As the child of migrant parents, growing up in Brisbane, I learned fast that Mexicans were not, as I had imagined them, men in big hats, but also Australians, people who came north to escape the ‘bloody awful winters’ as our neighbour Fred put it.
“They come up here from Melbourne, buy a place, then run screaming back south when the heat and humidity kick in,” he would say, pruning his hedges with devoted ferocity.
Queenslanders are different. Growing up in Brisbane, there was always a touch of the tropics in those long days of summer, the necessary slowing down of everything, including speech and movement, to counter the heat. Queenslanders had different words too in those days – a port was something you packed your clothes in, a shortening of ‘portmanteau’, and a ‘duchess’ was a dressing table. The annual ‘Show’ wasn’t, as in Sydney, the Royal Easter Show; in Brisbane, it’s the ‘Ekka’ (short for ‘Exhibition’) — lovely old fashioned words and phrases for a state that prided itself on not having the same rushabout manners as those southerners.
And, as was demonstrated in Saturday’s election, perhaps not enough attention was paid to how Queenslanders feel about their home state. Perhaps memories of the way Bob Brown’s anti-Adani convoy had been received once it crossed the border, were forgotten.
If there’s one thing that riles people in Queensland, it’s southerners telling them what to think or do. Even the Prime Minister’s popularity was muted when he toured the state because, after all, he was another southerner from New South Wales, flitting through.
Deb Frecklinton didn’t deserve to lose so badly but she was up against the Premier’s folksy ways, her incumbency and the fact that she clanged shut the borders, keeping out Covid-carrying southerners. That always does it in Queensland.
The LNP should have won in the garrison town Townsville, the seat they needed to win, along with Mundingburra. Just as mysteriously the One National vote withered, as older voters forsook Pauline Hanson and turned back to Labor.
Matt Canavan, a politician most Queenslanders do warm to, did his best but somehow things didn’t work out the way mot LNP voters hoped they would.
Perhaps the most telling, truthful words about Queenslanders were said by a Labor woman politician, Anna Bligh, rallying her state after the devastating floods.
“We are Queenslanders. We’re the people that they breed tough, north of the border. We’re the ones that they knock down, and we get up again.”
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