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Winning a Yes is hard, especially in Queensland. Why does the state lean towards No?

While Labor has dominated state politics for three decades, Queensland – particularly beyond Brisbane – remains the Coalition’s heartland in the federal sphere, and the wellspring of its power.

Of the state’s 30 federal seats, the LNP holds all but nine.

Much of the Queensland nuance comes down to its decentralised population. Unlike other populous jurisdictions, such as Victoria, most people in Queensland live beyond the capital and across a geographic spread more than twice the size of NSW.

Regional Queenslanders are more likely to be older than Brisbanites, and not as exposed to multiculturalism or other so-called progressive ideas.

Consider that Cairns is about the same distance from Brisbane as Brisbane is from Melbourne. Lumping them into the same referendum voting bloc seems vaguely absurd.

At play in this historic referendum, of course, are matters of race and power, the rejection of the “outsider”, and the fear – ironic or misplaced – of somehow having something taken.

“And let’s not put too fine a point on it,” Williams says. “Queensland, like Western Australia, like Tasmania, has had a troubled history with First Nations people.

“There are still deep-seated threads of racism in Queensland.”

He stresses that only a small percentage of No voters would be thus motivated. “But, having said so, there are still suspicions of First Nations people getting too much, as there are still fears in regional Queensland about Islam, about Asian populations, and so on.

“If that wasn’t the case, how else could one explain One Nation? It’s an ugly truth, but it has to be said.”

Queensland’s Yes vote is 36 per cent, according to Resolve Political Monitor. For over-55s, this slumps to 25 per cent. Regional and rural voters polled 29 per cent and 33 per cent, respectively.

Support is highest among Labor voters (62 per cent) and Greens voters (80 per cent). Interestingly however, the inner-city category polled an underwhelming Yes vote of 46 per cent.

Williams proposes (very broadly) that there are at least six Queenslands: Brisbane; Brisbane satellites, such as Moreton Bay; Gold Coast; Sunshine Coast; the regional cities and towns north of Nambour and east to the dividing range; and the vast western rural area spanning the Gulf Country to the NSW border.

While these regions might often vote for the same parties or ideas, they maintain distinct political cultures.

“Kingaroy is a good example,” he says. “The conservatism there is different to, say, Wynnum or Logan.

“In Kingaroy, you would find a strong Christian ethic, whereas in Logan, you wouldn’t. Even though they both might support One Nation, they are different One Nation constituencies.”

For its conservative track record, Queensland has nonetheless dabbled in progressive referendum voting.

The successful 1967 referendum that enabled the Commonwealth to make laws for Aboriginal people and include them in the census had Queensland’s Yes vote (89 per cent) higher than both South Australia (86 per cent) and Western Australia (81 per cent).

But there has been a key difference in successful referendums like that of 1967 – bipartisanship.


According to Resolve Political Monitor polling, the national Yes vote nose-dived from April, when the Liberals, under Queensland’s-own Peter Dutton, formally advocated for No. This was also the time Queensland’s Yes vote plunged into minority.

Could Dutton’s support have reversed the polls in Queensland? Williams is not so sure.

“I suspect Queensland would still be touch and go,” he says.

Voice advocates hope Australians change their minds in the voting booths once faced with the request first extended by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders through the Uluru Statement from the Heart in 2017.

In the case of Queensland, at least, the die may have been cast from the outset.

https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/national/queensland/winning-a-yes-is-hard-especially-in-queensland-why-does-the-state-lean-towards-no-20231010-p5eb54.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_national Winning a Yes is hard, especially in Queensland. Why does the state lean towards No?

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