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.