Working your butt off to pay your own way? This man probably doesn’t like you

First it was landlords. Now it is anyone who lives in inner-Brisbane. Why is it always the voters’ fault when things don’t go the way politicians want, asks Madonna King

Sep 21, 2023, updated Sep 21, 2023
Steven Miles has awarded an Queensland Health invention making assisted dying easier for all concerned (AAP Image/Darren England)

Steven Miles has awarded an Queensland Health invention making assisted dying easier for all concerned (AAP Image/Darren England)

The latest attack on voters is by the Government’s deputy premier Steven Miles, who has labelled those living in inner Brisbane as “wealth inner-city elites’’ who don’t want planes flying over their own homes. They also did not want “working people” to be able to afford to fly.

This is just truly offensive on so many fronts.

Firstly Miles, until a few years ago, actually represented some of those he’s pointed out as rich, snobby and judgmental, when he was the MP for Mt Coot-tha.

In fact, the median personal income of those in Bardon, at the foot of Mount Coot-tha jumped 52 percent during the past decade – to $1334 per week. That puts them amongst the very top earners, in a city where high-income workers are far more dispersed than in other capital cities.

But the deputy premier doesn’t just have his facts wrong. Why is this Government hell-bent on putting down voters who find it easier to pay their own way?

There’s no doubt that a few landlords need to be pulled up for rent gouging – but that doesn’t mean every landlord should be demonised. In many cases, families have bought second homes as their retirement investment and are now struggling to hold on, as interest rates climb.

The Government’s narrative doesn’t have room for comment on that small number of renters who ruin homes and refuse to pay the rent.

Until now, it was a single issue over landlords, labelled as rich and greedy and callous, even. But Steven Miles’ attack on anyone living in inner-city Brisbane takes this Government’s assault on a big cohort of voters to a new level.

And he’s been silly enough to include all those voters in the electorates of some colleagues – like Grace Grace and Di Farmer – in his intemperate spray.

“Don’t start me,’’ he began, when asked about the implications of a curfew on Brisbane Airport. “I can’t think of anything more hypocritical than the Greens political party’s campaign against the airport,” he said.

“The blokes running this campaign are just about the most frequent travellers from Brisbane Airport to their engagements on Q+A and down to Canberra for the parliament.’’

The Greens were a party of “wealthy inner-city elites’’. “And what they’re saying is that planes shouldn’t fly over the homes of wealthy inner-city elites, they should only fly over the homes of working people,’’ he said.

“And that only wealthy inner-city elites should be able to afford to fly but working people shouldn’t be able to afford to fly. That’s despite the fact that it’s those wealthy inner city elites who benefit disproportionately from the economic opportunity and prosperity that the airport delivers.”

Those quotes are not made up. This is how the second most powerful politician in Queensland describes voters in electorates like those represented by colleagues Grace and Farmer.

But here’s the sting, and it came out in Miles’ next comment. “They asked me to tone down my language on the Greens but I don’t think I’ve achieved it.’’

The ALP is concerned by the Green march into inner city seats. Success at the last couple of elections has provided a red alert in state electorates like McConnel, held by Grace Grace, and Bulimba where Di Farmer represents voters.

Farmer’s seat also includes suburbs now represented by Max Chandler-Mather federally, after he ousted Terri Butler.

And he – along with Green federal MPs Elizabeth Watson-Brown and Stephen Bates – are pushing for hourly flight caps and a general late night curfew along with other extreme measures.

Plane traffic should be expected in a big city, and the Greens are playing a dangerous game over increasing rents and curbing air flights.

But the State Government’s beef should be with the Greens. And there’s plenty of stuff to work with there, without Steven Miles blaming voters who own a modest second home or live in one of a dozen Brisbane suburbs.


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