This morning, Queensland's new Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, was sworn in. With the announcement yesterday that the counting of votes was finally over, the tally was formally declared by the Electoral Commission, and Palaszczuk was asked by the Governor of Queensland to take the reins. 'Premier Palaszczuk' should at least please lovers of alliteration.
Palaszczuk heads a minority government: Labor have 44 seats, and can only reach the magic 45 with the help of Independent Peter Wellington, an arrangement that is in place. Just as good was the news that the Electoral Commission was not going to refer the result in Ferny Grove to the Court of Disputed Returns, as a result of legal advice it had received in 'regard to the final count in Ferny Grove, the winning margin, the number of votes for the [bankrupt] PUP candidate and the distribution of preferences'*.
With the new government come high hopes… and predictable fears. Few Labor policies were outlined in any detail prior to the election, which means a lot of voters are taking the new leaders on trust. The absence of 'big-ticket promises' will hopefully insure against the usual carping about back-flips and broken promises, but there are enormous questions marks over future infrastructure projects, for example, and their link to the health of the economy, jobs creation and business confidence.
Annastacia Palaszczuk has spoken of being humbled by Queensland's choice. The one big promise she has made is to continue to listen. Consensus and unity and integrity and openness are what the people want, it would appear, from their enormous rejection of an arrogant former government that responded to their donors' needs rather than their electorate's.
I hope for the repeal of much of the Newman government's undemocratic, blinkered, self-interested and environmentally damaging legislation. I know the Great Barrier Reef is temporarily in safer hands. But I would like to hear a debate that I fear few politicians dare even mention, let alone initiate. And that is the one about an alternative economic future, one not focused on growth as inevitably desirable and perpetual. Instead of debating whether or not Queensland should reinstate a second chamber or elect its leaders for fixed four-year terms, maybe we should revive the idea of abolishing state governments altogether, to do away with duplication and save billions of dollars. Maybe we should set think tanks to work on the thorny issue of using less than one planet's resources to furnish our luxurious lifestyles; because, believe me, if you own two cars, two dogs and a leafblower, you are not doing it tough.
Shock, horror, Judith: get back in your box.