Jo-Ann Miller speech leaves ALP faithful stunned

Image digitally altered
Image digitally altered Queensland Times

FORGET the 'I have a dream' speech.

It was the 'I vent my spleen' oration by Bundamba MP Jo-Ann Miller at the Labor Party's regional conference that has everyone associated with the ALP in Ipswich talking.

When Jo-Ann Miller spoke to the Labor faithful at Trades Hall last Saturday she threw a series of grenades that could well have explosive repercussions.

The big question is: Will those bombs blow up in her own face?

In the speech Ms Miller said she was forced to resign as Police Minister, that there was an orchestrated campaign by senior ALP people to knife her and that she considered quitting politics but was now determined to fight on. She also outlined how she had been brushed by her own party and explained the rationale for her unforgettable performance in Estimates committees where she grilled senior ministers in her own party, and her own faction, on a raft of issues.

An attendee at the conference took note of Ms Miller's speech for the QT. That source's recollection of the speech lines up with several others who attended.

The source said that Ms Miller was dressed all in white, wearing jeans and a tight lycra top tucked in.

Member for Bundamba Jo-Ann Miller MP at her Goodna office.
Member for Bundamba Jo-Ann Miller MP at her Goodna office. David Nielsen

"It was a very short speech and she left straight after it," the source said.

"She got up there and said 'I was Police Minister and I was forced to resign against my will. I was told 'it's time to go, Jo'.

"She said she seriously thought about quitting politics all together but that friends and supporters urged her on and that she intends to stick around for a few years yet.

"Jo-Ann added that everything you read in the papers are all lies that are provided to the papers from senior Labor sources and that 'some of those sources are sitting in this room here today'.

"In parliament normally each member is provided with questions to ask the relevant minister, and you take it in turns to ask the ministers. It is all a set up.

"But she said she stopped getting provided with the opportunity to ask questions, which is why she asked all those questions in the Estimates committee.

"She said she is passionate about Bundamba, the voters and the people in the community.

"Then she said 'the walls of Jericho are up and bring it on'."

The QT asked if Ms Miller would respond to the above mentioned version of events but were told by her office that "we do not comment on internal party matters".

The 'walls of Jericho' is a Biblical reference. According to the book of Joshua the nation of Israel's army apparently marched around the city blowing their trumpets before, thanks to God's powers, they subsequently came tumbling down.

It is not known whether Ms Miller was challenging God on this point. Another source said Ms Miller had added that "I have built a wall around my electorate".

"But the funny thing is that the walls were up, but they were blown down by the trumpets of the people," they said, referring to Jericho.

Delegates had come from the four federal seats of Ryan, Blair, Oxley and Wright and included Labor icons Bill and Dallas Hayden, state secretary Evan Moorhead and ALP ministers and senators.

At the start of the speech Ms Miller said she was inspired to get involved in the Labor Party because of the work of the Haydens.

The QT heard about the speech initially from ALP members who were not at the conference.

Speaking on the record or leaking information from a behind closed doors ALP meeting is serious and can lead to disciplinary action.

That is why no-one who was there and heard Ms Miller's delivery has been named in this initial story.

The QT has checked the content of Ms Miller's speech with five attendees.

One was so impressed with our accuracy they asked: "Did you guys have a camera in there?'"

Although there were reportedly 80 to 100 in attendance, one delegate said in future many more will be claiming to have been there.

"It will be like when Queeensland won the Sheffield Shield for the first time," the source said.

"In years to come there will be 500 people saying they were there for the Jo-Ann Miller speech at regional conference."

It has been described by one of those there as "the most extraordinary thing I have seen at a regional conference".

The speech was the topic of conversation among attendees for the rest of the day and has been for the rest of the week from what the QT has gleaned.

One delegate summed it up when they said "it sounded like she was preparing to leave, or preparing to be asked to leave, the party".

"She will have to run as an independent at the next election."

On the front page of today's QT we have presented Ms Miller as 'Jo-Ann of Arc'.

The website describes the real life legendary Joan of Arc as "a peasant girl living in medieval France, who believed that God had chosen her to lead France to victory in its long-running war with England".

In Ms Miller's case she is a miner's daughter living in the true believer Labor electorate of Bundamba in modern Ipswich with the firm belief the people have chosen her to lead a war against a suite of enemies. Unfortunately many of those enemies are now on her own side of politics.

When asked what they thought about our 'Jo-Ann of Arc' reference, one delegate had a chuckle.

"That's right. But she's more like a shag on a rock," they said.

Senior ALP figures have told the QT the speech could well be the final nail in Ms Miller's coffin when it comes to her chances of gaining ALP pre-selection at the next election. That's if it wasn't already nailed down.

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