There is no reason why Queensland should not be the powerhouse of Australia.
It has always been a state which houses greatness – sporting, resources, tourism, agriculture, development and, of course, the weather. Politically, it has been a pioneer. Few would remember Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin. An electorate is named after her but she was not only the first woman from Queensland elected to the federal parliament but the first female federal minister and the first Australian woman to be appointed head of a foreign mission, high commissioner to New Zealand.
Sadly, today, on many fronts, through rank political mismanagement, Queensland is a mere shadow of its former greatness.
As the 31 October election draws ever nearer, years of Labor rule have seen a state, with a population of just over five million people, headed for $100 billion of debt.
Last week I rewatched a documentary on the former Premier of Queensland, Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen.
Holding office for 19 years, he was never short of big ideas.
He was a self-made man, the first farmer to own a tractor in his district. He gave up growing maize and planted peanuts. He said he found out that people didn’t eat maize, so he farmed peanuts. He got ahead of the farming competition by attaching his own generator to the tractor so he could plough at night when everyone else was asleep.
When challenged, often, about his wealth and his share ownership, the much-maligned Bjelke-Petersen had the perfect rejoinder – do you want someone running your State who does not know anything about business?
Sadly today, go around the states and finish up in Canberra, and you will soon learn that few of those people telling us how to run the country have ever filled out a payroll tax slip.
So, here we are with a looming election in Queensland.
Annastacia Palaszczuk is fundamentally a good person. She is often described as “everyone’s favourite aunt”.
However, when it comes to policy, the Premier has been snookered by some pretty woeful decisions thanks to the company she keeps. Between Jackie Trad and now Cameron Dick, Queensland’s finances have been shot.
Before coronavirus, Queensland was already $80 billion in debt.
In her budget speech last year, Trad confirmed the State would rake in more than $500 million by hitting 6,000 big businesses with higher payroll taxes.
Payroll tax is a fine for taking people off the unemployment queue. It ought to be abolished.
She then went on to announce that $476 million will be raised over the next four years due to an increase in petroleum export royalties and land tax for companies.
There is a golden rule which applies to good government. If you want to tax something, you will get less of it. Levy a payroll tax, fewer jobs. How does this nonsense make sense?
Surely an opposition worthy of support would be mounting a comprehensive attack on the Labor government’s disgraceful vegetation laws where farmers are being punished simply for trying to feed starving cattle with their own mulga.
In George Street, Brisbane, they would not know that the farmer bought the land because it was mulga country.
Yet, the Labor government is deliberately stealing farmers’ property rights; and, remember, no compensation.
Call it what you will. I call it repugnant socialism.
The one boringly repetitive Coalition policy seems to be an Olympic Games in the never-never.
Well, the Gold Coast is a stronghold for the Liberal National Party. Were its members not present during the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games? The event was terrible for business owners up and down the coast.
I was there.
I know business owners who stocked up, hired portable cool rooms, employed more people due to the hype and then nothing.
It all fizzled out.
If you mention the Commonwealth Games to any Gold Coast local, they will shout you out of town.
And when it comes to the disgraceful border closures directed by Queensland’s Chief Health Officer, the unelected Dr Jeannette Young, business owners everywhere are suffering; yet these abandoned Queenslanders are your bread and butter Coalition voters. I suspect not anymore.
Why aren’t the whole opposition frontbench down in Coolangatta holding placards, standing side-by-side with those whose livelihoods have been destroyed? I will tell you why. They are leaderless. A title does not make you a leader. Only hard work and the prosecution of positive policy will win the respect of your colleagues and the wider electorate.
Rank-and-file Coalition members outside the parliament will tell you openly that not just their leader, but the team, give the appearance of being out of their depth.
And perception normally morphs into reality.
Is this why the LNP have held government for a mere three years out of the 20?
It is no use gilding the lily. Loyalists will tell you that the opposition has no intellectual horsepower and lacks a messaging ability, but they justify their loyalty by arguing that a bad LNP government is better than a good Labor government.
To form a majority government, the LNP must win nine seats. Check the electoral map. Where are these seats going to come from? And remember, they have to hang on to the ones they already have.
At the Currumbin by-election in March, the LNP stumbled over the line in a seat they had held for 16 years, with the party candidate, who got the gig when preselection was abandoned, suffering a swing against them of around 4%.
Griffith University’s Dr Paul Williams had said, “Deb Frecklington is sweating… [she] needs to win the seat and with a big swing to them.”
A swing against the opposition in a by-election – unheard of.
Labor are running with COVID-19 and are locking out the opposition on purpose.
This is where the opposition needs to have some ticker and call this tactic out instead of whinging about it.
The opposition only needs to run on three things – the Paradise Dam and water, native vegetation laws and taming the state’s bloated bureaucracy — including the business-crushing advice being given by the likes of Dr Jeannette Young.
This is a Joh-inspired recipe for success. Then, as for the rest, simply say to voters, “don’t you worry about that!”
Only then will the bleak prophecy of defeat on October 31 be buried.
I somehow doubt it will happen.
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