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 has been a very long and hard Queensland election campaign already being over 3 weeks in to an extra long 5 week election campaign which reaches a crescendo on March 24 at 6pm local time when the polls close and we begin to find out the exact numbers. The de facto campaign has been even longer than that, effectively beginning when Campbell Newman became the LNP leader outside of parliament on the 4th of April 2011, nearly one whole year ago. But this campaign has also become a campaign of abject stupidity, bigotry and idiocy by Queenslanders outside of politics, although there has been stupidity and hatred from politicians in recent days.
It is the idiocy of one or two, or perhaps a handful of Queenslanders that I would like to focus on in this plea for Queenslanders to cut the nonsense and calm down, Queensland already has a poor reputation from some of the elites in the southern states who think they have it much better in their neck of the woods, maybe recent events proves they do.
The first incident was a nonsensical act from likely one Queenslander, possibly assisted, who decided that it might be a good idea to take out a grievance on the office of the LNP MP for Coomera, Michael Crandon by firing a bullet through the window of his office, thankfully while the representative was away from the workplace.
This incident, had the MP been present in the office, perhaps unbeknownst to the incredibly brainless peanut could have been much worse and resulted in his physical harm, or harm to an unknowing staffer going about their everyday business activities, trying to do their best for the community that the MP represents.
The second incident occurred within the last 48 hours in the form of an horrific homophobic and racist attack on the electorate office of the the ALP Member for Mulgrave and Minister for Disability Services, Mental Health and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships, Curtis Pitt.
Mr Pitt and his staff arrived to find “Communist Gay, Communist n****r-loving party sprayed across the front window of his electorate office in Gordonvale in Far North Queensland and this attack came the day after the homophobic and just plain odd advertisement by Katter’s Australian Party, raising questions as to whether the two events were linked. The horrific actions may have also been a hateful response to the passage of civil unions by the ALP Government late last year. The spray-painted words were equally awful for Mr Pitt whose wife is of proud indigenous origin.
What have we come to when we “resolve” our political differences by committing criminal acts on the offices of our elected representatives, no matter their political colour?
That is not the only over the top behaviour that has occurred during the election campaign, there was also hate and death threats directed at Katter’s Australian Party candidates in response to their woefully discriminatory advertising campaign and people continuing to shout at MPs and candidates as they travel the streets, meeting and greeting and trying to win your vote. By all means voice your grievances but do so in a respective manner otherwise you will just end up looking like a tool on the nightly news.
Admittedly, these people probably lack the intelligence to write a letter in good faith to their local MP to explain their opposition to a particular policy or policies or the common sense knowledge that they can simply take out their anger at the ballot box by just voting one for the candidate of their choice. At least the latter offender or offenders have the excuse of no brain cells, thanks to the very paint used to commit their obscene act of complete and utter bigotry.
It is these few idiots that spoil things for everyone, giving us all a bad name. So a message to those thinking of doing something stupid involving their elected candidate and the office they hold, stop and think, I know it might be hard and might hurt a little. It wouldn’t hurt for you to grow up and to engage in the public debate in a mature manner, but sadly, I’m probably asking too much.
Overnight many Queenslanders, less than two weeks out from polling day in the state election were introduced to the first major foray of Katter’s Australian Party into election advertising. This ad was not about the market monopoly of Coles and Woolworths, not about the struggles of farmers trying to live off the land or mining interests trumping those of the agriculture sector. No, it was a heinous anti-gay marriage advertisement which particularly targetted the Leader of the LNP, Campbell Newman and Australian Greens leader Bob Brown, whilst at the same time treating the gay and lesbian community of Queensland with absolute disdain.
The majority of Australian’s should be thanking Bob Katter and his party for this advertisement released overnight. We should be thanking Katter’s Australian Party not because it is a sensationally good advertising campaign against gay marriage, it is not, but because it has probably done more for the cause of marriage equality in its divisive content.
Now, it is of equal disgust to the advertisement itself that some of the response to the campaign has been to resort to low acts like death threats and insults against members of the party. Such behaviour is not on and deserves the same level of condemnation, if not more than the bigoted ad in question.
For some time now, polls on the issue of marriage equality have shown that the majority of the population think, to steal a phrase from the political lexicon, that “it’s time” for a change. Politicians have generally lagged behind on the issue of marriage equality, even the so-called “small-c conservatives” on the progressive side of politics. There are elements of all parties these days, except it seems, from Katter’s Australian Party who think, not just that marriage equality is inevitable, but that it should happen. It is inevitable too that a majority of politicians will eventually vote in favour of same-sex marriage.
So why does the commercial broadcast for the first time yesterday mean that people in favour of marriage equality owe a debt of gratitude to Katter’s Australian Party? Okay, pick your jaws up off the floor. Those who support gay marriage should be thankful to Bob Katter and his colleagues because the response has highlighted just how much support exists in the community on the topic, again, not excusing the equally shameful response from some in the community.
Aside from helping the cause of marriage equality in its own unique way, the intensely conservative political ad also proves just how little of a contribution that Katter’s Australian Party think they can make, particularly in the “big smoke”. Over all other issues facing the people of Queensland it was decided, in what certainly cannot be classified as “infinite wisdom”, that above cost of living and other economic and social pressures, a small minority of people expressing a want to be married to someone they love is simply the greatest of threats facing Queenslanders in this election.
So a big thank you to you Mr Katter and your 76 candidates across Queensland for raising the prominence of the marriage equality campaign again, which is continuing to gain momentum, without your party’s helpful entry into the debate. Your party must also be thanked for highlighting exactly how few reasons there are to vote for your mob on March 24.