The LNP are entering this year’s Queensland’s state election with more than one hand tied behind their back. Labor’s chequebook gerrymander means that under new laws, it is now effectively illegal for the LNP to spend as much on campaigning as the left.
Under laws passed last year, the LNP has a spending cap of $8.5 million this election. Labor, of course, has the same cap but the devil is in the detail. Every one of Queensland’s 26 trade unions is able to spend $1m on the election, as is GetUp!.
So, in the blue corner, weighing in at $8.5 million we have the LNP and, in the red corner, weighing in at $35.5 million we have Labor.
Wisely, the LNP have not made too much noise about this piece of political skullduggery as the only outcome is to present themselves to the electorate as victims. People feel sorry for victims but they seldom vote for them. Political parties crying poor is poison, too.
Yet Annastacia Palaszczuk’s immoral and unethical stranglehold on Queensland politics is every bit against the spirit of democracy as the gerrymander of Sir Joh Bjelke-Peterson’s government. We must call it what it is.
Through cunning and guile, the Premier has manipulated the purpose of parliament to ensure her Labor party enters the next election with a clear and unfair advantage. What started as a review into the relationship between developers and local councillors has been twisted into an excuse to take donations from the LNP and democracy from Queenslanders.
With both the Katters and One Nation still playing footsie with the Unions, the LNP must also address the risk of being outflanked on its right. There is no assurance that the right of centre minor parties will join the fight against Labor.
With Queensland’s debt skyrocketing and the worst unemployment figures in the nation, it is difficult to remember a time when the stakes were so high and the chances so low. If there was ever a time for the LNP to show itself as greater than the sum of its parts, it is now.
Garth Hamilton is an engineer specialising in removing barriers to technology uptake.
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