Farewell To A Gentleman: Dale Baker Dies, Aged 73

The Australian political community has lost a gentleman this week, with the death yesterday of former South Australian state Liberal leader Dale Baker after a long battle with motor neurone disease. He was 73.

Baker spent 12 years in the SA Parliament from 1985, leading the Liberal Party in opposition from 1990 and 1992; these were dark times for the SA Liberals, having lost in 1989 to John Bannon’s Labor ALP juggernaut for a third consecutive time.

Respected on all sides of politics for his humour and wit as much as for his integrity, Baker took on the leadership of his party at a low point, and with no turnaround in its fortunes in sight, set about preparing it for an election due in 1993.

In an exquisite irony, the SA Liberals were knocked into serious shape for the first time in nearly two decades on Baker’s watch, yet he singularly failed to take the public with him or to gain their favour.

The scandal over the State Bank destroyed Bannon’s credibility; this and similar fiascos over responsible government were a boon to the Liberal Party, yet these never translated into any sort of positive affection or public approval for Baker.

One weekend in 1992, former state leader and two-time election loser John Olsen — having spent some years in the Senate — and former Tonkin government minister Dean Brown returned to the SA Parliament in concurrent by-elections; the purpose of those by-elections was to facilitate a ballot for the Liberal leadership, which was won by Brown.

Following the landslide win recorded by the Liberal Party at the 1993 state election, Baker remained in Parliament for one further term before retiring at the 1997 election.

But following his vacation of the leadership, old enmities and grudges resurfaced; Olsen and Brown had been less than friends in their first stint in the SA Parliament, and very soon after Brown’s thumping win in 1993, the tensions resurfaced in the form of leadership instability.

These eventually resolved in Olsen’s favour, who went on to fight the 1997 election and recorded the loss of the Liberals’ entire majority — from a 39-8 win over the ALP in 1993, the Liberals in 1997 were reduced to 22 seats and forced to rely on independents to continue to govern.

And thus, the gift of Baker to his party — a cohesive unit ready to fight and win an election, which it did — was rent asunder by the re-emergence of decades-old tensions which, once again, tore his party apart.

Dale Baker’s reputation for honesty and decency follows him to his grave; it’s testament that people who are far from thoughtful or kind, and either opposed outright to him or advancing their own agendas at the time behind his back, acknowledge the decency of a gentleman and a character.

It’s hard enough to get such people involved in public life at the best of times; it is, today, virtually impossible to tempt the likes of Baker into the fray in this “modern” era of personal attacks, fabricated allegations, and gutter politics generally from some quarters.

Baker spent the last four years battling motor neurone disease; typical to the end, one of the items from the coverage of his death featured a picture of him holding a whiteboard after the disease robbed him of the ability to speak. It simply read: “People did not listen when I could talk, so this is more effective.”

Following his diagnosis in 2009, he told a journalist that “Many people, particularly a lot of children and younger people, have been dealt a worse card in their lives.”

It is a great shame that more like Dale Baker have not graced the chambers of our Parliaments in this country, but it is a greater shame that he was never embraced for what he was. Indeed, the man was never given the opportunity to fight an election, and the legacy of his work rebuilding the SA Liberals was, in the end, squandered on a personal feud between others.

Baker is survived by his wife, two adult children, and four grandchildren. He died at home in Adelaide with his family around him.

The Red And The Blue wishes to minute condolences to Baker’s family and his friends, and reflects for a minute on a quiet larrikin who was tough but fair, but ultimately too good for the vocation he chose.

Don’t Forget: The Red And The Blue Is On Twitter

Just a reminder to all readers that The Red And The Blue is on Twitter; it’s been a long time now since I have made note of the presence of this column on Twitter, and I thought it appropriate to refresh the message.

The uptake of Twitter has been extraordinary; many individuals now have their own Twitter accounts and feeds, in addition to as organisations, known entities and forums such as this one.

Follow The Red And The Blue on Twitter for real-time notifications of new articles as they appear, as well as to see what I have to say on tweets from others who share the common interest of things political, world events, and governance generally.

You will find The Red And The Blue on Twitter at @theredandblue .

See you there!

Federal Newspoll: Coalition Leads Labor 57-43

I wasn’t going to post tonight, but there’s a new Newspoll for The Australian tomorrow showing voter support returning to massacre levels against the ALP after Kevin Rudd’s miserable little leadership challenge, with the Coalition now polling 57% on the two-party measure.

Newspoll was in the field over the weekend during voting for the Queensland election, but obviously not just in Queensland, and quite obviously anyone they surveyed on Saturday would have had no inkling as to the Queensland result.

Yet I do feel this reflects to some extent what happened in Queensland at the weekend; obviously some of Newspoll’s respondents knew the result, but with the Rudd challenge out of the way and people a little more focused on the political landscape generally, what seems to be a massive nationwide shift against the ALP has manifested itself again here.

And — as I said last time we had a Newspoll — I expected the next survey to show a solid swing away from Labor, as those who might have supported the government had Rudd returned realised such a thing would not eventuate.

That swing away from the ALP seems to have materialised.

Newspoll finds primary support for the ALP at 28% (-3% from three weeks ago), with support for the Coalition at 47% (+4%).

As I am indebted to my Twitter colleague @GhostWhoVotes (as are many other commentators) for the earliest figures for any new polling release, I do not at this stage have figures for the Greens and “Others” — but for those of us who watch these things closely, 13% for the Greens and 12% for “Others” would seem a reasonable guess, sight-unseen.

The approval and disapproval ratings of Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott are now level, at 31/32 approving respectively, and an even 58% disapproving; and the “preferred PM” measure shows Gillard leading by 40% to 37%, which given the natural bias on this question to the incumbent, doesn’t count for very much.

Now the Queensland election is out of the way, obviously we’ll be looking for the next federal surveys from Galaxy and Nielsen to validate (or dispute) the Newspoll findings; I’m not surprised at the Newspoll result — and this is why.

In the past eighteen months, whenever there has been a distraction of any kind — any kind — the poll ratings of the federal government have improved; the minute punters have clear air and are forced to think specifically about Gillard’s government, the figures head south again.

It’s a reality that doesn’t bode particularly well for Gillard some 15 months out from an election campaign.

This sort of polling result has now dogged Gillard’s government for most of the time since the 2010 election; the best result she has recorded in that time would see, if replicated at an election, the loss of some 15 Labor seats and a very comfortable Coalition win under Tony Abbott.

The 57-43 result recorded in this poll is, however, much more typical of the ALP’s average performance in that time, and such a result would see the Gillard government slaughtered.

I’d make a quick reference to the Queensland election in the context of these figures in closing; between the 2010 federal result in Queensland, the state election result on Saturday and poll figures like these, it is obvious that barring a miracle the ALP will be smashed out of its federal seats at the next election.

Will this have a knock-on effect in the other states? Nobody can know for sure, but history doesn’t augur well for Gillard Labor.

In 1974, Queensland Premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen inflicted a mauling on his state Labor opponents on a similar scale to the defeat suffered by the Bligh government on Saturday; it is universally recognised that that defeat at a state level, coupled with a by-election in the federal seat of Bass in Tasmania (won, ironically, by Campbell Newman’s father Kevin on a swing of 17%) heralded the end of the Whitlam Government: after those two markers in time, it became a question of “when,” and not “if.”

I think with the Queensland election and the Rudd challenge over and done with, politics in Australia will return to “normal” (whatever that is!); yes, the Brisbane City Council election is next, but even before that is over, the resumption of some semblance of normality in the political landscape will see people again refocus on Gillard’s government.

And the problem there is that circuses, distractions and one-offs aside, voters do not like what they see when forced to look at Gillard or her government in the cold light of day.

This Newspoll reflects that fact. I expect to see a great deal more of these sorts of figures in the next month or two to reinforce that point.


Finally Gone, Yet Finally Listening: Anna Bligh Quits Parliament

Queensland’s Labor government, led by Anna Bligh, was spectacularly  obliterated at yesterday’s state election; today, in breach of a promise, Bligh — whilst I was at 40,000 feet, returning to Melbourne — resigned the ALP leadership and with it, her seat in the Queensland Parliament.

Campbell Newman and his LNP team have recorded what looms as the single biggest election victory, federally or in any individual state, in Australian political history.

Whilst a tiny number of electorates remain in doubt, my best estimate is that the final breakdown of seats in Queensland’s 89-seat Parliament will be LNP 77, ALP 8, Katter’s crew 2, and 2 Independents.

It is a stunning electoral triumph that now dwarfs Dean Brown’s win in South Australia in 1993 (39 of 47 seats) and Joh Bjelke-Petersen’s 1974 victory in Queensland (69 of 82 seats), and which makes anything Neville Wran ever achieved in NSW in the 1970s and 1980s look pedestrian by comparison.

Tonight’s post is one that comes with a YouTube clip; a little more obscure than some I have shared, but bang on the money.   🙂

The song says it all; in point of fact, it is precisely how I feel about quite a serious long-term girlfriend I broke up with about 12 years ago. But that’s just the thing: when voters break the relationship off with their governments — especially long-term governments, which this one in Queensland was — it really is tantamount to a divorce.

And whilst you listen to that in another browser, back to the serious stuff.

The estimated seat count I’ve just given you may change, as beaten Labor leader Anna Bligh has opted today to resign her seat in Parliament, effective immediately.

This has to be viewed as an extraordinarily selfish act on one level; having solemnly pledged to serve out a term in Parliament irrespective of the overall election result, Bligh has quit Parliament less than 24 hours after the polls closed yesterday.

In terms of how far anyone could trust anything she says, this development speaks volumes.

And the hundreds of thousands of dollars the by-election will cost the Queensland taxpayer is something the citizens of that electorate and that state should rightly be enraged over.

Yet on another level, I find it difficult to criticise Anna Bligh’s decision too heavily.

It seems that finally, she has listened to a message of sorts from Queenslanders; they don’t want her, they no longer wish to see her, they don’t care any more what she has to say, and they couldn’t care less if they ever hear from her again.

On that level, her course of action is sound, and what she said in her press conference this afternoon was correct: it will be impossible for her party to ever rebuild for as long as she remains as part of its public face, or part of its parliamentary team.

And in a roundabout way, this validates every last criticism that has been levelled against her in the course of the past three years.

Premier-elect Campbell Newman will be sworn into office tomorrow, along with Jeff Seeney as Deputy Premier and Tim Nicholls as Treasurer (good on you mate, Tim!); the full ministry will be sworn in later this week, and then it will be down to business.

And as we have discussed in this column many times now over the past six months or so, there is much to be done in Queensland.

With an eye on the result, I stand by my assessment that the dishonest and virtually fraudulent campaign conducted by Anna Bligh and the ALP worsened what was always going to be a bad result.

And now, I think we can quantify that.

All reputable polling and opinion sampling for the past 18 months has pointed to, on average, a swing of 10% against the ALP in Queensland.

It must be noted that due to the polls conducted around the federal ALP’s leadership contest, there were no statewide opinion polls conducted in Queensland until the end of the campaign; the final Newspoll showed a swing of just over 11%.

Whilst the actual swing won’t be finalised until the count is completed in a couple of weeks, it is clear that it will be in the order of some 15% to 16%; and on that basis, I would directly attribute five percentage points of the swing against Labor to the disgusting campaign it waged and the despicably baseless slurs it aimed at Campbell Newman and his wife.

In other words, Labor directly cost itself at least ten seats by virtue of its own actions.

Seats never lost to the ALP and/or never won by conservative candidates have been claimed by the LNP at this election, including several that stood firm for Labor in the 1974 massacre, including Cairns, Lytton, and Nudgee.

Labor was even taken to preferences in seats like Inala and Woodridge, which simply illustrates the sheer scale of the rout that party has suffered.

I will be posting again on the Queensland election result during the week, and there is much more to discuss than I had even thought; and so given this is not my last word of analysis but merely an introductory overview, I thought I would round out tonight’s post with a look at the predictions I made at the beginning of the campaign and to see how we fared on those (and yes, I’m copying and pasting those predictions from the earlier post so they are here verbatim; the original predictions are in bold, with my comments in separate paragraphs below).

The LNP will win government in Queensland (which will in no way mitigate the legitimacy of my own reservations about the Liberal/National merger; it’s simply time in Queensland).

It did (obviously!) and it doesn’t. And it was time.

Campbell Newman will win Ashgrove and become Premier — I’d expect a 55-45 result in Ashgrove, which is tantamount to a 12.5% swing.

Newman won in Ashgrove and did better than I thought — the eventual result will be near the 60-40 range.

The ALP will win more than 10 seats, despite opinion polls; I’d guess around the 20 to 25-seat mark, give or take.

Labor won’t even make it to 10 seats, but even with my cynical and jaundiced view of the Australian Labor Party, even I didn’t expect the disgusting campaign it chose to pursue — and as I said earlier, that reprehensible strategy has cost it at least ten additional seats.

Bob Katter’s Australian Party won’t win a seat.

It won two, actually; but my guess of zero was closer than virtually every other commentator who had the Katter crowd on track for five to ten seats.

Brisbane will swing heavily to the LNP, yielding at least 10 additional LNP electorates.

Absolutely correct. Brisbane yielded closer to 30 seats than 10, however.

Cairns and the neighbouring electorate of Barron River will fall to the LNP (I know, I know…Labor has held Cairns forever…not this time, methinks).

Bang on the money…

Townsville will mostly return to the Liberal fold — expect to see some big swings there to build on those recorded in 2009.

The Liberals appear to have scored a clean sweep in Townsville for the first time since 1980. However, the seat of Thuringowa remains undecided with Katter claiming his lot can win it, but the overwhelmingly likely outcome is that he won’t.

The ALP and Independents will fail to win any seats on the Gold Coast, the Sunshine Coast, or in Toowoomba.

Correct, with the exception of the seat of Nicklin, where Independent Peter Wellington seems to have held on despite a massive swing to the LNP. Labor has been banished from all three regions, however, with a cumulative loss of six seats across the three.

The LNP will win at least one Labor-held electorate currently on a margin greater than 16% (I have an electorate in mind; think I’ll keep that to myself for now).

The electorate I had in mind — as some of my readers already know — was the seat of Ipswich (16.6% margin), which has indeed fallen to the LNP’s Ian Berry on a swing of some 20%. Waterford (16.1%) has also been won by the LNP, with (unbelievably) Mackay (16.7%) a chance to follow, with ALP incumbent Tim Mulherin some 200 votes ahead with a quarter of the roll still to count.

That’s it for tonight, although as I said, we’ll be discussing more of this during the week…

…as well as (hopefully) returning to other political news in other areas of the country and beyond.

But as we all know, events happen where they happen; and for now, Queensland is the hot political story in Australia — and this column will follow developments there through until the election results are finalised.



2012 Queensland Election: Live Updates

From 6.30pm (AEST) on Saturday 24 March, this page will regularly update progress in the state election count with comment on trends, totals and the outcome generally. Readers outside Queensland can follow at 7.30pm local time.

To keep up to date with the night’s events, simply click back onto the headline for this article to automatically update content in your browser as it is posted to this site.

Polling day has been interesting, with many booths today reporting the presence of few (and in some cases no) ALP campaign workers; meanwhile in the mainstream press, it has been widely reported that Labor figures are increasingly speaking as though the loss is official, and LNP types reiterating their pending humility and accountability if tonight’s figures confirm what we all seemingly already know.

See you here from 6.30pm!

6.32pm — Early figures already showing a swing in the vicinity of 12-13%, early indication of a 15% swing in Whitsunday.

6.43pm — With less than three percent of the vote counted, the ABC’s Antony Green has already scored 42 seats to the LNP with 49 likely, 11 for the ALP and 29 in doubt — portents of a massacre.

7.02pm — There are growing indications that the ALP may struggle to get its seat count into double figures; conservatives appear to have won the seat of Cairns for the first time in the 110 year history of the seat, and the seat of Lytton — one of the eleven seats that held for Labor in the 1974 slaughter — also appears lost to the ALP.

7.17pm — With the count progressing, the two party swing against the ALP is stabilising at 15%; a projection just released has the ALP on 10 seats, the LNP 73 seats, none for the Greens, and three each for Katter and Independents respectively.

7.25pm — Early figures suggest Anna Bligh is struggling to hold her seat of South Brisbane, a seat lost to Labor in 1974. The Logan electorate, once held by former Labor Premier Wayne Goss, has also been won by the LNP.

7.53pm — Anna Bligh now appears to have won South Brisbane, but with Laborstill struggling to get near 10 seats. In other developments, LNP defector Aidon McLindon in Beaudesert has been overwhelmingly defeated by the LNP.

8.01pm — With 50% of the vote now counted, it looks increasingly likely the ALP may not make it into double figures. Ashgrove has been definitely won by Campbell Newman; Ipswich has the LNP ahead (this is the seat held by more than 16% that I thought would fall); and even Mackay — never held by conservatives — is looking vulnerable now for the Labor Party.

8.08pm — The retired ALP member for Logan, John Mickel, has just appeared in an interview on ABC TV and savaged Anna Bligh, holding her personally responsible for the electoral carnage being witnessed tonight. There have already been indications today that the Labor Party would turn on itself in recrimination, and this tends to underline that trend.

8.24pm — Anna Bligh has appeared at ALP HQ to concede defeat…she spent 15 seconds wishing Campbell Newman well in a speech that has lasted nearly 20 minutes so far. Not a dignifying speech.

8.46pm — Campbell Newman has arrived at the LNP function at the Brisbane Hilton to claim victory, and will shortly speak. Interestingly, he walked past Santo Santoro without acknowledging him, but embraced new Lord Mayor Graham Quirk on his way to thepodium.

8.55pm — Newman has now spoken; it was a speech that reminded me very much of Wayne Goss’ victory speech in 1989, and it is to be hoped that — ultimately — Newman delivers more on his promise than Goss did. Newman was lavish in his tribute to Anna Bligh, which is decent; it was the best speech I have heard Newman deliver, just as Goss’ speech was brilliant. I reiterate that despite my conservative bent, I truly hope there is more substance behind the words of Newman than there was behind those of Goss. Nonetheless, it is unequivocal that Campbell Newman has been elected Premier of Queensland.

9.32pm — Bob Katter, despite securing two and perhaps three seats at the most, is claiming to have established a “formidable third force” in Queensland politics — and claiming he should have won seven to twelve seats. Sorry Bob — as much as I like you as a bloke, you’re delusional!

9.43pm — The LNP has won more seats that stood up for Labor in 1974; chiefly Nudgee, which has fallen in a shock result. Confirmed seats are Labor 6, LNP 75, Katter 2, Independents 2, undecideds 4.

10.16pm — My last post for the night; with 70% of the vote counted — final figures for the night — it is clear the LNP has won an emphatic victory in Queensland; Labor still looks likely to win less than 10 seats in the 89-seat Parliament, whilst the LNP have won in nearly 90% of the state’s electorates.

The overall swing against Labor appears to be some 14.5%.

I will be back with a post-mortem late tomorrow, as I am flying back to Melbourne tomorrow afternoon, and will spend some time with my wife and daughter before revisiting this column.

Please feel free to comment, but keep them relevant and on-subject.

Queensland State Election: Editorial, The Day Before

Queenslanders go to the polls tomorrow, in an historic election set to terminate that state’s 14-year-old Labor government and sweep Campbell Newman’s LNP to office in a landslide. Today I provide an endorsement, and state my reasons for doing so.

Tomorrow’s election comes at the end of a truly remarkable campaign; an incumbent ALP government is looking for a sixth term in office for the first time since the 1940s, whereas the conservative LNP is seeking to win office via the unorthodox avenue of a leader currently outside Parliament and contesting a reasonably-held ALP electorate.

The endless election campaign is finally over, after what is, and seems, like months — one of the dirtiest, nastiest and downright dishonest campaigns waged by a governing party against its opponents in Australian political history, be it in Queensland or anywhere else.

The baseless and viciously personal attacks on LNP leader Campbell Newman and his wife, Lisa, are evidence enough of themselves that the ALP is no longer fit to govern Queensland.

The admission by Premier Anna Bligh that these attacks were without any kind of corroborating evidence is an admission of culpability, compounded by the fact she sought initially to continue this outrageous campaign against the Newmans, and then — as the cold reality of impending doom hit — to beg for forgiveness and for Queenslanders to elect additional Labor MPs to curtail the power of the incoming LNP government.

I should point out that Queenslanders showed no such restraint in 1974, when they determined to give full vent to their fury toward the federal government of Gough Whitlam at the expense of Perc Tucker’s state Labor Party; similarly, they showed no such restraint in 2001, when this government under Peter Beattie scored such a landslide win that it took three terms for the conservatives simply to be competitive in 2009.

In both 1974 and 2001, it is fair to say the results went the way they should have, and tomorrow’s poll will be no different.

To be fair, whilst this column has been scathing of the tactics employed by the ALP at this election, the LNP is not entirely free from criticism; the party’s woes over preselecting no fewer than three candidates for an electorate that should be a lay-down misere in Broadwater — the most recent of which occurred just three weeks ago — is suggestive the LNP still has some work to do in fine-tuning its internal processes and motions.

And whilst Campbell Newman would appear to have ultimately survived — if not benefited heftily — from the wild accusations and smear thrown his way, his initial handling of these campaign matters (storming out of press conferences and so forth) was not a good look.

Even so, the sideshow that has been the local electorate campaign in Ashgrove — whilst not in any way doubting the personal integrity or devotion of the Labor member, Kate Jones — is further evidence if any were required that the current ALP administration has reached the end of its useful life.

“Keep Kate” is a byword for everything wrong with the Labor campaign; devoid of any ALP branding, this focus on Jones as a first-name entity in a bid to deny Newman entry to Parliament and thus the Premiership was always destined to end in tears.

Jones is well and truly within the margin of what all reputable polling suggests will be an enormous swing against Labor; her seat — on a 7% margin — would need to defy trends by nearly five percentage points, an unlikely ask indeed.

And the simple fact Labor went down the “Keep Kate” path at all is painfully indicative of the wrong election strategy, an uber-high risk strategy at that, and one which has now detonated in the face of Anna Bligh and her enthusiastic colleague in Ashgrove.

Could the LNP have found a better seat for Newman to contest? It’s a moot point now, but will the same silly scenario be played out in 2015 as it has been now? Time alone will tell.

It is well known that I had and have my reservations about the LNP; however, the factor which ameliorates those concerns to a great extent is that the party is now led by a Liberal from Brisbane, and not a farmer from west of the Divide.

It is no accident that the only state election the conservatives have been within cooee of winning in the past 25 years — 1995 — was one at which it was led by an urbane, urban National who could as easily have found a home in the Liberal Party — Rob Borbidge.

Queensland has changed; since the departure of Joh Bjelke-Petersen from the executive building in 1987, the process of growth in the south-east and urbanisation overall which began during his Premiership has meant that good candidates from the rural districts are simply no longer relevant to an increasing majority of Queenslanders when it comes to leadership options.

And as Queensland has changed, its government has changed; history may treat Anna Bligh more favourably than her contemporaries will, but her time to go, so to speak, has arrived.

Diehard Labor types may bleat about the likes of Clive Palmer and his interests; they would do well to reflect that Palmer is one man, whereas the ALP — armed and funded by a highly-organised trade union movement numbering in the tens of thousands — also has interests to pursue, and the interests of the trade union movement are increasingly counter to those of the populace at large.

And the LNP arrives at the threshold of government with exciting new ideas that deserve to be tested and pursued; the “Can Do” ethos of Newman’s administration at the Brisbane City Council serves as a pointer to the energy and drive that will shortly be invested in refloating the grounded ship that is the state of Queensland.

And I would remind all readers, how so ever they vote, that there will be another election in 2015, and that will be the time to re-elect the LNP, or to switch to someone else if the new government does not prove to be a success in the eyes of the majority.

Tomorrow will be a bad day for the Labor Party; yet that party should look to the performances of its brethren in NSW in 1991, SA in 1997 and federally in 1998 to take heart at what can be possible in a short period of time after enduring the seemingly worst of electoral defeats.

Yet defeat must it suffer; for just as Queensland Labor has  for now nothing meaningful to further contribute to governance in Queensland, it follows that the painful years of opposition will afford it the chance to regenerate, to find its next generation of leaders, and to one day stand as a credible alternative government against the LNP.

A wider view of the world also suggests that it is in the national interest for a change of government to occur in Queensland tomorrow; in difficult economic times, a state such as Queensland should be the engine room of the national economy, not the debt-addled pauper it is and the drain on the commonwealth it has become under the Labor Party’s leadership.

Unlike many, I do not see tomorrow’s election as a referendum on the conduct of the federal ALP in office; but I would hasten to add that the defeat Bligh’s government seems certain to suffer will be greater as a result of the Gillard-Rudd legacy than it otherwise might have been.

For reasons of integrity and responsible government, for the greater good of both Queensland and Australia generally, and on account of the simple fact that Queensland now requires fundamental change to the way it does things if it is to again become the envy of the rest of the country, The Red And The Blue endorses the LNP in tomorrow’s election, and recommends all Queenslanders to cast a vote for Campbell Newman and his team to form the next state government of Queensland.


Queensland Galaxy Poll: LNP 60%, ALP 40%…Labor Is Finished

The first statewide poll we’ve seen in Queensland for a month is out; Galaxy shows the LNP leading Labor by a 60-40 margin after preferences. This is the first evidence that Anna Bligh’s dirt-and-smear campaign has sealed her government’s fate, but it won’t be the last.

As we’ve mentioned in the past week or so, there have been no statewide polls conducted thus far during the election campaign in Queensland; the likely reason for this is all the extra polls that needed to be done at short notice when the federal Labor Party opted to draw its own leadership woes to a head.

In any case — now inside the final week of an extraordinary election campaign in Queensland — the first such poll is out tonight, showing the LNP 20 points clear of Labor after preferences.

Figures first, and then some comment.

Galaxy finds primary support for the LNP at 47% (-2); the ALP on 30% (unch); Greens at 9% (-2); Bob Katter’s rabble on 8% (+3); and “Others” on 6% (+1).

Two-party preferred, Galaxy’s results are identical to those it posted in its previous survey in January at 60-40 in the LNP’s favour.

Campbell Newman’s approval rating as opposition leader is up two points to 49%, and his disapproval is up four points to 44%; by contrast, approval of Anna Bligh as Premier has slid seven points to 36% with her disapproval figure leaping nine points to 61%.

And on the “preferred Premier” measure, Bligh records an unchanged 43%, whilst Newman edges up one point to 51%.

The first point I would make is that I was aware Galaxy were in the field on Thursday; after Bligh’s admission the ALP had no evidence with which to back their allegations against Newman, but before he was cleared by the CMC yesterday. Thus, it’s reasonable to assume Galaxy’s figures do not fully reflect the wash-up from these events.

The second point I would make is that at an unchanged 60-40 lead to the LNP, at the very minimum, it’s obvious the entire Labor election strategy — dishonest to the point of fraudulent — has not made one jot of difference to the voting intentions of Queenslanders.

Newspoll and Nielsen, clearly, have yet to file survey results, but I would expect those to validate Galaxy’s findings — if not find even more strongly in favour of the LNP.

If I apply my “underlying primary vote” measure to these figures, they become LNP 50%, Labor 36%, with Katter on 8% and “Others” on 6%. Even accounting for Queensland’s optional preferential voting system (OPV) the 75/25 split of Green votes still holds up: the votes either exhaust or get transferred, and either way, the proportions remain very similar.

At those levels, the LNP wins outright; and given voting trends in Australia are increasingly fragmented, a 50% primary vote automatically translates into a landslide election win.

And I would make the point that the inflated Katter vote is likely to be reactive to the week’s events, and not a genuine reflection of the degree of statewide support for his party; I still believe Katter will be lucky to win more than a couple of seats at most in Queensland — and that his support on election day is more likely to be nearer the 4-5% mark.

I am not remotely surprised by the 16-point turnaround in Anna Bligh’s approval figures; irrespective of which backroom imbecile cooked up the election strategy, the ALP campaign has been owned and operated by Bligh.

Assuming, of course, she didn’t come up with it herself.

These results suggest people have irrevocably turned on her once and for all; indeed, I’m surprised they aren’t worse but again, the poll was taken before Newman was cleared by the CMC.

At face value, Newman’s approval ratings and his position on the “preferred Premier” measure look far less favourable, but they shouldn’t be interpreted as such.

For a start, Newman has widened his lead over Bligh as preferred Premier for the first time in months, and this is a measure that is traditionally very difficult for opposition leaders — even popular ones — to claim and maintain ascendancy.

For another thing, whilst Newman’s disapproval rating has risen again in this survey, so too has his approval figure — again, for the first time in months.

These movements tend to underscore my view that Galaxy may have been a smidgen too early to record the full import of the week’s events, but the trends are unmistakable.

Overall, this poll reflects a solid movement in voter sentiment toward the LNP.

We will of course look out for the other major polls to post during the next few days, but my sense is that having fired its “nuclear” weapon — which has proven to be no more than a stink bomb — the ALP dirt campaign has been successfully withstood by the LNP, which would now seem to be on an unstoppable six-day roll towards government in Queensland.

With Campbell Newman — the new member for Ashgrove — as its Premier.