Friday 20 March 2009

The Cumulative effect of disgruntled minorities

In the final hours of the month-long Queensland State election, former Cairns Councillor, Ross Parisi reviews the effect the last three years has impacted on the race for this year's campaign. He calls this the cumulative effect of disgruntled minorities.

Seldom does it occur in a Westminster-styled parliamentary democracy, that Opposition win Government.

Generally, Governments tend to lose elections for all sorts of reasons. Reasons ranging from an 'it's time' factor viz the Whitlam Government of 1972, to 'systemic corruption' factor of the Bjelke – Petersen/Cooper Government of 1989. The overriding issue contained within each of the above two reasons, generally swamp any other periphery reason.

Here in Queensland, the Bligh Labor Government perhaps may be somewhat at the peril of an 'it's time' factor but certainly not the 'systemic corruption' factor. However, within the two factors lies what I call 'the cumulative effect of disgruntled minorities.'

On their own, each minority does not carry much weight electorally, but when added up, the minorities can have a major impact on the final outcome. The effect of these minorities sometimes is discounted and at times minimised by the Opposition, either being fractured and disunited, or just lacking credibility. These factors do not exist in this election as they certainly did during the 2006 election of the Beattie Government.

I believe the 2009 Queensland election will be determined by the cumulative effect of the various minorities. Each Parliamentary seat will have its own home grown minority factors as well as overarching State wide factors. That is why the swing against the Bligh Government will not be uniform, but will vary greatly from region to region, from seat to seat.

That is why this election will be difficult to predict and may result in a minority ALP/LNP Government, where Independents may play a role in determining which party controls the Treasury benches in George Street, Brisbane.

This political phenomenon is insidious and by definition usually creeps upon the local Member, and when the votes are counted he/she wonders why they are feathers dusters!

Local minority factors in play in the Cairns Region have been building up over the last 3 years and I believe have not been diffused satisfactorily.

There are 'sleepers' as well but the major minority issues are as follows, but not necessarily limited too:-
  • The spurious reason for calling the election in the first place
  • The Global recession and its overall effect on confidence
  • The level of State debt, when compared to the lack of infrastructure
  • The Cairns Base Hospital and general health services
  • Law and order in the Cairns CBD and surrounds
  • The mandating of fluoride
  • Forced Council amalgamations
  • Cairns Yacht Club
  • Perceived lack of forceful representation
  • Apparent arrogance in not listening to aggrieved constituents
  • Traffic congestion on local highways
  • Alleged nepotism in the seat of Mulgrave
  • The importation of bananas at the cost of local jobs

Each one of the above issues will bear a burden on the incumbent Member and conversely a benefit to the challenger. Admittedly, some of the above minority issues go beyond the boundaries of this State, nonetheless, incumbent Governments usually bear the brunt of general discontentment.

In my opinion, the local minority issues could have been better addressed and if the electors are left dissatisfied they will not be merciful.


Anonymous said...

Ross, I think you are mostly correct, but I have heard of one other issue that could be included: frustration with development and environmental laws that are complex and open to abuse.

I also think that these are not necessarily minority issues.

One thing I have come to see about protests is that very few people have the time, committment or funds to devote themselves to causes such as these.

This can create the impression of a minority, but they actually can reflect a majority view.

Anonymous said...

The banana issue is a complete farmer manipulation and lie.

They're now promoting the "locals" angle. I haven't forgotten how they thought so little of us "locals" they were happy to sell us $20kg bananas after Cyclone Larry. All the while claiming "it's market forces". Market forces working FOR the consumer however get all this bluster and hot air. The fact is most of the world pays $1-2kg for bananas.

A look around the parking area at yesterday's banana grower rally explains the real issue. I've never seen so many Mercedes and expensive SUV's parked in one location before. The farmers crying "poor" are among the highest paid "workers" in North Queensland. Not to mention the massive bonus that awaits those who sell off their land to greedy developers.

Screw the banana growers. That's what they've been doing to us for years.

Anonymous said...

I thought Ross Parisi's piece was extremely succinct as to the issues currently in the air. Please consider using him again for interesting commentary, Mike - not that you're not interesting too, of course.
Wendy R's point above about a certain percentage of the population being interested in issues but not active, is also, I believe quite cogent.
It is well-known from the advertising world, that for every one person who complains about a product, there is estimated to be 10 people who feel the same way.
I think it's fair to say electors are very similar. Australians seem to do a lot of whingeing, but not do a lot of action about their whingeing. I really think we need to encourage the general populace to get involved in speaking up - even if they can only do 10 minutes a month. Or as in the Get Up example, a small body makes it easy for people to speak up.
Otherwise, there is always the adage: "People get the governments they deserve" [because they didn't speak up].

Anonymous said...

"Sick of Banana Growers" income was obviously not affected by Cyclone Larry. I spluttered and coughed when I saw the price of bananas, so I didn't buy any. The Restaurants in Sydney & Melbourne did. These farmers lost their year's income, did you? I have yet to see a farmer work a standard 38 hour week. SOBG, SUV's and Mercedes aren't the prerogative of the Farmer. Financiers, Developer's, and the ordinary bloke are also owners of these vehicles.