11 March 2010

Editorial - Bligh Government on a winner (December 2009)

In the lead up to the 2007 Federal election, our Branch undertook an exercise in setting goals for the in-coming Rudd Government.

At a recent meeting, we gave judgement on progress against the goals of reconciliation (a pass with distinction for the apology), fairer IR (a bare pass for canning WorkChoices but failing on the ABCC), and so on.

This got me wondering: what would we have demanded of the Bligh Labor Government, if we had done a similar exercise a year ago, and measured against it now.

I believe that we would have demanded that more be done to fix the State's health system. I think we would have demanded even greater gains in education. As always, the Branch would use the language of 'intergenerational responsibility' to argue for economic and social security for future Queenslanders.
We would have insisted the Government put jobs and employment ahead of arbitrary economic measures and sectional interests, in the face of the GFC. Recognising that the CPRS is a national initiative, we nonetheless would have demanded that the State Labor Government do something big to re-balance Queensland's reliance on coal and other fossil fuels.

On those measures, how does the Government stack up?
Health: the Bligh Government is building, re-building or extending 47 hospitals across the State. In this State, we are adding more than half the extra hospital beds needed for all of Australia in the coming 5 years. And we are hiring 2500 doctors, nurses and health professionals in this term of Government alone. We now have Australia's best surgery waiting list performance.
Education: having already introduced Prep when she was Education Minister, Anna Bligh is now delivering universal access to another year of early childhood education, kindy. Qld students' literacy and numeracy performance is finally climbing after years of stubborn under-performance.
Jobs: The Bligh Government will deliver 100,000 new jobs in this term of government. Many of them are jobs in constructing our State's future asset base through our record infrastructure spend. Despite the sale of some existing assets, we are building more asset value as a result of this year's 'jobs, not cuts' election commitments than we are selling. And we are creating far more jobs in the process.
Environment: we are rolling out the nation's largest State solar energy initiative, providing cut price solar hot water systems to households, saving consumers money and reducing our carbon footprint.

As the asset sales debate shows, the Government isn't going to make popular decisions every time. But on balance, Anna Bligh's Government is overwhelmingly on a winner and overwhelmingly true to the platform we expected before her election. A generation of working class kids will be smarter and better prepared because Anna Bligh won the last election. Our hospitals will be better funded, better run and better equipped because of Labor. And that's worthy of congratulations.

Cameron Crowther is the President of the Annerley Branch, President of the Yeerongpilly SEC and a Moreton delegate to the State Conference of the Queensland Branch of the ALP.
(Originally published December 2009)

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