Today the Queensland Government announced something that Queenslanders and those interested in politics and gay rights were probably not expecting. The Premier, Campbell Newman was widely expected and feared to be about to say that there would be a full repeal of the civil unions laws instituted by former Treasurer and Deputy Premier, Andrew Fraser. This didn’t happen, though pretty much everything but a full repeal of the laws, a step toward marriage equality that the state finally took just months ago was announced today by the Queensland Premier.
It was identified before the March election that an incoming LNP government would look at repealing the laws introduced to the Queensland parliament by the former MLA for the electorate of Mt Coot-tha and it was, as said, pretty much viewed as a fait accompli by advocates, indeed just about everyone in Queensland you would expect.
Then today, we got a bit of a shock, less than a half shock, but a shock nonetheless. A full repeal is not going to happen, but the announcement has been a hollow victory for supporters of same-sex marriage and equal rights for same-sex couples with the announcement pointing toward taking a pretty big step back from heading toward marriage equality, a step which the commonwealth will inevitably have to take with marriage being within the federal jurisdiction.
What will happen now is that the Civil Partnerships Act will be amended by the LNP Government to remove the provisions that “mimic” same-sex marriage. Couples will still be able to register their relationships by signing documentation papers which will provide acknowledgement that their relationship exists but they will not be able to have a state sanctioned ceremony that was allowed under the provisions brought into law by the Fraser legislation.
Unfortunately, the Christian lobby saw it as an affront to have a special ceremony legislated for by the state which they saw as being akin to gay marriage even though people in these relationships surely have not seen it as such. Further, the ceremony itself was a voluntary act and out of the 609 civil partnerships registered in Queensland since the legislative change, a massive 21 (sarcasm fully freaking intended) opted to have that voluntary ceremony.
Did churches have to involve themselves in these ceremonies at all? No. Were those celebrants out there who hold religious views compelled to preside over same-sex marriage ceremonies? No.
So why does the Christian lobby fear something that isn’t marriage and isn’t foisted upon them by the state? The answer is likely just that, fear. A type of fear of love between a man and another man or a woman and another woman, not a scary concept at all, though perhaps it is to an institution that has continued to struggle for relevancy with declining levels of adherence.
The reality too is that same-sex marriage, though a while away yet is inevitable and that too is likely to not call upon churches to hold actual marriage ceremonies within their hallowed halls.
The government really shouldn’t have bowed to the church lobby when they were not being impacted on at all, but the outcome isn’t altogether awful and is at least a half-relief for people in these equally special relationships where their love is no different to your love for your wife, husband, boyfriend or girlfriend.
The ultra-marathon of an election campaign has been run and won emphatically by a resurgent and united conservative force in Queensland politics. The relatively new LNP have swept to power in well over 80% of electorates across the state. The result was brutal leaving a predicted 77 seats gained by the LNP against a predicted 8 for the ALP (which could be reduced to 7 in a by-election) and two each for Katter’s Australia Party and Independent MP’s, a truly embarrassing state of affairs for Australia’s oldest political party. In the process, the ALP also lost a number of candidates for leader in the post-Bligh era of Labor Party politics, including Deputy Premier and Treasurer Andrew Fraser and Cameron Dick, the Minister for Education and Industrial Relations.
To top it all off the outgoing leader Anna Bligh, as is often the practise of former state and federal leaders after an electoral defeat, announced her intentions to resign from the parliament as the member for South Brisbane as soon as possible. This is essential for renewal of the Labor Party and as many commentators have also said, to remove the stench of the Bligh area by getting rid of the chief contributor and figurehead of the electoral whitewash.
It would appear from reports that Annastacia Palaszczuk the Bligh Government Minister for Transport and Multicultural Affairs and former Disability Services Minister will tomorrow be confirmed as the new leader of the ALP in the Queensland Parliament. Ms Palaszczuk will have massive responsibilities after such a devastating outcome leading a parliamentary opposition which would be considered a minor party in many parliaments around Australia and the world, coordinating a team of 8 at this stage.
Not only will Ms Palaszczuk have to manage with a team of just eight people, but the MLA for Inala will have to deal with a team that have suffered a massive psychological blow and will be low on confidence with what will most certainly be a prolonged period in opposition after 20 of the last 22 years in government in the state.
Also, after the scale of defeat that was suffered on election night Saturday, Ms Palaszcuk will lead a team of “old hands” with all marginal seat holders and a myriad of safe seat holders no longer in the parliament. This includes the outgoing Disability Services Minister Curtis Pitt, in Mulgrave and Tim Mulherin in Mackay the former Minister for Agriculture, Food and Regional Economies who even though his seat is currently in doubt, should manage to hold on.
As small oppositions go after a landslide defeat, the member for Inala would almost certainly not be leading the Australian Labor Party into an election winning situation. This could leave it to the young former minister Curtis Pitt, or the less likely, but experienced Tim Mulherin (providing he holds on in Mackay) to lead the ALP into an eventual election win, although Mr Mulherin could well have left the parliament before the ALP were able to move themselves into such an envious position.
Curtis Pitt may, after a time be in a position to lead the ALP into an election win after Palaszczuk likely loses the Labor leadership after a term or more on the opposition benches and this is a real possibility at the present time given the scale of what is required to get back into government but is not the only possibility that exists for Labor.
In all likelihood, the next leader of the ALP, because of the scale of the election win, may not yet even be a member of the parliamentary Labor Party in Queensland and could well enter the parliament at the next election in the form of a former Bligh Government Minister like Andrew Fraser or Cameron Dick or a promising new talent that the ALP identify in the time that they have to conduct the search.
There is one final option that presents itself to the ALP if they are in need of winning an election after a long period inhabiting the opposition party room and that is to embrace the “Newman Solution” of putting up a very strong candidate with leadership experience elsewhere in government or even business into a seat. Make that person leader and then they can campaign for a time before an official election campaign. Hey, it worked for the LNP didn’t it?
Either way, it is all but certain that we will not hear the words “Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk” escaping out of anyone’s mouth, nor read them in the newspaper or online the day after a state election.
Over the weekend the LNP and its leader from outside of parliament, Campbell Newman swept to power in Queensland to take the government benches in an embarrassing rout of an on the nose Bligh Labor Government.
STATE OF THE PARLIAMENT
LNP- 77 predicted according to http://www.abc.net.au/elections/qld/2012/
ALP- 8 predicted according to http://www.abc.net.au/elections/qld/2012/
Katter’s Australian Party- 2 predicted according to http://www.abc.net.au/elections/qld/2012/
Independent MPs- 2 predicted according to http://www.abc.net.au/elections/qld/2012/
The swing away from the ALP was over 15%, a monumental shift in the ALP vote which created this historic state of affairs for the amalgamated LNP, its first election victory as a united force.
MINISTERS KNOCKED OFF
By far the biggest scalp claimed by the LNP on election night was that of the Deputy Premier and Treasurer and MLA for Mount Coot-tha. The new LNP member for this seat will be the giant killer, Saxon Rice. Andrew Fraser was considered by many in the ALP to be a future Labor leader.
Another big scalp comes in the form of the Minister for Education and Industrial Relations, Cameron Dick, the member for Greenslopes, set to be replaced by police officer Ian Kaye. Cameron Dick was also considered future ALP leader material in the post-Bligh era along with the former Deputy Premier and Treasurer.
The latest Queensland Labor Health Minister and representative in the seat of Ferny Grove, after the number of issues facing Queensland Health and as a result of the massive statewide swing also lost his seat. Geoff Wilson will be succeeded by Dale Shuttleworth of the LNP as the member for the suburban seat.
Stirling Hinchliffe was another Bligh Government minister knocked off in the most extraordinary of nights in Queensland politics. The Minister for Employment, Skills and Mining was beaten by the LNP candidate, medical specialist Chris Davis.
Tourism Minister Jan Jarratt lost her idyllic seat of Whitsunday in north Queensland to Jason Costigan of the LNP.
The Minister for Women, Karen Struthers lost her seat of Algester to Anthony Shorten of the LNP, unable to fend off the huge swing against the ALP in the result that was much worse than just about any commentator expected.
Phil Reeves, the Minister for Child Safety and Minister for Sport was beaten by long-time lawyer Ian Walker in the seat of Mansfield. Mr Reeves was on a margin of 4.4% and his seat was always set to go when the swing required for the LNP to take the government benches was more than that required for Mr Walker to win Mansfield.
Sam Cox of the LNP appears to have beaten Craig Wallace the Minister for Main Roads, Fisheries and Marine Infrastructure in the Townsville-based electorate of Thuringowa, achieving a swing of over 9%.
Finally, the Minister for the Environment, Vicky Darling was beaten in what was quite a surprise with the member for Sandgate prior to Saturday night sitting on a margin of over 12%. The swing in the electorate was similar to the statewide swing and the new LNP member for the seat of Sandgate will be Kerry Millard.
THE OUTGOING PREMIER RESIGNS
The morning after the phenomenal result for the LNP, the outgoing Labor Premier Anna Bligh held a press conference where she announced, after promising to stay on, that she would vacate the seat of South Brisbane and the parliament to allow for renewal in the ALP.
This leaves the electorate facing a by-election sometime in the near future which they will not particularly like and does put the seat at some risk in a by-election of falling to the LNP and combined with people’s dislike of by-elections.
SEARCH FOR A LEADER
After the electoral defeat and the resignation of Anna Bligh from the parliament, the ALP will now search, among their 7 or 8 MPs for a leader to take the party forward. With such a low number of seats in the parliament, chances are that the leader will not last until the party is again in an election winning position.
The talk is that the ALP may elect Annastacia Palaszczuk from the electorate of Inala, a minister in the former Bligh Government or even Curtis Pitt the former Minister for Disability Services, Mental Health and Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships as Opposition Leader.
A “stop-gap” leader is a real possibility too as is someone of relative youth with some experience like Curtis Pitt when opposition seems a reality for some time yet.
Ahead of Queenslanders going to the polls to vote out a long-term ALP state government tomorrow, it’s time to make some final predictions about the numbers that will begin to unfold beyond the 6pm closure of voting in this government-changing election. The most important aspect of the count to watch tomorrow will be who wins Ashgrove, whether it is Premier Campbell Newman or soon to be ALP backbencher Kate Jones. The size of the swing to the LNP will also be an important piece of data, with the swing required for the Opposition to take government being 4.6%. The total number of seats has also been much talked about with polls predicting the ALP could be reduced to as few as 12 if swings across the state were uniform. The highest profile scalp that the LNP claims in this certain election win also deserves a major focus as does the likely downfall of other Bligh Government ministers. The final major point of interest will be how Katter’s Australian Party performs in their first election.
ASHGROVE AND THE RACE FOR PREMIER
From the moment when Campbell Newman decided that he would run for the Premiership and the seat of Ashgrove from outside of the parliament the polls indicated that the would-be Premier was well ahead on a 2-party-preferred basis, cruising to a win at that point.
Then came smear and allegations against Mr Newman and his family over business dealings as the election campaign got closer, which intensified once the campaign proper began with a plethora of ads asking questions of the candidate for Ashgrove and the Premiership. This saw support crumble for the former army engineer and Lord Mayor of Brisbane into single digits and eventually, in recent weeks to a small lead for incumbent ALP MLA Kate Jones.
The Crime and Misconduct Committee (CMC), an anti-corruption body set up in the wake of the Bjelke-Petersen era investigated allegations on multiple occasions and on each it was found that there was no case to answer for Campbell Newman.
Not long after the final clearance by the CMC and once it became clear to all voters this week, that the LNP would certainly be heading to a sweeping victory, the polls bounced back, indicating this week, at the time with just days to go, that the Premier hopeful would likely win the seat and therefore become the Premier of an LNP Government.
The swing required to win the electorate of Ashgrove is 7.1% and this should be eclipsed with a swing around 8-9% seeming likely.
THE STATEWIDE SWING
Polls seem to indicate that the swing to the LNP in Queensland will be massive, up to around 10% statewide against the Australian Labor Party after such a lengthy term in office.
The LNP only requires a swing of 4.6% to take office and is certainly set to achieve that.
MY PICK: The LNP win will come with a swing of anywhere between 7%-10% and Labor will be decimated around Brisbane and the suburbs and will lose significant numbers from the regions.
NUMBER OF SEATS LABOR WILL BE LEFT WITH
There has been much commentary in recent days over how many seats the ALP will be left with after votes have been finalised by the Electoral Commission Queensland.
The results have been talked about in terms of sporting teams, whether it be a cricket team (11 plus a 12th man), a rugby league team (13 plus a bench of 4), a rugby union team (15 plus 7 reserves) or an AFL team (18 plus 4 reserves).
It is almost certain that the number of seats the ALP will be reduced to after the election will fall somewhere in this range.
MY PICK: Labor will be reduced to a rugby union team minus the bench players, that’s 15 MPs in a parliament of 89.
THE BIGGEST ELECTORAL SCALP
Other than the must watch seat of Ashgrove, which now looks certain to go to the LNP and incoming Premier Campbell Newman, the electorate of Mount Coot-tha will be a major focus as the current Bligh Government Treasurer, Andrew Fraser battles to hold onto his seat with a margin of 5.3%, just 0.7% above the swing needed for the LNP to take the reins of government.
On the polls it looks certain that the LNP will well and truly surpass the margin needed to form government in their own right, possibly more than doubling the swing of 4.6% required if the polls are near accurate. This means that the LNP candidate for the electorate, Saxon Rice will almost certainly beat the incumbent Mr Fraser.
This result would be absolutely disastrous for the ALP which look set to lose other ministers tomorrow and the last thing they need is to lose the Deputy Premier and Treasurer and youngest member of the Bligh Government and quite likely Bligh successor as Labor leader.
MY PICK: Saxon Rice but close, especially if the ALP vote does not collapse too much in the seat as the Greens traditionally poll very strongly in this seat and any preferences would flow to Mr Fraser.
THE FORTUNES OR MISFORTUNES OF KATTER’S AUSTRALIAN PARTY
As noted, this will be the first election for Katter’s Australian Party and its state leader and former LNP, Independent and Queensland Party MLA Aidan McLindon. This party was created by Bob Katter and included the Queensland Party which Mr McLindon started after leaving the LNP and giving up being an Independent member of parliament.
The party had high hopes for themselves, at first of taking government and then holding the balance of power, though we all knew that this was completely out of the question. Polls have continuously confirmed that the swing against the ALP was unlikely to convert into many, if any extra seats for the fledgling political party fielding candidates in 76 of the 89 seats (though they did hope to do so in all 89).
Dalrymple MLA and LNP defector Shane Knuth will probably hold onto his seat in the north of Queensland, becoming an electoral success story for Katter’s Australian Party. With a margin of 14.4% it would be a difficult gain for the LNP.
A member of the Katter family looks able to win the electorate of Mount Isa in the north west of the seat.That person is Robbie Katter, son of party founder Bob Katter who represents that electorate in the federal parliamentary seat of Kennedy.
The big battle for Katter’s Australian Party could be to hold onto the seat of Beaudesert with Aidan McLindon on a margin of 8.3% within the possible statewide swing range in a conservative seat (although the party that Aidan McLindon represents is heavily socially conservative).
The electorate of Nanango is a real possible gain for the new party with high-profile candidate Carl Rackemann in with a real chance upon the retirement of Independent MLA Dorothy Pratt. The margin at only 2.9% opens up the seat for a possible LNP gain for candidate Deb Frecklington.
MY PICKS: Aidan McClindon to lose Beaudesert. Robbie Katter to take the electorate of Mount Isa in a tough fight. Shane Knuth to hold Dalrymple. Deb Frecklington to beat Carl Rackemann in Nanango
Queenslanders are a day away from knowing the make-up of the parliament for the next 3 years and just how large a majority the LNP will be granted by voters across the state. It will certainly be a sweeping majority, with the LNP likely holding more than a 2/3 majority in the unicameral Queensland Parliament, with big ministerial scalps claimed in the process. The electoral hopes of Katter’s Australian Party will prove to be another big fizzer.
This coming Saturday Queensland will go to the polls with a landslide victory for the LNP a certainty after polls have failed to budge for a significant period of time. Pundits say that the ALP, on the latest polling could see their number of seats in the Queensland Parliament reduced to as little as 12 seats.
Aside from the fact that this would mean a substantial number of backbenchers and new candidates in ALP incumbent seats losing their position or not gaining a spot in the parliament, the polls indicate that a number of Bligh Government ministers are also at risk of losing their seats come Saturday night after polls close.
So just what are the chances of those ministers who will be continuing with their political career at least until after this election has run its course?
Andrew Fraser, if he loses the seat of Mount Coot-tha would be the biggest scalp that the LNP could claim in what is expected to be one of the biggest election victories for a political party in the history of the state of Queensland. Mr Fraser is the current Deputy Premier, Treasurer and Minister for State Development and Trade, the highest profile candidate in real danger of losing his seat to Saxon Rice of the LNP.
The Deputy Premier and Treasurer holds the electorate of Mount Coot-tha by a margin which is just 0.7% above the swing needed for the LNP to take the reins of government from the ALP.
This is certainly winnable for Saxon Rice and the LNP who have been ahead in the polls there since last year, recently polling 56.1% to the ALP’s 43.9 2-party-preferred in a poll conducted by ReachTel.
The unknown factor is whether a high Greens vote for Adam Stone will see the incumbent over the line.
MY PICK: Saxon Rice.
The Minister for Health and Member for Ferny Grove has been embattled for some time, struggling to deal with entrenched problems at Queensland Health including waiting lists, a pay debacle and a fake Tahitian prince who allegedly defrauded the department of millions of dollars. This led to an announcement by Premier Anna Blight that the department would be split into two separate bodies, one covering frontline services and the other corporate affairs.
Geoff Wilson holds the seat of Ferny Grove on a slender margin of 4.5%, that is 0.1% below the swing required for an LNP Government. Mr Wilson will face Dale Shuttleworth of the LNP who looks almost certain to win, save for a very good showing by the Greens.
MY PICK: Dale Shuttleworth.
Craig Wallace is the Minister for Main Roads, Fisheries, and Marine Infrastructure and the member for Thuringowa, an electorate based around Townsville in Far North Queensland.
Mr Wallace has consistently been rated as one of the poorest performers in the Bligh Government. He sits in a safe Labor seat with a margin of 8.5% but his position still could be lost to the LNP candidate Sam Cox, particularly after the swing at the last election if that is any indication of the prospects of this under-performing minister. The seat also entirely envelops the federal electorate of Herbert which is held by Ewen Jones of the LNP.
MY PICK: Sam Cox.
Cameron Dick is the Minister for Education and Industrial Relations in the Queensland Parliament and the MLA for the seat of Greenslopes, an inner suburban electorate.
Mr Dick holds this seat by a margin of 6.9% and is more than under threat of losing it at the election, facing defeat at the hands of long-term policeman and LNP candidate Ian Kaye who received a 4.5% to him when contesting this seat at the 2009 election when Anna Bligh and the ALP were returned.
MY PICK: Ian Kaye.
Tim Mulherin is the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Regional Economies and the sitting member for the seat of Mackay. Mr Mulherin holds this seat by a margin of 16.7%, making Mackay a very safe Labor seat.
Mr Mulherin faces LNP candidate John Kerslake who is likely to erode some of the margin of the incumbent ALP minister.
MY PICK: Tim Mulherin with a much reduced margin.
Stirling Hinchliffe is the Minister for Employment, Skills and Mining in the Bligh Government and the current MLA for the electorate of Stafford near Brisbane. Mr Hinchliffe holds this safe Labor seat by a margin of 7.3% but there will certainly be a major contest for this seat between Mr Hinchliffe and his LNP opponent, Chris Davis.
The electorate of Stafford shares its constituency between the federal Labor held electorate of Lilley and the LNP held seat of Brisbane.
MY PICK: Despite the margin, Chris Davis may well pick this one up, a suburban Brisbane seat that has changed in complexion but it will be a very close contest.
Rachel Nolan is the Minister for Finance, Natural Resources and the Arts and the member for the seat of Ipswich, near Brisbane. This electorate is a very safe Labor seat with a margin of 16.7%.
This seat, regardless of the immense margin required to clinch it by the LNP candidate Ian Berry will be one to watch because of the massive upset that a poll conducted by ReachTel seems to predict. This poll shows that the LNP candidate Mr Berry would win, polling 59.4% to 40.6% for Rachel Nolan. The sample size however is small so may not be so indicative of voting intentions.
MY PICK: Ian Berry in a marginal victory.
Annastacia Palaszczuk is the current Minister for Transport and Multicultural Affairs and MLA for the electorate of Inala, a working class suburb that the electorate is named after and based upon.
The minister and MLA for Inala holds this seat by a margin of 21.5% which even in a complete electoral massacre will not be eclipsed. Her LNP opponent is Joanna Lindgren.
MY PICK: Annastacia Palaszczuk by a significant though reduced margin.
Phil Reeves is the current Minister for Child Safety and Sport and the incumbent for the seat of Mansfield in the outer suburbs of Brisbane. Mr Reeves holds this seat on a slender margin of 4.4% and has been running an intensely local campaign with almost no mention of the Labor brand save for some red signs around the electorate which bear the party name but not the logo.
Phil Reeves faces lawyer Ian Walker of the LNP and looks set to lose this seat after lacklustre performance after poor performance since becoming the MLA for Mansfield.
The margin of 4.4% is 0.2% lower than the absolute minimum swing required by the LNP to form government which will certainly be eclipsed by a substantial margin statewide.
MY PICK: Ian Walker in a canter.
Karen Struthers is the Minister for Community Services, Housing and Minister for Women and the MLA for the seat of Algester, based on the suburb that gives the electorate its name.
The LNP candidate for the electorate is Anthony Shorten who faces a task of eclipsing a margin of 9.2%.
The 8.6% swing that the LNP achieved at the last election in Algester in 2009 will give heart to the LNP candidate that he is in with a shot of taking the seat.
MY PICK: Karen Struthers to retain but by a fairly narrow margin.
Jan Jarratt is the current Minister for Tourism, Manufacturing and Small Business and the MLA for the electorate of Whitsunday. The member for Whitsunday holds this seat with a slender margin of 3.2%.
Jan Jarratt is up against Jason Costigan of the LNP.
MY PICK: Jason Costigan should win this easily.
Simon Finn is the current Minister for Government Services, Building Industry and Information and Communication Technology and the MLA for Yeerongpilly. This electorate has a margin of 8.7%.
Simon Finn is up against the LNP candidate Carl Judge.
MY PICK: Simon Finn is considered by many to be an invisible member in his electorate and though the margin is safe for Labor this will probably go down to the wire on Saturday night. Either candidate by a small margin.
Curtis Pitt is the current Minister for Disability Services, Mental Health and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships. Mr Pitt is the sitting MLA for Mulgrave, holding the safe Labor seat with a margin of 8.1%.
Polls have the LNP candidate Robyn Quick ahead of the sitting ALP MLA but also have the Katter’s Australian Party candidate, Damian Byrnes polling well which could impact significantly on the result in this electorate.
MY PICK: Curtis Pitt to hold on with a possible surprise packet in the KAP candidate.
Vicky Darling is the current Minister for the Environment and the sitting member in the electorate of Sandgate, a seaside part of Queensland, less than an hour from Brisbane.
This seat is consider very safe Labor with a margin of 12.4%. Vicky Darling is up against Kerry Millard of the LNP.
MY PICK: Vicky Darling to win but with a much reduced margin.