Oh, Queensland. Land of endless summer (compared to Melbourne) and so many thrill rides (also, compared to Melbourne), I should not have been surprised at your state election would be the political equivalent of a 4 min Dreamworld rollercoaster. QLD is one of my favourite destinations, having had two amazing families holidays there, and I should have known that it would not let the political nerd inside me down.
I will admit that when Premier Campbell Newman declared that he would take the state to the polls on the 31st January, just 26 days after the announcement, my first instinct was a blind raging jealousy. The Victoria State Election, for which I was a support candidate for the upper house seat of Eastern Victoria in 2014, has a set date being the last weekend of November. This tends to work in the Government of the day’s favour, as the public begin to wind up for the year, start getting ready for the festive season and generally feel apathetic about everything else. However, with a set date, political parties are able to plan. And plan we did. Pre-selections happened in Jan/Feb, and most people spent all of 2014 campaigning at local markets, doorknocking, train stations and phone banking. Right of the back of the Federal election the previous September. It was exhausting. For about six months I never saw my husband and my children in the same room together.
So the concept of just 26 days of early starts, late finishes and never seeing my family seems like heaven.
Until I remember what you’re actually doing in those never-see-my-family days. Just 26 days to confirm pre-selection and get out to voters to talk about local issues and solutions feels like an impossible task. I imagine that was exactly what Newman’s LNP government is hoping for. Deeply disliked for a variety of reasons, it’s not surprise the LNP government was on the defence. Which is very interesting for a party that currently holds 64 more seats than its opposition. Yes, you read that correctly. In the last state election the LNP won 73 seats while Labor only won 9. And yet we have a state government who is under such a thread to lose power that they announced an election date that gave only 5 days for those not yet on the electoral roll to enrol (Young Queenslanders & People who have moved in the last 4 years; I’m talking to you!) as a way to limit the swing against them. Around the country, things haven’t bode well for Newman. Victoria’s state election saw Labor returned to government after just one term of a Liberal National coalition at the helm. Not only did Labor win a comfortable majority in the lower house, but the Greens (yay!) took 2 lower house seats for the first time in history, and now have 5 MLCs in the upper house (Congratulations to Nina Springle and Samantha Dunn, who are amazing women I admire so much).
There is no doubt the Left politics is stronger in Victoria than it is in rural-majority Queensland. But even the conservatives I speak with or read regularly are beginning to worry about the lack of serious environment concern or action being taken at both State and Federal level by the LNP ministers. Although I am someone who is passionate about renewable energy, and our need to invest this infrastructure immediately (or, you know, 10 years ago), I’m still comfortable to see a government take any action that they wholeheartedly believe is going to work. I can accept that, even if I think it’s wrong. But I cannot understand how this federal government, and Minister Hunt especially, can continue to push the ‘Direct Action’ plan despite so much credible information that it will not work, especially in the face of such credible information that previous plans were in fact achieve their goals. Alas, I digress.
Only 4 days into the official #qldvotes campaign, two exciting turns have already happened.
Firstly, Fake Campbell Newman Twitter artist Ian Fogerty was arrested for Public Nuisance after teasing some LNP volunteers with a “I’m with Stupid” t-shirt. Now, yes, even I had a giggle at that, but in all seriousness being a political volunteer is hard work, and being made fun or humiliated because you’re trying to make your local area a better place is not okay. But Fogerty wasn’t just approached by an officer or two and told to be on his way.
Oh no. Not in Newman’s town. SBS reports that at least 10 officers, a paddy wagon and 2 marked vehicles turned up to arrest Fogerty. And some of the footage of them taking him away is pretty remarkable. For wearing a T-shirt, and heckling some politicians and their co-workers. Again, his behaviour was not okay, and shouldn’t encouraged or tolerated, but it was not worthy of ten armed officers. It just wasn’t.
On day four of the campaign, and not completely unsurprisingly, Labor deputy and member for Mackay Tim Mulherin officially announced that he would not stand in the Jan 31st election, but would remain deputy until that time. Mackay will instead by contested by Julieanne Gilbert, former teacher and community advocate for education. Labor Leader Annastacia Palaszcuzuk took this opportunity to announce a policy to provide 45 new guidance councillors to secondary schools with more 500 students as an extra resource. It’s an odd policy, and I haven’t had a chance to look at all the finer details, but with the Federal push to install religious chaplains in all schools, both plans feel like an odd allocation of money to a sector that desperately needs resources in ICT, applied learning opportunities and better pathways for senior students.
With 23 more days to toss and turn through, it will be interesting to see what else the political masterminds have planned for our favourite holiday destination. I’m particularly excited to see was Clive Palmer can puff into the arena!
TOMORROW ON THE BLOG: I :heart: Saturdays