Queensland elections: a recipe for instability

January 23, 2015
Queensland Labor leader Annastacia Palaszczuk arrives onstage at her election campaign launch.

As the Queensland election campaign enters its final days, a Labor victory seems unlikely.

Labor and the Liberal-National Party (LNP) say they will not do deals with minor parties. Recent opinion polls indicate the LNP will be re-elected with a clear majority.

However, Campbell Newman could still be replaced as premier. Opinion polls are predicting between 10% and 11% swings to Labor. It needs a swing of 5.4% to unseat Newman in his electorate of Ashgrove.

A uniform swing of 10% would allow Labor to pick up 26 seats at the expense of the LNP, to increase its representation to 35 seats compared with the LNP at 49 and Katter’s Australian Party and independents at five: a clear majority of nine seats for the LNP.

A swing of 11% would raise Labor’s number of seats to 39 and reduce the LNP 45 seats. Katter’s Australian Party and independents would still hold five. Would the very narrow majority of one seat be enough to ensure passage of the LNP’s assets leasing plan, on which hinges the implementation of its program?

A feature of the campaign has been the absence of Prime Minister Tony Abbott and other national Liberal Party leaders. Perhaps they are distancing themselves from Newman, as much as he does not want Abbott’s lack of popularity to harm his hope of re-election.

Another national figure absent from the campaign has been Clive Palmer, who said a state election campaign is more appropriate for the state leader John Bjelke-Petersen to take the lead.

Perhaps this is just as well. The Palmer United Party has made much of its opposition to assets sales and coal seam gas developments.

Palmer would have difficulty explaining the contradiction of his proposed Waratah coalmine benefiting from the development of the rail link to the Abbot Point coal port, financed by assets sales. Bjelke-Petersen could re-assure the state by echoing his father: “Don’t you worry about that”.

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