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Tricks, treats and the occasional cool idea from within our political spend-up

Opinion

The major parties will be carrying around a bag of sweeteners in the lead-up to the state poll and it will be up to voters to decide whether they are tricks or treats, writes Rebecca Levingston

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“Who’s on your show tomorrow?” my new friend asked.

“The Treasurer,” I said.

“Who?”

“The Treasurer of Queensland, the person in charge of spending your money.”

In 2018, I made a bunch of new friends, which is a novel thing to do when you’re an adult. It happens when your child starts school. I made friends with a group of parents who had nothing to do with media or politics. They didn’t know the names of politicians. They didn’t really care. For me, that was surprising but refreshing.

So I asked my new friend if they had any questions for the Treasurer.

“Ask him, ask him … “

I smiled secretly because the Treasurer I was due to interview at that time was Jackie Trad. A woman was wrangling the state’s books.

My friend noted the gender gaffe, looked around the playground and said, “Ask her why they don’t just air-condition every school.”

Cool question.

I put it to the Treasurer the next day on radio and she said she’d look into the cost. A few months later the Opposition announced that they would fund air-conditioning in all Queensland schools. Not too long after that, the Government committed to cooler classrooms too.

Maybe both parties were already planning to roll out air-con plans. Maybe more people who don’t know the name of the Treasurer or the Opposition Leader for that matter, should be asked how to spend public dosh.

A barrage of political pecuniary promises are about to be made in Queensland. Between the federal budget and the state election campaign, you’re going to get Christmas in October. Prepare for a clash with Halloween decorations – perhaps a tad less tinsel and more skeletons depending on how ugly the attack ads get.

Beware as both major parties try to use ghosts to scare you. The spirit of Jackie Trad as Treasurer will be conjured by the LNP. Labor will still try to spook you with the memory of Campbell Newman, despite the fact it’s been three elections since he pulled the ripcord and landed as premier. Incredible how quickly a parachute can become a ghost sheet.

I’m not sure the general public cares who’s haunting the hallways of state parliament. Can we afford prawns and presents on Christmas Day is the more pertinent question for some.

Kitchen-table economics are on everyone’s mind. The family budget depends on the family income and that’s where the Treasurer, like it or not, does become a distant relative. He or she might determine the answers to questions I’m hearing from Queenslanders:

Is my job secure? What happens if I can’t pay my rent? Can I afford $7000 braces for my teenager? Where can I find the money to renovate the bathroom for our youngest child with special needs. One mum said to me recently, “I don’t care what budget promises the politicians make, I just want to know that I can pay my mortgage.”

On the weekend, I was hanging out at the park with the same group of parents I’ve befriended at school. I had hoped to pilfer another grassroots question, as our kids kicked around a soccer ball in the sunshine. But when I asked what anyone might want to hear during this election campaign, they told me they wanted to hear less from politicians. Bugger.

They’re more interested to know if their kids can go trick-or-treating on October 31. I’ll ask the Treasurer.

The money portfolio is back in the hands of a man. Cameron Dick will be handing out sweets through until election day. So will his opposite number Tim Mander. It’ll be up to you to decide what the politicians promise is a trick or treat.

Rebecca Levingston presents Mornings from 8.30-11am Monday to Friday on ABC Radio Brisbane

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