Queensland Decides 2012: What happened in the Sunshine State

It has to be said up front: What happened in Queensland was an absolute political bloodbath.

There is no need to mince words about the final result. However, I tend to disagree with the commentary and analysis that has been proffered so far. Some of it is okay but frankly I think it misses the mark. Some of the commentary out of Queensland is not surprising given the one newspaper state and the conservative nature of the state’s ‘free’ media.

On election night I conducted a live blog and found it difficult to provide any kind of worthwhile commentary or analysis. I was almost flabbergasted by the results I was looking at. I did not rely on Green’s computers and algorithms as I come from the state and could get a better sense of the final outcome from looking at the results in different seats in key regions of the state.

One of the more annoying aspects of the commentary to date is that it seems a lot of it focuses on the South-East corner, but when you take the state as a whole, the regional and rural parts are in many respects more significant to holding government for the long-term than the South-East corner. So in keeping with that thinking I decided to explore the seats around the north and central parts of the state.

But really happened in the Sunshine State?

The Sunshine State didn’t like having their public assets sold or having their fuel, alcohol and tobacco subsidies cut. They also didn’t like the on-going drama surrounding the payment of nurses or the medical concerns with the Patel case. And because of the size of the state there are many different pockets that very much follow their own kind of thinking, think of The Shire in NSW. It’s not unusual for the state to conjure up strange results like the communist being elected in the early part of the 20th century.

It’s also a state that is infamous for their strong strain of agrarian socialism.

So when you consider the results and start to pick through them it looks a lot more like the Bob Katter’s Australian Party (KAP)cannibalised the ALP vote, rather than LNP’s campaign doing the damage. The KAP vote also cannibalised the Green vote but to a much lesser extent. While there has been a lot of commentary suggesting the Greens somehow failed at the election, it is interesting to note that the Greens’ vote didn’t slide nearly as badly as expected by some before 24 March.

In many respects the campaign by KAP resembled the ALP of old. There is no doubt that KAP’s tough talk about keeping public assets, protecting agriculture from coal seam gas wells and reinstating the fuel, alcohol and tobacco subsidises appealed strongly to many Queenslanders.

It didn’t help the ALP cause to immediately turn to Campbell’s history at the first sign of trouble. Though it is interesting that the issue of Newman’s finances and dealing while Mayor of Brisbane City Council didn’t resonate heavily beyond the SEQ.  Yet at the same time there were still murmurs of concern about a return to the bad old days of Sir Joh but these weren’t concentrated or loud.

It was a huge mistake to go after Newman in the way the ALP did but in the cut and thrust of an election campaign it can be difficult to know whether such strategies will pay off. And had the ALP won the election, I’m sure many would’ve given credit to the negative campaigning for the win.

At the end of the day, many of the woes suffered by Queensland Labor at the election were started soon after the 2009 election was won.  While many have already said the road to recovery for Labor will be long and bloody, I’d say that aboslute power will corrupt Newman and the LNP, and Queenslanders will be unhappy the ‘saviour’ didn’t deliver.

And if he doesn’t deliver, Newman may find it is the LNP wiped out at the next election.

A quick footnote: Apologies to everyone that continued on with the discussion and analysis of the Queensland election on my last post “The Queensland Election Rollercoaster”.  Hopefully you all haven’t grown bored of talking about the election results.