Queensland is undergoing massive public sector redundancies at the moment, which is skewing the picture of Campbell Newman and what he stands for. There has been a lack of understanding of what his views are.
The first case study into his Premiership comes from the apology he gave to the WIk Nation in May of 2012.
On May 21st 2012 he apologised for denying the rights of self-determination of the Wik Nation, that was eventually declared a national park by the Queensland Government, after John Koowarta won a case against Bjelke Peterson in 1976 in the High Court.
The case was
“In 1976, John Koowarta convinced the Aboriginal Land Fund Commission to purchase a lease of land in Northern Queensland. The lease was to enable an Aboriginal community to start a cattle property. Permission to lease the land was refused by the Queensland National Party government led by Bjelke-Petersen, the party was opposed to Aborigines buying leasehold land. The Koowarta group took the case to the High Court, arguing that the Queensland government’s decision breached the Commonwealth 1975 Racial Discrimination Act.” (www.ccentree.wa.gov.au)
After the final Supreme Court battle, which Sir Joh Bjelke Petersen lost in 1988, he immediately turned it into a National Park so the Wik Nation could not own it, become self sufficient and it would continue the paternalism role that has impacted Australian Aboriginals since first colonisation.
So in one of the first acts of government, Campbell Newman made symbolic reconciliation, followed by action. On May 21st 2012 he formally handed over the land that had been gazetted as National Park to prevent self-sufficiency
“Today I want to confront the issue. That is, 35 years ago a great injustice was perpetrated. And today we’re here to put that right. We’re here to make sure that it is right forever, and to give back to the people what was rightfully theirs. I’m sure, if all Queenslanders knew the story of what happened in 1977 and afterwards, they would feel as sorry as I do myself. So today, my apologies to those who have suffered.” – (excerpt from speech from abc.net.au)
Words such as “great injustice”, “confront the issue” “rightfully theirs” “If all Queenslanders knew” “They would feel as sorry as I do”. Some cracking words that really need to be analysed.
Great Injustice – We failed you
Confront the issue – We are not hiding behind spin
Rightfully theirs – There is no way it should have been anything but your land, you paid for the pastoral lease and it was on your native title
If all Queenslanders knew – Recognising the ignorance that plagues Australia on Aboriginal Affairs and recognising that this occurs in society
They would feel as sorry as I do – But, I as the Premier know the story and I am ashamed of the actions under my predecessor.
The Paternalism that festered in Cape York is now about liberation, ending Alcohol free communities in Cape York and in a budget of huge cuts, he is backing up his outstanding symbolic apology for the actions of the prior LNP Government. Acting on his libertarian values.
Of the 456 million dollars in social housing, more than half of it is being dedicated to Aboriginal Australian’s, albiet much of it being funded by the Federal Government. But unlike the NDIS and other programs, there is not a state fight between Newman and Gillard regarding joint funding this agreement.
In the Public Sector cuts across the board, the Department of Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islanders and Multi-Cultural Affairs had the least amount of positions cut – 15 jobs. Compare this to the over 2,500 jobs that were cut in the Health Sector.
Campbell Newman is a classic libertarian, he is freeing people from alcohol restrictions, opening up economic opportunities and as a Libertarian is ideologically opposed to the actions of Bjelke Petersen in the past.
Just as he is ideologically opposed to the Public Sector, believing it is the role of business to create jobs and that the state should do everything to harness business activity, while respecting human rights to choose their own path.
Now I am not a Libertarian, but we have to look at Newman in terms of him being a centrist Libertarian, maybe even towards the left. He is open about his support of gay marriage, abhorred by the prevention of self-determination and self income that the Bjelke Petersen Government initiated and fundamentally against the view that the state should interfere into a person’s individual liberty.
He is Australia’s version of Ron Paul. The Budget cuts are extreme for many in Australia (and including myself) but you can understand the reason for the budget, when you understand that he is a classic Libertarian in power. Barry O’Farrell, Tony Abbott, Ted Ballieu and Colin Barnett are the other powerful Liberal Leaders in this country. However, they are not Libertarians, indeed it is not a huge part of our political makeup, with O’Farrel, Ballieu and Barnett being closer to 3rd Way Politicians, particularly the latter two.
That is believing it is the government’s role to fix the inequities that exist in the capitalist system, that capitalism is not perfect.
In Federal and Queensland Politics there are not any that I am aware of that come close to being positioned as a classic libertarian. And while he is not commiting extra funds for Indigenous people, to the degree that is happening under the Liberal/National Partnership in Western Australia, it’s not because he doesn’t see it as a priority. It’s because it doesn’t fit under his ideological view of the world, his moral compass.
Public Sector cuts, Budget cuts shouldn’t frame Newman as heartless, extreme right wing or ignorant which many in the media, who most haven’t studied Politics claim.
He is most definitely to the left of the Libertarian spectrum, his Housing Minister Dr Flegg proudly announced to the Courier Mail that he did not want ‘public housing ghettos’ and that Queensland “was really failing thousands of some of the most vulnerable Queenslanders and we have to act”.
“We have made some difficult decisions that doesn’t directly lead to putting a roof over someone’s head.” Queensland’s Social Housing is moving on the same reforms that Gallop led in 2001. Urban renewal of public housing stock, mixed use and demolishing dilipadated properties and making the ministry self sustainable. Which is where Western Australia is now, all be it that our state has not made it the priority that the Newman Government is to dramatically increase funds.
Now Gallop’s policy comes from his Third Way background, but Libertarians on the left also believe it is the government’s role to allow private enterprise to flourish. That it is the responsibility of Government to allow the Private economy and a person’s individual spirit to flourish. So we see this policy in that light, that Newman sees poverty as an impediment that needs to be fixed that allows the individual to reach his potential.
By providing better housing, encouraging private citizens and investments into previously social housing concentrated suburbs (The Courier Mail said Public Housing is dominated in 10 suburbs, with barely any anywhere else) you give the individual the opportunity to seek his own pathway forwards, less crime, better schools more jobs as the area becomes more attractive for mixed use.
Campbell Newman will implement the same pathway forward, but comes at it on a completely different ideological pathway to Geoff Gallop.
Our issue is that we don’t have many classic Libertarian’s in Government (both Labor and Liberal). It is a fundamental shift from Bligh’s Third Way/Social Democratic ideological base. With ideological change from Third Way to Libertarian, the shift the public sees is drastic and is inevitable to cause the concern it has done.
In Western Australia, Victoria and New South Wales, despite a change in Government there hasn’t been the resultant massive ideological change that has occurred in Queensland.
He sees the world as a Libertarian and as his apology to the Wik Nation shows how his view on the world will shape the Queensland he leads, for perhaps the next decade.