To borrow from journalism parlance, so many of the ‘hot takes’ with #QldVotes have been shit!
I’m a political junkie and happy to admit it. Unlike many political junkies, I’m not a rusted on supporter of any political party. In fact, I’m more partial to Independents as a rule, so you know exactly where I’m coming from. The only political party I have ever belonged to was the Australian democrats back in the day. I am a big adherent to the daggy old fashioned idea that your political representative actually represents his/her electorate, you know, democracy.
Now that I have gotten that out of the way so that people can read this without viewing through the prism of political partisanship, coz you won’t find it here, let’s get on to the absolutely shit takes we have seen during the #QldVotes campaign, and, they keep coming post campaign too LOL!
OMG! The divide between the South East & Queensland
For starters… This is just dumb, it is not even close to a "new" drama, it is business as usual. Queensland has ALWAYS been divided, the only difference between now and 40 years ago is instead of it being Brisbane vs the rest of Queensland, it is now the ubiquitous ”South East Queensland” vs the rest of Queensland.
Queensland is a big place, a very big place. If you live in WA you will probably get it and it is something most sitting in their comfy city seats or Canberra don’t get. They appear shocked when a shitload of money is offered to “the regions” and these people don’t seem to be grateful for it. Fact is a dam, coal station, whatever the big ticket item is that may be given to say Mt Isa, means shit to Cairns. Yes they are both considered either “Far North Queensland” or “The Regions” in political speak but Cairns and Mt Isa are very different as to the industries their economy is based on, they have different issues that need addressing, not to mention are a measly 1,200km apart! Yet, are lumped together.
This ‘region’ business is pretty much applied to every area outside the cities. Or the favourite “South East Queensland”. But even that label is dumb, for example, the Sunshine Coast is always lumped in with South East Queensland, yet really should not be, as it gets nowhere near the attention Brisbane, Gold Coast & Ipswich gets. In fact, ever single time we see some blow-hard in Canberra lauding a political party spending billions on some piece of infrastructure in “South East Queensland”, we sit back on the Coast going “bugger off, bloody Gold Coast or Brisbane getting what they need – AGAIN!” and are not happy campers.
I mention this as it is appears it is something many media and political commentators fail to grasp. Because you get a hot take from say, Rockhampton, does NOT mean it can be applied to all ‘regional’ areas.
Queensland conservative politics is 'special'
And I don't just mean George Christensen ;-) For most of the nation the ‘Coalition’ is the Liberals being the big brother with the National party being the rural little brother propping them up when needed. If the big brother shafts the regions, the little brother can always get away with it by saying, “look, we don’t like it, we Nationals do care about [insert pet regional peeve] but we are part of a team and at least we have “a seat at the table”, ie some say is better than none. As most regional areas have such low expectations when it comes to being represented in Canberra, they cop that as a reasonable excuse for being shafted.
In Queensland it is a whole other ball game. The Liberals and Nationals have combined, officially, to be the LNP. Not only does this mean that the old “at least we have a seat at the table” doesn’t cut it anymore, the regions feel like they have lost the Nationals as a party that cared exclusively for them.
To make matters worse, and this is very very important, in Queensland it has always been the Nationals who are the leader of the pack. They are the king pins, they are the ones who wage war on ALP and the Liberals were the city slickers who backed them up to take Government when needed. This LNP merger in 2008 threw political life as many in the regions know it out the window. It was easy enough to cop when Lawrence Springborg was still at the helm as he was a good old Nationals boy, but, then along came Campbell Newman, ex Mayor of Brisbane, promising the world and a glorious new era and even though many die-hard Nationals might have thought he was a bit of a spiv, they had been out of power for so long they were desperate to run Queensland again.
As we all know, CanDo went from the Penthouse to the Shithouse in record time and for many on the Nationals side of the LNP equation, the installing of another “Queen Street Cowboy” in Tim Nicholls was just repeating the same mistake. I’ve heard many regional Nationals bemoaning that “Joh would be rolling in his grave seeing what the great state of Queensland has been reduced to”, of course by ‘state of Queensland’, they mean state of their great party, the Nationals, who should be running Queensland. Old style Nationals being shafted and ignored by city spivs leaves a vacuum for the likes of a Pauline Hanson to exploit, and she did, with bells on.
Neglect is the key
About the only thing Regional areas in Queensland have in common is the perception (whether it is reality or not and in some areas it is debatable) of ‘neglect’.
Regions, in general, are ignored by both Government and media. You only have to watch the ‘state’ news and it is nearly all about Brisbane or Gold Coast, unless there is some odd croc story from up north. Back in the day, we used to have real regional TV news, not so much now, so this only adds to the ‘neglect’ feeling. We also get less money spent on us, have less access to services etc, yet, we pay the same tax as everyone else. So, pretty much, regional areas have a bit of a chip on their shoulder. This is where One Nation come in.
For those in the back, I will shout it loudly for you, as you can’t understand what happened with Hanson’s vote if you don’t take this on board.
NOT EVERYONE WHO VOTES ONE NATION IS A BIGOT OR A RACIST!
Of course a good chunk of them are, but most are not. Most are people who are sick to death of the big two parties and to be frank, would not be bothering to get off their butts to even vote except they are too tight to maybe cop a fine. But since they have been forced to vote and they “know” their vote does not really matter as no-one in Canberra/Brisbane actually gives a shit about them anyhow, may as well vote for the woman who seems to be a thorn in their side to piss them off.
Or, my other favourite type of Pauline Hanson voter… “I don’t know who any of them of them are, but the major parties aren’t doing anything so will vote for her as at least I recognise who she is.” For this I entirely blame the media. Hanson has NEVER deserved the media exposure she gets. Her vote is increased due to sheer volume of media exposure she receives, every single night of the campaign on the nightly news. If Humphrey B Bear had the same exposure in media that Pauline Hanson has had would probably have gotten around the same number of votes SIGH! She is like the manufactured boy band of politics.
Don’t get me wrong, some are dumb and racist, they decry “political correctness”, which is really just shorthand for not being allowed to have the privilege of making their miserable lives feel more empowered by looking down on other races, uppity women, those gay people, you name it, doesn’t really matter, as long as they can feel better about themselves by putting someone else down. Pauline Hanson feeds this and makes them feel better. BUT they are not the largest group of Hanson supporters by any means...
The largest group are actually the ‘neglected’. The people who see Canberra/Brisbane making laws to suit themselves, living the high life while they struggle, talking about ‘the economy’ in a way that really bears no relation to the reality of their lives. Look at Canberra now, heads up their arses fighting amongst themselves about ‘religious rights’ with the same sex marriage legislation? Really? When so many areas have double digit unemployment in regions, in fact, as at October 2017 Outback Queensland had 12.4% unemployment and a massive 57.5% Youth Unemployment. Over 50% youth unemployed FFS! Do you really think they give a shit about religious rights?
Yep, for as long as I can remember. Regions get told to live within ya means, while the over represented cities get the 💸💸💸💸 and services. pic.twitter.com/8oWLFrPzt7— MA & PA FARMERS 2.0 (@lutajobe) November 27, 2017
Many people in the regions know Canberra/Brisbane doesn’t give a shit about them so they are susceptible to the first person who gives them a shoulder to cry on. Pauline Hanson has done exactly that. She is everywhere in the regions (particularly the rusted on Nationals electorates), she goes to the pub, she has the town hall type meeting, she listens, she cares. They all whine to her, half of the stuff they complain about she can’t do squat about even if she did want to, BUT, she took the time to listen to them, she turned up in their town, which is a hell of a lot more than any other politician has in recent memory. To a community that feels neglected, that really matters. Often heard after these meetings is, “She is like one of us”, “She cares about our problems”, basically, she is not a tosser from the city and that is really attractive to them and she gets their votes.
This is something both major parties have totally ignored. Before Pauline Hanson came along – again – their primary votes were falling, but no, instead of working hard on the ground in communities they just suck up to donors to do bigger advertising campaigns? The stupid is strong. Hanson has used taxpayer money as a Senator for Queensland to visit all these disaffected areas pretty much waging guerrilla warfare.
This is where it gets really sad for the regions. So many of them thought Pauline Hanson might change their lives, just because she listened to them. Media beating up that One Nation was likely to be the balance of power in Queensland (even though there was little evidence of that), SKY including Steve Dickson One Nation leader in their leaders debate etc., all conveyed the impression that ‘their Pauline’ might actually get some power and their concerns would no longer be neglected, therefore voting for a minor party would not be wasting their vote. I’m sure the Greens would have loved the same treatment, it would have increased their vote as well if media have given them the same level of exposure that One Nation didn’t deserve and was granted to them.
So these poor buggers have been conned again. One Nation won’t help them or change their lives or improve their communities, BUT, Pauline Hanson increased her profile – yet again – and to add insult to injury, she will make a fortune from electoral funding off the backs of the “battlers” she gave false hope to.
Many voters are just looking for an alternative
As you can see from the recent elections at both State & Federal level, the Primary vote of the Major parties is falling. People are sick of having to be in column A or column B as their only alternative offered to them. They don’t feel they can really vote for minor parties or independents as it is a so-called “wasted vote” as they can’t change anything or they just don’t know and recognise any alternative. The major parties rely on this attitude and the political media encourage it. These attitudes combined make it an almost impenetrable barrier for an Independent or minor party to break through. BUT it can happen, I saw it in my own backyard.
Noosa Shock Poll Result
Ok, for the record, Independent, Sandy Bolton looking like she has won Noosa is NOT a shock to anyone who lives there SIGH! The reason why a rusted on LNP area finally said no to the status quo was because they actually had a reasonable, credible alternative to vote for.
A bit of background here. Contrary to popular belief – and awesome advertising campaigns by Noosa Tourism – this area is not actually full of wealthy tossers. If you don’t believe me, look at the ABS stats, in 2016 the Median weekly household income was $1,258. For comparison, lets go to Western Sydney (as the media love to) and you will find that the Median weekly household income there in say Parramatta is a much higher $1,739.
We have a great beach and a beautiful river but if you think all the locals are dining or having lattes on Hastings Street on a daily basis, think again. When compared to the rest of the Sunshine Coast we actually have a higher number of single parent households and no major employer, just small businesses. We also have a high turnover of families moving here and leaving here, they come up from down south, falling in love after a brief – rather expensive – holiday or regular visits that don’t go past Noosa Heads proper and think to start a new life or cash in their super to ‘live the dream’. They soon find out after a while that living the dream is a lot harder on a daily basis in what is effectively a small tourism town.
Being a small town though has its benefits. It is pretty hard to talk to any stranger for more than 5 mins and not find a point of familiarity, be it a friend in common, same school your kids go to etc. This also means, if you can get a high enough profile, you can become a big fish in a little pond pretty quickly. Sandy Bolton was a Councillor and as we had a massive council amalgamation, then de-amalagation fight, we in Noosa pay attention to our Councillors, so she became known around town. Last Council elections in 2016 she stood for Mayor and only narrowly lost, so again, her profile was raised even higher. Sandy then went to work for a local charity. Community really matters in Noosa, so that was respected as well, though she still stayed very involved in local issues. This matters, (remember my discussion about neglect) as being a regional area, shite internet, TAFE being closed, having to travel down south or to Brisbane for specialists etc, we get sick of being ignored. So a local person, who the community already knows through exposure in recent years who stands up and says, “We deserve more!” or as her campaign slogan was “Be the Change”, is going to be attractive.
When Sandy first announced on Facebook she was standing I thought she was a very good chance of beating Glen Elmes, regardless of how safe the seat looked on paper. She didn’t talk about over-arching political rubbish, she talked about action on our River, she talked about doing something useful to help the community with the abandoned TAFE site, she talked about unaffordable housing AND she canvassed opinions and ideas from others in the community. She asked us, what we cared about, what we thought Noosa needed. When I got the very first robo-call from Glen Elmes, I knew she was in LOL! I’ve never been robo-called or even sent anything bar a postal vote from him since he got in here in 2006, it was a dead giveaway something was amiss.
Now, as good as Sandy is as a representative, she could only get the votes because she was a ‘credible’ candidate with a proven track record of doing something here already via Council. She was not reliant on a LNP vs ALP focussed media to get voters to notice to her. She also had some great personal backing with support in the community willing to work on her behalf and a mentor of the likes of Bob Abbott, a man who was Mayor of Noosa, big in the Local Government Association and more importantly, a wily old political operator who has dealt with both ALP & LNP Governments at both a State & Federal level from a position of Independence. This alone should have tipped off media she was in with a chance.
Personally, I hope Sandy does really well in State politics, not only for my area, but for politics in general, as I feel if she is successful, it may encourage other local community leaders to stand up for political representation at a higher level as Independents whose priority is their own backyard, as it should be. Government is supposed to be about elected representatives working together for their electorates and their state/country, not 2 ‘teams’ just trying to beat each other in the game.
Too many in media and the talking heads they get on TV shows to commentate try to view #QldVotes through their Federal political games experience, which is why there are probably so many shit takes leading up the election. They also have a really crappy idea as to the geography of Queensland, just how large it is and how each regional area is vastly different from each other. Seeing them try to justify their opinion or prediction cracks me up sometimes.
For example, if the ABC had bothered to speak to their own journalists on the ground here, they would have known Sandy was a big chance in Noosa. I wonder how many other local jounalists must sit back screaming at the election broadcasts with the stupid takes that could have been avoided had they just taken the time to have a chat to their brethren on the ground?
Anyhow, we could discuss a shitload that went wrong with #QldVotes, the lack of women in the LNP, the impact of the odious Courier Mail, social media and more, but would take days…
My hot take on the Queensland election?
Political Operators and so-called ‘expert commentary’ in Canberra or the big city, don't know shit from clay when it comes to Queensland politics and Queenslanders in general. You need to change that if you want to be taken seriously, maybe a bit more homework and research on the ground?
Then again, if you start paying proper attention we might lose our State Origin dominance. As you were 😉
PS. Congratulations to Cynthia Lui, who is looking like a good chance of becoming the first Torres Strait Islander to be elected to a State Parliament in Australia. Cynthia is a social worker - had a real job - and was standing as the candidate for Cook in Far North Queensland. This story is what the Courier Mail should have on their front page, but you know, snark sells SIGH!