With counting in the Queensland state election confirming the return of the Palaszczuk Labor Government, attention will soon turn to promises made on the campaign trail and the opportunities that this will present.
Despite the lack of a majority in the last Parliament, Labor managed to present an impressive legislative agenda and achieve many of its election commitments. Indeed, the empty catch cry of a ‘do nothing government’ from a lack lustre Opposition was exactly that. It was devoid of any truth and reflected the frustration from the LNP that the government had in fact achieved more than they thought possible from a minority Labor government.
Labor clearly demonstrated that you could still provide stable government and sound fiscal management without resorting to a ‘scorched earth’ policy that became the sad hallmark of the one term Newman LNP government.
Labor not only restored services savaged by the LNP – it restored hope.
During its first term, the Palaszczuk Labor Government implemented an incredibly progressive program that encompassed rolling out a massive level of renewable energy infrastructure, banning uranium mining, restoring planning laws to protect the Great Barrier Reef, tackling child safety, domestic violence and youth justice, restoring civil unions laws, supporting TAFE, improving workplace safety, developing a multicultural charter, supporting science and innovation initiatives, enhancing mental health services, and reversing the savage LNP job cuts by creating 122,000 jobs and restoring core frontline services.
Regardless of the futile, ideologically driven attacks from the discredited Murdoch media machine and it’s increasingly out of touch commentariat, Labor has been given another term to continue the job it set out to do in 2015.
There is now a chance for many other progressive policies to be implemented. This could include reforming antiquated abortion laws, introducing human rights legislation, continuing the growth in the renewable energy sector, re-introducing tree clearing laws, enhancing existing environmental protections and further boosting education, training, health, housing and community services.
However, a clear lesson for Labor is that regional employment will need to be an imperative for its second term. The 12% primary swing to One Nation is seen by many as a definitive echo of the perception of abandonment from the government in Brisbane. Regardless of the accuracy that underpins this perception, it will remain as a key issue to be addressed right up to, and including, the next election scheduled for October 2020.
Nethertheless, tackling regional employment and access to services should never be regarded as mutually exclusive from delivering a bold, progressive policy agenda over the next three years. With a mandate to govern, the opportunity for Labor to build on its record is there for the taking.