When the damage was done, Bligh finally took the blame for this record loss with an ear-to-ear grin. Little did many of the party faithful know she had already planned her exit from State politics without even bothering to serve any of her new term out.
Is this the same sort of cut and run that Labor tried to tag and punish Newman with after leaving the Brisbane mayoralty?
At a local level in Cairns, the hypocrisy continued. Councilor Kirsten Lesina was “pre-selected” and was personally backed by Premier Bligh, despite having to leave her inaugural council term prematurely to campaign for the State. Sound familiar?
Lesina fitted the mold for Labor; compliant, smiling, obedient, and prepared to join any faction that would give her the seat. Such was the deal; she didn’t even bother to face the party leaders for the “Super Thursday” electoral college speech.
The other Labor opponent up for selection for the seat of Cairns, Railway Union Delegate Richie Bates, made the trip to Brisbane in a borrowed suit to give his address. Bligh chuckled at the one-liner Bates used as an opening and then promptly gave her vote to the absent Lesina, despite Bligh being in the same faction as Bates.
Although Bates won the local ballot back in Cairns, this deed from the Premier was enough to give the young career politician Lesina the nod.
Bates, a candidate for Cairns Regional council in 2008, and again this year, had thrown his hat in the State ring to make sure the party faithful had a choice. It was a noble but naïve act as the die was already cast. A vocal opponent of the Labor governments unpopular asset sales, Bates along with the ETU firebrand Stuart Trail had put principle and party policy first and criticized Bligh’s program of selling off Queensland’s highly profitable coal freight business.
However the party machine saw fit to condemn Bates at every opportunity. The following email was typical of the hypocritical propaganda thrown at Labor members during the Cairns plebiscite campaign:
- From: KeepCairns Labor
- To: Sent: Tuesday, May 17, 2011 12:53 PM
- Subject: Richie Bates Candidate
- Richie Bates means the whole campaign will be focused on the past.- that will damage Labor in Cairns
While his recent move to the former Kevin Byrne-run Unity team for Cairns Council elections might come as shock to many, Bates claims his traditional Labor and union principles are as strong as ever.
Clearly, it’s a risky move for Unity's leader Bob Manning to take on the dogmatic Bates, but with Val Schier unable to gain any support to form a team, perhaps this is the moment where unlikely partnerships will prosper and prevail.
And now with former Labor members and candidates running a mile from the Labor "brand", the irony is Bates is still one of the few with his heart on his sleeve.