Magazine of the Socialist Party, Australian section of the CWI

Queensland election: Voters reject major parties

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The mounting frustration that people feel towards the major parties was on full display at the November 25 Queensland state election. Decades of pro-big business policies coupled with a slump in living standards has driven a rejection of the political establishment.

People are rightly blaming the Liberal-Labor duopoly for the developing economic and social crisis, and they used this election to punish both of the major parties. The majority of people are fed up with budget cuts and job losses while the rich receive generous handouts.

While Labor scraped through and won a slim majority with 48 seats, their overall vote was down 2.1% from 2015. They may have won the election, but it can hardly be registered as a solid victory.

Labor’s dilemma is that while they unashamedly implement policies that benefit big business they rely heavily on the votes of workers and young people. This charade can not last forever. Their diminishing base of support will likely cause them many headaches over the next term. The new Labor government is likely to be weak and crisis ridden.

Disillusionment in Labor is part of the reason why so many people shifted their support to independents and minor parties. This is a trend we have seen in many recent state and federal elections.

Despite their racist policies, right-wing populist parties such as Pauline Hanson’s One Nation are seen by many to be political outsiders, capable of shaking up the establishment.

But in reality, Hanson’s policies are pro-capitalist just like the Liberals and Labor. She cannot provide answers to working people’s questions and instead she diverts people’s attention away from the causes of their problems with racist scapegoating.

While One Nation only picked up one seat, they did make significant gains. They received almost 14% of the vote state-wide and, in some areas, they polled as high as 35%.

One Nation are still reeling from the Malcolm Roberts saga, and they are riddled with internal divisions, but in the absence of a genuine left-wing alternative they still pose a threat, particularly in regional areas that are the most effected by high unemployment rates.

The Liberal National Party were the biggest losers in this election. They suffered a humiliating 7.6% swing against them and this result will exacerbate the divisions already fermenting within the party nationally.

The Greens won their first state seat in Queensland, focusing most of their efforts on inner city middle class areas. The Greens claim that this is another sign that they are becoming a contender in national politics but the truth is that their overall vote only increased very marginally.

There is huge discontent with the major parties but the Greens have not been unable to take advantage of it. This is because many people see them as just another part of the political establishment with policies that are far from radical.

This election showed that people are fed up with the status quo and are searching for a different kind of politics. Voters have rejected the major parties and there is little enthusiasm for anyone seen to be a part of the establishment.

Unfortunately for workers, students and small farmers in Queensland, as yet, there is no political party that genuinely represents their interests. At the moment populist parties like One Nation are filling the vacuum.

We desperately need a left-wing alternative to the major parties and to the fake anti-establishment forces like One Nation. We need a party that will put ordinary people’s issues to the fore. This means opposing racism and xenophobia and building unity among all those who have been left behind by the profit driven system.

Immense amounts of wealth exist in Queensland we need to fight for it to be used to provide jobs, homes and services to the majority.

By Meredith Jacka

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