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The Queensland state election

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By Dave Riley

The Queensland state election may not be the most exciting phenomenon on the planet at the moment but it's been keeping me busy.

So far it has been very buoyant and has been indicative of some very interesting features -- the general enthusiasm for our politics on the street being one of them. How that will translate to votes on polling day I have no idea, but the fact that Murri activist Sam Watson is standing in the inner left ghetto region of South Brisbane and Mike Crook is standing in Sandgate aftet spending years in the ALP there gives this campaign a certain potential traction we haven't always had.

But since this won't be a polarised election -- as Labor could lose -- it's hard to call. Labor deserves to lose as it is hard to find a reason to vote for them. Then Queensland will, after 15 years return to Coalition control -- in this case the newly fused formation , the Liberal National Party .

The primary question is what sort of political alternative could be built outside this terrible option of these two main corporate parties?

The Queensland Greens have continued to pitch toward the centre and withdraw more from any non parliamentary orientation. While the party achieved its first parliamentary representative on October 5th 2008 when Ronan Lee defected to the Greens from the Australian Labor Party this has become an excuse for further skewing of the party's activities as Lee's re-election has ruled the Greens focus.

In the past two decades I've seen the Qld Greens move from a sort of essentialist environmentalism to a dedicated pragmatism despite the fact that they have never won elected office in their own right. By default to Redcliffe Council once and on Palm Island when local Murris established a Greens branch there.

This drift has been a tragedy as over the years the Greens have proven to be unreliable political partners.

So re-electing Lee and making the best out of their prospects in the seat of Mt Cootha are the Greens main pitch for the moment. We wish them well as they are preferable to the main party options but the Greens won't be laying siege to parliament as One Nation did in 1998 when the populist right wing party secured 11 seats in Queensland's one tier parliament.

The Greens also don't take the amorphous progressive vote in the electorate anywhere special other than onto the parliamentary cross benches -- if lucky that is. That may however be enough for a good proportion of the far left to advocate a first preference the Greens ahead of these activists on offer from the Socialist Alliance. Likely as not, the same far left may simply ignore the Alliance campaign completely.

I kid you not.

While the Qld Greens may have about 650 members ( as insider sources tell me) they don't aggregate a membership that is significantly larger than the far left has been able to pull together. The Socialist Alliance will maybe have a third of that when we do our mid year sums . Some of these are in fact Greens members so we aren't separate and apart from Greens debates and issues.

So it comes down to what sort of respect you've earnt among a much broader periphery. In the case of the Alliance, have we earnt enough respect as activists so that they can see through the voting card confusion and vote SA [1] ahead of the Greens[2]? Since we aren't registered as a political party in Queensland 'name identification' has to be something earnt away from the polling booths and a voter has to work out that Crook, M and Watson, S means Socialist Alliance and not some independent ratbag.

On top of that we face the double blind complication that you have to be known to be known -- and to be known for your activity presumes that activism is happening. In Queensland that's been a bit light on recently.

So I guess we can but run our election campaign and see what figures get thrown up on polling day March 21st.

POSTSCRIPT[10/2/09] I checked this out further but it appears that after so long in office here and whatever federal fortunes have come its way, the ALP has only about 6000 members in Queensland. This is a massive fall -- especially when you start to estimate what may be the political weight -- ie: the "numbers" -- garnered by each of the party's permanent factions. The Socialist Left is no longer called that. It's called "The Left" and even Artilla the Hun's army had a "left" flank. Of course in the ALP members are a liability.There's no democracy to speak of, no pre -selection process open to the rank and file -- just reigning tribes ...and chieftains all competing for a place at the pigs trough in George Street.

Mike Crook was expelled from "The Left" for standing for pre-selection thereby upsetting factional protocols. In the seat of Sandgate the present member of Parliament (third generation in the family business of owning a parliamentary fiefdom) was simply imposed on the branches after the previous member resigned-- Gordan Nuttal, reknowned locally for doing nothing much for the electrorate-- and is now facing corruption charges.

Its' pretty sick when you think about it -- how shallow is the layer that rules us for the bourgeoisie and how cynical is the means they deploy to do so.

Ironically, the newly formed Liberal National Party has established its campaign headquarters at the old DSS office in my local suburb , Nundah. The street , Station Street, is nicknamed "Welfare Alley" because of the number of welfare orgs that are located along it. Over the road from the corflute signs that say "Go the Borg!" -- Lawrence Springborg being the LNP leader -- is a coffee shop run by local invalid pensioners. Around the corner is Swanee's office -- our very own national federal treasurer Wayne Swann holds the seat -- Lillee.

So if I want to grab a coffee or a sandwich snack my guess is that the LNPers -- like the ALP staffers -- will be hanging out the expensively pretentious, Jam on Sandgate Rd where all the local real estate agents do lunch. I'm down the road because a lot of the folk with disabilities are enamored with my two terriers -- so they amuse them while I read the Curious Mail...

But if i go too far down the road I have to walk up to one of maybe five massive signs that are in the state electorate there promoting the candidacy of Michael Palmer, the 18 year old son of the LNP's main billionaire backer -- Clive Palmer, Queensland's richest man

Exciting huh? just the type you want batting for you or the rest of the stuggletowners along Welfare Alley in the big house on George Street.

Not to be outdone with the billboard presence Labor runs similar size signage with a generic push along the main drag, Sandgate Rd: a photo of premier Anna Bligh and the slogan: "Keep Queensland strong".

Strong? What does that mean? Is the state under terrorist attack? Is this some sort of feminist deconstruction we should be voting for? Is she secretly Laura Croft?

Both electorates -- mine,(Nudgee) and the next one to the north where we're standing Mike -- Sandgate -- are ruled by massive ALP margins but quirkily the Nundah/Clayfield branch of the (old) Liberal Party was one of the most active Liberal branches in the state. Guess who owns the real estate in the area? Guess whose party the local big landlords subscribe to? So it was no coincidence that Nundah is now blessed with "Go the Borg"/enter here -- on an office building that has been empty for six months.

Yes indeed. It's all happening here in Queensland: social security offices morph into party HQs and billboards speak in riddles. Is this Purgatory perhaps?

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