Anna Bligh : biography
In winning the election, Bligh became Australia’s first popularly elected female premier. The two previous female premiers, Carmen Lawrence (Western Australia 1990–93) and Joan Kirner (Victoria 1990–92), became premiers following the resignation of male premiers (as Bligh did), but both were defeated at the following respective state elections. However, Bligh is not Australia’s first popularly elected female head of government. Rosemary Follett and Kate Carnell were both popularly elected as Chief Minister of the Australian Capital Territory, and Clare Martin was elected as Chief Minister of the Northern Territory.
Bligh announced the privatisation of five government owned corporations:
- Queensland Motorways Limited (Operating the Gateway Bridge and Logan Motorway tolling systems)
- The Port of Brisbane Authority
- Forestry Plantations Queensland
- Abbot Point Coal Terminal
- Coal carrying rail lines, currently owned by Queensland Rail (QR Passenger services will remain nationalised).
More than 3,000 workers were to be offered voluntary redundancies, just three months after the privatisation of QR National.
Queensland Motorways Limited and Forestry Plantations Queensland were not being sold, but rather being leased for an estimated 50-year lease. Since this announcement, the Queensland Government announced plans to sell Queensland Rail to the public.
Revenues from privatisation were estimated at approximately $15 billion dollars, to go towards balancing QLD’s state budget.
The sale of these assets aimed at removing significant overheads from the Queensland Government’s debt portfolio, allowing further growth of the Governments capital assets, as well as aiding the government to return to its AAA credit rating. Bligh has faced resistance from both within her party and the trade union movement, but has defended her privatisation plan as ‘not negotiable’.
The 2009 Annual State Conference of the Australian Labor Party – Queensland Branch, passed a motion, moved by Treasurer Andrew Fraser MP, seconded by Parliamentary Secretary for Healthy Living Murray Watt MP, supporting the sale of the assets, recognising that the sale will allow the Queensland Government to grow its asset portfolio, as well as retire debt.
In October 2006, then Queensland Premier Peter Beattie, commissioned research to see if Daylight Saving should be re-introduced into Queensland on a trial basis. On 1 October 2007 Bligh ruled out holding a new referendum, despite this government-commissioned report indicating that 59% of Queensland residents and 69% of South East Queenslanders support daylight saving.
On 14 April 2010 Independent member for the Electoral district of Nicklin, Peter Wellington, introduced the Daylight Saving for South East Queensland Referendum Bill 2010 into Queensland Parliament, calling for a referendum to be held at the next State election on the introduction of daylight saving for South East Queensland only, while the remainder of the state maintains standard time. In response to this Bill, Bligh announced a community consultation process, which resulted in over 74,000 respondents participating, 64 percent of whom voted in favour of a trial and 63% were in favour of holding a referendum.
On 7 June 2010, after reviewing the favourable consultation results, Bligh announced that her Government would not support the Bill, because regional Queenslanders were overwhelmingly opposed to daylight saving. The Bill was defeated in Queensland Parliament on 15 June 2011.
Bligh’s management of and performance during the 2010–2011 Queensland floods was widely approved. Labor had been well behind the LNP, led by John-Paul Langbroek, for most of the time since the fall of 2010. However, the following Newspoll saw a record turnaround in Bligh and Labor’s fortunes. Labor rose from a two-party deficit of 41–59 to a lead of 52–48, with Bligh’s personal satisfaction-dissatisfaction standing going from a negative 24–67 to a positive 49-43. conducted by Newspoll and published in The Australian Bligh’s recovery in the polls was a factor behind Langbroek being forced to stand down in favour of Brisbane Lord Mayor Campbell Newman.. 6PM with George Negus (Ten News), 22 March 2011. Newman had become a national figure during the floods, and polling showed he was the only non-Labor politician who even came close to matching Bligh’s popularity during that time.. 7.30 (ABC News), 22 March 2011.