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Improving Transparency: Appropriation (Parliament) Bill

I rise to speak to the Community Support and Services Committee report on budget estimates for this year. The committees, guided by excellent secretariat staff, do an incredibly important job but, from all the hearings that the member for Maiwar and I attended, this was one of the most dispiriting.

With portfolios like housing, disability services, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander partnerships, children, youth justice and multicultural affairs, this hearing on the final day of estimates covered some vital ground but I have to say this yearly window into the workings of the government did not reveal a heartening picture.

The government estimates process is a debacle. We see combative chairing and effort by committee members to minimise scrutiny on the government as much as possible. We see ministers who ensure that no question is answered properly. As for the Dorothy Dixers, the reality is that a huge amount of time in hearings is taken up by government backbenchers asking scripted, planted questions of the government. It is cringe-worthy and embarrassing.

Cut Off

Deputy Speaker: 
The time allocated for the debate has expired.

Remainder of Amy's speech which was cut short:
The failure to run estimates hearings properly shows that this government has zero interest in accountability, transparency, or being a better government. Estimates could be a useful feature of how Queensland parliament works, with some simple tweaks. The way this government runs estimates, it is not.

This hearing opened with less than two hours for the consideration of the housing portfolio. We are in the midst of a housing crisis and this year’s estimates hearings confirmed for me that this government does not care. I’d asked the Premier directly, on the first day of estimates, whether the government had given any consideration to rent caps or tougher Airbnb regulation, in light of the Queensland Audit Office’s statements that the Olympics would further pressure our housing market. The Premier genuinely acted like she hadn’t heard of these proposals before. The Premier is so deeply out of touch with what everyday Queenslanders are going through.

I asked the Minister about the findings from the Queensland Audit Office that showed that Queensland has no plan for meeting demand for social housing. Every week, we hear of Queenslanders sleeping in cars and tents, becoming homeless or being priced out of their neighbourhoods as rents soar. And I can genuinely say I’ve never had an indication the government cares about this. Wellcamp sits empty after enormous amounts of money was sunk into it, the Gabba is going to be bulldozed and rebuilt more shiny, and the government doesn’t have a plan to house Queenslanders.

The rest of the day was pretty disheartening too. In the wake of ongoing reports of the failures in the taxi industry, I asked the Minister for Disability Services what the Department is doing to ensure people with disabilities have access to good transport. I got absolutely nothing, and I was told this is an issue for the Department of Transport. 

Despite this being a major issue for Queenslaners with disabilities, who deserve safe, timely transport, neither the Department of Transport or the Department of Disability Services have plans to bolster taxi transport. 

I also asked about:

  • Disproportionately high numbers of school disciplinary absences among students with disabilities.
  • What the Department is doing to ensure athletes’ accommodation for the 2032 paralympics becomes accessible public housing for people with disability after the games.
  • And, the number of people on the social housing register who have disabilities.

The Minister couldn’t give me an answer to any of these questions. Sessions like that underline just how disconnected this government is from everyday Queenslanders, and particularly Queenslanders with disabilities. Maybe this is a novel idea, but I think the Department for Disability Services should be able to work on the key issues for disabled people in Queensland. And I think that Queensland government Ministers should be more accountable to the community members who expect transparent, accountable government.

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