I’m sorry to put it so indelicately, but it’s as clear as the O’Farrell case in NSW earlier this year, or the Kennett case in Victoria in 1992, or even the Fraser case federally in 1975: The ALP is about to come a cropper, to use the vernacular. Big time.
This time it’s in Queensland, where Labor has been in office for five terms since forming minority government in 1998; the electoral drubbing is coming, and it’s at least two terms overdue.
Who could forget — the day the 2006 state election was called — National leader Lawrence Springborg and Liberal leader Bruce Flegg, fronting a press conference, their campaign derailed on the spot on day one by a simple question: who would be Premier of Queensland if the Liberals won more seats than the Nationals?
It should have been easily enough deflected: Springborg was Coalition leader heading into the election and barring surprises, would be Premier if the conservatives won.
“Barring surprises” would have been wriggle room enough for the mandatory to occur: if the Liberals won more seats, Flegg would have had to be Premier.
And if questioned about “what surprises,” it would — should — have been easy enough to dismiss the question in terms of the vagaries of the ballot box.
I’m not going to discuss the merits of Bruce Flegg as any sort of leadership contender. Suffice to say, however, Labor was gifted a term in office.
And in 2009 the electoral correction, at least, occurred: the swing back to the Coalition at least left the numbers in Parliament a little more balanced. But Springborg was on his third attempt to become Premier, and teamed with a well-liked but completely ineffectual Liberal leader in Mark McArdle, the duo didn’t stand a chance.
So here we are…another state election looming, and a new quarterly Newspoll from The Australian to dissect.
Newspoll is showing primary vote figures of 50% for the LNP in Queensland (-1% since April/May); 27% for Labor (-4%), 8% for the Greens (+1%), and 15% (+4%) for “Others.”
In two-party terms this equates to 61% for the LNP (+1%) and 39% for the ALP (-1%).
This poll doesn’t exactly mirror the Galaxy poll we looked at in Queensland a month ago — but it doesn’t exactly contradict it, either.
Galaxy found Queenslanders voting 63-37 after preferences; Newspoll finds 61-39, The gap between the two could simply be the margin of survey error, and so broadly, the two validate each other’s findings.
Campbell Newman continues to be a popular putative leader for the LNP, with 51% of respondents approving of his performance and 27% disapproving. This remains, in round terms, a two-to-one margin of approval over disapproval.
Anna Bligh, by contrast, registers 38% approval and 52% disapproval: figures back slipping quite close to those she was registering prior to the flood crisis in January, which provided her with a temporary fillip in her polling.
Tellingly, Newman leads Bligh on the “preferred Premier” measure by 48% to 34%; this is the second-largest lead on this measure, in any poll, by an opposition leader in Queensland since Labor took office in 1998.
Second only to the 49-35 figure Newman recorded in Newspoll in the previous survey: three months ago.
I’m certain that barring a major scandal (and Labor is trying desperately to find one, albeit with a total lack of success to this point), Campbell Newman will be Premier of Queensland before Easter — and will win in a landslide.
Brisbane alone will likely deliver him enough seats: the LNP currently holds just five of the 28 truly metropolitan Brisbane electorates (Aspley, Clayfield, Indooroopilly, Moggill, and Cleveland). Even if the polls overstate the LNP vote, expect that party to win a swag of new seats in Brisbane including Ashgrove, Mount Coot-tha, Mount Ommaney, Mansfield, Springwood and Chatsworth).
And much has been made of Bob Katter’s Australia Party, or whatever it is calling itself this week.
I like Bob Katter, but a) he hasn’t been a member of state Parliament in Queensland for 20 years; b) his appeal is limited in electoral terms; c) he isn’t likely to resonate with voters in south-east Queensland; and d) he certainly isn’t going to be the electoral sensation that “flash in the pan” and right-wing wacko Pauline Hanson was in 1998.
I’d count three seats — perhaps five — as a chance for Katter’s crowd; no more.
And even then, the ructions in Aidan McLindon’s Queensland Party — or at least, what’s left of it — should neatly split the protest vote at the coming election and ensure that most of the protest candidates fail to get elected.
Which brings us back to a two-horse race: Labor and the LNP.
It’s fairly obvious that the ALP is not going to be re-elected in Queensland; the only question is how much it stands to lose by.
I was no supporter of the Liberal/National merger and in many ways remain opposed to it; a decent Liberal leader who gave the finger to the Nationals over seat allocations was all that was required — and the “decent Liberal leader” is now the likely next Premier.
I will concede the LNP has operated much more professionally, and in a more disciplined fashion, than the pre-existing Coalition did.
And so, to use the colloquial expression, Labor is stuffed in Queensland; I’d expect them to record a result of 1977 proportions (not the 1974 bloodbath, just something approaching it).
35 seats as a net gain to the LNP, in other words.
And like so many other Labor administrations around Australia these past few years — be they there, going or gone — will anyone miss the state ALP government in Queensland, 1998-2012?
I doubt it.
What do you think?