The Civil Liberties Council has called on the Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to immediately reverse her decision to strip Katter’s Australia Party of its three parliamentary staff and two extra electorate officers following KAP Senator Fraser Anning’s contentious maiden speech in the Federal Parliament.

Civil Liberties Vice President Terry O’Gorman said the Premier’s stance was completely contrary to one of the major pillars of the Fitzgerald Inquiry report delivered to the Queensland Parliament in July 1989.

Mr O’Gorman said that Tony Fitzgerald QC looked at then Labour Opposition complaints that the Bjelke-Petersen Government throughout the 70’s and 80’s had vindictively cut Labour’s parliamentary staff as a means of stifling Labour’s criticism of Government excesses.

In the chapter of Fitzgerald’s report dealing with The Role of Parliament Fitzgerald said:

  • In order to be an effective forum, Parliament must have sufficient resources to enable it properly to research topics and evaluate Government proposals. Parliament can easily be prevented from properly performing its role by being denied time and resources. Any Government may use its dominance in the Parliament and its control of public resources to stifle and neuter effective criticism by the Opposition.
  • Non-government party members must be provided with appropriate resources and detailed information to enable them to supervise and criticise, just as Governments naturally are well equipped and staffed.
  • Without information about Government activities and research staff to properly assess it, the opposition party or parties have no basis on which to review or criticise the activities. (Emphasis added)[1]

“For the Premier to cut KAP’s State Parliament resources because a Federal KAP Senator in the Federal Parliament made an appalling maiden speech referencing the ‘final solution’ in his criticismof Muslim immigration is illogical and fails to heed the lessons of the Fitzgerald Inquiry.” Mr O’Gorman said.

Mr O’Gorman said that the Premier was not a Member of Parliament at the time of the delivery of the landmark Fitzgerald Report and perhaps is unaware of the history of the Bjelke-Petersen Government preventing the then Labour Opposition from doing its job by stripping it of Parliamentary resources.

“But there must be older members of the Labour Party organisational wing and Branches who remember that era who should speak out against the Premier’s fundamentally wrong and anti- democratic measure in stripping KAP of necessarily Parliamentary resources” Mr O’Gorman said.

Mr O’Gorman said that the Premier’s own justification for the move is inherently contradictory while supposedly supporting free speech and then punishing State KAP for the actions of its Federal body in exercising free speech.

The fact that the Premier has stripped State KAP of Parliamentary resources after pressure from the LNP with Deputy Opposition Leader Tim Mander saying the LNP had ‘shamed’ the Government into taking this action suggests petty politics and a desire to diminish KAPs public profile is behind the move, Mr O’Gorman said.

While the Civil Liberties Council was ‘awfully appalled’ by Senator Anning’s speech and equally critical of Federal KAP Leader Bob Katter’s support for Senator Anning, the protection of free speech means having to cop the drivel in Anning’s maiden speech.

 

Mr O’Gorman can be contacted during business hours on 07 3034 0000or after hours on 0418 787182

 

 

[1] See Report of a Commission of Inquiry (Fitzgerald Report) 3 July 1989 at page 123 – 124.