Queensland general election

Queensland is electing a new legislative assembly today. The assembly is 89 MLAs, all elected from single-member districts. The sitting ALP government is expected to be slaughtered. In an unusual move the opposition LNP is running a candidate for premier who is not a sitting MLA.

22 thoughts on “Queensland general election

  1. Thank you, Alan.

    That premier candidate is a mayor, right? This is very unusual at the national level in parliamentary democracies. I assume it is also unusual at state/provincial level (not only in Australia).

    Why would they nominate such a candidate? It is not as if they need an “outsider” to make the difference for them in a close race between the parties!

    Does the performance of Katter’s party have any implications in federal politics going forward?

  2. Campbell Newman was the directly-elected lord mayor of Brisbane before becoming the opposition leader. The Brisbane mayoralty is an unusual position (direct election, bigger electorate than Tasmania or South Australia, potential for mayor and council to come from different parties) and a couple of previous lord mayors have tried to translate local success into state or federal campaigns.

    The performance of the Katteristas will be interesting, A previous Queensland election threw up massive successes for One Nation, but poor parliamentary performance meant none of the One Nation MLAs were re-elected at the next election. Nationally it did put a scare into the major parties who reached a preference agreement locked One Nation out of further electoral success.

    I’d expect the Katteristas to be looking at 3 or 4 seats rather than the 11 One Nation took in 1998. The seats where they are looking strong are within the boundaries of Bob Katter’s federal seat. They already have 2 MLAs through defections from the LNP. That’s not going to translate into a big federal impact.

    There has been very little reporting on the size of the Green vote. I’d expect a certain amount of NSW effect where rusted-on Labor voters went direct to the Coalition to make certain the government was tossed out.That tendency will be strengthened because Queensland has optional preferences.

  3. > ” none of the One Nation MLAs were re-elected at the next election”

    Well, not under the PHON* label. A few hung on as independents, one for nearly a decade.

    The reason why the LNP was formed is that, in the past 2 decades in Qld, (a) the Nationals have more first-preference support and more seats, but (b) it seems unlikely that a majority of voters will accept a National as Premier again. Even if they want to kick Labor out, they would only do so if the conservative leader is a Liberal. So only the Liberals are, as it were, potential Condorcet winners against the ALP.

    However, because the Liberals have fewer seats and first-preference votes than the Nationals (and because AV’s lowest-one-out principle is deeply embedded in Aust political thinking, esp on the conservative side), it would have been unthinkable for the Nationals to voluntarily hand over the Premiership (or Opposition Leader-ship) to their smaller ally. It would also look like admitting defeat.

    Forming a merged party meant the Nationals could accept a Liberal (Newman) as leader without appearing to humiliate themselves. (To complicate matters, the Nats have a lot more active party members than the Libs. The ratio of party members to voting supporters is, I believe, much higher for the Nats than any other party in Australia. All sitting MPs were grandfathered/ guaranteed continued preselection for life, to assure Libs they wouldn’t be knocked off by National branch-swamping, which has led to Tony Abbott’s current grievances with federal House Speaker Peter Slipper.)

    The other main motivation for a merged party was the widely-held belief that with optional preferences, running separate Lib and Nat candidates would split the vote and hand seats to Labor. I personally find it difficult to believe that conservative voters who desperately want to kick Labor out will nonetheless “just vote 1” because ALP Leader Peter Beattie urged them to. Most Australians I have come across, from plumbers to taxi drivers to first-year university students, have a basic grasp of how AV and “swapping preferences” works. Yet a lot of hard-headed political operatives are convinced that “three-cornered contests” mean a fatally split vote under OP-AV, so who am I to disagree…

  4. * PHON = “Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party.” What is it with the personalised party names on the right wing? “Katter’s Australian Party”, “Call to Australia (Fred Nile Group).” Say what you will about the Confederate Action Party but at least they weren’t “The Perry B Jewell Electoral Alliance” or something similar. And CAP and KAP are less, uh, unfortunate than “PHON”.

  5. ABC coverage details. It goes without saying that I expect this to be a repeat of the NSW election and a precursor of the federal election. Some predictions have the ALP holding less than 10 seats after tonight.

  6. Ouch. LNP 75, ALP 10, KAP 1, the remaining seats still being counted. I would be unsurprised if federal leadership questions start again.

  7. The projection is now LNP 78, ALP 7, KAP 2, Independents 2, Greens 0. Labor appears to have lost 42 seats in a house of 89. The rules of the assembly will have to change for the ALP to be recognised as a parliamentary party.

  8. > “The rules of the assembly will have to change for the ALP to be recognised as a parliamentary party”

    Correct me if I’m wrong but didn’t the then Labor govt refuse to do that for the Liberals around a decade ago when the Libs (then out of coalition) had a double-digit vote percentage but fewer than 10 MLAs?

  9. It was 2001-04, when the Qld Libs only had 3 MLAs (although they were in coalition with the Nats, who had 12) and the statutory threshold at the time was 10 for official parliamentary party status (although curious, to register a party and get a ballot label, a single parliamentarian is enough).

    That’s now two AV (OPV) elections held under the system that was rejected in the UK referendum of 2011 largely on the grounds that AV produces hung parliaments and unstable coalition governments. Both NSW 2011 and Qld 2012 saw massive landslide defeats for an outgoing government and large majorities for the opposition. I am holding my breath waiting for an admission by Mr Cameron, Lord Ashcroft, Baroness Warsi, Prof Pinto-Duschinsky, et al they they misled the UK electorate in their referendum campaigning.

  10. It is also 2 OPV elections, Queensland 1998 and 2012, where a minor party secured representation although not in proportion to its vote, even though we know from previous AV threads on this blog that minor parties cannot secure representation under AV.

  11. What’s with this “official parliamentary party status” thing? I’ve seen it in Canadian legislative bodies as well, but I fail to see the any reason to discriminate against the smaller parties in a parliament, based on some arbitrary cutoff.

  12. I gather “official parliamentary status” entitles a caucus to things like office space, funding to hire extra staff, and guarantees of committee representation and that one of their members will be recognized by the Speaker in debates.

    Since some of these are limited resources, you have to have a cutoff point where a caucus is too small to bother with. Otherwise you might a situation where fake party caucusus proliferate as two or three individual members combine to get the extra funding. Likewise, there have been situations where legitimate parties have missed the cutoff due to flukes in the voting system, meaning that for some purposes their members of the legislature were a bunch of independents, and they have always found ways to work around this. Its one of those things that are of enormous concern to the politicians and to their staffs, but not to the voters.

    And with its strict two party system, the situation doesn’t come up with the U.S., though there are sub-caucuses within the House of Representatives within the parties and I have to admit ignorance about whether these get extra resources and what the rules are for that.

  13. > “Otherwise you might a situation where fake party caucuses proliferate as two or three individual members combine to get the extra funding”

    To which loophole I would propose some variant of a “five or five” cutoff as the solution: to qualify, a group has to have over 5 percent of the seats AND also be among the five largest groups. So Qld Labor would qualify (just!). On the other hand, in PNG or the Knesset, 5% would probably make your f[r]aktion the 15th or 20th largest, so you miss out.

    Conceivably the LNP could then artificially divide itself into five groups, each with 15-16 MLAs, to shut Labor out and deprive Anna/ Annastacia of Opposition Leader status, but even by Qld’s extremely lax standards of political propriety, this would probably attract an outcry.

  14. The opposition leadership matters in terms of parliamentary resources, public recognition and and rights of consultation about certain appointments.By convention the opposition leader is the parliamentary leader of the largest party that is outside the government.

    The new government and its speaker could legitimately argue that there being no party outside the government there can be no opposition leader but there would be huge political costs for doing that.

    I do not think a rule as complex as Tom’s is needed. It is going to be a rare occasion when the opposition wins as few seats as at this election and the obvious solution is to ignore the threshold, whatever it is, and just look at the relative size of the non-government parties,

  15. They seem to be doing fine without such a cutoff for party status in the Norwegian parliament, where one- or two-member groups have been present most terms. Limited resources – including speaking time – can be distributed roughly proportionally based on party size. That way there is nothing to gain from splitting up parties.

    Not that I can see parties split up after an election, just to merge again before the next. Voters wouldn’t accept such shenanigans, and the media would go ballistic. It will be strongly dependant on the political culture though, and it could be easier in systems with single member districts than in list systems.

  16. If Julia Gillard were a coal miner, her canaries would not just be dead – they would be dead, buried and cremated.

    It’s just such a great line

  17. An interesting if uneven day for Eastern European women in Queensland politics. Annastacia http://tinyurl.com/boesf2c (full disclosure) I knew fairly well two decades ago, at university, where I was one of her forty or fifty closest friends. Hajnal Black-Ban http://tinyurl.com/czwu8pd I know only by repute, but I understand she is a Jewish Presbyterian which presumably means she really, really, dislikes (a) graven images and (b) buses running on either Saturdays or Sundays…

  18. Further to my comment @4 above re the Libs as the Condorcet winner on the conservative side, see Charles Richardson at Crikey.com:




  19. … In fact, as Richardson notes, not only did the Qld Liberals refrain from claiming the Premiership in the event of a Coalition majority if and because the Nationals had more seats, Newman’s predecessor Bluce Flegg graciously conceded that the Nats could keep the Premiership even if the Liberals won more seats than their allies.

    It may have helped maintain Coalition unity, but this generous nolo episcopari didn’t go down well with the Qld electorate, which (as outsiders may have gathered) likes firm and decisive political leadership, except when Kevin Rudd is involved.

  20. Speaking of landslides, the federal electoral standings are at 59/41 on a 2ppp basis. The Coalition now has 51% on first preferences alone, something they have not achieved since immediately after the 911/Tampa crisis in 2000. Roughly this means the federal ALP is 10% less popular than the Queensland ALP.

    On these figures the Coalition would control both houses (something not achieved by a newly-elected government since 1975) with a Queensland-plus majority in the House of Representatives.

    The discerning reader will not be completely astonished that leadership speculation is back with a rush.

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