Far from being “inherently conservative”, as the political class assumed them to be, Queenslanders went into the federal election with a “better understanding that politics was broken”, according to Greens leader Adam Bandt.
Bandt commented on Friday as he became the first Australian Green to address the Queensland Media Club in its 17-year history, but not before he had to deal with the elephant in the room when thanking the event’s sponsors, among whom was the Brisbane Airport Corporation.
The Greens were pushing for a flight curfew and campaigned hard on taking action to reduce aircraft noise. This issue played a role in the party’s historical success in winning three inner-city Brisbane seats at the federal election.
Tongue in cheek, Bandt thanked the airport for a “seamless entry into Brisbane” and for providing him the day’s platform while acknowledging action on aircraft noise was something “we are going to push during this term of parliament”.
Bandt also foreshadowed a stoush with Labor over its first budget, warning it would not support a budget with tax cuts he said were pushing the country “a step closer to US-style inequality”, in which the government “fails to provide the basic essential services that people need to survive”.
The party will hold 12 seats in the new Senate and also wants to end tax credits for fossil fuel companies.
“The Greens will not support a Labor budget based on cuts that hurt everyday people while continuing the handouts to billionaires,” he said.
“We will seek to amend the first budget if Labor proceeds with tax cuts for billionaires and handouts to coal and gas corporations.”
However, Bandt said his party would not block supply and was open to working constructively with the Albanese government, which he implored to drop its “my way or the highway approach”.
“The public has just rejected that kind of hairy-chested politics.”
Queensland had recognized the faults in that system, he said, and was poised to become, in many respects, “the most progressive state in the country”.
“There’s perhaps a bit of a myth in the rest of the country, or amongst some of the political class, that Queenslanders are inherently conservative,” Bandt said. “We always knew that was wrong.”
The Melbourne MP said people in inner Brisbane and across Queensland had a “better understanding that politics was broken and not working for everyday people and was just delivering for vested interests”.
Sign up to receive the top stories from Guardian Australia every morning
And the Greens had tapped into that sentiment in Brisbane with an “incredible people-powered campaign” by melding the need for climate and economic action.
That, he said, would prove a template for federal, state, and local elections.
“It’s something that the rest of the country, and the rest of the Greens, are learning from and are looking at very, very closely,” he said.
But how would new voters in Brisbane judge his party in three years if it failed to deliver on its promises on aircraft noise, for example?
Bandt said the crossbench and “third voices” had a record of bringing ideas and plans to the table “that the others won’t touch” and were rewarded for those efforts.
“People want to know that you are in there fighting for them,” he said.
“When people see you are there shoulder-to-shoulder with them, fighting to tackle things like aircraft noise, they respect that.”
Bandt said the Albanese government now had the opportunity to fix this issue.
“In three years… if the government hasn’t fixed it, then that will be on the government’s head,” he said.