instructions of traffic controllers and road signs.

These works are part of the upgrade to the Boundary Road Interchange, which will see the existing 2 lane bridge replaced by a 6 lane structure. Other benefits of the upgrade are longer on & off ramps and improved clearance underneath the bridge.

This upgrade is jointly funded by the Queensland and Commonwealth governments and the project will create 160 jobs and cost $100.4 million.

Up-to-date information on traffic changes can be found at www.131940.qld.gov.au or by calling 13 19 40.

Are you an aspiring teacher¿ Apply for scholarship help from the Government!!

I’m encouraging spiring teachers to apply for grants and scholarships on offer from the Palaszczuk Government.

Local students interested in pursuing a teaching career should apply. Queensland is a growing state with hundreds of extra teachers required over the next five years.

I want to ensure high achieving students are supported and encouraged to pursue a career in teaching.

Teachers play an important role in our society and make a real difference to the lives of young Queenslanders and we want to ensure we are hiring the best teachers for our local schools.

Scholarships and grants were available to Year 12 students who had excelled in their studies.

“The TJ Ryan Memorial Medal and Scholarship and the Aspiring Teacher Grant are targeted to highly accomplished and talented Year 12 students,” he/she said.

Winners of the TJ Ryan Memorial Medal and Scholarships receive up to $10,000 over the course of their first degree of up to five years.

Aspiring Teacher grant recipients receive financial assistance for study-related expenses.

The grant is open to high achieving secondary school-leavers who undertake an initial teacher training program in Queensland.

These scholarships and grants are aimed at encouraging the best possible students into a teaching career.

More information on the scholarships and grants, including how to apply, is available at http://education.qld.gov.au/hr/recruitment/teaching/

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