Gillard’s Dishonest New Ruse: “The Liberal Premiers Did It”

In the face of soaring domestic and commercial electricity bills across the country, Julia Gillard — with typically breathtaking audacity — has proclaimed the carbon tax has nothing to do with it, and that Liberal state governments are the root cause of the problem. What crap!

I know this is an issue from early in the week, and that I am playing catch-up; but regular readers will know that I am still working close to 100 hours each week on other things; I do apologise for the delayed post, but I am keen to resume the near-daily frequency of this column as soon as possible — alas, just not quite yet…

…anyhow…CLAIMS made by the Prime Minister earlier this week, in a speech to the Energy Policy Institute of Australia, are really extraordinary; in short, it seems, the rocketing price of electricity has nothing to do with the much-hated carbon tax.

In a remarkable piece of spin, Gillard has blamed state Liberal governments and the Premiers who lead them squarely for the increases in power bills. It’s outrageous, she says; it goes against every instinct of fairness and decency in the land. Only a Labor government, Gillard says, can resolve such a weighty issue as exorbitant electricity prices to the betterment of ordinary Australians.

If anyone thinks I’m mocking her, they’re right; but the truth is that Gillard’s words would almost be laughable if they weren’t predicated so thoroughly on such a frightfully abject piece of disinformation.

Yes, electricity assets and the supply of power is a state domain, which begs the question of what Gillard is doing wading into this issue at all.

But to the extent she does so, she is wrong: the carbon tax does impact power bills; by her own admission, 9% of every electricity bill is carbon tax, and “compensated” she may claim people are, they are neither insulated nor compensated for the spillover effects of the carbon tax into retail prices, nor compensated at all if they don’t fit inside the neat little box pigeonholed by the ALP as constituting “not being rich.”

The rest of the claims at the heart of Gillard’s “argument” (and I accord it the status of a cogent argument reluctantly) are easily checked off.

Have electricity prices become a major cost of living issue? Damn right they have.

Have prices gone up a long way, and quickly? She’s a bright girl, our PM.

Could Australians afford electricity price rises of 50% over the past four years? Of course not. And can they afford similar increases again in the next four years? Of course they can’t!

Gillard asserts that rising electricity prices are a threat to the economy, and a threat “to fairness in society.” Again, I can’t fault the logic.

Then comes the bold proclamation about the Labor Party’s historic qualifications and mission to solve “these kinds of problems” — followed directly by lobbing the whole issue into the faces of the Liberal state Premiers (no mention of the remaining ALP regimes in SA or Tasmania, of course) and a demand that these Premiers come up with solutions to the problem of rising electricity prices.

If the Liberal Premiers don’t do as she demands, Gillard says, there will be consequences.

She won’t say what they are just yet; doubtless she thinks it adequate merely to wave the big stick around at present — just so people can see she is carrying it — rather than move straight to whacking someone over the head with it.

Gillard does note, however, that over the past eight years, state governments have extracted a combined $32 billion out of their respective electricity generation and supply companies, and that this has directly impacted household and business bills by sending the price of electricity rocketing.

Again, who could argue?

But the problem Gillard has — and the very deliberate item of misinformation she is attempting to peddle — is that by and large, all of these state governments were Labor state governments.

In SA and in Tasmania they still are; and until very recently, the Labor Party was the party of government in Victoria, New South Wales, and in Queensland.

Even the Liberal government in WA hasn’t even served its first full term yet after following an eight-year Labor administration into office.

I think it’s well and good that Gillard professes concern over electricity prices. But she can hardly be taken seriously when her first act is to commit the sin of omission by denying the ALP’s complicity at state level in what she correctly identifies as a scandalous bread-and-butter issue facing millions of ordinary folk across the country.

And of course, her beloved carbon tax — reviled, it seems, by everyone else in Australia except the Communists Greens — has nothing to do with it.

Yet again, Gillard’s solemn-sounding, finger-wagging attempt to appear to studiously and sincerely address something that outrages voters has blown up in her face.

But then, if you are Gillard, you’ll blame anyone; last week it was Tony Abbott, and this week, it’s the Liberal Premiers.

I just wonder who Gillard’s scapegoat and patsy will be next week — when she is again purveying her dishonest excuses as to why her government is not responsible for precisely the agenda items it institutes itself.

Quirk Wins City Hall In Brisbane; ALP Survives South Brisbane By-Election

After yet another trip to the polls today for the good burghers of Brisbane, the Council result went — as expected — to Graham Quirk and the LNP in a landslide; in the by-election to replace Anna Bligh in South Brisbane, the ALP appears to have eked out a surprise narrow win.

In a stunning result, interim Lord Mayor and successor to Campbell Newman Graham Quirk has registered a thumping election win, re-elected with more than 68% of the two-party vote and crushing his Labor rival, first-time candidate Ray Smith, in the process.

In the 26 wards that comprise the Brisbane City Council, the LNP is certain to increase its tally from 15 to at least 18 ( and possibly 19, if Kim Fleisser’s 290-vote lead in Northgate is erased when pre-poll votes are counted); the ALP falls from 10 wards to 7 at most; and the LNP-turned-independent councillor for Tennyson Ward, Nicole Johnston, appears to have been re-elected.

In what would seem evidence that the Beattie name is no longer a guaranteed vote winner, Heather Beattie — wife of former Premier Peter Beattie — has been trounced, going down by a margin of nearly 60/40 against her LNP rival in Central Ward.

That result should probably also serve as a warning to Peter Beattie should he ever seriously consider contesting a federal electorate in Queensland; whether or not such a warning is heeded, only time will tell.

Cr Quirk has achieved the biggest conservative victory in the history of the City of Greater Brisbane; the two-party vote he has recorded is better than both that of Campbell Newman and of Sallyanne Atkinson at her peak; likewise, a haul of 18 (and perhaps 19) of 26 wards is better than any result achieved by a conservative Mayor of Brisbane, and eclipses the 17-9 result notched up by Atkinson in 1988.

Indeed, it is safe to say that electoral support for the conservative parties in Brisbane is at an all-time record peak; the LNP’s result in Brisbane at last month’s state election was stronger than the then-Coalition’s result in 1974, and today’s win by “Team Quirk” rounds that out even further: just as the Bjelke-Petersen government was sweeping all before it in the 1970s, Council in Brisbane remained a solid ALP bastion.

The one thing missing for the LNP — and it will come — is the additional 4-6 House of Representatives seats it is likely to win at the next federal election; this will reduce the Queensland ALP to a rump, and likely leave a couple of ALP members standing at most.

In today’s other electoral event — the South Brisbane by-election — it seems Labor has managed to hold this seat; despite a further swing of some 3-4% against it since last month’s state election, new Labor candidate Jackie Trad looks likely to succeed Anna Bligh in this electorate by the narrowest of margins, taking state Labor to 7 seats in the 89-seat state Parliament.

I am unsurprised by the result on the Brisbane City Council, although the extent of the LNP win is a little greater than I expected; I am surprised that Labor seems to have secured South Brisbane against the odds, although I would point to the not-insubstantial further swing to the LNP as firm evidence that Trad is very, very lucky to be headed off to George Street.

So what do these results mean to the respective parties, looking ahead?

For the LNP, today’s result — coupled with its state election win — represents both a great opportunity and a great threat.

The opportunity exists for the LNP to now govern Brisbane on an unfettered basis; there is no local Labor administration present to thwart and frustrate it, and the party will have no problem in implementing its policies in their entirety.

This means that everything the LNP wishes to do, it can; and with Council and the State Government working hand-in-hand, the LNP now has the opportunity to remake and modernise Brisbane in line with their own vision for the region.

The opportunity will have been grasped if the conservatives use their new-found strength in south-east Queensland to govern effectively, efficiently and competently; the deep reservoir of goodwill that the LNP has created affords it a once in a generation chance to make a real difference to its constituents, and to change the Greater Brisbane region for better, and for good.

The threat lies in the form of a fate which befalls so many democratically-elected governments: hubris, or worse, incompetence.

Given the size of the Liberals’ grasp on Brisbane across the tiers of government, they must never lose sight of the fact that the day they squabble amongst themselves, or drop the ball, or fail to deliver real and positive outcomes, will be the day their support begins to leach back to Labor, and will signal that their days in office are numbered.

Governments must never take their constituents for granted; this is true at all times, but perhaps especially so when the ascension to office has been as resounding and as emphatic as it has been for the LNP in the past few weeks.

And it should be remembered that within three to six years for the Newman government, and certainly after another four years of a Liberal council (making 8 in total, or 12 counting Newman’s initial co-habitation with Labor), voters will hold these administrations squarely to account for anything they believe has been neglected, improperly or dishonestly done, or ignored.

And for Labor?

Clearly, there is a massive task afoot for the ALP, not just in Brisbane but across Queensland; if — as seems likely — the Gillard government is defeated next year, sustaining further losses in Queensland in the process, then that task will grow exponentially larger.

I noted earlier tonight that in conceding, Ray Smith did not rule out recontesting the mayoralty in 2016; Smith is a decent fellow, but on this occasion — flying in the face of surging LNP support, saddled with the odium of the recent state election result, and hamstrung by a poor central campaign and by his own mistakes, Smith’s campaign was over almost before it began.

Perhaps if there is a “next time” for Smith, he may at least be able to create his own opportunities, and to shape his own campaign.

This is an important point. Following the state election debacle, I privately suggested to an associate who is heavily involved with the Queensland ALP that perhaps the first order of business, in any rebuild of that party, should be the dismissal of the party’s state secretary, Anthony Chisholm.

I reiterate that view tonight. Losing an election is one thing; to have presided over the state campaign he did this year — one of the dirtiest, nastiest, most dishonest campaigns in Australian history — the buck must stop somewhere, and Chisholm’s door would seem the appropriate place.

Labor’s state campaign wasn’t even the right campaign to run from a tactical or strategic perspective, putting aside its sheer repugnance for a minute; it seems clear that the occupant of the position of state ALP secretary would be responsible for this and, as such, Chisholm should resign or be sacked.

The Brisbane City Council campaign he has presided over has done little or nothing to mitigate those points.

But Labor’s problems (and this is an increasingly old story) run deeper, and are more universal, than the problems of its Queensland branch; Labor must rethink its overall approach to retail politics, from its party structures to its methods of candidate selection to its policy priorities — and, quite literally, to everything in between.

Yet those are details I wish to take no part in; whilst I’m happy to opine impartially, my own preferences offer me no inclination to give any detailed ideas on how the Labor Party might fix its act up…

…and so here we are, at the end of yet another truly remarkable day in politics in Queensland.

The Red And The Blue wishes Graham Quirk — an old friend, a gentleman and a great bloke, and a highly respected figure in Liberal circles — heartiest congratulations on his triumph today, and wishes he and his team the best of success in now executing their duties on behalf of the people of Brisbane.

And oddly enough, this column also wishes the Queensland division of the Labor Party luck: whilst it is tempting to be churlish and say “they’ll need it,” I have to emphasise that a functional opposition to any democratically elected government is crucial.

It’s not necessarily a matter of how many members the ALP has left, but rather a question of what those remaining representatives of the Labor Party do with the opportunity to move forward they have nonetheless been entrusted with.

And thus — in closing — it can only be hoped that Queensland Labor gets its act together to some extent at least, and preferably sooner rather than later.

Queensland State Election: Final Wrap

I was waiting until the seats were declared, but recent events delayed this a couple of weeks longer; the historic Queensland state election of 2012 is now concluded, and I wanted to provide some thoughts and comment.

Readers will note that I make much mention of the 2012 election pendulum; you can either open a second browser and click between the two for ease of reference, or click between the two articles using the links at the right-hand side of this article.

The obvious place to begin is to offer Campbell Newman hearty congratulations on his election as Premier of Queensland, and to his LNP colleagues across the state; together they have achieved a stunning electoral result, and it is to be hoped that they serve the state of Queensland faithfully, honestly, and well, and that they are able to effect the change in that state which is so long overdue, and which they have promised so effusively to deliver.

In fact, measured solely on results in terms of the numbers of seats won and lost, Newman’s LNP government has scored the most overwhelming election win in Australian political history; the 78 of the 89 seats won by the LNP eclipses Joh Bjelke-Petersen’s haul of 69 from 82 in 1974, and any other landslide win recorded anywhere else in the country, state or federal, be it by the conservatives or by the ALP, does not come close by comparison.

And — incredibly — the prospect of a 79th LNP seat is very real. Following the decision of former Premier Anna Bligh to quit Parliament, her seat of South Brisbane — now held by Labor on a margin of just 5.6% — is the subject of a by-election next weekend.

Remembering South Brisbane fell to the Liberal Party in the 1974 rout, and that Anna Bligh reneged on a pledge to serve a full term as its representative if re-elected last month, it is very possible (I would say, highly likely) that it will fall to the LNP on Saturday, giving that party a total of nearly 90% of the seats in the Queensland state parliament.

On a two-party preferred basis, the overall swing to the LNP appears to have been some 14.9% from the 2009 result; swings in individual electorates ranged from a 2.2% swing away from the LNP in Burnett to a swing to the LNP of 21.5% in the seat of Coomera.

87 of the 89 electorates swung to the LNP; in the other two, no swing occurred in a pre-existing safe LNP electorate (Condamine) and a small swing to an Independent, after preferences, was recorded in Burnett.

The great subtext of the 2012 election story in Queensland has got to be “the storming of the citadel”; since 1989, the ALP has maintained an iron grip on Brisbane at the state level, with Liberal representation in the capital fluctuating during that period between three seats (2001) and eight seats (1995).

Depending on which way you cut it, and whose judgement you accept as to where the line of Brisbane state seats ends, we’re talking about either 34 or 38 electorates; in other words, the Queensland capital has been either the bedrock upon which ALP majorities were built or the beachhead from which to advance again (in 1998) for nearly quarter of a century.

Not now.

Rather, the ALP now holds just Woodridge and Inala in Brisbane; heartland electorates that party has never lost, although in both it was taken to preferences this time around after swings of between 15% and 20% in those seats.

As mentioned, Labor’s third (and final) Brisbane seat — South Brisbane — looks likely to be lost to the ALP in Saturday’s by-election in any case.

Some of the seats the LNP picked up in Brisbane ought never have been lost to the Liberal Party, whether in 1983, 1989 or later; natural urban conservative electorates such as Mount Ommaney, Mansfield, Ashgrove, Greenslopes, Mount Coot-tha and Redcliffe have all gone home to roost.

Yet as is the way of it, the LNP has picked up virtually all of Labor’s Brisbane heartland in addition to the traditional swing seats and its own traditional base, and so now it is the ALP with the pitiful presence in Brisbane, and with nothing north of the River.

Readers will note from the pendulum I published early this month a breakdown by electorate, who the winning candidate was in 2012, what their two-party margin is and what the swing to the LNP was, and I want to comment on a few individual seats.

Please note members marked + are new members in seats held by the same party e.g. John McVeigh of the LNP succeeding Mike Horan of the LNP in Toowoomba South; members marked * are newly elected in 2012 and have won their seat from another party based on the 2009 result.

  • Surfers Paradise — with a margin of just over 29% after preferences, John-Paul Langbroek in this seat recorded more primary votes than any other candidate in any seat in Queensland.
  • Moggill (23.9%) remains the safest LNP seat in Brisbane.
  • Mount Ommaney — once the seat of Sherwood, and held by Liberal stalwarts such as Angus Innes and John Herbert, this classic Liberal electorate returns to conservative hands for the first time in 15 years.
  • Ipswich, not held by conservatives since the days of Llew Edwards (1972-83) and seldom prior to that has been picked up by the LNP for the first time in 30 years.

There’s nothing particularly special about these, although all of them were of interest to me in the run-up to the election. Ipswich in particular, where I felt a colossal swing was likely 12 months ago and which, indeed, has come to pass.

The situation for the ALP is bleak, an analysis made no brighter by looking region-by-region at the election results.

Labor has as good as been evicted from Brisbane; it has also been evicted completely from the Gold and Sunshine Coasts, Toowoomba, Townsville, and from anything in the entire state not located in a strictly coastal region.

Ominously, it has also been run very close to complete eviction from its heartland cities of Cairns and Ipswich and their surrounds; and also lost seats around Rockhampton, another traditional Labor fortress.

In fact, all the Queensland ALP is left with is a disparate handful of marginal seats strewn up the eastern seaboard; no concentration of its votes, no obvious base from which to rebuild, and no guarantee of holding onto everything it has left if the LNP proves adept at the task of governance in Queensland.

Looking forward, we can see that the uniform swing now required for the LNP to lose its majority at a future election is 10.3%, with Mundingburra being the 45th LNP seat on the pendulum; to win a majority in its own right, the Labor Party would need an overall swing of 10.7%.

This does raise the point of the fairness of Queensland’s electoral boundaries; in 2012, a party winning 64% of the statewide two-party vote is susceptible to loss of government on a swing nearly four percentage points below that.

The point is underscored by the experience of 1995, in which the then-Coalition recorded 53.7% of the two-party vote in Queensland only to fall two seats short of a majority.

Much has been made over many years of the principles of “one vote, one value” in Queensland, and rightly so; it is clear that this is one area in which the new government must invest rigorous review and, if necessary, reform.

I’m not suggesting the boundaries are rigged; but it’s glaringly obvious that anomalies such as these should at least be investigated.

And I would make the point that as “independent” as boundary reviews in Queensland may be in the post-Fitzgerald era, every electoral redistribution in Queensland since the one in 1985 has been overseen by a Labor government.

That, of itself, is as much reason to scrutinise afresh Queensland’s electoral boundaries as was 30-odd years of fiddling by the National Party; and in case anyone reading has a short memory, it was actually the Labor Party who invented the gerrymander back in 1949, rigging electorates to suit its own ends until falling from power in 1957.

I think Cameron Dick was right not to contest Anna Bligh’s electorate; the risk of being beaten was too high, and the election result too fresh and raw. If Dick is to lead Queensland Labor, his opportunity will come, most likely by re-entry to Parliament in 2015 if he can win his seat back then.

I think Kate Jones is now so badly damaged — and has been so poorly used and treated by her party — that, politically, she is completely and utterly finished.

By running that ridiculous “Keep Kate” campaign the ALP has made it impossible, if any personal and/or political integrity is to be maintained, for Kate Jones to ever credibly stand for any other elective office other than as member for Ashgrove.

Of course, the day may come when they try, but as many plaudits as Jones won for her feisty rearguard action in Ashgrove, she would surrender threefold if put up, say, as a Labor candidate for the federal electorate of Brisbane.

In any case, my sense is that provided Campbell Newman is seen to perform well as Premier, and if his electorate receives the level of service to which it is entitled, he will likely double his margin in Ashgrove in 2015.

In closing, where will all of this lead?

For the LNP, it has a blank canvass in government. Newman appears to have made a very strong start; it is true he has already ruffled some feathers, but I would contend that the closure of a literature competition is nothing compared to the scale of the job the LNP faces — and the voters know it.

It’s perhaps unfortunate that the LNP lost a minister — David Gibson in Police — so quickly. Yet Queenslanders should be encouraged that the action taken was decisive, instant, and indisputably made in the interests of maintaining the high standards of ministerial conduct Newman had campaigned on.

In any case, it is politically untenable to have your Police minister driving around on a suspended Driver’s Licence irrespective of the circumstances. Enough said.

And of Labor?

Annastacia Palaszczuk will need to be watched; she is relatively unknown in coming to the Labor leadership, and how she performs is very much an exercise in guesswork at this early stage.

Clearly, Labor will not form a government after the 2015 election.

And so, if Palaszczuk is able to hold what’s left of her party together, fight a clean and honest fight, and approach 2015 with a positive agenda, she might aim to win 12-15 seats back from the LNP at the next election.

I think 15 seats would be at the upper end of expectations (reliant, of course, as things are on what happens in the meantime), but were Labor to emerge in three years with 21-22 seats, I think that would represent a successful term in opposition, and would provide a solid base from which to make a more concerted attempt three years later again.

In the meantime — it’s been an exciting few months in Queensland politics; as ever — even from this distance — I will continue to watch events in the Sunshine State like a hawk, and when there are issues in Queensland that need to be discussed, we will continue to do so right here at The Red And The Blue.

All feedback welcome, especially from Queenslanders and followers of the game; please keep your comments on-subject and to the 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.