Mar 26, 2012

Election 2012: The Rear View

For those not familiar with the ins and outs of Queensland politics, but instead familiar with annoyingly naff bumper sticker trends, I think this is the best way to sum up the result of our March 24 state election:

Dan Beeston used his own stash of My Family stickers to mock this up.

Campbell Newman and the LNP romped it in, scoring more seats than James Bond at Ikea.

Everyone was expecting an emphatic LNP victory, except the nice hairdresser I went to on Friday evening after finally getting off the campaign bus.

"But surely anything could still happen?" she said.

"Universally, yes," I replied. "But the polling techniques they have these days are just too accurate. And just a little more off the bottom, please."

But nobody thought it would be so devastating for Labor, that you couldn't even use the word "decimation" in a grammatically correct way (while I'm not good with the maths, I'm pretty sure they lost more than one in ten MPs). Annihilation is more likely. Holocaust is probably going too far (it generally always is).

This morning I spoke with Dr Paul Williams, a political and media analyst from Griffith University. We chatted about the strange parliament Queensland will now have, including the challenges Mr Newman will have making sure all of his 77 or so MPs have plenty of work and stay out of trouble, and the risk a tiny opposition will not be able to adequately scrutinise legislation.

His killer line came at the very end of the interview, when we were discussing how long Labor will be in the electoral wilderness, cowering from wolves and subsisting on frozen Siberian tiger droppings:

"When people say that the next Labor premier isn't even in parliament yet... I might be cynical when I say this, but perhaps the next Labor premier hasn't even finished school."


In Queensland, once you're gone, you're gone for a LONG time. There were ten James Bond movies produced during the time Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen was Premier, before Queenslanders got a chance to enjoy 1989's Licence to Kill unencumbered by a sternly Lutheran but ethically flexible moral code.
It's likely we'll now see at least another four Bond movies (and at least one more Bond actor) before Labor can attempt to regain power.

It boggles the mind. I mean, can you even imagine someone not Daniel Craig as Bond?

Labor came close to losing the 2009 election; and frankly now probably wishes it had. It wouldn't have won this time around, but the destruction wouldn't have been so complete.

In the end, Anna Bligh's leadership during the floods and cyclones last year - while respected - came to nought. People had already drawn their plans against her. Asset sales seems to have been the biggest issue, followed closely by ongoing problems in Queensland Health. Campaign-wise, the ALP's been universally condemned for going in so hard on Mr Newman, his family and business interests. The mud stuck, but to the wrong side.

Labor has seemingly lost its base. At her concession speech in the ALP HQ in South Brisbane on Saturday night, there seemed to be no "True Believers" amongst the crowd. They were all twenty-somethings. Has the "working man/woman" had enough? Or was time in government a hump they just couldn't get over?

I'm interested in your take on the state election, and why you think the result unfolded the way it did. What do you think Labor needs to do now, given they've only got seven or eight MPs, a decreasing membership base, and a whole lotta wolves out there?


  1. I tried really hard to find who i wanted to vote for this time, and to cut through the spin I attempted to go to the source: their websites.... surely i'd find actual policy on their sites if anywhere!

    What I found decided my vote.
    LNP: mostly policies about what they stood for, and while i didn't agree with them all, it was fairly plain to see what you were going to get

    ALP: a poor site, the only 'policy' was their blog. Their blog was a flame war on Campbell Newman and how the LNP stood for nothing.

    Telling me that someone stands for nothing when they've a site full of policies is very annoying... all I wanted to know was THEIR policies so i could base my decisions on something!

    I hate that I had to vote for someone that directly opposes some of the ideals that I have, but in the end the ALP stood for nothing, the LNP stood for something, long live the LNP.

    1. This was basically how I decided my vote as well. The only issue I would have happily changed allegiance for (no coal seam gas) was not really mentioned by either major party.

    2. I think a lot of people thought Labor had had enough in 2009, but didn't feel like there was a credible (electable) alternative. This is the annihilation that resulted when the electorate had a government 3 years longer than they really wanted, and clearly Campbell presented a very credible alternative. Their gamble with the leader outside parliament paid off big time.
      Having said that, I received *ONE* flyer from the 12 year old who was the Labor candidate in our electorate, I think on Wednesday last week, and they didn't even have anyone at our polling booth handing out flyers at all! (*disclaimer - I know he must be at least 18, but the photo didn't do him any favours and his bio says he's still a uni student).
      Seems to me that "Labor heartland" has become an oxymoron.

  2. It was the ALP who trashed parliamentary standards with the insults hurled by Bligh, Fraser and other ministers at members of the opposition, and the pushing through of legislation without allowing debate.

    Newman will have to be careful, but the ALP's total disrespect for principled behaviour in parliament did it for me long before some of the scandals started to bite. Bligh's behaviour in the House might have been tolerated in her university days, but a primary school debating team would have had more sense of dignity and respect for their opponents.

    And then she attacked the position of the Speaker. It was appropriate that John Mickel spoke as he did on election night.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. While it had no influence on my vote, other than to annoy me, I think its pretty clear the negativity of the Labor campaign just tightened the noose. It was a new low in Qld politics (in recent memory anyway) to use photos of the opponents spouse in your attack ads. Especially after so recently vowing never to attack an opponents family. In the end it would be hard to argue that they cared about anything during the campaign other than retaining power or minimising the damage. It amazed me that she learned nothing from Beattie, who would have apologised for his mistakes (and probably a few that had nothing to do with him) and then just got on with campaigning as usual. She started positive with the floods (a good move)...but even that was in the past, and then she went into suicidal blitzkrieg mode, hoping I think, that she could force Newman to make damaging mistakes. Regardless of your political striping, aparatchiks on both side will be reluctant to unleash this kind of take no prisoners campaign again...and that's a good thing.

  5. One very disturbing thing to me about that picture is that it illustrates the gender imbalance that still exists in the LNP.

  6. Since Queensland does not have or want an upper house perhaps we could introduce the Hare Clark system of proportional representation. Both Tasmania and the ACT use this. The state is divided into say 15 electorates with 6 members representing each electorate. The majority vote will still determine the government but there will still be enough opposition to make an effective opposition.

  7. This very subject (what happened?) inspired some vigorous debate in my circle long before the election was called. I think it's a reflection on the state of politics in general in Australia. Party politics has become less about policy and more about popularity. Despite a political system that does not support it, the populace seems to think they are voting for a 'president', not a party. I suspect that many of the results in electorates across Queensland were not because the electorate thought that the LNP member would better represent their individual needs, but because people wanted Newman in the driver's seat.

    And whose fault is that? Partially the media, partially the Parties, partially the people. The media likes a gladatorial campaign broken down into bite-sized pieces. The Parties don't campaign on the basis of policy and what it will do for the individual. People don't want to, or don't know how to, find out more about our political system. The end result is 'representation' that isn't representative - so who would vote that way anyway? My (less passionate, but more politically astute) partner says that that's the way of modern politics. I say it's a crying shame.

    Newman has a terrible track record as Lord Mayor of Brisbane (I worked for the organisation during his tenure) - technology project cost overruns, poor investment and policy decisions, a downgrade in the Council's credit rating. Bligh was accused of these same things but did nothing to explain her administration's decisions or point out that sh*t happens in any administration - it happened in Newman's as well.

    Although personally I don't believe that Newman will be a good premier, props to him for some very clever campaigning techniques. He was lucky he had the financial resources to quit his job and be a full-time campaigner for over a year. And his persistent (and annoying) failure to announce a Plan B if he lost Ashgrove probably led to a lot of panic voting (OMG! We'll have a ruling party with no leader!).

    Anyway, what's done is done. Hopefully the other parties will recognise the need to represent people and stand for something, which in turn might attract candidates that HAVE left school already. Hopefully the paradigm will change such that those of us who care and want to make a difference don't shudder at the thought of lying down with the dogs for fear of waking up with fleas...

  8. 100 days.
    IN business, there's a theory that postulates that it takes catastrophe to change attitude / action. In aviation it's called 'the Tombstone Imperitive" - someone has to die for the status quo to change. The changes the new government have wrought have invisible impacts to capability of public service and significant risk of false-economy.
    But until there is a significant event that demonstrates lost opportunity of cost or physical injury or death - the current policies will be viewed as acceptable.

  9. Labor have to stop selecting candidates based on gender and union affiliation. People like Gillard lost preselections and only got up on some gender quota. The best people for the job just aren't getting in with Labor.