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Can Labor win the Queensland election?

January 26, 2015 - 20:43 -- Admin

1332817047237I can’t see why not.

That’s despite the conventional wisdom that the deficit of seats is too much to make up. As I’ve said a number of times, Campbell Newman’s staggering victory in 2012 was a function of voter hatred of asset sales, combined with a belief that Anna Bligh had gone back on her word, compounded by Bligh’s failure to substantiate allegations about Newman’s finances and integrity. Lots more happened, including the massive distraction of the Kevin Rudd v. Julia Gillard leadership challenge which actually halted Queensland campaigning, and a campaign that was far too long anyway. But key to the scale of the win was the issue of trust. Labor was never likely to prevail (the accumulated grievances and scandals of 14 years in office should have been enough) but Bligh’s assault on Newman’s credibility blew what was left of hers out of the water.

I’m not sure anyone has argued that there was a wave of voter enthusiasm for Campbell Newman and the LNP. Rather, they did enough to convince voters that the antediluvian shenanigans of the National Party past had been put out to pasture, and that they would be an adult government restoring front line services and the state’s fiscal position. In the event, they were everything they had claimed not to be – combative, arbitrary, aggressive and focused far more on seemingly pointless political fights than the welfare of citizens.

Bob Katter said on the night of the 2012 election that Campbell Newman might well find the same wave of voter anger sweeping him away in 2015, and I think he’s close to being proved right. If Labor didn’t have much of a base to fall back on (and never forget that the Queensland ALP outperformed the NSW ALP in vote terms for a much smaller harvest of seats), the LNP can’t take Brisbane or regional city seats for granted. As Antony Green makes clear in his election preview, the foundations of ALP hegemony from Wayne Goss onward were laid down on capturing large majorities of Brisbane seats. Add a couple on the Gold Coast, some from the cities up the coast and the coalfields, some in and around Townsville and Cairns, Toowoomba North and Cook, and you have a Labor majority in the Legislative Assembly.

That’s more or less the map of Annastacia Palaszczuk’s campaign. Note also the intriguing trip to Charleville, and the concentration recently on Broadwater and Southport.

As the campaign enters its final week, the Premier has walked away from his manic performances of recent days, and his bizarre bikie smears, and gone straight back to the origins of Operation Boring – the robotic repetition of phrases like “strong team” and “strong plan”. It’s often difficult to divine the strategies of the LNP, simply because they appear to make no political sense far too much of the time, but it would be safe to assume that Newman’s been told that he has to get back on message, and that his unrestrained weirdness over recent days has just reminded voters of what they disliked so much about his first term.

Factor in, too, the combination of carrots and sticks in the privatisation bonanza, and campaign appearances in what should be safe LNP territory in Bundaberg and Charleville, and the constant warnings about a hung parliament.

Then go to Antony Green’s election calculator and check out the outcomes based on the statewide polls taken during the campaign. Ticking the ‘factor in retiring MPs’ box and one produces an LNP win, two point to ALP wins and two result in a hung parliament.

Yes, I know, patchy swings and all that.

But if you look at the predicted seat outcomes, I can actually see Labor winning most of the ones that come up on a uniform swing in the two polls that show the ALP with 45 and 46 seats respectively.

I know conventional wisdom is that the ALP can’t win, but I don’t see that myself.