Elections Queensland Style
Banana Benders Bend Reason
The following is going to read to many like an anti-Australian Labor Party rant. It is not meant to be such and I would ask that readers read the entire blog before dismissing it as such.
It is certainly about Queensland and it is most certainly about the recent elections. It was a narrow election and it was, in my view, a very flawed election for the reasons I am about to give.
This blog is about political process – the whimsical and illogical way in which we elect our politicians, what we expect of them in their short term in office [three years] the lies and, distortions and deceit by which we are governed and the sheer gullibility of we, ourselves, the voters.
Rage against; agree; sling arrows of abuse at me – but at least think about the farce that was the last election.
Queenslanders are no more stupid than Victorians, Poms, Yanks, and Kiwis of anyone else in the golden gallery of international democracy. But why? And I ask again – but why … do we keep throwing up the most unlikely, anti-intellectual, redneck, egotistical bunch of politicians that have ever had the temerity walk abroad? Think "Joh" Bjelke-Petersen; Beattie; the egregious Katter; Hanson; Palmer to name a few. Some of these fools actually have the egotistical arrogance to name their parties after themselves. But not only do we throw them up, they actually garner a sizeable proportion of the vote.
How can, for example, any rational voter vote for a Palmer United Party candidate whose party’s founder, a mining billionaire and whose only interest is his own agenda and his detestation of the Liberal National Party. His is a party with no policies, who favours his relatives as candidates, but, as at counting on 5 February closed it transpired that some 4.95% of Queensland’s voting public cast their vote for this waste of space. Good God – Why? Likewise and little better, on the same date some 1.83% had voted for the Katter Party. [Source Qld. Electoral Commission].
The same may be said of Katter, an erstwhile National Party member whose disagreements with that party are long subsumed by the mists of time and apart from being the compleat egotist, ergo the Katter Party, has nothing to offer. No hope of winning government – but just acting as a spoiler for the conservative side of politics. These political lunatics love holding the balance of power whereby they can act as spoilers for a legitimate Labor or Conservative government.
When you vote for a party, a legitimate party with policies and pedigree, you vote for a clearly identifiable group of individuals who share some degree of similarity in values and ideals and are likely to be disciplined enough in Parliament to vote in the same manner. Voting for a bunch of raggedy-arsed independents is not only a wasted vote; it is a sign of a wasted intellect.
Queenslanders, since the mists of relative Australian antiquity, have been known as banana benders. I used to think it had something to do with growing their favourite export - but now I know it has something to do with warped psychic powers and an inability to determine reality from astral fantasy.
On Saturday 31st January a large percentage of dull-witted, red-necked citizens of this sleepy, diverse and half-baked polity voted for a political party with no policies, for a leader with the charisma of a sunbaking lizard; who has never held a real job except as a political pole dancer; whose economic credentials included the fact that she was unable to answer a question on television as to the rate of the Goods Services Tax [(GST) which in Australia is a value added tax of 10% on most goods and services sales. So large was the support for her party this intellectual “heavyweight” is now on the cusp of becoming the new premier of Queensland. It all depends somewhat on whether she will break her election pledge not to deal with independents.
So, let’s get all this mess into context.
In 2012, just three years ago remember, the then Labor government was so inept, corrupt, scandal ridden and unpopular that it was resoundingly rejected at the polls. Not to do anything in moderation, the electorate voted in the Liberal National Party by a whopping, completely unrealistic majority of 78 out of 89 seats, a record majority in the unrepresentative unicameral [single legislature] Parliament. The Party was led by former Mayor of Brisbane and ex-army officer, Campbell Newman. The previous Labor government was reduced to telephone box size proportions.
This of course was a completely unsustainable majority – it was unhealthy and always going to difficult to work with. It is to Newman’s credit that he resisted the temptation to abuse his powers and to introduce serious legislation that could have seriously altered the constitution. One of the things he should perhaps have done however would be to bring back the Upper House. But that is another point.
Everyone accepted that at the next election there would be a natural correction to this electoral aberration that was caused by a state wide detestation of everything Labor and their leaders.
From the telephone box the rump of the labor trash left over from their resounding defeat elected one Annastacia Palaszczuk as their leader. From the phone box they spent the next three years saying no to everything. They developed no policies and offered nothing of any substance to political debate in Queensland.
The political running of course was left to Newman and his massive majority.
In short order Newman and his colleagues discovered the true nature of the state’s finances which were, put bluntly, shocking. The previous ALP governments of Beattie and Bligh had committed to a number of hair-brained schemes and spent taxpayer’s money in the manner of a one armed drunken soldier in a brothel. Most of these schemes were given short shrift, curtailed or scrapped. Numbers of public servants employed as part of the former government’s jobs creation scheme were sacked and the red pen touched nearly every aspect of public life in the state.
Newman made no secret of the economic mess that was the state of Queensland. He endeavoured to consult broadly with the community – suggesting various strategies to try to repair the state’s finances. In doing so his government came up with a measure of leasing some of the government’s considerable assets to the private sector. It went to the polls with this forthright, honest policy.
Honesty – politics! Bad mistake.
Unfortunately Newman’s personality somewhat reflected his policy – straightforward and to the point – he was loathed by the left, particularly by the unions. For several months the unions and the pathetic rump braying from their telephone box ran a campaign calling for ‘No Asset Sales’. Not only did this disingenuous campaign resound with the public, it became the only real issue of the campaign, together with the nature of Newman’s character.
Being a forthright, no-nonsense character he was widely perceived as being arrogant, humourless, untrustworthy, and every other negative in the political lexicon.
For example, the question of ‘Asset Leasing’ – remember the word leasing – was quickly distorted by an extensive and consistent union campaign of no ‘Asset Sales’. This was a total corruption and distortion of the truth. Never mind that the previous Labour Government had already sold part of the Queensland railways without any reference to the people.
Close examination reveals that the election was skewed by that corrupt electoral system inflicted on a democratic people’s known as preferential voting.
Had the election been judged on a first by the post system [a simple majority – the manner by which most decisions are made] the LNP would have won a landslide. Referring to the figures from the Queensland Electoral Commission on 5 February, ahead on primary votes was the LNP with some 50 seats, followed by the ALP with 36; the Katter Party with 2 and an independent with 1. However, consequent to the distribution of preferences, one week later the election is too close to call and will result in a minority government.
That means that significant political issues, problems and possible solutions are thrown wide open by the whim of political preferences, usually undertaken by back-room party hacks and apparatchiks with no accountability to the public.
In South Australia, just a few months ago, the Liberal Party won well over 50% of the primary votes but failed to win government – purely because of the flow of preferences to the Australian Labor Party. It is a disgraceful abuse of power exercised unwittingly by the people who generally have no idea for whom they are voting – unless they are the tiny minority of keen electoral observers who trace each of the preferential percentages and the deals done by the parties as to the allocation of preferences. Most people just follow their ‘how to vote card’ kindly provided by the party of their choice.
The theory of preferential voting is that every vote has a value and that every voter gets his choice of political preference should his first choice not win enough votes. The reality is that most punters haven’t got an idea who they are voting for once they vote for their first choice.
In Queensland, the net result was that the punters didn’t like the LNP’s answers to bring about fiscal stability. So many voted against the LNP and that vote was passed on to another party as being their putative preference.
By the time the votes were distributed, without any serious desire to rid the parliament of some of its real talent, the people had unwitting thrown out sound members with ideas, policies, future leaders - all on a whim.
Back room dealings had made a mockery of democracy again.
The other extremely serious quirk to Australian electoral process is the notion of compulsion. Surely the antithesis to democracy is compulsion. If I choose to withhold my vote I should be allowed to do so. But not in this country. All electors are required to vote for State and Federal elections. Senate elections are even more tedious and complex than lower houses elections in that they are based on a system known as proportional representation which claims to be even more democratic by giving great value to each vote but in effect turns out and even greater mess. But I have no intention of boring the reader with the complexities of this mess.
Suffice to say, whether you want to vote or not, you have to. Once you have voted, your vote might end up being transferred to the last person on earth you would normally vote for but for some back room preference deal. Democratic – yeah righto! Informed – what can I say?
The mother democracies around the world do not compel their voters to vote and most have a simple first past the post system. This is a reform long overdue in this country. But of course it is a reform that would be bitterly opposed by the minor self-interest groups, the Greens and other excrescences on the backside of effective and democratic politics.
Queensland has provided a classic example of the worst of the Australian electoral system. How could anyone cast a vote for a party totally bereft of policies? For its leader that in three years of opposition has articulated nothing of political significance? A party whose whole campaign lay on the basis of a blatant lie about the Government’s proposal of Asset Leasing? A party that only three years ago was so corrupt and on the nose that they were overwhelmingly despatched, and, finally, for a leader so dim as to be unable to answer correctly to the GST rate in Australia.
But finally, in real terms, too many people in Queensland, and indeed the national, have no stomach for economic or cultural change. The once renowned Queensland character of grit and courage has largely dissolved into the safety of the Nanny State. Queenslanders believe in fairy stories. Fairy stories fed to them by the ALP’s adoring leftist media; a chattering class of bourgeois public servants – remember we employ more than any other state – and a political class that reaches right into the class rooms of your children.
So we have a new government. We look forward to the scandals, the maladministration, the confusion and the infighting coming to your screens shortly.