The Queensland division of the Labor Party is said to be easily the richest political branch in the country, and that wealth is on display for everyone to see up here in far north Queensland.
I watched 90 minutes of local television last night and there wasn’t a single ad break which didn’t feature a Labor Party advertisement.
Combine that with posters all over the Cairns electricity poles and Beattie’s five minute freebie from the ABC last night and you are talking quite a blitzkrieg.
The Opposition is nowhere to be seen while Beattie has also dominated the front page of today’s Cairns Post with his promise to cut FNQ bus fares by up to 34%.
It really isn’t a fair fight in Queensland. Beattie’s 26-day campaign is close to the shortest allowed anywhere in the country and by going early he was really able to pull the rug out from under an already struggling, depleted, impoverished and divided opposition.
The lack of an upper house also means Queensland is the hardest state in Australia for minor parties to get a foothold.
Despite deserving a kicking in the polls, the Queensland ALP is able to spend its way out of trouble because it has net assets of more than $100 million, although under Australia’s pathetic campaign finance laws, where they come from remains a secret.
Peter Beattie will probably secure a fourth term without even spending more than the annual investment return on the huge asset pile sitting inside the mysterious Labor Holdings and Labor Resources which started out when the party sold radio station 4KQ for $16.5 million in 1986.
Buying up bank stocks has made the bruvvas rich, as this quote to The AFR last year from long-time Labor Holdings administrator Ian Brusasco demonstrates:
The largest dividends came from the Commonwealth Bank, which has returned at least $24 million to Labor Holdings — more than one third of the dividends received over the past decade.
Here’s a list of the biggest contributors to Labor in 2003-04 when the last state election was held:
Labor Resources Pty Ltd – $4,935,000
The Brisbane’s Future Committee – $153,735
Collingwood Park Developments – $75,000
Hatia Property Developments – $70,000
Multiplex Developments (QLD) Pty Ltd – $70,000
Yu Feng Pty Ltd – $69,300
Crosby Road Developments – $56,100
Alan Brendon Corporation Pty Ltd – $55,000
Meriton Apartments Pty Ltd – $50,000
Warner Village Theme Parks – $50,000
Australand Holdings – $45,000
Does anyone else think it a little strange that Liberal leader Bruce Flegg’s investments are suddenly a big political issue but no-one ever asks Queensland Labor to reveal where its secret $100 million is stashed and what all these property developers expect in return for their donations?