Qld ALP Can Root My Boot Over One Nation Preferences

AS QUEENSLANDERS head to the polls in 2017, the ALP — and attack kitten Jackie Trad in particular — is moving to rig the looming election in a brazen one-fingered salute to democracy; not content with fiddling the electoral system to boost its chances, it wants the LNP to shun One Nation preferences on “principle” despite itself relying on the preferences of the scum of the Earth. Labor can go root my boot. As for Trad, it is time she kept quiet.

Aside from One Nation voters themselves, I don’t think too many people are under any misapprehensions that Pauline Hanson’s reborn political vehicle could be categorised as anything other than “far Right;” obsessed with vilifying Muslims, homosexuals, and signalling a green light to flood the country with guns, their agenda (to the extent it is perceptible) is not the agenda of government, but of protest: like all extremes, this one has little to recommend itself to fair-minded mainstream folk aside from its allure as a means of protest.

However, those who vote for One Nation are free to do so.

Conversely, aside from Communist Party Greens voters (and even most of them are oblivious to the true nature of their beast of choice), too few are even aware of what that party stands for: a force of the extreme hard Left, rooted in socialism and communism — with actual communists sprinkled throughout, and at least one openly Communist MP in Lee Rhiannon — the Greens are anti-family, anti-business, anti-mining, anti-industry, anti-car, anti-military, anti-national defence, anti-Western values, and anti-democratic. And that is just for starters. Like all extremes, this one has little to recommend it to anyone at all. It isn’t even a genuinely environment-focused party. It is, in fact, the scum of the Earth: absolute filth.

However, those who vote for the Greens are free to do so.

I begin thus because with a state election almost certain to be held in Queensland this year (and probably sooner rather than later), the local ALP’s chief attack kitten — deputy Premier Jackie Trad — has been belting the can a bit too loudly of late over the issue of One Nation preferences, trying publicly to “shame” the LNP into eschewing preference deals with Pauline Hanson, this time on the convenient (and rather opportunistic) pretext of One Nation candidates posting anti-gay remarks in social media forums.

For the record, I don’t think it is appropriate for the so-called LGBTIQ community to be singled out for vilification on account of their way of life — particularly for political gain — but I do think it’s important to get some context here: after all, if One Nation stands condemned for allegedly doing so, then the Greens must stand condemned for targeting the living standards and way of live of virtually everyone.

Under their policies, electricity and gas would become so prohibitively expensive that millions would be unable to afford them; the car would become a thing of the past, and people would find out just how unfit for purpose public transport really is as a unilateral transport solution; jobs would disappear, as ridiculous taxes and other measures designed to destroy incentive and enterprise deter those businesses that don’t close from hiring anyone; and when the borders are thrown open (once Australia’s defences have been systematically dismantled in favour of “non-violent combat techniques” and other bullshit in the Greens’ manifesto), those characteristics that make our way of life quintessentially Australian will be destroyed forever.

Is the targeting and victimisation of the many — which is the logical conclusion of the Greens’ platform — really any different or better than the targeting and victimisation of the few?

Of course it isn’t.

I feel for my friend, Queensland LNP leader Tim Nicholls, who must surely be wondering what in hell he did to deserve the odious spectre of a regurgitated One Nation dumped in his lap approaching a state election his party should be favoured to romp home at. After all, One Nation arguably destroyed the then-Coalition state government in 1998, and was in large part the reason for the Coalition’s obliteration in 2001.

Nicholls would make a very good Queensland Premier, if given the opportunity — especially after three years of a government whose only agenda seems to have been to erase the impact of Campbell Newman from the state.

But rather than vacillating and agonising over what to do about preference allocations — a ready trap the Coalition fell headlong into in both 1998 and 2001 — Nicholls and his team should be taking a very different approach this time around.

And that — very simply — is to turn the blowtorch right back on Labor and its grimy, decades-long electoral relationship with the Greens.

Every government that has either shared power with, or been propped up by, the Greens has ended up being annihilated; it has happened to ALP state governments in Tasmania in 1992 and 2014, a Liberal government in Tasmania in 1998, and federally in 2013: in each case, the hard-left lunacy of the Greens infected the government it supported, and a solid majority of voters hurled it from office as a consequence.

Just as Labor bellows about the evils of One Nation, to date there has not been a sustained, concerted and/or effective campaign to destroy the Greens by the Liberal Party anywhere in Australia: the one remotely possible exception was in Victoria in 2010, when then-opposition leader Ted Baillieu preferenced against the Greens statewide, and won a surprise victory.

But there are so many insidious aspects of the Greens that provide ready ammunition for a conservative party half-serious about winning (as opposed to behaving like a crony club) that it beggars belief the Liberal Party has never seen fit to oxygenate them to an electorate mostly sold on the fairy story of tree-hugging hippies chaining themselves to fences to stop bulldozers.

Even if the Greens were that way once, they sure as hell aren’t today.

Queensland, which for 20-odd years has voted at state elections under Optional Preferential Voting (OPV), has seen “exhaust” rates (i.e. the number of votes excluded from counting because they express no continuing preference) as high as 70% in some seats…whilst in the case of the votes of Greens candidates eliminated, the exhaust rate is far lower, and those votes that are distributed invariably split 80% Labor’s way.

In other words — and contrary to the mythology it has allowed to spring up around its unlikely victory in 2015 after a single term in opposition — Queensland Labor was able to form government because of OPV, not in spite of it, as votes that haemorrhaged from the 2012 LNP pile toward right-wing minor parties and independents did not return to the LNP on preferences. Most of those votes that did express a preference went to the ALP, in addition to the usual bedrock of additional support it invariably harvests from the Greens anyway.

Yet just to double down — in an unbelievably outrageous electoral rort — the ALP summarily abolished the OPV system last year without warning, consultation or debate; in its stead comes the restoration of compulsory preferential voting: just to make sure Greens voters are forced into allocating preferences, and in the safe knowledge better than 80% of them will do so in Labor’s favour.

It is no more a point of “principle” to accept or reject One Nation preferences than it is to accept or reject those of the Greens, and this fraught issue that rent the Queensland conservatives asunder in 1998 and 2001 could be neutralised by an all-out attack on the Greens.

It is not acceptable that Labor should harvest preferences from such an odious, noxious and downright dangerous source as the Greens, only to attempt to dictate to the LNP that the preferences of a bunch of rednecks should be off-limits.

I think the LNP is mad if it doesn’t at least place One Nation ahead of both Labor and the Greens, with or without a formal pact with Pauline Hanson’s outfit, on the “reasonable expectation” the gesture will be returned.

After all, Hanson herself explicitly stated last year that “the ALP is One Nation’s enemy,” and given the smoking ruin her preference strategies made of Coalition governments in Queensland in 1998, Western Australia and the Northern Territory in 2001, as well as Coalition oppositions in New South Wales and Queensland in 1999 and 2001 respectively, it would be wiser to allow Labor to fill the role of “One Nation’s enemy” wherever possible.

And besides, whilst reputable polling in Queensland shows One Nation on course for about 15% of the vote (and I remain to be convinced), that vote is also more evenly spread than it was when it won 11 seats off 23% of the vote in 1998. Yes, there are a few seats where support appears to be spiking, and these may fall to One Nation at a state election. But if Nicholls’ LNP can extract two-thirds of One Nation preferences statewide, the LNP is likely to win the election comfortably, and the nightmarish prospect of a One Nation balance of power (possible only in a very close result) will have been averted.

Not to put too fine a point on it, the Greens are complete filth — the absolute scum of the Earth — and the only reason people continue to vote for them, unbelievably, is that there has never been a mass campaign to expose them.

That’s where Tim Nicholls’ election win — and neutralising the threat of One Nation — can be built, not through being backed into a corner of inaction over the alleged evil of whether to place One Nation ahead of or behind the LNP’s real political enemies.

As for Trad, her utter hypocrisy on this issue is exposed by the simple fact she admits her party wouldn’t direct unions (or anyone else) to place One Nation behind the Coalition on how-to-vote cards or other election material.

What’s good for the goose is good for the gander, Jackie. Queensland Labor can go root my boot if it thinks the LNP should be expected to forego up to half a million additional preference votes from One Nation when it continues to jump into bed with a far worse and much more sinister whore in the shape of the Greens.

Trad should keep quiet. Very quiet.

 

Shades Of Cain: Inexperienced Queensland Cabinet Spells Trouble

THE HARD REALITY of Queensland’s new Labor government was starkly highlighted yesterday, as no fewer than five first-time MPs were handed senior ministries in Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s first Cabinet; the sheer inexperience the ALP brings to running Australia’s third-largest state is troublesome, and is evocative of an unpalatable precedent set 30 years ago in what another Queensland Premier dismissed as the “degenerate south.”

Today’s article is really a case of “wait and watch” — something we will do with the keenest of attention over the next three years — but for those who expect sound governance and constructive outcomes from the new Labor regime in Queensland, the early indications are not encouraging.

We spoke at some length on Friday about the pathetically narrow mandate secured by Queensland Labor in the course of scoring the political upset of the century thus far at the recent state election there, and the lack of a concrete comprehensive agenda covered at that time is only the start of the problem.

One point I declined to make last week is that the Labor caucus in Queensland is now dominated by the party’s Left — not an artifice known for its responsibility and prudence where the sound management of affairs of state are concerned — and is underlined by the little-reported fact that hundreds (or perhaps thousands, for nobody can really tell) of CFMEU operatives made the trek from Sydney and Melbourne to campaign in Queensland ahead of the state election: and Palaszczuk, rather tellingly, is already attracting attention for her inability to adequately respond to suggestions her government is subject to disproportionate levels of union influence and control.

(A bit like the not-so-shiny new Labor regime in Victoria, although that’s another story).

Compounding the rather obvious handicaps Queensland Labor faces itself encumbered with — thanks to its lack of mandated policies and the unions having it by the throat — is the announcement yesterday of the Palaszczuk Cabinet, which boasts five first-time MPs as ministers in addition to others (including Deputy Premier Jackie Trad) already in Parliament prior to the election but also completely lacking in any ministerial experience whatsoever.

In some respects, given the near-extermination Labor suffered at the polls three years ago, the fact its unexpectedly early return to the ministerial suite should be accompanied by a distinct lack of experience comes as no surprise.

But lacking in experience it is, and it presents the same problem faced, ironically, by the Labor governments that followed conservatives into office after decades in the wilderness: Gough Whitlam’s federally, Wayne Goss’ in Queensland and of course, John Cain Jr’s in Victoria.

Of course, these governments performed very differently in practice, with Whitlam’s and the Labor administration of John Bannon in South Australia that was elected in 1982 after a single term in opposition ending in train smashes, where Goss was brought undone by unseeing arrogance more than any sin of governance.

But Cain was the worst of them all.

The Palaszczuk ministry is unimpressive, to say the least.

Its five ministers with prior experience might be fair enough, but offer some glaring drawbacks at a glance.

Palaszczuk herself, as Premier and minister for the Arts, is fair enough.

With so much at stake, why is Cameron Dick — a prospective leader — marooned in the sensitive Health portfolio? It would seem that with a slender hold on office and the unmistakable reality that Labor governs purely on the back of distaste for the administration of Campbell Newman and his and its methods, any petty rivalries are a luxury it cannot afford.

Stirling Hinchcliffe might have been no world beater in the last Labor government, but relegating him to an assistant ministry at a time his party sorely needs experienced hands appears a curious call, to say the least.

And for all the hype that has surrounded Kate Jones in recent years (which has had nothing to do with her competence or otherwise, but everything to do with her capacity to defeat one individual in one electorate) it remains to be seen whether she is up to the job of tackling a super portfolio comprising Education, Tourism, Major Events, Small Business and the Commonwealth Games.

Baubles as rewards for electoral triumph rather than genuine merit are not confined to expressions of gratitude to Jones for slaying Newman; a day care teacher yet to spend a day in Parliament has been made a minister ostensibly as a pat on the back for defeating rising LNP identity David Crisafulli in his seat of Mundingburra.

And the unmistakable taint of union dominance sits over the whole Cabinet, with many returning and inexperienced MPs having served as union officials: “experience” which, so many times and in so many places, has proven thoroughly inappropriate as a grounding for competent and efficient effective government.

To me, the parallels between the Cain government in Victoria in 1982 and Palaszczuk’s in Queensland now are almost frightening.

Both took office after the defeat of competent Liberal regimes: Cain after a 27-year-old administration died of old age, Palaszczuk’s after her predecessors were defeated after offending far too many voters far too quickly.

Like Cain in 1982, Palaszczuk arrives in office with a party full of first-time MPs and desperately lacking in experience, and both governments are characterised by the kind of early exuberance that could, if misapplied, lead straight into trouble.

Like Cain after 1982 — taking office at the epicentre of the union movement in Australia as he did after a decades-long drought — the unions seem set to wield enormous influence and power over Queensland Labor now: partly as a result of the bolstered union presence now embedded in the ALP’s parliamentary ranks, and partly as a result of the need for good old-fashioned payback for “services rendered” in helping Labor win the election in the first place.

Palaszczuk’s narrow mandate, weighed against the reality her party will need to do something for three years to justify itself at the next election, makes its inexperienced hands ripe candidates for blunders into misadventure: and whilst Queensland has no State Bank and no apparent Tricontinental or Pyramid disaster awaiting detonation, it should be noted that in its last period in office Labor nonetheless saw its way clear to rack up $85 billion in state debt and a ten-figure annual budget deficit to boot.

And the propensity for Labor to throw Queensland back to the dark ages is very real; just two days ago, the Courier-Mail detailed the agenda for government that was somehow omitted from Palaszczuk’s election campaign, which formed the basis of its pitch for the support of Labor-leaning “Independent” Peter Wellington.

Clearly, the ingredients for a disaster are all there in George Street, just waiting to be half-baked.

As an old Brisbane boy I certainly wouldn’t wish to see it and I hope that this Labor government serves Queensland better than its last — so incompetent as to have overseen an unnecessary flood in Brisbane and the waste of tens of billions of dollars for nothing — but with the damage from its last stint in power barely contained by three years of Liberal rule it won’t take very much for an unmitigated debacle to unfold.

The argument the public service might act as a brake on the excesses of its masters is based on a false premise: it didn’t under Peter Beattie and Anna Bligh and in any case, it remains disproportionately stacked with Labor appointees from last time, with a large number of LNP appointees set to be given their marching orders in coming weeks.

We will watch and wait and see as we always do in this column but I just think the comparisons between this government and the Cain government in Victoria cannot be easily dismissed.

Queenslanders will find out soon enough what their state election has saddled them with. All I will say is that I wouldn’t want such a ragtag bunch of misfits running my own state.

Then again, here in Victoria we have our own union-controlled band of Labor’s hooligans. The eastern states might be swinging back to Labor, but it remains to be seen at what cost.

Quirk Wins City Hall In Brisbane; ALP Survives South Brisbane By-Election

After yet another trip to the polls today for the good burghers of Brisbane, the Council result went — as expected — to Graham Quirk and the LNP in a landslide; in the by-election to replace Anna Bligh in South Brisbane, the ALP appears to have eked out a surprise narrow win.

In a stunning result, interim Lord Mayor and successor to Campbell Newman Graham Quirk has registered a thumping election win, re-elected with more than 68% of the two-party vote and crushing his Labor rival, first-time candidate Ray Smith, in the process.

In the 26 wards that comprise the Brisbane City Council, the LNP is certain to increase its tally from 15 to at least 18 ( and possibly 19, if Kim Fleisser’s 290-vote lead in Northgate is erased when pre-poll votes are counted); the ALP falls from 10 wards to 7 at most; and the LNP-turned-independent councillor for Tennyson Ward, Nicole Johnston, appears to have been re-elected.

In what would seem evidence that the Beattie name is no longer a guaranteed vote winner, Heather Beattie — wife of former Premier Peter Beattie — has been trounced, going down by a margin of nearly 60/40 against her LNP rival in Central Ward.

That result should probably also serve as a warning to Peter Beattie should he ever seriously consider contesting a federal electorate in Queensland; whether or not such a warning is heeded, only time will tell.

Cr Quirk has achieved the biggest conservative victory in the history of the City of Greater Brisbane; the two-party vote he has recorded is better than both that of Campbell Newman and of Sallyanne Atkinson at her peak; likewise, a haul of 18 (and perhaps 19) of 26 wards is better than any result achieved by a conservative Mayor of Brisbane, and eclipses the 17-9 result notched up by Atkinson in 1988.

Indeed, it is safe to say that electoral support for the conservative parties in Brisbane is at an all-time record peak; the LNP’s result in Brisbane at last month’s state election was stronger than the then-Coalition’s result in 1974, and today’s win by “Team Quirk” rounds that out even further: just as the Bjelke-Petersen government was sweeping all before it in the 1970s, Council in Brisbane remained a solid ALP bastion.

The one thing missing for the LNP — and it will come — is the additional 4-6 House of Representatives seats it is likely to win at the next federal election; this will reduce the Queensland ALP to a rump, and likely leave a couple of ALP members standing at most.

In today’s other electoral event — the South Brisbane by-election — it seems Labor has managed to hold this seat; despite a further swing of some 3-4% against it since last month’s state election, new Labor candidate Jackie Trad looks likely to succeed Anna Bligh in this electorate by the narrowest of margins, taking state Labor to 7 seats in the 89-seat state Parliament.

I am unsurprised by the result on the Brisbane City Council, although the extent of the LNP win is a little greater than I expected; I am surprised that Labor seems to have secured South Brisbane against the odds, although I would point to the not-insubstantial further swing to the LNP as firm evidence that Trad is very, very lucky to be headed off to George Street.

So what do these results mean to the respective parties, looking ahead?

For the LNP, today’s result — coupled with its state election win — represents both a great opportunity and a great threat.

The opportunity exists for the LNP to now govern Brisbane on an unfettered basis; there is no local Labor administration present to thwart and frustrate it, and the party will have no problem in implementing its policies in their entirety.

This means that everything the LNP wishes to do, it can; and with Council and the State Government working hand-in-hand, the LNP now has the opportunity to remake and modernise Brisbane in line with their own vision for the region.

The opportunity will have been grasped if the conservatives use their new-found strength in south-east Queensland to govern effectively, efficiently and competently; the deep reservoir of goodwill that the LNP has created affords it a once in a generation chance to make a real difference to its constituents, and to change the Greater Brisbane region for better, and for good.

The threat lies in the form of a fate which befalls so many democratically-elected governments: hubris, or worse, incompetence.

Given the size of the Liberals’ grasp on Brisbane across the tiers of government, they must never lose sight of the fact that the day they squabble amongst themselves, or drop the ball, or fail to deliver real and positive outcomes, will be the day their support begins to leach back to Labor, and will signal that their days in office are numbered.

Governments must never take their constituents for granted; this is true at all times, but perhaps especially so when the ascension to office has been as resounding and as emphatic as it has been for the LNP in the past few weeks.

And it should be remembered that within three to six years for the Newman government, and certainly after another four years of a Liberal council (making 8 in total, or 12 counting Newman’s initial co-habitation with Labor), voters will hold these administrations squarely to account for anything they believe has been neglected, improperly or dishonestly done, or ignored.

And for Labor?

Clearly, there is a massive task afoot for the ALP, not just in Brisbane but across Queensland; if — as seems likely — the Gillard government is defeated next year, sustaining further losses in Queensland in the process, then that task will grow exponentially larger.

I noted earlier tonight that in conceding, Ray Smith did not rule out recontesting the mayoralty in 2016; Smith is a decent fellow, but on this occasion — flying in the face of surging LNP support, saddled with the odium of the recent state election result, and hamstrung by a poor central campaign and by his own mistakes, Smith’s campaign was over almost before it began.

Perhaps if there is a “next time” for Smith, he may at least be able to create his own opportunities, and to shape his own campaign.

This is an important point. Following the state election debacle, I privately suggested to an associate who is heavily involved with the Queensland ALP that perhaps the first order of business, in any rebuild of that party, should be the dismissal of the party’s state secretary, Anthony Chisholm.

I reiterate that view tonight. Losing an election is one thing; to have presided over the state campaign he did this year — one of the dirtiest, nastiest, most dishonest campaigns in Australian history — the buck must stop somewhere, and Chisholm’s door would seem the appropriate place.

Labor’s state campaign wasn’t even the right campaign to run from a tactical or strategic perspective, putting aside its sheer repugnance for a minute; it seems clear that the occupant of the position of state ALP secretary would be responsible for this and, as such, Chisholm should resign or be sacked.

The Brisbane City Council campaign he has presided over has done little or nothing to mitigate those points.

But Labor’s problems (and this is an increasingly old story) run deeper, and are more universal, than the problems of its Queensland branch; Labor must rethink its overall approach to retail politics, from its party structures to its methods of candidate selection to its policy priorities — and, quite literally, to everything in between.

Yet those are details I wish to take no part in; whilst I’m happy to opine impartially, my own preferences offer me no inclination to give any detailed ideas on how the Labor Party might fix its act up…

…and so here we are, at the end of yet another truly remarkable day in politics in Queensland.

The Red And The Blue wishes Graham Quirk — an old friend, a gentleman and a great bloke, and a highly respected figure in Liberal circles — heartiest congratulations on his triumph today, and wishes he and his team the best of success in now executing their duties on behalf of the people of Brisbane.

And oddly enough, this column also wishes the Queensland division of the Labor Party luck: whilst it is tempting to be churlish and say “they’ll need it,” I have to emphasise that a functional opposition to any democratically elected government is crucial.

It’s not necessarily a matter of how many members the ALP has left, but rather a question of what those remaining representatives of the Labor Party do with the opportunity to move forward they have nonetheless been entrusted with.

And thus — in closing — it can only be hoped that Queensland Labor gets its act together to some extent at least, and preferably sooner rather than later.