Annastacia Palaszczuk romps in: what that means for LGBTIQ+


Annastacia Palaszczuk
Image: Queensland Labor Facebook

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk Saturday night won a historic third term for her Labor Government. Labor led the race from the beginning of counting and their lead strengthened during the night.

[OPINION]

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PFLAG+ National Spokesperson Shelley Argent told QNews last week that Annastacia Palaszczuk has done more for LGBTIQ+ rights than any other premier in Queensland history. However, LGBTIQ+ rights and other social issues barely got a mention during the election campaign. So what does that mean for our communities?

Shelley Argent said she will wait for the allocation of ministries and then immediately make appointments to continue lobbying the government on LGBTIQ+ issues.

Her immediate priorities include revisiting the gay conversion therapy legislation to achieve a better outcome. Shelley also wants the government to address transgender issues like regional health care and accommodation concerns. Finally, she wants to see more police liaison officers and better resources for the program.

Annastacia Palaszczuk’s win

Annastacia Palaszczuk’s state Labor has gone from strength to strength since she inherited a party room with just seven sitting members in 2012. In the years following her election as Premier in 2015, Palaszczuk proved a steady hand. She administered the state well and enacted progressive social policies generally popular with the electorate. Voters found in her a panacea to the tumultuous final years of the Bligh Government and the whirlwind Campbell Newman regime.

You would not know that from media coverage of the government.

But Queensland is simply not as far right as Murdoch media commentators and some of the attention-seeking right-wing nut jobs that get elected from here make it seem.

It is often forgotten that the last time the LNP held power for any length of time, it only did so by virtue of a gerrymander. Hillbilly dictator Joh Bjelke-Petersen remained premier after the 1972 election despite his party winning only 20% of the vote.

The pandemic

The Palaszczuk Government’s handling of the pandemic increased its existing good standing with Queensland voters. Queensland thus far weathered COVID-19 better than nearly anywhere else in the world. Indeed, despite the Ruby Princess debacle in New South Wales and the Victorian crisis, Australia generally handled the pandemic well.

The willingness of all Australian heads of government to follow the science and listen to experts served the country well.

Pauline Hanson and others tried citing COVID fear to explain the election result but Labor led the LNP before the pandemic. Queenslanders then saw the results of Palaszczuk’s evidence-based response to the pandemic and liked what they saw. Annastacia Palaszczuk also lucked out in Steven Miles as Health Minister. He is intelligent, hard-working and an excellent communicator.

The entire state lucked out with Queensland’s long-serving and inestimable Chief Health Officer Dr Jeanette Young.

LGBTIQ+ policies

By design, Queenslanders heard next to nothing about LGBTIQ+ rights during the campaign. Labor obviously chose to avoid controversy on social issues apart from the Premier wedging the Opposition Leader on euthanasia.

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Annastacia Palaszczuk’s pragmatism was on display when news broke in December that the new $80 million Fortitude Valley school would feature gender-neutral toilets. Despite the many advantages of gender-neutral toilets, aside from consideration of gender identity issues, the Premier quickly intervened to demand gendered facilities and thereby nipped the controversy in the bud.

When QNews looked for the various political parties LGBTIQ+ rights policies before the election, we immediately saw the lie of the land.

The Greens were an open book. All their policies were easily accessible and clearly enunciated including a page devoted to Sexuality and Gender Identity.

The LNP’s policy pages included no references to any social issue.

Labor simply posted a link to their entire 116-page policy platform — a long, unwieldy PDF few were likely to wade through. Searching ‘LGBT’ on the document brought up only two links. However, searching ‘lesbian’ brought up many more because the document usually spelled out ‘lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer/questioning’ in full. Not a reader-friendly experience.

The LNP

While some in the LNP scoff at identity politics and gender identity, the party’s problem is a lack of identity. It ceased representing Queensland farmers decades ago when Bjelke-Petersen decided quick riches from mining took precedence over the interests of rural Australia. Neither the LNP nor Labor have taken sufficient interest in small farmers for generations. When I was a kid, a hundred or so hectare farm could provide a family with a reasonable income. No more, even though Australia and the world will always need food.

The LNP’s neglect of rural Queensland led to the popularity of One Nation and Katter’s Australian Party. Bob Katter, despite his presence in the Queensland and then federal parliament since 1974, actually achieved SFA for farmers other than whining. But in the absence of any other assistance, whining is at least something, so he still attracts votes.

The ultra-right-wing

The LNP will never find its way as a representative Queensland political party so long at it remains hostage to the ultra-right-wing. The party showed their awareness of that problem just last week when they united to defeat the nomination of David van Gend for preselection for the federal seat of Groom. Party leaders worried his stance against same-sex marriage, transgender issues and climate change would bring attention to those issues in the closing days of the state election campaign. A member told the local paper “We were shitting ourselves.

Instead, the party elected a candidate with similar views to van Gend. However, with a lesser public profile, Garth Hamilton was unlikely to cause as big a commotion.

The LNP right-wingers wield power in the LNP due to their claim to represent the so-called ‘silent majority’. But their ultra-conservative far-right ‘silent majority’ is a myth. The real silent majority of Queensland politics is people who don’t give a f*ck. Unlike the political junkies who made it this far into the article, they only pay attention to politics when it affects or engages them personally. Some are time poor because of work or private concerns. Others are preoccupied with other interests. They take an interest in the pandemic because it can’t be ignored. They voted on same-sex marriage because the subject engaged them.

In fact, the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey totally disproved the existence of any ultra-conservative far-right ‘silent majority’. 79% of eligible Australians voted in the survey and 61.2% of those voted for marriage equality.

If further proof of the absence of a ‘silent majority’ is required, look at Lyle Shelton. When the former head of the Australian Christian Lobby stood for the Senate, he received 5,533 votes, just 0.8% of the votes cast in Queensland.

Poor candidates

The LNP’s equivocation on the subject of pandemic restrictions and border controls in addition to some notably poor candidates also cost them in this election. QNews spoke to one who seemed uninterested in anything but their own life story. Live crosses to another on election night saw a candidate unwilling to share anything more than a weather report and banal platitudes.

“It rained. We had some hail and a little sunshine.”

Back to the studio.

There were some standouts. In Barron River, the LNP stood Linda Cooper, a decent, hard-working and personable politician with great credentials from her time in local government. She has also been a longtime firm ally of the LGBTIQ+ communities. Unfortunately for Linda, she was up against the Minister for Fire and Community Services, Craig Crawford. Craig is equally decent, hard-working and personable plus enjoying the advantage of incumbency and representing the more popular political party.

But Linda Cooper is the sort of candidate the LNP needs to start preselecting more of. Politicians who will work hard and represent their entire constituency instead of some mythical silent majority of neighbourhood morality police.

The way forward

This election again showed that LGBTIQ+ communities can at present expect no progress on rights from the LNP despite the presence of decent people in the party. The ultra-right will not allow it. Every single advance for LGBTIQ+ people in this state came courtesy of the Labor Party.

The Greens have admirable policies and despite being unlikely to form government for years to come, will exert a positive influence over the government.

Labor offers our best chance of equal rights for the LGBTIQ+ communities and other minorities in this state.

But, the government is pragmatic and won’t risk losing votes over social issues. If our communities have items they wish placed on the agenda, now, early in the four-year term, is the time to act. Community advocates and organisations need to bring issues to the attention of the government early in its term – not late when it is focussed on avoiding controversy.

Election night highlights

Election night proved one of the most entertaining we’ve ever watched. With the result a foregone conclusion early on, rather than worry about the outcome, viewers could focus on the theatrics.

Steven Miles

Election night’s star performer began the evening with the LNP hating him. By the end of the night, it seemed some Greens on social media were willing to join a Greens/LNP coalition to go after the Deputy Premier.

Deb Frecklington

The path the soon to be former Opposition Leader had to negotiate in her party was on display in an interview with expelled former member Jason Costigan. Earlier in the night, LNP Deputy Leader Tim Mander described Queensland Parliament as a better place for Costigan’s absence.

How right he was!

Costigan disparaged Deb Frecklington in an interview on Sky News as the ‘peanut with lipstick’. He also described the party leadership as lacking gonads.

Frecklington is no peanut. When Campbell Newman lost his own seat in 2015, those LNP members who didn’t sink with him suffered a diminished vote. Except for one. Deb Frecklington actually increased her vote in that election.

The Opposition Leader suffered from the party not allowing her the ownership leaders require to succeed. In debates, the Premier triumphed with a masterful recall of detail and the ability to clearly enunciate policy. The LNP, on the other hand, pushed Deb Frecklington in front of the cameras with nothing to offer beyond repeating ‘big, bold, visionary plan’ over and over. When the party finally released costings, it turned out to involve lots of vision and very little plan.

Deb Frecklington does not deserve blame for the LNP loss. The party gave her the leadership but never entrusted her with it. Head Office undermined her. Despite her becoming a much better communicator over the course of the campaign, voters will not elect a leader whose own party fails to get behind them.

It seems many have now anointed David Crisafulli as the party saviour. Hopefully, his judgement improves from Saturday when he proclaimed regional Queensland was waiting for Labor with baseball bats.

One Nation

QNews asked last week “Whatever happened to her?” in reference to Pauline Hanson. It appears Queensland voters didn’t care. One Nation’s vote plummeted throughout the state.

Hanson’s chief of staff, James Ashby livened things up with an appearance on ABC television. He blamed non-existent cuts to ABC regional resources for One Nation’s inability to get their message out. The ABC has maintained the same presence in regional Queensland despite federal government cuts to the broadcasters’ budget agreed to by One Nation.

Ashby also made an inexplicable comment about the raping and pillaging of fishermen.

Alan Jones

Who said Alan Jones never says a sensible word?

“I’ve been around a long time, unfortunately.”

We’re hearing you, Alan!

Senator Amanda Stoker

Stoker is renowned as the leading local opponent of the imaginary ‘transgender agenda’ and for believing sexuality is a choice.  Of course, she can always find supportive comments on social media, even if she has to use another profile and write them herself.

Stoker responded to the idea that Labor might recruit Jackie Trad to the federal Senate by observing that Labor often parachuted failed politicians into the Senate. She knows a bit about losing elections. Senator Stoker failed to win a Senate seat in 2013. She is only a Senator now because the LNP appointed her to replace George Brandis.

Jackie Trad

The former Deputy Premier was a highly effective politician and a firm ally of the LGBTIQ+ communities. Despite non-stop smears, she survived two integrity investigations, neither of which found evidence of corruption or dishonesty.

Good luck to Jackie Trad in the future. Fortunately, her place in South Brisbane was taken by another progressive female politician.

Clive Palmer

Here’s the note to end on.

Clive Palmer spent almost five million dollars on the election and stood candidates in 55 seats.

Boasting that he was the kingmaker of Queensland politics, he said he would see Annastacia Palaszczuk off.

He won no seats and achieved just 0.6 of the primary votes.


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