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Don't denigrate rational regional Queensland

  • 21 May 2019


In the wake of the Coalition's election victory, it has been unedifying to see the public response of partisan opposition voters seeking to explain the loss of their preferred parties. Without critical examination of the performance of their party, their comments have instead sought to blame a 'stupid' electorate for the loss. Despite a national swing to the LNP, Queenslanders in particular have been singled out for 'blame' for returning the government.

Apparently, Queensland is a state populated by 'low IQ' people: backward, uneducated, greedy, ignorant, self-serving, Deliverance characters. I have seen a lot of posts that are almost abusive in their tone, denigrating the people of Queensland using lazy stereotypes, and a lot of posts calling for #Quexit, that is, cutting Queensland loose from Australia.

Queenslanders are used to this kind of treatment. We are subjected to the imposed norms of southerners all the time. And similarly, those in central and north Queensland are imposed to the same kind of disdain from Brisbane.

I am a Queenslander. My father was a cattle producer in Central and Northern Queensland. I was born and raised in Brisbane but have lived in Cairns for 27 years. Even with my level of education and my privilege, I have experienced the dismissive tone of those from major southern metropolitan centres (including my home town of Brisbane) who know better than me and my Far North Queensland community.

In the North all of us experience the vagaries of government policy. Centralisation and regionalisation in turn. Pie-in-the-sky programs delivered in ignorance of the needs of community and the realities of life 1700km from Brisbane. Brisbane is an 18-hour drive from Cairns, if you are wondering, and it is another 1000km, 24-hour drive from Cairns to the tip of Cape York.

Although I hold strong views about the unsustainability of mining, and of coal, and I would prefer to see protection of land rights and the environment above industrial mining, I am capable of understanding and respecting the diversity of experience of others. I recognise that there are whole communities whose lives are in the balance as we seek to transition our economy from fossil fuels. My argument here is that it is not incumbent on those from outside these communities to ridicule what is clearly a rational response to their circumstances. Those who seek change must instead interrogate their own capacity for clear communication.

Apart from Cairns and some other tourist towns,