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Redcliffe By-election Campbell Newman with firies

Premier Campbell Newman has used parliament question time to accuse some firefighters protesting at the Redcliffe By-election of being actors.

Premier Campbell Newman has used Tuesday's question time to explain his encounter with firefighters. At the Redcliffe by-election, Newman confronted firefighters who were protesting against fire station closures. Newman asked which one was closing.

In answering a question from Shadow Minister for Police, Corrective Services, and Emergency Services Bill Byrne, Newman used parliament to accuse firefighters of being actors.

Hansard 4th March 2014 

'Hansard 4th March 2014'

From hansard:

Fire and Rescue Service, Employment Conditions

Mr BYRNE: My question is to the Premier.I refer to the Premier’s pledge to listen more and I ask: will the Premier listen to the concerns of firefighters and immediately start consulting about wages, conditions and the casualisation of the fire service?

Mr NEWMAN: I thank the honourable member for his question about firefighters, but I am puzzled. When I went out to Redcliffe about a week and a half ago for the election, I saw people purporting to be firefighters. Some probably were firefighters; some seemed like actors in costumes.

Honourable members interjected.

Mr NEWMAN: Here are some photos. I do not understand the member’s question, because the photos show people wearing T-shirts with slogans that are all about closing fire stations. The material that was being distributed and the comments made to members of the community were along the lines that fire stations were being shut down. On that day I spoke with Mr John Oliver. I assume it was Mr John Oliver. I have never met him in person.

One of the firies got him on the phone, because this government is listening and consulting more. I went to the polling booth and I said,‘What’s the problem?’

They said,'You ought to talk to John Oliver’.

I said, ‘Okay’, so they rang Mr John Oliver and I spoke to someone who said he was Mr John Oliver.

I said,‘What’s the problem? Why have you got people down here claiming that fire stations are shutting?’

He sort of huffed and puffed a bit.

I said,‘Please,Mr Oliver, please John, tell me which fire station is shutting down? Which one?’

There was a long silence and, again, more indecision, obstruction, obfuscation and all that sort of thing.

Honourable members interjected.

Madam SPEAKER: Order, members!Pause the clock. I call the Premier.

Mr NEWMAN: My point is that he could not name a fire station that had been shut down. For the avoidance of doubt, the commissioner has released a statement that I urge honourable members to look at. He has released a statement to all firefighters saying that no fire stations have been shut down. That was a complete falsehood.

Why did we see that campaign on the day? It was a campaign about trying to scare people at polling booths. That was a shameful thing to do. Mr Oliver went on to say that, in fact, it was an industrial campaign; it was about terms, conditions, pay, etcetera. It was not about fire station closures.

I will say this publicly to Mr Oliver today: if you want to have a fair dinkum conversation with the government, have one. If you want to tell falsehoods and lies to people at polling booths, we do not have a conversation at all. We cannot have a conversation when you say things that are untrue. I say to Queenslanders that their fire service is a better fire service than it was two years ago.

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