THE Queensland election is now only a week away and yet the commentary continues to focus on who will be the Premier, which party will form government and with what kind of margin.
I live on the NSW side of the border and so am scarcely more than a spectator for the Queensland contest, but there is much to learn from it. NSW will follow Queensland to the polls in just eight weeks’ time.
Political parties are all jostling for relevance in the tussle and many candidates are waiting with baited breath to see the key issues and gauge voter sentiment in Queensland as a potential barometer for the NSW contest. The major parties’ calculations are all about winning power.
Sadly though, the focus is almost universally about maximising the benefit to the parties themselves, often with little or no real regard for the individual electorates. It is one of my great frustrations that preselection processes do not often truly respect the electorate.
I know some candidates will be quite offended by my assertion here and it is not my intention to demean anyone personally, but we need to be honest.
There is an overwhelming commitment expected of people preselected by a party to put the needs of the party ahead of their moral obligation to honestly serve the electorate they are constitutionally committed to represent.
Beyond the election, this culture is perpetuated through an offensive determination that party members must maintain party solidarity or face disciplinary actions.
There is nothing new in these observations. Many people suggest that it is naïve to think it can or should be any different.
Unfortunately for my increasingly less patient wife, I can’t accept that our political system should be allowed to continue to be bastardised by this antidemocratic, party-first culture that is perpetuated by the entrenched political duopoly.
I enjoy watching magic tricks and spend a lot of time trying to solve them. Invariably, con men and magicians employ similar tactics of misdirection, whereby they draw people’s attention away from the critical point of the trick.
Political parties and a lot of the not-so-objective media’s sleight-of-hand is to draw people’s attention and concern away from their local candidates and make campaigns about the leaders of the major parties and their respective likelihood of winning government.
The real impact of this concentration of media is to starve smaller party and independent candidates of their fair share of public attention and consideration.
People are quick to swallow the line that minor parties and independents cannot influence government effectively, but this is plainly untrue.
Many independents have demonstrated their value to their constituency. The quality of the candidate will have the greatest determination of the effectiveness of a parliamentarian.
Recently, Warren Truss, our Deputy Prime Minister, was reported saying: “Those who throw away their vote, in some kind of protest, are in fact ignoring their obligations to their democracy but also putting their country at risk.”
This unfathomable arrogance actually suggests that a voter exercising their democratic and constitutional right to choose their own representative is irresponsible.
The suggestion that to vote against a major party is the same as throwing away their vote infers that an electorate might actually be purposefully disadvantaged because voters exercised their democratic right to choose their own representative.
It is little more than a veiled threat and it is truly disgusting.
In the run up to the elections in both States, I encourage voters to look at the candidates in their electorates on their merits. Pay less attention to which major party is represented and don’t be bullied out of your democratic right.
I haven’t had time to consider all the candidates in the Queensland election, but I have not met a more genuine or committed parliamentarian than the Member for Mt Isa.
Robbie Katter is made of the right political stuff and in my view it would be a great loss for Queensland democracy if he is not returned.
Don’t waste your vote or shirk your responsibility voting for a would-be Premier or just the party you think should form government.
Vote for the individual you honestly think will be your best advocate in parliament.