Everything you need to know about voting this federal election
Everything you need to know about voting this federal election

Pollies shoud not underestimate Queensland

WITH all the hullabaloo surrounding the upcoming Federal election, a looming milestone for Queensland has been all but forgotten.

In fact, it's an anniversary that perhaps should have been a major platform in the campaigns of Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten. And if they had any political common sense, it's still not too late to shoehorn it into their election strategies.

For on June 6, Queenslander will celebrate the 160th anniversary of its formal separation from the colony of NSW, and the birth of our great state. Why is this significant and pertinent to today?

If you understand this moment, then you're a long way towards understanding what it is to be a Queenslander, what makes us different from the rest of the nation, what motivates us and how we see the world.

It is the birth of our psyche, the launch of Queensland DNA, and Morrison and Shorten might want to brush up on this specific piece of history if they wish to succeed on May 18.

Scott Morrison and Bill Shorten (pictured) might want to brush up on their Queensland history if they wish to succeed on May 18.
Scott Morrison and Bill Shorten (pictured) might want to brush up on their Queensland history if they wish to succeed on May 18.

In the years leading up to that epochal event in 1859, the pioneers of the Moreton Bay region had tired of its seat of government being so far removed in Sydney.

They felt they had been neglected. Taken for granted. That as the population grew and more infrastructure was required, they had been consistently overlooked. And that they were not being granted their fair share of colonial spoils.

Queenslanders determined they needed their own government, and they had to take responsibility for their own futures.

Agitation for separation began in the early 1850s, and finally, on June 6, 1859, Queen Victoria approved the new colony, signed the Letters Patent that made it official. It was to be called Cooksland, after Captain James Cook, before saner heads prevailed and it was crowned Queensland.

On June 6, 1859, Queen Victoria approved the establishment of the new colony, and duly signed the Letters Patent that made it official.
On June 6, 1859, Queen Victoria approved the establishment of the new colony, and duly signed the Letters Patent that made it official.

Journalist and publisher Theophilus Pugh summed it up at the time: "It is for us to eradicate the infamy of the past by making … ourselves a name which shall be honoured among the colonies of Great Britain … to transform a spot which was once regarded as a 'hell upon earth' into a fair and smiling Eden."

Those not born in this state would do well to understand that the issue of "separation" is never far away for Queenslanders, even after 160 years.

Letters Patent erecting the Colony of Queensland dated 6 June 1859.
Letters Patent erecting the Colony of Queensland dated 6 June 1859.

That suspicion that we are always once removed from all the action in Sydney and, indeed, Canberra, remains. Both major parties in this 2019 election have campaigned relentlessly north of the border, promising all manner of jobs and infrastructure and sweeteners to appease Queenslanders in an effort to clinch vital marginal seats.

These promises were the very grounds for separation back in 1859. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Is it any surprise that game one of this year's State of Origin series will be held at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on June 5, one day before our 160th birthday?

First Governor of Queensland, Sir George Bowen, read a proclamation formally separating Queensland from NSW on 10 December 1859.
First Governor of Queensland, Sir George Bowen, read a proclamation formally separating Queensland from NSW on 10 December 1859.

If you need any further evidence that the matter of separation is played out, over and over, year after year, then look no further than the three-game Origin series between Queensland and NSW.

To understand us, you need to study our devotion to the Maroons. Knowing that takes you to the heart of separation.

We are passionate. Wary of false promises. Unconvinced by empty political gestures. And sensitive to southern folk running us down for their own gain. Always have been, always will be.

And yes, we may be the people who get knocked down and get back up again. But we're also that volatile lot north of the border who can make or break a federal election.

Come the evening of May 18, we shall see who has paid close attention to history.

matthew.condon@news.com.au



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