24 December 2017
Going back three years, to December 2014, probably few Queenslanders would’ve heard of Annastacia Palaszczuk in those days. She was leader of the Labor Party, which then had few seats in Queensland Parliament after a huge election loss to the Liberal National Party in March 2012. Although Queenslanders had come to really dislike the LNP and Premier Campbell Newman, their 2012 election win was so big that hardly anybody felt that they could lose the next election that they faced when it came. Therefore few were paying attention to Labor and Palaszczuk.
Queensland had been due to go to the polls in early 2015. The election ended up coming in late January, which was earlier than expected. There was talk that Newman, who held a marginal seat in inner Brisbane, could lose his own seat, but most people expected the LNP to win the election overall, although someone else would end up as Premier.
To the surprise of most observers, the election result was a deadlock, with neither the LNP nor Labor winning enough seats to govern without support from crossbenchers.
Newman lost his seat, as predicted. But in the end, Palaszczuk was able to take power with crossbench support, and Labor was back in office less than three years after being comprehensively voted out.
Little was known of Palaszczuk until the course of election night, when incoming results were gradually making a Labor win look possible. Indeed few people knew her name, and fewer could say it, let alone spell it!
The name is pronounced “Pala-shay”. And, as somebody said on television when Labor looked able to win that election, the name is spelt “P-A-L-A-Sydney-Zoo-Canberra-Zoo-U-K”, which is quite amusing!
Less than three years on from that election in 2015, it’s perhaps difficult to believe that Palaszczuk was relatively unknown to Queenslanders not so long ago. Now, after calling an election for last month, although it wasn’t due until early next year, Palaszczuk has become a two-time election winner, with a parliamentary majority in her own right.
Before this election, Labor was widely tipped to hold power, but only with crossbench support rather than a majority of seats. However, though Palaszczuk’s first election win in 2015 was something of a shock, her second election win has been less of one, and her authority looks enhanced because of winning a majority of seats.
I actually predicted Labor to win a majority – this proved correct, but I didn’t make this prediction with the greatest of confidence and I got plenty of seats wrong!
The state of Queensland’s economy, coalmining, and electricity prices might well have been the issues of this election. They weren’t helpful for Labor. But Opposition Leader Tim Nicholls and the LNP didn’t really trouble Labor, as voters came to dislike them.
Also helping Labor was the presence of Pauline Hanson and her political party. Labor has always been intolerant of Hanson, while the LNP has been in two minds regarding her, and this would’ve annoyed voters into supporting Labor, especially in urban areas.
Labor didn’t really give voters a reason to give it another term in office. But the LNP didn’t really appeal to them, and Labor won as a result.
As I’d tipped, the LNP won Bundaberg from Labor and gained Nicklin from a retiring Independent and regained Buderim from a defector to Hanson’s party. But I hadn’t tipped the LNP to win Pumicestone, won by Labor in 2015.
I’d correctly tipped Labor to gain Gaven, Mansfield, Mount Ommaney, and Redlands from the LNP. But five other seats stayed with the LNP when I’d tipped Labor to gain them – Burdekin, Chatsworth, Everton, Glass House, and Whitsunday.
LNP frontbencher Scott Emerson was a surprise casualty, beaten by the Greens, who weren’t expected to win a seat in Parliament. I felt that their support wasn’t strong enough for them in any small area to win, but they got in.
The LNP lost three other seats that I hadn’t tipped it to lose – namely Aspley to Labor, Noosa to an Independent, and Hinchinbrook to the party of Federal MP Bob Katter.
I’d tipped Hanson’s party to win the seats of Lockyer from the LNP and Maryborough from Labor. Neither of them fell, but Hanson’s party managed to win Mirani, around Mackay, from Labor. Meanwhile, as well as gaining Hinchinbrook, Katter’s party also had two sitting MPs returned.
Labor also regained Cairns and Cook, from MPs who’d left it after the 2015 election.
In the end, Labor ended up with forty-eight seats out of ninety-three, giving it a small majority, but a clear one at that. The LNP had thirty-nine, and six went elsewhere.
This result gives Palaszczuk two election wins and a great deal of authority. But that authority hadn’t always been around, especially when few knew her for so long.