The Queensland Parliament will sit for its final session of the year next week (29 November – 1 December). All Governments, irrespective of political colour, prefer to end the Parliamentary year on a high note. However, at the moment, the final Parliamentary sitting week is looking somewhat lacklustre. According to the published Notice Paper, it seems the Animal Care and Protection Bill and the Land and Other Legislation Amendment Bill are the Government’s highest legislative priorities to close out the year. That’s not to say these bills aren’t important, or that the Parliamentary agenda won’t change (it very often does). However, if this is how the Palaszczuk Government plans to introduce the last sitting week of year, they are giving David Crisafulli an early Christmas present.
The problem for the Government is the multitude of difficult issues in the public domain for which it has ultimate responsibility.
The Queensland Housing Summit earlier this month aimed at finding solutions for the State’s housing crisis, but these solutions take time, and the members of Parliament will, quite rightly, demand answers about what the Government is doing to address new revelations of children being removed from loving parents because they cannot find suitable housing.
While Health Minister Yvette D’Ath’s recent sacking of the Mackay Hospital and Health Services (HHS) Board sent a strong statement about the Government’s expectation for culture change within the HHS network, the sheer number of stories being shared about long waits and adverse health outcomes will continue to dominate news columns. The Opposition know this, and you can be sure they will have more tragic stories ready to draw to the Government’s attention next week.
And then there is the A Call For Change Report delivered by the Commission of Inquiry into Queensland Police Service Responses to domestic and family violence. Again, we can expect the Parliament to demand answers about how the Government will ensure the report’s recommendations are effectively implemented, measured, and monitored.
The lesson in this is simple: when the legislative agenda is weak, reporting of a Parliament’s activity is dominated by the Opposition. The result is news reporting that leaves the public with a final bad impression of their Government as the year ends.
To be fair, after seven years, it is understandable that some in Government now approach Parliament as something to “get through” rather than an opportunity to promote and progress its agenda. However the Palaszczuk Government would do well to spend the Christmas/ New Year parliamentary recess refreshing its Parliamentary business strategy.