FIVE CABINET MINISTERS TRAILED THEIR LNP RIVALS ON PRIMARY VOTES BEFORE GREENS PREFERENCES GOT THEM ACROSS THE LINE. IT IS NOT CONTROVERSIAL TO CLAIM THE ALP IS BEHOLDEN TO THE GREENS; IT’S AN ELECTORAL FACT. SIGNS GRIM FOR ALP
WHETHER it pleases you to read this or not, Adani is coming to Townsville. The signs are up, the hands have been shaken, the ribbons have been cut and the job ads have started appearing in the newspaper. It’s happening.
But few outside the political sphere realise how close the Palaszczuk Labor State Government came to fluffing the Next Big Thing for the North back in May.
I’m talking about the now infamous royalties revolt, that forgettable couple of weeks when Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s trusted insiders turned on her and refused to mint a royalties arrangement to secure the Indian miner’s commitment to its $ 16.5 billion Carmichael mine.
The progressive media went into raptures and green activist social media pages lit up: Adani had been stopped again and there was a good chance the project would be abandoned altogether.
But what GetUp! and others celebrated as a thumping victory is looking very suspiciously like an insidious demonstration of The Greens flexing their political muscle and leveraging their tightening grip on the Queensland Labor Party.
It was also a terrible embarrassment for Ms Palaszczuk, who had copped a lot of heat over her strong public statements in support of the Carmichael project and having taken regional mayors to India late last year, where she famously stared down well- heeled activists who tried to disrupt meetings with Adani.
Much like the great draglines in our coal basins, Adani has methodically and purposefully steamrolled through dozens of greenled challenges over many years and is arguably past the point of no return.
Having run out of legal and regulatory ammo, the activists have turned their attention to shaming big banks and, crucially, politicians and parties that refuse to publicly state their opposition to coal.
This is not a conspiracy theory; we’ve all seen the banners… “ALP in bed with Adani”, the campaign against the big banks, etc. Activists will attack anyone they think should be joining the anti- coal jihad, including even the ALP.
But while most Queenslanders, and especially North Queenslanders, have no reason to concern themselves with the sit- ins and chanting of activists, there are several politicians in the southeast who have good reason to be concerned.
A reader helped compile some statistics from the last election that might go some way to explaining what’s happening in the ALP’s Queensland branch.
Ms Palaszczuk swept to power in a stunning turnaround after a strong anti- asset- sales campaign fatally wounded the embattled Campbell Newman LNP administration.
The ALP went from single digits to almost an outright majority in the Queensland Parliament, but didn’t quite do enough to form government in its own right.
Of the 42 seats Labor candidates secured, 32 relied on preferences from The Greens to get them home.
In the 17- member Cabinet ( 14 of whom represent southeast Queensland electorates, by the way), 11 ministers can thank The Greens for their jobs and five of those, including Mundingburra MP Coralee O’Rourke, trailed their LNP rivals on primary votes before Greens preferences got them across the line.
It is not controversial to claim the ALP is beholden to The Greens; it’s an electoral fact.
So when the Cabinet came to deciding royalties arrangements for Adani, is it beyond reason to suspect the greenies may have reminded certain ministers of their influence?
As history showed, after an embarrassing few days of public statements and a grand proclamation – followed by a stunning backflip – that Labor wouldn’t be party to a Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility loan for Adani’s rail line, finally normal transmission resumed and the deal was struck.
I was born in Charters Towers, grew up in Bowen and have been back in the North for a few years after spending a decade or so based in southeast Queensland.
For almost all my life, Labor has dominated politics in Queensland and most of the communities I’ve been a part of have been full of “rusted on” Labor voters – hard workers who want governments to get out of their way and let them provide for their families.
But having observed the debacle over Adani’s royalties, I honestly don’t believe this modern Labor leadership, apart from the Premier herself, truly represents any of the communities I’ve been part of.
My mates are proud Labor voters but are really ideological opposites to the types of inner- city voters the party increasingly targets with its emotional and arguably reckless embrace of trendy modern causes.
The gap between the groups of voters is a sign of the growing discontent among voters that was mentioned last week and feeding the trend of rejection of major parties as “old Labor” voters look for candidates who more closely align with their own traditional values.
Ms Palaszczuk has proven herself a friend of North Queensland but the Adani royalties saga has exposed an ugly division within her own Cabinet that could prove fatal.