Since Campbell Newman’s succession as Premier of Queensland, a series of cost-cutting measures have been evident across the state, which Unions and community services say will have widespread effects on the Queensland community.
The Newman government’s cuts and reductions to jobs and services have enraged many Unions and community organisations who say that these measures could be life threatening for members of the Queensland population.
These cuts have been in an effort to relieve Queensland of the $62 billion debt that the Newman government inherited when taking power in March.
The LNP state government has announced 14,000 redundancies in the public sector and a partial or complete defunding to community services in areas like legal aid, health services, arts and education.
The ambulance officers and firefighters union have been campaigning against the Queensland government’s decision to abolish consultation on front-line issues like fatigue management and safety equipment and to cuts to firefighter and ambulance jobs.
Paramedic and state council union delegate for United Voice professional ambulance officers union Roy Grover says that these changes could have fatal effects especially in rural areas.
“It will affect patients out in the small little towns,” he said.
“If you cannot guarantee them a full time ambulance service because you have to close one station down because it doesn’t do enough jobs and the station down the road does a few more jobs, so you put all the staff there.
“Well it’s going to affect the smaller communities.
“It’ll affect everybody.
“If you reduce anything, then the on flowing affects could be life threatening.”
Executive director of Healthy Communities Paul Martin says that the $2.6 million that was reduced from Healthy Communities, which promotes health and wellbeing amongst the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community could also be life threatening.
“We know that LGBT people have higher rates of mental health and suicide,” he said.
“There is nothing being done by Queensland Health specifically to prevent that.
“We know that LGBT people have much higher use of tobacco use and illicit drug use and drink alcohol at risky levels.
“There’s now nothing happening in Queensland, supported by Queensland health, to address that issue.
“We know that there’s 90 times more HIV within the gay male community than there is in the general community and there is now nothing that Queensland Health is doing to address the issues of HIV within the gay community.”
After Queensland Health Minister Lawrence Springborg expressed concerns over the growth of HIV in Queensland in the last decade, he launched an AIDS awareness advertisement in August that included the notorious Grim Reaper from 1980’s AIDs advertisements.
However, Mr Martin says that this was a “lost opportunity” to have a clear message and the Queensland government is not doing enough in HIV prevention.
After the 2012-13 Queensland budget was announced on September 11, a rally that police estimated to include around 10,000 people was held in Brisbane to express “concerns over the LNP’s indiscriminate slashing and burning”.
The Stand for Queensland protest on September 12 including public sector workers and members of the Queensland population
Queensland Council of Unions president John Battams, who was instrumental in the protest, says that measures that the state government has taken could be to the detriment of the economy.
“What people are saying, who have some intelligence, they’re saying the short term gain on the government’s bottom line, long term pain for citizens, but also for the tax payer,” he said.
“Because many of these programmes actually save the community much needed money because people are helped early on, not after problems get out of control.”
However, Queensland Treasurer Tim Nicholls says that reducing Queensland’s debt was a large factor in the overwhelming support for the LNP in the last election.
“Queenslanders wanted a Government that was up front with them, that would deliver outcomes for them, a Government for the 21st Century, and the best Government in the nation,” he said in his budget speech.
“In order to deliver that Government for the 21st Century we have had to make the hard decisions necessary to get the great state of Queensland’s finances back on track and back in the black.”
On June 30 the Newman government defunded the Queensland Working Women’s Service (QWWS), but the federal government has provided $200,000 to ensure the organisation still operates.
The director of the QWWS Kerriann Dear says that with the reduced funds, the service will only be able to focus on women in target groups in areas like pay equality, unfair dismissal, parental leave and discrimination.
However, Ms Dear says that this funding will not guarantee that some women will not be disadvantaged.
“We know that just because a woman doesn’t fall into a specific target group that she isn’t in need of assistance,” she said.
“Even just that ability to self advocate and negotiate, that can be pretty intimidating to a lot of women who may otherwise be really confident in their jobs.”
Mr Battams also discussed Housing Minister Bruce Flegg’s announcement to discontinue the Tenant Advice and Advocacy Service (TAAS).
“Grants to them [TAAS] have been abolished, so there will be no advice available providing to tenants support when they need it,” he said.
“One third of Queenslanders rent their accommodation.
“Many of those are amongst our most marginalised citizens.
“They will need, during particularly disputes with landlords, advice not just about their rights, but about their responsibility.”
Dr Flegg says that the $5 million of funding for the TAAS will be redirected towards aiding 30,000 Queensland households to find public housing.
“While it would be nice to be able to continue to fund programs like the TAAS, our primary focus needs to be on the core business of putting roofs over people’s heads,” Dr Flegg said in a statement.
Dr Flegg says the Residential Tenancies Authority will be the substitute for the TAAS, so some information will still be available.
Mr Battams says that decisions like these have angered many Queenslanders, which was demonstrated in the Stand for Queensland rally.
“It will effect the most marginalised members of our community,” he said.
“I think the government were able to see that some of the decisions they’ve made in relation to the budget and prior to the budget have made a lot of Queenslanders very unhappy.”