So, the people of Queensland have spoken. In yesterday's state election they kicked the Labor Party from here to beyond the Pointy Bit of the state's far north, where, incidentally, in the electoral district of Cook, there was only four per cent between the triumphant LNP and Labor, with Katter's Australia Party splitting the vote nicely and taking nearly 22 per cent.
In her concession speech, outgoing Premier Anna Bligh spoke of the cycles of politics; and she must indeed hope that they were at least partly responsible for the devastating rejection of Labor yesterday. The same thing happened in the UK's 2010 election. After 13 years of Labour government, the electorate was feeling the massive pinch of serious recession and blamed the incumbent despite the global roots of their hardship. 'It's time for a change' could be heard up and down the land far more often than serious political debate or a demand for justice for the rapacious bankers who'd got everybody into the mess. When people feel badly off, straight out of the window go concerns about wider issues, such as habitat loss and degradation, and planning for the future beyond the duration of an electoral term, as in dealing with the changing climate. They stick their heads in the sand while holding out their hands for relief in the form of lower utility prices or a few cents off at the bowser (petrol pump).
During talkback radio broadcasts from the streets of Brisbane this last week, I heard the same big issue come up over and over: the cost of living. I heard not a single mention of the CSG (coal seam gas) controversy. There are no drilling rigs in Brisbane, of course: although they are right on its doorstep – within 100 metres of the Logan River, which supplies water to the city. If Labor's and Katter's supporters had got together with the Queensland Greens in the electoral district of Beaudesert, where the river flows and there is much concern about CSG, there would not be a victorious LNP member of the State Parliament this morning. But that could never happen: the Greens aren't liked very much in Queensland – they threaten mining jobs, apparently – and Katter is either an oddball or a lunatic, depending where you stand on the spectrum.
Neither did I hear during this election campaign a word about climate change – from candidates or voters – or environmental protection. Labor over the last few years have introduced new laws to protect the Great Barrier Reef, wild river areas and Moreton Bay green zones. They claim that Premier-elect Campbell Newman intends to scrap this legislation. I called Mr Newman's office on Friday to ask if this were true. They took my number but never called back. The LNP receive large donations from Clive Palmer, head of Waratah Coal, so I'm not hopeful for a proactive role by Newman in the preservation of Bimblebox Nature Refuge, at risk from Palmer's China First mega mine project.
The aspect of this election result that should concern everyone more than anything, however, is the fact that Queensland has been reduced, in effect, to a one-party state. Labor is likely to end up with seven seats; the LNP will have ten times this number; the Katter Party will have two; and 'others' two (no Greens). Surely even the most jubilant of LNP supporters can't think this is a good thing? What will be the point of Parliamentary debate? The minority parties – for that is what the ALP has become – will never be able to influence the formulation of legislation. Democratic process never works as well after landslide victories.
Random Queenslanders asked for their thoughts by the ABC this morning seemed as stunned as Kerry O'Brien last night as he presented the results. Everyone had expected a big LNP win, but not on this scale. Will Queenslanders appreciate the likely consequences before three years are up?