“It’s the Bjelke-Petersen era again,” is the meme every time a centre-right party moots a policy on just about anything in Queensland.
But the hecklers, invariably from the left, forget that Bjelke-Petersen was just a late twentieth-century riff on the themes of the previous half a century’s Labor corruption.
Petersen was accused of stifling free speech, but his free speech critics of the day are silent now as their comrades implement restrictions of their own.
When it comes to institutionalised corruption of the electoral system, Labor has over a century of form.
The latest elaboration of the theme is the introduction into state parliament of the “Local Government Electoral (Implementing Stage 1 of Belcarra) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2018”.
This bill will prevent property developers, their employees, consultants, spouses, and, possibly, relatives, donating money to the party or candidate of their choice, or asking anyone else to give them support.
It is an opportunistic overreach to a report by the state’s Crime and Corruption Commission, introduced as retrospective legislation just prior to the last election, robbing the LNP of an estimated $519,524.45 to fight that election.
With Labor holding government by one seat, and the margins in two of those seats less than 0.71 per cent, who knows what difference that half a million might have made.
Bjelke-Petersen adapted a pre-existing Labor gerrymander to sandbag National Party seats. Rather than a geographical rort, the current Labor party is in the process of imposing an industry-based one.
Building, construction and real estate represent around 15 per cent of the state economy but will be almost invisible from the state’s democracy.
As always, the public is sceptical, but unheard.
Which is why the Australian Institute for Progress commissioned Reachtel to conduct research on Queenslanders’ attitudes to issues arising from the CCC’s original report, and the commissioner’s appearance before a parliamentary committee to examine the proposed bill.
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