We have been through a wild time here north of the Tweed, but the short version of the Queensland 2017 election is that cuts and chaos have been avoided:
The magic number of seats needed to govern in Queensland’s single-chamber parliament is 47. After adding four seats to the old parliament of 89 and the necessary redistribution, Labor notionally held 48 seats, enough to govern. ABC psephologist Antony Green now estimates that Labor will hold 48 seats, exactly the same, but in fact the whole scene has vastly changed before our eyes.
A word about Green’s magic tricks. He says it is the hardest election he has worked on for three main reasons. First is the extensive boundary changes, brought on by an LNP/Katter plan to make more regional seats, which ended up favouring Labor. Second, Labor introduced compulsory preferencing, to make sure the Green vote came back to them in most electorates. Hard to know whether that helped or hindered Labor, but preference flows based on previous elections were fairly meaningless.
Thirdly, there were genuine four or five candidate contests in a number of seats, with LNP, Labor, One Nation, The Greens, Katter Party and independents, and the winner depends on what order the candidates are knocked out.
Labor are good at crunching numbers, and the belief internally is that Annastacia Palaszczuk in her speech on the night would not have said she expected to win unless there was solid counting behind that claim.
The bottom line is that as Stephen Miles (Minister for the Environment) said on the panel towards the end, Tim Nicholls only path to victory would be a deal with One Nation, Katter Party, two independents, plus one Green.
For Labor, I understand that if everything goes wrong from here they will have 44 with probably two Greens and two Katter Party.
Before the election Robbie Katter said he found dealing with Labor civil and respectful, whereas Tim Nicholls treated them like dogs.
Anthony Green also commented that constitutionally Palaszczuk can’t vacate the chair unless she advises the Governor to call the LNP leader, who must convince the GG that he can command the floor of the House. Palaszczuk does not have to do the same, as she is presumed to have the confidence of the House until it is shown that she does not.
Hence she does not have to front the GG with paperwork showing the deals she has for support. So she can continue governing bill by bill in much the same way she has done for the last three years after she kicked out Billy Gordon in Cook and Rob Pyne in Cairns defected to become independent.
That’s if she doesn’t get a majority, which Green and the exit poll says she will.
Here’s a helpful table I have adapted from Poll Bludger:
The Green he has marked in is Maiwar, where the Green is about 150 votes ahead of Labor. While everyone is saying the result is uncertain, Labor thinks the postals and pre-polling might get them in front. Might. However, Scott Emerson, LNP and shadow treasurer looks gone in a notionally safe LNP seat. The LNP simply did not see it coming. The only LNP seat I think which gained on the night was Tim Mander. He’s the ex rugby league referee who organises the Chaplains in Schools program and is a fundie Christian. I suspect he benefitted from an Australian Christian Lobby scare campaign on Safe Schools.
The ON win is likely Mirani, just north of Mackay, where Jim Pearce, a gutsy ex-coal miner got done by a bloke who owns a gun shop and culls feral animals. The LNP preferenced ON ahead of Labor in 50 seats, but Mirani is the only place it worked for ON.
There will probably be two indies – Noosa and Rockhampton – both ex-local government.
The story in Rockhampton is that Margaret Strehlow, former Labor mayor, was the preferred Labor candidate but the locals went feral and put in Barry O’Rourke. Strehlow resigned and went independent. She will take a safe Labor seat on ON and LNP preferences.
When she spoke it is clear that she falsely thinks that Adani will help Rockhampton and falsely thinks Labor opposes Adani. She also wants the dam the LNP promised, so she is shaping as a straight out pork-barreller. Or working for her electorate with tunnel vision.
I think she’ll find it harder to do deals for her electorate outside the tent.
The two Katter boys will be re-elected.
In the voting, there was a swing of 9.2% to Labor in the “greater Brisbane” area, the LNP lost 7.5% overall, and One Nation came in at about 13%, but their vote was much higher in some regional areas. The Greens made significant gains near the centre of the city, and improved overall, even in the regions.
Labor’s vote which is now over 70% TPP in many city seats held up surprisingly well in regional cities. Cairns and the far north was reclaimed, Townsville is complicated, but looks as though Labor will scrape through the unemployment protest vote and the Adani protest vote.
Rockhampton was unique. Gladstone and Mackay held for Labor, but Bundaberg fell, I believe to the LNP on ON preferences.
LNP preferences (LNP put the Greens last) probably saved Jackie Trad from the Greens in South Brisbane.
Key issues for voters are jobs (33 percent); health (31 percent); stable government (29 percent); and the economy and debt reduction (25 percent), the poll found.
Labor voters are more likely to rate jobs and health and hospitals as the key issues, whereas Liberal voters are more concerned about the economy.
In the regions, employment is the standout issue at 40 percent.
Those issues matter if they change votes. It seems likely that the ‘stable government’ issue won the election for Labor, as Palaszczuk ran hard on the theme ‘vote for the LNP and you’ll get One Nation, cuts and chaos’.
Nicholls did promise $1.6 billion of cuts, and I had no idea where that would come from apart from renewable energy.
Adani was only at 16% as an issue, and not in the top eight. However, I suspect it was the secret of the Green’s success. In three years time Labor’s work on renewable energy will be more visible. Labor also has vegetation management laws it was prevented from passing by the northern rebels and the Katters. That is another story and worth a separate post.
Labor ran very green in many our seat on Cooper, and in Maiwar. I don’t see ‘green’ progress via a separate party as the only way forward.
However, the conservative side looks fatally stretched. Dennis Atkins, the Courier Mail national affairs editor, declared the single party LNP experiment a failure on Insiders today. He reminded us that if the National and Liberals combined John Howard and Ron Boswell predicted that a conservative regional party would rise to fill the far right vacuum.
One Nation looks like a rabble living in alternative reality, but on his performance Matt Canavan on the ABC election panel, and indeed Jane Prentice, Liberal member for Ryan, could not put a sentence together that had logic running from one end to the other.
A notable factor was that Turnbull was a no-show for the election apart from the official launch. Barnaby Joyce could show, but only from Gympie north and Toowoomba west. For Turnbull, as earlier politicians have found at times, those people north of the Tweed get out their baseball bats, and wait.
I think the chaos of the Turnbull government has created such a situation.