The day after the Queensland election was a very dark day for the state. The unprecedented swing to the Liberal National Party (LNP) will mean huge cuts to the public sector and brutal attacks on unions.
It will mean increased environmental degradation and unnecessary, destructive development. It will mean dangerous coal seam gas will spread further across the state and coal production will rise even though Australia is already the biggest exporter in the world.
It will mean the ruin of Gladstone harbour due to dredging carried out to benefit the fossil fuel industry.
It will mean further attacks on the unemployed, the homeless and the disabled. And it will mean increasing the discourse of hate against Aboriginal people and other minorities.
I don’t think most Queensland people yet know what they are in for.
Voters were rightly pissed off at Premier Anna Bligh and the ALP for selling off state assets and putting big business ahead of people’s interests. But because our system is structurally rigged to benefit two pro-capitalist parties, Bligh’s replacement — the LNP’s Campbell Newman — is even worse.
The Socialist Alliance’s election campaign stood in absolute opposition to these parties. It stood in three electorates, South Brisbane, Sandgate and Dalrymple.
It made some good ground in each of them, improving on its 2009 vote. The result, while humble, represents a significant outcome given the context. It seems as though there are already thousands of people across this state that want to consider real alternatives.
We need to turn the thousands into hundreds of thousands and then millions.
But we should not be deluded about where we are — the real struggle restarts now. Real change does not come from parliament. Elections by themselves will never bring real change.
Real change begins on the streets. It happens in the campaigns and social movements. It takes place in the fightback against capitalist austerity and political repression.
These fightbacks can start as a response to a terrible situation, but they continue because of an idea of the future, an idea of equality.
Only the people are capable of turning this idea into a reality. So I hope to see you at the next rally, the next picket or the next occupy.
[Liam Flenady was the Socialist Alliance candidate for South Brisbane in the March 24 Queensland elections.]