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THE unwritten story about the State poll on the Gold Coast was the referendum on light rail. The trams were supposed to kill off Labor’s chances in the south. The ALP did not win but came close and the results show light rail was not the major factor.
Electoral Commission of Queensland figures show at the Palm Beach South booth, Labor’s Wayne “Rabbit” Bartholomew polled 35.63 per cent of the primary vote compared to LNP MP Michael Hart on 29.73 per cent.
Light rail through Surfers Paradise. Picture: Mike Batterham.At the same booth, Currumbin Labor candidate Kaylee Campradt just outpolled Currumbin LNP MP Laura Gerber – 37.98 per cent to 37.50 per cent.
In Palm Beach, Mr Hart polled 35.20 per cent of the vote and “Rabbit” secured 38.22 per cent of the vote. At Palm Beach North, Mr Hart was slightly ahead – 36.68 per cent to 36.14 per cent.
Mr Hart during the State poll campaign was portrayed on some Facebook pages as the saviour of Palm Beach. Residents posted a vote for him would stop light rail.
The LNP in Government promised to explore the option of taking light rail west through Varsity and then down the heavy rail corridor next to the Pacific Motorway to the airport.
Mr Bartholomew said the trams had left the station for Burleigh “on the sitting member’s watch” and now it was time for him and Ms Campradt to ensure a rollout of an exhaustive consultation process before the business case of Stage 4 of light rail to the airport.
So what happened at the booths, to a potential huge swing to Mr Hart by stopping trams? A Currumbin Labor source told your columnist: “The anti-light rail protest? It did not have any effect at all.”
Where Labor was hurt most was the “red rump” at Coolangatta where traditional ALP voters cast a protest vote about the border closures, and in the green valleys of Tallebudgera where green leaning activists second preferenced the LNP.
In Burleigh, a booth worker who spoke to hundreds of residents gave even more insight: “People don’t want to say they are for it. They don’t want to say that because they will be vilified.”
Even so, the trams were not at the top of their wish list.
“Health came first (with COVID-19) and small business (solutions). A lot of people were happy that small business could still operate,” the booth worker added.
This is not to say that residents in the campaign were not voicing legitimate concerns about the trams heading south of Burleigh.
Labor’s Kaylee Campradt outside her local election booth at Palm Beach. Picture: Scott Powick.Experienced environmental planner Matt Keys wrote to the major party candidates and secured commitments about pursuing a fauna overpass to protect koalas.
Mr Hart said he was a strong supporter of koalas and backed the overpass. Mr Bartholomew in an email indicated a “land bridge may be built as part of the design which will be finalised following community consultation”.
Booth workers know there are other concerns, notably the crossing of Tallebudgera Creek and how the trams will fit down the tight corridor to Palm Beach.
Now with the election finished, this is the time for clever consultation from the community stakeholders with the government and council on these issues.
This article first appeared on www.goldcoastbulletin.com.au
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