On the Sunday after election day I met up with colleagues and supporters at the historical Brekky Creek Hotel in Brisbane. Despite the thankyou drinks, celebrations were slightly tempered.
I was elated at the prospect of an Albanese Labor government, excited for one of my best friends, who was on his way to Canberra to be sworn in as treasurer the next morning, yet a little bit flat that Queensland Labor had not contributed the hoped-for gains. I was disappointed for Terri Butler, who has been a fine contributor over eight years of opposition and who now will not have the opportunity to become a reforming cabinet minister as part of the incoming government.
While it would be easy to be pessimistic about federal Labor’s fortunes in the Sunshine State, after a period of reflection I am feeling optimistic. During the past three years I had always felt confident talking about Anthony Albanese’s priorities for Queensland.
These included an ambitious plan for climate change that will create jobs and new investments in the state’s regions; a focus on rebuilding manufacturing, which has taken on a renewed focus given the shortcomings with our sovereign capability the pandemic revealed; and better access to healthcare – more bulk-billing GPs and Medicare services in regional and remote areas.
I spent much time in the past three years in regional Queensland and I am positive our priorities match those of many people throughout the state. The results reflect this, with good primary swings across Flynn, Capricornia and Dawson, but not enough to win any of these seats.
We saw strong results across the southeast of the state, too. There were primary swings towards Labor in seats such as Lilley (up 6.8 per cent), Moreton (up 2.8 per cent) and Brisbane (up 2.8 per cent). Yes, Labor fell short in Brisbane, but the positive swings show we have a message that can work across Queensland. Delivering on our agenda as a majority Albanese government will help us counter the Greens in Brisbane – ending the climate wars will be a priority for the government and an act that will enjoy support in all parts of the state.
The best part of being an opposition senator for Queensland during the past six years has been travelling the state; everyone makes time for you and enjoys giving you an insight into their community, business or local issues. It has been so frustrating knowing we have the better plans but not the levers of government to implement them. That changed on May 21. No longer are these communities held back by a federal government more committed to scare campaigns and pork-barrelling than taking these communities and the nation forward.
Labor will no longer have to just talk the talk; government presents a new opportunity, for the first time in almost a decade, to walk the walk. We have the right agenda to make a positive impact in the state – we urgently need to get runs on the board to show Queenslanders that an Albanese Labor government can deliver that better future. Attempting to do it from opposition for almost 10 years has not worked.
I have confidence in Albo as Prime Minister, our team and our agenda to deliver for the Sunshine State. Even with the new challenge in the form of the all-Queensland opposition leadership team of Peter Dutton and David Littleproud, I’m confident our agenda will speak to Queenslanders more than the negative politics already presented by the LNP leaders, who show no sign they have learned anything from the election result.
An effective, disciplined and ambitious Albanese Labor government presents a great opportunity for federal Labor to make gains in Queensland. I am confident our priorities reflect the priorities of many Queenslanders.
Anthony Chisholm has been a senator for Queensland since 2016.
First published in The Australian https://www.theaustralian.com.au/commentary/albos-agenda-will-deliver-for-sunshine-state/news-story/840ee28e08d9f3d62460248d5af2d3d7