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The fall and fall of Queensland Labor

  • 23 March 2012

This Saturday, 24 March, the Labor Party will be swept from office in Queensland. It will mark the end of over 20 years of almost continuous Labor rule in the Sunshine state.

It has been an unusual election. Liberal leader Campbell Newman, former Lord Mayor of Brisbane does not hold a seat. He has to win the safe Labor inner city seat of Ashgrove to become premier. Issues about the government's breaking of caretaker conventions have surfaced. The leaders have dominated. The debate has been limited, the policy releases orchestrated and choreographed to perfection.

The Labor campaign has been appalling in terms of its personal allegations against Newman and his family. Labor's aim has been to undermine Newman's integrity and create enough doubt in voters' minds so as to prevent Newman from winning Ashgrove — a sort of consolation prize as Labor has long know it is going to lose.

The Premier made outrageous claims about Newman during the special recall of parliament. According to Bligh the FBI would be investigating Newman's family business interests and Newman could end up in jail! Perhaps Bligh should talk to coal magnate Clive Palmer about USA secret service plots.

Anyway it has all come to nought. Queensland's anti-corruption body, the Crime and Misconduct Commission cleared Newman last Friday, though some issues remain under review. The CMC's dismissal has largely destroyed the ALP election strategy.

The latest reputable opinion polls had the two-party preferred vote at 60 per cent for the LNP and 40 per cent for Labor. On these figures Labor could be reduced to 12 seats in Queensland's 89 seat unicameral parliament.

And these disasters showed in the leaders' debate last Monday. The Premier gave a solid if slightly flat performance and Campbell Newman held his own and was confident. Nevertheless, it was a colourless affair and disappointing. Few real policy punches were thrown and few landed. There should also have been debates between other ministers and their opposition counterparts. There were none.

Now in the last days of the campaign Labor's tactics have changed to stress that such an expected LNP landslide might be too big and so there is a need to vote Labor to maintain balance. What an admittance of defeat!

On reflection Labor's impending resounding election defeat is not easy to explain. While there have been many policy debacles and scandals under Labor including some