The Queensland Elections: Why Should We Care?

The Queensland Elections: Why Should We Care?

For the average young person, politics barely registers on the radar of interesting topics. Now bring in the fact that this is an article about a state election and most of you have gone to watch videos on YouTube. Who cares about what happens in a state election, especially if you don’t live in that state? Well, the lead up to the election in Queensland has been a great opportunity to highlight significant issues and contemplate how the election will effect the rest of Australia.

The Potential End Result
I am not here to say who I think should win but instead will focus on why the rest of Australia should care about which party does win. In the Queensland election it’s a fight between the Labor Party (who are currently in power) and the Liberal National Party (LNP). Labor, currently led by Anna Bligh, has been in government for 14 years and opinion polls have shown growing voter antipathy towards the Labor Party, paving the way for the LNP to win in a landslide victory. While there are some questions over whether Campbell Newman, the LNP leader, will actually be premier should the LNP win (read here for more), there doesn’t seem to be any doubt over the LNP’s chances of winning the overall election. But what does this mean for the rest of the nation?

If you have been following other state elections you may have noticed a pattern emerging. It started in 2010 when Victoria voted out a long-serving Labor Party, bringing in Liberal politician Ted Baillieu as the new premier. In 2011, the New South Wales followed with the Labor Party suffering a massive defeat against the Liberal Party for the first time in 16 years. Western Australia also has a Liberal premier with South Australia and Tasmania being the two remaining states with Labor premiers. Essentially there has been a shift in support at the state level from the Labor Party towards the Liberal Party. This shift in support may have a psychological effect into opinions we have of federal Labor and federal Liberal. Opinion polls for federal Labor are already at an all time low but having Labor lose support at the state level may further weaken their already fragile image. This can have major implications for federal politics and it will be interesting to see if Tony Abbott gains support should the LNP win at the Queensland elections.

A Federal Issue In A State Election
When we first saw the anti same-sex marriage ads by Bob Katter’s new party, ‘Katter’s Australian Party’, most of us were rightly disgusted by its discrimnatory tone and outdated ideas about the “sanctity of marriage”. For those of you who haven’t seen the ad (or want to see it again) here it is:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DPDTR-JPekI

What we should be questioning (apart from its homophobic nature) is why Bob Katter decided to bring up a federal issue in a state election. Marriage is not as relevant to state elections because it is the federal government who passes legislation about marriage. Jack Waterford of the Canberra Times says that the ad should be seen as an attempt by Bob Katter to bring attention to his new party and potentially win support from conservative LNP supporters by highlighting the fact that LNP leader Campbell Newman supports same-sex marriage. The reaction to the ad demonstrates how easily voters can be polarised around a sensitive issue regardless of its relevance to the current scenario. Emotions can play a strong role in determining who we vote for and clearly Katter is playing at voter emotions to stir opposition and gain support for his fledgling party. Katter’s ad should also serve as a reminder to voters to always question what is shown through the media (whether it’s news media or just a simple ad). We are only being shown a particular side of the story so a little bit of cynicism never hurts.

Final Thoughts
If I could, I would go into an in-depth analysis of all the policies and why they are relevant for the rest of. For those interested the ABC has a comprehensive list of the policies being proposed by the two major parties. Taking a look at the policies is a good way to get some idea of how other states are tackling similar issues such as health and education.

Whatever the outcome I’m sure we all hope the result is what’s best for the voters of Queensland especially those who have had to deal with one natural disaster after another.

 

Featured Image: AAP Image/John Pryke

4 Comments

  1. During the Howard Government, many of the states had elected Labor governments, and now the tide seems to be turning towards Liberal leadership in the states under federal Labor. Do you think this is just a coincidence, or maybe a feature of the Australian political system? (Checks and balances and what not)

  2. That’s an interesting observation!

  3. Sorry for the extremely long response. You probably can’t be bothered reading it haha.

    I would say it’s a strange feature that occurs within Australian politics. There is no rule stating that the party at the state level should differ from the party at the federal level but Australian voters have happened to vote in such a way that this situation occurs. In a way it acts as a check and balance but I don’t think many voters go into an election with this in mind.

    Considering the opinion of the federal Labor Party at the moment there could be a new pattern of party dominance at both state and federal level. This happened with Labor after Kevin Rudd was elected as Prime Minister in 2007 and it seems to be happening now in the case of the Liberal Party but I think it depends on how Tony Abbott chooses to capitalise on the situation. I think with the right leadership the Liberal party could easily win at the federal election. Personally I’m not a big fan of Abbott and several of his policies but based on what’s being said in the media and talking to other people the Liberal party do stand a chance of winning the next federal election.

  4. Interestingly enough, I’ve also read that there has been a worldwide trend against electing socially democratic parties… (This particular article comes to mind http://www.latrobe.edu.au/news/articles/2011/podcasts/the-future-of-social-democracy/transcript) Maybe these election results against the ALP could be a culmination of what a few academics have been predicting for some time.

    However, it could also be because of the fact that many of these governments, especially in Australia, have held power for such a long time (We could especially see this in NSW and Victoria). A lot of the policies, actions or scandals occurring in these state governments seem to have reflected poorly on the Federal government too, and vice versa. I wouldn’t be surprised if a large portion of Queensland’s ALP vote disappeared due to Kevin Rudd losing his position as Prime Minister.

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