Queensland election outcome (crosspost from Crooked Timber)

We just had an election in my home state of Queensland, and the outcomes will be of some broader interest, I hope. The governing Liberal National (= conservative) Party has (almost certainly) gone down to a surprise defeat, going from 78 of 89 seats at the last election to a probable 40 or 41 this time. The key issues were broken promises (particularly regarding job cuts) and government proposals for privatisation.

This can be seen either as a reversal or a repeat of the last election when the governing Labor Party went from 51 seats to 7. That election was also fought on broken promises and privatisation, but with the roles of the parties reversed (Labor had won an election opposing privatisation, then immediately announced it would go ahead).

Among the actual or potential ramifications

* The first instance of a woman Opposition Leader defeating an incumbent government at state or national level in Australia (there have been examples in the much smaller territory governments, but I think this is the first case at State level. The more common pattern has been for a woman to get a “hospital pass” when it is clear that the government is on the way out.
* At the national level, the replacement of the current conservative prime minister Tony Abbott
* The abandonment of the biggest coal mine project in Australia

Looking internationally, the outcome can be seen as a defeat for the politics of austerity and maybe as an example to suggest that Pasokification can be reversed, under the right circumstances.

Finally, I’ll link to my analysis of the asset sales, which got a reasonably prominent run during the campaign. It probably didn’t change many minds, but it helped to counter the barrage of pro-privatisation propaganda.

87 thoughts on “Queensland election outcome (crosspost from Crooked Timber)

  1. Looking into it, I would say it’s quite possible to be both – and in fact most of our political establishment IS.

  2. @Megan

    I disagree. Neoliberalism is a doctrine which believes in small government. Neoconservatism is a doctrine which believes in big government to project the power of the state.

  3. It’s strange that many people today are obsessed by and opposed to Big Government but they never seem to worry about Big Oligarchy and Big Corporatism.

    I would argue that if your government is still basically democratic (just true in Australia but not true in the USA) then Big Government = Big Democracy = More Equality.

    We should not be afraid of big government if it is good and democratic. Indeed, such big government is our best protection against oligarchy and corporate power. This is true at least under the current system of really existing capitalism which is highly biased to concentrating wealth and creating oligarchs, big corporations and conglomerates. In such a system, big democratic government is the only equalising power that the 99% have.

  4. Across the political establishment neo-con/neo-lib duopoly, the love of big government applies to things like US military adventurism, ‘defence’ spending, corporate handouts, big brother surveillance and policing the domestic population. While the love of small government covers things like public services, healthcare, education, public transport, utilities/monopolies, environmental protection, corporate regulation, broadcasting and social welfare.

    Although slightly different, the neo-con/neo-lib labels apply to the duopoly.

  5. Abbott’s Press Club address was a non-event except for him vowing not to visit financial deficits on future generations. err, and climate change doesn’t count as even an economic let alone ecological deficit. This man is mad.

  6. I don’t know if someone just sat on a keyboard by accident or something.

    But the ABC “LIVE” results just switched from ALP 43, LNP 40 with projections of ALP 44 LNP 42 and is now showing:

    ALP 35

    LNP 40

    Projections are now:

    ALP 40

    LNP 46


  7. @John Quiggin

    Yes, back to how it was.

    It is still sitting at 76.0% counted, which is where it was before. It flipped out when it went up to 76.1% counted, so I’ll guess fat-fingers data entry caused the blip.

    Still, it would have been interesting if it was true!

  8. is it true as one of the commenters on the site I linked to below says, that the claim Tony makes that “Small businesses are also to receive a company tax cut of circa 1.5% from 1 July this year” is “a gigantic con as small business shareholders will also lose 1.5% of the 30% franking credits generated when they paid 30% company tax. Everybody business’s franking account assets will have to be written down by 5% (1.5%/30%).”?


  9. @Jack Strocchi
    Except there is no Sandpit. So I’ll respond but in brief. You say:

    I respect the partisans. My father was a Christian Democrat partisan (Po Valley). Probably the only one.

    Fair enough. But we know that partisan cells, occupying geographically defined spaces, co-operated between Christians, communists, socialists and indeed even some anarchists. What united them was anti-fascism.

    Which is why it is a wonder to me to also read you:

    Mussolini, Metaxas, Horthy, Franco and Petain were, on the whole, a lot nicer.

    …than Hitler.

    Look, in the unlikely event that I am ever at a dinner party where the host puts forward a comment like that I’d be thinking that the mounted animal’s heads in the corridor definitely were a red flag whereafter I’d be making my excuses.

    I’m sure that somewhere in Australia there are a few bowling clubs and social clubs where, annually, a toast is raised to the idea that Mussolini wasn’t such a bad chap after all but geez, ya’ know, you guys certainly keep a low profile about it.

  10. @Megan

    At the 2012 Queensland State election, the aggregate primary vote for LNP and ALP candidates was 76% of all formal votes counted, so the aggregate figure for all other candidates (independent and other parties) was 24%. The most recent totals reported by the Electoral Commission of Queensland for the 2015 State election give the corresponding figures as 79% and 21%, suggesting a net shift of roughly three percentage points.

  11. @Uncle Milton
    Neoliberalism (Mk II, circa 1980) in its reinvigorated form, is let the free market rip and get government out of the way.
    Neoconservativism is conservative in the state, with neoliberal thought as a driver of internal economic doctrine and practice, and is wilfully interventionist in foreign affairs, often with military force.

    A neoliberal is always looking for smaller government, whilst a neoconservative is looking for strong military and foreign affairs public service, which can come into conflict with neoliberal principles of smaller government (although, because foreign affairs are not of domestic consideration except indirectly, perhaps it isn’t in direct conflict).

    That’s my limited understanding of these terms.

  12. “a defeat for the politics of austerity”. I don’t see that this applies to the the key LNP election policy- asset sales- which proposed increasing short term government spending by raiding the balance sheet (net of the swap of balance sheet items equity and debt).

  13. Current state of the count.

    76.6% counted.
    LNP 38 seats won & 41 seats predicted to be won.
    ALP 42 seats won & 45 predicted to be won.
    KAP 2 seats won.
    OTH 1 seat won.

    ALP could get there in their own right. I wonder if having such a slim majority will keep the B’s honest? Hard to say. It’s certainly extraordinarily difficult getting politicians to be honest.

  14. @Ikonoclast

    Can’t see why. In Queensland, as you know, at 45+ seats it’s winner takes all. A “Mandate”.

    Bligh did what she did with six seats up her sleeve and Newman with 30 odd. All it takes is one seat. The margin means nothing to them.

    There is no sign whatsoever that the ALP has changed its spots in the slightest.

    What will keep the Bs “honest”? They don’t care what the people think. The Murdoch mono-media will give them a free run as long as they are perpetuating the neo-liberal agenda. The very worst thing they think can happen to them is we switch sides again in 3 years. All the forces are designed to keep the Bs DIS-honest.

  15. @Tyler
    JQ hasn’t replied to your question, so where angels fear to tread etc.

    For once, it’s reasonable to assume that markets are fairly efficient. The prospective buyers for the coal plants have the same information about their lousy prospects that you have as vendor – and if you do know worse and conceal it, that’s probably illegal. The bad prospects are priced in.

    My take is that trends point the other way. In Germany, further along the transition than Australia, the generating companies have presented to the government a long list of coal plants the want to close as unprofitable, under ever-declining capacity factors. The government won’t accept the full list, to keep a safety reserve. Ultimately it will have to subsidise the plants it wants to keep open. Whether you call this nationalization or not, the plants are wards of the state. Australian coal plants are also headed for the public sector in the long run.

  16. James, if “markets are fairly efficient” then the GFC would not have happened, and my local council, half a world away from the financial meltdown epicenter, would not have lost their entire employee superannuation fund.

    Tyler, the answer to your question is that given the Global Warming situation there is a need to retain the power generation facilities and reshape them into the distributed power generation renewable energy complement form that they need to become. The market approach may have worked had there not been, as there still is, immensely destructive political interference. But the fact is that the market approach to reconfiguring our grid energy system, given the available time frame, has failed and will require direct management to affect the changes necessary.

    Will this require extra funding from the public?


    The industry already has all of the liquidity that it requires from the more than doubling of electricity prices over the last seven years. What is required is an investigation of the industry to find out where the funds are, and,…….. the first politicians whom I have witnessed calling for such an inquiry is Robbie Katter and Shane Knuth.

    I am developing a huge respect for these two young and energetic public representatives above all others except perhaps Christine Milne. We do have some good people in politics, but you have to go to the far ends of the country to find them.

  17. Ikonoclast, with such a small number of seats not belonging to the big two parties, if Labor gains 44 seats and forms a coalition there would be a considerable temptation for the coalition parter or partners to defect to the LNP either sooner or later. So Labor with 45 seats has the disadvantage of not being a coalition but the advantage of being less likely to see the LNP return to power as a result of wheeling and dealing. And the LNP returning to power would be bad because stochastically speaking their stance on subsidising coal will kill more children. So Labor having a bare majority and 3 non-LNPs they can court if that majority slips overall is not such a bad result.

  18. @Megan

    I did wonder if they could be kept honest. I did say it’s “Hard to say” and “extraordinarily difficult getting politicians to be honest”.

    A one seat majority is tricky to manage. One by-election could sink them. The failure to whip everyone into parliamentary sessions could sink them. An opposition that refuses to give “pairs” for absent members could sink them.

    But yes, the only legal thing that can permanently change democracy in Australia for the better is for both LNP and ALP to be destroyed at the ballot box. In turn, the cause for that will be our economic and climate collapse. Only when it is real and hurting the great majority badly will things change. Endless growth capitalism has to collapse before people stop believing in it. It will indeed collapse of its own weight. It is completely unsustainable.

    Yes, it would be nice if elites and the people could be convinced to change course before disaster but that hasn’t happened. It’s too late for that now. Now, the disaster has to begin and then we have to hope there is enough room left to manoeuvre to avoid the whole intrinsic chain of disasters continuing to the bitter end.

  19. > there would be a considerable temptation for the coalition parter or partners to defect to the LNP either sooner or later.

    If a conservative rural independent were OK with the LNP they’d be in the LNP.

  20. It now looks possible that the coalition will fall back by one seat in favour of – Pauline Hanson.

  21. @James Wimberley

    “For once, it’s reasonable to assume that markets are fairly efficient.”

    If you were right, then coal power plants would have disappeared a long time ago because ‘the investors’ would have anticipated average global warming. This did not happen. It did not happen because there is no market price for the negative externality. Therefore the relevant information does not enter the profit calculation. You construct an example of informational efficiency (between buyer and seller) but you ignore that the price system is incomplete. Therefore your example is irrelevant for resource allocation. This is exactly where the result of generic Pareto inefficiency for incomplete markets bites.

    As stated by BilB, the inefficiency problem is bigger still. The GFC is not merely an example of ‘imperfection’ but an example of system failure with the consequence of wealth redistribution

  22. Out in the world of electronic graffiti a lot of ALP folk are wailing about the horror prospect that Pauline Hanson might win Lockyer.

    On current counting, the primary votes were:

    ALP 6368
    LNP 8593
    ONP 6981

    Hanson is just ahead on preferences at the moment. It’s fair to assume that crucial to that lead is a chunk of ALP votes that took party advice to “Number Every Box and Put LNP last”.

  23. A quick look at the One Nation Site demonstrates that Pauline Hanson in state Parlement is not going to be an asset to Queensland. She has written, “Global warming is all about a power grab by a wealthy elite and their collectivist sycophants — using the U.N. as a cover and tool.” Which shows a marked inability to actually examine the evidence, such as, you know, looking at temperature records, examining pictures of glaciers now and in the past and seeing how far they have retreated, checking to see if the North-west passage is possible, impossible, or used all the time now. Those sorts of things. But in practice what is she going to do? Oppose carbon pricing and subsidise coal mining? No difference from the LNP there. And with regards to people who made the mistake of not being born pasty white, what is she going to do there? Put them in concentration camps? She should be complaining that the other parties have stolen her policies.

  24. Hanson is just ahead on preferences at the moment. It’s fair to assume that crucial to that lead is a chunk of ALP votes that took party advice to “Number Every Box and Put LNP last”

    Be careful what you ask for. 😉

    I would never give Hanson an effective preference, but then, I’d never preference the LNP either.

    Part of the problem is the view that the message must be simple, like the voters. They could have said: Vote 1 ALP and then use your best judgement … (while producing localised HTVs) …

    Someone who in Lockyer had voted 1 ALP and 2 LNP could not have helped the LNP defeat the ALP of course, even if the ALP candidate had run second on primaries, nor could they have helped the LNP defeat Hanson, unless the ALP had run third to Hanson and the LNP.

    Had I been in Lockyer — perish the thought — I’d have probably voted Greens 1 ALP 2 and then exhausted.

    As horrendous as Hanson’s politics are, her victory at the expense of the LNP would almost certainly have been more damaging to them than the ALP since she would continually wedge them against their own nutbag constituency. So while it would be unprincipled to support her, shrugging your shoulders about who wins has its advantages.

  25. I don’t know how we got on to Hitler, but there is a Law that covers such matters. I’ve deleted Jack’s last comment and the reply. Jack, please take another week off and add Hitler, Mussolini and anything related to the list of topics on which you are not to comment.

  26. Seems pretty amazing that Springborg is still trying to cling to power even though Labor has 44 seats and the support of the independent. Obviously it will take a while to sort out the Ferny Grove situation, but in the meantime surely AP should be able to form government? What’s the talk in the street in Queensland?

    (I ask that of course being aware that the views of one’s friends and acquaintances are no guide to political opinion in general! I know I’ve linked it here before once, but after the 2013 election there was a very funny piece in Crikey about how inner Melbourne – “Greenstown” – was a world unto itself.)

  27. However (re my last question) I get the impression that several commenters from Queensland here (Julie? Ikon?) live in quite conservative areas and talk to people with a wide range of views so maybe you do get a broader sense of what people think?

  28. @Val

    Springborg feels entitled because he was going to challenge Newman and that is why he – Newman – called the election so quickly; before the Borg could take over and they woulda won if he was the leadert.

    They love him out here because he is one of ours. They agree that he is a bit stupid or even more, really stupid, but they foolishly imagine that he is honest or more accurately they understand his level of dishonesty and are okay with it, because everyone in the city does it, but they don’t blame him for the rank corruption that Newman and his cronies were engaged in.

    When local politicians do things like Joh did like diverting a road to go past their place, the locals think that they have had a win and that they are getting some of their taxes back even though it doesn’t benefit them at all. Even better when the highway is diverted in a dogleg so it passes the pub owned by someone on the council or state govt as happened back in the murky past.

    I can’t help you with what people think Val. I’m not very good at understanding people’s thoughts but I can see that there are behaviour changes and the only proof I can give is the true story about my youngest son’s new friend the gun lover and a new one about a neighbour who is another former LNP voter.

    She is older than me, in her 70’s, and she says she has no idea how or why she changed to ‘the right’ because she was raised in the UK as a leftie through and through. Perhaps one of Howards battlers? Small business people, really small business, who thought that the Liberals meant them when they said they were for business.

    She sort of apologised to me for having been so wrong, and we have had many interesting conversations about politics and people since then. We have in common the desire to build the community, this town, and that is enough to overcome any personal differences we may have.

    She has already made an appointment to talk to our new MP Pat Weir, about how we – that’s our local school – can do something about the $2000 application fee to begin the process of starting an after school care service at the school.

    We have the skills but not the money. How is a school with 2 1/2 staff able to raise $2000?

    So I hope Pat Weir is ready for her. I might go along with her and ask Pat why he referred to The Greens as “greenies’ in his mail outs during the last week of the election.

  29. Sounds good Julie. All the best with the after hours care campaign and your thoughts about what people think about Springborg sound really interesting, it makes sense the way you explain it. I hope AP (I am taking the lazy way out with spelling her name!) does get to form government soon though.

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