THE PEOPLE HAVE TAKEN to the streets. Thousands of unhappy Queenslanders.

Protesting the Newman CLP Government cuts to the public service workforce.

(With surprisingly little mention of the reduction of the actual public services).

It’s like the late 60’s – early 70’s … and the mid 80’s … perhaps we’re having a ‘retro cool’ rally revival?

Except of course, Queensland does not have what could be described as retro cool street protest laws. In fact, on 22 October 1977, 418 right-to-march demonstrators were arrested. That’s right, right-to-march demonstrators … demonstrating for the Right To March. Frightening isn’t it!

So how do you demand your rights?

Try harnessing the power of the ballot box – that might work.

OK Queensland, it’s time to ‘fess up’.

An Observation that triggered my suspicion:

IN POST-2012-STATE-ELECTION-QUEENSLAND, the masses have been taking to the streets. It’s not illegal to march in Queensland any more. Aren’t we civilised! These people were marching to protest the Newman CLP Government cuts to the public service workforce. Reports have varied from 5000 – 14000 protesters treading the path (depending on which media outlet – if any – you choose to believe). The Queensland Police reckoned the protest to number between 8000 and 10000 participants. Sounds possible. Possibly even credible.

Now it has occurred to me that these numbers don’t add up. If I go on the estimate provided by the Queensland Police (despite their history of overestimation and over-reaction during QLD Street Marches), I have to say I am somewhat shocked. In fact, if I may borrow an economic term – this sounds like a ‘Black Hole’.

No, not your common garden variety Budget Black Hole. And undoubtedly not the sort of Black Hole NASA gets excited about … ‘a place in space where gravity pulls so much that even light can not get out’. Not even close. I’m referring to a Voter Black Hole – a land based curiosity, suspected to be currently active in Queensland.

As is the case with most scientific discoveries, it was an observation that didn’t quite fit the accepted notion that caught my attention. A subliminal tip-off. The heady whiff of something irreconcilable. Just the sort of thing to stimulate my interest.

So what about the Black Hole?

Well, if my math has not completely failed me (yet again), there is an imbalance between the number of people protesting the Newman CLP cuts, and the number of votes cast for the QLD ALP in the recent election. Considering the absolute spanking of the QLD ALP at the 2012 state election, there cannot have been more than 903 people who actually voted for the ALP state-wide … in which case my question is: How can there be 8000 – 10000 protesters?

IF YOU VOTED FOR THE NEWMAN CLP, do you have the right to march in protest? We had our say. There was a state election … don’t you remember? We had debates, policy announcements, blame-games and promises. There were visions of the future … guarantees … directions … assurances … slogans – does ‘can do‘ ring any bells? … all the usual fanfare. Were we not listening? Asleep at the wheel? M.I.A.? It is too late. We had our vote, and along with just about every Queenslander we overwhelmingly determined to ditch the ALP and go with the CLP. That’s democracy. We made our ‘informed choice’ … now it’s time to suck it up princess.

Perhaps we should change the auto number plates from ‘Sunshine State’ and ‘Smart State’ to something more appropriate. How about ‘State of Denial’ or ‘State of Hypocrisy’. At least that would be keeping it real.

I find it offensively dis-ingenious that the very people who voted for the Newman CLP now march in protest, when it was obvious how this was all going to pan out. I have discussed the betrayal of rural and regional Australia in another essay (see: A National Party) – I wont repeat my rant other than to mention that ‘we the people of regional and rural QLD get the government we deserve because WE’RE DUMB’. But what excuse do the sophisticated suburban souls of South East Queensland offer for casting uninformed votes? How is this fallout so surprising to our city cousins?

OK – everybody can relax. I have a solution. I can fix the political disruption and chaos (as opposed to the chaos and disruption of what was once the public transport system of SEQ).

My proposal is that we move to a transparent and accountable electoral system. Yep, forget secret ballot – make every voter wear their colours for the term of the government. Then everybody will have to take responsibility for their actions.

No more pretending you voted for the ALP when you actually voted for Campbell’s CLP and inadvertently gave yourself the sack (or as they say in polite society, made yourself redundant).

No more feigning that you didn’t know what was coming.

No more dodging blame for a choice you made.

No more excuses for not being an informed voter.

This is a democracy and if you cannot be bothered ensuring that you make an informed decision, then as the cliché goes: ‘in a democracy, you get the government you deserve‘. (For the record, despite the fact that this quote is regularly attributed to the third President and a founding father of the US Constitution, Thomas Jefferson, it appears pretty much word for word in William Shakespeare’s ‘Julius Caesar’. I’m crediting this cliché to Shakespeare).

THROUGH TRANSPARENCY AND ACCOUNTABILITY, I propose that each and every one of us should come to accept responsibility for our part in the outcome of any election. And so we should. Hiding behind ignorance, laziness, apathy, stupidity, indifference … whatever excuse … is lame and is no longer acceptable. There is a wealth of information available. Opinions both varied and alternative. Arguments supporting various agenda. Pros and cons for every proposed position. Turn OFF the TV and read a bit. Become informed – not numbed and dumbed. You are better than that! Your vote is worth more than that.

And don’t go on complaining about being disenfranchised by the very government you elected. It’s pathetic Queensland! You got what you wanted, now get on with it. And if you don’t like what you chose, you get another crack in just under 4 years from now. Don’t be in denial – it’s not helpful. Become informed – make your vote count. You ‘Can Do’ it.


Post Script:

Canadian minimalist painter Barnett Newman, who despite the surname and the yearning to reduce everything to minimal and square, is no relation to the newly installed QLD Premier Campbell Newman.

Another minimalist, writer Charles Bukowski had this to say (although not specifically directed at contemporary politicians, it could easily apply), ‘Humanity, you never had it to begin with‘.

Arguments to the contrary are always welcome.

QLD CLP Treasurer Tim Nicholls has confirmed $500 million in public sector work would be shifted to the private sector … which sounds suspiciously like elaborate money laundering from government funds (OUR TAXES) to the private enterprise big business buddies of the government of the day. Watch this space for my take on the extent to which all governments are puppets of big business interests. It’s a pandemic endemic epidemic (go on, look it up – it does make sense).

Whenever I wrote ‘Newman CLP Government cuts …’ my Grammar Checker and Spell Checker had another, far less savoury suggestion … serves me right for choosing the:

English – Australian – Queensland – Dictionary!

We have recently been introduced to the term ‘Backbenchers with Backbone’.

Is that really anything other than ‘Politicians Promoting Populist Pledges’?

All sounds pretty much that same to me …

Referring to the thousands of people who rallied outside Parliament, many of them having just lost their job, Premier Campbell Newman said: ‘I feel for those people, I am sorry for those people.’

However, Mr Newman said there is a certain irony in Labor MPs joining the protest rally, arguing the the QLD ALP is responsible for the current decisions to restore the budget.

That’s not true – the voters of Queensland that made the decision. And the irony has nothing to do with the ALP Campbell … the irony is that many of those people were marching in protest at a decision for which they are responsible … to sack themselves … brilliant!

Barnett Newman (our Canadian minimalist – no relation to Campbell Newman) eventually destroyed all his works … and Charles Bukowski’s epitaph reads: ‘Don’t Try’ …

A portent perhaps?

If it turns out unfavourably, we will have only ourselves to blame.