On Tuesday, 14 November 2023, Labor and the LNP teamed up to find me in contempt of Parliament and ban me from Parliament for a day (Wednesday, 15 November 2023) because I dared stand up to the big banks and the gas corporations.
Here is an overview of what happened, why I was found in contempt, and why I won’t apologise for fighting for Queenslanders.
I was elected to fight tooth and nail for everyday Queenslanders - to fight tooth and nail for you - and that’s exactly what I’ve done. I was found in contempt for tabling a series of bills:
🌬️A bill to tax gas companies to give every Queenslander $500 before Christmas
💸A bill to tax the big banks to boost funding for healthcare
🏠A bill to make investors pay up if they leave homes empty
These Bills would genuinely improve the lives of Queenslanders, and put a little less money in the pockets of the gas CEOs, the property developers and the big banks and a little more for everyday people. I was voted in to fight for Queenslanders and push ideas to help everyday people; tabling bills is one tool I have to do this.
But because of these Bills, the ethics committee recommended that I be found in contempt and apologise or be banned from parliament for a day, and that’s what Labor and the LNP decided to do. I won’t apologise for fighting for Queenslanders - so I spent Wednesday out on the ground in the community.
What was the justification for finding me in contempt of parliament?
The technical justification for the contempt finding is that Labor and the LNP maintain that only the government can put forward legislation that raises revenue.
The Greens disagree - we got legal advice (see page 49 in the Ethics Committee report), including advice from an expert involved in drafting the Queensland Constitution, stating that it is not correct to say that non-government members can’t put forward revenue bills. This advice states "non-government bills proposing taxation measures are currently in order in the Queensland legilsative assmembly". The rules Labor and the LNP point to also aren't written down in the formal rules that guide Parliament - there is nothing in the standing orders or the Queensland Constitution that says that private members can’t table bills like these. I firmly believed then and now that the Greens are well within our parliamentary rights to table these bills.
I was first referred to the Parliament Ethics Committee for this issue in December 2022. Over the past 12 months, the Parliament Ethics Committee has been reviewing the case, and I've been asked to make a number of submissions justifying my actions. You can see the Ethics Committee report here.
But the real issue here is that Labor and the LNP do not want anyone to stand up against the big banks, wealthy property investors, and multinational fossil fuel companies. Once again, the major parties are running a protection racket for the wealthy few while we’re in the middle of a housing crisis, our hospitals are underfunded, and rents are skyrocketing. Last year, gas companies in Australia made almost $40 billion in profits from soaring energy prices and the war in Ukraine, and Queenslanders got next to nothing. Labor and the LNP kowtow to their corporate backers and continue to refuse to stand up for everyday people.
Our broken political system penalises anyone who dares to stand up to the big corporations and genuinely fight for everyday Queenslanders.
The Greens and I will never stop fighting for Queenslanders. We are here to fight for a better Queensland and stand up for and alongside you. Higher gas royalties could have given Queenslanders a much-needed boost to pay school fees, to get their car serviced or finally go to the dentist. The Empty Homes levy could have brought thousands of homes back into the rental market when renters need them most. The Big Bank Levy would have put a billion dollars every year into hospitals.
My Greens colleague Michael Berkman was also found in contempt of parliament (but not suspended from Parliament) because he refused to withdraw comments made during the debate on the Government's bill to criminalise breach of bail for children, saying that the government were proudly locking up more children. You can read Michael’s reflections here.
Why didn’t I apologise?
I was told to apologise for tabling these three bills, and if I failed to do that, I would be suspended from Parliament for a day. I did not take this decision lightly - no MP has been suspended from Parliament for a decade.
But I maintain that I was well within the rules to table these bills, and I came to the conclusion that I could not genuinely apologise for putting forward bills that would help Queenslanders.
I’m not going to apologise for trying to make multinational gas corporations and the big banks fund cost-of-living relief for Queenslanders. I was elected to fight tooth and nail for everyday Queenslanders, and that’s exactly what I’ve done.
What did I do on my day out of Parliament?
I was banned from Parliament for Wednesday, so I was able to spend the day speaking with locals and providing direct support to people on the ground!
I started the day hosting a free breakfast on Boundary Street and was able to chat with local residents on the way to work and school. Later, Michael Berkman and I did a media conference outside Parliament before I briefly joined the thousands of workers at a CFMEU rally calling for an end to workplace deaths.
It was an honour to help out at the Community Friends grocery giveaway in Bunyapa Park in the afternoon. Community Friends do invaluable work providing food and essential items to hundreds of people from across our city who have been let down by governments and politicians.
And lastly, a team of Greens volunteers and I put on a free community BBQ at Musgrave Park in the evening. I ended the day chatting with everyday residents and locals, including the growing group of rough sleepers who are facing the worst of Labor’s housing crisis.
Thanks to everyone who stopped for a chat on Wednesday or came by from breakfast and the BBQ. You can read my wrap-up of the day here.
Did I miss anything important in Parliament?
There was one Bill debated and passed on Wednesday, the Local Government (Councillor Conduct) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2023, that made changes to the councillor conduct complaints systems. The Greens supported this Bill, and my colleague Michael Berkman, the MP for Maiwar, who has the local government portfolio, spoke in the debate. Because all parties were supporting this bill, it didn’t go to a formal vote, and it was passed without a division in the evening.
When was I allowed back into Parliament?
I was back in Parliament the following day, Thursday 16 November! And my first action was asking the Treasurer during Question Time about why he won’t increase gas royalties so we can fund the vital services Queenslanders need for a good life (his response was that gas royalties are fine as they are).