OPINION: What's worse - that they did it or that it worked?
SPEAKING of election promises, a new trick surfaced during last month's Queensland election.
Promises were made worth about $2m in the seats of Gaven and Burleigh that were dependent not only on the Liberal National Party forming government, but also on the individual election of the party's candidates in those seats.
In other words, Campbell Newman's government could, technically, have been returned at full strength but if voters in those electorates did not choose the LNP the promises were off the table.
It's about as pure a view of pork barrelling as you can get.
If the reasoning behind those election commitments were about sound policy and the wise use of taxpayer funds, then who voters elect should be irrelevant.
This is the traditional framework election promises operate within - they must not only offer a bit of sugar for the electorate, they form part of a sound, responsible policy.
Framing promises so they're simply about paying off the electorate for backing you is, by any measure of responsibility and accountability, just wrong.
Queensland Labor made hay with the whole issue, accusing the LNP of political 'bribery' and "the worst kind of politics".
Despite the Gaven LNP candidate Sid Cramp's bewildered claims the promises were the honest and innocent result of doorknocking the electorate, the LNP was left red-faced by the incident and, you might have expected it to die there.
The thing is, though, it worked.
Mr Cramp eventually took Gaven with a 2.2% margin, which is pretty impressive when you consider the massive swing against the LNP.
In Burleigh, the LNP's Michael Hart managed to survive the swing and hold on with a 6.1% margin.
What's even more worrying, for us on the Northern Rivers, are the echoes of the LNP's Queensland arm twisting in the wording Ballina Labor candidate Paul Spooner used when promising to axe the West Byron development.
"If I am elected to Parliament and Labor forms Government in March, West Byron will not go ahead."
The emphasis on 'and' is mine, not Spooner's, but it is essentially the same phrase Queensland Labor lashed the LNP for in Gaven and Burleigh.
It's worth noting elsewhere in the press release it said only that West Byron would be scrapped if Labor formed government, so maybe Mr Spooner just misspoke.
Let's hope so.