Since this is 2020, the year of living very dangerously, this time of transition, marked by Hallowe’en and the night of the full moon, also includes an election.
The whole world knows about the one next week in America. I doubt that most of Australia knows – or cares – that there’s an election here in Sunny Queensland today. (31st October). We care, though, since we live here.
And that brings us back to covid-19 because the pandemic has muddied the waters, as it has for most elections around the world. Voters tend to concentrate, dare I say too much, on the government’s response to the corona virus and not enough on everything else. New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern is a case in point. Great at social media, not so good at running the economy. She was returned in a landslide in NZ’s elections several days ago.
Our current Qld Labor premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, won an unlikely victory against Campbell Newman in 2015 and has held office since. During that time she has achieved bugger all, really. An editorial in The Australian newspaper summed it up nicely. “… the overarching narrative of the Palaszczuk years adds up to centralism, bigger government, trade union domination, cronyism and scandals.”
Like other leaders, Palaszczuk has seized upon the pandemic as an opportunity to portray herself as a strong leader. It’s all about keeping the borders shut to “keep Queenslanders safe”. Never mind all the Queenslanders in the hospitality and tourism industries, two of the mainstays of the state’s economy, going bust in their droves. Even hiring more public servants hasn’t done much to reduce unemployment – it’s at the highest rate in Australia. There have been no more than a handful of corona virus cases in Queensland in months, and yet the borders remain closed. Australia has devolved into six separate entities, all (except NSW) clutching their cards close to their chests. I want to see Australia become one country again. I want to see us moving forward.
Moving forward requires a plan and a budget. I note that the Qld Labor Government has not produced a budget before the election. That, to me, suggests it has no plans.
Let’s look at the alternatives to Labor. The main opposition party is the LNP (Liberal National Party). To me, the party leader, Deb Frecklington, is a bit of a lightweight. But at least the party has come up with some important proposals, such as the loooong overdue duplication of the Bruce Highway, the main road running from Brisbane to Cairns. Past Gympie it’s often a two-lane goat track, used every day by trucks taking goods to and from the north of the state. It’s a huge undertaking which will provide employment and business incentives right up the east coast. The LNP is also looking at other developments in rural areas instead of concentrating solely on the Brisbane urban sprawl. And the LNP has provided a budget. They’ve thought about the costings and they’ve produced a plan for the future.
There are a few minor parties. Clive Palmer (“look at me” billionaire) is standing a lot of candidates, including here in Hervey Bay. Forget it. Then there’s Katter’s Australia Party which will do well in its home base in the northern parts of the state. In the (likely) event there’s a hung parliament, they’ll be doing what they can for their constituents. Good on ’em. They’re not fielding a candidate here. Pauline Hanson’s One Nation is no longer a force.
Then there’s the Greens. Their aim is to decimate the mining sector which is the powerhouse of the Queensland economy. They also want to curb the agricultural sector to ‘protect’ the Great Barrier Reef, which is doing very well on its own, thanks for asking. From where I’m sitting, cane farmers are already doing their level best (and succeeding) to prevent run-off of nutrients to the reef. Greens policy as far as I’m concerned is a flight of fantasy.
Like many Queenslanders, we have a solar hot water system and solar power that supports most of our daily power needs. We’ve bought lighting and appliances with lower power consumption. Even so, we need reliable grid power for non-sunny days. I’d like to see a HELE (high energy low emissions) coal-fired power station built in Queensland to provide reliable, cheap power for industry and public consumption.
What to do? Who to vote for? Let me add some history. I was the seventh child in a working class family so when the time came, of course I voted Labor. (That’s not a typo, by the way. The Labor Party in Australia dropped the ‘u’ for some reason known only to the party stalwarts.) Apart from that, I also went to university in the late 1960’s, that time of student revolution and idealism. There’s that saying, versions of which are attributed to many people “A man who is not a liberal at 16 has no heart,” ventured British statesman Benjamin Disraeli, and “A man who is not a conservative at 60 has no head.” [source]
That’s my excuse, anyway.
Of course that election in America is important for the whole world. We await the outcome, fingers firmly crossed that whatever happens, the election is fair and convincing. I dread the thought of a contested result with all those hotheads and assault rifles in America.