“Making corporations pay their fair share,” is the Greens’ overarching campaign theme for the Queensland election according to South Brisbane candidate Amy MacMahon.
MacMahon has a big chance of joining Greens MP for Maiwar, Michael Berkman, in the Queensland parliament. Sportsbet odds indicate she is the clear favourite to win the seat. Other Greens candidates, such as Kirsten Lovejoy in McConnel, have good chances too.
MacMahon told Green Left on October 22 that the Greens are focussed on promoting and expanding the public sector. Some things just “can’t be left to the private sector”, she said.
“Climate change is one such example. Leaving it to the private sector and having these small kind of tweaking market mechanisms hasn’t worked.
“What we really need now is direct government investment into publicly-owned utilities and energy generation.”
This would make possible a planned reduction in greenhouse pollution, while guaranteeing jobs and livelihoods for affected communities.
The Greens are also talking about public investment into manufacturing and setting up a publicly-owned pharmaceutical company.
MacMahon said there simply “shouldn’t be a private market” in healthcare and education.
These policies go far beyond anything the Labor Party has put forward for decades. So, it is little wonder that the Greens’ campaign has been generating so much support.
State schools in South Brisbane are underfunded by about $12 million per year, MacMahon said. The Greens’ plan is to make sure schools are “fully funded and genuinely free”.
The Greens are also pushing for free school lunches and breakfasts for students: this would help families doing it tough and help hectic family lives.
The Greens are pushing the public healthcare system to be expanded with 9500 more doctors and nurses. MacMahon said free hospital parking is also a necessity. “Essentially, hospital parking functions like a hidden tax on health care. If you have to go to the hospital and you’re paying $40 for parking, that’s money that shouldn’t be coming out of your pocket.”
The Greens took a policy of $1 public transport fares to the 2017 election. This year, they are saying public transport should be free. This makes a lot of sense, because there are big cost savings to be made when you don’t need an infrastructure to collect fares.
MacMahon said the plan is eminently feasible. “Queensland is an incredibly wealth state: it’s just that so much of that wealth goes into offshore accounts or flows into the pockets of mining CEOs or investors overseas.”
The Greens say between 2010 and 2020, mining corporations exported more than $480 billion of coal, minerals and LNG, and only paid 7% in royalties.
“We are proposing an increase in royalties, as well as state-based taxes on property developers and the big banks. We’d raise about $68 billion, that we could invest in these things.
“All of our plans are fully costed, unlike Labor and the LNP who haven’t put out their costings yet.
“We know this is feasible in Queensland. The one gap is political will: that’s what’s missing.”
When asked about the corporate pushback against the Greens’ agenda, MacMahon acknowledged the power they had.
“The majority of Queenslanders want big companies to pay their fair share, so we can fully fund essential services”.
She said this could be achieved by building a popular movement, on the ground, and “using the parliamentary power and pressure that we have to push back against these companies”.
She said the Greens “won’t back down, because we don’t take corporate donations.
“We don’t answer to lobby groups; we don’t answer to those big corporations, like Labor and the LNP.”
MacMahon said people are fed up with the LNP and also with Labor.
“People aren’t stupid; they can see what’s going on. They can see the influence of these big corporate donations. We’ve had so many messages from people who have said they gave Labor their final chance in 2017.”
Labor has launched its dirty tricks’ campaign to try and undermine support for the Greens.
When the LNP announced they would preference Labor last, Labor began spreading a rumour that the Greens had made a deal with the LNP.
But the Greens are placing the LNP after Labor on all their how-to-vote cards, and have emphatically ruled out supporting an LNP minority government.
Labor also tried to manufacture a scandal about a satirical tweet made by a South Brisbane Greens volunteer.
In South Brisbane, disgruntled former Greens member John Meyer is running as an independent with relatively conservative talking points and is preferencing Labor and the LNP before the Greens — another complication. However, MacMahon believes people will be able to clearly see the issues when it comes time to vote.
“We’ve just seen Labor promoting the fact that they’ve opened up 18 new coal mines [in North Queensland], while down here [in Brisbane] they’re [pushing the fact that] they are opening up publicly-owned clean energy.
“People can see through this: they want representatives with a clear vision for Queensland who are going to be honest.”
The Greens are running with an “intentionally bold platform”, she said, “because we recognise the impact that privatisation has had; we recognise the impact that the decline in the union movement has had; we recognise the impact that a decade of stagnant wages has had; and we know that there’s better ways to do this.”
[Alex Bainbridge is the national convenor of Socialist Alliance. The Socialist Alliance is calling for a vote for the Greens in this election.]