Another election appears

I had a momentary flashback as I went down to my local shops to get the papers this morning. There on the footpath were people with some election campaigning posters, including a Liberal Party one with the word HOWARD across the top in big letters. After spending all of last year hanging out for the federal election to be done with, the sight caused an instinctive churning of horror in my guts  for a second or two, until I remembered about the Brisbane City Council elections coming up in March.

The Liberal Party candidate for my ward of Central is a woman named Vicki Howard (my apologies if I got the first name wrong – I can’t find any details on the Liberal’s website and I was too distracted by her last name), although not surprisingly most of the Liberal’s campaigning material will focus on their Lord Mayor, Campbell Newman. This will be doubly so in Central, which is one of the safer Labor wards, which I’ve just been moved into following a redistribution.

Labor’s incumbent candidate, David Hinchliffe, also had his signs out this morning. Interestingly, his signs just have a huge photo and the word Hinchliffe across the top. No mention of the Labor Party and not even a mention of the ward of Central. The material I got from his campaign worker for Labor’s Mayoral candidate Greg Rowell also contained no mention of Labor, apart from the small authorisation at the bottom. Even the colours were blue and yellow and green – not a sign of the traditional Labor red. By contrast, the Liberal’s signs show their standard party logo. (I should note for the benefit of out of town readers that Brisbane City Council’s official colours are yellow and blue.) I’ve also had two separate fliers from Cr Hinchliffe in my mailbox this week, so I presume the major parties have decided it’s far enough out of the holiday season to start putting politics in peoples’ faces again.

Brisbane has the unusual scenario (unusual for Australia anyway) of having been run basically as a sort of grand coalition between Labor and Liberal for the last three years, with a Liberal Mayor alongside a Labor majority. As I understand it, it hasn’t been a formal Coalition, more of a power sharing arrangement, which even has the oddity of a Liberal councillor formally being leader of the Opposition, even though there is a Liberal mayor and also a couple of Liberals in the Civic Cabinet. But it does create a difficulty come election time, as it is hard to distinguish which party has actually been responsible for the things I don’t like (or the ones I do for that matter).

Water is shaping up to be the big issue at the Council poll. In my view, the Council has a mixed record in this area in the last few years, but even there it’s been hard for me to tell which party has actually been responsible for the things I do and don’t agree with.

I’ve whinged before about the Council’s obsession with building a pile of tunnels and bridges (collectively called TransApex); a very expensive way of guaranteeing an increase in car traffic, while continuing to do far less than could be done on public transport. However, while this has been most enthusiastically pushed by the Liberal Lord Mayor, it has only gone ahead because it was also supported by the Labor Councillors. In addition, the state Labor government has been pushing the tunnels as keenly as anyone.

See this post from last year for more on the tunnel, road and car obsessions of both local and state government, even while they all cloak themselves in nice rhetoric about reducing greenhouse emissions – including the quote from now Deputy Premier Paul Lucas, celebrating a 58% increase in road funding, that “we can’t get much more car friendly than this”.

Of course, we say the same at the recent federal election, with Labor and Liberal falling over each other to promise the most in road funding, while barely mentioning the words “public transport”, let alone rail. Quite how this fits with all the talk of targets to reduce greenhouse emissions escapes me.

Of course, in one sense one can’t blame the major parties for this. No doubt they are just reflecting what the majority of the electorate wants – some comfort that something is being done about climate change, without actually causing any individual inconvenience. Governments have always pushed the myth that more and more roads are the solution to traffic problems, and I don’t see any sign of an end to this endless tail chasing.

Having said all that, I quite like David Hinchliffe, who has been in Council now for many years. He seems to have a good sense that supporting a local community is about more than just delivering services. He’s done a lot for the cultural vitality of the inner city area, strongly assisting and promoting the arts – although I wish he (and the Council) would do more to help preserve and promote the history of the area, which is still blithely ignored and bulldozed and paved over with unnecessary frequency.

He also seems to me to have made more effort than most to try to enable the retention and creation of affordable housing in the area, which apart from the basic justice issues involved, also helps maintain diversity and character within the local community.

The tunnels (and the bridge) still suck though.

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  1. The other interesting thing about Campbell Newman is that following the recent federal election, there is a strong argument to be made that he is the most senior elected Liberal in the country (in terms of actually being in goevrnment).

    Don’t like him or his tunnel though.

  2. Hinchliffe’s got a heap of developer mates, and in my view his only interest in housing is providing opportunities for his donors to make a bit of extra money. He’s also responsible for the bulldozing of one of Brisbane’s oldest neighbourhoods to make way for the Hale St end of the Inner City Bypass.

    Hinchliffe’s capitulation on TransApex (among other things) has led the ALP majority to rubber stamp just about everything Newman puts forward for fear of looking like an obstructionist opposition.

    There are only a handful of people in Council I think do a good job; Hinchliffe certainly isn’t one.

  3. Andrew don’t forget the candidates that we are running in council.Myself in Bracken Ridge and James Gardner in Holland Park. Also I fairly sure councils don’t have offical oppositions. Once a decision is made by council all council members must publicly support it. Its similar to a board of directors.

  4. Justin, I’m glad to see the Democrats contesting the council elections. I think that even if the federal party has died you still have a role to play at the local government level as there are many bastards (such as Newman, Quirk, Hinchliffe, etc.) to keep honest.

    I hope the Democrats can reinvigorate their electoral fortunes by building a local support base at the council level.

    Also, Senator, the Hale St Bridge is currently on ice due to the state government’s displeasure with the BCC’s “plan” for “managing” traffic during construction.

  5. Thank you Sam, please feel free to tell anyone you know living in the Bracken Ridge ward to vote for me. (-: Also James Gardner is contesting Wishart not Holland Park as I said earlier.

  6. Why don’t the dems run someone in the new Ward of Wishart? The greens vote is traditionally low in that neck of the woods and as a liberal stronghold the dems could be more sucessfull in picking up votes. The Labor Candidate was the late Cr Robbie Williams but rumour has it that his wife Trish, who is a Torres Strait Islander will be running in his place. The Dems could preference her and recieve brownie point for this while developing a new ground for electioneering.

  7. Justin

    I believe a female teacher will be the candidate for the Greens for Bracken Ridge.

    I don’t know her name unfortunately, but she seems a fairly astute individual.

  8. About the Brownie point thing. As valid as your point is, all political parties including the Democrats really need to run to win. I’m running to win. I have definite ideas about what I want to do if I get in and I want people to take me seriously in my own right.

  9. G’day Justin,
    While it is admirable that you are in it to win it, you must also recognise that politics is a world of the possible. Maybe the Dems could re-emerge as a party in local government but it will take quite a few years for them to recreate a credible platform. Don’t blame me, blame your senators

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