I know the US has a state that is thought of like some Australians think of Queensland. I can't think which one it is though. If you whack the sophistication meter on Queensland, progress had been made, and in the way other Australians, especially those flashy Sydneysiders and those snooty Melburnians, feel about our northern state. Queensland was becoming a not half decent place with some quite progressive policies and some decent stimulation of cultural institutions.
But once again, good works are in danger of being spoilt by politicians playing to the masses.
Let us start with Bob Katter and his homophobic electioneering. Because of, or in spite of that, he was quite successful in the recent state elections. Queensland is the only place in Australia where I have seen overt homophobia, that is the stoning of a house used for accommodation for workers at a gay resort near Cairns. Not only stoning, but continual harassment night after night. We witnessed some of the harassment.
One of the first acts of the new Premier of the state was to abolish the Premier's Literary Award to save a mere couple of hundred thousand dollars. Nicely played to anti intellectual and anti education arts mockers whose lips probably move as they read. The rest of Australia just laughs sadly at the pure symbolism.
Here is the latest. Most civilised people know that very successful cities have very good public transport systems. The people of many cities are crying out for the governments to invest in public transport, especially if it runs on rails. We want more trains, more trams and more light rail. Where such new projects have been funded and built, they usually turn out to be more successful than they were planned to be, that often bringing its own problems. I can think of the renovation and extension of Adelaide's sole tram line and the often cited Mandurah railway line in Western Australia.
But not so for the Gold Coast in Queensland. While the Gold Coast Light Rail is well on the way to being built, with the change of government, the locals are strongly agitating to have what work has already been done ripped up and the project dropped. Some cities would give their souls to get something like this built. Perhaps it is a vocal minority, you may think? Maybe, but 450 turned out to a public meeting, mostly to support the abandonment. Their main and soundest argument is that the sky will fall in.
Of course the above all relies on generalisations, which is quite unfair to those Queenslanders who are embarrassed by these sort of things. Naturally the politicians don't particularly care about the perceptions of outsiders, unless it costs them votes.