The recent Victorian State Election saw plenty of malice from both sides. It seems that the ALP started off by promoting their achievements but ended up in the gutter with the Liberals who seemed to be (from someone that lives outside Victoria) playing the man, not the ball, from prior to the election being called until election day. The Coalition’s Federal Election pitch in May was effectively ‘you can’t trust the other bloke’ while Morrison was secretly collecting Ministries, pork-barrelling where he though he might get an advantage and dog-whistling around the country by supporting a divisive candidate in a Sydney metropolitan seat – losing the seat in the process. A Victorian Liberal Upper House Candidate was barred from sitting in the party room (later overturned) before she was even elected because of her professed views and one Liberal candidate was claiming that Premier Dan Andrews should be made into a red mist – apparently a dog whistle to hunters and the ultra conservatives that suggests he should be shot with a high powered gun.
David Littleproud (a member of the LNP as he comes from Queensland) and his Nationals have already decided that they won’t support the upcoming ‘voice to parliament’ referendum. As Michael Pascoe suggests in The New Daily
David Speers posited that: “The real, unspoken reason for the National Party shift was to put more pressure on a weakened Liberal Party to follow suit.”
There will be plenty of grubby politics to play out leading up to the referendum, plenty of strawman arguments. Michelle Grattan believes votes will be lost if the “debate becomes dominated by the negative aspects of identity politics”.
It’s a safe bet it will be.
Pascoe also questions Nationals Senator Jacinta Price’s statements in relation to ‘the voice’ as she has worked in the past for a right-wing ‘think tank’, sharing bylines on opinion pieces with Tom Switzer defending ‘white history of Australia’ practices such as erecting statutes of Captain Cook.
The Liberals and the Nationals both suggest they are only responding to the taunts of others. They aren’t. If the Coalition hadn’t stuck their head in the sand over climate change, ensured all Australians had a living wage that kept up with the cost of living, if Morrison hadn’t accumulated secret ministries, if the Liberals and Nationals around Australia had selected candidates their local communities could relate to rather than those with divisive opinions they might stand a chance. While individual members of the LNP are probably nice people if you meet them, collectively they seem to be on a ‘winner take all’ crusade where taking prisoners is too kind.
Here’s an example of their attitude. The Brisbane City Council is probably the largest municipal body in Australia. The Council controls 1342.7 square kilometres of South East Queensland with a population of 1,242,825 which is larger than the state of Tasmania; as is the Council’s annual budget. By comparison the City of Sydney covers 25 square kilometres and has a population of 211,632. Brisbane City was formed in the 1920’s by the amalgamation of a number of smaller ‘town’ and ‘shire’ councils and is one of the few Councils in Australia where prospective Councillors run for election under the banner of a political party. The LNP, ALP and Greens all have representation. The Lord Mayor since 2008 has been a LNP candidate elected by general vote across the City of Brisbane.
There is one Independent Councillor in Brisbane’s Council Chambers. Nicole Johnston represents the ward (electorate) of Tennyson, an area that real estate agents generally use phrases like a leafy and quiet area, along the southern bank of the Brisbane River, close to services and the City. Property values in the area are what you would expect with such an idyllic descriptions. Johnston was elected as a Liberal Party Councillor in 2008, the same election that Campbell Newman – also representing the Liberal Party at the time – became Lord Mayor of Brisbane. The amalgamation of the Queensland Liberal and National Parties occurred later in 2008.
Johnston and the other LNP councillors had a fractious relationship between her election in 2008 and her suspension from the LNP in 2010. She resigned her membership of the LNP in May 2010, a day prior to an expulsion hearing was to occur. According to reporting at the time in The Brisbane Times
Lord Mayor Campbell Newman said the resignation ”provides a new way forward for the LNP council team”.
”All 16 members of the LNP council team have believed for some time that Cr Johnston has not acted as a member of the team,” he said.
”At the most recent council meeting, out of 13 votes taken, Cr Johnston voted with the ALP seven times, the LNP four times and abstained twice.”
Cr Johnston was suspended from the LNP in March until the end of the year for “bringing the party into disrepute”.
Johnston went on to record victories in Brisbane City Council elections in 2012, 2016 and 2020. Newman resigned as Lord Mayor in 2011 to contest a State Election as the LNP’s party leader and won a massive majority. Annastasia Palaszczuk became opposition (and leader of the ALP) with a party room of 7 out of 89 Members of Parliament. Newman was such a divisive Premier that not only did the LNP lose the next election, Newman lost his seat. Following the rout, Palaszczuk and the ALP were elected to government. She is now in her third term as Premier of Queensland. Newman ran as a Queensland Senate Candidate in the last Federal Election under the banner of the LDP, and probably didn’t even get his deposit back.
You would think that after 12 years, the LNP would have better things to be doing than continuing to hold a grudge against Nicole Johnston. Sadly, you would be wrong. In December 2022, Johnston made a complaint in a Council meeting that members of the LNP were turning their back to her when she was speaking.
While Johnston has been quite outspoken over the years, she deserves the opportunity to represent the views of her community. Her community obviously support her – they keep on electing her. The LNP dominated Council should respect those views even if they don’t agree with them. One of the LNP Councillors who turned his back repetitively then claimed bullying when Johnstone made her speech in Council. Johnston has also made a number of claims that funding for projects in her ward is considerably lesser than surrounding Wards that have Councillors with an allegiance to the LNP. The LNP Council refuses to accept any of the responsibility for the funding difference. The LNP dominated Council Ethics Committee hasn’t met for 18 months despite some referrals to assess and somehow it’s the ALP Councillors’ fault. The Council’s Ethics Chairperson
in a statement blamed Labor for the ethics committee’s inertia, rather than any failure of systems as he had outlined in his parliamentary inquiry.
“Unfortunately, Labor councillors childishly quit Brisbane’s ethics committee as soon as one of their colleagues was referred,” Cr Allan said.
“Unless Labor councillors grow up and participate as required, we may soon have to consider an alternative approach.”
You can’t call holding a grudge against Johnston for 12 years of childish as a playground grudge that formed when a child was 6 would normally be forgotten (or a fond memory told over a drink) by the time the participants turned 18. The action is far more serious than that. There is absolutely no benefit to any of us when politicians disrespect each other in our council chambers and parliaments, as the politician is also disrespecting the thousands of people that are represented by each elected politician across the country. The LNP might believe they have better policies than their political opponents, but we’ll never know unless they stop holding grudges, playing political games and complaining when an opponents political promise is not implemented according to a manufactured LNP timetable (as the current debate around power prices demonstrates).
In short – like their conservative counterparts in the UK and USA, the LNP have little concern for the population generally; they are more interested in political games. That’s just not nasty; that’s immoral.
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