Beattie rushes to reassure business

July 8, 1998

By Bill Mason

BRISBANE — Within 24 hours of being sworn in as the new Queensland premier, Labor leader Peter Beattie met with Brisbane's business and industry leaders to confirm the new government was "ready for business".

At the meeting on June 30, Beattie told the business delegation he planned to meet with them regularly. "The top priority is jobs and job security, and to do that you have to have industry as partners", he said.

The minority ALP government has 44 seats in the new parliament. The Nationals have 23, the Liberals nine, One Nation 11, and there are two independents. Sunshine Coast independent Peter Wellington pledged to guarantee Labor support in confidence motions, and to pass supply bills, in the interests of "political stability".

"The end of the National-Liberal government, and the failure of outgoing premier Rob Borbidge to cobble together a Nat-Lib-One Nation alliance regime, is a blow to the racist forces in this state", Graham Matthews, Democratic Socialist candidate for the federal seat of Brisbane, said on July 3.

"But Beattie's previous offer to cooperate with Prime Minister Howard's racist 10-point plan, and his refusal to clearly condemn the Harradine-Howard 'compromise' on Wik, shows that the anti-racist movement will need to mobilise more strongly than ever to defend native title rights under the new Labor government", Matthews said.

Matthews says that Beattie's pledge to be "ready for business" indicates the conservative direction the new government will take on key economic and industrial issues. "While the new premier has promised to be 'obsessive' about creating jobs, there is little in the ALP campaign platform to give confidence that large-scale job creation is being planned", he said.

The Democratic Socialists have launched their own "10-point plan" aimed at providing a real opposition to the pro-business major parties:

1. Support native title unconditionally. Refuse to cooperate with the Howard government's 10-point plan for extinguishment. Full compensation to Aboriginal people dispossessed of their land by racist laws.

2. Return the Suncorp-Metway bank to state ownership, under a community-elected board of management. End all privatisation and corporatisation of state-owned assets.

3. Repeal the anti-union Queensland Workplace Relations Act, and legislate to defend the union movement's right to strike and organise. Abolish the state's industrial spy organisation, the Employment Advocate.

4. Repeal Queensland's repressive anti-abortion laws.

5. Save Hinchinbrook! Remove all state permits for Keith Williams' destructive resort development. Fully protect World Heritage values around Queensland. No to uranium mining!

6. Introduce a large-scale program of socially useful public works to create thousands of new jobs. Expand, not cut, funding to public health, education, housing and social welfare.

7. End the "law and order" auction. Halt the prison expansion program, while implementing a comprehensive prisoner rehabilitation program to offer young offenders alternatives to prison.

8. Repeal laws relating to "victimless crimes" — in particular the ban on marijuana and the laws relating to prostitution, as recommended by the Criminal Justice Commission.

9. Implement a comprehensive plan to integrate public transport in Queensland; in particular to coordinate and expand the rail and bus system in Brisbane and south-east Queensland, as an alternative to new motorways.

10. Change the state taxation system to target big business and the wealthy, while cutting taxes and charges which largely affect working people and the poor.

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