Smoke and mirrors

The art of deluding audiences has become known as smoke and mirrors, a reference to props frequently used to aid the artifice. Queensland Premier Anna Bligh has suddenly reprised the con in what should become known as the sunshine and curtains trick.

Faced with overwhelming public rejection of her record, her leadership style and her policy initiatives, Bligh has resorted to diversion as a possible saviour. In one of the most shameless examples of utter cynicism, Bligh has reopened the daylight saving debate. This is a perennial flashpoint issue in Queensland (the Sunshine State) where successive administrations have never been able to achieve consensus. Consequently a de facto stalemate exists and the state remains an hour behind the rest of the eastern seaboard during the summer months, much to the angst of local business which suffers negative impacts.

With a backdrop of a scandal in which Health department staff have not been paid due to a monumental screw-up in delivery of a new payroll system and Ministers who claim there is no problem or that they were not told of a problem, Bligh proved she was a twit. That is, she tweeted a brief message suggesting it might be time for Queenslanders to again have a referendum of daylight saving.

For bare-faced effrontery, this is an award-winner. The prospects of there actually being a referendum are negligible, the prospects of it succeeding even if it were held are miniscule and you’d need nanotechnology to find a plus in it for Labor. Other than to distract attention from her appalling record of performance. For that it scores an AAA rating (which is what Queensland’s economy had until Bligh lost it and her treasurer admits we won’t get back easily).

So, while locals debate over their back fences whether or not the curtains will fade if the clocks are altered, Bligh and her Ministers clap their hands at the lack of focus on what really matters. Like traffic that moves slower than treacle, hospitals that didn’t work even before staff weren’t paid, asset sales that have Labor’s staunchest foot soldiers up in arms, a stalled economy that can’t create the jobs she promised, clogged ports that can’t move untold millions of tonnes of export-earning commodities that would deliver a handsome dividend and Ministerial standards of competence that make a drunken sailor look like a good alternative.

If Labor has not yet learned that blatant cynicism no longer earns wry acceptance, it is about to.