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Speech on Queensland Labor's conservative government

On Wednesday 1 December 2021 I gave a speech on why Queensland Labor's is running such a conservative government, and how much more we can achieve when they share power with the Greens. 

You can read the full speech below, or in the official Queensland Parliament Record of Proceedings (Hansard).

I want to start with a question. Why is Queensland Labor, a party of self-described progressives, running one of the most conservative governments in the country? It is a question playing on my mind more and more. I will give members a few examples. Like my colleague the member for South Brisbane pointed out this morning, the Liberal National New South Wales government has introduced an affirmative model of consent and South Australia Labor has committed to do the same. This government can only say they are open to considering it after just this year they actively voted to exclude an affirmative model, drafted by sexual assault legal advocates.

Then there were their youth justice reforms, to keep kids as young as 10 locked up and slap 16-year-old kids with GPS monitors. This gutter politics inspired the NT to introduce their own ‘crackdown’, which led this week to the first 10-year-old child being detained at Don Dale since 2017. Even worse, they appear to be proud to lead this charge.

When it comes to climate justice, they are, to quote a recent ABC article, ‘in lock step’ with the federal coalition on emissions reduction, matching their 2030 and 2050 targets almost exactly. Of the states with an emissions reduction target, theirs is the worst—just a 30 per cent cut by 2030. Other states—even the Liberals in New South Wales—have targets between 45 per cent and 75 per cent.

They will complain that there is no money to fund a rapid transition away from coal. Yet they refuse to make big corporations pay a little more tax to support workers and communities through that transition. Instead of introducing a developer tax, like their colleagues in Victoria and the ACT, Queensland Labor lets developers make off with billions in windfall rezoning profits. While the SA Labor government proposed a state based bank levy in 2017, we have just seen now that Queensland Labor will not even allow it up for debate.

I do not know why Queensland Labor is lagging behind in all of these instances. Maybe they still buy into the myth that Queenslanders are conservative by nature, despite the state’s strong radical left history. I do know that when Labor works with the Greens we can achieve some pretty great things—like in the federal parliament in 2010, when we put dental into Medicare for kids and legislated a strong carbon price which was the strongest climate change legislation in the world at that point courtesy of the Greens acting with the Gillard government; and like in the ACT, where a Labor-Greens government has achieved 100 per cent renewables and a 45 per cent emissions cut and is now raising the age of criminal responsibility to 14 years old.

Mr Bailey interjected.

Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER (Ms Lui): Member for Miller, cease your interjections.

Mr BERKMAN: It is sad watching Labor drag us backwards here in Queensland, but these other wins give me hope because one day soon the Greens will hold the balance of power in this place, as we may well in the federal parliament next year. When we do, maybe Labor can stop trying to out-LNP the LNP and work with us to tackle climate change and improve ordinary people’s lives.

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