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Queensland - the final analysis

By John Black - posted Friday, 20 March 2009

Queensland Labor votes have been inflated by a demographic bubble since Pauline Hanson’s One Nation decimated the conservative parties in 1998.

The fact that this bubble is popping should not come as much of a surprise to realistic observers, as we saw the first signs of it in the polls last year, soon after the Liberal National Party was formed by its current leader Lawrence Springborg.

As the One Nation base vote declined in 2001, 2004 and 2006, bits of the old Hanson demographic profile morphed into the huge majorities obtained by both Labor Premier Peter Beattie and John Howard in Queensland’s state and federal seats. These former One Nation voters - blue collar workers, welfare dependents and activist churchgoers - became the Beattie loving Howard battlers.


In 2007, this political profile became the new template for Kevin Rudd in the outer suburbs. Unfortunately for Queensland Premier Anna Bligh, these voters don’t need State Labor anymore, because now they have Kevin.

Bligh also contributed to Labor’s loss of support by failing to rejuvenate Labor’s profile before the election, when she had the chance. For example, some long serving MPs were shoved out of safer seats, but their replacements tended to share DNA with someone high up in the ALP - so when Anna said creating jobs was in Labor’s DNA during the subsequent campaign, we already knew what she meant.

The Cabinet also contained a number of underperformers - with Health Minister Stephen Robertson a standout, but Bligh didn’t remodel her Cabinet when first appointed. This meant Bligh has been forced to sideline Robertson during the campaign, for failing to protect his own departmental staff, triggering a standoff with her Cabinet in the week before the election.

And instead of offering any modernisation of the ALP platform to Labor’s urban majority in South East Queensland, Bligh has continued to pander to the old rural demographic by refusing to hold a referendum on daylight saving.

As a result, daylight saving proponents have formed a new political group and they are polling 3 per cent of the vote across the state, possibly double that in some SEQ seats. Two thirds of this seems to be coming from Labor’s primary vote and under the optional preferential system more than half of it will simply exhaust.

Galaxy poll last weekend was showing the LNP on 43 per cent primary vote, up 5 per cent and Labor on 40 per cent, down seven, with 17 per cent voting Greens and independents.


Given recent trends, about half of this 17 per cent will simply vote one and then exhaust and any LNP candidate with a start of 43 per cent primary vote to Labor’s 40 per cent needs to get only one in three preferences to win.

There’s a lot of Labor held seats in this position on the pendulum after primary swings shown in the Galaxy poll. Nine of these are seats with retiring sitting ALP members and their personal votes will be lost to the ALP.

While Labor has been offering little new policy to voters the LNP has failed to generate much excitement from their economic package - in fact the voters’ most popular description of The Borg in Galaxy poll is “boring”, a characteristic that hasn’t stopped our Prime Minister from winning votes from religious conservatives in Queensland. In fact it probably helps.

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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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