Why this Qld election will be one like no other

The official Queensland election campaign might still be a week away, but already the major parties have begun making major promises critical to their electoral success.

On Sunday, Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington unveiled a $33 billion, 15-year plan to upgrade the entire length of the Bruce Highway into a modern four-lane road.

Few issues are more totemic to the disenfranchisement that regional Queenslanders feel than the condition of the Bruce Highway and Ms Frecklington urgently needs to appeal to voters along the route.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk followed this up with an announcement that from July 1 this year the State Government had begun the process of hiring an additional 2025 police officers over five years.

The $645 million investment, which was strongly backed by the police union, comes as crime shapes as a major election issue in regional cities, particularly Townsville and Cairns.

In years gone past, announcing such major policies a week before the campaign had begun would have been considered a strategic blunder as voters would not be tuned in to day-to-day politics.

However, the rapidly increasing appeal of voting before the official polling day - who wants to waste valuable weekend time if they don't have to - has meant that the political parties are having to get their policies out early or risk missing a chance to influence these people.

With the 2020 Queensland election on October 31 coming amid the ongoing COVID-19 global pandemic, the attraction of voting early and avoiding queues is expected to be massive.

Electoral commissioner Pat Vidgen has estimated his office will receive up to 600,000 postal vote applications before election day, which is about 20 per cent of all registered voters.

A staggering half of voters are expected to cast their ballots at one of the many pre-poll stations being set up across the state by the Electoral Commission of Queensland.



That means less than one in three Queenslanders will actually vote on polling day, which has radically altered how the major political parties are approaching this campaign and probably every campaign to come after it.

While some purists would be aghast at this phenomenon, it should be beneficial for our democracy.

By forcing the political parties to get some of their major policies out early, Queenslanders will have more time to weigh up their options if that's what they require.

It will mean there's more time for Labor and the LNP to debate their respective positions as well as more chances for those telling campaign stumbles and stuff-ups.

While it might sound clichéd, the 2020 Queensland election is one of the most important in this state's history.

The winner will have a four-year term in office - a first for the state - and face the gargantuan task of rebuilding Queensland's economy and creating jobs.

Voters deserve to know before polling day what the plan will be to address this issue, rather than be hoodwinked like they were by Labor at the 2009 election during the global financial crisis.

Given the huge numbers of postal vote applications, clearly many voters feel they don't need to know any more information and have made up their minds.

But it's healthy nonetheless that the major parties are getting their big announcements out early in an attempt to influence people.

Any change that makes politicians try harder and ensures elections are true battles of ideas can't be bad.



Dreamworld operator Ardent Leisure fined $3.6 million over 2016 tragedy: Dreamworld's parent company has been fined nearly $4 million over the 2016 Thunder River Rapids Ride tragedy.



Moving on from tragedy


For the families and friends of Cindy Low, Kate Goodchild, Luke Dorsett and Roozi Araghi, the pain of the 2016 Dreamworld tragedy will never end.

That much was clear from the victim impact statements delivered at Southport Magistrates Court yesterday.

For the rest of us, however, the $3.6 million fine delivered to Dreamworld's owner, Ardent Leisure, yesterday should serve as closure.

Just as airline accidents, properly investigated, can make the whole industry safer, this disaster was a wake-up call to the entire theme park industry.

And as we recover from the COVID recession, all theme parks need the support of Queenslanders more than ever.








Originally published as Why this Qld election will be one like no other