I’ve never been a great one for politics. Not out of any particular stand against the system, mind you; just laziness. If you’d asked me who I stood with and why, yeah, I’d probably be ashamed to admit I had no real idea. I just ticked the box that seemed would get me in the least trouble.
But the State Government of Queensland has just called an election on January 31st, and for once, I want to be able to cast my vote based on more than a vague idea shaped by peer opinion. I’d like to be able to look people in the eye and say I cast the best vote I could given what I could find out in the time I had.
I might vote wrong, but damn it, for this election and those to follow I want to vote shameless.
So, I have (as of this writing) twenty-five days to school myself on the political situation. The first thing I need to do is take an inventory of what I do know. And I’ll be honest about the fact that right at the moment, what I know is scant little. Be warned: The following may include inaccuracies born of ignorance.
The State Situation
The Queensland Government is currently run by the Liberal National Party (LNP), a coalition party made up of what used to be the Queensland branches of the nationwide Liberal Party (a party born of the white-collar city and suburbs) and National Party (a party with its heart in the country). The current federal government consists of a coalition of the LNP’s nationwide “parent” parties.
The LNP has held power for one term; a landslide victory in the last election won it from the Queensland branch of the Australian Labor Party (ALP). The ALP presents as a blue-collar party, though some see it as compromised by undue influence from the trade unions.
From memory, one of the largest issues that fed into the ALP’s loss of power was the sale of state-owned assets – an action that the LNP has also drawn significant fire for undertaking since it came to power. My impression of the general mood surrounding the LNP is that they are unpopular and face a battle to hold their majority.
My Electorate: Mulgrave
I reside within, and therefore am voting for, the electorate of Mulgrave. It covers a significant chunk of territory south of Cairns in Far North Queensland, starting a little north of where I live to as far south as Innisfail and Babinda. It’s firmly rural; Sugar Cane, Reef and Cyclones.
Like a lot of our region, there are job worries. Large chunks of what used to be cane farm have been bought and turned into suburbs – the problem is that there aren’t enough jobs for the volume of building. Cairns is the closest major urban area, and I know from personal experience that the number of job-seekers can grossly outnumber the number of available positions. There’s a regionwide drive to cater to tourism at the expense of local industry; even helping the local sugar mills develop products for green energy initiatives gets given short shrift.
Okay, I’ll confess that I did a quick bit of checking here. I saw the corflutes for the two major contenders going up on the way home this evening, but I wanted to be sure just who was after my vote.
The Incumbent: Curtis Pitt
Curtis Pitt has held this seat for most of my time in the region. Before him, his father Warren held the seat for a significant period. Like Warren, Curtis is a member of the ALP. My impression of him is that he’s an affable fellow, although he Maintains The Rage against the LNP on social media.
The Challengers The Challenger: Robyn Quick
Now this was a surprise. In previous elections we’ve had candidates for the Greens and Katter’s Australian Party plus the odd independent. Now, only Robyn Quick is standing against Curtis.
Robyn is a member of the LNP, and I’ll admit I’ve had little knowledge of her activities since Vickie’s and my brief stint in the LNP at the end of the last decade (our fingers were burned so I’m bound to have a prejudice there).
What Do I Want To Know?
I think that, to cast a vote I’m confident in, I want to know these things about each candidate:
- What have they helped others do? Curtis has held his seat for a while, and I want to get a better idea of how he’s served his constituency whilst in power. Robyn may not have held the seat, but she’s part of a party that has statewide and national clout, so I don’t doubt she’s had opportunities to serve Mulgrave.
- What do they want to enable Mulgrave to do? What’s their, if you’ll forgive the oft-coined term, “vision” for the area? What challenges do they see their constituents as facing and what’s their plan to help said constituents thrive in the face of those challenges?
- What do their parties have in mind for Queensland as a whole? I wasn’t going to list this if there were independent options, but as it’s ALP vs. LNP, I reckon it’s worth looking at the parties as a whole. What have they done, what do they (say they) intend to do and what are they likely to actually do?
25 Days and Counting…
Those with local political savvy should now have a fair idea of my own (or lack thereof). Can I build up a decent amount of acumen prior to fronting up to the polling booth at the end of the month? We’ll see. If you have any advice or suggestions, I’d welcome your commentage here.
One thing I’m not much interested in is why the incumbent, whether Curtis Pitt at the electorate level or the LNP at the state level, has to go. It’s easy, so deceptively easy, to talk about turfing who’s in. My Twitter feed is full of it (thanks, Terry). It’s a lot harder to talk about who to put in instead and why. That’s the conversation I want to have, though.