Monday, February 2, 2015

Queensland election 2015-the results

Previous posts on Queensland

Queensland's election took place yesterday, and while the votes are not yet all counted, the results are relatively clear. The Liberal National Party, led by Campbell Newman, have received a 9% swing against them, and have lost a significant number of seats. It appears likely that they will lose government, and Newman himself has . The Labor Party, led by Annastacia Palaszczuk, went in to this election holding only 9 seats in the 89 member Parliament. However, it now appears that they will be able to form either a minority or narrow majority government, given that they are expected to win 44-46 seats. Three others have been elected; two from Bob Katter's Australian Party and one pro-Labor independent, Peter Wellington. One other independent may also be elected.

The results

The ABC's election page has all the results here.

At present, Labor has 44 seats won, and the LNP have 34. There are still 8 seats that are undecided. Two of these are leaning towards Labor and six are leaning towards the LNP. The three seats held by others are all solid.

The Labor Party has reason to celebrate. A big swing against the LNP, probable government, and the defeat of Newman in his own seat. The last is hardly unexpected, the first was virtually certain, but government, after the rout in 2012, is simply astonishing. However, Labor will have to work with a reasonably tight parliament if they form government. Nonetheless, the result puts to bed the idea that a landslide loss will consign a party to opposition for a decade or more.

The LNP clearly have a lot of thinking to do. While it may turn out that they return to government, that now appears unlikely. It remains unclear what the mix of federal and state factors were in the defeat of the government. However, incidents like the knighting of Prince Philip by the Prime Minister, debate over the Goods and Services (sales) Tax, and the mere fact that the Federal Liberals are in government may have impacted on the performance of the state Liberals. Still, the state party must also bear some blame, and there is little chance of Newman being invited back to lead the party, even if he wanted to.

Clive Palmer's Palmer United Party polled poorly, despite a large amount of money spent on the campaign. Judging from the results, it seems unlikely that Palmer will be returned in his federal seat of Fairfax, and the result, coming on the heels of poor results for PUP in Victoria and Tasmania, may spell the end for the Palmer United Party.

The Queensland Greens are generally a weak party. However, this election was relatively good for them. They polled 8.5% of the vote, but won no seats due to the spread of their vote. However, their preferences were instrumental in electing Labor candidates.

Katter's Australian Party polled poorly, receiving just 1.8% of the vote, down from 12% in 2012. However, they managed to win their two seats, and will probably play a pivotal role in the new parliament.

Pauline Hanson managed to poll relatively well in Lockyer, winning 27.6% of the vote and coming second. However, there is little chance of her winning, as Labor preferences are unlikely to flow to her.

Previous situations

Usually, opposition parties defeated by swings of the sort seen in the 2012 Queensland election are in opposition for a long period of time. However, there are a number of cases that are similar to this election.

In 1992, the Victorian state Labor government of Joan Kirner was defeated in a landslide, with Labor winning 27 out of 88 seats in the Victorian parliament. Kirner was replaced as Premier by Liberal leader Jeff Kennett. While Kennett was a controversial leader, he won the subsequent 1996 election, after running a campaign heavily based around Victoria's economic development. 

However, at the 1999 election, voters had begun to tire of Kennett's controversial leadership, and a number of actions during the campaign period, such as banning members of the Liberals from having debates with other candidates in their electorates, created a public perception of arrogance. Kennett was also unpopular in country areas, on account of his privatisation of services in those areas.

In the end, Labor, led by Steve Bracks, ended up with 42 seats, while the Liberal/National coalition ended up with 43. The balance of power was held by 3 rural independents, who ended up backing Labor.

Another situation of this sort took place in South Australia. While the Liberals in this state had won a landslide in 1993, infighting led them to lose their majority in 1997, and to lose the 1999 election. This is probably the closest parallel to Newman's situation: while the causes are different, the situation is very similar. However, even after a rout in 1993, South Australian Labor had 22% of Parliamentary seats: Queensland Labor had 8%.

On another matter

On the same day as the dramatic events in Queensland, a by-election was held for the South Australian state parliament in the seat of Davenport on the resignation of ex-Liberal leader Iain Evans. The result of that election was that Davenport, a previously safe Liberal seat on a margin of 8.5%, was reduced to a marginal seat, with a margin of 2%.

The result is another embarrassment for the South Australian Liberals. After losing the 2014 election against a 14 year old Labor government (despite winning the popular vote), the party lost former leader Martin Hamilton-Smith to Labor, after he crossed the floor to become an independent. The party then lost a by-election in the notionally Liberal seat of Fisher after the death of Independent MP Bob Such, and, to add insult to injury, is now trailing Labor in the polls by a significant margin.

The South Australian Liberals perhaps are victims of bad luck, as no state election was scheduled to be held while Labor was in power federally under Julia Gillard, which would have guaranteed the election of a Liberal government. However, it is surely only the most inept party that could fail to defeat an ancient Labor government.

Life imitating art

Finally this week, Prime Minister Tony Abbott made a rather ill-advised photo-op at the Bulla factory in Colac, which reminded me of a scene from The Thick of It (on the left). 

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