Government lost in a drought of its own making

The new Queensland government of Premier Campbell Newman must be desperately hoping for a more refreshing start to 2013 than it managed to achieve in the depressing dog days of its ascension to power in 2012.

The urge to remind voters that they thrashed the last in a long line of Labor administrations, in power for most of the past twenty years, became an obsession. Reminding voters of why we threw out the last lot was pointless. We knew they were useless, that was why we got rid of them.

The smart thing would have been to tell us we were clever for doing the right thing. But, no, not this lot. Unable to see past their own navels, they constantly – absolutely without let-up – moaned the mantra that Labor was bad. To the point where we began to doubt the sense of ushering in a new lot who treated us as if we were stupid.

First law of politics, Mr Premier: never treat voters like they’re dumb. Coz we elected YOU. Get the point?

That such observations even need to be made is pathetic in itself. But, to prove the point of the new government’s inability to give away a glass of water to a thirst-stricken desert-crawler, they have just announced an end to water restrictions.

For those outside of Queensland, this is hardly a big issue. But for us Sunshine State folks, it is a massive change to our way of life. For context, we have recently lived through arguably the worst drought in several hundred years, maybe even a millennium. Serious stuff.

With water being such an intrinsic and ineradicable part of how we live, being placed on dramatically tight water use restrictions was a mighty challenge. Yet it was one we rose to very well. Indeed, we reduced our consumption to admirable levels by global standards.

As is so often the case, drought ended with flooding. Over the past couple of years we suffered loss of life and enormous, almost close to catastrophic, chaos thanks to severe weather events including cyclones. But we suffered in comparative silence and coped with deluge rather than drought.

And, so, the cycle changes. This week, our government scrapped water restrictions. Yes, those restrictions that remained staunchly in place during floods several metres deep.  Gotta love government for being able to adapt to change quickly.

So, how did our government celebrate this brilliant burst of good fortune? It didn’t. It just said: restrictions are scrapped. That’s it: end of story.

No mention of how an entire horticulture industry was brought to its knees by a decade of drought; the jobs lost and the gardens destroyed. A great swathe of our natural heritage and a valuable part of our environment gone for good in many cases.

No mention of the cheerful good humour with which Queenslanders coped with dust-covered living areas and four-minute showers.

No mention of our globally-significant reduction in water usage over a period of several years.

No mention of how fortunate we are to have a return to our more traditional way of life and the sheer joy that rainfall can bring.

Which is the tragic farce of this government’s inability to relate to ordinary people. It just doesn’t get it.

Instead of celebrating a rare gift of good fortune, it ignores the bigger picture and cannot even see the potential for a bit of back-slapping.

Their heads are so far up a deep and very dark space, one has to wonder if they have the capacity to ever again connect with the voters who put them into office.

On current indications they may realise their crass alienation when we bid them farewell.