What election told us about ‘selfish’ Baby Boomers

ARE the Baby Boomers a "selfish" generation?

It's a question that has been asked again following the result of the state election. The theory is that ageing boomers who would normally lean to the right voted en masse for Annastacia Palaszczuk because they so feared COVID-19 creeping into Queensland. And did so knowing they were destroying the jobs and prospects of young people.

Does that make them unduly selfish? Hardly. Not wanting to die is a form of self-interest that's not confined to boomers. Putting health over wealth is no nasty impulse either. Suggesting otherwise is a bit harsh, to put it mildly.

Another harsh comment brought home to your columnist in September how deep the fear of COVID had become on the Gold Coast, and how it had greatly boosted support for Ms Palaszczuk.

 

 

In response to a piece suggesting that, given the extremely low case numbers in NSW, keeping our borders closed to that state was unlikely to be the real reason we had dodged the COVID bullet, your humble scribe was branded a "murderer".

"What you and Scott Morrison are proposing is profit over people," a reader wrote.

"Keep the economy strong, and accept the losses by doing so. You and Scott Morrison are murderers!"

While copping a little abuse of a morning is part and parcel of the job, this letter stood out. It came from a self-employed Gold Coast tradie. It wasn't from one of the regular one-eyed sources, heavily invested in campaigning for one party or another.

We corresponded and agreed to disagree a little more agreeably. But it was an illuminating exchange. It wasn't just that fear of the virus was deep-seated - utterly justified when you look at what is happening in the USA and Europe - but that the idea keeping state borders closed was instrumental in avoiding it had been widely accepted.

 

 

The ongoing closure of the border to Sydneysiders is unpopular with tourism operators – but not voters. Picture: Scott Powick.
The ongoing closure of the border to Sydneysiders is unpopular with tourism operators – but not voters. Picture: Scott Powick.

 

 

Ms Palaszczuk was clearly gaining new and fervent supporters. Being murdered was any hope the Opposition had of election victory.

"We were never going to overcome COVID," LNP Senator Gerard Rennick told this column.

"It was trying to defy the laws of gravity really."

The election result will worry Gold Coast businesses, especially in tourism, who have been devastated by the decision to keep the border closed to Sydney.

Senator Rennick said there was a case to be made that people could be kept safe without the stringent measures, that the Palaszczuk way is not in fact in the best interests of boomers, or anyone else for that matter.

"There's a way society works and you don't use your police force to stop people living their lives," he said.

"They are damaging the part of society that pays its taxes and provides jobs so that we can build the hospitals.

"We've got to come out from under the doona and use our health system and not our police force, because she (Ms Palaszczuk) will tear society down if this keeps going the way it is."

It looks almost certain the task of convincing voters there is a better way will fall to Broadwater MP David Crisafulli.

Notably, his Broadwater seat is one of the top five in the state with most electors over the age of 65, but he suffered far less of a swing against him than was seen in most of the state and carried it with 66.5 per cent of the preference count.

There was hope, too, for the LNP in the strong performances of Sam O'Connor in Bonney and, despite the forces ranged against her, of Laura Gerber in Currumbin.

Senator Rennick wouldn't comment on leadership speculation, but said Mr Crisafulli was a "good bloke" and "a hard worker".

Attributes he'll badly need if he's to win back the new wave of "Palaszczuk pensioners".

They are people who built this state, who are determined to protect their families, and who backed the Premier to keep them safe. Who didn't want to take even the slightest risk that COVID-19 might gain a foothold.

Time will tell if that decision was the right call. This columnist remains sceptical.

But one thing is for sure, it was anything but selfish.

 

 

keith.woods@news.com.au

 

 

 

Originally published as What election told us about 'selfish' Baby Boomers

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk succeeded in winning over older voters.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk succeeded in winning over older voters.

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