Bowman election wrap-up by @burgewords

Michael Burge

Michael Burge

Journalist at No Fibs
Michael is an author and journalist who lives on Ngarabal country in the NSW Northern Tablelands. He was was born at Inverell into a farming family with New England roots deeper than most, and lived within weatherboard walls under an iron roof for long enough to know what he's talking about when it comes to the country.
Michael Burge
- 1 day ago
Michael Burge
Michael's articles about writers, performers, artists, creative rebels and the writing process are available at his website.

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It’s been an interesting year for voters in the Redlands, the federal division of Bowman in south-east Queensland. A few key incidents have put this region on the political map, but unfortunately none of these was a result of good political representation for residents.

First and foremost were the infamous tweets from our sitting federal member for the LNP, Andrew Laming MP, the first of which defined a family dispute in a suburb outside this electorate as “Mobs tearing up Logan”.

Another exhorted Prime Minister Gillard to declare her whereabouts when opposition leader Tony Abbott was on the ground witnessing Queensland’s flood crisis. It would have been a fair call, had the PM not been seeing to bushfire-ravaged Tasmanians at the time.

Nice work, for the man described on his website as: “Australia’s most innovative user of social media in politics”.

On both occasions, Laming was quick with his thumbs on follow-up tweets, but at this end of the election campaign he seems to be keeping a relatively low profile.

I’ve respectfully requested an interview and submitted questions (none of them about his tweets), but Mr Laming offered the excuse of needing an election date in order to book me in, and then reneged after the election had been called. I got the hint.

More recently Redlanders have endured the fallout in State parliament after an LNP member’s member was decanted into a wineglass and photographed, then texted to a woman state MP Peter Dowling (the man attached to the member) was conducting a long term extra-marital affair with.

Again, this wouldn’t really matter had Dowling not been chairman of Queensland’s parliamentary ethics committee at the time.

I overheard locals on my ferry discussing the local media’s line that Dowling had seen fit to apologise to everyone affected by his behaviour, apart from the people he represents. Fair call.

These men only have themselves to blame if many Redlanders’ minds are not on their ideas and achievements. Add to this the fact that the first is a sitting member in opposition, the second is a backbencher, and while they represent Redlanders in federal and state parliament neither has a blinding political track record to counter these self-inflicted scandals.

Nevertheless, I wanted to meet the people hoping to represent me to hear their stories and ascertain their visions for the Redlands. Margo Kingston, the journalist behind this project, said she was interested in ascertaining what kind of democracy-in-action exists in the electorates of Australia. As a newcomer, I had little baggage to bring on this search.

While the other candidates were generous with their time and their plans, I can safely say there is very little democracy-in-action here in Bowman.

It depends how we define democracy, of course, but if we were to say that a democratic election allowed the most voters to meet, hear and question the candidates vying to represent them, Bowman is failing voters miserably.

It seems democracy is really on the road in the Redlands, which must be why the most experienced candidate – Darryl Briskey for the ALP – hit the tarmac in a brightly-emblazoned borrowed caravan for a campaign office.

Having represented this region in state politics for 17 years, he’s willing and able to meet with Redlanders without us stepping out of our cars. When we spoke I detected a hint of the party post-Rudd-redux line in some of his answers, but I could not fault his commitment or his track record. Neither could plenty of passers-by who tooted him in recognition.

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Savvier candidates like Penny Allman-Payne for the Greens bring more of a future-sense to the campaign, but also the bare-faced truth.

It was Penny who gave me an honest answer about the limited meet-the-candidates opportunities in Bowman, and the hard work smaller parties face in establishing a foothold in the Redlands.

Considering he has a mining magnate for a political boss, John Wayne of the Palmer United Party took me by surprise with his understanding of environmental principles.

Since he’s an oyster farmer (amongst other things), he relies on clean waterways, and Bowman is replete with waterways, clean or otherwise. John also had a keener understanding of Bowman’s island population, being resident on North Stradbroke for a large part of every year.

After meeting them, I would trust any of these people with the reins of Bowman.

They’re all excellent communicators, all refreshingly self-effacing, all identified a clear vision for the region to prosper, and they all left me with strong impressions.

Darryl Briskey started campaigning on the road more than six months ago at a time when the ALP would have written the seat off under Julia Gillard as Prime Minister.

Penny Allman-Payne said, “I won’t be preferencing. People decide preferences, not parties.”

And John Wayne of the PUP was the only candidate who used the word ‘Masterplan’ for the Redlands when envisaging what the region needs in its evolution.

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Whatever happens on September 7, I hope democracy gets the stretch it sorely needs in Bowman. Even a little one would do.

Former candidate for the 21st Century Australia Party, Fernando Alba, has decided not to stand for election after the AEC prevented his party from appearing on ballot forms.

A fifth candidate, Andrew O’Shea of the Family First Party, has also nominated for Bowman.

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Comments

  1. clyde summers says

    Just a couple of notes on your great article: I really do not see the point of including state politics in this Federal race. I am happy to join in your regression and bring up a large number of past Labor members who were either threatened with jail or tossed into jail or resigned leaving Queensland with an incompetent premier. But lets stick to the issues at hand. The Labor/Green team that we have had for the past 3 years has been a bit less than total disaster on the national debt, immigration, taxes such as Carbon and Mining Taxes, causation of the Tasmanian fires from a destructive Green policy traded by Labor for their needs (Julia should have been down there making sure the good people of Tasmania did not come to Canberra and quarter her) and Pink bats deaths (and no apology would bring any of those workers back). In case the readers of your article have not noticed but the interest payments on our national debt now is $12mil per year…..$1mil per month…..how many hospital beds, teachers, police, fire and ambulance personnel does this represent? This can all be laid directly at the feet of the Rudd/Gillard/Rudd/Greens/Independents team that created possibly the worst run parliament in the history of Australian Democracy. So that leaves the Katter Party and the Clive Palmer Party both will not ever hold the balance of power. Also the other party leaders whom I reckon are great leaders but with the Coles/Woolies government we have (thanks Bob for the creative comparison) voting for these parties will only result in the votes going to Labor or Greens or Independents – the very mob that has gotten us into this mess we are in. Use your vote wisely and think about where you want Australia to go and how far are you willing to sacrifice your children and their children’s future because it will be a long time before we see another surplus like what the Coalition left Labor in 2008. Do you really want to mortgage your children’s future?

    • ah' ah 'ah 'ah ah 'ah I misspoke says

      You really have swallowed the LNP / Murdoch line hook line and sinker. In spite of all the available information you still believe there is a budget emergency and that we need to balance the stupid budget? Now rather than think about a moment in time and be transfixed by its beauty think of the economy as a continuum. Various governments have had to confront many economic challenges and have done so with varying success. You are obviously enamoured with Howard MK2 and admittedly they had a dream run. Record receipts from both mining and tax and they chose to pay off debt and balance the budget; fine. There is the argument that they could and should have spent more on investing in this country but they didn’t. I’m sure this is the economic miracle that you believe in. Please contrast it with Howard as treasurer; double digit inflation, unemployment and interest rates. Remember the interest rates peaked at a record 21.4%. Was that a mess? Was that a well run parliament? Howard left a huge deficit but nobody seriously thought it would affect our grandkids and of course it did not.

      Now you are particularly scathing about the Rudd/Gillard governments but the truth is that they steered us through the biggest global downturn since the Depression. Nobel laureates and a host of other economists and economic organisations have sung their praises but you prefer the Costello line that a balanced budget produces growth. Do you also believe that deficits lead to higher interest rates? The evidence suggests otherwise. Please don’t worry about public debt, it is small and manageable. In times of reduced tax receipts and when people are saving rather than spending it is right for governments to invest in their country. Really that is all our deficit is, an investment in the future.

      By the way it was poor form to blame the Rudd government for the insulation installation deaths. Have you ever blamed a government for deaths under a program they funded before? What about the 500 plus Aussies who died in Vietnam? Menzies the killer?


      • No one would dispute men going to war will result in deaths. Most reasonable people would expect installation of insulation to NOT result in deaths. What a very strange comparison, and calling it poor form to blame K.Rudd?? he (grudgingly) accepted the blame – so why do you defend him??
        Those same mining incomes that benefit the Howard govt to pay off debt also were the very same incomes that steered Australia through the GFC (but you failed to even acknowledge that.) NOT brilliant management.
        Lets face it – the $800 or $900 per person economic stimulus was possibly the stupidest thing ever – Those dollars spent in this country on infrastructure projects would have created countless jobs, built roads, hospitals etc..instead a good deal of it left this country . (the Chinese were probably grateful)
        Perhaps you also have swallowed the Labour /union line – hook,line and sinker.


    • Clyde the point of including the state member in this case is quite clear – it’s about representation, and how at state and federal level, right now, we Redlanders have very little of it.

      This is due in part to our sitting members’ having little prospect of being more than political numbers gazing at the action from the backbench as a result of party recrimination for their self-inflicted, very public personal issues.

      In other words, they’ll be told to tow the line and keep a low profile, which is no position to advance local issues from.

      The rest of your points come under the broad classification of what I’ll call stoogery, or should that be stoogism?


  2. Interesting development today. Sitting LNP Member Andrew Laming was photographed at Cleveland Markets with a team of supporters wearing his t-shirts, despite the organisers asking for no political presence during the election campaign.

    • Chris Grealy says

      And good ol’ boy Lame-oh also told the Greens candidate to “man up” on facebook today. You can always rely on him to trot out casual bigotry. Oh, for a decent PERSON to represent Bowman in Canberra.

  3. clyde summers says

    Michael, you bring to mind the situations where children are arguing amongst themselves and when one cannot defend him/herself with facts they resort to name calling. I reference to your original article where you deviated from your ‘point’ yourself and brought in examples of party member’s behaviour yet you resort to name calling when the same is done against your ‘examples’.
    As for ‘I misspoke’ you state that Howard left us with a deficit which is certainly untrue. Your comparison of the pink bats debacle to Viet Nam shows a disrespect for our veterans not to mention just how ill informed you really are.
    MIchael we can all see through your ‘agenda’ disguised as an information article supposedly attempting to ‘inform’ us all of your wisdom of the Redlands political stage.
    And to ‘Me’ good on you for bringing out the point regarding Labor’s fiscal disobedience. Debt in itself is not the devil but using debt to pay general operating expenses is just simply bad policy. Had Labor borrowed during the GFC to build a new Sydney airport, upgrade the Bruce Highway, build a national rail network, actually do something about the Murray Darling Basin issue or build hospitals or schools THUS employing many thousands of unemployed people MAYBE the Labor Government would actually have something to show for the borrowing. To date save some new school infrastructure what does Labor have to show this country where the $280bn has been spent and how $1m per month in interest is doing for Australia?
    Michael if you wish to be a journalist maybe start doing your research and get back to us. In the meantime all us readers will continue to think for ourselves and vote for what is best for the future and our children and their children…..


  4. Clyde I am very happy for you to think for yourself and vote accordingly, nothing I have written exhorts you into anything else.

    I am open to publishing any answers sitting member Andrew Laming has to my questions, which are the same as those put to all other candidates – about his vision for the Redlands and democracy in action in this region.

    If you don’t like the tag “stooge” stay on topic and back-up what you say with some local specifics, otherwise your points remain abstract and irrelevant to Redlands voters, and are therefore stoogish, or should I say stoogist?

  5. clyde summers says
  6. clyde summers says

    Better yet why take the word of his colleagues look at the real KRudd here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BVEaHcyMesQ