Queensland debates the 'People’s Bill'

Issue 

The People's Common Rights and Provisions Bill 2014 was debated in a mock parliamentary sitting in Brisbane on October 28. Community group Lock the Gate planned to hold the event inside Parliament House. But Speaker Fiona Simpson said the event was an affront to the dignity of parliament and would not allow it.

The Bill was organised by activists to protest about the state of politics in Queensland and address issues such as a lack of democracy, unrestricted mining and the loss of clean air, water and agricultural land.

Environmental rights lawyer and University of Queensland academic Dr Chris McGrath acted as Speaker.

Speakers in support of the Bill included Drew Hutton and other Lock the Gate activists, who argued the Bill would set a new agenda for Queensland. They said the Liberal National Party government, and Labor before it, legislated in the interests of the mining industry, trampling on civil liberties, threatening food sovereignty, safe water, health, and creating environmental destruction in the process.

The myth that mining is key to the Qld economy, perpetrated by premier Campbell Newman and former premier Anna Bligh was exposed. The mining industry employs 1.5% of the workforce and contributes 5% of state revenue. Royalties are not taxes, but a one-off payment for the right to exploit the state’s resources. In many cases, such as in the Galilee basin, these are waived.

Mining companies account for 18% of revenue from company taxes. But some, like Glencoe, have paid 0% company tax in the past three years.

Speakers against the Bill included an “unwelcome guest, Tony Abbott”, “Campbell Newman” and other “LNP ministers”. These speakers used impersonation and puppetry to get their points across.

Not surprisingly, the Bill was voted on in the affirmative on the carriage of voices. The debate will continue at The Old Museum on November 29.

Like the article? Subscribe to Green Left now! You can also like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

If you like our work, become a supporter

Green Left is a vital social-change project and aims to make all content available online, without paywalls. With no corporate sponsors or advertising, we rely on support and donations from readers like you.

For just $5 per month get the Green Left digital edition in your inbox each week. For $10 per month get the above and the print edition delivered to your door. You can also add a donation to your support by choosing the solidarity option of $20 per month.

Freecall now on 1800 634 206 or follow the support link below to make a secure supporter payment or donation online.