Premier Campbell Newman speaks with Steve Dickson and Sunshine Coast Daily Editor Daren Burnett. Photo: Warren Lynam / Sunshine Coast Daily
Premier Campbell Newman speaks with Steve Dickson and Sunshine Coast Daily Editor Daren Burnett. Photo: Warren Lynam / Sunshine Coast Daily Warren Lynam

Premier Newman lays it all on the table with Darren Burnett

QUEENSLAND Premier Campbell Newman is a man of action.

Mr Newman is energetic, charismatic, animated, highly disciplined and driven to deliver the changes he has promised Queenslanders.

Love or loathe our Premier, no one could accuse the man of delivering hollow political promises before sitting back in some comfortable ivory tower.

From the moment he was sworn in as Queensland Premier, Mr Newman set about the task of restoring Queensland's economy, toughening up its laws and fixing its ailing health system, which he said, was being dragged down by a bloated bureaucracy.

To his credit, Mr Newman was too ambitious to merely set his sights on just salvaging a badly damaged Queensland economy, which was left in a mountain of debt by the outgoing Bligh government.

ONE YEAR ON: Queensland Premier Campbell Newman and dignitaries visits Bundaberg one year after the devastating 2013 floods. Photo: Max Fleet / NewsMail
ONE YEAR ON: Queensland Premier Campbell Newman and dignitaries visits Bundaberg one year after the devastating 2013 floods. Photo: Max Fleet / NewsMail Max Fleet

Raised the son of two Tasmanian politicians, he has served 13 years in the army, graduated with an MBA, worked for an agricultural company, distinguished himself as Brisbane Lord Mayor (when he was judged fifth best mayor in the world) and was the first person since Federation to lead a party to political victory while not serving in the legislature at the time of the election.

And since winning office in March 2012, Mr Newman has hardly rested on his laurels.

Since then, the Newman-led government has frequently raised the ire of health workers' unions and, more recently, outlaw motorcycle gangs, as it pushes ahead doggedly with a program of reform.

Queensland Premier Campbell Newman.
Queensland Premier Campbell Newman. David Stuart

In the beginning ...

"There were a lot of things we had to fix in this state, and there were two things we have focused on.

"One is to get the state's economy going and one is a fair dinkum go at reforming government.

"My vision is to have the best state government in the nation and the best health system in the nation

"So that's what we've been doing. For two years we've been head down, backside up, focusing on what I call governance or administration.

"And we haven't done nearly enough in terms of talking about what we're doing.

"I've already said the election's not going to be until February or March 2015.

"But this year you'll see me spending a lot of time talking, and the ministers as well.

"Some really exciting things are happening now.

"We've now got the lead economy in the nation.

After a long wait, a decision on the Abbot Point coal port expansion is expected by Friday.
After a long wait, a decision on the Abbot Point coal port expansion is expected by Friday. Lee Constable

"The latest ABS stats, that were out last week, showed that three quarters of all jobs that got created in the 12 months to December 2013 across the nation were in Queensland.

"Business confidence is up. There was a Property Council ANZ survey nationally that showed that Queensland has got the highest business confidence in the property industry.

"Our retail sales growth is the strongest in the nation. There's a whole lot of metrics, every week we get good new economic data.

 

Getting healthy

Construction of the $105 million Sunshine Coast University Private Hospital from December 2011 to completion in late 2013.
Construction of the $105 million Sunshine Coast University Private Hospital from December 2011 to completion in late 2013. Rebecca Marshall

"In terms of our hospitals and government services, I clearly say that two years ago our hospitals were far worse than they are today.

"Today the emergency departments are performing, the waiting lists have been slashed, there has been a dramatic improvement.

"That's because there is a billion dollars extra in health each year. The QNU have got the impression out there in the community that somehow health (funding) has been cut.

"Yes, jobs were lost. Jobs were lost because it was over-staffed, particularly in the head office.

"But meantime, the funding for medical services has actually gone up.

"The EDs are actually working better, meeting the national standards, waiting lists have been cut, and on the dental waiting front, it's gone from 67,000 to less than 12,000 in 15 months.

"There are 500 extra police officers across the state, there are more ambos, there are more firies."

 

Back in black

Queensland Treasurer Tim Nicholls
Queensland Treasurer Tim Nicholls

"This year we have a seven billion dollar deficit in a 48 billion dollar overall budget.

"This coming year it will be six or 700 million.

"So we're closing that."

"I'm really excited about 2014. I'm excited for the state, I'm excited for the people.

"It's all coming together and I'm very confident that by the end of this year, we're going to have people going seeing that we are on the move, that jobs are on the move, that we're looking good compared to any other jurisdictions. That's what I want to see happen."

 

Not more laws!

"So I'll now turn to the bikie thing. You won't necessarily believe this, you'll think this is real spin, but I'm actually a very irreverent, quite anti-authoritarian figure.

"I'm a believer in self discipline. I believe people should take care of themselves, take personal responsibility, shouldn't hurt other people or impact on their lives (in a negative way).

"I don't like being asked, as a political leader, to pass new laws and regulations.

"I didn't like it in council. You'll see many times where I said 'we have enough laws and regulations in this country', back when I was the Lord Mayor of Brisbane.

Chris McCormack

"But after what happened in September, when dozens of Bandidos rioted on a crowded Gold Coast restaurant strip, and then marched on the local police station to demand the release of their associates, we could no longer stand by and do nothing. So we went in and we went in hard, we created these laws.

"I think there are three elements I and my team have to address.

"One, I think we've got to demonstrate to people what these laws are and what these laws are not.

"These laws don't affect Girl Guides, they don't affect sporting clubs or recreational motorcyclists.

The Bandidos Motorcycle Gang arrive at Caloundra and are welcomed by a strong show of Police. Photo: Cade Mooney / Sunshine Coast Daily
The Bandidos Motorcycle Gang arrive at Caloundra and are welcomed by a strong show of Police. Photo: Cade Mooney / Sunshine Coast Daily Cade Mooney

"And the third thing, to be frank, is I think the police have to be very careful how they go about this, particularly from now on.

"Because I think that it's almost in their hands.

"I'm talking about the normal stuff they're doing like pulling motorcyclists over.

"One bad customer experience, if I can put it that way, can really engender a bad feeling. So we've made that known to police.

 Brisbane Supreme and District courts.
Brisbane Supreme and District courts. Rae Wilson

"If those guys (outlaw motorcycle gangs) manage to create a backlash, then I just despair because it's almost like society can't protect itself.

"I'm somebody who believes in free speech, I don't mind people criticising me, I'm more than happy to have the debate. I don't have a problem with people who ride motorcycles.

"There's a photo of me with three members of the Vietnam Veterans Motorcycle Club. It was at the Enoggera barracks, which is in my electorate, late-ish 2012 at a welcome home parade.

"We're not after those guys."

Sekisui's sound

"I note that some people are jumping up and down about (the proposed) Sekisui (Yaroomba eco-resort).

"Sekisui have gone to great lengths to try and deal proactively with the things that would concern people.

"I think they're very professional and will create something good, and people will need the jobs.

"That's why I'm prepared to go out there and say, subject to the council conditions, that it's a very good proposal."



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