Four More Years of Labor
With 88 seats out of the 93 seats now officially declared, it is clear that the winner is the ALP and Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk. They will govern in their own right with an estimated 52 seats.
Seven Cross Benchers
There will be seven “crossbenchers” – members whose numbers are too small to qualify for official party status. The crossbenchers will comprise an independent retained in Noosa, One Nation retained in Mirani, the three Katter Party members and two Greens.
Soul Searching for the LNP
The LNP has been reduced to 34 seats. There is deep anger in the rank and file across Queensland. I have little doubt that we will see some pointed soul-searching and a fiery LNP Conference whenever COVID19 allows us to hold that conference.
In the meantime, the entire election campaign will be reviewed in detail. There is a clear recognition that we cannot go on like this. It is do or die.
First Meeting Post-Election Loss
The LNP parliamentary party members, including me, met in Brisbane on Thursday and I can report there was deep disappointment in that room. We met to elect a new opposition leader and deputy opposition leader, following the post-election resignations of Deb Frecklington and Tim Mander.
New LNP Leadership for Parliament
David Crisafulli, the MP for Broadwater, was elected unopposed as Opposition Leader and David Janetzki the member for Toowoomba South, was elected in a four-way competition for Deputy Opposition Leader.
Hungry and Hardworking
David has said publicly that he is “hungry to win” but he has made it clear this must be a win based on conviction and values. I agree one hundred per cent with David on this. Like David, I try to avoid spite and partisanship. I will be the first to praise good policies and competent administration when I see them.
Results Not “Big-Noting”
I have worked fruitfully with many of Gregory’s public service and with most of the previous Palaszczuk Ministry to achieve positive outcomes for Gregory.
When my constituents run into difficulties with state government issues, I will always try to quietly resolve the matter by working with both the public service and the minister. I am more interested in a positive result than media coverage.
Truth Telling About Problems
However, the reverse side of that is that I will call out bad policy, incompetence and corruption. No Queenslander benefits from any of these. I am personally aware that calling out failure does not bring praise in the media. Instead people seem to say, “Who do you think you are to question this?”
With David Crisafulli I know we have a leader who believes, like me, that the role of Opposition is to improve the administration of Queensland by forcefully continuing to call out failures, uncomfortable as that may be for ministers.
Future Not the Past
I did have a wry smile when journalists questioned David about his role as a minister in the Newman government. That is nearly ten years ago now, but during the last Parliament every time we pointed out mal-administration, the Palaszczuk government tried to hide behind the Newman government’s one term loss.
David responded to the media that he “won’t be standing in the House condemning the Premier every day for being a part of the Bligh Government.” Well said!
And now to the Gregory results
I am relieved to tell you I have been re-elected as the Member for Gregory. I am keen to continue my work for the people of Gregory. I promise you, I take this very seriously and I will continue to report back to you through these newsletters.
Despite the swing to the ALP, I was declared the winner on the basis of the first preference count – that is the count of candidates who received the number one beside their name on the ballot paper.
Won on First Preferences
With 83.14 percent of the votes in Gregory counted as I write this, I received 54.16 percent of the first preference vote, which the ABC reports as an 8.9 per cent swing towards me.
This is a big swing in anyone’s terms and I feel both humbled and encouraged to be so strongly supported by the people of Gregory.
Count Still Incomplete
There is still slightly more than 15 per cent of the vote to be counted and most, if not all, will be postal ballots.
Even so, the Electoral Commission of Queensland has started to distribute preferences. This is done until the candidates are reduced to just two, as other candidates preferences are distributed to them. This is what is called the “Two Party Preferred” vote.
Gregory’s Two Party Preferred Vote
At the time of writing, Gregory’s two-party preferred vote is sitting at 67.25 per cent to 32.75 percent in my favour. This exceeds the predictions of the ABC’s Anthony Green.
Postal Voting in this Election
This was an extraordinary election in many regards, not least in all Queenslanders being able to register for a postal vote. As a result, some one million applications were made.
Invalid Votes Received
Even before the deadline for returns on Tuesday November 10, the ECQ announced that some 50,000 postal votes received had been declared invalid for one reason or another. While the opportunity to vote by post was clearly widely welcomed, we need to be sure that it did not lead to people being disenfranchised through invalid returns.
I have special concerns for Gregory because over 50 per cent of us live remotely or very remotely. Naturally, many of our voters are enrolled as “permanent postal voters”. It was not made clear whether they needed to re-apply given the special arrangements at this election and all I could do was encourage people to go through the application process online, just to be sure.
Slow Delivery and Tight Turn-Arounds
From the feedback we received in my offices, it was clear to me and my staff that there had not been sufficient allowance made regarding our slower postal services in the more far-flung parts of Gregory.
Constituents told me they were only receiving their postal ballots nine or ten working days before the deadline for the ECQ to receive the postal vote. This may simply not have been enough time.
Uncounted Gregory Vote to Watch
I will be watching that uncounted 15 percent of votes in Gregory closely because we cannot have our people denied a vote simply because they live at the end of a mail-run and not in the Brisbane suburbs.
Polling Booth Issues – Access and Location
In relation to polling booths, some Gregory communities had issues with access and location.
In the whole of both the Barcoo and Diamantina shires, there was not one polling booth. Residents were not made aware of this until late in the game when polling locations for Election Day were put on the ECQ website.
This meant some residents didn’t know that postal voting would be their only option and that they must apply. We must not let people lose their right to vote because of a lack of information about voting arrangements.
Many other communities in Gregory were in the same situation – such as Dingo, Muttaburra and Isisford – with many expecting access to a local polling booth, only to discover they would have to travel.
Gregory’s Bush Telegraph Really Helped Voters
I will be writing to the Commissioner to report these issues, but I would like to thank everyone who shared my Facebook Post and newsletter about what to do if you hadn’t received your postal vote or had just discovered you couldn’t vote at a booth. Let’s hope that between us, everyone in Gregory who wanted to vote got to have their say.
A Very Different Election
Voting arrangements were not the only strange thing about this election. It was our first election held on a permanently set date.
Extended Phony Campaign
This allowed the Palaszczuk Government to run an extended pre-campaign before the declared campaigning period. They changed electoral laws to disadvantage other candidates and benefit the ALP. They used millions of dollars of taxpayers funds to conduct voter research and to run an extensive advertising campaign under the guidance of Mike Kaiser who was being paid by the taxpayer as a “consultant”.
Involvement of Lobbyists
Political lobbyists were hired to run Labor’s campaign despite warnings from the corruption watchdog that this would “blur the lines” between the government and the lobbyists who seek benefits for their clients.
Most strange of all, Queenslanders were forced to vote without the benefit of a state budget or estimates examination of that budget. That lack of a budget meant Labor did not have to answer for the bad economic situation in Queensland.
By manipulating the rules of parliament, Labor had also managed to avoid these questions in Parliament, as well as questions around corruption and integrity.
And then there was COVID19
Many media commentators are stating that this election was a referendum on COVID19 and Annastacia won because older Queenslanders felt she had “saved” them. This may well be true – it certainly swung seats in areas with large populations of older Queenslanders.
But in pinning the election result solely on COVID19, the commentators are choosing to forget how Labor set this up this win, despite a woeful record. Does anyone else hear the word “gerrymander”?
It is likely that Parliament will sit in the last week of November. New members will be sworn in and first speeches made. But there will be two urgent pieces of business: the repeal of the “Pineapple Crush” laws and the delivery of the budget.
Labor’s “Steven Bradbury” Law
One of the many election changes Labor forced through Parliament in the so-called “corona virus” sittings last year was a law that removed by-elections for mayors who retired, resigned or even died in office in the first 12 months after a local government election.
Instead, the candidate who came second would automatically replace the mayor.
An Undemocratic Solution to A Non-existent Problem
At the time, the LNP said this was a removal of people’s democratic rights. No other jurisdiction in Australia does this. There is no great saving to the taxpayer because Mayors aren’t resigning willy-nilly. Mayoral by-elections are relatively rare events.
Clearly, the aim was to dissuade popular Queensland mayors from running for state parliament. It worked!
Mayoral Elections have Small Slates
The problem is the law ignores the particular nature of local government. Local government, outside of Brisbane, is virtually apolitical. It is not uncommon for popular mayors to stand unopposed.
Many leading lights in communities choose not to nominate for mayor if they respect the current mayor who is standing.
But if that mayor was choosing not to run, then many more people may choose to nominate. So, the runner-up in a given election does not reflect community support for the second-place getter.
The Mayor Who Stood Against Labor
Margaret Strehlow has been the popular mayor of Rockhampton for 16 of the past 20 years.
Three years ago, Margaret contested the state election as an independent candidate for the ALP seat of Rockhampton. She stood because she felt the Labor Government was anti-Adani and her town needed Adani.
She didn’t succeed at the state election, so continued as Mayor. But she had deeply offended the ALP plotters.
Official Trade Delegation
Three years ago, Margaret was also one of several mayors who accompanied Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk on a trade delegation to India.
Margaret has been a fierce advocate for expanding Rockhampton’s economic base and saw the chance to become a FIFO hub for Adani in that light. So, she was keen to be part of the delegation.
Paperwork was Done
On the last day of the visit, when the Premier had already departed, the mayors travelled, at Adani’s invitation, to inspect their large solar farm. This hospitality had to be declared on their return. Margaret declared it on the Council’s Hospitality Register. Someone complained to the Office of the Independent Assessor that it should have reported on Margaret’s Register of Interests instead.
But She Didn’t do it “Right”
The OIA upheld the complaint and passed it to the Council Conduct Tribunal, a cosy panel under then Labor Minister for Local Government, Stirling Hinchliffe.
Call it co-incidence, but after the next (2020) state election concluded, the panel concluded Margaret was indeed guilty of misconduct.
Apologise or Resign?
She was ordered to apologise to her constituents and undergo training. Because Margaret said she did not believe she had done anything wrong, on principle she could not do this – and so she resigned.
Mayor “Pineapple” Hooper
As Labor’s new law became activated in October, this meant that local character Chris “Pineapple” Hooper would become Rockhampton’s new Mayor.
Such was the outrage that Labor rapidly announced they would repeal the law as soon as they possibly could and that the repeal would be retrospective in its effect.
This constant and brazen fiddling with our laws is outrageous.
We will now be repealing a law that “failed” after one month.
This law was pushed through on Labor’s numbers, against all sensible advice and without any committee scrutiny.
By repealing it with retrospectivity, Labor is now trying to pretend they never got up to this in the first place. Meanwhile Chris “Pineapple” Hooper has lost his Steven Bradbury moment.
What a bad start for the 57th Parliament.
Next, an Accounting for Queensland
When pushing through emergency funding bills in the last sitting week before the election, Treasurer Dick promised he would bring down a proper budget by November 30.
Although the sitting is yet to be officially confirmed, I think this may happen with a sitting in the last week of November.
We Need a True Budget
While the financial impacts of coronavirus have been disguised from Queenslanders, partly due to ScoMo’s generous funding of JobKeeper and JobSeeker, this will end and we will be forced to face the reality that we are the most indebted state in Australia, with the highest unemployment and the highest rates of bankruptcy.
How to get out of the Swamp
This was the case before corona virus and has continued throughout corona virus. This makes a budget imperative. We cannot plot our way out of the swamp if we don’t know where we are – except in a swamp!
The Premier has said she is shifting her focus from COVID19 to repairing the economy. We must all hope for her success.
Steven Miles to Our Rescue
She has selected her Deputy Premier – and former health minister – Steven Miles to lead the recovery vision. Mr Miles has retained his position as Deputy Premier and been promoted to Minister for State Development, Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning.
We must hope for his success too, or it will be a lost decade of infrastructure and the downward spiral will continue.
Full Ministry Announced
The full Ministry has now been announced and sworn in. The Premier has expanded the ministry to 18 ministers and eight assistant-ministers, for a total of 26. That’s right fully half of the ALP MPs have been given a spot in the sun. I hate to think how many extra ministerial staffers this will require the taxpayer to fund.
The Civic Pride of Gregory
I don’t want to finish this letter without sincerely acknowledging the many volunteers in Gregory who supported my campaign and those of my opponents, or who worked for the ECQ running polling venues or scrutineering. There is no more genuine way to express your commitment to our democracy than to fill these necessary functions, to ensure it happens fairly and it happens fairly every time.
I was once again so impressed by the civic pride and generous spirit on display in Gregory right throughout the extended campaign and polling period. Voters and volunteers alike were respectful of each other and of the process. It makes me so proud to represent you. Thank you for the opportunity to continue.
Thank You for Reading
Thanks for reading and staying up to date.
As always, I welcome any comments or information by return email.
You can raise any issues with me the same way, or by going to my website at Lachlanmillarmp.com.
If You Need Help – Please Call
If you need help with any of the COVID restrictions, changes to the border pass, or with any other government issue - please don’t hesitate to call my offices.
If we can’t help you, we can usually give you the contacts for the right person who can. Gregory Longreach is PH (07) 4521 5700. Gregory Emerald (07) 4913 1000.
Kindest Regards – and stay safe,
Lachlan Millar MP
Member for Gregory