the queensland greens' win amid slanderous politics in the 2024 Brisbane city council Elections

By Kitty Carra, State Director, Queensland Greens


Queensland politics is like no other in the country and our council politics is a prime example of that. 

Queensland is not known for its democracy. In the days of Joh Bjeilkie Petersen the government of the day was notorious for gerrymandering electorates to concentrate power in the hands of the few. These days the challenges in Queensland are different but no less concerning. 

Queensland is the only state without an upper house and the only state without any version of proportional representation at a state or local level.

In 2008 the Labor Government amalgamated our councils reducing them to less than half the original number. This effectively created super-councils where the division or ward voter base is now often close to 20,000 or above, and winning has become a contest of money and influence.

In addition, apart from a few first past the post voting systems most contests are run on optional preferential voting which typically favours incumbents and candidates backed by major parties. In the city of Brisbane these issues are amplified and winning a council seat is the equivalent of winning a state seat in size and effort required. 

In the election in March we targeted 5 Brisbane City Council wards and 2 regional divisions and emerged as a formidable force at the end of it. Fueled by grassroots energy and a commitment to progressive change, we not only retained our new councillor, Trina Massey, but also added Seal Chong Wah to our circle of representation in the ward of Paddington. In a state with a deficiency in democracy every win is a triumph and a step towards a better future for all of us.

The field campaign we ran across the city was vast and impressive. In a ringing endorsement of our policies and our platform, we achieved significant swings of up to 20% in booths across numerous wards and we now sit in the enviable position of 2PP in 11 of the 26 city wards.

We won, but our joy was overshadowed by the political attack experienced by our Lord Mayoral Candidate, Jonathan Sriranganathan.

An activist and provocateur, Jonno fought for his community throughout his 7 years as the Greens Councillor for the Gabba, and won over Labor and Liberal voters alike. Jonno stepped down from the role in April last year and took up the task of being the Mayoral candidate for our council election.

He drove a bold, forward-thinking platform that prioritised housing justice, social justice, and community well-being. The campaign was a huge success and connected directly with voters, building genuine relationships and understanding around local concerns. It resonated deeply with residents seeking authentic representation and tangible action.

However in the third week before election day the LNP rolled out an extraordinary slanderous attack on the Greens targeting Jonno specifically as our Lord Mayoral candidate. 

The million dollar attack campaign was characterised by baseless allegations, distortions of truth, and fear-mongering tactics aimed at discrediting both Jonno and the party.

Falsehoods regarding his background and character were propagated, along with doctored images and manipulated videos intended to tarnish his reputation. The LNP's smear campaign extended beyond personal attacks, delving into dog-whistle politics and appeals to prejudice and fear. They sought to exploit existing tensions and sow seeds of division within the city. 

These tactics not only betrayed ethical standards but also undermined the integrity of the electoral process, further eroding trust in democratic institutions and fostering cynicism. The Greens are campaigning for truth in political advertising and this is why.

Despite the adversities posed by the LNP's slanderous campaign, Jonno and the candidates maintained their dignity and resilience and focused on articulating a positive vision for Brisbane, centred on sustainability, inclusivity, and social justice. 

The outcome of the election demonstrated the electorate's rejection of the politics of division and fear, with not just a growth in the vote but the success of another win in Council.

Democracy is fragile and as we reflect on the events of the 2024 Brisbane City Council election, it is critical to reaffirm our commitment to truth, fairness, and respect in political discourse, and reject attempts to undermine the principles of democracy through deceit and manipulation.