Queensland sending Labor back in

25 November 2017

 

The Labor Party looks like getting home in a close election in Queensland today.

Polls have predicted something like a 52-48 split after preferences in Labor’s favour, which would be slightly higher than what happened at the last election, in early 2015, when Labor unexpectedly won.  Although Labor hasn’t looked like it deserved to win back then, and probably doesn’t appear deserving of a win now, it’ll end up winning again.  But the result will be close.

The Liberal National Party, which lost office in 2015 after a single term in it, isn’t really inspiring voters.  Its loss in 2015 came after a huge election win in 2012.  Since then, voters haven’t warmed to it, and indeed its vote looks to have slipped away.

Back in 2012, Queenslanders voted overwhelmingly for the LNP, putting Labor out of office for the first time since 1998 – and in fact reducing Labor to just seven of eighty-nine seats in State Parliament.  By any measure, this was a drubbing.  But the LNP in general, and Premier Campbell Newman in particular, went on to upset Queenslanders everywhere on many issues.

As such, when they went to the polls in 2015, they turned on the LNP to the point of wiping out its parliamentary majority, and Newman lost his own seat.

To be fair, back then Newman’s seat was marginal, and the LNP was actually tipped to win narrowly, though a new leader would be sought to replace Newman.  But with the LNP losing its majority, Labor managed to take power with crossbench support, and the new Premier was Labor leader Annastasia Palaszczuk – a person whom arguably few voters had even heard of pre-election, and whose name fewer could either say or spell!

Since the election, Palaszczuk has survived the loss of a few MPs who, for one reason or another, went to the crossbench.  Looking back, it seems that she’s done little more than survive, because not too many voters can say what she’s achieve in terms of policy.

Labor and Palaszczuk are fortunate that the LNP, led by Tim Nicholls, has hardly looked like troubling them.  Indeed voters seem to have come to really dislike the LNP and Nicholls.  And few credible alternatives seem to exist.

You shouldn’t be fooled by the rise of minor players like Pauline Hanson or the Greens, because their support generally isn’t strong enough to win seats.  Queensland elections don’t involve proportional representation, where your share of the vote across a given jurisdiction can win you a seat within that jurisdiction.  Instead, there are only single-member seats, where you need at least 40-45 per cent of the vote within a seat to really have a chance of winning it.  Minor parties and Independents don’t often achieve that level of concentrated support.

Admittedly, I think that there’s enough support concentrated in a few areas for Hanson’s party to winning.  I see Hanson’s party winning both Lockyer and Maryborough.  The former, west of Brisbane, is currently-LNP held, while the latter, near the coastal region where Fraser Island lies, is Labor-held.  However, the party will lose Buderim, held by LNP defector Steve Dickson.  But I don’t see the Greens winning anywhere.

It’s worth noting that an electoral redistribution took place ahead of this election, which increased the number of parliamentary seats from eighty-nine to ninety-three.  This makes forty-seven the number for a parliamentary majority.

Despite the volatility of the Queensland electorate, and predictions of a hung election result, with nobody winning a majority, I’m tipping Labor to actually win a majority.

This sounds like a bold call, but I can’t see Labor losing more than two seats.  Apart from Maryborough, I tip Labor to lose regional Bundaberg to the LNP.  I tip Labor to pick up various seats, especially in Queensland’s urbanised south-east.

This election might well have been about the state economy, which isn’t in good shape, and about coalmining, which has polarised the state to some degree, with regional voters arguably in favour of new mines and urban voters against them on environmental grounds.  Some regional opposition exists to the idea of mining on prime farmland, especially on the Darling Downs around Toowoomba, though opponents of mining in that area seemingly have nowhere to go.  And with Labor proposing to reduce reliance on coal for electricity generation, in favour of solar and wind sources, there’s been talk of higher electricity prices – an issue causing massive anger across the country.

But Hanson’s presence in the campaign might override other issues.  Labor has always been intolerant of Hanson, whereas the LNP has been ambivalent, and with urban voters also largely anti-Hanson, Labor might use Hanson to attract urban voters who’d usually support the LNP.  This helped Labor in past elections, and might help Labor again.

I tip Labor to regain several seats lost through the defection of MPs.  Labor should also gain Burdekin, Chatsworth, Everton, Gaven, Glass House, Mansfield, Mount Ommaney, Redlands, and Whitsunday – all LNP wins in 2015.  The LNP, despite losing Lockyer, will regain Buderim from Dickson and gain Nicklin from a retiring Independent, as well as winning Bundaberg from Labor.

Voters in Queensland look like sending Labor back in for a second term.  Although close, I’m tipping a Labor majority.  Neither side really inspires, but Labor looks like doing enough to get home.

 

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