If we needed further justification for the secession of Queensland from the nation, we got it at the weekend in the form of the Wentworth by-election.
For those who may have missed it, the Liberals suffered the biggest swing against any government in a by-election. Ever. And that in a seat which had never been out of conservative hands in its 117-year life.
The word ‘walloping’ doesn’t quite reflect the depth of humiliation suffered by a government that we all thought had hit peak humiliation.
The Coalition, though, can probably comfort itself with the thought that it could have been a lot worse. It could have been worse if Peter Dutton had been the victor in the Liberals’ ham-fisted leadership coup.
Lucky for the Coalition, though, that Mr Dutton and his hayseed collection of coal-huggers weren’t too flash at maths and fell short of the numbers needed for him to become commandant-in-chief.
But Queensland’s spurring of political instability goes further than Mr Dutton’s misplaced ambition and his embarrassing staging of The Night of The Damp Squib.
This week, it was reported that behind the push to return Barnaby Joyce to the leadership of the National Party was Queensland’s LNP.
The prospect of yet another leadership spill right on the eve of the shaky, high-stakes Wentworth by-election. Genius.
Remember, this is the same LNP that was so out of touch even in Queensland it foisted Campbell Newman on the state and then presided over the largest and most embarrassing electoral turnaround in Australia’s history. More genius.
And then there’s talk that the LNP sees its brand as so differentiated and sees its place in Australian politics as so special, that it genuinely wants its own partyroom in Canberra. That would bring to three the number of partyrooms in the Coalition.
The speculation is that this would give them the strength of numbers for the Deputy Prime Minister to come from its ranks. Just who do these people think they are?
In the midst of the political assassination of Malcolm Turnbull, an astute and respected Queensland friend who has worked in politics in both Canberra and Brisbane lamented that if Mr Dutton didn’t get up, it would be a disaster, and the Coalition would lose five, even 10, seats in Queensland.
I argued that for every vote it held in Queensland under a Dutton government, it could kiss goodbye to two in NSW and Victoria.
It’s, as if, when the Liberals take their policy and political advice from Queenslanders like Peter Dutton and George Christensen they struggle to win many votes in Sydney or Melbourne #auspol #Wenthworth
— Richard Denniss (@RDNS_TAI) October 20, 2018
But my mate was having none of it and muttered something about soft, southern urban trendies and solar panels. He simply could not understand just how toxic the Dutton brand was anywhere south of Coolangatta … where most of the country lives.
And that was the lightbulb moment, where I realised that such is the disconnect between Queensland and the rest of the nation, that secession might be the solution, both to their happiness and to the nation’s political sanity.
Wentworth is arguably our tipping point.
Maybe it’s finally time for Queensland to indulge its sense of Bavaria-like otherness and to go its own way to become the Free State of Queensland.
It would be like excising a cancer not just from the Coalition, but from Australian politics in general. With their ideological hands freed, they could perhaps form some Frankenstein-like Katter-Hanson-Dutton-Christensen Front – a coalition that just keeps on giving.
And like their friend across the Pacific, they could build a big wall, impose a few import tariffs and impose restrictions of movement for certain religions.
Yes, maybe it’s time to make Queensland great again.
Mike Bruce lived in Queensland for 7½ years. He escaped in 2016.