Why a Liberal legend is backing Jackie Trad to win
Two former Brisbane lord mayors who were bitter enemies in civic life now agree on one thing - Labor's Jackie Trad must fend off her Greens challenger in South Brisbane in October's state election.
Labor elder Jim Soorley said voters may inadvertently hand Extinction Rebellion the balance of power in the Queensland parliament by following the LNP how-to-vote card that puts Labor last.
LNP grande dame Sallyanne Atkinson agrees. When pressed for a comment she admitted she will not follow her party's how-to-vote card. She will vote for Trad ahead of the Green's candidate Amy MacMahon, a climate scientist and activist.
"I'm a liberal, and we've always believed in freedom of choice," Atkinson said.
"We are not as dogmatic as the ALP.
"I will be putting the LNP first, and Jackie Trad second and I will be putting the Greens at the bottom because I am very worried the Greens may hold the balance of power in the Queensland parliament."
She described the Greens as "very, very dangerous".
Soorley, too, said the Greens were "dangerous", and said Queenslanders may be sleepwalking to an age of great instability.
There would be "chaos" if Trad lost her seat in a close poll, and delivered the Greens disproportionate voting power in the House.
It's the first time I've heard Atkinson and Soorley agree on anything.
Political pundits believe the LNP's decision to preference the Greens ahead of Labor will be a death blow to Trad's political career. But she could be saved by a leakage of preferences from conservatives who can't stomach the Greens.
The recent council election results were ominous for the ALP.
At the West End booth, in the heart of South Brisbane, the Greens polled 53 per cent compared with Labor's 24 per cent.
Worse still for the major parties, a recent Newspoll found the Greens have increased their primary vote across Queensland to 12 per cent, compared with 10 per cent at the 2017 election.
The party had a breakthrough at the last election when Michael Berkman captured the seat of Maiwar that stretches from Bardon to Fig Tree Pocket, and includes Auchenflower, Toowong, Indooroopilly and St Lucia.
And now the Greens have a bold plan to oust Education and Industrial Relations Minister, Grace Grace, in the adjoining Brisbane seat of McConnel that stretches from Kelvin Grove to New Farm and includes Fortitude Valley, Spring Hill, New Farm and Teneriffe. Greens candidate Kirsten Lovejoy is an activist who campaigns against the Adani coal mine and in favour of asylum seekers.
Atkinson lives in the South Brisbane electorate and said people from all sides of politics believe it is a green-left stronghold which the LNP could not win.
She said her decision not to follow the how-to-vote card was a vexing one.
"It is a difficult choice for me. I'm betwixt and between.''
Atkinson did not want her comments to be misconstrued as a criticism of the LNP. Indeed, she formally supported the nomination of Clem Grehan, the LNP candidate.
"The LNP is my tribe because I believe in their values and I am loyal to their values." she said.
She added: "(Greens activist) Jonathan Sri is my local councillor and there are things that he should be doing in this ward such as addressing traffic problems. Instead, he's up there inciting rebellion. It has nothing to do with local government.
"My view is that the Greens are very, very dangerous and they are hypocritical. There are trees being knocked down all over Brisbane and I ask, where are the Greens? They are not doing what they said they would do."
"The Greens are getting involved in all sorts of things that have nothing to do with the environment."
And there was another twist. Atkinson admits a "personal admiration" for Trad and they became closer when her son Damien, a barrister, married Jackie's big sister Marilyn.
"I meet her in family situations and I like her very much,'' Atkinson said.
"I think she has been treated appallingly by the Labor Party and I think she will probably get a sympathy vote for that.
"Nobody in the Labor Party came out and said Jackie did a great job as Treasurer. A lot of the initiatives she endorsed and undertook were good. But no one has supported her. I think she has been very badly done by.''
Atkinson, who was lord mayor from 1985 to 1991, acknowledges Trad had made mistakes. But Trad had already been punished for some "stupid actions".
She added: "Whilst we can criticise her for the bad, and she has been punished for the bad, she should be praised for the good she did."
Atkinson stressed she was not urging others to follow her lead in putting Trad above the Greens on the ballot paper.
"I never urge anybody to do anything. I am a great believer in democracy and everybody making up their own mind.
"I'm just telling you what my views are because you asked me."
Soorley called on the LNP hierarchy to reverse its preference deal as part of his "Saving Jackie" strategy.
"South Brisbane is a critical seat for us," he said.
"If Annastacia is to win, she needs South Brisbane. If she loses that one, she has to pick one up somewhere else.
"The reality is the seat of South Brisbane will never go to the Liberals. It will go to Jackie or the Greens. So the Liberals need to look in the mirror and consider what they are doing.
"If they give preferences to the greens we could have another Green candidate"
Greens could hold the balance of power.
"And these are not the Indooroopilly Greens. These are the West End Greens: Extinction Rebellion radical, extreme Greens.
"It means Extinction Rebellion Greens will hold the balance of power in Queensland.
"It would be a disaster. They want to treble the royalties on gas and coal that will shut the mines, so all those jobs in regional Queensland will go.
"Their policy is no new coal mines.
"They want to close all prisons.
"Their Budget commitments are $10bn more than the total of the current Budget in Queensland.
"They say they oppose development, but say they have plans for 100,000 public housing units in Queensland. How many of those will be in South Brisbane? Public housing always tends to come to the inner-city."
Many will be built in South Brisbane and New Farm, suburbs already suffering congestion.
He said the Greens had also failed to explain why they accepted funding from gambling interests while publicly opposing the Queen's Wharf casino and hotel development.
"It's the hypocrisy and the extreme nature of the Greens that are a worry. So if you want to vote Liberal, make sure your give your preferences to Labor."
He also agreed there was a risk Lovejoy could topple Grace.
"But Grace is a fighter," he said.
Soorley said the LNP may one day have to explain how their preference allocation allowed a green tide to sweep over Queensland.
Originally published as Why a Liberal legend is backing Jackie Trad to win