Contributed from Queensland
The Queensland election has nearly come and gone, and the polls are suggesting that Labor will remain in office tomorrow.
Given what is at stake, the return of a Labor government is the preferable option.
Its record may not be exactly clean. But look at the alternative. This is a particularly obnoxious government, committed to an extensive extension of cuts to services and generous tax cuts for the wealthiest; a government far more committed to continuing and extending the coal economy; a government in an effective alliance with One Nation, the leadership of which, is bent on pushing the same to an extreme and implementing the politics of hate.
Preventing the rise of such a government may not solve all problems, but it will at least arrest the prospect of sliding down the black hole of an ideology and politics that will bring about a rise in economic and social harm. It will buy some time.
There must eventually be a turn to a clear cut alternative to neoliberalism and a shift away from coal extraction, towards building a more sustainable Queensland economy. The question is whether a Liberal National Party/One Nation government or a Labor government provide the best conditions to move forward.
The dark horse may be the performance of One Nation and the flow of its second preferences. The party had cashed in a growing disenchantment with the major parties. The driver is disenchantment with the state of the economy and the perception that the major parties don’t care about people and are doing nothing to provide new opportunities and improve the situation.
As one local business owner in Townsville summed up how many feel: “Just sick of the same relentless spiel. Nothing really changes”.
One Nation began its election campaign standing high at 18 percent. This has now gone down to 12 percent, meaning that they are neck in neck with the Greens, who are also standing at 12 percent in the polls.
The main cause has been a series of Pauline Hanson led gaffs that have made her and herr party lo0oks like a collection of prize idiots.
Although One Nation’s failure has driven some back to the major parties, the level of disenchantment remains deeply seated. Consequently, there is still a measure of uncertainty as to what will happen tomorrow.
The disconnection will remain after he polling stations have closed and be an ongoing leading feature of Queensland politics.
There is also a growing divide between city and country, where the support for Hanson and One Nation is the strongest.
This part of Queensland is especially angry and if its concerns are not met, it spells ongoing and deepening trouble for both Labor and the LNP.
Opposition to the Adani projects and coal seam mining is having a significant impact and may become the ultimate deciding factor for a big enough number, to ensure that Labor comes out on top. The LNP is the staunchest supporter of both. Labor could make a major inroad in the south east of the state as a result.
A strategy of distancing from Adani and promising to tax the rich landowners, luxury car buyers and online gambling companies, is smart and it resonates with the dissatisfied. This could prove to be help maintain Labor in government.
Doing this has shown recognition that in Queensland too, people believe in a fair go for all and that those in the best position should shoulder a greater burden.
The LNP is oblivious to this and continues to peddle giving yet more to those at the top.
Critics may suggest that the difference is more words than substance. But it is the present perception that is going to be decisive in the immediate sense.
In time, it is a different story. Labor will have to act on its promises or retract. Either way, Queenslanders will make an appropriate assessment.
What is going to be decisive is the level of community action that takes place on the ground.