You can take the girl out of Queensland, but you cannot take Queensland out of the girl.
I've been living in Melbourne for a month but continuing to listen to ABC Radio Brisbane most weekday mornings; partly because it's been a habit for a number of years, but mainly because I wanted to hear the latest opinions immediately before the state election, and then to follow the progress of the exceedingly slow count. Polling day was a couple of weeks after I left Brisbane: at first, I was disappointed to be missing it. Relief soon replaced dismay, however. How on earth would I have voted, had I still been a citizen of Queensland?
I had long been a Labour voter before I reached these shores, and instinctively I've been a Labor supporter since my arrival. I had a hard-working ALP MP, Di Farmer, looking after the interests of my constituency of Bulimba in Brisbane. But I deplored the party's lack of spine when it came to taking a stand on Adani's Carmichael coal mine. They are the party of Australian workers and battlers, but to support a string of open pits and underground works extending 30 kilometres across an arid region of Central Queensland, the products of which would create carbon emissions to rival those of a small nation, is grossly negligent in the face of increasing climate breakdown on our planet. All fossil fuels must be consigned to the ground, now, not in 2020, -30 or -50.
Labor should have made much more of the 60,000-70,000 jobs in peril on the Great Barrier Reef as coral bleaching in warming oceans kills off tourism; the potential for job creation in the renewable energy sector, mine rehabilitation, the greening of existing industries and new low-carbon development during transition. Labor is less beholden to resource industry and foreign donors than the LNP, so I am extremely disconcerted by their deafening silence on the subject of Adani's mine. Only a commitment to cancelling Carmichael could have ensured my vote.
For months before moving I had worked with countless others to make Adani's mine an election issue in Queensland, and we succeeded. Protestors doggedly pursued party leaders, Cabinet members and key Opposition figures. Such was the level of hostility of the electorate to the idea of nearly $1 billion of taxpayers' money being loaned to Adani for the construction of a rail line from pit to port, that Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk committed her government, should they be re-elected, to vetoing the allocation of Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) funds to the project. This turned out to be little short of a strategic masterstroke. The onus then was on the leader of the LNP opposition to do likewise, but he kept quiet. As he did about forming an alliance with Pauline Hanson's One Nation, considered a toxic option during this election.
Few pundits were prepared to stick their necks out and predict the result prior to polling day. One Nation boasted of gaining at least a handful of seats. Labor were consistently in the lead in the run-up, but not convincingly so. The Greens had their eye on a number of key seats. There were too many variables: the most voters could do was dare to hope for their choice.
Exit polls did not look good for the LNP, who lost votes to One Nation despite its ill-defined policy, eccentric climate-deniers and history of racism. ON proved to be an attractive option for regional voters far from Brisbane and disillusioned with the major parties. The newly introduced full preferential voting system produced even more complicated counting, while new constituency boundaries made prediction a riskier game, as did the creation of four additional seats (89 to 93).
The 13 days of counting between polling day and the final results from the Electoral Commission yesterday became increasingly removed from the reality of no government in place. The cut-off for counting postal votes was not until ten days after the polls closed on the ground: Queensland covers a big area. Opposition leader Tim Nicholls held out for as long as he could before conceding defeat, which appeared churlish.
Annastacia Palaszczuk became the first female premier in Australian history to win power from Opposition and then be re-elected at the next election. She has a slim majority, an improvement on the last parliament. The Greens have their first seat in Queensland. One Nation only managed one seat in the end: it will not give them any bargaining power.
Annastacia and I both have colds. While my biggest dilemma this weekend is whether or not I should attempt a run tomorrow morning, hers is to what extent she should shuffle her Cabinet. Will Jackie Trad be Treasurer by Tuesday? Will even more women be on the team? With Tim Nicholl's career over, a contender for leader of the LNP is former Deputy, Deb Frecklington. Could Queensland soon have two female major party leaders, another first?
I was delighted to see the back of Campbell Newman in 2015 when Palaszczuk won the first time. I reserve judgment on her victory this time, however. First, she must keep her word on the NAIF loan.