Cowardly: Qld ALP To Wait For One Nation To “Implode”

IN A DESCENT into the depths of gutlessness, Queensland Labor is to delay a state election widely thought to have been just weeks away in the hope Pauline Hanson’s One Nation party implodes; the decision — weighed against Hanson’s declaration that Labor is her “enemy” — defies the fact Labor won in Western Australia on Saturday in a canter, and flies in the face of the abjectly pathetic campaign performance turned in by Ms Hanson herself.

My grandfather used to have a saying: it was better to keep quiet and let people think you were an idiot than to speak up and prove that you were, and this idiom is one that certainly applies to Pauline Hanson and the eponymous One Nation outfit that may not yet have collapsed but which, based on the frightful performance turned in by Hanson herself on the stump in Western Australia, is looking decidedly shaky at best.

I am going to keep my comments brief this afternoon — there may well be a federal Newspoll out later tonight, and if there is, I will repost again with analysis of that — but an interesting snapshot of the mentality of ALP types in the wake of Saturday’s thumping win in Western Australia has emerged, and it speaks volumes of the misreading of the political climate that is being engaged in with the distractions of red herrings like One Nation and its preference deal with the WA Liberals being given more oxygen by the media than they deserve or warrant.

I have been reading an article posted in the Fairfax press this afternoon by James Massola, whose observations on political behaviour are usually pretty good; the core thrust of his piece is that Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk is set to defer the looming state election that many suspected was a matter of weeks away — or even a chance to be called tomorrow — on the basis that Labor would prefer to give Hanson and One Nation time to “implode” before they head off to the polls.

“The thinking process is, we give them enough time to do our job for us (sic),” Massola’s article quotes an ALP source as saying. “We let them go and let them implode and let the public see them for what they are. Waiting until early next year does that.”

Never mind the fact the ALP — despite a high-profile One Nation presence — has just scored its biggest state election win in Western Australian political history.

Never mind the fact that Hanson — upon whom naive journalists have lavished the unjustified praise in recent weeks that she has “matured” — saw fit (among other things) to posture as an anti-vaccination campaigner, to urge GST monies to be diverted from Queensland to WA (despite the obvious need to front Queensland voters at some point within the next 12 months) and to make the stunning confession on the stump that she “is from the east” and that whilst she consequently might not always “get it right” in Western Australia, her defence to accusations she didn’t understand the West at all essentially boiled down to no more than an empty assertion that her heart was in the right place.

And never mind the fact that the WA Liberals, in making the quantum leap gaffe of a preference deal that not only placed One Nation ahead of Labor and the Greens (as it should have) but above their National Party governing partners as well, have guaranteed themselves ridicule and condemnation on a national scale that will follow the LNP into the Queensland election, and probably still plague the Liberals in Tasmania, Victoria and South Australia next year too, even if common sense prevents a repeat of what can only be described as a fuck-up.

Hanson — early in this latest incarnation of her on-again, off-again One Nation juggernaut, which she launched claiming to be “fed up” — made the declaration that the ALP was “her enemy,” presumably on account of the fact it was a Labor state government that jailed her in Queensland on convictions for electoral fraud that were eventually quashed.

Yet traditionally, it has been the Liberal Party and its satellites that have repeatedly been the worst affected by One Nation and the effects of its preference strategies: Coalition state governments killed off in Queensland in 1998 and Western Australia in 2001; a Country Liberal administration destroyed in the NT in 2001; and Coalition oppositions all but obliterated in Queensland in 2001 and New South Wales in 1999 stand testament to One Nation’s disproportionate drawing power of votes from the Coalition’s base and/or preference strategies explicitly calibrated to wreak as much damage as possible upon the Liberals, the Nationals, and in today’s parlance in Queensland, the LNP.

To say that Queensland Labor is using One Nation as its pretext for delaying a state election in view of all this is bizarre: a judgement less based in spin than reality suggests that despite the smashing victory enjoyed by its western brethren, Queensland Labor is simply terrified.

The simple truth is that by moving to abolish optional preferential voting and restore the compulsion to allocate preferences that was dispensed with in Queensland 25 years ago — and to do so before this latest burst of One Nation activity had really cranked up to full throttle — Queensland Labor thought it would steal a march on the LNP by harvesting Communist Greens preferences, and gaining an unfair advantage over the LNP led by Tim Nicholls in so doing.

Instead, this brazen electoral rort has backfired: just as there is a stream of preferences Labor might harvest from the Greens, so too now are there preferences en masse for the LNP to target from One Nation that it can, and should, target (so long as it is less hamfisted in its approach than the WA Liberals were).

The fact is that by forcing One Nation voters to allocate preferences — especially when it is remembered that such votes are disproportionately drawn off the Liberal pile anyway — the probability Queensland Labor can reap the ill-gotten fruits of its electoral rorting and win a majority becomes significantly lessened; far from waiting for One Nation to “implode,” the likelier explanation is that Labor knows Queenslanders really aren’t impressed, after two lacklustre and do-nothing years: “not being Campbell Newman” might have been a strategy of sorts for winning an election against Campbell Newman himself, but it is not a template for government, and Queenslanders have well and truly woken up to it.

The strategy of Palaszczuk and the Queensland ALP is nothing more than old-fashioned gutlessness.

Hanson conducted herself appallingly in the WA campaign; her party scored less than half the votes it was expected to attract; WA Labor won its biggest ever state election victory despite her presence; and when the Liberal Party isn’t confronting the political mortality of Malcolm Turnbull this week, it has the headache of the WA Division’s stupid and destructive deal with One Nation to unpick, unpack, and discard.

Why is Palaszczuk delaying a state election in Queensland?

Readers can play “connect the dots” for themselves, but among the plausible or proffered reasons, the likelihood of the Palaszczuk government being re-elected is not one of them.

 

Get Your Hand Off It: Queensland Redistribution An Embarrassment

HAD Annastacia Palaszczuk wished to signal Queensland’s resumption of its status as a laughing stock, no better way could be found than the idiotic redivision of state boundaries; not content with rigging the electoral system, Palaszczuk has now seen fit to leave a lasting, and embarrassing, mark. Her electoral commissioners should, to put it crudely, get their hands off it — and give place names to electorates, not slogans or jingoistic rubbish.

It is the end of a long week and I’m tired, and there are weightier matters than this that we will canvass over the weekend: that much I promise.

But in a break between work and a meeting I had last night, a quick scan of the Murdoch mastheads over a hurried dinner revealed a nugget of excrement from the Sunshine State that made me shake my head in disbelief.

And worst of all, it is apparently serious.

It is always a bad sign when supposedly independent electoral commissions trumpet the pending release of a redistribution of boundaries in whatever jurisdiction they are located in; for days there has been a steady stream of (what I gather was intended as) suspense-building pronouncements about a release today by the Queensland Redistribution Commission of a redraw of that state’s electorates.

The only problem? Some bastard leaked it to the Fairfax press, and in turn, it’s been published everywhere else in the past 24 hours, including in the Courier Mail, from which you can read some coverage here and here.

And as the Courier Mail bluntly noted, the Commissioners haven’t just rejigged the boundaries — they’ve smashed and reshaped the electoral map.

The addition of four new electorates to what had since 1985 been an 89-seat unicameral Parliament is, on its own, no particular cause for outrage or ridicule; provided these — called for by the LNP as a way of gently scaling down vast rural electorates that have grown in size due to population drift toward the coast and cities — adhered to the principle of “one vote, one value” enshrined after the Fitzgerald Inquiry, with a small weighting for a handful of the largest rural electorates, nobody would have cause to quibble.

But as the bill to establish them came before Parliament, Labor rammed through an amendment to discard the optional preferential voting system (again, a direct legacy of the Fitzgerald probity reforms) and instead restore compulsory preferential voting — for no other reason than to guarantee itself a much higher flow of Communist Greens preferences, and thus substantially rig the entire system in its own favour.

Happily, the growing likelihood that the emergence of One Nation will, thanks to that change, also guarantee the Queensland LNP a much higher flow of preferences too will probably negate that ill-gotten advantage altogether: this is the problem with cynical rorting of political processes — one day, it will rebound on you altogether if you are stupid enough to try it on.

Even so — and undaunted — word is going around that Palaszczuk is about to call a snap election to avoid having to fight on the new boundaries; and so, idiosyncratically, Queenslanders are likely to head to the polls on the boundaries as they stand today — but not on the existing optional preferential voting system, which Labor has trashed in the brazen interests of self-advantage without consultation or debate.

Confused? You’d have every right to be. It isn’t a good look, and with One Nation thrown into the mix for good measure, Queensland politics is about to better resemble a lottery than a serious exercise in ascertaining who is most fit to govern the state.

At the very minimum, Palaszczuk and her cohorts are merrily turning Queensland back into the national laughing stock it was lampooned as for decades during the Bjelke-Petersen years — albeit without the tangible, commensurate legacy of state development and economic growth that accompanied the former National Party strongman’s tenure during what was a rotten regime to boot.

It’s some achievement, to be sure, and a dubious one indeed.

Yet it’s often the little things that really make a bad change stink, and the thing that leapt out at me — as I perused the proposed new boundaries over a mouthful of salmon last night — was the unfathomably idiotic and in some cases downright ridiculous names the Queensland Redistribution Commission has seen fit to allocate to some of the heavily redrawn state electorates.

A new electorate of “Bonney” on the Gold Coast. Where in hell is that? Glass House being renamed “Tibrogargan” makes a crumb of sense, given the mountain there, but the change smells dangerously of some smartarse thinking a trendy and puerile idea ought to be enacted. Calling what was Mount Isa “Traegar” is laughable. An electorate centred on Taringa, St Lucia and Mount Coot-tha, called “Maigar,” is ridiculous.

Yes, Coopers Camp Road runs obliquely through what was Ashgrove, and Cooper himself is probably a minor local historical figure of mild note, but to rename the electorate after him?

Brisbane Central — which does exactly what it says on the packet — is going to be far less obvious to the outsider and the local alike once it becomes “McConnell.”

And in the silly politician-speak phrase that begins “The people of…,” what subterranean point is there in having an electorate called “Hill” south of Cairns?

Some of these electorate names appear to have an indirect link to roads and topographical features they contain; some seem to be a tokenistic sop to Aboriginal culture, as has become all too fashionable these days; and some are just impermeable in terms of any rational person being likely to be able to ascertain just what the hell the Commissioners were thinking.

The practice of naming electorates after people of note has never sat all that well with me; it is hokey and jingoistic. “The people of Burt,” an electorate created in WA at the last federal redistribution was, I thought, the ultimate piece of electoral crassness, but I think “the people of Hill” have them covered now, or at least soon will.

Even if it takes another electoral cycle for “Hill” to exist at all, if only as a dumb name for a state seat.

Now, Queensland is set to have a state littered with such monuments to the stupidity of people too busy trying to look important and far less deserving of their salaries than their job titles would otherwise suggest.

Bancroft. Oodgeroo. Jordan. Ninderry. Miller. Toohey. I’m pretty sure the last two aren’t describing beer brands, but who in hell would know?

Seriously, these electorates — and the massive changes they inflict on the political landscape in Queensland — will have profound ramifications for all parties to coming electoral contests, with the radically redrawn boundaries likely to unleash a colossal degree of brawling and internal warfare across the political divide, as factions and vested interests set out to seize and protect as much turf as they can, and to protect MPs at high risk of defeat in seats some retain little connection to on their reformed configurations.

But taken in aggregate with the Palaszczuk’s rigging of the electoral system, the opacity of whether the next election will be fought on the old boundaries or the new, and the cringeworthy (and frankly imbecilic) names some of these seats have been given, it isn’t unfair to say that Palaszczuk has directly and indirectly turned Queensland into a joke — and not the kind run out of illicit brothels and casinos in Fortitude Valley under the benign gaze of corrupt Police during the Bjelke-Petersen era, who in any case were far shrewder and more astute than anyone sitting in the ALP party room today, even if they did deploy those attributes toward such improper ends.

Irrespective of who wins the next election in Queensland — whenever that is, and whichever boundaries it is conducted on — the new boundaries themselves have been created through a process that is entirely proper and in accordance with the legislative framework set out in Tony Fitzgerald’s recommendations: that much we do not dispute.

They will not be redrawn again until three elections, or eight years (whichever comes first) have been held or passed: this, too, is entirely appropriate.

But the minute Palaszczuk is thrown out of office and forcibly ejected from the Premier’s suite — hopefully, the day her cynical snap election is held in the near future — the LNP should rename all of the “interesting” electorates the process has created, and resume the system that has always applied in Queensland, whereby electorate names actually describe the places they cover and in terms normal people recognise and understand.

And in the meantime — not to put too fine a point on it — the Queensland Redistribution Commission should get its collective hand off it.

For a state that pompously declares itself to be the “smart” state, this is just dumb, dumb, dumb. And a bit too smart by half.

“Responsible” Urgings To Put One Nation Last Are Political Stupidity

THE DEFECTION of an inconsequential, two-bit monument to mediocrity to One Nation notwithstanding, this column maintains that Queensland’s LNP should place both the ALP and Greens below One Nation on how-to-vote cards for the looming state election; the outrage over Steve Dickson’s defection to the far Right party should not cloud the fact supposedly “responsible” observers are using One Nation to goad the LNP into electoral suicide.

It is a very quick post from me this morning; quite simply, I have to go to my office today.

But when you look at what some sneering southern commentators described, for a time, as “the other Australia” — that portion of the country located beyond the usually smugly Left-entrenched citadels of Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania — it isn’t hard to see how a disastrous hegemony of Labor state governments came to exist during the 2000s: and how it still persists in South Australia and Victoria today.

Reader have seen two posts from me in the past week dealing with matters afoot in Queensland: one, arguing that the conservative LNP should exchange preferences with One Nation at the looming state election; and two, a scathing piece after the defection of forgettable LNP MP Steve Dickson to the fringe party on the crass pretext of medicinal cannabis.

There is no reason, based in logic, emotion or fact, to suggest that the rabid cabal of fruit cakes at the Communist Party Greens is any better than or different to One Nation in terms of the odious nature of their policies and the insidious presence they represent in Australian politics at any level.

Yet as readers have heard me lament too often — albeit correctly — the Coalition parties, of which Queensland’s LNP is one, couldn’t articulate the desire to purchase sexual services in a brothel if they tried: so defective are their ability to communicate much at all, let alone sell anything, and political strategy and tactics are concepts that all too often might as well be alien to these entities.

Today, an article has appeared in the Courier Mail, this time from generally respected Brisbane political scientist Paul Williams, who makes the spurious case that because one of its MPs has leapt into bed with Pauline Hanson’s nascent outfit, the LNP would be “insane” to preference One Nation after the event.

But this type of argument ignores reality, and the behaviour of the ALP in seeking and accepting preferences from the Greens for decades.

The Greens (and this is an old story) essentially wish to de-industrialise the West — despite whatever feeble rhetoric they offer by way of denial — and despite the territorial risk the Greens pose to Labor, as they seek to devour everything that lies in their path, Labor invariably preferences the Greens above the Coalition and its related entities in almost 100% of cases, as well as pocketing the almost 80% of Greens preferences that are available to it at elections across the country.

So addicted to Greens preferences votes is Labor that in Queensland, it has also rigged the state’s electoral system to ensure it gets them.

I don’t like One Nation any more than I like the Greens, and whilst I regard the Greens with a contempt that is no less than a party of hard socialism deserves, it worries me that people voting for One Nation out of the desperation that follows the fact they believe nobody else listens to them could place their trust and faith in a false messiah like Pauline Hanson and the irresponsible messages she send to milk votes, a public profile, and public election funding.

But their votes are no less valid than anyone else’s: and that includes those cast for the Greens, as offensive and downright dangerous as that party is.

Nobody has ever held Labor to account for the cottage industry of harvesting Greens votes, and as things stand, nobody from the major parties is ever likely to; indeed, the ALP is unlikely to ever revisit this dirty little arrangement.

But there are those who now seek to goad the LNP into a political catastrophe, urging it to eschew One Nation votes on “principle,” when any reciprocal application of such a virtue would and should see the ALP drop the Greens like a hot brick — and seek to preference it out of existence.

I don’t know if Dr Williams has a particular penchant for ALP administrations elected in a landslide, but if he doesn’t, a quick look at history is instructive: the Coalition’s loss of government in WA in 2001, Queensland in 1998 and in the NT in 2001, along with Coalition wipeouts in Queensland in 2001 and NSW in 1999, were the direct result of exactly the behaviour he now advocates in Queensland.

Whilst One Nation will never win enough support to win an election outright (or even as the senior partner in a coalition, if anyone is silly enough to form one with it), it has a demonstrated history of destroying the electoral prospects of those who preference against it — and if “everyone” preferences against One Nation, it takes aim first and foremost against those parties it can inflict the heaviest damage on, and those are the Liberal and National parties (and the LNP).

Tim Nicholls and his associates should ignore the urgings of people like Paul Williams, and seek to harvest all the preferences from One Nation they can.

After all, defeat beckons if they follow this “principled” advice; it would be defeat of epic proportions, and a loss it would take another decade from which to recover.

But this may be exactly what the “principle” merchants want, for seven years in WA, 16 in NSW and 14 years in Queensland were the tenures of the resulting state Labor governments.

If the LNP wants to hold office in the Sunshine State this side of 2025, it would be well advised to ignore the rantings of those who seek to harm it, and — the outrage of Dickson aside — do the deal that will at the very minimum mitigate the electoral damage that One Nation would almost certainly otherwise inflict.

Qld LNP’s One Nation Defector Not Worth A Pinch Of Shit

THE NEWS Queensland MP Steve Dickson has defected to Pauline Hanson’s One Nation — on the laughable pretext he’ll be deputy Premier — has nowt to do with “principle” and even less to do with Ms Hanson or One Nation. Despite a ridiculous excuse about legalising medicinal cannabis, Dickson is merely the latest clump of faeces with deluded ideas about his own importance and in reality, isn’t even worth a pinch of shit. Good riddance.

Nobody denies there is an awful lot wrong with conservative politics in Australia at the moment — the Prime Minister himself is walking, talking proof of it — but the one thing worse than the wrong people running the show attempting to take voters for fools is when some thoroughly unimportant speck of fly shit does it, and masquerades the act as “principle.”

I’ve heard some strange reasons for walking away from the Liberal Party over the years, but the inability to peddle dope has never been one of them, until now; the claim by LNP turncoat and general shitbag Steve Dickson — that he defected yesterday to One Nation because it would give the terminally ill access to medicinal cannabis — ranks as one of the lamest, most ludicrous and contemptible excuses for treachery and disloyalty I have come across in more than 30 years’ association with the Liberals.

Mind you, I’m not completely unsympathetic to arguments about legalising cannabis for medical purposes within a strictly regulated and controlled framework, and I too think more can be done to ease the suffering of the terminally ill, but any member of Parliament who walks away from the party they arguably owe their career to over such an issue — and to a party of the far Right, no less — either stands for very little at all and/or is simply taking the piss.

In the case of Dickson, it is arguably both.

But first things first: readers can peruse a selection of the Murdoch coverage of this issue here and here, and the Fairfax press’ take on it here and here, and my earliest reaction on hearing the news that Dickson had defected yesterday was to mentally lump him in with the likes of Martin Hamilton-Smith — whose bald ambition and pay cheque chasing saw him all but join the ALP nearly three years ago — and another LNP defector in Alex Douglas, whose gullibility was such that he actually believed Clive Palmer would make him Premier of Queensland.

Yes, people really are this stupid.

And stupidity is the order of the day in Steve Dickson’s case, for it appears he has spent some time bragging to his LNP colleagues that he is set to become deputy Premier of Queensland — presumably, that is, if One Nation were to win the looming state election.

One Nation is not — I repeat, is not — going to win a state election, in Queensland or anywhere else, and anyone who thinks it will is just as deluded as Dickson is.

It is not going to win an election in Queensland or anywhere else: not now, not ever.

One Nation could conceivably wreak havoc at a Queensland state election, and tear the LNP apart: much as it did cumulatively across the 1998 and 2001 state elections, but it will not win; rather, the greater its impact, the likelier it is that the ALP will romp home — preferential voting or not — and for a party that claims Labor is its “enemy,” the shortsightedness of people like Dickson in joining it is stultifying.

From 11 years in Parliament, Dickson boasts one very mediocre stint as a junior minister in the government of Campbell Newman to his credit; he may or may not be a half-decent local MP (and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to be one of those) but for “star” quality, Dickson has none.

If anyone at One Nation has promised him the deputy premiership — not that they will ever be in a position to gift it to him — then Dickson has fallen prey to the most cynical (and cheapest) form of flattery on the planet if he thinks he can believe it.

LNP leader Tim Nicholls got it bang on the money when he said Dickson’s defection had nothing to do with medicinal cannabis, noting that Dickson had “selfishly put his own interests ahead of the good people of his electorate.”

With an additional year to run on his current term — unless an early election intervenes, which seems likely — there is nothing remotely honourable or praiseworthy about using that term, arguably obtained on false pretences and using the resources, brand and money of the party he now seeks to disavow, to benefit another party that as at today’s date has exactly zero elected authority from the people of Queensland at a state level.

However, having a taxpayer-funded electorate office to work out of, with all the taxpayer-provided resources at the disposal of a sitting MP to fight an election with, is a boon One Nation probably can’t believe it has secured for nothing more than a promise of promotion it cannot and will never have to deliver on.

If this bozo was as good as his “principles,” he would vacate his seat of Buderim and fight out a by-election for it. That would cost money, however, which I doubt One Nation is flush enough with to throw $150k at a by-election, and it would almost certainly result in his defeat.

I tend to think he will be defeated anyway — the Sunshine Coast hinterland isn’t at the top of the list of regions that swung to One Nation in 1998, and any federal pointers drawn from the seat of Longman last year probably had as much to do with distaste for its puerile adolescent former MP than with anything else.

Dickson has asked the LNP, and his former colleagues, not to regard him as “the enemy.” Were I in their shoes, my only response would be to tell him to get fucked.

With media across the country noting that as recently as October, Dickson was publicly declaring himself “loyal” and a “team player,” so far as I am concerned he is no longer entitled to any commensurate respect given he has so starkly revealed himself to be neither of those things.

Dickson has probably quietly congratulated himself on being so “clever” as to give Nicholls just 15 minutes’ warning of the press announcement of his defection and, to be sure, it caught Nicholls on the hop, forcing him to return to work from his holidays early.

But to everyone else watching, it merely reinforced the grimy, opportunistic (and amateurish) appearance Dickson’s actions convey.

The simple truth is that right now, One Nation is polling 15% in reputable polls measuring state voting intention in Queensland; come polling day it may be 20%; it may be 10%. But it will not be enough to win an election.

Dickson — apparently now the champion of an issue the Communist Party Greens have championed since their long-ago days as tree-hugging, do-nothing environmentally obsessed ratbags — has, on the specious pretext of “principle,” deserted the pre-eminent party of the mainstream right for the lunatic vehicle of the hard Right.

If he proves unwilling to adopt the anti-Muslim, anti-immigration, pro-gun catechisms of his new anti-reality friends, Dickson will soon find out that his new friends don’t like him any more than the old ones he shat upon yesterday from a great height.

And whilst compulsory preferential voting will shield the LNP to some extent from the split in the vote on the Right that may have cost it even more seats under OPV, Dickson has probably driven a slew of city voters directly into the ALP’s arms by his actions: and for that, he will be heavily culpable if Labor is re-elected later this year.

As I said at the outset, nobody denies there is a great deal wrong on the conservative side of politics in Australia at the moment, and within the Liberal Party (or LNP, in Queensland’s case) in particular.

Just as the apparent hard Right version of “a conservative party” Cory Bernardi and his acolytes seem certain to launch early this year is no answer, the false messiahs of the far Right — Pauline Hanson first and foremost — will deliver nothing constructive either.

In fact, in One Nation’s case, it is unlikely to deliver anything at all, for there is a limit to how many people can be hoodwinked into supporting such poorly contrived and ill-conceived slogans, xenophobic and anarchic as they are, that could never fulfil the requirements of government if the party were to be elected: which it won’t be.

I am sorry to labour that point, but with electoral behaviour something of a specialty, I have no qualms in stating unequivocally that One Nation will not form government anywhere in Australia at any time.

There are those who have never been involved in politics prior to their association with One Nation, and whilst I disagree with their chosen party, my next point does not apply to them.

But those who have spent years (or, as in Dickson’s case, decades) as members of the Liberal Party (or the LNP) would serve themselves, their party, and ultimately their constituents far more effectively by trying to fix their party from within, rather than taking actions that will not only trash it, but help entrench Labor in power for a generation.

This is all too hard for people like Dickson, who — like Hamilton-Smith, Douglas, and countless others like them — would rather choose the seemingly free ticket to Easy Street than do the hard work required to actually earn it.

People of Buderim, take note: Dickson has shown himself unworthy, and untrustworthy, to be given the renewed privilege of representing the 30,000-odd voters who make up a seat in the Queensland state Parliament these days.

In fact, Dickson isn’t worth a pinch of shit at all: not to the LNP, not to his new chums at One Nation, and most certainly not to the electors of the seat of Buderim.

All he amounts to in the big scheme of things is the latest clump of faeces, diabolically misled about the degree of self-importance he should apportion himself, whose expedience and nihilism is being masqueraded as principle when he has shown that he doesn’t actually have any.

It is to be hoped — to continue the metaphor — that the good burghers of Buderim flush what’s left of his political career away whenever the field trip to the ballot box occurs.

Good riddance.

 

 

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.

 

In Dealing With Pauline Hanson, Remember Rob Borbidge

With hysteria levels in nominally conservative circles approaching fever point on the question of precisely what to do about Pauline Hanson, I thought it instructive to repost an article originally published in August, in the aftermath of the federal election.

It does seem that every time I think the planets are aligning to permit me more time for publishing comment, something new emerges from other quarters: and to this end, spending most of last week interstate, combined with more interstate work before Christmas and a slew of commitments outside business hours over the next few weeks, it means our regular conversation will have to wait.

For now, I encourage everyone to contemplate afresh the initial thoughts on Pauline Hanson winning four Senate spots and with them, partial control of the balance of power in the upper house; One Nation now stands to inflict great damage on all who stand in its way, beginning with a state election in Queensland next year.

For the major parties, and the Liberal Party especially, cooler heads — and far more refined levels of astute judgement — will be paramount in heading off this insidious electoral threat.

YS

The Red And The Blue

COALITION MPs who think Pauline Hanson must be vilified and her party smashed must reconsider; the inherent risks in any attempt at accommodation of the right-wing party are tempered by the dangers of literally ignoring it. A procession of state Coalition figures 15 years ago — headed by former Queensland Premier Rob Borbidge — offers an object lesson in the consequences of crucifying Hanson, One Nation, and the people who vote for it.

If there’s one thing that has generally been missed in much of the published commentary since last month’s election, it’s that the overall swing that occurred — in raw terms — was to the Right, the success of Nick Xenophon in South Australia notwithstanding, rather than to the Left.

Certainly, it’s the ALP and Bill Shorten who ostensibly emerge as the biggest winners and, in the House of Representatives at least, this is also certainly true; Labor now requires just seven additional…

View original post 2,893 more words

Queensland: Nicholls’ Opportunity To Overhaul LNP And Win

IN WINNING leadership of Queensland’s LNP, Tim Nicholls has been given an opportunity to professionalise the conservatives’ parliamentary wing ahead of a state election expected within months; the opportunity comes with risks, and the new team must be on its game: in its messaging, its policies, in the rapid acquisition of real tactical and strategic firepower, and in much sharper responses to the activities of its Labor opponent.

At some point very soon, our focus will move away from Queensland and back onto federal politics, which for the next eight weeks is set, to coin a phrase, to be the only game in town; even so, we have always paid close attention to the political goings-on of the states when appropriate to do so, and in 2016 Queensland has certainly warranted the scrutiny it has attracted.

But first things first: heartiest, and sincerest, congratulations must be offered to new LNP leader Tim Nicholls and his deputy, Deb Frecklington; I have consistently supported Nicholls in this column since it commenced five years ago, and in the years prior to that privately among LNP figures I speak with, and I am delighted he has been given the opportunity to fulfil an unquestioned political talent and achieve his potential to be Premier of Queensland. He deserves the chance his colleagues have entrusted him with, and we wish him the very best of luck.

It is not without reason that in the past few days, Queensland Labor’s dirt unit — and the cabal of spivs and hacks that flood social media with its vapid, disingenuous propaganda — has gone into meltdown, pumping out messages attacking Nicholls bitterly over his time as Treasurer in the Newman government; Nicholls is by far the likeliest senior LNP figure to inflict an election defeat on the Palaszczuk government this year, and whilst it will never admit as much, the Labor Party knows it.

As I pointed out to a couple of them over the weekend on Twitter — and at the risk of being indelicate — they would be trying to kick shit into the eyes of whoever won Friday’s ballot, in any way possible. Yet the vitriol behind the immediate Labor response is real, and with Palaszczuk’s economic record a serious weakness for the ALP to defend, you have to wonder whether the attacks on Nicholls’ stewardship of state finances are a case of just a little too much protestation to be believed.

A particularly encouraging sign that Nicholls will not suffer fools — and is unlikely to easily be hoodwinked — was his declaration that the Katter’s Australian Party would be treated as a political opponent (which is what it is) rather than a “partner” to be coddled and indulged; the Katter crowd is predicated upon hiving off ex-National Party electorates with promises of archaic protectionist policies that are internationally discredited, and which would cause more damage than good if ever revisited: and its most recent act in Queensland was to sell out both the conservative side of politics and the state’s post-Fitzgerald era of clean government to permit Labor to rig the state’s electoral system, and could hardly be described as the act of a friendly and/or responsible entity.

More on that later.

But the reshuffle announced by Nicholls this morning has a lot to like, and whilst some critics have questioned whether the changes were simply a case of rewarding support at the leadership ballot, there is a strong case to be made that the new leader has forged the very best team possible from the personnel on hand.

Several long-term LNP stalwarts who either deliver nothing and/or are, judged objectively, past their use-by dates — Jann Stuckey, Mark McArdle, Fiona Simpson, Ray Stevens — have been dumped to the backbench or left there, and it is hoped these individuals, almost all holding very safe conservative electorates, might be prevailed upon to leave Parliament whenever the next state election is held to inject some fresh talent into LNP ranks after the Newman debacle wiped out so many promising faces almost 18 months ago.

The appointment of Indooroopilly MP Scott Emerson as shadow Treasurer is promising; since its resumption in office the ALP has achieved little in Queensland aside from restarting its debt and spending binge, with the attendant haemorrhaging of red ink from the state budget; a more forensic approach might be just what is required, and as a former journalist, it is to be hoped Emerson will add great potency to the LNP’s message in this critical portfolio.

Nicholls has taken a risk in restoring controversial former minister Ros Bates to the frontbench; on the basis that everyone deserves a second chance, Bates — certainly a talent — now has the opportunity to prove she can deliver without the whiff of scandal that followed her during the Newman era. If it pays off, Nicholls will have reaped a significant dividend. If it doesn’t, he will have no choice but to dump her: stonewalling and digging in won’t be an option.

It will be interesting to watch how Tracy Davis fares in Education against Labor’s Kate Jones; Jones is no world beater, and it perhaps says something that every item of collateral from the confected “local” campaign to “Keep Kate” in 2012 featured authorisations by the ALP’s secretariat in central Brisbane. Jones is a Labor insider, a spiv, an apparatchik — a hack — and not a serious ministerial quantity. Some, including within the LNP’s own ranks, have made similar criticisms of Davis in the past. But vanquished leadership aspirant Tim Mander made few inroads against Jones in the portfolio, and it will be fascinating to see if Davis now fares any better.

Moving former leader John-Paul Langbroek into Health to square off against Labor’s leader-in-waiting, Cameron Dick*, is an astute move; Langbroek is an effective performer with a pre-parliamentary career as a dentist, and should be on comfortable ground. This appointment elicited the first outburst of hubris from the government, with Dick declaring that the LNP’s previous Health spokesmen “hadn’t caused him any trouble” and that he “(didn’t) think Langbroek would either.”

Never mind the fact one of those spokesmen — beaten leader Lawrence Springborg — had to fix the mess Dick left behind as Health minister under Newman.

There are some new faces; the promotion of Moggill MP Christian Rowan, in particular, is encouraging; Rowan was rightly touted even prior to his entry to Parliament as a possible future leader, and it is to Nicholls’ credit that this first frontbench appointment will start to get the necessary experience into Rowan to determine whether such lofty predictions might come to pass. Relative newcomer Jon Krause, installed on the frontbench for the first time in the Tourism portfolio, is also worth watching in the longer run.

Harnessing the unpopular Jeff Seeney as the LNP’s leader of opposition business puts an attack dog into a role that requires one, and should add steel to the party’s performance in Parliament, whilst moving departed leader Springborg to the chairmanship of the parliamentary Crime and Corruption Committee is the perfect place for such an experienced and wholly decent MP to continue to render valuable service away from the strictures of the leadership prism.

Depending on preference, more coverage of the reshuffle can be accessed from the respective Fairfax and Murdoch portals for those so inclined.

This reshuffle positions the LNP well for a likely state election now expected in the aftermath of the imminent federal election, perhaps as soon as September; it makes a sound fist of the task of matching the right people to appropriate responsibilities, and it refreshes the opposition into an outfit with a distinctly hungry look: something it never really had during the 14 months in which Springborg most recently led it.

Significantly, the team bears Nicholls’ unmistakable stamp: a professional outfit ready to get on with the job, and not exactly wanting — like its new leader — for impatience; it will have to be on its game, for Labor in Queensland has feasted on conservative amateurism and incompetence for decades. If there is to be any chance of breaking that cycle now, before it evolves into another decade of defeat and misery for the LNP, the best opportunity to do so is the one likely to be forthcoming in just a few short months’ time.

And this brings me back to the undemocratic outrage of Labor’s restoration of compulsory preferential voting in a subterranean Machiavellian coup that completely blindsided the LNP and arguably triggered Springborg’s downfall.

It is paramount the LNP make it crystal clear that the first bill it puts through the Parliament, if it returns to government this year, will be the restoration of optional preferential voting: this measure was a recommendation from the post-Fitzgerald process of cleaning up decades of corruption and cronyism in Queensland after the Bjelke-Petersen years — not a Labor fix, despite the fact the measure suited ALP interests at the time — and as such, no party in Queensland should have the right to change it without either a referendum or unless the change has been laid out before voters ahead of an election.

What Labor did last month in reverting to compulsory preferences was a blatant and cynical exercise in rigging the electoral system to try to entrench itself in power of the worst possible kind; no consultation, no mandate, and no pretext other than bald self-interest and a cavalier “fuck you” to the system it had itself implemented 25 years ago in the name of transparency. Everyone in Queensland is entitled to be outraged and the LNP is entitled to milk political gain from the grubby exercise. For a party that has spent decades accusing its opponents of corruption and criminal misconduct without a shred of proof, the vote-rigging Labor has engaged in robs it of every scrap of the principle it has correspondingly sought to parade itself as the defender of.

What the LNP cannot afford to do is make itself a one-trick pony; this issue, properly handled, is an ideal instrument with which to channel dissatisfaction with the Palaszczuk government. But the real arguments for voting it from office must come from what it has done (or, as the case may be, not done) with its time in office: a moribund economy, a state budget in a mess, shortfalls across the spectrum of key portfolios, and the promises Labor made, not expecting to have to deliver on them, and subsequently broke.

If Springborg showed the party anything, it is that obsessive tangents can be as politically destructive as the autocratic, inarticulate model of governance practised so adroitly by Campbell Newman, but which completely alienated the electorate.

Making the arguments for a change of government will demand the LNP show it has finally learned to communicate — and do so — effectively with the voting public. No matter how well the seating arrangements have been determined, the issue of mass communication has bedevilled conservative parties across the country for a decade, and arguably poses the LNP’s greatest challenge. Time will tell whether Nicholls is able to resolve it.

 

*Whenever Cameron Dick’s name comes up, it involuntarily recalls a joke I share with some of my old Queensland LNP buddies; all of us are waiting for the day Labor makes him its leader, for all of us are looking forward to the headline in the Courier-Mail proclaiming that “Labor Gives Dick Head Job.” On account of Nicholls’ ascension to the LNP leadership, that day may have drawn a little closer in the past few days.