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Opinion

Win or lose on Saturday, the federal Coalition party room and the parliamentary crossbench will continue to boast more that its fair share of conservative renegades from Queensland, writes Greg Hallam.

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The cut of both the local candidates’ and leaders’ jib will be a defining test for roughly 60 per cent of Queenslanders who will cast their ballots this Saturday .

After almost six weeks of campaigning, including three televised leaders’ debates, voters have a better idea of the character of their leaders and a good handle on their preferred local choice.

It’s fair to say that Anthony Albanese, despite a few well-covered stumbles, passed the pub test.

While the Prime Minister tried to paint his opponent as small and weak Albanese can be best likened to a Vanilla Latte – inoffensive, safe and well liked by women voters.

Whereas Morrison reprised Mark Mitchell’s famous TV character from the 90s, Con the Fruiterer, with his nightly appearances at the green grocers, complete with a blokey – even proselytising – style.

Regional Queenslanders having decided both the PM and Opposition Leader just pass muster will probably pick and stick with local MPs, such is their long history of voting for incumbents – the people they know.

In that process they are naturally attracted to big bold candidates, characters if you like.

They want their federal member to have a crack when they get to Canberra.

They don’t want wallflowers or members that will play nicely in the Canberra sand pit once elected.

Their expectation is they will have a voice in the national capital, even to the point of fighting losing battles.

Perversely, losing an argument or fight is often just as well regarded as winning. It’s that mentality that constantly throws up the Pauline Hansons, Bob Katters, George Christensens and the like.

The last ten days of the campaign has favoured Labor in Queensland because of widespread flooding being a metaphor for climate change and perceived federal government inaction on that issue as well as disaster mitigation.

Just as importantly Labor belatedly found a way to highlight cost of living and real wage decline by pushing a 5.1 per cent minimum wage increase should they form government.

That issue will have cut through in the industrialised seats in the regions .

At best Labor can hope for two pick up-seats in the regions Leichhardt and Flynn, with the growing possibility of a conservative independent in Hinkler in the form of Bundaberg Mayor and former Newman LNP Minister Jack Dempsey.

When all the shouting is done the LNP will still hold at least 20 of the 30 federal seats in Queensland, a defining achievement.

If indeed Labor does win the federal election despite the Queensland result its caucus will be very Queensland light, notwithstanding the likes of Jim Chalmers , Terri Butler and Murray Watt guaranteed senior ministerial portfolios.

By way of contrast, Queenslanders could make up just short of 40 per cent of a depleted Coalition party room.

Finally, Queenslanders – especially regional banana benders – are very comfortable being offside with the rest of the nation, bucking the trend.

That won’t worry them in the least, indeed they revel in the situation.

Altruism or a perceived need to conform to a woke view of the world won’t enter their head,  pencil in hand, at the polling booth. Pragmatism will reign supreme.

Queenslander!

Greg Hallam AM PSM is a recently-retired CEO of the Local Government Association of Queensland. He is writing weekly about regional issues affecting the federal election.

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