Someone called “John Bulance” had a go at Queensland Premier Campbell Newman on Facebook. Within a couple of days nearly 30,000 people had “liked” the entry.
This is the sort of response which would be good for a minor celebrity, and unheard of for an anonymous state paramedic.
“I’ll take the 2.2% (wage) increase and loss of penalties if you and you’re (sic) ministers also take a reduction in pay. Please ride with us for a day to see what we really do,’’ said “John”. When The Punch looked at his site some 28,400 “like” notices were attached.
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Tony Abbott is the 13th man to lead the Liberal Party since it was founded by Sir Robert Menzies. Six of his predecessors have been prime minister. Six have not.
Abbott confided to a private meeting of Coalition MPs this week that he wakes up every morning feeling a great weight of responsibility on his shoulders. He does not want to let down the people who hope he can get rid of the Gillard Government and add his name to the list of Liberal winners.
While Abbott knows opinion polls show he would have won any election held in the past 18 months in a landslide, he has not fallen into the trap of believing he is a shoo-in when polling day actually arrives. Having failed in his desperate quest to force an early poll, there’s probably still another year until the moment of truth.
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Ahhhh Queensland. You’re so sunny and warm and mysterious.
In what other state would the Premier respond to claims of racism in his own ranks by telling the woman on the receiving end of a “Jihad” taunt to “harden up”? And where else would the same Premier compare cutting the rates of doctors and nurses to reforms in the “garbo” sector 40 years ago?
Campbell Newman might have been born in Canberra, but he may as well be from another planet from Federal Parliament, where even the slightest hint of sexism or racism sees the full force of modern politeness (or political correctness, depending on which side you’re on) rain down on the perpetrator’s head.
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When you take on a job like being Environment Minister there’s some hits you can see coming. You expect you’ll get a whack when you protect an endangered plant which if people saw in their garden, they’d presume was a weed. You know there’ll be some red hot political point scoring if jobs are meant to be put at risk to make way for the interests of some thrice mutated rare frog.
But what I never expected was to have the Queensland Liberal National Party go after me for wanting to look after koalas and the Great Barrier Reef.
Queensland Premier Campbell Newman had turned up to his first COAG meeting with the other Premiers and the Prime Minister saying he’d be willing to help speed up processing times for business by enforcing the national environmental standards when he gives state approvals. But only a fortnight later he flicked the switch from wanting to enforce those standards to wanting to tear them down.
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Blinky Bill, Caramello and Sam the Thirsty Koala would be well satisfied this week.
Thanks largely to The Greens, koalas will be better protected in three states. Their status is now officially “threatened”, which is one rung below endangered on the uh-oh ladder, but several rungs above “fend for yourself, buddy”.
The Greens don’t get an enormous amount of love on this website. That’s mostly because the writers and commenters who set the tone of our dialogue largely believe that The Greens should stick to saving bits of the environment we can actually see and touch and interact with.
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The late Josie Hankin was by all accounts a much-loved lady who led a full and happy life. Sadly she is now at peas. That’s what the card on one her wreaths said. Not just “peas” but “Rast in peas”.
The florist in question, Bunch After Bunch in the Melbourne suburb of Ormond, was unmoved by the complaints from Ms Hankin’s grieving niece, whose transcribed bereavement message came with the added insult of referring to “Anty” Josie.
The owner, who gave his name only as Arthur, said he employed several people for whom English was a second language. Regardless, he said it was the job of his staff job to sell flowers, not spell properly. “We supply flowers - good flowers,” Arthur said. “We are not card writers.”
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When historians write about the National Year of Reading 2012, they will remember a time when the nation embraced the beauty of the book, spread the word about the benefits of reading, encouraged the pastime among children… Oh, and binned the Queensland Premier’s Literary Awards.
Campbell Newman is fast turning me into Jerry Seinfeld. And if this act of aggression towards the arts is an indication of the LNP’s stance on the importance of culture in Queensland (now the only state in Australia without a state-sponsored literary prize) then his tenure as Premier will be characterised by the same catchphrase as Seinfeld, by me at least.
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Here’s some advice for interest groups who want to influence a conservative government with such a stonking majority - pack away the hemp shirts, love beads and sandals and deal with them like professionals.
No protests, petitions or snippy social media campaigns. Publicly congratulate their win. They don’t need to listen, so you need them to want to listen. For every one Labor MP in Queensland now there will be 10 opposite numbers. How do less that 10 people, however talented, even stay abreast of government business, let alone the controversial stuff?
The LNP’s superior and unequalled bargaining position should give pause for thought for any interest group that wishes to influence or change the government’s position. How do activists get the attention of a government or opposition (who now just sleep at the office reading briefing papers)? By being strategic.
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Jessica Rudd, daughter of Kevin, gets the award for clever political gallows humour: “I’ve never voted for a minor party before,” she tweeted.
Few other Labor figures were inclined to quips as the Queensland party grimly surveyed the devastation to its ranks, and the emergence of the most powerful conservative leader in the nation.
The Queensland ALP was out-campaigned, chewed up and spat out by a rampant Liberal National Party at the weekend.
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Queensland’s ground-breaking election at the weekend did one thing above all else. Voters had an overriding message about the nasty, relentless campaign from Labor during the past nine weeks.
They said they hated what they saw and heard. The smash-up election result was always coming but its size was in doubt.
Let’s look at the empirical evidence. Crosby Textor, the best polling organisation working in real politics, did a serious exit poll on Saturday and found a big result - the top issue that affected voters was the nature of this campaign.
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The smash-up arrived. A hyper-powered LNP vote - not just above 50 per cent but half way to 60 per cent - drove into Brisbane and parked on the footpaths, the lawns and the median strips.
The LNP has secured the greatest majority in Australian electoral history.
The territory from Ashgrove and Mount Coot-tha to Everton and Stafford over to Brisbane Central and Greenslopes was painted blue.
The Premier’s seat of South Brisbane went down to the wire. This morning Anna Bligh has no finger nails and will just hang on. Nearby Bulimba has a blue glow that may grow.
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“When the tide goes out in Queensland,” a senior Labor figure said yesterday, “it goes out more quickly and more deeply than anywhere else.”
It’s true. Think the 1974 state election when Labor was reduced to 11 MPs - a cricket team. Think 2001 when Peter Beattie destroyed the conservatives and won 66 seats in the 89 member state parliament.
Or think the 1975 federal election, when an anti-Labor tide affected the whole country but in Queensland left the party with just one seat and less than 40 per cent of the vote after preferences.
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Someone deep inside the Labor bunker provided an exquisite campaign truth this week. Discussing the increasingly desperate Labor tactics - distilled to something along the lines of “if you touch that button your children will die” - this pie-eyed strategist had one point to make.
“Mate,” he said, echoing generations of Labor persuaders, “can you imagine where we would be if we had been discussing Queensland Health for the last four weeks?”
While I’ve cleaned that quote up, discarding the Tourette syndrome tendencies that everyone close to this madness can’t avoid this week, it has an essential truth. Some people reckon Labor has trashed itself with its last-roll-of-the-dice campaign.
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At the South by South-West music conference in Austin, Texas, last Thursday, Bruce Springsteen let a brilliant cat out of the bag. He junked the supposed key to modern politics: authenticity. In a 50-minute address, Springsteen said it’s not real.
“There is no right way, no pure way of doing it,” said the Boss to a packed auditorium. “There’s just doing it. We live in a post-authentic world. Today authenticity is a house of mirrors. It’s all just what you’re bringing when the lights go down. It’s your teachers, your influences, your personal history.
“At the end of the day it’s the power and purpose of your music. It still matters.” Anyone who watches modern politics will recognise the profound truth in what Springsteen says.
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How far do you commute to work? One hour? Twenty minutes? Do you work from home? Where’s head office? Do you think a person who has to drive 15 minutes to their workplace is unqualified to do the job?
In politics, like no other job, being born and raised in the one area is some sort of political necessity. It’s a ridiculous thought because if we all thought like that, we’d be doing piecemeal work from home on looms.
This week, Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd called Campbell Newman an ‘alien’ because Newman doesn’t live within the electoral boundary of Ashgrove. Newman lives one suburb away from the seat of Ashgrove. Does this mean he is unqualified to represent the people of Ashgrove?
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We’re off to the polls on 24 March. If you’re confused about what’s happening in Queensland with our State election, I’d like to help confuse you more.
The biggest complicating factor for the Queensland General Election, which is due before the end of March was the local government elections were due on 31 March. That left Premier Bligh with either dates of 18 or 24 February, or get mixed up in Easter or wait until May and by then she wouldn’t have a mandate.
The Electoral Commission Queensland has asked repeatedly for a six-week buffer between the two general elections. To her credit, Premier Bligh has respected that and shunted the local government elections to April or May and scheduled the General Election for 24 March.
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As Campbell Newman yesterday outlined one of the more goofy political strategies Australia has seen, there was one stark impression: The bloke himself didn’t come across as goofy.
Newman, the Lord Mayor of Brisbane, was explaining to reporters how he planned to be the Liberal National Party (LNP) State Opposition Leader without having to actually be in the Queensland Parliament.
In about a year’s time he would run for a seat Labor has held for 22 years, and in the meantime a surrogate elected last night would be the official Opposition Leader. But actually, the Opposition Leader would be Campbell Newman.
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The Liberal-National Party in Queensland is planning something so ballsy that it leaves Tony Abbott’s Speedos - and his perceived political mileage of wearing them - looking a little empty.
Queensland’s Conservatives are in meltdown today as Campbell ``Messiah’’ Newman announced he would resign from his post as Brisbane Lord Mayor and run for a state seat in the next election.
Newman will run a US Presidential-like campaign by standing as the Leader of the LNP after he is pre-selected (already a done deal), despite not being elected to Parliament.
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