Although the shambolic performance of the Liberal party dominated the election campaign in Queensland, the longer-term implications of the result remain, paradoxically enough, quite good for the Libs. The most important long-term outcome of Saturday’s vote was that, although the One Nation vote finally disappeared (the one remaining MP is effectively an independent), the Nationals picked up almost none of it. Back in 1995, the last pre-Hanson state election, the Nationals got 26.3 per cent of the vote, well ahead of the Libs on 22.7. In 2006, the Nats got 17.3 per cent and the Libs 20.2 per cent.
The only reason the Nats won more seats than the Libs is that their vote is concentrated in a handful of rural seats west of the Great Dividing Range. There’s no reason to think they can ever go much beyond this. Of the coastal seats they held going in to the election, Gaven went back to Labor, and they suffered big swings in several of the others, making them very marginal. The only coastal area where they did at all well was the Sunshine Coast, where the special factor of the Traveston Dam ran against Labor, and the Nats regained Gympie from on-again off-again independent Elise Roberts.
In the absence of a merger, Labor is safe for another two terms. Before the Coalition can get back in, the Libs need to win enough seats to make them the senior partner.