Sunday, August 21, 2005

And in the local news... 

My home state of Queensland has for quite some time been politically schizophrenic. Federally, we are arguably the most conservative state, consistently delivering some of the highest votes for John Howard's Liberal/National Coalition government. Currently, Labor Party holds only 6 of 28 Queensland seats, and at the last election Queensland made the Australian political history by electing four conservative Senators (three Liberal and one National Party) out of six spots up for grabs (quasi-proportional representation electoral system in the Senate makes that an almost impossible task).

Yet for quite some time now, the state government level has been dismal for the Liberals. At the last election we only managed to win 5 out of 90 seats, and that was up from 3 at the 2001 state election. Labor Party has a huge majority at the moment, with the main opposition being provided by the National Party, who were historically always very strong in Queensland. So, many Queenslanders practice split ticket voting, a phenomenon not unfamiliar to many of my American readers.

But yesterday, I think we might have seen the beginning of the political resurrection of the Liberal Party in Queensland. Two mid-term retirements forced the Labor government to have two by-elections in traditionally strong Labor seats. Redcliffe, on the northern outskirts of greater Brisbane needed 7 per cent swing to change parties; Chatsworth in eastern suburbs almost 13 per cent. We won both seats - in case of Chatsworth, for the first time in 27 years.

After a Saturday morning full of bloggy goodness (working on the next two "good news" round-ups and Sheehan-blogging) I made my way down to Chatsworth and handed out "how to vote cards" for our Liberal candidate, Michael Caltabiano, the very popular local councilor who resigned his seat to contest the election. Thirteen per cent was always a big ask, but he and his team did it. Coincidentally, I was on the same polling station as a fellow Brisbane blogger Marty Kidd.


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