Leading academic says LNP behaviour a throwback to Joh days

Premier Campbell Newman in Ipswich yesterday.
Premier Campbell Newman in Ipswich yesterday. David Nielsen

TWO conditional funding promises made by the LNP State Government in Ipswich in recent days have been described by a leading Queensland academic and political analyst as "a form of political blackmail".

Premier Campbell Newman made it clear in yesterday's QT that his government would only provide $1.5 million in matched funding for the cycling criterium track at Raceview if the Ipswich public re-elected sitting LNP MP Ian Berry.

Ipswich West LNP MP Sean Choat has promised $100,00 for shade covering at North Ipswich Reserve and $100,000 for a women's change room at Norths Tigers Leagues Club, but it will be only be delivered if he is re-elected in his seat.

Sports Minister Steve Dickson confirmed the funds, from the Get in the Game program, would only be released on that condition.

In a nutshell, the position being put forward here is that a returned LNP State Government will not fund the projects unless the Ipswich public votes for its local candidates.

Dr Paul Williams, a political analyst at Griffith University, said the LNP's conduct was "unethical and it does reek of political blackmail".

"Governments are elected to serve all Queenslanders," he said.

"That is the whole point of representative democracy, that we are all equal in the eyes of the crown and that there are no first, second or third class citizens.

"And that no matter how you vote you will be treated as equal before the law… and the parliament and cabinet should treat you equally."

Mr Williams said the LNP's stance "may in fact harm them".

"You'd find it hard pressed for a voter to respond positively to that sort of statement in the heat of an election campaign. It may cost them votes.

Premier Campbell Newman and Member for Ipswich Ian Berry announce a proposal to complete the cycling track at Raceview. Photo: David Nielsen / The Queensland Times
Premier Campbell Newman and Member for Ipswich Ian Berry announce a proposal to complete the cycling track at Raceview. Photo: David Nielsen / The Queensland Times David Nielsen

"Voters can be forgiven for being angry. They can feel their hands are being tied and their options are being limited."

Mr Williams said the LNP's conditional funding promises were "a very poor way to make public policy".

"Public policy in a representative democracy means that if something is needed and in the public interest, it should be done," he said.

Mr Williams said the situation was a throwback to when "the Bjelke-Petersen government used to make these sorts of noises as well".

"That is why there was lots of under funding of solid Labor electorates for years," he said.

Mr Choat disagreed that there was anything wrong with the Government's funding commitments and said they was common practice.

"I think this has been happening for years. Campaigns have always been about this. I am part of the system and I have got to try and get as much out of it as I can for my people," he said.

"When you consider it, the opposition can match it. The opposition can come out and say, 'Yes, if our candidate gets re-elected we'll do whatever the others were going to do'.

"You make the pledge and you have to deliver. I intend to get elected and make sure they get those facilities."

Former Premier Peter Beattie also slammed the LNP's conduct.

"Let me just say, as a commentator these days, if you are going to promise something you should deliver it," he told the QT.

"Ipswich needs resources, and we spent a lot of money here when my government was in office.

"But you can't play tricks with people. Joh (Bjelke-Petersen) did it in Mt Isa in the 1980s. He said if you didn't vote for him, he wouldn't deliver something.

"But it is not the right way to do it. In a democracy people should be told that if you promise something, you get it. It is real simple."

Topics:  campbell newman criterium track editors picks ian berry lnp queensland election 2015

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