There are lessons from all elections and this week’s state election is no different.
The main takeaway is that voters can never be taken for granted. Last year, Central Queensland voted emphatically for the Liberal National Party. This year Labor took most of the spoils.
Competition is a good thing for our region. As Central Queensland has become more of a political battleground more investment in our region has been forthcoming.
Two $1 billion projects (the Shoalwater Bay upgrades and the Rockhampton Ring Road) are either underway or soon will be. The Adani project means three flights a day are leaving the Rockhampton airport filled with local workers. Rookwood Weir is starting to ramp up. And, CQ University is expanding its manufacturing and trade training skillset. All of this is leading to a relatively strong local economy despite the pandemic.
The one thing missing from this list is action on Great Keppel Island. After years of promises that will be a challenge for the returned Labor Government to deliver on.
How did Labor make a comeback over the past 18 months? Mainly by dropping the leftwing, anti-coal rhetoric (at least temporarily) and trying to recapture their working class base. Labor did everything they could to capture the One Nation vote. They dumped Jackie Trad, did a deal with Adani and shut the borders. The only thing Annastacia Palaszczuk did not do to capture the Pauline Hanson vote was dyeing her hair red.
It remains to be seen whether a Queensland Labor Party, in which the left have the numbers, will govern the way it has campaigned in recent months.
Labor’s first test will be whether it approves the New Acland Mine. This mine has been waiting 13 years for approval. The mine will run out of coal this year and, unless the state government gives it the go ahead, 500 coal miners could soon be out of a job.
There are questions about whether the federal Labor party will follow the lead of Annastacia Palaszczuk. Anthony Albanese represents an inner-city green leaning seat. If he moved to the right he could lose his own seat.
And that is before you get to a bunch of other left-leaning senior members of Albo’s team. Federal Labor has torn itself apart in recent weeks over whether we should continue to use gas. The Labor Environment Action Network even encouraged people to do away with their household gas appliances under their ‘residential gas-to-electric program’. Talk about a political barbecue stopper!
Fortunately for us all, after a long shadow cabinet meeting last week, the Labor party came to a decision. We can keep our BBQs, as long as they are not fuelled by coal briquettes.
There is also a lesson for the federal LNP. We can not depart from the recipe that delivered success last year. That success was built on the back of ignoring the loud left-wing media and backing Adani.
A hi-vis revolution delivered the unexpected defeat of Bill Shorten. The Queensland election has shown, however, that the hi-vis vote is colour blind.
It is a constant challenge for us all to get better and to continue to fight for the interests of workers. When political leaders focus on that simple goal they normally are rewarded.