The ALP in Queensland has just won its third election in a row under Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, stunning almost all pundits by increasing its seats from 47 to possibly 52 in Queensland’s unicameral 93 seat parliament and receiving a swing of 5.2 per cent.
The Liberal National Party lost at least two seats including Caloundra on the Sunshine Coast, where it has been the dominant presence for a 100 years. It is now down to 31 or at least 34 seats.
This means the LNP has lost 11 out of the last 14 elections.
After Campbell Newman’s huge victory in 2012 it has been downhill. Newman lost 34 seats and was ejected from office in 2015. The LNP lost a further three seats in 2017 and now at least two more – a total loss of 39 seats.
Given this thumping and that many former marginal Labor seats now have a better cushion and that Queensland has now moved to four year terms this means the LNP has no chance to win the 2024 election nor probably the one after that in 2028.
So, give my age I will probably not see another non-Labor government in Queensland in my lifetime. I will be long gone, when or rather, if the LNP ever returns to office.
While the easy excuse for this lamentable result is the COVID-19, incumbency and the Premier’s strong stand on border closure that is just a little too cute. It misses the bigger picture.
The LNP were in trouble a year ago when they should have been riding high given the ALP’s problems of the mushrooming budget deficit and debt, scandals around their then deputy leader, the premier’s chief of staff, cronyism, issues about mining development, declining education standards, and growing unemployment.
During 2020 these problems have just grown with Queensland having the nation’s highest unemployment, probably the greatest level of debt — and its key employment generating industry of tourism decimated by the border closures.
The LNP under leader Deb Frecklington adopted a low target policy approach, avoiding taking any stands, flip-flopping back and forth over the border closures, spooked by opinion polls rather than seeking to argue an alternative, and practising policy ‘me-tooism’ rather policy differences, the LNP became invisible.
And the Morrison Government’s spending spree which has temporarily softened the border closures and allowed the Palaszczuk Government to spend up big did not help the LNP either.
Worse, the LNP directed their preferences to the Greens which helped them win a Labor seat and perform well in two other Brisbane electorates. Watch that space and nearby ones too.
Freckington has resigned – but so should her deputy and the current Acting President of the Party and the executive have a real rethink about what an effective anti-Labor party should be about in Queensland.
Anyway – they won’t and so I will just have to dream about what was, what could have been rather than what will be.
Dr Scott Prasser is Senior Fellow at the Centre for Independent Studies and has written extensively of Queensland and non-Labor politics.
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