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'Quexit': Australian Labor voters want Queensland expelled for backing Scott Morrison over climate policy

Phil Mercer
Support in Queensland put Mr Morrison's party over the top  - REUTERS

Scott Morrison, Australia's newly re-elected prime minister, took time in his victory speech to thank the people of Queensland for propelling him to an unlikely victory for his centre-Right Liberal Party.

But as the final results rolled in this week, eventually handing Mr Morison an unexpected majority and increased mandate, the northeastern state has faced mischievous calls for a "Quexit".

In a move that would see Queensland banished from the rest of Australia, disillusioned Labor voters turned on the region for dumping the Left in favour of Mr Morrison's government - thus killing off ambitious green policies.

"We demand ‘Quexit’.  Cut them loose!" was a regular cry online, where outrage has been fuelled by the view that Queenslanders selfishly chose coal mining jobs over bolder action on climate change promised by the Labor opposition.

“Queensland you are the most affected state from climate change, the Great Barrier Reef, drought riddled farmland, cyclones, floods, yet you decided to vote Liberal? WHAT WAS GOING THROUGH YOUR MINDS,”  wrote one Labor supporter.

Scott Morrison thanked Queensland for its support Credit: AP Photo/Rick Rycroft

The Quexit mockery also served to highlight the deep divide between progressive urbanites concerned with climate change, and the rural and suburban classes thinking more about jobs and the economy.

Writing in The Brisbane Times, the award-winning broadcaster and author, Madonna King, hit back at the patronising critics of Queensland.  “The rest of Australia laughs at us…telling us why we are wrong. So south of the border they can call it Quexit, and label us morons, freaks and un-Australian,” she thundered.

Queensland is seven times the size of Great Britain, and is often derided as the ‘deep north’ for its perceived conservatism.

But it has elected Labor state governments for most of the past 30 years, and has far-reaching centre-left traditions.

Underneath the Quexit jokes, however, Queensland does harbour some genuine breakaway tendencies.

Robbie Katter, a state MP for Katter’s Australian Party, represents the seat of Traeger, which covers about a third of Queensland and is almost the size of France.

Coal is a major industry in Queensland Credit: REUTERS/Daniel Munoz/File Photo/File Photo

“We have called for a separate state in north Queensland. It is a terrific idea,” he told the Sunday Telegraph.

“We are still clumsily grasping these (state) lines that were drawn on a map 150 years ago and expecting it all to work. People often refer to the north of Queensland splitting away but you often find other western areas of the state saying please don’t leave us behind.”

The main grounds for a divorce would be economic independence and the freedom to exploit north Queensland’s natural resources, including coal, without outside meddling from southerners or environmental restrictions.

“We’ve got economic decline, population decline, our suicide and crime statistics are getting worse.  And we hear from the government that the big challenge of our time is climate change and the Great Barrier Reef,” Mr Katter explained.

“It is not that people don’t care about (climate change) but there are other more pressing concerns.”

Labor still holds the state government in Queensland. But fearing a wipeout in regional elections next year, this week they accelerated a decision to develop a coal field bigger than the UK.