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There was no government in waiting in broke Queensland

By Gary Johns - posted Wednesday, 4 February 2015


The real result from the Queensland election is that drovers' dogs will occupy the Treasury benches for the foreseeable future. There was no government in waiting, just a bunch of kids waiting their turn.

The only bright spots were that Greens and the Palmer United Party did not win any seats. However Clive Palmer did achieve his aim, which was to help bring down the Newman government.

I wrote on January 8, not thinking the LNP could possibly lose, "Should the LNP lose, Queensland and Australia should abandon all hope of rational politics and economic reform."

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The general rule for decades, that Labor spends irresponsibly - Cain-Kirner in Victoria, Dowding in WA, John Bannon State Bank of South Australia, Beattie-Bligh $80 billion debt in Queensland, Rudd-Swan debt and deficits as far as the eye can see - and is punished with two or more terms in opposition, is defunct. There is now only a one-term penalty for gross mismanagement. Fewer voters displaying blind loyalty to a party, along with the fact a very large proportion of the electorate receives money from government, combine to make reining in debt an electoral fool's game.

John Hewson offered radical reform from opposition and remained there. John Howard and Bob Hawke offered it from government and prospered. This is no longer likely.

The final result in Queensland could be a draw with two Katters and one independent deciding who should govern. The fact each is opposed to privatisation makes plain that Labor would form government.

That being so, Annastacia Palaszczuk and Jackie Trad as deputy may well be the first female duumvirate in Australian political history. This should, once and for all, kill the last feminist seeking preferment above merit. These two will be judged on their merits, however unfair that judgment may be in the coming months.

If Labor has learned anything from the Gillard minority government experience, Palaszczuk will not sign a deal with any group. There would simply be acknow­ledgment that supply would be guaranteed to Labor so long as it stuck to the non-privatisation promise.

Palaszczuk has no credible plan to pay down debt and indeed will further degrade public assets with the planned amalgamation of electricity generators. FortunatelyAustralian Consumer & Competition Commission may block the move.

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What is the Liberal game plan in the new era? Tony Abbott's address to the National Press Club yesterday was bullish: "that Australia cannot join the 'weak government' club".

But how?

Abbott said: "The Australian electors rejected chaos" at the last federal election, but they appear to have embraced it on Saturday in Queensland.

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This article was first published by The Australian.



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About the Author

Gary Johns is a former federal member of Parliament and served as a minister in the Keating Government. Since December 2017 he has been the commissioner of the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission.

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