Category Archives: Queensland

Queensland (Australia) 2012

State elections were held in the Australian state of Queensland on March 24, 2012. All 89 members of Queensland’s Legislative Assembly were up for reelection. Queensland’s legislature is unicameral and has been since the state’s upper house was abolished (by its own members voting for its dissolution) in 1922. All other states in Australia retain elected bicameral legislatures. State elections since 1992 are run on the basis of optional preferential form of AV.

Queensland is the “Deep North” of Australia, similar to the United States’ “Deep South”. Like the American south, the traditional stereotype of Queensland is that of a rural, conservative and backwards state. Part of it likely comes from the fact that Queensland is slightly less urbanized than other Australian states. Less than half of the state’s population lives in Brisbane, the state capital, while in other Australian states this figure is often over 50% if not 60%. Queensland retains a good number of “regional towns” which have traditionally served as market towns for the state’s agricultural (sugar cane, cattle) and mining economy.

Queensland’s rich political history also contributes to the state’s reputation as Australia’s “redneck state”. While in the rest of Australia, the centre-right Liberal Party is usually the dominant force in Australia’s permanent right-wing Coalition alongside the much weaker agrarian and rural-based National Party, in Queensland the National Party has traditionally been the dominant force of the Coalition – though in the past that owed more to malapportionment than popular support. At any rate, the Country/National Party has had the upper hand in state government for most of the post-war era. The Country Party, as it was then known, won power in 1957. In 1968, power shifted to Queensland’s most emblematic political icon, Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen, who served as the state’s Country/National premier until 1987. Under Sir Joh’s semi-authoritarian rule, entrenched by the ‘Bjelkemander’ which served the interests of the rural-based Nationals, Queensland’s economy grew at a rapid pace under not so-clean circumstances: the government was notoriously corrupt and economic development on the Sunshine Coast was often done without much regard for the environment. Sir Joh ran the state with an iron hand and gained a nationwide reputation as a tough, authoritarian very conservative leader. Usually governing in coalition with a Liberal Party which he enjoyed enfeebling,  after a 1983 split between the two partners, the Nationals governed alone and in the process crushed the Liberals for over a decade. He was popular with rural voters, but in the 1970s Sir Joh’s Nationals were successful in expanding their appeal into the state’s rapidly growing and urbanizing areas in the southeast, first and foremost the state’s world-famous Gold Coast. Ultimately, Sir Joh’s magic wore off, in part after his disastrous bid to become Prime Minister of Australia.

In 1990, the Nationals were defeated by Wayne Goss’ Labor Party. The Coalition returned to power in 1996 following a by-election held shortly after the 1995 election. However, Premier Borbidge’s Nat-Lib coalition was severely weakened by the dramatic success of Pauline Hanson’s far-right One Nation Party in 1998 when the party placed second ahead of the Nationals and Liberals. In 2001, the Labor government under Peter Beattie won a landslide reelection. Labor’s huge majority was not seriously endangered by a divided and fledgling right-wing opposition in the 2004 and 2006 elections. In these elections, the Liberals re-emerged as the most voted right-wing party but the Nationals still won more seats than the Liberals. The Nationals retained predominance over the Coalition in Queensland, but the Nationals needed a Liberal resurgence in urban Brisbane – the ALP’s main base – in order to win power, but such a resurgence would have threatened their dominance of the Coalition in the state. The state’s unusual nature of intra-right politics made a merger between the Liberals and Nationals far more feasible in Queensland than in the rest of the country. In 2008, the two parties merged into the Liberal National Party (LNP).

Labor Premier Anna Bligh was narrowly reelected in 2009, defeated Lawrence Sprinborg’s LNP. The LNP, which in a way snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, found itself in a bit of a tough spot, but thankfully for the LNP, the ALP’s final term in office was a trainwreck similar to the ALP’s final term in NSW. Anna Bligh boosted her ratings after a competent handling of floods in the state in 2011, but the ALP faced voter fatigue after being in power for 21 of the 23 years. Voter fatigue rather than massively unpopular policies were more to blame. Following the ALP’s claw back in polls in the wake of the floods, the LNP successfully drafted the popular Lord Mayor of Brisbane, Campbell Newman, to become the LNP’s leader – albeit without a seat in the legislature. Newman announced his intentions to run in the ALP-held seat of Ashgrove.

Labor came out with corruption allegations on Newman, claiming that he had bribed a member to resign his seat to allow him to run in a by-election. In the campaign, these corruption allegations backfired on Labor as it became clear that they had little evidence and indeed Newman was cleared of any wrongdoing. At the end of the campaign, Labor was so certain of its defeat that it came out with crazy ad conceding defeat to the LNP but telling voters to not give the LNP too big of a majority.

Preliminary results are (first preferences only):

LNP 49.68% (+8.08%) winning 78 seats (+44)
ALP 26.95% (-15.3%) winning 7 seats (-44)
KAP 11.5% (+11.5%) winning 2 seats (+2)
Greens 7.27% (-1.1%) winning 0 seats (nc)
Family First 1.37% (+0.55%) winning 0 seats (nc)
ONP 0.1% (-0.28%) winning 0 seats (nc)
Others 3.14% (-3.44%) winning 2 seats (-2)

Preliminary map of Queensland results (source: Shane Smith on uselectionatlas)

Voters did not heed Labor’s pleas to limit the scope of the LNP’s victory. The ALP suffered a 15% swing and was reduced to a mere 7 seats. Premier Anna Bligh was one of the few ALP incumbents who saved their seats, the bulk of them being rock-solid poor suburban seats in and around Brisbane. Premier-elected Campbell Newman won the Labor-held seat of Ashgrove easily, taking 56% on 2PP after scoring 53% on first prefs against only 36% for the ALP incumbent.

After 14 straight years in power, if not a full 21/23 years, the ALP suffered the wrath of voters who were simply tired of a government which was exhausting itself. The suburban swing seats which often decide Australian elections swung heavily against the incumbent Labor government, in line with the rest of the state. Faced with a LNP led by a popular Brisbane-based figure, who ran on a platform which was ultimately not all that different from the ALP’s platform, is stood no chance. The ALP’s negative campaign against Newman did not help matters much. The negative campaign backfired against the Labor government.

In hindsight, the ALP will find itself regretting its narrow victory in 2009. It would have been in a much stronger position today if it had lost the 2009 election by a hair rather than winning it narrowly but losing by a phenomenal margin this year. Stuck in the unenviable position of being a tiny opposition bench to a government with a huge majority in the legislature, the ALP faces a long road to recovery. The Queensland right did not recover from its 2001 defeat until the LNP’s creation and the 2009 election. The Queensland ALP did not recover from its thumping in 1974 at Sir Joh’s hands until it returned to office in 1989. Unless the LNP performs poorly in government, it can be expected to win re-election fairly easily as the Queensland ALP, like the NSW ALP – which suffered a landslide defeat in 2011 (though, ironically, not as bad as this one) – licks its wounds.

The election saw the appearance of Katter’s Australian Party, a newly founded right-wing populist protectionist party led by the federal member for Kennedy, Bob Katter, who was a National until 2001. His newly formed party won two seats, with his son Rob picking up the rural ALP-held seat of Mount Isa (which is covered federally by Katter’s seat) and holding the neighbouring seat of Dalrymple which was held by a LNP defector to Katter’s populist party. Another sitting KAP member, Aidan McLindon (a LNP defector) was defeated by the LNP in the southern rural seat of Beaudesert. Katter’s rural populism, mixing Old Left economic views (opposition to privatization, deregulation; protectionism) and unabashed social conservatism has always found a receptive electorate in rural Queensland, perhaps getting to a base similar to that of Pauline Hanson’s One Nation party. Katter likely benefited from the support of rural populist National Party supporters who disapproved of the LNP’s new urban focus and “urban image” of Campbell Newman, a Liberal big city mayor.

Ultimately the election was fought more on state issues and the ALP’s defeat based heavily on the state ALP’s exhaustion after so long in power. Yet this is hardly a good sign for the federal ALP government. State and federal politics in Australia are much more related than in Canada, where they are almost entirely separate. Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s minority ALP government in Canberra still trails the opposition, led by Tony Abbott, in most polls. She recently fended off a leadership challenge from her predecessor, Kevin Rudd. The carbon tax and its handling has hurt the federal government, and the party has been found losing support leftwards to Greens (because of its tough stance of refugees, opposition to gay marriage and less aggressive climate policies) and rightwards to the Coalition (because of a perceived dependence on Green support and the carbon tax issue). The Coalition is not in a position to benefit more from the government’s troubles, because the very conservative Abbott remains a controversial and polarizing figure who perhaps cannot appeal as much to more centrist swing voters.

Queensland 2009

I guess I can finish up Queensland 2009 now. Counting in Australia always tends to take quite some time to be complete. With 90.8% counted, these be the results.

Labor 42.28% (-4.64%) winning 51 seats (-8)
Liberal National 41.57% (+3.65%) winning 34 seats (+9)
The Greens 8.37% (+0.37%) winning 0 seats (-1)
Daylight Savings Party 0.94% (new) winning 0 seats (new)
Family First 0.82% (-1.07%) winning 0 seats (±0)
One Nation 0.38% (-0.22%) winning 0 seats (-1)
Indies 5.65% (+0.97%) winning 4 seats (±0)

LNP gains from Labor

Aspley: 54.5% PP. Traditionally Liberal northern Brisbane seat.
Burdekin: 53.1%. Notionally Labor, but held by an LNP incumbent.
Clayfield: 55.8%. City of Brisbane (north). Notionally Labor, but held by an LNP incumbent.
Cleveland: 50.3%. Eastern Brisbane.
Coomera: 52%. Gold Coast. A large swing to the LNP (10.3%).
Gaven: 50.7%. Gold Coast hinterlands.
Hervey Bay: 55.3%. Uhm. Let’s see now. Hervey Bay!
Indooroopilly: 55.9%. Wealthy western Brisbane. Held by Ronan Lee, the ALP > Greenies MP.  Ronan Lee did not outpoll Labor on first prefs.
Mirani: 50.6%. Notionally Labor, held by an LNP incumbent.
Mudgeeraba: 53.9%. Gold Coast.
Redlands: 50.1%. Eastern Brisbane

And now, a map.

queensland-2009

queensland-2009-brisbane

The LNP dominates rural areas, the old strongholds of the National Party. Only exception to that is Cook in the far north and Mount Isa. I believe Mount Isa has historically been a left-wining mining area. The LNP, however, is much weaker in Brisbane. It still has lots of work to do in urban areas, Brisbane in particular, before it wants to re-gain power in Queensland.

I’m a bit tired-busy now, so I’ll stop short my analysis. I will redirect you the Tally Room, which probably does a better job than I do at analysing all the minute details of this election. And Moldova will come soon!

On a final note regarding my prediction, which was ALP 43, LNP 42, Ind 4, I have calculated to be 91.01% correct. That’s quite good considering how this is my first time doing this for Australia!

Queensland 2009: 70% counted

Now that one was a shocker. With 70% of the votes counted, the Labor Party has won a comfortable majority for the fifth time in a row, despite suffering a largeish swing against them. The Liberal National Party has failed to make any large gains, and its leader, Lawrence Springborg has stepped down.

With approximately 70% counted, or 1700 out of 2418 booths, here are the rough stats. Seats are the current ABC predictions, and will probably change.

Labor 42.69% (-4.23%) winning 53 seats (-5)
Liberal National 41.07% (+3.15%) winning 25 seats (+7)
The Greens 8.23% (+0.24%) winning 0 seats (-1)
Daylight Savings Party 1.01% (new) winning 0 seats (new)
Family First 0.81% (-1.08%) winning 0 seats (±0)
One Nation 0.54% (-0.06%) winning 0 seats (-1)
Indies 5.65% (+0.97%) winning 4 seats (±0)

ABC has four seats “in doubt”, or TCTC. These are:

Chatsworth: ALP lead (50.51%). 73.3% counted. Southern Brisbane.
Cleveland: LNP lead (50.05%). 71.2% counted. Eastern Brisbane.
Gaven: ALP lead (50.53%). 69.1% counted. Gold Coast hinterlands.
Redlands: LNP lead (50.12%). 70.6% counted. Eastern Brisbane.

I also classify the LNP-held seat but notionally Labor seat of Mirani as marginal: the ALP leads with 50.15% with 68.1% reporting.

[Current, as of 16:51] LNP gains from Labor (including TCTC)

Aspley: 53.6% PP. Traditionally Liberal northern Brisbane seat.
Burdekin: 52.5%. Notionally Labor, but held by an LNP incumbent.
Clayfield: 56.1%. City of Brisbane (north). Notionally Labor, but held by an LNP incumbent.
Cleveland: see above
Coomera: 51.8%. Gold Coast. A large swing to the LNP (10.5%)
Hervey Bay: 55.3%.
Indooroopilly: 55.7%. Wealthy western Brisbane. Held by Ronan Lee, the ALP > Greenies MP. It seems like Ronan Lee won’t outpoll Labor on first prefs.
Mudgeeraba: 53.7%. Gold Coast.
Redlands: see above

[Current, as of 16:58] ALP gains from LNP (including TCTC)

Mirani: see above

Those other interesting races. In Condamine, it looks like the official LNP candidate will defeat the LNPdiss/Ind candidate by a large margin, it’s 61.4% for Hopper (LNP) right now on 2PP. No ALP gain in Beaudesert after all, but Pauline Hanson has performed wellish, with around 21.7%, but far behind the LNP and slightly behind Labor. Exhausted ballots seem very high there after preferences. Hanson voters probably just marked her box, like she told them to do. Also, it seems One Neuron has lost its last MP. Dalrymple is 52.3% LNP on 2PP against One Nation.

Maps and stuff when they’re done counting.

Queensland 2009

An election in the Australian state of Queensland will be held on March 21, 2009. The last election was held in September 2006, and Queensland’s Legislative Assembly has a 3-year term (unlike all other Australian states). Labor Premier Peter Beattie, in office since 1998 and re-elected with a large majority in 2006 resigned in 2007 and was replaced by Anna Bligh. Queensland uses the Alternative Vote form of IRV to elect 89 MPs in 89 single-member electorates. However, preferential voting is optional in Queensland, unlike in most other Australian states. It used the FPTP system 1860 to 1892. Until 1942 it used an unusual form of preferential voting called the ‘contingent vote’ . In 1942 the FPTP system was reintroduced until it was replaced in 1962 by the ‘full preferential’ form of AV. In 1992 this was changed to the current optional preferential AV-IRV system.

Queensland has had a unique political history, and has unique political traditions. Firstly, Queensland is quite pro-incumbent and constituencies re-elect their “one time wonders” or “oncers” even if they’re politically opposite to the constituency itself (for example, a wealthy traditionally Liberal constituency re-electing a Labor MP). In 1899, Queensland had the first ever socialist government under Labor premier Anderson Dawson. In 1922, Queensland’s Labor government abolished its upper house by stacking it with pro-dissolution members who voted to dissolve themselves. From 1968 to 1987, Queensland politics were dominated by Sir Joh Bjelke-Peterson, or Sir Joh for short, the leader of the Country/National Party, a right-wing agrarian farmers’ party. For most of the post-war era Queensland was severly malapportioned, firstly at the benefit of Labor and then at the benefit of Sir Joh’s Nats. Labor, and later National, created electorates that had huge differences in size: in 1956 (Labor era) the largest seat has 26k voters and the smallest one had just 4k voters. Rural seats dominated by miners, powerful trade unions, and farm workers voted Labor; and since there were a lot more rural seats than there were urban (more right-wing) seats, Labor won most elections. However, demographic and socio-economic changes under Sir Joh shifted this malapportionment (or Bjelkemander) to the advantage of the rural Nationals. As Labor’s vote generally became more and more urban, the Nationals dominated the countryside. The Bjelkemander allowed the Nationals to win the most seats even if Labor far outpolled them (in 1972, the National Party won just 20% of the votes but the most seats and the Nats became the senior coalition partner in a Liberal-National coalition). The Bjelkemander, while weakening Labor, also worked against the Liberals (even though they were Sir Joh’s shaky coalition partners), also concentrated in urban areas. Labor returned to power in 1989 and gradually ended the Bjelkemander. However, there remains, to this day, a disparity between % votes and % seats. In 1995, Labor won a majority with 45 seats against 43 for the Coalition (Liberal and National) and one Independent. However, following a by-election loss for the ALP in 1996, the Indie supported a National-Liberal coalition. This government was defeated in 1998 and replaced by a Labor minority (later majority) government. However, 1998 was marked by the far-right One Nation Party led by Pauline Hanson winning 22.7% (second place) and 11 seats. Labor won a landslide in 2001, 2004, and 2006. Here are the 2006 results:

Labor 46.92% (-0.59%) winning 59 seats (-1)
Liberal 20.10% (+1.60%) winning 8 seats (+1)
National 17.82% (+0.86%) winning 17 seats (+1)
The Greens 7.99% (+1.23%) winning 0 seats (±0)
Family First 1.89% (new) winning 0 seats (new)
One Nation 0.60% (-4.28%) winning 1 seat (±0)
Other 4.68% (-1.15%) winning 4 seats (-1)

Here is the estimated 2PP result.

Labor 54.9%
Liberal-National Coalition 45.1%

In 2008, the Queensland Liberals and Nationals merged to create the Liberal National Party, under the leadership of former National leader Lawrence Springborg. The LNP is the first such merger in Australia (not counting the Country Liberals in NT), although mergers between state (and federal) Liberals and Nationals have often been discussed as both are quasi-perpetual coalition partners “The Coalition”. The LNP has tried to put on the Liberal garb, to appease Liberal voters in urban centres such as Brisbane who might have been reluctant to endorse a merger between urban Liberals and rural Nationals.

There has been a redistricting since the last election, giving this map of notional figures. This map is based of the Tally Room’s downloadable Google Earth map of the 2009 election. Do note that Ronan Lee in Indooroopilly crossed the floor from the ALP to the Greens in 2008. He his shown as a Green on this map, although he was elected as ALP in 2006. You’ll notice that the LNP is particularly weak in Brisbane, where they hold one seat on notionals (Moggill) and have 2 MPs in Brisbane proper (Moggill and Clayfield, a notional ALP seat). They are also weak on the Gold Coast (you know, the place with high rise and surf), where they hold only 3 of the 10 seats. The LNP probably has a majority of seats in all other regions. The four Indies include 2 conservatives (1 of them, Liz Cunningham in Gladstone backed the Nat-Lib coalition from 1996 to 1998 but the other back Labor from 1998 to 1999). One is a former One Nation MP now an Indie, and I can’t make heads or tails of Chris Foley in Maryborough.

queensland-2006-notionals

queensland-2006-brisbane-notional

Current polling indicates a very close race: the last poll gives a 2PP result of 51-49 for the Liberal Nationals (and a primary vote of LNP 43, ALP 41, Green 8, Other 8, Family First <0.5%). However, they seem to indicate a large swing in Brisbane, where LNP gains are primordial for the LNP to win this election.

However, ABC’s election-swing calculator indicates that the LNP needs atleast 52.7% of the 2PP vote to get a hung parliament, and 53.2% for an outright majority. Below 52.7% 2PP LNP, the swing calculator sez the ALP rules supreme. However, this is a statewide swing and doesn’t take into account regional swings or other local factors.

Below is my attempt at a prediction. Remember to be kind, since this is my first stint at predicting Australian elections.I based these on my rough knowledge, ABC’s electorate profiles, Tally Room’s prediction, and another prediction I read online. Obviously, there are some electorates I’m really not sure about, but did my best to figure something out.

queensland-2009-pred

queensland-2009-pred-brisbane

This map gives Lab 43, LNP 42, Ind 4.  If I can count correctly, which isn’t a given.

A few notes now: Beaudesert could fall to the ALP on the back of a fight between former One Nation leader Pauline Hanson and the LNP. Pauline Hanson could do well, and end up giving the seat to Labor. In Condamine, I’ve had a bit of a toughie deciding between former Independent now LNP MP Ray Hopper and former LNP now Independent MP Stuart Copeland. I’ll say Hopper wins, but Copeland could very well win too, especially since Labor is calling on their voters to second preference him. Finally, a toughie in Dalrymple which is notionally LNP but has 2 MPs: 1 LNP and 1 One Nation following redistribution. I predict LNP here, but I have no clue how Rosa Lee-Long (ONP incumbent) will hold up. Interesting to watch.

On the note of preferences, Labor is apparently worried that less Green voters will second pref Labor, and this could hurt Labor a lot in some cases, some MPs counting on a flow of Green>ALP votes to win. Remember that preferencing is optional in Queensland. However, the Greens and Labor have signed a preference deal in some electorates. The Greenies will receive preferences from Labor in Indooroopilly for former Labor MP Ronan Lee, while the ALP will receive Greenie preferences in fourteen seats: Ashgrove, Aspley, Barron River, Broadwater, Cleveland, Everton, Gaven, Greenslopes, Mansfield, Pumicestone, Redcliffe, Redlands, Southport and Whitsunday. Most of these are marginal Labor seats.

This will be a close one for sure. I might blog once more before Saturday if there’s more stuff. In the meantime, toy around with ABC’s election calculator.