Annastacia Palaszczuk will have to unite the state by the next election in 2020
Annastacia Palaszczuk will have to unite the state by the next election in 2020

Polarised Queensland 'needs leadership'

QUEENSLAND has become Australia's hotbed of civil action in reaction to a perceived shift to the right in the state, an expert believes.

But "novel leadership" is needed to combat the Queensland's growing polarisation.

Thousands of people have been getting together in recent weeks to block transport lines and disrupt businesses, particularly in Brisbane's CBD.

The federal election in May, when Queenslanders overwhelmingly voted conservative, prompting the state Labor government to fast-track the Adani mine and recommit to coal, seems the most likely catalyst.

"People assume there's a lot of people who have to be persuaded," Frank Mols, an identity politics expert from the University of Queensland, told AAP.

"I think it's a bit of an action-reaction process. We do accept by and large Queensland at the moment is a bit of a conservative state.

"You feel like you're surrounded by conservative views that you don't associate with.

"You feel a sense of outcry and a need to react."

There have been numerous protests by Adani opponents, who have marched through city streets, impeded the mining company's contractors and blockaded access to its Abbot Point port terminal in north Queensland.

EXPERT: University of Queensland lecturer Dr Frank Mols is of the school of political science and international studiesfaculty of humanities and social sciences.
EXPERT: University of Queensland lecturer Dr Frank Mols is of the school of political science and international studiesfaculty of humanities and social sciences. CONTRIBUTED

Extinction Rebellion have been labelled "ratbags" by the state opposition for stopping peak hour traffic almost weekly, gluing themselves to roads as part of what they describe as "swarming tactics".

Their most recent action culminated in 72 arrests in the CBD, with one activist saying "if we can fill the jails, we'll fill the jails" to highlight their willingness to give up their freedom for the climate action cause.

In amongst the environmental causes have been clashes between Hong Kong and Chinese supporters at UQ, which received global attention, and trespassing into rural abattoirs by animal rights groups.

There have been prosecutions, but protest organisers have promised to continue.

"Civil disobedience is all we have left to ensure climate action in accordance with the threat," prominent Adani opponent Ben Pennings said.

Queensland's polarisation is not necessarily a bad thing, Dr Mols says, because without people taking to the streets, social change would not happen.

But Queensland needs leadership to provide a unifying direction "that cuts through and doesn't fit to blue, red or green narrative".

"People are craving some form of novel leadership", Dr.Mols said.

"It requires a bit more effort to be creative."

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk is the only person who can fortify Labor’s electoral hopes ahead of the next state election. Picture: Sarah Marshall/AAP
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk is the only person who can fortify Labor’s electoral hopes ahead of the next state election. Picture: Sarah Marshall/AAP


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