Premier Miles' inaugural speech

Published Friday, 15 December, 2023 at 04:43 PM

The Honourable Steven Miles

Link to speech

Today I have been sworn in as Premier of Queensland and today I start delivering as Premier.

I will honour the trust that my colleagues from right across Queensland, have placed in me today and I promise to work day and night to earn the trust of Queenslanders.

I’m a Queenslander born and bred and to serve as your Premier is the greatest honour.

I will deliver a renewed and fresh approach to the challenges we face, and the opportunities we have.

This week we have all been focused on the cyclone response in North Queensland…

I was on the ground in Townsville and Cairns as Cyclone Jasper crossed our coast..

My thoughts are with those still without power and with damaged homes and businesses.

Working closely with the Queensland Reconstruction Authority has shown me just how well we manage and recover from natural disasters.

Queenslanders are tough, we’re resilient.

I’ll never forget those days spent in the hot sun in Goodna and Yeronga and Deception Bay after the 2022 floods…

We care about each other, and we roll up our sleeves, pitch in and help when our neighbours are in trouble.

We did it during COVID too.

And as a Government we’ve always put Queenslanders’ health, safety and well being first.

I believe that was Annastacia Palasczcuk’s great strength. The care she showed for Queenslanders.

Queensland has much to be proud of…

A booming economy with people moving here in droves for our fantastic lifestyle…

We have thriving industries, innovative small businesses and a strong public service.

We often overlook how wonderful Queensland’s natural environment is. … cassowaries in the Far North, koalas and kangaroos in the South East…

We have the Great Barrier Reef, … the largest living organism in the world - home for our corals, fish and unique marine life and the reason so many people come from every corner of the globe to visit Queensland.

My wife Kim and I want our children, and all Queensland children, to be able to enjoy these natural assets just like we do now.

As Premier, I will continue to fight to protect Queensland’s environment.

You all know that I’ve never liked talking about myself…

I’ve never thought it was about me – always about Queensland and Queenslanders.

But my story is a classic Queensland suburban story and probably helps to understand why I do this.

For me Labor is about families working hard to create opportunity for their children.

That’s my story.

Grandparents who didn’t have much… but worked hard so their children could get trade qualifications and good secure jobs.

And my parents, who dreamed that their children could get a great education and even go to university…

My dad Bruce did his apprenticeship at Golden Circle Cannery at Northgate and worked there for 33 years.

My mum Christine started as a clerk in the Public Service and finished her career as a workplace health and safety inspector.

My parents worked hard, created a loving home for me and my sister Kate, and encouraged us to do well in school.

For me, that turned into a scholarship to go to university – the first in my family to do so…

It’s this lesson of working hard to get ahead and provide for your family that’s at my core.

And, will stay at the core of my work as Premier.

But we all know, that this generational progress, that I experienced, is not inevitable… And

It comes from good government policies that make education accessible for all people.

It’s only Labor government’s that deliver this.

That’s why I joined the Labor party, at just 16.

Because I could see that the opportunities I had were thanks to my parent’s hard work, ….but enabled by Labor governments.

Labor governments that deliver quality education, access to free health care, and build affordable housing.

We’re the party of workers rights, we’re the party of TAFE and Universities.  OF Medicare, the PBS and the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

Strong Labor Government’s give people the chance to create something better for their families.  

And this commitment to give back to hardworking Queenslanders, to create opportunities for our children, will be central to my Government.

Kim and I know that our three children Sam, Aidan and Bridie - can dream of doing anything, they have so much potential growing up here in Queensland today.

I wish my parents and grandparents could’ve dreamed the same dreams … but I hope they know how their hard work changed the course of our lives and gave us what we have today.

I will be forever grateful to them.

I’d also like to thank all the wonderful teachers who helped me on my journey.

In fact, my high school English teacher is here today. And I’m thinking of all those recent high school graduates who get the ATARs today.

I’d also like to thank the union leaders here today.

I am proud to be a member of two unions that represent public servants … and some of the lowest paid workers like cleaners and child care educators.

They represent hundreds of thousands of Queenslanders.

I may have been criticized for listening to the unions that represent Queensland workers…

The fact is as a minister I have always listened to all voices.

When I was Environment Minister, I listened to the conservation groups and scientists, … also the canegrowers, farmers and fishers.

When I was Health Minister I listened to patients … also doctors, nurses, pharmacists, GPs, ambos and the businesses that make lifesaving drugs and health equipment. 

During COVID everybody had an interest in health. And I listened to all their views.

I assure Queenslanders that will not change.

That’s why today I’m announcing I will create a new Queensland Leaders Forum to bring together business, industry, community and unions in the one room to work together for Queensland’s future.

That’s what we did during the COVID response…It worked well so I’m bringing it back.

Giving people opportunity will be central to my government, because in so many ways, that is the story of Queensland. 

Were a state of great opportunity. And of great strengths. 

Strengths like our people, who are bold, brave and visionary… We are a smart state of smart people, who take risks and make things.

We’re also Australia’s most decentralised state. With strong regional communities that back themselves, their industries and their futures.

I know regional communities are the backbone of Queensland’s economy….

Our strength as a resources, agriculture and energy powerhouse, the source of our prosperity in a global market.

We must safeguard our future.

I’m from the suburbs. But I will be a Premier that unites the city and bush. 

A Premier that works for Queenslanders whether you live in our regions, our suburbs or the inner city.

Because theres much more that unites us than divides us.

Right now, I want to us to unite on the opportunity of decarbonisation.

Our trading partners, particularly those in Europe, North America and much of Asia, are demanding the places they trade with act responsibly…

The things we make in our regions and sell to the world, must be made with an eye to how the world wants them. 

Thats why responsible emissions targets are essential to jobs in our existing industries like mining, agriculture, and manufacturing.

And its the key to creating more jobs in the new industries of the future, like hydrogen, critical minerals, and sustainable aircraft fuel.

Today I can announce that we will lift Queenslands ambition on climate action to strengthen our economy and create jobs.

We will reduce our emissions by 75% by 2035.

The Queensland Energy and Jobs Plan – made possible by the public ownership of our energy assets – has allowed us to set this new target.

And well legislate our targets, … including the existing targets of 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030 and net zero emissions by 2050.

By legislating this target, we will create certainty for industry and for jobs.

By legislating this target we are making a very clear statement to the world that Queensland is the place to do business if youre looking to use clean energy to create prosperity.

Because whether you live in one of our regional cities and youre concerned about keeping a blue-collar job…

Or in the inner-city and worried about climate change…

Or working on a farm, experiencing the ravages of natural disasters….

…reducing our emissions is crucial to creating a shared and prosperous future.

Thats why Queensland will lead on this decision…

Just as we’ve led on our 62 billion dollar Queensland Energy and Jobs Plan – the most ambitious of any government in Australia.

It’s had incredible support, nationally and internationally.

When Andrew Forest asked what it would take to fuel his business on green hydrogen,… he was told there weren’t enough electrolysers in the world.

So, he’s going to make them… And he’s going to make them in the world’s biggest electrolyser manufacturing plant…. in Gladstone.

That’s exactly the kind of manufacturing we want here in Queensland.

In 2032 Queensland will host the Olympics and Paralympics.

Winning the right to host the Olympics gives us the greatest opportunity for urban renewal weve had since South Bank hosted expo. 

Its a chance to revitalise our infrastructure, renew urban areas and create community facilities that we can all enjoy and build a legacy.

The games themselves don't go for long, but the legacy for our communities will last for generations.

However, if we really want to make the most of this opportunity, its critical that we have all the right people at the table. 

This is a chance for us to unite, but it has become divisive. 

I want to fix that.

That’s why I’ll establish a delivery authority for the 2032 Olympics and Paralympics and conduct a review of the venue’s masterplan.

This will be done with full cooperation from the Brisbane Organizing Committee, the AOC and the IOC.

We have time to get this right, but not a lot of time…

That’s why I am setting a 60 day timeline.

The mission is simple, make sure the Games work for Queensland and delivers for Queenslanders.

As a former Health Minister, I also want to make healthcare for Queenslanders a priority.

Our health system is under pressure, more people are sick than ever before …and they’re sicker than they’ve ever been before.

The reasons are complicated and there’s no simple fix.

Shannon Fentiman is doing an excellent job. If anyone can take on these challenges, it’s her.

What I will say is our doctors and nurses… our allied health professionals and paramedics ….and everyone who works to run our health care facilities from the admin team to the director general are absolutely world class.

I’ve met many of them…. And I remain close to many of them. Some of them are here today.

And despite the pressures, Queensland Health remains world class … and I will not stand for the people who say otherwise.

I’m most proud of our satellite hospitals. 

When I asked what I could do to take pressure off our system, our experts came up with the concept of smaller satellite hospitals.

And families love them. We’ve opened them in Caboolture, Kallangur, Redlands, Ripley, and Tugun, already more than 28,000 people have been to them.

And we’ll open one on Bribie Island and one in Eight Mile Plains in the new year.

I will work with Shannon to work out where we can put more – to deliver better health care closer to home.

I will also always be proud to be the Health Minister who decriminalised abortion and legalised euthanasia.

I’ll never forget the sitting of Parliament we held in Townsville. There was a large anti-choice protest out the front… But through this sea of angry protestors was one lone woman.….With a sign that simply said “abortion is healthcare”

She held her nerve amongst all those screaming people because she believed women deserve healthcare.

It turned out she was a nurse at the Townsville Hospital…and from then on, my personal hero. 

Thank you Tayla.

Queensland’s golden decade of growth means that we need more homes than ever before.

So today, I have released the plan for South East Queensland.

ShapingSEQ is one of our responses to the national housing supply challenge, ensuring we deliver more homes while preserving our region's great lifestyle.

It’s a blueprint for how we create nearly 900,000 more homes in the right places. 

I also say to every Queenslander today who is struggling to pay the rent or get into the housing market that I’m on your side.

We will do everything we can to work with the federal government, councils, and developers to deliver more homes.

There is nothing more important than putting food on the table and paying the bills.

I know just from the number of people coming through my Electorate Office in Kallangur needing help that many are doing it tough.

That’s why my first action was the rego freeze.

It’s a national problem government can’t solve alone.

But we will do everything we can … including continuing to use our energy assets to deliver savings to Queenslanders on their energy bills.

But the drivers of increased costs are complex, national and global.

We have seen a growing gap between the price that farmers are getting for their produce and what people are paying at the checkout.

According to Meat and Livestock Australia, cattle prices have dropped about 60 per cent so far this year and sheep prices by 70 per cent.

Yet the price of beef at the supermarket has only fallen by about eight per cent — or a dollar a kilo.

What I find hard to accept is that while our farmers have seen their prices drop by up to three quarters, Queensland families have not seen those savings.

I will be asking the supermarkets to meet with me to explain this. …and explore together if there is more we can do.

Right now, youth crime in Queensland is unacceptably high. 

Keeping Queenslanders safe is a government’s most important obligation.

…this is a problem some would simplify for political advantage. But it’s complex,  and requires a comprehensive response.

We need to tackle both crime and the causes of crime.

Community safety will drive all we do. And there’s so much more to do.

We will be a government committed to giving our young people the very best chance in life … through good education, jobs … and the right support early in life.

But many kids don’t have strong role models and even their parents let them down.

I can’t fix the youth crime problem on my own. We need to all step up. We need to work together.

My government will develop local solutions by working with local communities. I will listen to victims of crime, to stop future crime.

The Police will always have my strong backing to keep Queenslanders safe.

That’s why in Townsville, I announced we would look into getting a new polair helicopter.

For someone who has a reputation for short sharp speeches, I’ve gone on a bit.

My first day as Minister and MP in 2015, I went to the front desk and asked if they could show me to the minister’s office.

And the person said, … No

I said, … why not?

And she said, … well do you have an appointment with the Minister?

That feels like a long time ago.

I can say every single day I have marvelled at how well we are served by our incredible public servants.

They are easy targets, but they are also on the frontline helping us when we need it. Like they were again in North Queensland this week.

Every day they do all the things that it takes to run a state as big as Queensland.  I am proud to work alongside them.

Over the next few days, we will finalise the new cabinet.

We will welcome new ministers … many fresh faces with new ideas.

We will meet together for the first time and I’m sorry, … there won’t be a lot of time for a Christmas break.

But I know they’ll agree with me when I say we need to get to work for the people of Queensland.

I will work relentlessly for Queenslanders every day Im trusted with this role. 

Ill do it, because I believe in creating opportunity for those that come after us.

I’ve got a lot to do, but to Aidan, Bridie and Sam, I promise to still get to some of your soccer and cricket matches.

I hope I can make you proud.

And I hope I can leave Queensland an even better place.