ALP on the ropes in Queensland election

March 14, 2009

Except for a two-year blip from 1996 to 1998, the Australian Labor Party has ruled Queensland for the past 20 years. Following 32 years of successive conservative coalition governments, Labor was elected in a landslide in 1989.

But after the state election on March 21, Labor may again find itself in opposition.

This prospect surprises few. While the merger between the Liberal and National parties in July last year has given the opposition the appearance of a united front, all the newly formed Liberal National Party (LNP) is offering the electorate is budget cuts and job-shedding.

That the LNP could win government with such a platform suggests Labor governments have generated a deep level of cynicism among Queenslanders over the past two decades.

Arrogant, committed to doing as little as possible, and allowing state infrastructure to run down in the name of balanced budgets, Labor's collapsing fortunes were registered in part by the broad opposition to government plans to dam the Mary River at Traveston, near Maryborough.

One of its parliamentarians, Ronan Lee, even left the party over the issue and is now standing as a Greens candidate.

Private development has been encouraged in preference to government-run projects. The ALP pursued a pro-corporate agenda as successive government sectors primed their activities for privatisation.

One Nation — the racist, right-wing populist party formed around Pauline Hanson — won 22.7% of the vote and 11 of the 89 seats at the 1998 state election.

One Nation's phenomenal growth reflected not only a distaste for Labor in the regions, but a general dissatisfaction with the National and Liberal parties as well.

The recent formation of the LNP is an indication that the dissipated One Nation vote, which has more recently gone to Labor, may now be harnessed to sponsor a conservative resurgence buoyed up by a general backlash against the ALP.

This is why Anna Bligh, the state premier, has called the election early.

The driving force behind the Queensland economy for decades has been the mining sector. The state is the largest exporter of coal in the world and the crash in global steel production is punishing Queensland hard.

The axing of 3000 mining jobs in Queensland in the first months of 2009 made it clear that the worldwide recession had descended on the state. Bligh knows that the longer she waited to go to the polls the worse the news would become.

While the Greens are fielding more than 80 candidates, their overwhelming focus is on the seat of Indooroopilly, which is currently held by Ronan Lee. They have agreed to give preferences to Labor in 14 seats, in return for support for Lee.

The Socialist Alliance is standing in two seats: Mike Crook in Sandgate and Sam Watson in South Brisbane. In both seats it is preferencing the Greens ahead of the ALP.

You can volunteer to help the Socialist Alliance campaign by phoning (07)3831 2644 or 0401 234 610. Visit .

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