Independent Australia’s Queensland based managing editor, David Donovan, reluctantly gives his summary of tomorrow’s Queensland election.
I have been putting this off for a while, but the time has come for me to write my Queensland election summary.
I must admit, even though I am ostensibly a journalist, I have been trying to avoid watching the news for several weeks. Most especially, though, I have been avoiding commercial television. I just cannot stand to watch the vicious, and probably completed unwarranted, attack ads from the Australian Labor Party on LNP leader Campbell Newman, seemingly based on firing extremely long bows at his wife Lisa’s business dealings. But, on an even more intense level, I cannot stand even more watching Campbell and his wife Lisa grind each other on just about the every news bulletin like a horny pair of 18-year-olds looking around for the nearest panel van.
If ever there was an election that made you think of Donald Horne’s maxim: “Australia is a lucky country, run mainly by second-rate people who share its luck” then this is the one. The battle of the parties in this election is merely about trying to prove to the Queensland people that they are less obviously disappointing, incompetent, corrupt and totally underserving than the bunch of crooks on the other side.
The Queensland Labor Government deserves to be voted out — let there not be a moment’s doubt on that score. It has put the state about $85 billion dollars into the red. It has lost this historically prosperous state, the second biggest mining state in Australia, its AAA credit rating. It has been on the other side of a seemingly never ending cascade of gaffes and stuff-ups, including a series of Health disasters and the baffling decision to build a totally unnecessary dam near Maryborough that no-one wanted — least of all the ancient lung-fish, who were going to be made extinct by the project. (Thankfully, the dam has since been cancelled.) Indeed, on balance, Labor deserved to be voted out at the last election, but through the utter shambles the LNP presented under Lawrence Springborg, somehow the party held its ground.
Since then, the LNP has chewed up a leader, the mild-mannered dentist John-Paul Langbroek (my local member, in fact). He tried to hold the party together, but always looked just a little off balance, as if he couldn’t quite get his head around the fact that journalists would be asking him questions, freely, off the cuff. I suspect he may have felt more in control if the hacks had been in possession of a cheek full of cotton wool balls while he was holding a whirring drill. Sadly, that wasn’t to be for nice, decent, JP.
Indeed, such was the lack of apparent talent within the parliamentary wing of the LNP, following JP’s execution, that the Party (only created in 2008 and not in existence anywhere else in Australia) decided upon the quite unprecedented measure of selecting a candidate from outside the parliamentary wing of the party. Yes, the diminutive former Army engineer and Brisbane Lord Mayor Campbell Newman has been making all the door stops for the LNP for the last year or so, even though he has never once been elected to State Parliament. He has stamped his authority on the party, not always to everyone's satisfaction, as LNP members have come to me complaining about the way the LNP state executive has parachuted what they describe as "Campbell's mates" into safe conservative seats around the state.
Strangely, is no guarantee to beat the incumbent MP in the seat he is contesting at this election, Ashgrove – held by the former Queensland Government minister Kate Jones – although recent opinion polls indicate he may get over the line.
What the LNP do if they win, but Campbell doesn’t win his seat, is entirely unknown.
You get the general picture. Queensland’s politics is a shambles. A downright embarrassment. But then, if you come from elsewhere in Australia, you probably expected that. It is, of course, just the sort of bumbling parade of looneys and oddballs the rest of Australia expects out of Queensland after Sir Joh.
It is sad for Queensland and Queenslanders, because we are better than that.
The problem is not in the people, or the State, but rather the aberrant apparatuses from both sides of politics, which ham-fistedly pull the levers of power in a way such they embarrass the candidates and the State’s citizenry.
The truth is, JP Langbroek deserved better than he received from the LNP. He is, in fact, despite my unfair jibes before, a deeply decent and honourable man. I know this, because I have spoken to him at length. He is sincere and extremely intelligent. Just maybe not entirely comfortable in front of a TV camera — but running a state should be about more than that.
Contesting the seat for the ALP, quite incredibly, is a young man by the name of Matthew Donovan. Incredible, not just because of his surname, but because I have a brother who possesses the very same name. A brother who also stood for a major party at a state election – albeit in South Australia for the Liberal Party – only 18 months ago — in 2010. Indeed, I was in South Australia for that election, handing out how-to-vote cards for Matt.
And I also know Matt Donovan, the Surfers Paradise candidate, and he also is a decent, intelligent and principled man. Unlike JP, however, I sense great things in Matt’s future. I may be wrong in that, but at least he has a great name.
How will I be voting in this election?
I will be voting, as I always vote, for the best Independent candidate — if one is standing. The Queensland elections make plain what has been obvious for a long time — that the political parties are incompetent and corrupt. They are even a little embarrassing, and they sacrifice good people in the furtherance of their aims. We need to look beyond the present system to one that has, at its base, the true and honest representation of the people — not the continuation of a seedy, and – at least in Queensland – dismally incompetent duopoly, who are interested only in their perpetuating their grip on power and not about the better interests of the electorate whatsoever.
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