When I first moved to Griffith in 1996 it was still a safe labor seat with working class suburbs of Camp Hill, Carina, Norman Park, and Coorparoo more dominant than the more middle class areas like Bulimba (though not always posh), Morningside, Carindale and Hill End. 1996 was the election when Howard won government defeating the tired Labor administration of Paul Keating.
Nowhere in the election trenches in 2019 will you hear what may happen in Kevin Rudd’s old seat. Griffith is a seat that was held by the Liberals for years until it was won in 1977 by Labor’s Ben Humphries who served as Minister for Veterans’ Affairs in the Hawke and Keating governments. They introduced neoliberalism and sold every public asset that was not bolted down – the airports, the commonwealth bank, prepared the first tranche of Telstra for sale by Howard, and so on.
Rudd managed to run the seat of Griffith down to a marginal seat, then passed the chalice to Labor’s Terri Butler who only won 33% of the primary vote in the 2016 election against 41% by the Liberals in Griffith. Last time Terri won with Greens preferences what if the shoe is on the other foot this time? Unlikely you say.
Now, along comes Max Chandler-Mather who was the manager of the successful campaign by Jonno Sri to take the Gabba from Labor in the Brisbane City Council. Max has two main things going for him – he is the only candidate who does not support mandatory detention for refugees and is an outspoken critic of Big Coal.
The trend is against Scott Morrison and Shorten who have sold out their own constituents. Both refuse to come out against Adani. Where will the swinging voters go? To Max? If he gets above Labor he has a chance to win on Labor preferences. Quite a numerical feat.
On Saturday, 27 April 2019 with the federal election campaign in full swing I attended a tree planting organised in Woolloongabba by Jonno Sri. Not surprisingly his former campaign manager, Max, turned up to help out. So did the Brisbane City Council tree and anti-litter workers. Together with volunteers they set about planting trees in the residential area between the Deshon and the railway line. It is on this railway line that Aurizon and Pacific National cart coal to the port of Brisbane. Max told me that he had challenged the sitting member Terri Butler to a debate on climate change. Terri pleaded that she was to appear on the ABCs QNA and could not debate Max. The Labor appointee made no arrangement for an alternative date. Never mind.
A few hundred metres down the track, Team Terri is fixing the rail crossing at Coorparoo Station. Coorparoo is an aboriginal word meaning ‘home of wild ducks’. However this is disputed and ma mean home of mosquitoes. Federal Shadow Transport Minister, Anthony Albanese, is throwing in an election promise of $107M towards the $320M cost of upgrading the rail crossing so that coal trains can get to the port on time … and, of course, solve the traffic congestion on Cavendish Road which backs up to Stanley Street most mornings and afternoons. This may put an end to the ducks because part of Bridgewater Creek flows under the rail line near there. Damien a local volunteer land carer is worried about what the construction of an overpass will do to the creek
Labor’s Terri Butler has an advantage over the Green’s Max Chandler-Mather, she is a high profile candidate against someone not known in the Federal arena. Her preference is for QNA over a local debate. This is the Lib/Lab cartel Max is up against in parliamentary politics, at least at the federal level.
To beat Terri Butler Max would have to get about 28 – 30% of the primary vote with Terri only getting 25% or 26% of the vote and her preferences taking him across the line.
If Max gets more than 20% of the vote he will have done very well against such a high profile candidate. But who is backing Max in Griffith? Politically savvy young people on the Left is the answer. For example Liam Flenady ran against Kevin Rudd for the Socialist Alliance in 2013. He challenged Rudd on the question of refugees. Rudd as PM declared that Asylum seekers coming by boat would never be settled in Australia. Flenady ran on a ticket that came from the ‘Refugee’s are welcome here’ movement … rallies of 500 people in King George Square supporting asylum seekers are a regular occurrence in Brisbane.
Oh, and Fraser Anning’s mob don’t like Max either, that has got to be a plus for the Green from Griffith!
If you live in Griffith and want to find out more go to https://greens.org.au/qld/person/max-chandler-mather
27 April 2019
*Coorparoo is an aboriginal word meaning ‘home of wild ducks’.