We’ve reached 400 on the other thread and I’m not sure we are done yet. Any way I wanted to make a rather long comment.
To me there were three general factors and three specific ones. The first general one was it’s time. Poll Bludger says that governments accumulate baggage until it’s too heavy to carry. He points to the 2006 election when the Bundaberg Dr Death scandal should have sunk any government, yet Beattie kept most of his large majority.
The principal reason why Labor survived in 2006 and 2009 was the lack of a credible opposition. The Liberals in Brisbane had become a farce, with about enough members to fill half a phone box. There was infighting and city Liberal voters preferred Labor to a coalition run by a country National. Lawrence Springborg did a study tour of Canada and became convinced that the parties needed to merge. But The Borg himself as a country National dressed up in LNP clothes didn’t quite have the credibility to carry the day in 2009.
The answer then was the Gold Coast Liberal Jean-Paul Langbroek. He had no credibility in the bush, but after the asset sales a drover’s dog could have won provided he kept his mouth shut. Of course he didn’t. When Bligh’s standing revived somewhat after the 2011 floods the party panicked and installed Campbell Newman, last March, to lead from outside parliament. He did succeed in uniting the party and providing an apparent viable alternative government.
Political scientist Paul Williams mentioned the ‘Liberal restitution’ the other day, the nascent Liberal vote in Brisbane that needed something to vote for. We’ve obviously seen it.
The third general factor was the election campaign. Exit polls showed this as the issue most front of mind. Much has been said, which I won’t repeat, except that state ALP secretary Anthony Chisholm didn’t resile from the personal attacks on Campbell Newman. He reckons he could only find two seats in the last couple of years where Labor was ahead at any time at all – Ashgrove and Bulimba. At the end of the first week when Federal leadership issues were resolved the swing was 16%. By attacking Newman they pulled that back to 10%, but then it blew out again.
Everyone knows that Labor sunk like a stone after the 2009 election when asset sales were announced. The issue was trust. They say she lied. I don’t recall asset sales being mentioned in the election campaign, but certainly the policy was not to sell. Bligh says that when they came to put the budget together receipts were down so far that they wouldn’t be able to maintain their infrastructure building program. Some 200,000 jobs were at stake. Whether this was true or not doesn’t matter, everyone said she lied.
Notable in this, was the fact that the biggest opposition to the sales came from the unions. Labor was alienating its base.
The second specific factor was competence. First there was the Health Department pay debacle, a stuff up of gargantuan proportions which went on forever. Staff were mostly being underpaid, but some were overpaid. Payments for overtime and extra shifts were not going through. Attempts to compensate and rectify became farcical. Is it fixed now? Then an employee managed to nick $16 million dollars.
This was April 2010. This is December 2012 where they are still talking about significantly improving the ‘payroll experience’ of staff. This happened as the election was about to be announced. Maybe it was the Commonwealth Bank’s fault, but it didn’t help.
The third specific factor I’ll term economic issues, but it goes further than that. The cost of utilities and fuel keeps going up. There’s the two-speed economy, with businesses everywhere unrelated to mining tending to find it tough. The lack of job security makes it hard to gain finance for home loans. The high dollar has knocked the stuffing out of the tourist industry. FIFO has changed the character of towns, put stress on families and made it in some cases impossible for small businesses to get staff.
It came the day after the election, but the Background Briefing program on Moranbah (transcript shortly) was illuminating if you want to know why some ALP supporters took more than a look at Katter’s economic nationalism.
Each of those three factors could cause traditional Labor voters to change their vote. In the event a net 1 in 6 voters changed.
Of interest now is whether there are implications for the federal scene, what the LNP is going to do to improve the life experience of voters and how Labor will rebuild.
Each of the three factors above will be a problem for the Gillard Government – trust, competence and economic issues. I’m thinking that in Queensland the federal ALP, whoever they put in charge apart from possibly Kevin Rudd, which is now impossible, won’t have a snowflake’s chance in hell. Pollbludger mentioned Qld tracking at 41/59. Once before we had only one ALP member.
Newman has hit the ground running with fast-tracking mining approvals. Environment impact statements are taking far too long.
We know he can’t do anything about the dollar. Sunday’s paper pointed out that tourism is going to get a 20-year strategic plan and from memory an extra $16 million over four years. Or was it $8 million? In either case, laughable.
We know that he will be socially very conservative. How will minorities fare? I seem to recall boot camp for young offenders.
One of his biggest problems, though, will be that his promises are based on some $5.7 million savings. That’s fanciful.
As to how Labor rebuilds, obviously with difficulty. It took 15 years after the 1974 ‘cricket team’ outcome for Labor to win power. And that was after the Nats had stuffed up possibly like no other Australian government ever has. Twice today I’ve heard Labor figures say that there has to be a return to Labor values. Just putting yourself forward as a better manager is not going to work.