The QLD election decoded
We’re off to the polls on 24 March. If you’re confused about what’s happening in Queensland with our State election, I’d like to help confuse you more.
The biggest complicating factor for the Queensland General Election, which is due before the end of March was the local government elections were due on 31 March. That left Premier Bligh with either dates of 18 or 24 February, or get mixed up in Easter or wait until May and by then she wouldn’t have a mandate.
The Electoral Commission Queensland has asked repeatedly for a six-week buffer between the two general elections. To her credit, Premier Bligh has respected that and shunted the local government elections to April or May and scheduled the General Election for 24 March.
I had heard a rumour that Labor was doing internal polling late last week. If those results reflect the current odds on Centrebet (Labor to win $6.25; LNP to win $1.11) she had no choice but to accept she’d be humming ‘My Way’ on 24 March.
Why is Bligh going to lose, I hear you ask.
Five weeks after the 2009 election, Premier Bligh and Treasurer Andrew Fraser announced the sale of government assets and the removal of the 8cents a litre fuel subsidy. Since then, many Queenslanders have been keen to make their thoughts known about that.
That subsidy was important to us. It was a symbol of how cheap it was to live in Queensland. We had low insurance, low car rego, low electricity prices, we didn’t pay for water and everything was good.
But after 20 years of ‘growth’, even our houses are as expensive as Sydney houses.
The asset sale and fuel subsidy were added to the list of government failures.
Two Labor Ministers have been gaoled over the past 10 years – Gordon Nuttall for taking bribes, and Merri Rose for extortion. Backbencher Bill D’Arcy was gaoled 12 years ago for crimes against children committed 30 years ago.
His seat of Woodridge went to Labor aparachik Mike Kaiser, who was found to have made a fraudulent statement on an electoral enrollment form. Beattie sent Kaiser to New South Wales for the term of his … er I think it was only a term. Then Premier Bligh installed him as chief of staff in her office.
In late 2010 and early 2011, Queensland suffered the ravages of a swathe of natural disasters.
Bligh, the supreme media performer she is, was popular again. No one could criticise her performance during the floods – her tone was right, she engendered sympathy from even her harshest critics and she urged us all to look after our neighbours. She had a new haircut which was quite cute.
Then Gillard introduced the Flood Levy on the entire country.
Gillard was as popular as the mould we are still cleaning off our houses, but Bligh was riding high on the crest of popularity. Rumours started that she would capitalise on that popularity and go to an early election last year.
Enter Campbell Newman.
In Queensland no sitting local councillor can run for a seat in the State Parliament, they must resign that seat first. So Newman left his paid job as Lord Mayor to head the Liberal National Party.
From April this year, the LNP was in the unique position of having a leader not elected to Parliament. It was brilliance because he had the freedom to get out and meet ordinary Queenslanders as an ordinary man himself.
Amusingly, Bligh called the arrangement ‘weird’. For such a weird arrangement, Bligh and her ministers have obsessed over Newman. They have issued 191 media statements mentioning his name since April last year.
Since late last year, the tone has become nasty. Southern political lobbyists, Hawker Britton, know this is one of the last governments they’ll be able to make money out of and they’ve brought their peculiar brand of spinning to Queensland.
In one of the greater ironies of my life, Treasurer Andrew Fraser has called Campbell Newman ‘the little general’. It’s not like Fraser is a giant (intellectually or literally) himself.
The Premier, whose husband heads a government department and who’s sons have accidentally appeared in government ads, has demanded her family be kept out of the political debate.
Campbell Newman’s family is fair game. His in-laws are treated to scrutiny many criminals’ families avoid.
In Ashgrove, where Newman is competing against former Environment Minister Kate Jones, Jones has given up the Labor brand and colours and wears pink. All her workers (including some very blokey blokes) are wearing pink.
You’re hard pressed to find a Labor logo anywhere in Queensland at the moment.
Meanwhile, literally back at the ranch, Bob Katter has re-emerged as the great spoiler. He’s set up his own party – Katter’s Australian Party. The unofficial logo for KAP is a hat. Ha ha.
Two men who claim honour and integrity as their election platforms and who benefited from using the National Party brand and money to be elected to seats in the Queensland Parliament, left the LNP and joined with Katter.
It was always going to happen. If it was me, I’d be leading my electorate to embracing having me in government not a fringe dwelling independent party. But I’m part of an ‘intelligentsia’.
And then Christmas came last year.
Queensland Health - which had not managed to pay its staff properly for months and had employed a doctor so negligent and inept that he killed the people he operated on and left many more seriously ill – allegedly lost $16m from a fraud.
You could hear the nail coming out of the bottle ready to be hammered into the coffin.
Premier Bligh did the only thing she could: she hired a consultant to look at splitting the department in two. She should have hired an auditor.
But wait, Tim Shaw. The commission of inquiry into the natural disasters last summer has to reopen hearings a week before they were due to issue their report, because some government agencies didn’t provide necessary evidence about using the manual.
Whew. I’m tired just thinking about all that. I need a lie down.
Let’s see what comes of 24 March.
For a read about what could happen by someone who can calculate more than the change from a dollar, see Anthony Green’s blog.
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