Judging by some conversations I was having this morning, and some buzz on FB over the weekend, a lot of folk are starting to focus on the reality of what Queensland will be if the LNP wins government. No doubt there’s not much mileage in it for Anna Bligh, but there is truth in the perception that the absence of an authoritarian regime and a much freer climate more supportive of creative endeavour has made a real difference to both a lot of Queenslanders who might otherwise have done the well worn trek to Melbourne, Sydney or elsewhere and also to the diversification of our state’s economy into knowledge industries of all kinds. There’s some real apprehension around about the clock being wound back.
This might, of course, be dismissed as a set of metropolitan concerns. I doubt that’s true. Cities such as Toowoomba, Ipswich, Townsville, Rockhampton and others are increasingly promoting themselves as university towns, as creative and educational hubs. Some of the Brisbane v. the regions and elite v. populist stereotypes beloved of just about everyone on either side of the purported dividing line may be false, or at least much blurrier than usually conceived.
Still, the geographical and cultural spread of Queensland makes elections here hard to read – or rather, for those sitting in Brisbane, harder to read as the crow flies further. There are real gaps between social and cultural and economic interests in this big state which are difficult to bridge. Whether we end up with an LNP government holding fewer metropolitan seats than Labor, or a Labor government with a much diminished regional representation (or a minority government whose complexion is determined by rural and regional independents), the next state administration is going to find it more challenging to govern in the interests of all Queenslanders.
That’s particularly because – on both sides – the vision has been so barren.
In this context, it’s interesting to point to Jason Wilson’s take – as someone whose perception of state politics continues to be shaped by his North Queensland origins. I’d recommend reading his whole article, but I’d also wholeheartedly endorse his conclusion:
There is a larger issue here that goes to the heart of our federation — people are rightly confused about what state governments are for, and what they represent, at a time when the central government is seizing the initiative in more and more areas but is itself confronted with enormous difficulties in steering the country through its current economic problems. The original federation was created to recognise not only different jurisdictions and different responsibilites, but different histories and identities. So what does it mean to be a Queenslander now? Neither of Queensland’s major parties seem to offer much of a clue on this score either.
If Queenslanders saw evidence of leadership, capability and bona fides among the candidates, their attention might be focused a little bit more on this contest. As it is, faced with disaster on several fronts, and no solutions, they might be forgiven for devoting their energies elsewhere. When ships are spewing filth over Queensland’s pride — its beaches — why waste time rearranging deckchairs on the Titanic?
Cross-posted at Larvatus Prodeo.