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.
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.