Labor won the Queensland election, but beyond Anna Bligh becoming Australia’s first elected woman premier, there was nothing to celebrate.
Suffering a swing of around 4 per cent, Labor is expected to have 53 seats to the LNP’s 32, with four Independents.
Labor campaigned on its economic management, but even among traditional supporters, Labor is on the nose. It is the incompetence and distrust of the LNP (the merged Liberal and national parties, led by Lawrence Springborg) that allowed Labor to win.
The union movement felt it had to run a separate “stop Springborg” campaign, rather than just fall in behind Labor.
Although from the Labor left, Bligh has continued Peter Beattie’s conservative management, looking after the big end of town. “Jobs, jobs, jobs,” actually translates into handouts for business.
Labor raised $500,000 at a business luncheon at Jupiters’ Gold Coast casino in October last year, while donors got to meet the minister of their choice.
Labor spent millions subsidising the Gold Coast Indianapolis 500 for the benefit of the tourist industry, while hospital beds have been cut by 455 since 1998, despite the population growth.
Bligh has refused to act to decriminalise abortion; wages stolen from Indigenous workers remain outstanding; the racist NT intervention has been extended into Queensland aboriginal communities via the Cape York welfare trials; handed medals to Palm Island police while Lex Wotton went to jail.
She prioritised roads over public transport while her only action on climate change was an announcement to vastly expand Queensland’s coal industry.
Tragically, the Greens have not tried to pose a left alternative to Labor. Their vote increased by only 0.2 per cent.
Their star candidate, Ronan Lee—-who defected from the right faction of the Labor Party to become the Green’s first Queensland MP—refused to preference Labor in his traditionally safe Liberal seat of Indooroopilly.
Three more years of Bligh Labor will be business as usual except the economic crisis has already pushed unemployment to 4.5 per cent. Expect the health crisis to continue. A sustained fight from the unions is desperately needed.
Just prior to the election, Bligh tried to close the Mona Mona Aboriginal community but was stopped by a campaign taking the fight to the government.
Railway workers have stopped the government introducing forced redundancies. It is these kinds of struggles that can stop the slide to the right and the erosion of conditions and government services.
By Mark Gillespie