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The tide has turned

By John Black - posted Wednesday, 22 February 2006

An assessment of the latest ABC polling material conducted on state voting intention confirms The Courier-Mail TNS poll.

Voters have lost confidence in Premier Peter Beattie's ability to manage Queensland Health and seem determined on a change of government at the earliest opportunity.

When we project the polling results on to the demographic profiles of the two by-elections last August, the projected outcomes show the state ALP likely to lose up to half of its 61 MPs and be replaced with a Coalition majority led by Lawrence Springborg.


The only difference between our latest on-line ABC poll last week of some 670 Queenslanders, and the TNS poll earlier this month of 500 Queenslanders is that our poll shows the Beattie Government's attacks on the Howard Government over lack of doctor numbers is having some impact - but only to increase the Nationals' vote at the expense of the Liberal Party.

There is now an ABB camp - anyone but Beattie. Voters are simply embarrassed and insulted by the Premier's attempt to protest against the actions of his own Government by wearing more ribbons and baubles than Leonid Brezhnev on May Day.

The voters think the Premier is behaving like Brezhnev when he turned up to Parliament one day wearing one black and one brown shoe and was asked why he didn't go home and change them - he replied that his pair at home were different colours, too. Like Brezhnev, the Premier just doesn't get it.

The respondents to our online poll ending last week blame a lack of funding, mismanagement, lack of planning or excessive bureaucracy for the problems in Queensland Health.

Our survey results came in before news last weekend that the Beattie Government has cut Queensland hospital beds by 500, including 78 in Bundaberg in 2000, in the face of the climbing Queensland population growth shown in the Premier's newspaper ads.

The latest 10-point plan - following two commissions of inquiry, the Forster review and management consultants’ reports into inquiries - is only taken seriously by 41 per cent of respondents voting Labor at the last election, while 28 per cent of last-time Labor voters disagree with the plan. Among Liberals and Nationals, 84 per cent and 74 per cent respectively disagree with "the plan".


The voters actually like the Nationals' plan to cut bureaucracy and replace it with powerful local boards.

Our polls, as of yesterday and following the hospital bed news and the Premier's latest Bundaberg stunt, show a Labor vote in free-fall, with usual ALP voters shuffling off to the Greens, from which point Labor is only regaining a minority, due to Green votes exhausting, as Beattie's "just vote one" strategy of 2001 returns to haunt his own MPs.

When it comes to applying the results of the surveys and by-elections to actual seats and making predictions, the task isn't as simple as it could be, due to optional preferential voting and an increasing tendency for Green voters to simply vote one, not to mention the concentration of votes, which benefits the Nationals.

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John Black and Graham Young produce an online polling survey, What the People Want, fortnightly for ABC radio with Madonna King and carry out regular demographic profiling of Australian election results.

First published in The Courier-Mail on February 21, 2006.

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About the Author

John Black is a former Labor Party senator and chief executive of Australian Development Strategies.

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