Speech to Parliament - Multicultural Recognition Bill - 16 February 2016


Speech to Parliament - Multicultural Recognition Bill - 16 February 2016

Mr McEACHAN (Redlands—LNP) (4.13 pm): I rise to speak to the Multicultural Recognition Bill. I would, firstly, like to acknowledge the good work of my fellow committee members and the committee secretariat. I also acknowledge my colleague shadow minister Tarnya Smith for her work promoting multicultural recognition in Queensland. I also take this opportunity to congratulate Minister Grace on her promotion. This bill seeks to recognise those in our community who have made a contribution towards diversity in Queensland. The bill aims to ensure government departments are responsive to the diversity of Queensland. It also aims to promote a united community through a multicultural charter. A multicultural advisory council is proposed under the bill. The council aims to ensure that both culturally and linguistically diverse communities can have input into the matters presented by the advisory council. This bill also seeks to require the government to develop a multicultural policy and action plan which incorporates the principles of the charter into the decisions and policies of the government, the aim being to further ensure that the views and concerns of our multicultural community are considered in the wider work of government policy and service delivery. The bill will require reporting on the outcomes of the implementation of this action plan and includes ongoing monitoring of the outcomes of this policy. Within the Redlands we have the Redlands Multicultural Group, now in its 11th year, representing more than 45 different cultures. Within our community we have a rich range of festivals with varied backgrounds including, but not limited to, the Quandamooka people, the Scottish and Gaelic Society and everywhere around the globe in between. Speaking of the Scottish and Gaelic Society, my father, who is from Scotland, migrated to Queensland in 1962.

A government member interjected.

Mr McEACHAN: He is a good Labor man. I am the son of a migrant. He is a welder from Glasgow. It does not get much more Labor than that. For 10 quid he travelled from Glasgow to Brisbane. He dropped his bags at Yungaba and like thousands before him, he walked up the road to the Story Bridge Hotel to get a beer. It must be said that he had great difficulty in ordering a beer because no-one could understand a word he was saying. He did eventually get that cold XXXX and over a frothy head he considered his future. In short order he learned to speak a decipherable form of English, although after a Guinness or two he regresses quite badly. He got a job, he married a local girl and he declares himself proudly ‘true blue’. Like many, many people who have come from countries right around the world, he is an example of successful integration into Australian society. In my view, Australian society is intrinsically a multicultural society and I do not really see that there is any difference between the two. The department undertook extensive consultation with the community with support from various sectors noted in its deliberations.

In my view, this bill seeks largely to define and reflect within government and within Queensland what is already occurring in communities across this state. The committee resolved to recommend that the Multicultural Recognition Bill be passed. I commend this bill to the House. 


Speech to Parliament - Domestic and Family Violence Protection and Another Act Amendment Bill - 3 December 2015


Speech to Parliament - Domestic and Family Violence Protection and Another Act Amendment Bill - 3 December 2015

Mr McEACHAN (Redlands—LNP) (5.50 pm): I rise to speak to the Domestic and Family Violence Protection and Another Act Amendment Bill 2015. Before I get into my written speech, I would like to acknowledge the member for Mudgeeraba for her courage in sharing with us a harrowing and deeply personal story. I think we were all very moved by that. I would also like to acknowledge the hard work of my fellow committee members—the members for Bundaberg, Caloundra, Pine Rivers, Cairns and Warrego—and also the committee secretariat.

In accordance with the recommendations contained within the Not now, not ever report handed down by the Special Taskforce on Domestic and Family Violence in Queensland, this legislation seeks to do a number of things. Of those objectives, I wish to focus primarily on the first two. The first objective is to seek to ensure that, where there are conflicting allegations of domestic or family violence in civil applications for protection orders, the courts identify and protect the person most in need of protection. It is unfortunately all too common that, when an application is made for a protection order, the offending partner also applies for a retaliatory protection order. This legislation requires courts to consider the veracity of each protection order application and to act to protect that person most at risk of harm.

The second objective of the bill before the House is to seek increased protections for victims of domestic and family violence and minimise disruption to their lives by requiring the court to consider imposing a condition excluding a perpetrator of domestic violence from the family home, otherwise known as an ouster provision. We know that victims of domestic and family violence are most at risk while in the process of ending their relationship with the perpetrator as well as face the greater share of upheaval to their lives. Vulnerable women and children often move out of the family home, which impacts on their social support networks, school attendance and continuity of employment. In regional communities, that can be particularly disruptive.

In my own electorate of Redlands, there are five island communities upon which this legislation promises to have a significant impact. Like mainland Queensland, island communities experience domestic and family violence. However, the combination of a small population, isolation and a reliance on water based transport makes it especially difficult for victims of domestic and family violence. It is my sincere hope that this legislation provides a stronger framework for victims to break free from those relationships where they are in harm’s way.

In reading the evidence given to the special task force, one contribution particularly stood out to me. The contributor said—

You may ask why did I go back and believe me I have asked myself the same question but there are so many emotions involved and other considerations. I w as for the most part a stay at home mum, and had no financial support and because I kept the violence hidden from my family and friends literally felt that I had no choice but to stay...I always hoped things would change.

Unfortunately, we know that too many victims of domestic violence in our community have experienced this isolation. I want to acknowledge the many organisations in the Redlands electorate and Redlands City working to support victims of domestic and family violence in our community: the Bay Island Community Centre, the Redland Community Centre, the Cage Youth Foundation, the Redlands Centre for Women, and the WAVSS support service, to name a few.

This bill also seeks to recognise the importance of victims of domestic violence being able to express their views and wishes in relation to decisions under the act. Lastly, this bill seeks to clarify that the use of body worn cameras by police officers acting in the performance of their duties is indeed lawful. I commend this bill to the House.



Speech to Parliament - Family Responsibilities, Commission Amendment Bill - 1 December 2015


Speech to Parliament - Family Responsibilities, Commission Amendment Bill - 1 December 2015

Mr McEACHAN (Redlands—LNP) (3.52 pm): I rise to speak in support of the Family Responsibilities Commission Amendment Bill 2015. I will keep this brief, acknowledging the comments of those who have spoken before me in support of this bill. I want to start by thanking the committee secretariat and my fellow committee members. I commend this bill for continuing the good work of the LNP in supporting stronger communities. We support the amendments to the current act, including the addition of a domestic violence trigger and expanding the scope of the commissioners’ powers.

The Family Responsibilities Commission works with community members through voluntary agreement or through an order of the commission and can recommend that a person’s welfare be managed should they fail to comply with an order of the FRC. This bill seeks to further enhance these provisions of the act by expanding the scope of the commissioners’ powers and responsibilities. The inclusion of a domestic violence trigger arises from the Not now, not ever report that recommended that the act be amended to require a court to notify the FRC when a protection order is made, namely, a family welfare reform resident, as a respondent. This is one of the most important amendments proposed in the bill, as I am sure that my colleagues on both sides of the House would agree. Much has been spoken about domestic violence in this 55th parliament, but it is good to see practical changes being made to further protect the most vulnerable in our society. I support these amendments as recommended by the Not now, not ever report.

I conclude by saying that while I support these amendments, I would have appreciated the opportunity to visit the communities in question. I certainly commend the work of the committee secretariat and departmental staff, but I do believe that committee members would benefit from the insight gained by visiting the communities to which these amendments refer. I support these amendments and commend the bill to the House. 


Speech to Parliament - Guide, Hearing and Assistance Dogs Amendment Bill - 27 October 2015


Speech to Parliament - Guide, Hearing and Assistance Dogs Amendment Bill - 27 October 2015

Mr McEACHAN (RedlandsLNP) (9.55 pm): I rise to speak in support of the Guide, Hearing and Assistance Dogs Amendment Bill 2015. The Guide, Hearing and Assistance Dogs Act 2009 provides a legislative framework for people with a disability who rely on guide, hearing or assistance dogs to independently access the community and provides mechanisms for accountability of dog trainers and training institutions.

This bill is a continuation of the review undertaken by the former LNP government into the Guide, Hearing and Assistance Dogs Act 2009. A full review of the act was carried out in 2013 and considered the legislations performance as a whole. A draft amendment bill was prepared for cabinet consideration in early 2015 but of course was not furthered due to the dissolution of the 54th Parliament. This bill is also a continuation of legislative amendments introduced during the last parliament which sought to further improve the rights of people with a guide or assistance dog to access private accommodation including rental properties and hotels.

The Guide, Hearing and Assistance Dogs Amendment Bill seeks to streamline the processes and reduce red tape for both people with a disability and the wider sector. The amendments proposed will authorise approved trainers and training institutions to control the provision of handlersidentity cards rather than cards being issued by government. The current approval process operates as a dual authorisation system, with handling by both the training organisations and government. The amendments proposed will provide a more streamlined solution, with a one-stop shop for people with disability. I certainly support any measure which will reduce red tape for people with disability to get access to the support they need.

Amendments removing the requirement for proof of disability each and every time an identity card is renewed should be considered particularly important. Under these amendments, people with disability will only be required to provide proof of their disability in the first instance, and handlers will no longer have to resubmit each and every time they seek renewal of their handler identity card. I am confident that this provision in particular will be welcomed by people with a disability and will further reduce the administrative burden placed on people seeking renewal of their cards.

The amendments also repeal provisions around the creation of an advisory committee and aim to improve monitoring, investigative and enforcement provisions in the act. The committee sought and received submissions on these amendments. These submissions, in addition to the extensive consultation undertaken by the department, have ensured that stakeholders and the sector have been widely consulted on these matters.

In concluding, I thank the committee secretariat, my fellow committee members, shadow minister Tracy Davis and Minister ORourke for their work on this bill. I also thank members of the review panel and those who made submissions during the committee process. I commend the bill to the House. 


Speech to Parliament - Criminal Law (Domestic Violence) Amendment Bill; Coroners (Domestic and Family Violence Death Review and Advisory Board) Amendment Bill - 15 October 2015


Speech to Parliament - Criminal Law (Domestic Violence) Amendment Bill; Coroners (Domestic and Family Violence Death Review and Advisory Board) Amendment Bill - 15 October 2015

Mr McEACHAN (RedlandsLNP) (11.58 am): I rise to speak on the Coroners (Domestic and Family Violence Death Review and Advisory Board) Amendment Bill 2015 and the Criminal Law (Domestic Violence) Amendment Bill 2015. I thank the secretariat staff and my fellow committee members, who have undertaken their role with typical professionalism and under considerable time pressure.

Domestic violence is a scourge on our society. Its impact is felt across regions, social groups and demographics. In Queensland, nearly half of all homicides over the past eight years have been linked to domestic and family violence. The recorded trend of deaths in the context of domestic and family violence is increasing.

Domestic violence is typically viewed by the public as physical violence within a relationship in the family home. The National Council to Reduce Violence Against Women and their Children found that an essential element of domestic violence is an ongoing pattern of behaviour aimed at controlling one’s partner through fear, for example, by using violent or threatening behaviour. The violent behaviour is part of a range of tactics used by the perpetrator to exercise power and control and can be both criminal and non-criminal in nature.

To effectively combat this societal disease we must have a very clear understanding of all its causes and symptoms and effects. This necessarily involves the whole community. The previous LNP government established a special task force on domestic violence chaired by the Hon. Dame Quentin Bryce. The Not now, not ever report is the culmination of the dedication and hard work of many people, but I especially want to acknowledge those extraordinarily brave women who told their personal, harrowing stories. Of the 140 recommendations, 128 pertain to government and the legislative process, and I acknowledge the fact that the current government has committed to acting on every recommendation. This bipartisanship is emblematic of the seriousness of the situation and the determination that the community has to rid our society of domestic violence.

The Communities, Disability Services and Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Committee has received many submissions and heard from witnesses. The Not now, not ever report recommended a body be established to thoroughly investigate cases of domestic violence leading to death. The task force found that there were likely gaps and failures in the current system and a formal body ought to be established to identify systemic failures or issues and make recommendations to improve systems, practices and procedures. The Coroners (Domestic and Family Violence Death Review and Advisory Board) Amendment Bill is the legislative result.

This bill provides for the establishment of a board; definition of domestic and family violence death; functions and powers of the board; the respective roles of the State Coroner, the Domestic and Family Violence Death Review Unit and the Domestic and Family Violence Death Review Board; the administration and resourcing of the board; board membership, which includes government and non-government entity representatives; governance; information access; confidentiality; and reporting. The bill empowers the board to make recommendations to both government and non-government entities and importantly enables the board to monitor the implementation of the recommendations.

The committee notes that the reforms in the bill have been fast-tracked. However, the committee reminds the department that the committees consultation processnecessarily truncatedis not a substitute for government consultation in the policy development stage of drafting a bill. The committee notes that the department has undertaken to further consult with service providers and stakeholders prior to debate on the bill.

The Criminal Law (Domestic Violence) Amendment Bill 2015 was examined in parallel. This bill amends the Criminal Code Act 1899 to introduce a definition of domestic violence offenceand to increase the maximum penalty for breaches of domestic violence orders and special witness protection for domestic violence victims. In addition, it provides notation of domestic violence offences to ensure a perpetrators criminal history clearly illustrates any pattern. However, I remain concerned over the retrospective application of proposed new section 12A(6) of the Penalties and Sentences Act. The Queensland Law Society and Bar Association of Queensland raised concerns about the courts ability to retrospectively classify prior convictions as domestic violence offences. The QLS stated that this approach was

... fraught with danger in that the context in which the earlier offence occurred may not have been explored at the time of the conviction.

The policy intent behind the increasing maximum penalties for breach of domestic violence orders is to provide greater deterrence for perpetrators of domestic violence and to reinforce the communitys view that domestic violence is not acceptable and will not be tolerated. However, during public hearings Dr Silke Meyer, the Womens Legal Service, BoysTown, and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service all cast doubt on whether increasing maximum penalties would act as a deterrent given that existing maximum penalties are rarely, if ever, handed down. I would urge the government to consider these points raised in the report and look at the potential benefit of investment in intervention that addresses underlying causes of domestic and family violence.

The committee acknowledges the work the department has undertaken since the bills introduction and its intention to undertake further consultation. This provides the department with additional time to consider the retrospective application of this legislation and to acknowledge the concerns of the Law Society and the Bar Association. Notwithstanding these concerns, these bills are a critically important step in the right direction on what I am sure will be a long and at times difficult road for our community. I commend the bills to the House. 


Speech to Parliament - Communities, Disability Services and Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Committee, Report - 15 September 2015


Speech to Parliament - Communities, Disability Services and Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Committee, Report - 15 September 2015

Mr McEACHAN (RedlandsLNP) (10.23 pm): Tonight I rise to speak to report No. 3 of the Communities, Disability Services and Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Committee. I want to thank the hardworking committee secretariat for their dedication and professionalism: our initial research director, Peter Rogers; research director, Mr Karl Holden; and principal research officer, Ms Lucy Manderson. I acknowledge my fellow committee members: chair and member for Bundaberg, Leanne Donaldson, deputy chair and member for Caloundra, Mark McArdle, and the members for Pine Rivers, Warrego and Cairns. We know that Labors take on the estimates process has resulted in less time, fewer questions and less scrutiny of how taxpayersmoney is being spent. Rather than being transparent, this government is opaque and obtuse. Queenslanders deserve better.

I was disappointed that the Minister for Communities, Women and Youth, Minister for Child Safety and Minister for Multicultural Affairs stated in her opening address that the previous government had no plan to tackle domestic and family violence and then in the very next sentence claimed credit for the LNP initiated Not now, not ever reportthe minister sanctimoniously suggesting that a wrong had been righted. Family and domestic violence prevention ought to remain above this petty point-scoring. Yes, we must hold each other to account, but we all lose when the argument descends into outright fabrication. Our local communities deserve better. Within the electorate of Redlands many people give of their time to help those within our communitythe most vulnerable, the most in need. From the Bay Island Community Centre Service, the Redlands Disability Network, WAVSS, The Cage Youth Foundation, Redlands District Special School and the Redland Community Centre to name just a few, they do critically important work and I commend them.

In undertaking the role of committee member, I gave pause to reflect on how domestic and family violence has impacted on my life. I know what it is like to see your mum hurt. I know what is like to be flogged. I have borne witness to how domestic and family violence affects other families and I know what it is like to be a child in a siege situation. A gunman roamed outside the residence for seven hours. With two very brave police officers, we huddled in the dark on the floor wondering when bullets would come through the curtained windows or when the gunman would burst through the door. The gunman called the residence to inquire as to how his estranged partner was enjoying the night. He called later to ask after the children asleep upstairs. Minutes felt like an eternity. The police, their guns drawn, went room to room upstairs as there was a separate phone line and it was feared that he had got into the house. He was captured outside just before dawn, but in many ways he has stayed with me for the subsequent 33 years. Unfortunately, these are all-too-common experiences for many Queenslanders. The issues that this committee considers deserve respect, not base politicking. Our communities deserve that same respect. 


Speech to Parliament - Appropriation (Parliament) Bill - 17 July 2015


Speech to Parliament - Appropriation (Parliament) Bill - 17 July 2015

Mr McEACHAN (RedlandsLNP) (8.30 pm): I rise to contribute to the debate on the appropriation bills 2015. When the budget was described as a traditional Labor budget, a collective shiver ran through the electorate of Redlands. Members opposite claim they have received a mandate for the measures contained in this budget, but no-one I have spoken to can recall voting for an increase in debt and no public servants have contacted me to say that they support their super and long service leave being syphoned off to pay for Labor election promises. In fact, I have had conversations with public servants who are livid with this unprecedented decision.

We have seen the result of successive Labor budgets, the resultant loss of our AAA credit rating and the accumulation of debt to the level where every man, woman and child in Redlands owes $16,000. The servicing of the interest on that debt is to the tune of about $150,000 per week, week in and week out, from the taxpayers of Redlands. We have seen the flagrant waste of taxpayersmoney, the lack of probity and the complete disregard for the indebtedness of future generations. We have all been affected by debacles such as the Health payroll scandal and the utterly useless Tugun desalination plant.

Labors decision to raid superannuation and long service leave is a light-fingered approach to fiscal management. By the same rationale, the average punter could be forgiven for thinking that if you see some money lying around and you think you need it you are quite justified in taking it. My advice to Queenslanders is that, when Labor community cabinet rolls into town, keep your wallets in hand and definitely do not display any largess, lest your load be lightened by light-fingered Labor ministers.

After their surprise win in January, Labor is in the unique position of inheriting their own debt problem. I can but imagine the look of horror on faces around the election strategy room when the realisation dawned that Labor would inherit a Labor debt without the capacity to borrow more money. You can almost hear it, cant you: Strewth, we needed the Tories to be in for at least one more term to fix up the debt. In this budget we see family car registration increase by 21⁄2 times the rate of CPI, defended by the incompetent cries of, You wouldve done it too. The LNP committed to easing cost-of-living pressures and did so.

Mr Boothman: We froze it for three years.

Mr McEACHAN: Indeed. We put a brake on skyrocketing costs that were a result of Labors waste, mismanagement and incompetence. The Minister for Main Roads even went so far as to link Labors registration increase to the lack of infrastructure plans in the Redlands. Recent correspondence from the minister advised me that my fight for funding for the Cleveland-Redland Bay Road could not be realised unless the LNP voted for Labors registration increase. I unashamedly stand by the LNPs pledge not to slug hardworking families with unfair cost-of-living increases. I also stand by our commitment to building the infrastructure Queensland and the Redlands need. I will not have Redlanders held to ransom by a government with no plans. However, I would have to acknowledge the continuation of the LNPs Get in the Game program, which is a worthy program that has an important social dividend.

Mr Rickuss: They picked that one up.

Mr Boothman: Yes, they finally learned something.

Mr McEACHAN: They did. Labor says that this budget is about jobs, but one of the most important things they could have done but failed to do for the jobs engine roomsmall businesses wanting to grow, invest and create more jobswas to increase the threshold on payroll tax. This measure was sidelined. Instead, Labor has committed to growing the Public Service by 3,000, simultaneously putting more pressure on taxpayers whilst pilfering public servantslong service leave and superannuation, and, to add insult to injury, forcing the business sector to pay more in payroll tax than it otherwise would have under the LNP.

Recently, I was at the Redland Bay Hotel. There was much speculation on Labors capacity to budget in general, with one fellow uncharitably suggesting that Labor could not organise a chook raffle. In fairness, I spoke up for Labor. Of course Labor could organise a chook raffle. First, they would start with the chook raffle organising committee. Then they would organise the chook raffle organising committee review committee. Then they would put the purchase of the chook out to tender with the proviso that the chook be purchased from a preferred supplier, the CFMAUthat is, Chooks For Me and You. Then Labor would need to borrow to commit record funding for chook raffles and, in doing so, lose the AAA chook raffle credit rating. By the time the chook was raffled, everyone in the pub would be in debt, the chook would have gone off and the nominated charity to benefit from the chook raffle would have gone broke. That is the Labor chook raffle.

I come to the most cynical aspect of the budget: the transference of taxpayer debt from Treasury to taxpayer owned government corporations. I have news for the Treasurer: Redlanders see through this fancy sleight of hand. It is akin to paying down one credit card with another. Redlanders have a right to be disappointed with this budget. There is no provision whatsoever for local road infrastructure, extra funding for local schools, extra funding for our Redland Hospital or extra funding for police. If members opposite need any evidence of that, they need only look at their own budget map. There is a complete void in Redlands. There is nothing.

Mr Brown: Straddie.

Mr McEACHAN: For the benefit of those opposite, Stradbroke Island is in the Cleveland electorate. For the benefit of the members opposite, the Redlands electorate encompasses suburbs such as Sheldon, Mount Cotton, Redland Bay, Victoria Point, Thornlands, Coochiemudlo Island, Lamb Island, Karragarra Island, Russell Island, Macleay Island and, last but not least, Cornubia and Carbrook in the Logan City Council area. North Stradbroke Island is in Cleveland. What does Redlands get from Labor? Nothing!

Mr Brown: Ambulance station.

Mr McEACHAN: That was an LNP commitment. I thank the member for Capalaba for his input. The ambulance station on Russell Island was an LNP commitment. The former LNP government recognised the needs of Redlanders and committed funding to fix the maintenance backlog in our schools, put more police on the beat, provide more beds and nurses in Redland Hospital and commit to funding upgrades of Cleveland-Redland Bay Road. This Labor budget spends big on rhetoric, but does nothing for the people of Redlands or, indeed, the people of Queensland as a whole. It is a light-fingered cynical Labor budget from a political party that is bankrupt of ideas and takes more than it gives. 


Speech to Parliament - Recognise Redlands and Coast Guard - 5 June 2015


Speech to Parliament - Recognise Redlands and Coast Guard - 5 June 2015

Mr McEACHAN (Redlands—LNP) (12.19 am): Tonight I rise to speak about the wonderful people in the electorate of Redlands. In my maiden speech to this House I spoke of the hardworking people of the Redlands—those who volunteer in the many community groups and volunteer organisations and those many talented people achieving outstanding results in their chosen field of endeavour. That is why I have established the Recognise Redlands sponsorship program.

Since becoming the member for Redlands I have been privileged to witness the outstanding efforts and achievements by many of my constituents making a difference in our community. Recognise Redlands, whilst modest, seeks to support these people along with those who achieve in their academic and sporting efforts. As a parent, I understand the financial pressures often placed on parents seeking to support their children in their studies or perhaps in becoming talented young sports men and women. Recognise Redlands will provide sponsorships for Redlanders to assist them in achieving further in their chosen field, whether it be a year 12 student who needs a little extra assistance to purchase textbooks or a young sportsperson who needs sponsorship to help them with entry fees to a regional sporting competition. It might be a volunteer in our community who deserves special recognition for their hard work—someone like Ada, who has been working at the Victoria Point Meals on Wheels for over 40 years, giving up her time. I want to encourage all Redlanders to nominate those hardworking people. Nominations can be made through my website or directly through my electorate office.

It has been a busy few months for me since I was honoured to be elected as the member for Redlands. I have been out and about in my community, meeting with constituents and community groups. I have been visiting schools, doorknocking, meeting with small business people and attending community events. I want to acknowledge a community event that I attended on Sunday, and that was at the Redland Bay Coast Guard. I was privileged to be there for the commissioning of its new vessel. I commend Flotilla Commander Warren Francis, Deputy Flotilla Commander Jason Boon, SES Controller Peter Gould and State President of Volunteer Marine Rescue Keith Williams for the fantastic work that they and their teams do, giving of their time to provide a volunteer service that rescues boaties in distress, helps errant navigators and saves lives in life-threatening situations. Located at Weinam Creek, they work hand in hand with Volunteer Marine Rescue at Victoria Point. It is fantastic to see both these vital groups working for the benefit of those who enjoy the bay. I commend their work to the House.



Speech to Parliament - Road Infrastructure - 21 May 2015


Speech to Parliament - Road Infrastructure - 21 May 2015

Mr McEACHAN (Redlands—LNP) (6.49 pm): I rise tonight to talk about one of the key issues facing the people of the Redlands electorate and that is traffic congestion. The Redlands electorate is accessible only by road and, as such, traffic congestion is one of the biggest local issues in my community. Fighting for investment in improving our road network was an important part of my election campaign. I am pleased to report to the House that critical works are currently underway at the intersection of Mount Cotton Road and Double Jump Road. This intersection has long been a dangerous part of the road network. The resultant upgrade will provide a safer road environment for locals and tourists alike.

During the recent election campaign I fought for funding for the upgrade to dual lanes of the Cleveland-Redland Bay Road from Magnolia Parade south to Double Jump Road. Indeed, if re-elected, an LNP government committed to this upgrade. This upgrade is vital, with Cleveland-Redland Bay Road congested at peak times, affecting mums and dads ferrying their kids to school, islanders heading to the mainland for their weekly shop and those 70 per cent of people who commute outside the electorate for work.

As we are all acutely aware, we now have a Labor government, which made no such commitment to reducing traffic congestion on these vital local roads. Immediately following the change of government I undertook to highlight the need for road investment in the Redlands electorate. On 27 February I wrote to the Minister for Main Roads urging the LNP commitment to be matched by Labor. I table that correspondence.

Tabled paper: Letter, dated, 27 February 2015, from the member for Redlands, Mr Matt McEachan MP, to the Minister for Main Roads, Road Safety and Ports and Minister for Energy and Water Supply, Hon. Mark Bailey, regarding the Cleveland Redland Bay Road [454].

Thereafter, on 31 March I contacted the minister, again urging him to meet with me while he was in the electorate and enjoying the hospitality of the residents of Coochiemudlo Island. Again, there was not a peep from the minister. To date, nearly three months later, what we have heard from Labor is deafening silence. It is disappointing.

Tabled paper: Email, dated 31 March 2015, from the member for Redlands, Mr Matt McEachan MP, to the Minister for Main Roads, Road Safety and Ports and Minister for Energy and Water Supply, Hon. Mark Bailey, requesting a meeting regarding the Cleveland Redland Bay Road [455].

I remain available to meet with the minister at any time to discuss the road infrastructure needs of Redlands. The people of Redlands need and deserve this upgrade. I again urge the Labor government to commit to the upgrade of Cleveland-Redland Bay Road. 


Speech to Parliament - Maiden Speech - 6 May 2015


Speech to Parliament - Maiden Speech - 6 May 2015


 Mr McEACHAN (Redlands—LNP) (4.46 pm): Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker. Congratulations on your ascension to the role. It is a great honour and privilege to be here in this place. The people of Redlands have put their faith in me and the LNP, and it is with deep respect that I undertake this responsibility as their representative in the 55th Parliament of Queensland. When my great-great-grandfather, Thomas Kirk, drove the first steam engine on the brand-new Cleveland line from Brisbane to Redlands on 1 November 1889 he could never have known that his descendants would still be living in the Redlands 126 years later. Thomas Kirk was reported to be passionately political and was praised by his contemporaries for not forcing the disembarkation of those at variance with his own views at some dark remote location between Brisbane and Cleveland—probably Birkdale, still dark and remote by some accounts; no offence to the member for Cleveland.  

The political passion has burned through the generations to reside in me. Politics to me is about relationships—relationships built on trust, not necessarily in agreeance but acknowledging differences if they exist and then working together for the betterment of our community. Redlands is populated by a great many people who work together for the betterment of the community. In fact, Redlands has been populated for at least 23,000 years. I acknowledge the Quandamooka, the first peoples of the Redlands, the Noonuccal, Gorenpul and Koobenpul elders past and present.

 The electorate of Redlands encompasses bush, farmland, suburbs, industry, coastal fringe and Moreton Bay islands. It is rich in natural beauty—from its very own extinct volcano, Mount Cotton, which gave us the vibrant fertile soil from which we draw our name, to Moreton Bay, which has a profusion of marine life, internationally important wetlands and is our marine playground. Indeed, I, like thousands of Redlanders, can be found on the water fishing, prawning, crabbing or just paddling around the mangroves of Eprapah Creek. The natural heritage we have inherited we must manage and care for. This is one of the challenges that face us now. People want to move to the Redlands and enjoy the lifestyle and location, and that puts pressure on infrastructure, services and the environment. Managing growth is never easy and there are some things we need to do. Nearly 70 per cent of working Redlanders travel outside the electorate to go to work. This puts immense pressure on our arterial roads. As a consequence, road infrastructure needs to be upgraded including Cleveland-Redland Bay Road and Mount Cotton Road.

 I campaigned on this issue during the election. Redlands has a population of 50,000 people and two single lane roads for access. I committed to upgrading Cleveland-Redland Bay Road if an LNP government were elected, and I urge the Labor government to address this infrastructure need.

 The island communities of Coochiemudlo, Macleay, Lamb, Karragarra and Russell have infrastructure needs also, with the Victoria Point and particularly Weinam Creek ferry terminal car parks brimming to overflowing every day. I am working closely with Mayor Karen Williams to address this issue.

Redlands has the history, people, natural and built environment to draw visitors, and this presents an opportunity for us to build the tourism industry. With investment, certainty and cooperation between governments and local business, we can create local jobs and opportunities and make our home an even better place to live. Redlands has a unique place in Queensland's aviation history. For the benefit of those in the House, Redland Bay was Queensland's only international airport from the 1950s to 1973.

Mr Hart: Seriously?

Mr McEACHAN: Seriously. The Redland Bay Hotel doubled as the Qantas lounge. My cousin vividly recalls the thunderous roar of the Sunderland flying boats coming in to land at about 11.30 in the night, refuelling and taking off for Vanuatu on their five-day journey to London.

Redlands has wonderful schools and has earned a reputation for excellence in education in both private and state. I was delighted with the program of maintenance embarked upon by the previous government that has enabled our schools to repair and build after a long period of neglect. I will continue to work hard in fighting for the resources and support Redlands students need. 

Similarly, Redlands Hospital staff have flourished in the last three years, earning their place as one of the top performers in their class in Australasia, a beacon of excellence and an example of what can be achieved when you have dedicated professionals with the mandate and budget to manage the provision of health services. As with schools, I will continue to fight for the resources our Redlands Hospital staff require to keep delivering world-class health care.

It was a different story years ago. It was in the Redlands Hospital that I became determined to try and create a better future for my daughter through politics. I carried her into Redlands Hospital with a broken leg. There were no emergency beds available, and as the ink was drying on a contract with IBM that would cost Queenslanders $1.2 billion, for nearly two hours I held my little girl in my arms with her leg broken just below the knee. I knew that the abject failure to provide policy leadership and resources and a political attitude of indifference had led directly to this situation. I made a silent promise to my daughter to do whatever I could to fix it. Shortly after my preselection, it was an honour to announce 10 short-stay beds with friends and colleagues Steve Davies and Mark Robinson.

I grew up in an environment where political views were encouraged, especially if they were left-wing views. My dad, born in the Gorbals of World War II Glasgow and schooled in the shipyards of the Clyde, is about as union as you can get. In fact, workers' rights and industrial relations has been an enduring passion throughout his life. My mum too is left wing on social justice and was a workplace union representative. So in a political sense I am the black sheep of the family, the one that got away from Jackie Howe. From my dad, I learned that you hold to your beliefs, I learned a great reverence for history and I learned to love the Celtic team. From mum I have learned about courage, humour and integrity.

Mum and dad separated when I was eight. Mum, my sister and I moved to Queensland, leaving dad in Western Australia. It was a tough time for the three of us, and it is fortuitous that I am now on a committee that is looking at domestic and family violence. For a number of years after we moved back to Queensland, mum suffered physical and mental abuse at the hands of her new partner, and I was witness to it. The effects of this were far reaching and long term, but with grim determination she got us out of there.

We moved to a gritty one-bedroom shack that my grandfather built in a tiny fishing village. Mum thought she was doing the wrong thing by us and was sick with worry, but my sister and I knew this shack was healing us. It was a place of refuge. It was a place that we could be a family. It was much more than a shack, it was our home. For mum, with limited means, to have the courage to get herself and us out of an abusive life, she is to be admired. I love you, mum.

As a child, my work experience affirmed reward for effort. I started my first job, a paper run, at age 10. I sold home-grown oranges to the local corner store, thrashed sugar cane and washed dishes. I did a tucker trip on a scallop trawler. Later I went to university and studied ecosystems and cultural anthropology. After two years I deferred and went to the Northern Territory. Over the two years there I became a qualified motorcycle riding instructor and licensing officer with the Department of Transport and Works. Back in Redlands I became a business owner, teaching people to ride. Riding motorcycles and sharing the unmitigated joy of riding is an enduring passion of mine. In a profound way, the reward for effort was even more pronounced—for the better you teach, the less likely that people will get hurt and the more they enjoy their riding.

Redlanders are hard workers. They are aspirational, not only in their personal and family life but also for the community as a whole. Redlanders are a parochial lot and fiercely proud of their local area. We support each other and there is an abundance of community groups, service groups, sporting clubs and volunteer organisations dedicated to Redlanders. There is a strong sense of community in Redlands, a social conscience.

Left-wing philosophy does not have proprietary rights over the social conscience. Often left-wing philosophy is manifest in a well-meaning, paternalistic, nanny state outlook. At worst, it is a myopic, ideological view that blinds true believers to the rights and aspirations of individuals, small business and those that disagree. In doing so, the rights of those less fortunate in our society are elevated above others to the point that a disparity is imposed.

Likewise, left-wing collectivism has a propensity to move past a helping hand to welfarism. Welfare without reciprocal responsibility quickly becomes a pedestal too daunting to climb down from, creating dependence, entitlement and negative stigma. Welfarism is not bound by social standing, ethnicity or context. It is anathema to the human spirit, corrosive to social cohesion. This is one of the fundamental reasons I have a differing political view. The collective thinking that takes us down this road is fraught. Noel Pearson wrote— Collectives cannot motivate action to improve life in the way that individual choice can: this is the great contribution of liberal thought to the understanding of human behaviour.

I believe that as LNP members we hold to a simple and powerful political philosophy—one that holds dear the rights of the individual, it frames our pursuit of fairness, egalitarianism and the common good. Nor do we seek an enemy to justify our political world view. We have no need of political foes when our efforts are in concert for the good of all Queenslanders.

 The LNP combines head and heart in our effort to create the best future for all Queenslanders. It takes political courage to hold to a position which is for the greater good but may be politically unpopular. It is to the detriment of our society to have politicians who make safe political decisions that just pull at the heartstrings at the expense of good governance.

 I want to acknowledge Campbell Newman, whom I worked with for four years. His passion and determination in leading the LNP team saw improvements in law and order, health and education to name a few. His legacy is one of action and dedication to his fellow Queenslanders. Campbell has the courage of his convictions and it was an honour working with him.

 It is an even greater honour to serve the people of Redlands and I acknowledge those who have served the Redlands electorate before me—Edgar Baldwin, the indomitable Paul Clauson, Darryl Briskey, John Budd, John Hegarty, John English, my predecessor Peter Dowling, and last but not least John Goleby, survived by Betty Goleby, and in his honour I wear his tie today.

I have wonderful staff in Katie, Sam and Amy who are dedicated to helping me serve the local community. It was only a matter of weeks from my preselection until the election was called. I will always owe a debt of gratitude to the people who gave up their time, expertise and sound advice during the campaign.

Indeed, this time was given over the Christmas-New Year break, even meeting on Christmas Eve. I thank the honourable Bob Harper, legendary political warhorse, whose first campaign was back in the mists of time—back in 1969 if I recall correctly. I thank Craig Luxton, who threw himself into the job with infectious enthusiasm and a booming laugh; Scott Lewis, who worked like a drover's dog and kept nipping at my heels to keep going; federal member Andrew Laming, the last word in grassroots campaigning; Dennis Head, whose mastery behind the Nikon knows no bounds, and his better half, Susan, who was a steady hand in everything that happened; Betty Goleby, who charmed voters on a daily basis; Dot Cheney, who organised 200 volunteers on election day with military precision; Darryl, who kept the books balanced; Adrienne Verco—and who she does not know is not worth knowing—and Uday, fellow road warrior. I also say thank you to Don, Sandy, Stephanie, Esther, Col and Kay, Whyn and Jennie, John and Kay, Barry and Beverley, Trevor and Myrtle, Hannah, my old mate Shane Goodwin, who drove non-stop from West Wyalong to hand out, and all the volunteers. I would like to acknowledge and thank the LNP headquarters team, Bruce McIver, Brad Henderson and Mark Highfield; and my former colleagues, Mitch Redford, Katie, Aaron, Matthew, Jamie, Tristan, Kylie and Heidi. They are a wonderful team.

Finally, I would like to thank my mum, who worked her heart out, and my daughter, Indi, for without their unconditional support and love none of this getting elected business would have happened. For however long I am their local member, I commit to serving the people of Redlands by listening, by being accessible and by working for the betterment of the Redlands community.

 It may come as a surprise to some that I am a keen amateur poet, having subjected friends, family and staff to my musings. In conclusion, this brings me to some advice from Shakespeare that is pertinent to all of us here as we argue and debate for the communities we love—

Let me not to the marriage of true minds

Admit impediments. Love is not love

Which alters when it alteration finds,

Or bends with the remover to remove:

O no; it is an ever-fixed mark,

That looks on tempests, and is never shaken;

It is the star to every wandering bark,

Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.

Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks

Within his bending sickle's compass come;

Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,

But bears it out even to the edge of doom.

If this be error and upon me proved,

I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

 Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER (Ms Grace): Congratulations, member for Redlands.


TO WATCH THE SPEECH - Click on the movie camera symbol next to the speech -  http://www.parliament.qld.gov.au/documents/hansard/2015/2015_05_06_DAILY.pdf