Saturday, April 14, 2012

Playing to the Audience

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.


  1. They're winding the clock back another 20 years. I lived there once, for 6 months. That was enough.

  2. Funny how the governments are so afraid of losing a vote or two, that they give in to the few who probably wouldn't use the rail lines and forget about the millions of voters who are more than happy to hop on a tram.

  3. Well, I am one of the embarrassed Queenslanders, but I'm happy living here. The weather is better than any other state. For years it was laid back and casual but that is changing. Do you know why? It is because we have thousands of southerners moving here, at one stage there were 1500 a week arriving. So it can't be all that bad. We have a chuckle at the Victorian number plates that say "Vic. The place to be" and so we wonder why they are all up here.

  4. Fen, for brief holidays I have found it slightly alien, but then so is Sydney. Adelaide did not feel alien at all.

    River, maybe their anti light rail stance is perhaps as much a protest against the former government and what they did.

    Diane, you being my only Qld reader that I know of, were in my mind as I wrote the post. I did restrain myself a little. The number plate thing is rather ironic. But then number plate slogans tend to be. Your weather is not weather I like though, but where you took the photos of the deciduous trees might be.

  5. I didn't realise that the new Premier of Queensland abolished the Premier's Literary Award (to save money). What a gauche, anti-intellectual decision to take :(

  6. I suppose my own state is rather comparable to Queensland. Oh actually, Queensland might be considered progressive compared to Oklahoma. We are quite backwards here. Yesterday I was turned down for a job program for seniors because my reading is above that of an 8th grader. It seems the greater population here cannot read and thus are more deserving of assistance. As for the politicians, they can't read either.

  7. I've always thought the Gold Coast's bus service is pretty good but then I have never used it or needed it as a resident commuter.

  8. I totally agree with HELS comment. I believe this year is being promoted as the Year of Reading :-).

  9. Like all these things Hels, crass popularism.

    Rubye, that reminds of when people go for a job and are told they are over qualified and hence would not stay. Who stays in jobs now for very long, except dinosaurs like me.

    Victor, I have not really looked at that aspect. I believe the buses can get crowded and they are caught in quite severe traffic jams at times.

    Windsmoke, I guess the Premier doesn't want those arty farty writer types in QLD.

  10. I think there are a lot of US states that have a reputation like Queensland...probably the whole south.

  11. yes Dina and particularly ALABAMA.
    the brilliant Randy Newman wrote:
    rednecks, we're rednecks - don't know our ass from a hole in the ground.

    X X O'Dyne & Stacks

  12. Dina, maybe in Australia, the whole north.

    Em Stacks, I wonder if their is a connection with the old slave states.


Before you change something, find out why it is the way it is in the first place - unknown.