LNP agenda rejected: Huge swing to ALP in Qld vote

Issue 
Campbell Newman conceding defeat on election night.

As predicted by opinion polls, Liberal National Party (LNP) Premier Campbell Newman was an early casualty on election night, January 31. He was defeated in his electorate of Ashgrove by Kate Jones, the Environment Minister in the previous Labor government. He is the first incumbent premier to lose his seat in Australia.

With more than 70% of the votes counted at the close of counting on election night, the outcome for the ALP was even better than opinion polls had predicted.

With 38.1% of the vote, a swing of 11.4%, the ALP is poised to assume government with a narrow majority. The LNP, with 40.9% of the vote, suffered a swing against it of 8.8%. The Greens achieved a 0.9% increase to record 8.4%; Katter Australia Party (KAP) had a swing against them of 9.8% to record a vote of just 1.7%; while first timers Palmer United Party could only attract a vote of 5.5%.

The ALP has won 44 seats, the LNP 34, KAP 2 and Independent one. There are eight seats where it is too close to call and the outcome may not be known for days. It is predicted that of these eight seats, the ALP will win two and the LNP six. This would give the ALP an absolute majority of three seats.

Two of the newly elected ALP members are indigenous, one being the first indigenous woman elected to the Queensland Parliament.

Voters sent a clear message to the LNP and the ALP that privatisation of public assets will not be tolerated. Since assuming office the Newman Government has been plagued by community and union campaigning against privatisation and cuts to government services. Anna Bligh's Labor government lost to the LNP three years ago on this issue. The electoral backlash against privatisation led to the ALP being reduced to a rump of seven in Parliament — which by-elections later increased to nine.

Coming soon after the ALP victory in the Victorian elections, the Queensland vote may cause some ructions for the Tony Abbott Government and give oxygen to the electoral prospects of the ALP opposition.

Below is a statement the Socialist Alliance released ahead of the elections, the looks a the record of the Campbell Newman government -- a record clearly and thoroughly rejected at the polls.

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LNP have devastated Qld

The re-election of the Liberal-National Party (LNP) for a second term on January 31 — with or without Premier Campbell Newman — would be devastating. A re-elected LNP would claim a mandate to complete the sale of public assets, begun by the previous Labor government and extended during the first three years of LNP.

Since its landslide victory almost three years ago, the Newman government has used its massive majority to push through a range of legislation enshrining in law the privileges of its corporate backers.

Deferring full scale privatisation for a possible second term, the Newman government presided over an unprecedented reduction in the public sector and brought in planning laws to enable unbridled development for corporate profits with little concern for environmental and social impacts.

At the same time, it restricted citizens’ right to appeal. It trampled on civil liberties and workers’ rights, legislating against the right to associate under the guise of fighting organised crime.

It brought in changes to electoral laws entrenching the two-party system, while increasing the limit for non-disclosure of political donations to $12,800 further limiting accountability. It attacked the independence of the judiciary.

The LNP government has not only begun privatisation by stealth through the sale of government assets deemed surplus as a result of service closures — schools, health facilities, TAFEs — it earmarked money from the future “leasing” of assets to provide infrastructure for large corporations. The $2 billion subsidy for the expansion of the coal port at Abbot Point and rail link to the proposed Adani coalmine is a case in point.

Both the LNP and Labor base their economic vision for Queensland on the continued development of the resources sector geared to export. However, this will lead to the degradation of agricultural water resources, loss of agricultural land, threaten food security, trample on Indigenous access to country and devastate the Great Barrier Reef.

Labor ameliorates the excesses of the LNP by recognising the need for environmental safeguards, but no real alternative to the existing model is proposed.

As a first step, public assets that have been sold should be returned to public ownership under democratic community control.

All legislation that limits the rights of citizens to object to the expansion of extractive developments should be repealed.

All legislation introduced by the LNP restricting the civil liberties and right to associate of citizens and workers should be repealed.

For a sustainable future, the transition from a fossil fuel economy to one based on renewable energy is urgent.

The technologies exist for this but there is no political will. A planned approach to the transition that ensures employment and maintains communities is a first step.

For a sustainable future, it is necessary to reverse the tide of privatisation by a huge injection of public funds into meeting the social needs of the community.

Commitment of public funds for social infrastructure — building hospitals, schools, housing and free and frequent public transport — rather than subsidies to corporations will mean a political shift from responding to corporate greed to meeting human needs.

Labor has shown that it is not prepared to rule in the interests of ordinary workers if this means taking on the corporations and the business leaders. Palmer United Party and Katter’s Australian Party have filled a void created by the public distrust of the LNP.

The Greens have taken principled stands on protection of the environment and support transitions to a renewable-based economy. Its approach is mainly focused on parliamentary politics, but individual members are active in the social movements for change.

The immediate task is to defeat the LNP on January 31. However, a mass movement of those who see the need for an alternative to the present system will need to continue to mobilise after the election.

Even if Labor wins, it does not provide a political alternative to the project currently being pursued. In recent years, mass movements of people mobilising against austerity in Europe and Latin America have turned away from the established parties.

The Socialist Alliance, a nationwide, anti-capitalist political party, aims to bring together those wanting to build broad campaigns against neoliberal austerity, war, injustice and oppression.

It stands for socialism — a democratic society run by and for working people.

The socialism it supports is based on:

• Solidarity and collaboration — not dog-eat-dog competition and rivalry.
• Environmental sustainability — living in harmony with the planet.
• Participatory democracy — not just voting for “representatives” every few years.
• Social economy — putting people's need before corporate profit.
• True equality — between peoples, nations, religions and the sexes.

The Socialist Alliance believes that building grassroots campaigns and contesting elections can and should complement each other.

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