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Queensland election

January 27th, 2015

In the opening days of the Queensland election campaign, I thought the most likely outcomes were either a narrow LNP victory or a minority government of some kind*. But the campaign has been a disaster for the LNP and for Campbell Newman in particular. He is now in the ludicrous position of refusing to answer any questions, except to repeat scripted lines about jobs. And he is suing and being sued by all sorts of people, mostly from groups traditionally associated with the political right.

The big issue has been asset sales, and again the LNP strategy has been bizarre. Having cut services in breach of all their promises, they are now promising to restore them (notionally funded by the proceeds of asset sales) but only in electorates where the LNP wins. Labor has avoided matching these promises, and has offered a package that’s fiscally sustainable in the medium term, even if it doesn’t really address the fundamental problem of inadequate revenue. With public opinion solidly against asset sales, that should be enough to neutralise the LNPs perceived superiority in economic policy.

Newman’s main calculation, I suppose, is that holding an election in January ensures no one will pay any attention (though he had the hide to say that this is the most important election in Queensland’s history), and that may be right. Still, I now think that an outright LNP win is unlikely and that there is little chance of a minority LNP government being formed. There’s even less likelihood of Campbell Newman being re-elected in his own seat.

Labor leader Annastacia Palaszczuk has also (very foolishly, IMO) ruled out a minority government, but I doubt that she would be willing to follow through with another election if she had the option of forming one.

* I’m avoiding the silly phrase “hung Parliament”. By analogy with a “hung jury”, this implies a Parliament that is unable to produce a workable government. In reality, the existence of a disciplined majority, effectively at the command of a quasi-presidential leader, has generally produced bad government, particularly in a unicameral system like that in Queensland. By contrast, minority governments have often run their full term, and been more transparent and open than their majority counterparts.

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  1. Clarke
    January 27th, 2015 at 11:17 | #1

    While I share the despair of Dennis Shanahan, Laurie Oakes and others at the political fall-out from Tony Abbott’s quaint award of a knighthood to the Duke of Edinburgh, there are many other things about awards which offend me more – many of them associated with the Queensland election and the news that Campbell Newman is running so-called “Masonic/Opus Dei” tickets with left-leaning anti-Abbott cadre in many many seats.

    One of them (in a northern seat) is the PC brigades local commander – completely blinkered in his views and flapping mad in most! You’d probably know that recent Aussies of the Year have been decided on symbolism rather than active service to the community with a large smattering of lost souls from the Abbott-birther wing of the crazed Left picking up the spoils (eg Slipper/Thompson).

    Days after the Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria, CFA volunteer teams were brought in from around the state for damping down the many hot spots. For this activity some of them were subsequently invited to ceremonies where they were to be presented with medals, the recipients being selected at random. I’m proud to say that my curmudgeon brother refused the honour. That sent a shock wave through the public service thast still felt today in Campbell Newman and his acolytes – not to mention with regards Abbott and his “death cult” obsession and loads of community service obligations that tend towards the illusory but win over newsprint and the idle voter!

    Soldiers and scientists and real public benefactor heroes, yes, but symbolic individuals personifying the latest PC sacred cow, no. Even sports men and women in these modern days of fabulous financial rewards should be in question, unlike the former amateur era when Cuthberts, Elliotts and Murray Roses went unrewarded, and even Footballers and cricketers were paid peanuts.

  2. Garry Claridge
    January 27th, 2015 at 11:41 | #2

    I agree about the use of the silly phrase “hung Parliament”. With this situation a better democracy exists, i.e. the bigger parties will have to convince the other representative of the value of their proposals to gain a majority.

  3. bjb
    January 27th, 2015 at 11:48 | #3

    You’ve got to hand it to the Libs – couldn’t run a p*** up in a brewery. Campbell sneakily goes to the polls over the holiday season to (he hoped) distance himself from the stuff ups in Canberra, and what happens ? Kaboom ! The Mad Monk lands one with Prince Phillip, just to remind everyone how crazy the Libs are. Any voter who still might be thinking of voting LNP would also have to barking mad.

  4. Doug
    January 27th, 2015 at 11:49 | #4

    Certainly the goings on in Queensland have tended toward the bizarre. The LNP strategy is supposed to be about being boring – but the last few days suggests they have been getting off script. Clive is now apparently returning to form and threatening legal action against Springborg after the election.

  5. Uncle Milton
    January 27th, 2015 at 11:55 | #5

    Labor leader Annastacia Palaszczuk has also (very foolishly, IMO) ruled out a minority government

    It’s not foolish at all. She wants people to vote Labor. She wants to win seats. It comes with the territory with being the Labor leader. Was she supposed to say, “vote independent or minor party if that’s what you want, and we’ll worry about it after the election”?

  6. January 27th, 2015 at 12:31 | #6

    It’s quite a turnaround. This time, I think the Labor ads have looked very professional and reassuring, and it’s the LNP ones are reeking of scared desperation: a complete reversal of the last campaign.

    Annastacia is also presenting very well in the media I have noticed. Win or lose, she’s done very well given the dire starting point.

  7. John Quiggin
    January 27th, 2015 at 12:40 | #7

    @Uncle Milton

    Her previous line, much more sensible, was along the lines of “We’re not doing any deals, we are planning to win in our own right”. Any follow-ups along the lines of “What if you end up in a minority” should have been answered with “That’s a hypothetical question, which I won’t dignify with an answer” (It is a long-established rule of Oz politics and journalism that asking hypothetical questions is an unforgivable sin, so she would get away with this).

    With that answer, she would get 90+ per cent of the benefits of an outright denial before the election, while leaving herself a free hand afterwards.

  8. Geoff Andrews
    January 27th, 2015 at 12:55 | #8

    @Uncle Milton
    Yes, even your extreme example would be better to say than what she did say, because if it turns out that she can form a government with the help of the Greens and a couple of Independents, we’ll get three years of “she broke her promise” bullshit.
    A question for the political scientists: when an election is called, does the Governor “dissolve” parliament i.e. all the MP’s cease to become MP’s? Is Newman still the Premier or just the leader of the LNP?

  9. Ikonoclast
    January 27th, 2015 at 13:14 | #9

    Meanwhile, I saw Christine Milne give an interview and wrap-up on national affairs on ABC 24. She came across as;

    (1) Organised and prepared.
    (2) Sane and sensible.
    (3) Statesperson-like.
    (4) Aware of Climate Change.
    (5) Aware of general ecological issues.
    (6) Aware of the fact that a healthy environment is needed to support a healthy economy.
    (7) Aware of the fact that we need to deal with real issues now not go back to the 1950s.

    (The ABC cut her off before she got to other important topics like (I assume) indigenous rights and refugee policy.)

    All of these factors put her streets ahead of any other potential PM for Australia. The tragedy is she has very, very little chance of becoming PM when she and the Greens would be far and away our best hope for sane and sensible policies for a sustainable, equitable and humane future.

    Meanwhile up here we have Tweedlelib and Tweedlelab. Yes, I know Tweedlelab is less worse but opting for them is like opting to catch Falciparum malaria rather than ebola.

  10. Rob
    January 27th, 2015 at 13:15 | #10

    Uncle Milton :

    Labor leader Annastacia Palaszczuk has also (very foolishly, IMO) ruled out a minority government

    It’s not foolish at all. She wants people to vote Labor. She wants to win seats. It comes with the territory with being the Labor leader. Was she supposed to say, “vote independent or minor party if that’s what you want, and we’ll worry about it after the election”?

    I doubt whether silly statements like that actually work in the politicians favour, so why say it? What it says to me is simply “I don’t like compromise”, which lis like saying “I’m actually not a very good negotiator, and therefore not a very good politician”.

    It’s also a statement that expects voters to think and behave like politicians. I really, really hope that’s not the case and never is….

  11. Uncle Milton
    January 27th, 2015 at 13:33 | #11

    @John Quiggin

    Hmmm … did she rule out minority government as such, or minority government with side deals a la Gillard?

    It’s hard to believe that she would refuse to form a government if the Labor Party ends up as the largest minority party and the other side can’t stitch together deals to form a majority.

  12. Uncle Milton
    January 27th, 2015 at 13:38 | #12

    @Ikonoclast

    she has very, very little chance of becoming PM

    Especially if she remains a Senator.

  13. January 27th, 2015 at 13:51 | #13

    John, I like what you said here. It is a fact that Campbell Newman has shown nothing but contempt for democratic process. First there was the ambush election designed to intentionally disenfranchise young voters. Then there were his contemptuous assertions about ‘hung parliaments’ – something that would be very healthy for both major parties, needing to learn negotiating skills, compromise and accepting a wide range of views for consideration, not just echo-chamber groupthink.

    Finally, Newman follows his mentor, Joh promising not to represent anyone who fails to cower before his mighty will and vote LNP. In a democracy, if you believe in democratic institutions and rights, the government of the day represents us all and listens to our voices. Newman’s refusal to do this should send a message that he is unfit for the Queensland Premier job. If you don’t like being threatened put LNP last. Some of us remember what it was like under Joh when some of our schools had not teacher-aides and no toilet roll in the students’ toilets. Hands up all who want to return to that.

  14. Julie Thomas
    January 27th, 2015 at 14:22 | #14

    @Rob

    “I’m actually not a very good negotiator, and therefore not a very good politician”.

    But that narrative, that negotiation is “flip-flopping’ and is bad, certainly not the mark of a good politician or leader is the one that has been sold to us about politics and politicians since I can remember.

    Even now in the latest propaganda from Pat Weir the LNP stooge in Condamine who replaced Ray Hopper when he defected to the Katter party a couple years ago, claims that for the voters the “choice is between a strong LNP team with a strong plan for a stronger Queensland, or the chaos that would come with Labor flopping over the line……”.

    See – strong equals good and negotiation is floppy and chaos.

    The brochure that came with this informative letter has a section in which 4 nobodies – well nobody I’ve ever heard of – say they have known Pat for yonks and can recommend him as a bloody good bloke. Very reassuring.

    There is only one small picture of Campbell inside the brochure and lots of pics of Pat with men in Akubra’s and one of a pretty young mum with a couple of kids outside a school, which shows clearly that Pat is, like our PM, a feminist and understands what the Australian woman thinks of as she does the ironing.

    This is Queensland so why bother wondering what fence Hopper Ray was thinking when after hopping out of the LNP, he decided to hop again from this electorate that he might have been able to hold given the apathy of people out here, to the next door electorate and bring in his 22 year old son, Ben, to run in Condamine.

    There are only two signs outside the pub; for Pat Weir and the LNP and one for Ben Hopper who doesn’t put his Katter party affiliation on his sign. Just says “Hopper for Condamine”

    I have seen one Labor sign in town but it was lying down. Nothing Green.

  15. Dianne
    January 27th, 2015 at 19:28 | #15

    I am surprised the ALP hasn’t paid more attention to how the LNP reward their very generous benefactors. Examples include the blatant backdating of laws to protect Karreman Quarries from prosecution and decisions on Sibelco and New Hope. There are numerous stories around that could be told to a wider audience outside of social media and listeners to Alan Jones.

    It is also curious that the LNP have sought to alienate their rural constituency leaving them with few friends outside of the rich and powerful. It will be a very interesting election day.

  16. Megan
    January 27th, 2015 at 19:51 | #16

    @Dianne

    Not surprising at all.

    After ICAC, Obeid, McDonald and Qld CSG under the ALP it would be too obviously hypocritical for the ALP to highlight the LNP’s dodgy actions in that department.

  17. Dianne
    January 27th, 2015 at 20:39 | #17

    Your right Megan, it is not so surprising. After the Gladstone Harbour debacle and having a CSG company attempting to coerce their way onto a family property, I couldn’t vote for either at the last election.

    The ALP set a very low bar but the LNP buried the bar and allowed the resource companies to bulldoze over the top. Depressing stuff all round.

  18. Dianne
    January 27th, 2015 at 20:44 | #18

    @Dianne
    Apologies, I should have said ‘You’re right Megan’.

  19. J-D
    January 27th, 2015 at 21:47 | #19

    @Geoff Andrews

    A. Yes, calling an election and dissolving Parliament are, if not exactly the same thing, inextricably linked; Parliament must be dissolved for a general election to take place

    but

    B. The dissolution of Parliament doesn’t mean MPs stop being MPs; Campbell Newman remains Member for Ashgrove until somebody else becomes Member for Ashgrove (or he resigns or dies)

    and

    C. In any case, even if Campbell Newman ceased being a Member of Parliament, that wouldn’t automatically mean he ceased being Premier, because those things are not inextricably linked; he remains Premier until he resigns (or is dismissed or dies)

  20. Liam
    January 28th, 2015 at 00:48 | #20

    John,

    Good analysis. However looking on a seat by seat basis I just can’t count to a Labor majority government. Hung parliament isn’t impossible but very unlikely. Quite simply not enough Independents in the parliament to form a favourable Labor government. Foley will get up in Maryborough, Wellington in Nicklin, Knuth in his seat and Katter in his. Labor will win Gladstone back.

    For Labor to somehow scrape in with minority government they would have to somehow win Burleigh, Mirani, Pumicestone (which had a poll which showed Labor were 2% behind there), Mundingburra and Whitsunday. All which will be firstly pork barrelled by the LNP and secondly they will each triple Labor’s spend in those seats. So it is a very uphill climb.

    My prediction is the LNP scrapes in with 46-48 seats. This means that there is a backbench that needs to be serviced well and taken care of as they can’t risk alienating anyone. This will highlight that more of the asset sales money will simply be wasted on ensuring that LNP members are serviced adequately. Especially those who are susceptible to leaving to become Independents.

  21. Megan
    January 28th, 2015 at 01:20 | #21

    @Liam

    I fear you’re probably right.

    Anecdote:

    I met a mediocre person a year ago who said he was going to be the next MP for Pumicestone and was speaking to him for about half an hour – just general discussion about the state of the state. Eventually I had to ask him which party he was running for – because I couldn’t work it out from anything he had said.

    LNP/ALP – there is no practical difference.

  22. Geoff Andrews
    January 28th, 2015 at 06:41 | #22

    Thank you for that, J-D.
    My query arose when I saw an election placard for my sitting LNP member who described himself as “Bill Smith, MP”. Although not an avid reader of electioneering material, I couldn’t remember seeing “MP” added before to any candidate’s placard. Conspiracy theory flares; letter to Court of Disputed Returns written in head (“false advertising – unfair advantage, etc, etc”)
    Your explanation has brought the conspiracy theory back to a gentle simmer.

  23. paul walter
    January 28th, 2015 at 09:50 | #23

    @Rob
    She needs to consider an alliance with the Greens.

    This would perhaps put a handbrake on any market zealots and opportunists within Labor of the sort who had Bligh kicked out, for not keeping cast in stone promises re economic rationalist nostrums, thus inflicting the blight of Neumannism on Qld.

  24. paul walter
    January 28th, 2015 at 19:20 | #24

    @John Quiggin
    Yeah, think of the preferences they forgo.. again.

    When is the ALP going to grow out of its pet concerning the Greens?

  25. Uncle Milton
    January 29th, 2015 at 08:52 | #25

    Centrebet has the Premier at long odds to hold his seat.

  26. RussellW
    January 29th, 2015 at 16:46 | #26

    Apparently the Bjelke-Petersen legacy is not finished yet, same script, different actors, how very, very depressing, perhaps it’s caused by the tropical climate.

  27. Debbieanne
    January 29th, 2015 at 17:53 | #27

    Advice please: I want my vote to do the most it can to keep LNP out. Do I number all the squares, with them last, or number all but them? Thanks in advance.

  28. BilB
    January 29th, 2015 at 18:40 | #28

    JQ got in a good left hook for the team highlighting the $ 2 billion loss of revenue from the asset leases (no one has pointed out yet that you get less revenue from a lease than from an outright sale) leaving Nichols floundering for a suitable retort,……. 28 million left of the ALP budget estimate, ….he claims.

    Barnaby Joyce now admitting that”‘we’ are not infallible,.. we do make mistakes some times”, Duh.

    Then the other doubtful comment of the day with the closing comment “thank you Barnaby Joyce, good to talk with you…..”

  29. Megan
    January 29th, 2015 at 18:51 | #29

    @Debbieanne

    You only have one vote. So leaving LNP out altogether guarantees they do not get a vote from you (although I tried to work out how they could “accidently” get a vote from a ballot that put them last – and I can’t see how that would happen because by the time you get to last preferences it would seem logical that there must either be a 50/50 dead heat between the last 2 contenders or there would already be a clear ‘winner’).

    As I suggested in a previous Qld election thread, the “Number every box and put the LNP last” is just a sneaky way of saying “Vote ALP”, without actually saying it – because it would be off-putting to so many people. Both duopoly parties are terrified of a minority/hung parliament.

  30. jungney
    January 29th, 2015 at 18:57 | #30

    As an outsider to the Qld electoral process and culture in general, but a long term witness and participant, once, of an AUS march that crossed the Tweed border from NSW to Qld, in defiance of Joh’s anti-democratic public assembly laws, I’d like to comment that I m genuinely distressed about the absence of comment or reportage on the burning issues. Climate change. Where is it?

    Seriously, if you aren’t talking climate change then you are talking ‘bau’ or, as has been previously noted, ‘if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem’.

  31. Megan
    January 29th, 2015 at 21:07 | #31

    @jungney

    PUP has pledged to get 1 million houses solar – but we can’t talk about them because Palmer made his billions out of coal and therefore our heads would explode.

    And don’t forget the Greens. They want daylight savings! An idea that has probably been done to its pointless death up here.

    And just to insult us all further, Adam Bandt brought a curtain from his home in Melbourne to show us backward banjo-playing, six-fingered pointy-heads that it wasn’t faded!

    Oh, and the reef or something. But mostly a silent message: “Preference the ALP”.

    The Qld Greens are a sad sub-branch of the ALP.

  32. Donald Oats
    January 29th, 2015 at 22:59 | #32

    @jungney
    Climate Change? Bwwaaaahahahahaha! Didn’t they remove the sea-level rise risk amelioration provisions from council hands, ensuring idiots can build really really close to the current shore, really really close to current sea level? Or something like that.

  33. Ikonoclast
    January 30th, 2015 at 05:55 | #33

    @Megan

    You can’t trust a capitalist. So forget about PUP. It’s run by a billionaire capitalist. He was a Joh supporter in the bad old days. Have you forgotten that?

    As for the Bandt thing, can’t we laugh at ourselves? I laugh at Melburnians all the time. I mean them and their silly, precious AFL for instance. When it comes to other sports, a billion Chinese don’t care. When it comes to AFL, 7 billion inhabitants of planet earth don’t care.

  34. J-D
    January 30th, 2015 at 06:12 | #34

    @Debbieanne

    Both those strategies are (depending on how somebody wants to look at it) equally effective, or equally ineffective: that is, both will have exactly the same effect on how your vote is counted at each stage. If there are, say, five candidates in your seat and you put one each of the numbers from 1 to 4 in the four boxes of the candidates who are not the LNP candidate, then it makes no difference to the electoral result whether you put a 5 in the box of the LNP candidate or leave it blank.

  35. BilB
    January 30th, 2015 at 06:30 | #35

    I don’t think that anyone has raised the point that if you lease assets you get a lower return than if you sell them, and as has been well covered if the lease is for 99 years then that is for all intents and purposes a sale other than for the price. This is the other stupid part of Newman’s plan. He was prepared to take a much lower price just so that the word “sale” could not be used.

  36. jungney
    January 30th, 2015 at 08:50 | #36

    @Megan
    Right, thanks for that. So, it’s worse than I thought then.

    Donald Oats: what about beach front pole houses?

  37. January 30th, 2015 at 10:42 | #37

    @Uncle Milton
    Uncle Milton,

    Centrebet has Alp winning Ashmore. So has Sportsbet and Sporting bet.

    The betting markets still show the liberals winning, but;

    Who will take over as premier if the Liberals win and Newman loses his seat?

  38. BilB
    January 30th, 2015 at 17:11 | #38

    Here is an article that talks to motive, particularly Newman’s motives.

    http://www.theguardian.com/public-leaders-network/2015/jan/23/nervous-super-rich-planning-escapes-davos-2015?CMP=share_btn_fb

    The leaders closing debate had some absolute gems.

    Newman accused Annastacia Palaszczuk of colluding with bikies, “Oh RUBBISH” she exasperates, “its in todays PAPER” Newman exclaimes energetically, to which the audience explodes with a gale of laughter. Palaszczuk just raised he arms to the “need I say more” position. Newman was snookered,….delightfully.

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