A progressive Senator in Northern Queensland?

When I nominated for the pre-selection ballot amongst party members for the Greens Senate ticket in Queensland in mid-2015, it was specifically only for the number 2 spot, as I wanted to be clear I was not seeking to challenge Larissa Waters who has done an excellent job since being elected as the first Greens Senator for Queensland at the 2010 election.

The number 2 spot on the Greens Senate ticket is only a winnable spot in the event of a double dissolution election, which at the time few people thought was likely – a reasonable view, since there hadn’t been one since 1987. None the less, since then, Prime Ministers have usually had a trigger to call a double dissolution due to legislation being blocked by the Senate, but have chosen not to use it, so there is usually a possibility of one happening so it is best to be prepared.

As part of contesting that pre-selection I indicated that a double dissolution did provide a real chance of the Greens winning two Senate seats in Queensland, and if it did pan out that I was elected after Larissa Waters as the second Greens Senator for Queensland I would base myself in the northern part of the state. I am not sure how many people noticed that at the time – although I know some did – but now that the double dissolution has become a reality and I have been visiting northern parts of the state as part of the campaign, the prospect of having a Greens Senator based there has certainly been very well received by everyone I have mentioned it to.

Having previously spent over 10 years as a Senator for Queensland – most of the time as one of just two Democrat Senators trying to cover the whole state – I had visited very many parts of northern Queensland literally hundreds of times, and knew how beneficial it would be to have a Greens Senator, and Senate office, based in the region.  It is an area with some quite extraordinary environmental and cultural assets, and dynamic and diverse communities.

At the time I made that commitment to move north in the event that the Greens won two seats in a double dissolution, I didn’t realise that Jan McLucas, the only Labor Senator based outside of south-east Queensland, would be retiring at the next election – and was somewhat surprised that Labor didn’t pre-select anyone from outside south-east Queensland to a winnable position, as they have had a northern Queensland based Senator since at least the 1980s with Margaret Reynolds (possibly earlier than that, but my memory/knowledge doesn’t stretch any earlier).

That makes this opportunity all the more important to have a northern based Senator who will be an advocate for protecting rather than trashing the environment, for equality, non-discrimination and compassion, and for an economic future involving diverse, 21st century sustainable options which deliver for the broader community, rather than dated destructive options which deliver short-term wealth for a smaller group of people.

It will all be up to the voters of Queensland whether or not this comes about of course. Election day is not much more than three weeks away, and the first votes will be cast when pre-polls open on Tuesday 14th June.

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