Mark every box when you vote

Tomorrow the breakneck speed summer election campaign comes to an end.

We go the polls, enjoy a snag and elect the MPs that will form the next parliament of Queensland. Despite the increasingly presidential style of elections, we don’t actually vote for a leader but for a member to represent local interests in George Street, and long may that continue. Yet we do have a say in who forms government.

No one can say who will lead Queensland next week. The polls suggest Campbell Newman will lose his seat in Brisbane but the LNP government will hang on (if Newman does not accept this possibility, I suggest he take some remedial maths classes).  What is certain that either the LNP or Labor will form government next week, so people should remember that fact when they go to the polls, and vote all the way down the line choosing one or other of those major parties.

Yesterday I published an article on the Gatton Star which had Pauline Hanson urging voters to understand the electoral system so they can make an informed choice. I agree with Hanson however I disagree with One Nation’s and Katter Party’s how to vote card. They preferenced each other only but they should have been more honest with voters and ranked all candidates 1 to 6. That way we could have judged which of the major parties they want to see in government.

It’s a shame civics is no longer taught in schools as it gives people a useful primer on how our system of democracy works. Why does that matter? Well, because, voting is compulsory for one, and secondly politicians spend our taxpayer dollars and make important decisions that affect all our lives.

You’ll have noticed our Gatton Star website top heavy with political stories over the last few weeks and I don’t make any apologies for that.

We’ve also mainly covered local issues and local seats and I don’t apologise for that either. All politics is local and we’ve been fortunate here in the Lockyer and Brisbane Valleys to have candidates who have a real passion for local matters as well as keeping an eye on what is happening across Queensland.

If I have an apology, it is to the voters of Nanango, which I afraid we’ve not covered as well as I would have liked. I said at the start of the campaign the LNP’s Deb Frecklington would retain that seat and I believed she would be a senior minister if the LNP retains power, which will be great for the wider region. Nothing I have seen in the last three weeks make me change my mind.

The other two seats are less clear cut as shown in the candidate forums in Ipswich and Gatton this week. Ipswich West polling suggests Jim Madden is about to reclaim that seat from the LNP’s Sean Choat. Choat played up to his reputation as a maverick at the forum and launched a spirited defence of his time as local member. Choat is likeable, approachable and young and I hope he continues to stay in politics and demonstrate his independent streak. In contrast Madden and his fellow Labor candidate for Ipswich Jennifer Howard played it safe in their forum speeches knowing the seat is now theirs to lose. I would welcome Madden in the new parliament as a rare Labor politician who understands rural issues and I hope he becomes an advocate for the bush in the party room and on the floor of parliament.

Over in Lockyer, the seat has become second only to Ashgrove for intrigue. Most of this can be put down to the entry of Pauline Hanson on the ballot paper. Hanson has come a long way from the fish and chip shop owner in Ipswich who bagged Asians and Indigenous people to win the seat of Oxley in 1996 as a disendorsed liberal. Hanson’s views these days are more mature but I disagree with her on halal certification and multiculturalism. In the election she has steadfastly stuck to state issues apart from her people’s forum in Gatton last week where I was unimpressed by her fellow panellists who used the occasion to sprout conspiracy theories about climate change and the UN taking over the world.

Hanson however I could not fault. She was gracious, thoughtful and always willing to listen to others. She is inspirational to supporters and has a great connection with the audience who listened rapt to every word she said. If I have one criticism it is her tendency for a victim complex, but she is clearly a compelling figure. I believe that Hanson is playing a long game and sees herself as Prime Ministerial material.

That is a laudable ambition but the problem is she does not belong to a major party. Only a Labor or Liberal MP will become Prime Minister any time in the near future. It’s the same with Premier. So my only advice when you voting in Lockyer is this. Mark all six boxes.

Mark Craig Gunnis of the Palmer Party last. Gunnis is a fly-in candidate who works for Palmer and he showed great disrespect by claiming a “prior engagement” to avoid scrutiny at the Gatton forum. Mark one of the minor parties 1, 2 and 3 depending on your personal preference for Hanson, Katter’s Neuendorf or the policies of the Greens.

But think hard about your choice for 4 or 5. Will it be Labor’s Steve Leese or the LNP’s Ian Rickuss? That’s your call. But only the LNP or Labor will form government and ultimately you need to decide who you prefer. Think about that as you put pencil to paper.  That, and support your P&C by buying a snag or a cupcake.


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