The Senate count for Queensland was formally declared today. The actual distribution of final preferences occurred yesterday; today was the formal announcement by the Electoral Commission, which also provides opportunities for candidates to speak. There are a few aspects of the count and result which I will write about in a separate post.
All six successful Senate candidates from Labor and the Coalition attended the formal Declaration of the Poll, and all of them spoke. The only other candidate who spoke, other than me, was a person from the Citizens Electoral Council.
All the six Senators were kind enough to acknowledge the work I’d done in the past and they also all naturally thanked their party and supporters. I found some of the comments made by the Senators of interest, particularly a few made Ian MacDonald, the long-serving Liberal Senator who topped the poll and thus was first elected.
He noted this was the first joint Liberal-National Senate ticket for a long time, and that there would definitely would not be one next election. The simple fact that 3 Liberal Senators – George Brandis, Brett Mason and Russell Trood – will all be re-contesting next time means there will be no space at number 3 on the ticket for a National candidate. The extra (unspoken) fact that this National candidate will be Barnaby Joyce, who is definitely not a cosy coalitionist, also means there is simply no way a joint Liberal-National Senate ticket will happen next time.
Ian MacDonald also explicitly noted that the Liberals will be able to have a shot at previously National-held seats like Dawson and other seats like Flynn at the next election, and repeated his view that there should be a single conservative party.
He also made the comment that the Liberals “need to avoid forever the arrogance that crept into the government in its last term”, which I thought was an interesting admission.
Liberal #2 Sue Boyce pointed out that she and Margaret May, the member for McPherson, were now the only two women representing the Liberals from Queensland. She also emphasised her intent to continue to campaign on issues affecting people with disabilities.
According to Ron Boswell, this was the seventh time he’d successfully faced election – the first was in 1983 – which is a fairly impressive record. He also noted that when the new Senate takes its place on July 1st next year, he will become what’s known as the Father of the Senate – the person who is the longest-serving. The current holder of that title is John Watson, the Liberal from Tasmania, who was unsuccessful in his attempt to gain party pre-selection this time.
Ron Boswell also made the point that he thought the joint ticket helped ensure the Coalition retain 3 seats – although I’d have to say I can’t see why that would be the case – and also said he was pleased a Green had not been elected and he preferred Labor winning a Senate seat to a Green winning it. I have no doubt he was genuine in saying this, but I did have to make the point that his party’s Senate preferences actually didn’t reflect that, as they put the Greens ahead of Labor and indeed Ron Boswell’s surplus went directly to the Greens and kept then in with a chance of winning.
Ron also said this would definitely be his final term. Personally, I’d be surprised if he served out the full six years of the term, but that’s a matter for him and his party down the track.
The main point from the Labor Senators’ contributions which I found noteworthy was Claire Moore’s comments about her pride in being a trade unionist and the immensely significant impact the campaigns run by the union movement had on the final election outcome. I assume this comment was also a response to the widespread attack on the whole concept of trade unions and union officials that formed such a key part of the Coalition’s election message.
As for myself, I noted again that it signalled the end of a period of Democrat representation in the Senate from Queensland which started with the election of Michael Macklin in 1980, as well as marking the disappearance of any representation for Queensland outside the major parties. Despite the other’s nice comments about my own work, I think it was more a time to recognise the work of the many Democrat members and supporters, as well as past Senators Michael Macklin and Cheryl Kernot who previously held my seat, who achieved many positive things in their role representing Queensland in the Senate.
I think it is a problem that there will be nobody from outside the major parties to raise the issues and perspectives that the major parties can’t or won’t raise. However, I accept that vast majority of Queenslanders voted otherwise, and at the end of the day that’s what elections are about. The first 5 Queensland Senate seats all went to the major party incumbents. The only incumbent who lost was me, and that seat went to the Labor Party, as I had long suggested it might. So a special congratulations to Mark Furner, the number 3 person on Labor’s ticket, who has taken a hold of that seat from the Democrats. I hope he is able to make use of it effectively and wisely.