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Analysis and Comment (101)

How was the anti-bikie strategy in Queensland framed, and what has it achieved so far? How was the anti-bikie strategy in Queensland framed, and what has it achieved so far? AAP/Dean Lewins

Crime stats provide reality check in Queensland’s bikie crackdown

Queensland’s bikie crackdown and its associated legislative measures have polarised public opinion on the necessity and success of this approach. So with a High Court challenge to the new laws due to be…
The latest report on the health of the Great Barrier Reef shows the reef condition is “poor” The latest report on the health of the Great Barrier Reef shows the reef condition is “poor” Scientific Editor/Flickr

Reef condition is ‘poor’, and probably worse than healthcheck suggests

The latest healthcheck of the Great Barrier Reef shows the overall outlook is “poor”, and getting worse. According to the Outlook Report produced by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, climate…
Are Queensland’s cassowaries being let down by Canberra’s officialdom?. Are Queensland’s cassowaries being let down by Canberra’s officialdom?. Dave Kimble/Wikimedia Commons

Cassowaries and chaplains: how to avoid Canberra’s conservation overreach

What do school chaplains and cassowaries have in common? Both highlight the degree to which federal governments struggle to devolve quality public decision-making to the right level. Our schools and our…
Centenary Pool, Spring Hill, architect: James Birrell. Centenary Pool, Spring Hill, architect: James Birrell. James Birrell private collection

Queensland’s hot modernist architecture shows bold city vision

When most people think of Brisbane architecture, they usually picture a Queenslander: high-set, timber-and-corrugated iron houses that are ideally suited to subtropical conditions. Modernism fits into…
The Saraji coal mine in the Bowen coal basin produces around 5 million tonnes of coal each year. Adani’s Carmichael mine could produce up to 60 million. The Saraji coal mine in the Bowen coal basin produces around 5 million tonnes of coal each year. Adani’s Carmichael mine could produce up to 60 million. Image Library/Flickr

Carmichael mine is a game-changer for Australian coal

The Carmichael coal project, approved this week by environment minister Greg Hunt, is unprecedented in its scale, and also represents a significant shift in Australia’s coal industry. If the mine goes…
Queensland premier Campbell Newman needs to sell substantive policy change as well as a change in personal branding if he is to be successful at the next election. Queensland premier Campbell Newman needs to sell substantive policy change as well as a change in personal branding if he is to be successful at the next election. AAP/Dave Hunt

Newman has time to learn from Stafford byelection defeat

The result in Saturday’s Stafford byelection in Queensland was entirely expected. Since the electorate was re-established before the 2001 election, Stafford had remained a safe seat for Labor. That was…
Why did the Baden-Clay domestic homicide case in Queensland grab so much media and public attention? Why did the Baden-Clay domestic homicide case in Queensland grab so much media and public attention? AAP/Dan Peled

Intimate partner homicide, the media and the Baden-Clay case

When Brisbane man Gerard Baden-Clay rang police to report his wife Allison missing on April 20, 2012, he set in motion a series of events that would lead to his arrest, trial and ultimately his conviction…
The Ranger uranium mine, inside the World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory. The Ranger uranium mine, inside the World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory. AAP Image/Tara Ravens

Queensland lifts its uranium ban, but is the price worth the cost?

As of today, Queensland has lifted a 32-year ban on uranium mining. That decision was taken within months of the 2012 state election, despite Premier Campbell Newman’s pre-election promise not to restart…
Martha Koowarta, her late husband John and her Wik people have had to fight since the 1970s for their land rights in north Queensland to be properly recognised. Martha Koowarta, her late husband John and her Wik people have had to fight since the 1970s for their land rights in north Queensland to be properly recognised. AAP Image/David Sproule

Fighting for their country: inside the battle for Cape York

This week’s Federal Court ruling that the Wild Rivers declarations introduced by the former Queensland Labor Government were rushed and invalid was the long-awaited result many Cape York Indigenous groups…
The Queensland government is playing brinkmanship with the state’s legal fraternity over the appointment of Tim Carmody (centre) to Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. The Queensland government is playing brinkmanship with the state’s legal fraternity over the appointment of Tim Carmody (centre) to Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. AAP/Dan Peled

History of unchecked executive haunts Queensland in judge fight

The Queensland government’s appointment of Tim Carmody as Chief Justice of that state’s Supreme Court is, without doubt, the most controversial judicial appointment in the nation’s history. This is because…
Queensland Treasurer Tim Nicholls had little good news to deliver. Queensland Treasurer Tim Nicholls had little good news to deliver. Dan Peled/AAP

Queensland budget shows why the federation is broken

As Queensland Treasurer Tim Nicholls released the state budget yesterday, one could be excused for not really noticing. Long the poor cousin of Australian Federalism, state budgets rarely get much press…
Third time around for Queensland Treasurer Tim Nicholls. Third time around for Queensland Treasurer Tim Nicholls. Dan Peled/AAP

Queensland budget another case of the disappearing surplus

With the release of a plan to sell and lease $33 billion worth of assets after the next election, the state government has shifted attention away from its budget. Though in truth, it would have been quite…
A report criticising government oversight of a major Gladstone harbour dredging project has warned against cutting resources for environmental monitoring and compliance. A report criticising government oversight of a major Gladstone harbour dredging project has warned against cutting resources for environmental monitoring and compliance. Flickr/GreensMPs

Environmental job cuts risk a repeat of Gladstone failures

A long-awaited report on environmental failures at the biggest port along the Great Barrier Reef coastline and today’s federal budget may not seem connected – but if you read the report, it’s clear just…
Attorney-general Jarrod Bleijie and premier Campbell Newman are defying the lessons from other states and from Queensland’s own history of corruption. Attorney-general Jarrod Bleijie and premier Campbell Newman are defying the lessons from other states and from Queensland’s own history of corruption. AAP/Dave Hunt

Newman turning back the clock in Queensland corruption fight

The old joke was that visitors to Queensland should turn their clock back one hour and their calendar back 30 years. There are indications state premier Campbell Newman wants to take Queensland back to…
The Queensland government has called for a boycott of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream over their support for WWF’s save the reef campaign. The Queensland government has called for a boycott of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream over their support for WWF’s save the reef campaign. Alpha/Flickr

Ben & Jerry’s reef campaign shows that green groups are vital for democracy

US-based ice cream company Ben & Jerry’s recently caused a stir by siding with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Australian Marine Conservation Society’s Fight for the Reef campaign. Queensland environment…
A Cooktown home which lost its roof to Cyclone Ita, although damage was less widespread than feared. A Cooktown home which lost its roof to Cyclone Ita, although damage was less widespread than feared. AAP Image/Dan Peled

How building codes save homes from cyclones, and how they don’t

During Queensland’s preparations for Severe Tropical Cyclone Ita, Queensland Premier Campbell Newman advised residents who lived in older houses (those built before 1985) to evacuate their homes as they…
Two dozen ships anchored outside Gladstone harbour in 2008, waiting to load coal. Two dozen ships anchored outside Gladstone harbour in 2008, waiting to load coal. milton.v1/Flickr

Australia’s biggest coal state plans for life beyond coal

We are in the coal business. If you want decent hospitals, schools and police on the beat we all need to understand that. – Queensland Premier Campbell Newman, June 2012. It was a rare moment of unscripted…
Queensland Premier Campbell Newman is seeking a mandate for large-scale asset sales in the state. Queensland Premier Campbell Newman is seeking a mandate for large-scale asset sales in the state. Dan Peled/AAP

Hockey’s asset sales sweetener could shift Queensland thinking

Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey’s announcement that states will receive an incentive payment of 15% of asset sales if they invest the funds in infrastructure is good news for Queensland’s Newman government…
With the Queensland Police Force covering his back, Queensland premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen (pictured right) was impervious in his time in power. With the Queensland Police Force covering his back, Queensland premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen (pictured right) was impervious in his time in power. srv007

Jacks and Jokers: Bjelke-Petersen and Queensland’s ‘police state’

In his latest book, Jacks and Jokers, Matthew Condon traces the rise and influence of Queensland Police Commissioner Terry Lewis during the Joh Bjelke-Petersen years. In this extract, Condon writes how…
As attorney-general in the Newman government, Jarrod Bleijie is entitled to defend the state’s bikie laws, but not to deflect responsibility for decisions on to the state’s legal officers. As attorney-general in the Newman government, Jarrod Bleijie is entitled to defend the state’s bikie laws, but not to deflect responsibility for decisions on to the state’s legal officers. AAP/Dan Peled

Politicising advice: a cautionary tale for all governments

Queensland solicitor-general Walter Sofronoff QC resigned last week. He has now revealed his outrage at the conduct of Queensland attorney-general Jarrod Bleijie. Bleijie has appeared willing to breach…
Heat relief: on hot days, flying foxes - like this grey-headed flying fox - dip their bellies into water to cool down. Heat relief: on hot days, flying foxes - like this grey-headed flying fox - dip their bellies into water to cool down. Nick Edards

Killer climate: tens of thousands of flying foxes dead in a day

This summer we have seen one of the most dramatic animal die-offs ever recorded in Australia: at least 45,500 flying foxes dead on just one extremely hot day in southeast Queensland, according to our new…
Western Australia’s shark kills follow decades of similar policy in Queensland. Western Australia’s shark kills follow decades of similar policy in Queensland. AAP Image/Sea Shepherd

Has Queensland really saved lives by killing thousands of sharks?

One of the most common justifications for Western Australia’s shark cull is the longstanding use of baited hooks - or drum lines - in regions such as Queensland. Two key questions need answering. First…
In the face of rising opposition to its anti-bikie measures, the Queensland government must find a way to cut through the rhetoric with facts and stop inflaming the debate. In the face of rising opposition to its anti-bikie measures, the Queensland government must find a way to cut through the rhetoric with facts and stop inflaming the debate. AAP/Dan Peled

The battle to win hearts and minds in Queensland’s bikie war

One fascinating aspect of the Newman government’s “war on bikies” in Queensland has been the battle for the hearts and minds of average citizens. In an attempt to convince the public of the threat – and…
A change in investigative and policing strategy is needed if the Queensland government is to win the so-called ‘bikie wars’. A change in investigative and policing strategy is needed if the Queensland government is to win the so-called ‘bikie wars’. AAP/Paul Miller

The end justifies the means: why Queensland is losing the bikie war

Three months into the campaign by the Queensland government against outlaw motorcycle gangs, some meaningful analysis of the effectiveness and justification for the unprecedented measures is possible…
The Ruby Jo coal seam gas central processing plant, near Chinchilla in Queensland’s Surat Basin, October 2013. The Ruby Jo coal seam gas central processing plant, near Chinchilla in Queensland’s Surat Basin, October 2013. AAP/Dave Hunt

How coal seam gas is changing the face of rural Queensland

Why would young Australians buck international trends and move to the country? According to our research, a growing youth population has been observed in coal seam gas (CSG) development areas within the…
Beautiful one day … a quarry the next? Beautiful one day … a quarry the next? Underwater Earth / Catlin Seaview Survey - www.catlinseaviewsurvey.com

Great Barrier Reef decision is a U-turn to an inglorious past

Few of us remember that the declaration of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and its subsequent World Heritage status was born out a 12-year popular struggle to prevent the most wondrous coral reef in…
Eroded beaches in Surfers Paradise on Queensland’s Gold Coast, May 2013. Eroded beaches in Surfers Paradise on Queensland’s Gold Coast, May 2013. John Reid, Environment Studio, ANU School of Art

Scrapping sea level protection puts Australian homes at risk

As the science on the coastal impacts of climate change gets stronger, the protections for Australia’s coastal communities are getting weaker. If that continues, everyone will pay. Along the eastern seaboard…
Brisbane cyclists have to keep their helmets on after all, including on bike paths. Brisbane cyclists have to keep their helmets on after all, including on bike paths. AAP/Dan Peled

Politics trumps hard-headed reason on bicycle helmets

For a few hours, late last week, it looked like Queensland could become the first Australian state to start relaxing its strict bicycle helmet laws. After months of careful review of the evidence, a state…
A scuba diving tourist feeds a giant potato cod in the Great Barrier Reef. A scuba diving tourist feeds a giant potato cod in the Great Barrier Reef. Pete Niesen/Shutterstock.com

Dredging set to swamp decades of Great Barrier Reef protection

After decades of work, A$200 million in taxpayer funding and even more from farmers' pockets, we finally have a rare good news story to tell about the Great Barrier Reef. Thanks to an extraordinary effort…
Queensland has witnessed many firsts in Australian politics, and is set to be the first state in Australia to institute controversial voter ID laws. Queensland has witnessed many firsts in Australian politics, and is set to be the first state in Australia to institute controversial voter ID laws. AAP/Martin Silk

Voter ID laws will fail poor, Indigenous and homeless Queenslanders

The Queensland government last week introduced a bill to parliament that, when passed, will make voter identification a prerequisite for casting a ballot. This is a first for Australia and follows several…
A dead dingo in 2013 (left) and a Tasmanian tiger, last seen in the wild in 1932. A dead dingo in 2013 (left) and a Tasmanian tiger, last seen in the wild in 1932. Dingo photography by Aaron Greenville; a hunted thylacine in 1869, photographer unknown.

Will we hunt dingoes to the brink like the Tasmanian tiger?

The last Tasmanian tiger died a lonely death in the Hobart Zoo in 1936, just 59 days after new state laws aimed at protecting it from extinction were passed in parliament. But the warning bells about its…
Voters in Griffith will soon be forced back to the polls – only this time, there’ll be no Kevin Rudd. Who will win the south Brisbane seat? Voters in Griffith will soon be forced back to the polls – only this time, there’ll be no Kevin Rudd. Who will win the south Brisbane seat? Liz Minchin

Rudd’s poor timing will likely cost ALP in Griffith

Kevin Rudd’s final speech in parliament last night was delivered in his customary egocentric fashion. There will be many think pieces on Rudd’s career and his legacy, but perhaps the more interesting immediate…
The Queensland government is preparing the way for more coal ports, but there are indications coal production and profits are on the way down. The Queensland government is preparing the way for more coal ports, but there are indications coal production and profits are on the way down. AAP Image/Alan Porritt

If coal’s in trouble, why build more coal ports?

If the Abbot Point expansion is approved by the Commonwealth Environment Minister next month, port dredging will go ahead. Private investment in coal ports and rail may no longer stack up, as BHP Billiton…
Singapore’s Marina Bay is viewed as a role model for casino precincts. Singapore’s Marina Bay is viewed as a role model for casino precincts. Slack12/Flickr

Casino precincts and tourism: gambling our way to prosperity?

Last month Queensland Premier Campbell Newman called for expressions of interest to develop a major integrated resort casino precinct within the Brisbane CBD. The vision is for a new casino surrounded…
Port developments shouldn’t be assessed individually. Port developments shouldn’t be assessed individually. AAP Image/Dave Hunt

It all adds up: port development on the Great Barrier Reef

The Queensland and Australian government’s draft strategic assessment of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area has been released today. The strategic assessment was prompted by the 2012 UNESCO-IUCN…
Remote beauty: Twin Falls in Cape York. Remote beauty: Twin Falls in Cape York. www.shutterstock.com/John Carnemolla

The battle for Cape York: whose vision will win out?

From its stunning wetlands in the west, across a dry central spine, to the coastal heathlands and rainforests in the east, Cape York Peninsula is deservedly world-famous for its rugged beauty. For many…
The new laws against bikie gangs in Queensland are meant to be ‘tough’ but will innocent riders be affected? The new laws against bikie gangs in Queensland are meant to be ‘tough’ but will innocent riders be affected? AAP image

FactCheck: will the Queensland bikie laws affect innocent riders?

“This legislation will target only criminal motorcycle gang members. Other law abiding motorbike riders have nothing to worry about,” Queensland Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie, press release, October…
Queensland attorney-general Jarrod Bleijie has taken decisions about detaining sex offenders in prison after their sentences have been served into his own hands. Queensland attorney-general Jarrod Bleijie has taken decisions about detaining sex offenders in prison after their sentences have been served into his own hands. shutterstock

Listen up, Queensland – courts are for justice, politicians are for politics

There is a good constitutional reason for not allowing politicians to make decisions which result in imprisonment. It’s called the separation of powers and is meant to ensure that politics does not intrude…
Should it be the role of the Constitution to protect individual rights from being trampled on, such as by Queensland’s newly-introduced anti-bikie legislation? Should it be the role of the Constitution to protect individual rights from being trampled on, such as by Queensland’s newly-introduced anti-bikie legislation? AAP/Dan Peled

Bikies crackdown: did the Constitution fail Queensland?

Last week, Queensland’s state government introduced a number of tough new law and order measures targeting serious sexual offenders and bikies. Under the new laws, bikie gang members in Queensland face…
In Queensland, the Finks motorcycle gang are among those in the gun of police, the state government, the media and the public. In Queensland, the Finks motorcycle gang are among those in the gun of police, the state government, the media and the public. AAP/Joe Castro

A phony war: bikies aren’t the only problem on Queensland’s Glitter Strip

Bikies have become the poster boys of crime in Queensland. In the past week we’ve seen the announcement of a spartan, bikies-only jail likened to Guantanamo Bay, tough new laws rushed through a marathon…
Bandidos bike gang member Jacques Teamo, who faced court after last week’s Broadbeach brawl. Bandidos bike gang member Jacques Teamo, who faced court after last week’s Broadbeach brawl. AAP

The great bikie beat-up: why we shouldn’t confuse crime lords with boofheads on bikes

Australia has two types of bikies: Conservatives and Radicals. The Conservative lifestyle involves riding big bikes, drinking a lot, punching your mates and enemies, then falling over and sleeping it off…
The tail on Clive Palmer’s Palmer United Party (PUP) certainly wagged at the ballot box on Saturday. The tail on Clive Palmer’s Palmer United Party (PUP) certainly wagged at the ballot box on Saturday. AAP/Dave Hunt

How the Palmer United Party came out barking

A funny thing happened at the polls in Queensland over the weekend. To great surprise, the two right-of-centre minor parties - Katter’s Australian Party (KAP) and the recently-established Palmer United…
Queensland has a disproportionate number of marginal seats, making it a key battleground. Queensland has a disproportionate number of marginal seats, making it a key battleground. Image from shutterstock.com

State of the states: Queensland

STATE OF THE STATES: a snapshot of the key issues affecting each state and territory in the lead up to Saturday’s election. With more marginal seats than any state other than New South Wales - and easily…
The return of Kevin Rudd was aimed at denting the Coalition’s chances in Queensland, however it now appears that Teresa Gambaro will hold on to the marginal seat of Brisbane. The return of Kevin Rudd was aimed at denting the Coalition’s chances in Queensland, however it now appears that Teresa Gambaro will hold on to the marginal seat of Brisbane. AAP/Alan Porritt

Defying the Rudd revival: Brisbane is the real bellwether seat

If any seat is going to indicate whether all the pain that Kevin Rudd put the Labor Party through in regaining the prime ministership was worth it, it will be the inner-city seat of Brisbane. The seat…
Smile, it’s time for our fourth election podcast - a special edition straight from Queensland. Smile, it’s time for our fourth election podcast - a special edition straight from Queensland. AAP/Lukas Coch

Election 2013 Podcast: Tracey Arklay, John Harrison

Welcome to the fourth of The Conversation’s Election 2013 podcasts. Each week The Conversation will be sitting down with Australia’s top political minds to discuss all things election as we gear up for…
Former speaker Peter Slipper is virtually no chance to retain his Queensland seat of Fisher after a highly controversial last term in office. Former speaker Peter Slipper is virtually no chance to retain his Queensland seat of Fisher after a highly controversial last term in office. AAP/Dave Hunt

The ghost of Peter Slipper will still haunt Fisher

A number of seats in Queensland may go a long way to deciding the outcome of the federal election. However, it is doubtful that the seat of Fisher, located in the southern part of the Sunshine Coast, will…
Labor MP Bernie Ripoll is expected to be returned in the Queensland seat of Oxley in September unless a seismic shift against the ALP in the state. Labor MP Bernie Ripoll is expected to be returned in the Queensland seat of Oxley in September unless a seismic shift against the ALP in the state. AAP/Alan Porritt

A loss in Oxley could spell disaster for Labor

The fate of the federal Queensland seat of Oxley in the 2013 election will provide some clues to the Labor Party’s long term future. If Labor loses Oxley, it is in serious trouble. The seat includes traditional…
Queensland’s groundwater is vital to the continued success of its agriculture. Queensland’s groundwater is vital to the continued success of its agriculture. Brian Yap

Coal’s damage is cumulative: let’s assess it that way

Mine operators have proposed nine major new coal mines for the Galilee Basin in central Queensland. Those proposals currently being assessed by the Queensland government could significantly impact water…
Love your gingerbread? Thank your Red Ferrosols. Love your gingerbread? Thank your Red Ferrosols. Flickr/sheilaz413

The good earth: Buderim Red Ferrosol and ginger

Australia has some of the world’s most ancient soils, many of which grow delicious produce. In this series, “The good earth”, soil scientist Robert Edis profiles some of those soils and the flavours they…
With the number of visitors Australia’s national parks get every year, can we really call them locked up? With the number of visitors Australia’s national parks get every year, can we really call them locked up? Flickr/The 0bserver

National parks are the least locked up land there is

Across Australia, the debate over national parks is escalating. This has been triggered by a series of significant changes in the approach to managing parks, with moves to open them to logging, grazing…
Lucky it’s dry: if the Channel Country was in flood, oil could have flowed into Lake Eyre. Lucky it’s dry: if the Channel Country was in flood, oil could have flowed into Lake Eyre. Flickr/Euclid vanderKroew

Dishing the dirt on Santos' Queensland oil spill

In May oil spilled from a well in south-west Queensland owned by Australian oil and gas company Santos. In what may be the state’s third largest spill, more than 250,000 litres of oil flowed from the well…
Climate change is just another variable for Queensland farmers. Climate change is just another variable for Queensland farmers. Lock the Gate Alliance

Australia’s farming future: Queensland

Queensland farmers are used to dealing with variable seasons, but the long-term shifts of climate change are expected to create new challenges. Queensland farmers already do a good job of managing a variable…
Australia is already clearing land at world-leading rates. Australia is already clearing land at world-leading rates. Ray Christie/Indigo Skies Photography

Clearing more land: we all lose

Last week the Queensland parliament passed laws relaxing land clearing and opening up national parks to cattle grazing. Victoria has proposed similar clearing changes. It’s no surprise more clearing is…
When cows are going hungry, should their rights trump those of national parks? When cows are going hungry, should their rights trump those of national parks? AAP Image/Dean Lewins

Queensland cattle crisis: animal welfare or the environment?

Due to a serious drought that has seen one-third of Queensland drought declared, farmers are struggling to feed their cattle. There’s inadequate feed on their own land, feed is hard to source in the marketplace…
Barren and isolated, Riversleigh is actually one of the most important fossil sites in the world. Barren and isolated, Riversleigh is actually one of the most important fossil sites in the world. Riversleigh from Shutterstock.

Unknown wonders: Riversleigh

Australia is famous for its natural beauty: the Great Barrier Reef, Uluru, Kakadu, the Kimberley. But what about the places almost no one goes? We asked ecologists, biologists and wildlife researchers…
Will the Great Barrier Reef be declared ‘In Danger’? We’ll have to wait until next year to find out. Will the Great Barrier Reef be declared ‘In Danger’? We’ll have to wait until next year to find out. AAP Image/Catlin Seaview Survey

UNESCO still worried about the Great Barrier Reef

UNESCO, the body that lists world heritage areas, continues to express extreme disquiet about the state of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. But it has now postponed to February 2014 consideration…
This Green and Golden Bell Frog is one of the few species to be successfully protected using offsets. This Green and Golden Bell Frog is one of the few species to be successfully protected using offsets. Flickr/eyeweed

Can we offset biodiversity losses?

Clive Palmer’s China First Coal Project is entering the last stages of review for its proposed coal mine in Queensland’s Bimblebox Nature Refuge. As part of the Supplementary Environmental Impact Statement…
To figure out where we’re safe from crocodiles, we need to know more about what makes them move around. To figure out where we’re safe from crocodiles, we need to know more about what makes them move around. Jeff Keir

Controlling crocs means knowing who’s boss

The estuarine crocodile is the top predator in waterways across Northern Australia. Large crocodiles pose a risk to humans, so local governments take measures to control crocodile abundance and distribution…
Queensland Premier Campbell Newman announces his government’s plan to outsource, rather than completely privatise, many public services. Queensland Premier Campbell Newman announces his government’s plan to outsource, rather than completely privatise, many public services. AAP/Dan Peled

Why Queensland didn’t need to sell the family farm

Back in July last year Queensland Premier Campbell Newman was in a very black mood. All was gloom and doom in the Sunshine State, as he warned Queensland was “on the way to being bankrupted” without tough…
Soon after revealing his plans to build a replica Titanic, Clive Palmer has set his sights on becoming Australian Prime Minister. Soon after revealing his plans to build a replica Titanic, Clive Palmer has set his sights on becoming Australian Prime Minister. EPA/Jason Szenes

Titanic ambitions: Palmer’s federal push shouldn’t be lightly dismissed

Queensland has a habit of raising the eyebrows of our southern cousins when it comes to politics “our way”. Visits to friends and family down south always have required explanations about Joh Bjelke-Petersen…
Heavy-handed strategies won’t reduce the risk of bat-borne diseases and will be detrimental to the environment. Heavy-handed strategies won’t reduce the risk of bat-borne diseases and will be detrimental to the environment. Flickr/mdavidford

Breaking up bat colonies doesn’t eliminate health risks

The recent tragic death of a young boy from Australian bat lyssavirus (ABL) produced a predictable chorus of calls to disperse flying fox colonies and kill flying foxes, all in the name of public health…
Dugongs rely on seagrass for food - damage to grass beds is a bigger threat to the species than Indigenous hunting. Dugongs rely on seagrass for food - damage to grass beds is a bigger threat to the species than Indigenous hunting. sandwichgirl/Flickr

Banning Indigenous hunting won’t help dugongs

In the 1990s some international animal rights and environment organisations instigated a concerted campaign to stop the hunting of pilot whales by Faroese people living in the northeast Atlantic. The thousand-year-old…
Indigenous Queenslanders should be able to choose their own path. Indigenous Queenslanders should be able to choose their own path. AAP/Dave Hunt

Funding cuts threaten Indigenous independence in Queensland

Funding cuts announced to Queensland Aboriginal communities last month will of course affect the budgets of Aboriginal Shire Councils. But their impact will be felt much more further afield than just within…
Science suggests poor soils, water availability and harsh climatic conditions should dull visions for a northern Australia food bowl. Science suggests poor soils, water availability and harsh climatic conditions should dull visions for a northern Australia food bowl. Wakx/Flickr

The only way is up? The northern Australian food bowl fantasy

With the recently leaked discussion paper by the Coalition reigniting old passions for a northern irrigated food bowl, Australia must again contemplate its vision for the north. Is this our chance to learn…
The burden of pain and discomfort, disfigurement and disability from dental decay is very large in Australia. The burden of pain and discomfort, disfigurement and disability from dental decay is very large in Australia. Pete Simon

Stopping fluoridation imperils Queenslanders' dental health

Mandatory water fluoridation introduced by the former Queensland government is being rolled back by some local councils, which have been given the power to decide whether to continue with the public health…
Hotel Cunnamulla – where Terry Lewis' rise began. Hotel Cunnamulla – where Terry Lewis' rise began. AAP/James Shrimpton

The man who would be commissioner: Bjelke-Petersen’s crooked pick

For his new book Three Crooked Kings, author and journalist Matthew Condon had unprecedented access to the jailed Queensland Police Commissioner Terry Lewis who speaks for the first time about the events…
Homophobic bullying is a problem that needs urgent attention in Queensland schools. Homophobic bullying is a problem that needs urgent attention in Queensland schools. Bullying image from www.shutterstock.com

Why Queensland schools are failing gay students

There has been a series of disturbing homophobic bullying incidents in Queensland schools in recent months. Some of the cases reported in the media included a Brisbane student being allegedly told by male…
South East Queensland’s grid of water treatment plants are meant to drought proof the region, but could help in floods too. South East Queensland’s grid of water treatment plants are meant to drought proof the region, but could help in floods too. AAP Image/Dave Hunt

How ‘drought infrastructure’ can help us get through floods

Over the last six years, there have been major investments made in “climate independent” water supplies and other measures to help “drought-proof” most of Australia’s capital cities. These have included…
Can on-field adulation translate to off-field trustworthiness? Can on-field adulation translate to off-field trustworthiness? AAP Image/Dean Lewins

Big league stakes: gambling on a sport legend to sell coal seam gas

Darren Lockyer knows a thing or two about conversions, having banged hundreds between the posts and over the crossbar during his rugby league career. He retired on a high in 2011, having captained the…
There are opportunities for compromise between development and conservation in Cape York, but they’re en route to being missed. There are opportunities for compromise between development and conservation in Cape York, but they’re en route to being missed. hindesite/Flickr

Cape York for World Heritage listing: is it ready?

World Heritage sites in Australia have often been born out of battles between conservationists and development-oriented state governments. Little regard has been paid to land owners: until now. February…
Queensland MP Andrew Laming’s inflammatory comments about violence in Logan were insensitive and misdirected. Queensland MP Andrew Laming’s inflammatory comments about violence in Logan were insensitive and misdirected. AAP/Lukas Coch

Unemployment not the cause of Pacific Islander violence in Logan

Mobs tearing up Logan. Did any of them do a day’s work today, or was it business as usual and welfare on tap? That’s how MP Andrew Laming responded to recent violence in Logan between Aboriginal and Pacific…
Queensland Campbell Newman with new housing minister Tim Mander, who replaced Dr Bruce Flegg, who resigned over accusations of impropriety. Queensland Campbell Newman with new housing minister Tim Mander, who replaced Dr Bruce Flegg, who resigned over accusations of impropriety. AAP/Dan Peled

The swinging state: how Queensland is set to shape the federal election

After a tumultuous first year in power for Campbell Newman’s Liberal National Party, Queensland now offers more hope for Julia Gillard at next year’s federal election. Which way the Sunshine State will…
A coal seam gas production well between Tara and Chinchilla, Queensland. A coal seam gas production well between Tara and Chinchilla, Queensland. Jeremy Buckingham

Air pollution from coal seam gas may put public health at risk

Concerns about the unconventional gas industry’s environmental impacts have been around for some time. The major issues are its effect on surface and groundwater, and growing evidence of greater-than-anticipated…
Are the perceived risks of uranium mining real or outdated? Are the perceived risks of uranium mining real or outdated? RaeAllen

Modern-day mining: Queensland’s uranium re-launch

The Queensland State Government recently announced it would take up uranium mining again. The topic of uranium mining often raises concern about environmental risk. While past uranium mining in Queensland…
Queensland unveils tenders for two new boot camp programs for young offenders. Queensland unveils tenders for two new boot camp programs for young offenders. flickr.com

Boot camps a poor fit for juvenile justice

The Queensland Attorney-General, Jarrod Bleijie, has authorised a tender process for the operation of two youth boot camps. The camps, aimed at 13 to 17 year olds, are to be trialled in Cairns and on the…
The mother (centre) of the four young girls at the centre of a custody dispute arrives at court hearing in Brisbane. The mother (centre) of the four young girls at the centre of a custody dispute arrives at court hearing in Brisbane. AAP/Dan Peled

Child custody: a family law perspective

Last week’s Media Watch programme on the ABC discussed the role of the Australian media in the custody case of four Queensland children that has created headlines across the country over the past few months…
A sign outside an Aboriginal community near Darwin, noting the ban on consuming alcohol in the area. A sign outside an Aboriginal community near Darwin, noting the ban on consuming alcohol in the area. AAP/Xavier La Canna

New singers, old songs: alcohol bans in Aboriginal communities

The newly elected conservative governments in Queensland and the Northern Territory have opened the way to relaxing laws restricting access to alcohol in Aboriginal communities. In Queensland, a number…
Killing starfish one by one is no long-term solution. Killing starfish one by one is no long-term solution. Paul Cizek

Crown of Thorns is a symptom of reef decline: let’s address the cause

A recent report on coral loss from the Great Barrier Reef has pointed the finger at cyclones and Crown of Thorns starfish. The real culprit is human activity, and until we reduce port activity and pollution…
Brigalow trees are vital for soil health and erosion control. They’re only just recovering from 19th century clearing. Why does the Queensland Government have it in for them? Brigalow trees are vital for soil health and erosion control. They’re only just recovering from 19th century clearing. Why does the Queensland Government have it in for them? Arthur Chapman

Queensland land-clearing changes threaten trees farmers need

The Queensland State Government has recently proposed changes to the Vegetation Management Act 1999. Under the planned reforms, landowners will be able to clear and thin out vegetation using self-assessable…
The Queensland government is keen to remove as many barriers to development as possible. But at what cost to the state’s environment? The Queensland government is keen to remove as many barriers to development as possible. But at what cost to the state’s environment? AAP/Dave Hunt

Queensland’s big step back from environmental assessment

The defining characteristic of the Newman government’s environmental policy seems to be a Great Leap Backwards: an old-fashioned determination not to let environmental concerns get in the way of expanding…
Queensland Premier Campbell Newman congratulates Treaurer Tim Nicholls after handing down the first LNP budget in 14 years. Queensland Premier Campbell Newman congratulates Treaurer Tim Nicholls after handing down the first LNP budget in 14 years. AAP/Dave Hunt

Politically sharp Queensland budget might cut both ways for Newman

As budgets go we’ve seen tougher, but not often. The first appropriation bill of the Queensland’s new Liberal-National government – the first non-Labor budget in 14 years – was always going to be austere…
The Federal Government has given the go-ahead to the Alpha coal development (this picture shows the existing trial mine), but will it ever be built? The Federal Government has given the go-ahead to the Alpha coal development (this picture shows the existing trial mine), but will it ever be built? Greenpeace/Andrew Quilty

On Alpha coal approval, Burke clearly right in battle with Newman

Picking who is right in political disputes is often hard but this one is different. Queensland Premier Campbell Newman was clearly wrong in stating that the Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke is standing…
Campbell Newman’s linking of Queensland’s dire financial situation with that of Spain saw quite a backlash, but is there an underlying element of truth? Campbell Newman’s linking of Queensland’s dire financial situation with that of Spain saw quite a backlash, but is there an underlying element of truth? AAP

Perfect one day, bankrupt the next? Queensland’s missing fortune

Comments by Campbell Newman that Queensland was on the way to bankruptcy are, unfortunately, true. His comment that “Queensland does not have the money…” is globally true - but clearly specifically arguable…
Green innovation: the upper compression ring of the Olympic Stadium main roof truss is made from 2,600 tonnes of surplus gas pipes. Green innovation: the upper compression ring of the Olympic Stadium main roof truss is made from 2,600 tonnes of surplus gas pipes. London 2012

Has the London Olympics really gone green, and what can the Gold Coast Games gain?

For seven years, the London Olympics Organising Committee has been striving to live up to the sustainability vision it set itself. It’s been a long, honest fight. On the eve of the Games, how well have…
Does the Queensland Premier understand his own State’s mine approval process? Does the Queensland Premier understand his own State’s mine approval process? AAP

Federal ‘green-tape’ myth for Alpha mine

The dispute between the Queensland and Commonwealth Governments over the approval of Gina Rinehart’s Alpha Coal Mine continues to escalate with the Prime Minister now backing her Environment Minister…
Minister Tony Burke is slowing down coal development in Queensland, but there’s more to it than saving turtles. Minister Tony Burke is slowing down coal development in Queensland, but there’s more to it than saving turtles. Landfeldt/Flickr

Commonwealth and Queensland face off over coal and Great Barrier Reef

The halt in the Alpha Coal Project approval process shows the Commonwealth is taking very seriously UNESCO’s recent report threatening downgrading the status of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area…
Can a booming coal industry and a Heritage-Listed reef co-exist? Can a booming coal industry and a Heritage-Listed reef co-exist? AAP/Dave Hunt

The Great Barrier Reef at a crossroads

Last Friday the World Heritage Centre and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) released a report on the state of the Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest World Heritage Property…
Newman’s campaign promises were key to endorsements from some Indigenous organisations, but there has since been little action. Newman’s campaign promises were key to endorsements from some Indigenous organisations, but there has since been little action. AAP

Whatever happened to Queensland’s Wild Rivers controversy?

As I wrote in March, whether the Wild Rivers Act was repealed or prolonged in the wake of the Queensland election, underlying issues concerning the future and politics of Cape York Peninsula would persist…
Anti-CSG campaigners - including Lock the Gate’s Drew Hutton - believe bubbles in the Condamine River have been caused by mining. Anti-CSG campaigners - including Lock the Gate’s Drew Hutton - believe bubbles in the Condamine River have been caused by mining. AAP

Bubbling to the surface: CSG impacts and the Condamine

The extraction of coal seam gas (CSG) appears to be a simple exercise - drill bores, pump the water out and gas flows away. While this is technically true, many of the environmental risks are nowhere near…
Clive Palmer should probably stick to what he’s good at. Clive Palmer should probably stick to what he’s good at. AAP Image/Dan Peled

Forget contesting Lilley, Clive Palmer should stick to his day job

Mining magnate Clive Palmer has put his name forward to run for the Liberal National Party (LNP) against Treasurer Wayne Swan in the Queensland seat of Lilley at the next election. Palmer has been a vocal…
Queensland Premier Campbell Newman congratulates Health and Community Services Minister Tracy Davis as she is sworn in. Queensland Premier Campbell Newman congratulates Health and Community Services Minister Tracy Davis as she is sworn in. AAP Image/John Pryke

Campbell’s cabinet and the curious case of the career politicians

During the much-anticipated announcement of his new cabinet line-up in Brisbane last Friday, incoming Queensland Premier Campbell Newman emphasised his new team’s diversity, both geographically and in…
Campbell Newman says Queensland’s carbon-reduction policies aren’t needed under a carbon price, but what does he mean? Campbell Newman says Queensland’s carbon-reduction policies aren’t needed under a carbon price, but what does he mean? AAP

State climate schemes still worthwhile under a carbon price

In justifying their recent abandonment of state-based climate schemes, the governments of Queensland and Victoria have both claimed that the schemes will be redundant under the federal emissions trading…
State governments are walking away from emissions reduction, but it’s thanks to poor policy from the ALP. State governments are walking away from emissions reduction, but it’s thanks to poor policy from the ALP. Takver/Flickr

A flawed carbon pricing scheme lets states dump climate action

In the past few days we have seen two states, Victoria and Queensland, announce cut-backs on action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. They have been able to justify this by pointing out, correctly, that…
Former ALP Minister Barry Jones says the party needs significant reform. Former ALP Minister Barry Jones says the party needs significant reform. AAP

The decay of the political process

Queensland has developed a tradition of political swings that are far greater than the national average. Labor held only one Queensland House of Representatives seat in 1975 and in 1996 only two. The major…
Campbell Newman and close confidants Jeff Seeney (right) and Tim Nicholls at the first meeting on the LNP government. Campbell Newman and close confidants Jeff Seeney (right) and Tim Nicholls at the first meeting on the LNP government. AAP/Dan Peled

Queensland election: Labor on the wrong side of the boom

A lot of the coverage of the Queensland election has so far focused on the headline numbers. Admittedly, these are startling. The LNP will control 78 of 89 seats in the unicameral Parliament. Labor’s primary…
Labor leader Anna Bligh is likely to lose the Queensland election, but what are the federal implications? Labor leader Anna Bligh is likely to lose the Queensland election, but what are the federal implications? AAP Image/Jack Tran

Queensland election: which seats matter for Labor?

The likely defeat of the Bligh Labor government in this weekend’s Queensland elections may not have the negative implications for the Gillard government that many commentators might expect. The presence…
Campbell Newman addresses workers during a campaign stop. Campbell Newman addresses workers during a campaign stop. AAP/Dan Peled

Is Campbell Newman’s Queensland election strategy in trouble?

The Liberal National Party chose an unconventional strategy when it decided make former Lord Mayor of Brisbane Campbell Newman its leader. Newman needs to win a seat in the Queensland parliament if he…
Kevin Rudd may not have the power to swing his home state. Kevin Rudd may not have the power to swing his home state. AAP/Kym Smith

Kevin Rudd’s leadership tilt won’t make a difference in the Queensland election

During his campaign to wrest the Labor leadership from prime minister Julia Gillard, Kevin Rudd has repeatedly made reference to his home state of Queensland. With the Sunshine State set to go to the polls…
Rudd has been appealing to his Queensland constituents, but will it work? Rudd has been appealing to his Queensland constituents, but will it work?

Kevin Rudd’s Queensland pitch could sway the Sunshine State, but leave the rest of Australia cold

Kevin Rudd’s announcement of resignation as Foreign Affairs Minister and subsequent leadership challenge has been a carefully constructed exercise in the sort of politics on which Queensland thrives. He…

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