‘Three-peat Palaszczuk’: why Queenslanders swung behind Labor in historic election



Darren England/AAP

Chris Salisbury, The University of Queensland

Queensland’s state election was always going to deliver an outcome for the record books.

This was Australia’s first poll at state or federal level contested by two female leaders. It was also the first state general election conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic.




Read more:
Labor wins Queensland election, as Greens could win up to four seats


Counting continues after record numbers of pre-poll and postal votes, and a handful of seats remain in doubt. Regardless, the Labor government has been returned with what looks like an increased majority in a history-making third term for Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.

This shores up her political stocks in the continued battle with federal and state governments over border closures.

A tick of approval for Palaszczuk

The election campaign was run of the mill in many ways. It wasn’t so much dominated by the pandemic as framed by aspects of it, such as borders and plans for economic recovery.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk waving, claiming victory
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk is back for a third term.
Darren England/AAP

But Queenslanders, by and large, appear to have given Palaszczuk’s government a tick of approval for its health and economic responses to coronavirus. Swings to the government were recorded in most parts of the state, with some surprising shifts towards Labor in areas like the Sunshine Coast.

The result reinforces the theory pandemic conditions favour incumbents and, similarly, the major parties. Western Australia’s Mark McGowan, who like Palaszczuk was a target of Coalition criticism over closed borders, will take heart ahead of a state election early next year.

However, this was not a straightforward repeat of recent election outcomes in the Northern Territory, ACT and New Zealand. Rather, this election panned out in ways particular to Queensland’s regional diversity, but still with ramifications for outside the state.

One Nation, Palmer barely register

The expected battleground over government-held marginal seats around Townsville and Cairns didn’t eventuate, with these seats holding firm against a concerted effort to get rid of Labor incumbents.

The LNP opposition’s pitch for a “crime crackdown” in the state’s north and plans for a youth curfew didn’t resonate, as at the last state election in 2017.




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The headline story of the election was a dramatic collapse in the One Nation vote. The party nominated an unprecedented 90 candidates, yet leader Pauline Hanson was barely sighted during the campaign. What messages did emerge from Hanson’s camp — largely criticisms of COVID-19 measures — didn’t wash with an electorate seeking leadership and protection through the crisis.

Notably, Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party hardly registered, with about 0.6% of the popular vote. This follows another big spend on often misleading advertising. The electorate may have woken up to Palmer’s “spoiler” agenda, with his investment perhaps only resulting in a push for stricter truth in political advertising rules.

There are now realistic doubts over the ability of either Palmer or Hanson to recover electorally from these setbacks. For its efforts, One Nation did hold on to its sole seat in north Queensland. Katter’s Australian Party, likewise, retained its three northern seats.

Clive Palmer walks away from a press conference.
Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party failed to pick up a single seat.
Darren England/AAP

The single biggest upset result — although widely expected —– came in South Brisbane, where Labor’s former Deputy Premier Jackie Trad lost the seat she’s held since 2012. A rise in Greens support in inner-Brisbane suburbs, as seen in other capital cities, was long viewed as a threat to Trad’s grip on the former Labor stronghold.

This result shows there are subtexts to this election result, and it is not all about the pandemic. For 30 years, Labor has often won state elections on its ability to hold onto “fortress Brisbane”. However, the party can’t take that position for granted now.

Even with the LNP’s continuing inability to bridge the Brisbane bulkhead, Labor can’t rest on its laurels after this win. Inner-Brisbane electorates like Cooper and McConnel will be next targets for the Greens, whose support at this election was concentrated in the capital where they now hold two seats.

On track to beat Beattie

Palaszczuk is now the most successful female leader in Australian history, as the first to win three elections. If she serves the full four-year term, she’ll be Labor’s second-longest serving premier in this state, surpassing Peter Beattie. Labor by then will have governed Queensland for 30 of the past 35 years.




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This win cements the premier’s authority in her party, which is particularly important when it comes to relations between her administration and the federal government. Discussions over states border closures and other pandemic responses at the National Cabinet will be watched with renewed interest.

At the same time, the election result raises pressing questions for defeated Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington and the LNP. After recent inner-party turmoil agitating against Frecklington’s leadership, it’s expected there will be jostling for new party leadership.

Queensland LNP leader Deb Frecklington.
Deb Frecklington has signalled she wants to stay on as LNP leader, but may not get that chance.
Glenn Hunt/AAP

As now seems ritual after state elections, calls are expected for the unsuccessful LNP to de-merge. The often uneasy marriage of Queensland’s Liberals and Nationals — apparently at risk of a lurch to the arch-conservative right — appears incapable of broadening its support in both the state’s capital and the far north simultaneously.

As the final results come in, they will continue to provide important lessons for both the federal Coalition, as well as federal Labor, in how best to appeal to Queensland’s varied constituency.The Conversation

Chris Salisbury, Research Assistant, School of Political Science & International Studies, The University of Queensland

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Labor wins Queensland election, as Greens could win up to four seats



AAP/Darren England

Adrian Beaumont, University of Melbourne

With 48% of enrolled voters counted in Saturday’s Queensland election, the ABC is giving Labor 47 of the 93 seats (a bare majority), the LNP 33, all Others seven and six seats remain in doubt.

Statewide vote shares are currently 39.6% Labor (up 5.3% since the 2017 election), 35.2% LNP (up 1.2%), 9.7% Greens (up 0.1%), 7.8% One Nation (down 6.7%) and 2.3% Katter’s Australian Party (KAP) (down 0.1%). Other seats are three KAP, two Greens, one One Nation and one independent.

There are many more votes still to be counted from pre-polls and postal votes. It is clear the LNP has no viable path to a majority (47 seats). Labor is likely to win a small majority, as occurred in 2017. They have gained Pumicestone and Caloundra from the LNP, and all current doubtful LNP vs Labor contests are LNP-held.

The Greens have retained Maiwar and defeated Labor’s Jackie Trad in South Brisbane. They are third, just behind the LNP in Cooper, and in a close third in McConnel. The LNP recommended its voters preference against Labor in all seats. If the LNP finishes third in Cooper and McConnel, the Greens are likely to win on LNP preferences.

Labor had been behind in Queensland polls until early October, when a YouGov poll gave them a 52-48 lead. The swing back to Labor was likely attributable to the state’s handling of coronavirus, with Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk recording strong personal ratings.

The final Newspoll gave Labor 37%, the LNP 36%, the Greens 11% and One Nation 10%. Currently, this is understating Labor’s advantage over the LNP, but Newspoll will be relieved it did not have a Queensland failure like at the 2019 federal election.

At federal level, state election victories tend to assist the opposite party. So the federal Coalition is likely to do a little better in Queensland at the next federal election than it would had the LNP won this election.

Ipsos state polls: NSW and Victoria

Ipsos last week conducted polls of NSW and Victoria for Nine newspapers, each with samples of about 860. The Victorian poll was taken before Premier Daniel Andrews announced the state would reopen on Monday. Figures are from The Poll Bludger.

In NSW, Liberal Premier Gladys Berejiklian had a 64-16 approval rating, while Opposition Leader Jodi McKay was at 25% disapprove, 22% approve. Berejiklian led McKay by 58-19 as better premier. Nationals leader John Barilaro was at 35% disapprove, 18% approve. Berejiklian’s personal relationship with Daryl Maguire has had no negative impact for her.

In Victoria, Andrews had a 52-33 approval rating, while Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien was at a dismal 39% disapprove, 15% approve. Andrews led as better premier by 53-18. By 49-40, voters were satisfied with the state government’s handling of coronavirus, but they were dissatisfied by 44-16 with the opposition. The chief health officer, Brett Sutton, had a 57-20 approval rating.

Greens won six of 25 seats at ACT election

At the October 17 ACT election, Labor won ten of the 25 seats (down two since the 2016 election), the Liberals nine (down two) and the Greens six (up four). Vote shares were 37.8% Labor (down 0.6%), 33.8% Liberal (down 2.9%) and 13.5% Greens (up 3.2%).

The ACT uses the Hare-Clark system with five five-member electorates. The Greens won two seats in Kurrajong after overtaking the Liberals’ primary vote lead, and one seat in each of the other electorates. Analyst Kevin Bonham has more details of how the Greens won 24% of the seats on 13.5% of the vote.

US election update

The US election results will come through next Wednesday from 10am AEDT. You can read my wrap of when polls close in the key states and results are expected for The Poll Bludger. A key early results state is Florida; most polls close at 11am AEDT, but the very right-wing Panhandle closes an hour later.

In the FiveThirtyEight national poll aggregate, Joe Biden continues to lead Donald Trump by 8.8% (52.1% to 43.2%). Biden leads by 8.8% in Michigan, 8.6% in Wisconsin, 5.2% in Pennsylvania, 3.2% in Arizona and 2.2% in Florida.

The Pennsylvania figure gives Trump some hope. Pennsylvania is currently the “tipping-point” state that could potentially give either Trump or Biden the magic 270 Electoral Votes needed to win. It is currently almost four points better for Trump than the national polls.

Owing to the potential for a popular vote/Electoral College split, the FiveThirtyEight forecast gives Trump a 10% chance to win the Electoral College, but just a 3% chance to win the popular vote.The Conversation

Adrian Beaumont, Honorary Associate, School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Melbourne

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Labor politicians need not fear: Queenslanders are no more attached to coal than the rest of Australia



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Bruce Tranter, University of Tasmania and Kerrie Foxwell-Norton, Griffith University

It’s written into electoral folklore that Labor was wiped out at the 2019 federal election because Queensland didn’t like its position on coal. As the story goes, Labor’s lukewarm support for the Adani coal mine and its ambitious climate policies antagonised Queensland’s mining communities and cemented another Coalition term.

But our recent research casts doubt on this conventional wisdom. Our findings challenge claims that the issue of new coal mines in Queensland was largely to blame for Labor’s election loss.

We examined how support for coal mines was linked to voting at the last federal election. We found Queensland voters supported new coal mines, and this was definitely a factor in the federal election. But the influence of coal mines as an election issue in Queensland was similar to that in most other mainland states.

Queenslanders head to the polls tomorrow to decide the state election. Throughout the campaign, the Palaszczuk Labor government has vocally backed expansion of the resources industry – but our research suggests the issue will not necessarily decide the election result.

Annastacia Palaszczuk being heckled
Annastacia Palaszczuk has strongly backed the Queensland resources industry.
AAP/Darren England

A shock loss

After Labor lost the election in May 2019, many analysts and commentators – not to mention the party itself – were left scratching their heads. Labor had been thumped in what was billed as the climate change election, despite its policy on cutting greenhouse gas pollution being far more ambitious than the Coalition’s.

Labor had pledged to cut Australia’s emissions by 45% between 2005 and 2030. It wanted renewable energy to form half the electricity mix by 2030 and would have implemented an emissions trading-type scheme to limit pollution from industry.

During the campaign, Labor was accused of fence-sitting on the Adani coal mine. Leader Bill Shorten had stopped short of saying it shouldn’t proceed, instead insisting it should stack up environmentally and financially, and should not receive Commonwealth funding.

On election night, Labor received an electoral walloping in Queensland, and its messaging on coal and climate was widely blamed.




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Several commentators, and even Coalition MPs, said the government owed its re-election to a convoy of anti-Adani protesters, led by former Greens leader Bob Brown, which travelled through Queensland and purportedly alienated voters.

While the Coalition strongly supported the construction of new coal mines, Labor struggled to articulate its position – wedged between its blue-collar base in regional areas, and urban voters concerned about the environment.

After the election, Labor frontbencher Joel Fitzgibbon conceded Labor’s positioning on the Adani mine overlooked the importance of investment and jobs, and left coal miners worried.

But does the empirical evidence support the view that Labor lost Queensland – and the election – over the issue of coal?

Bill Shorten and wife Chloe Shorten
Bill Shorten’s election defeat was largely attributed to the Queensland coal issue.
David Crossling/AAP

Our surprise findings

To answer this questions, we examined data from a 2019 national survey, the Comparative Study of Electoral Systems (CSES). The data indicated 46% of Australians supported the construction of new coal mines, and 52% were against.

On average, people who favoured new coal mines tended to be Coalition supporters, less likely to have a tertiary education, more likely to be men than women and were older than average. In contrast, those who accept that human-driven climate change is occurring tend to be tertiary-educated Greens or Labor supporters. They are more likely to be women than men and are younger than average.

Support for new coal mines declined as interest in politics increased in NSW and Victoria. Yet in Queensland and (to a lesser extent) Western Australia, the pattern was very different. In these so-called “mining states”, support for new coal mines increased with political interest.




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What’s more, as interest in politics increased among Labor identifiers, support for new coal mines decreased. However as political interest increased among Coalition identifiers, support for new mines increased.

These results suggest coal mines influenced voting behaviour in regional and remote areas of Queensland in the 2019 election.

However, our research also suggests the issue was no greater a factor for voters in Queensland than in other states. Those who supported new mines were more likely to vote for the Coalition than for Labor. But the association between new coal mines and voting was not stronger in Queensland than in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia or Western Australia.

Coal mine
Queenslanders support for new coal mines is not greater than anywhere else in Australia.
AAP/Dave Hunt

Labor should not abandon climate ambitions

Just days after federal Labor’s 2019 electoral rout in Queensland, Palaszczuk swung into action. Obviously fearing for the electoral prospects of her own government, she ordered state officials to give a “definitive timeframe” on approvals for the Adani mine within days.

The Queensland state election campaign has been dominated by the issues of economic recovery, job creation and infrastructure. Early in the campaign, the Palaszczuk government signed off on a new metallurgical coal mine in the Bowen Basin, further affirming its support for Queensland’s resources industry. Climate action, and the need to move away from coal, has been mentioned in the campaign, but it’s not at the fore.

Federal Labor is still struggling to regroup after its election loss. It has not revealed the emissions reduction targets it will take to the next federal election, and reportedly this month resolved to support the Morrison government in developing new gas reserves.

But at both a state and federal level, Labor should not hasten to back fossil fuels, nor should it abandon an ambitious climate policy agenda. The issue of new coal mines may not be a huge election decider in Queensland after all.




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The Conversation


Bruce Tranter, Professor of Sociology, University of Tasmania and Kerrie Foxwell-Norton, Senior Lecturer, School of Humanities, Griffith University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Labo(u)r easily wins in both New Zealand and the ACT, and leads in Queensland



AAP/David Rowland

Adrian Beaumont, University of Melbourne

At Saturday’s New Zealand election, Labour won 64 of the 120 seats (up 18 since the 2017 election). This means a Labour eight-seat majority. The opposition National won 35 seats (down 21), the right-wing ACT ten (up nine), the Greens ten (up two) and the Māori party one (up one).

Vote shares were 49.1% Labour (up 12.2%), 26.8% National (down 17.6%), 8.0% ACT (up 7.5%), 7.6% Greens (up 1.3%) and 1.0% Māori (down 0.2%).

Under New Zealand’s system, parties are entitled to a proportional allocation of seats if they either win at least 5% of the overall vote, or win a single-member seat. The Māori party entered parliament by winning one of the seven single-member seats reserved for those on the Māori roll. The Greens and ACT also won single-member seats.

Since the 2017 election, Labour has governed in coalition with the Greens and the populist NZ First. NZ First will not be returned to parliament, as their vote slumped to 2.7% (down 4.5%), and they failed to win a single-member seat.

This will be the first single-party New Zealand majority government since the adoption of proportional representation in 1996.

In February, two polls had National ahead of Labour. But Labour recorded massive poll leads in May owing to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s handling of coronavirus. Labour’s lead narrowed somewhat as the election approached, but final polls understated Labour’s lead; they won by 22 points, not the 15 in final polls.

Greens could win six of 25 ACT seats

With 78% of enrolled voters counted at Saturday’s ACT election, vote shares were 38.4% Labor (down 0.1% since 2016), 33.1% Liberals (down 3.6%) and 13.9% Greens (up 3.6%).

The ACT uses five five-member electorates, with candidates elected using the Hare-Clark system. A quota is one-sixth of the vote, or 16.7%. Preference distribution sheets have been released based on votes cast electronically. Paper ballots will be manually entered.

In Brindabella, Labor has 2.5 quotas, the Liberals 2.3 and the Greens 0.7. The Poll Bludger’s analysis of preferences has it very close between Labor and the Greens for the final seat.

In Ginninderra, Labor has 2.4 quotas, the Liberals 1.6 and the Greens 0.8. Labor leads the Liberals for the final seat, but it could be overturned on late counting.

In Kurrajong, Labor has 2.3 quotas, the Liberals 1.6 and the Greens 1.4. Preferences from Labor and minor parties give the Greens a solid lead over the Liberals in the race for the final seat. So Kurrajong is likely to split two Labor, two Greens and just one Liberal.

In Murrumbidgee, Labor has 2.2 quotas, the Liberals 2.1 and the Greens 0.7. This is a clear two Labor, two Liberals, one Green result.

In Yerrabi, the Liberals have 2.4 quotas, Labor 2.1 and the Greens 0.6. This will be two Liberals, two Labor and one Green.

In summary, Labor is likely to win ten of the 25 seats, the Liberals eight and the Greens five, with two in doubt, one Labor vs Greens and one Labor vs Liberal. In 2016, the result was 12 Labor, 11 Liberals, two Greens. The current Labor/Green coalition has easily retained power.

Queensland Newspoll: 52-48 to Labor

The Queensland election will be held on October 31. A Newspoll, conducted October 9-14 from a sample of 1,001, gave Labor a 52-48 lead, a three-point gain for Labor since a late July Newspoll. Labor’s lead is the same as in a YouGov poll that I covered in early October. YouGov conducts Newspoll, so it is effectively the same pollster.

Primary votes were virtually identical to that YouGov poll, at 37% Labor, 37% LNP, 11% Greens and 9% One Nation; the only difference a one-point drop for the Greens.

63% were satisfied with Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s performance and 33% were dissatisfied, for a net approval of +30. These figures are identical to a September Newspoll of the Victorian and Queensland premiers’ ratings.

Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington had a net approval of -7, up one point since the late July Newspoll. Palaszczuk led Frecklington as better premier by 57-32 (57-26 in July).

More state polls: NSW and Victoria

Channel 10 commissioned a uComms NSW poll after revelations of Premier Gladys Berejiklian’s affair with former Liberal MP Daryl Maguire. 63% said Berejiklian should not resign, and just 28% thought she should go.

The only information provided on voting intentions was that the Coalition led Labor by 38-30. William Bowe says that uComms includes undecided in the initial table, and that this implies little change from the 2019 election result.

A YouGov poll for The Sunday Telegraph gave Berejiklian a 68-26 approval rating. By 49-36, voters did not think she had done anything wrong. By 60-29, they wanted her to stay as premier.

A Victorian SMS Morgan poll, conducted October 12-13 from a sample of 899, gave Labor a 51.5-48.5 lead, unchanged since late September. Primary votes were 40% Labor (up one), 40% Coalition (up 0.5) and 9% Greens (down one). Premier Daniel Andrews had a 59-41 approval rating (61-39 previously).

Trump still down by double digits nationally

The FiveThirtyEight national polls aggregate currently gives Joe Biden a 10.6% lead over Donald Trump (52.4% to 41.8%). It’s somewhat closer in the key states with Biden leading by 7.9% in Michigan, 7.8% in Wisconsin, 6.8% in Pennsylvania, 4.0% in Florida and 3.9% in Arizona.

Pennsylvania has returned to being the “tipping-point” state, and is currently polling 3.8% better for Trump than nationally. But Trump needs to get within five points to make the Electoral College competitive.

There appears to be a new surge of coronavirus in the US: over 70,000 new cases were recorded Friday, the highest since late July. Trump is perceived to have handled coronavirus poorly, so the more it is in the headlines, the worse it will probably get for him.The Conversation

Adrian Beaumont, Honorary Associate, School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Melbourne

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Fundraising questions have interrupted the Queensland LNP’s election campaign. What does the law say?



Dan Peled/ AAP

Graeme Orr, The University of Queensland

The Liberal National Party has referred some of its own fundraising activities to the Electoral Commission of Queensland (ECQ).

As the ABC reported on Tuesday, this implicates its own parliamentary leader, Deb Frecklington.

Why would a party administration raise concerns with the electoral authorities? The timing of these revelations — in the midst of a tight election campaign — is a problem in itself.

To understand the law behind this, we need to think about two things. The first is the strict rules against electoral donations by property developers. The second is the investigatory power and processes that can be brought to bear.

Yet in many ways, the politics behind all this are at least as curious as any legal implications.

What is the story?

The ABC reported the LNP leader attended private events earlier this year, where property developers were also present.

Frecklington, for her part, denies any wrongdoing. And an LNP spokesperson said

the ABC’s allegation that the LNP has referred Deb Frecklington to the ECQ is false. It has not. The LNP regularly communicates with the ECQ to ensure that we comply with the act.

Inquiries, to date, have not exposed evidence of forbidden developer money in the mix, just of developers attending small gatherings at which Frecklington was a guest and which were treated by others as political fundraisers.

There is also an allegation that, behind the scenes, people may have considered trying to give money indirectly.

What is the ban on property developers?

Why would this be a problem?

Property developers are “prohibited donors” in Queensland. There is a ban on registered political parties, candidates and electoral groups receiving donations (whether gifts of money, or unpaid-for-resources) from any company that makes property development applications, their directors or close associates.




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Property industry organisations are also prohibited donors.

A developer who makes such a donation — directly or through a conduit — commits an offence, punishable by up to two years in jail. So too do party agents, if they solicit such donations. The party must disgorge twice the amount of the donation if they know the donor is prohibited.

Above all, if people connive to try to get around the ban on developer donations, each may be guilty of a serious crime, punishable by up to ten years in jail.

Why is there a ban?

In 2018, the Palaszczuk government introduced the ban on property developer donations. So these offences are not long established in Queensland. Nor did they originate in the state.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk in parliament.
The Palaszczuk Government introduced a ban on donations from developers in 2018.
Dan Peled/AAP

NSW has had such a ban on property developers donating since 2010. In 2014, an anti-corruption commission inquiry “Operation Spicer” brought down numerous state MPs over donations from developers.

The High Court has upheld such bans twice. It reasons the bans are compatible with freedom of political communication. It also argues they are a rational anti-corruption measure and developers are still free to join parties and to campaign in their own name.

Above all, liberty needs to be tempered by an idea of fairness, which the High Court calls the “equality of opportunity to participate politically”.

Wealth buys a lot of things, but it’s not meant to buy political influence, let alone power.

What happens if property developers donate anyway?

Political finance affairs often involve an intricate money trail and take many months to plumb.




Read more:
How big money influenced the 2019 federal election – and what we can do to fix the system


The Queensland Crime and Corruption Commission does not have a broad remit over electoral law. It may only lawfully investigate a matter if there is a suspicion of wrongdoing affecting public officials.

For its coercive powers, or public hearings, to be brought to bear, there has to be more than electoral donations at stake.

The Electoral Commission of Queensland, however, has wide new powers. These include entering premises with a warrant and the ability to demand records and to obtain statements. That said, it cannot require someone to give a statement incriminating themselves.

What’s the politics?

Beyond the law, what is the politics behind all this?

The macro politics is simple. The LNP strongly opposes bans on developer donations. They see them as illiberal and unfairly aimed at an industry that happens to be tight with the party and its ideology.




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Queensland Labor and the Greens support the law, pointing to a 2017 Crime and Corruption Commission report recommending such a ban for local government politics.

The Palaszczuk government extended that recommendation to all of state politics. Its rationale was development projects and Crown land use are often matters of state policy, just as zoning issues and particular development applications are matters for local government.

Internal politics also at play

What of the micro, or internal party, politics? Why would the administrative wing of a party refer its own messy linen to an electoral commission?

One explanation is due diligence. The LNP says the laws are complex and it relies on the commission for advice. Another aspect is parties have two sides to them, which generate different ethical pressures.

LNP leader Deb Frecklington
Queensland opposition leader Deb Frecklington has been in the job since 2017.
Dave Hunt/AAP

Current politicians want to build networks of support and to win the next election. Party machines have a longer-term view and concern for their own reputation.

In this case, the ABC reports the LNP’s administrative wing advised its MPs and leaders to avoid property developers including at “private” events. Frecklington either missed the memo, or didn’t care for that advice.

Shadowing all this is a history of tension between the LNP’s parliamentary leadership and its machine. Earlier this year, this erupted through public fissures, burning the administrative wing.

The conflict has been massaged and suppressed, in the lead up to the election. But as we have seen this week, it has not been fully resolved.The Conversation

Graeme Orr, Professor of Law, The University of Queensland

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Biden increases lead after debate and Trump’s coronavirus; Labor gains Queensland lead



AAP/Ap/Julio Cortez

Adrian Beaumont, University of Melbourne

With four weeks left until the November 3 election, the FiveThirtyEight aggregate of US national polls gives Joe Biden a 9.0% lead over Donald Trump (51.4% to 42.4%). Biden’s lead has increased 1.4% since an October 1 article I wrote for The Poll Bludger.

In the key states, Biden leads by 7.5% in Michigan, 7.0% in Wisconsin, 6.6% in Pennsylvania, 4.3% in Arizona and 3.4% in Florida. If Biden wins the states that voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016, plus Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, he wins the election with at least 278 of the 538 Electoral Votes.

Pennsylvania is still the “tipping-point” state that could potentially put either Trump or Biden over the 270 EVs required to win. But it is polling closer to Wisconsin and Michigan than in the recent past. The current difference between Pennsylvania and the national vote is 2.4% in favour of Trump.

There are five states where Biden is either just ahead or just behind: North Carolina, Georgia, Texas, Iowa and Ohio. If Biden won all of them, he would win a blowout victory with over 400 EVs.

In the FiveThirtyEight forecast, Trump still has a 17% chance to win, though only an 8% chance to win the popular vote. Trump’s chances have declined 4% since last week. Still, a 17% chance is the probability of rolling a six on a six-sided die.

Trump’s ratings with all polls in theFiveThirtyEight aggregateare 43.4% approve, 53.0% disapprove (net -9.6%). With polls of likely or registered voters, Trump’s ratings are 43.7% approve, 53.0% disapprove (net -9.3%). His net approval has declined about one point since last week.

The FiveThirtyEight Classic Senate forecast gives Democrats a 70% chance to win, up 2% since last week. The most likely outcome is a narrow 51 to 49 Democratic majority, unchanged from last week. The forecast gives Democrats an 80% chance of holding between 48 and 55 seats after the election.

Trump’s coronavirus

Perhaps there would have been some public sympathy for Trump had his coronavirus appeared to be bad luck. But it is likely Trump and other prominent Republicans’ coronavirus infections occurred at a September 26 event to announce Amy Coney Barrett as Trump’s nominee to replace the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court.

The footage shows people sitting close together, without face masks. This created an impression of reckless conduct by Trump and other Republicans in ignoring medical advice.

In a CNN poll taken after Trump’s coronavirus, 60% disapproved and 37% approved of Trump’s handling of coronavirus; his -23 net approval is a record low on that issue. 63% thought Trump had acted irresponsibly and just 33% thought he had been responsible.

An additional problem for Trump is that coronavirus is back in the headlines. As Trump is perceived to have been poor on this issue, that helps Biden. New US daily cases have plateaued between 30,000 and 50,000.

Biden wins first presidential debate

The first presidential debate between Biden and Trump occurred on September 29. A CBS News post-debate scientific poll gave Biden a narrow 48-41 victory, while a CNN poll gave him a far more emphatic 60-28 win. Trump needed a clear win to change the current polling. There will be two more presidential debates on October 15 and 22, and a vice presidential debate Thursday AEDT.

The major headlines from the debate were that it was a shouting match, and Trump’s refusal to denounce white supremacists. I have said before that the US economy’s fast recovery from the April coronavirus lows is Trump’s best asset for re-election, but he did nothing during the debate to tell a positive story about the economy.

Concerning the Supreme Court fight over Ginsburg’s replacement, a Morning Consult poll found a record 62% supported the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), while 24% were opposed. In March, this was 55-29 support. There is clear danger for Trump and Republicans in appointing a judge who may overturn Obamacare.

US employment growth slows

The September US jobs report was the last before the November 3 election. 661,000 jobs were created, and the unemployment rate dropped 0.5% to 7.9%. This was the first month with fewer than a million jobs added since the April nadir.

The unemployment rate has almost halved from April’s 14.7%. But the gain in September was mainly attributable to a 0.3% slide in the participation rate, to 61.4%. The employment population ratio – the percentage of eligible Americans who are employed – increased just 0.1% to 56.6%. It is 1.6% below where it was at the lowest point of the recovery from the global financial crisis (58.2%).

Trump may have undermined his relative advantage on the economy, compared to other issues, by withdrawing from negotiations with Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi over a new stimulus bill. An article by analyst Nate Silver says stimulus spending was very popular: in a September Siena poll for The New York Times, voters supported a $US 2 trillion stimulus by a 72-23 margin.

Queensland YouGov: 52-48 to Labor

The Queensland election will be held on October 31. A YouGov poll, conducted September 24 to October 1 from a sample of 2,000, gave Labor a 52-48 lead, a four-point gain for Labor since the last such poll in June. A Queensland Newspoll, which is conducted by YouGov, gave the LNP a 51-49 lead in late July.

Primary votes were 37% Labor (up five since the June YouGov), 37% LNP (down one), 12% Greens (steady) and 9% One Nation (down three). Figures are from The Poll Bludger.

The overall shift in this poll is a 1% swing to Labor since the 2017 election. Regional breakdowns gave Labor a 57-43 lead in Brisbane (1% swing to the LNP), the LNP a 54-46 lead on the Gold and Sunshine Coasts (3% swing to Labor) and the LNP a 53-47 lead in regional Queensland (1% swing to the LNP).

57% (up eight) approved of Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s performance and 27% (down six) disapproved, for a net approval of +30, up 14 points. Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington had a net approval of -3, up six points. Palaszczuk led as better premier by 48-22 (44-23 in June).

The movement to Labor is likely a result of Queensland’s handling of coronavirus. But polls greatly overstated Labor’s Queensland performance at the 2019 federal election, although they were accurate at the 2017 Queensland state election.

New Zealand: latest poll has Labour short of majority

Last week’s Colmar Brunton New Zealand poll had Labour on 47%, National 33%, ACT 8% and the Greens 7%. If repeated at the October 17 election, Labour would win 59 of the 120 seats, two short of a majority. You can read more at my personal website.The Conversation

Adrian Beaumont, Honorary Associate, School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Melbourne

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Queensland’s unpredictable election begins. Expect a close campaign focused on 3 questions


Paul Williams, Griffith University

The Queensland election campaign officially begins this week, with the government entering caretaker mode on Tuesday, and the election set for October 31.

But the crystal ball for this election, which will see a number of significant firsts, is frustratingly cloudy.

Palaszczuk vs Frecklington

This is the state’s first election for a four-year fixed term of parliament since 1893. It’s also the first occasion at which the leaders of the two major parties — Labor’s Annastacia Palaszczuk and the Liberal-National Party’s (LNP) Deb Frecklington — are women.

People voting at polling booths in school hall.
Queenslanders will be voting in a government for four years.
Albert Perez/AAP

Meanwhile, apart from August’s Northern Territory election, Queensland’s poll will be the first major electoral test of any Australian jurisdiction since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

All of this makes the election extremely difficult to forecast, especially given the marked difference in how voters rate the parties, as opposed to their leaders.

That’s before you throw in the pull of four significant minor parties and their unpredictable preference flows.

A change of government is possible

Even so, we might say Labor is Queensland’s “natural” party of government, given it has held office for 26 of the past 31 years, and for 70 of the past 105 years (since the birth of the modern party system).

This stands in sharp contrast to Queenslanders’ predilection to back conservative parties at federal elections. In 2019, for example, the state swung toward the Morrison-led Coalition at a rate about four times the Australian average.




Read more:
Queensland to all those #Quexiteers: don’t judge, try to understand us


Heading into the election, Labor holds a razor-thin buffer, with just 48 seats in the 93-seat parliament. A tiny after-preference swing of 0.7% would see Labor lose two seats and its majority.

The LNP, currently on 38 seats, must win nine additional seats, via a 3.4% swing to form majority government.

Ironically, that’s virtually identical to the 3.5% swing against the NT Labor government last month.

In June, a YouGov poll had the LNP in front of Labor, 52% to 48%, two-party preferred. In July, Newspoll had the LNP ahead, 51% to 49%.

The implications are clear: victory for the LNP is eminently possible.

A hung parliament is also on the cards

With polls putting Labor’s primary vote as low as 32%, preferences will be crucial and minor parties will once again play a significant role.

Because of recently introduced election spending caps, Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party is expected to walk away empty-handed. This comes after Palmer donated almost $84 million to his own campaign during the 2019 federal election.

But with Pauline Hanson’s One Nation likely to maintain its lone seat, Katter’s Australian Party its three, and the Greens almost certain to double their representation to two, a hung parliament – a repeat of the 2015-17 term – is also a real possibility.

Referendum on three questions

For these reasons and more, the political eyes of Australia will be on Queensland on October 31. And it will invariably be a referendum on three questions.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk
Annastacia Palaszczuk has been premier since 2015.
Darren England/AAP

The first is whom Queenslanders trust more as their premier for the next four years.

In late July, Newspoll found 81% of those surveyed approved of Palaszczuk’s handling of the pandemic, with 57% preferring her as premier. Just 26% preferred Frecklington.

Queensland opposition leader Deb Frecklington.
Deb Frecklington took over as opposition leader in December 2017.
Dan Peled/AAP

But a late September, Newspoll saw a marked dip in Palaszczuk’s ratings, with 69% of respondents saying the premier was performing well over coronavirus.

Health vs economy

A second question is which public policy frame — public health or economic buoyancy — do Queenslanders rate more highly? This comes down to simple arithmetic.




Read more:
Did someone say ‘election’?: how politics met pandemic to create ‘fortress Queensland’


If those angry at hard border closures and damaged hospitality, tourism and other small businesses outweigh those grateful for a government that has overseen just 1,160 coronavirus cases and six deaths, then Palaszczuk has a problem.

But with border and pub relaxations introduced last week, even that anger might be quelled by election day.

COVID recovery

If not, these concerns would be compounded by a third question: which party do Queenslanders trust more to navigate the state out of the COVID-19 economic quagmire?

Hand sanitisers on a table at a polling booth.
Queensland will be voting in the middle of a pandemic.
Albert Perez/AAP

Labor has reason to feel secure here, despite state debt nearing $100 billion and an unemployment rate above the national average. In June, a YouGov poll found Labor enjoyed an 11 point lead on the question of preferred economic managers. That figure alone has panicked LNP strategists.

But since then, the LNP has come out with economic guns blazing. It has re-embraced the 1930s Bradfield Scheme — a largely debunked populist dream to divert northern rivers westward. More pragmatically, the LNP also launched a $33 billion plan to upgrade the entire Bruce Highway from Gympie to Cairns.

Given more than half the state’s seats are outside Greater Brisbane, this policy pays the sort of regional homage that wins elections in Queensland.

The Prime Minister will be watching

Beyond Queensland, who will be watching the Queensland poll most closely?

Morrison found his way back to government last year via regional Queensland, which is now torn between border closures and economic survival. He will certainly be keeping a close eye on the contest, even if it is impossible to visit in person.

There are just four weeks to go.The Conversation

Paul Williams, Senior Lecturer, School of Humanities, Griffith University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Poll wrap: Turnbull’s Newspoll ratings slump; Labor leads in Victoria; Longman preferences helped LNP



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In this week’s Newspoll, 36% (down six) were satisfied with Turnbull’s performance, while 55% (up seven) were dissatisfied.
AAP/Richard Wainwright

Adrian Beaumont, University of Melbourne

This week’s Newspoll, conducted August 9-12 from a sample of 1,607, gave Labor a 51-49 lead, unchanged on last fortnight. Primary votes were 37% Coalition (down two), 35% Labor (down one), 10% Greens (steady) and 9% One Nation (up two).

This is Malcolm Turnbull and the Coalition’s 38th successive Newspoll loss, eight ahead of Tony Abbott’s 30 losses and five ahead of the previous record losing streak for a government. Labor’s primary vote in this poll is its lowest since April 2017, and the Coalition’s primary is its lowest since March.

36% (down six) were satisfied with Turnbull’s performance, and 55% (up seven) were dissatisfied, for a net approval of -19, down 13 points, Turnbull’s lowest net approval since April. Analyst Kevin Bonham says this is Turnbull’s second biggest poll-to-poll net approval drop. Opposition leader Bill Shorten’s net approval was up one point to -24, and Turnbull led Shorten by 44-32 as better PM, down from 48-29 last fortnight.

By 37-36, voters thought Turnbull and the Coalition would be better than Shorten and Labor at maintaining energy supply and keeping power prices lower, a narrowing from a 40-34 Coalition lead in June. 63% (steady since June) thought the government’s priority should be to keep energy prices down, 26% (up two) thought it should meet targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions, and 8% (down one) thought it should prevent blackouts.

A question on lifting restrictions on gas exploration is skewed because it asks, “Would you be in favour or opposed to the lifting of these restrictions if it would lead to lower energy prices?” The italicised part should not be part of a poll question.

In the past few months, Turnbull has benefited from a more united Coalition. The main issue has been the company tax cuts, which the right wing of the party strongly supports. With Shorten under pressure owing to Turnbull’s dominance of the better PM measure, last fortnight’s Essential, which I covered on my personal website, showed that the Coalition and Labor were perceived as equally divided; the Coalition had a 13-point lead in November 2017.

I believe Turnbull’s ratings have been damaged by Coalition disagreements in the wake of the Longman byelection. Some Coalition backbenchers would now like the tax cuts scrapped. Tony Abbott and other hard right Coalition MPs disagree with Turnbull on the National Energy Guarantee. Some of the drop for Turnbull may be caused by the awarding of $444 million to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation.

Whatever the cause of Turnbull’s ratings slump, the Coalition cannot take much comfort from the still-close voting intentions. The PM’s net approval and voting intentions are strongly correlated. If Turnbull’s drop is sustained, the Coalition is likely to lose ground on voting intentions.

Victorian Galaxy: 51-49 to state Labor

The Victorian election will be held on November 24. A Galaxy poll for The Herald Sun, presumably conducted last week from a sample of 1,095, gave Labor a 51-49 lead, a one-point gain for Labor since a December Galaxy poll. Primary votes were 42% Coalition (up one), 38% Labor (up two), 10% Greens (steady) and 5% One Nation (down one).

By 46-29, respondents thought Matthew Guy and the Coalition would be tougher on crime than Daniel Andrews and Labor. Andrews and Labor led by 37-35 on keeping the cost of living in check. Andrews led by 40-33 as better Premier (41-25 in December).

This is the third successive Victorian poll to give Labor a 51-49 lead, after Newspoll in April and ReachTEL in July. It will be a relief for Labor that they have a lead after 17 people were arrested on August 2 in connection with the “rorts for votes” scandal.

In July, I wrote that time is running out to abolish the group voting ticket system in the upper house. With less than six weeks until September 20, the last scheduled Victorian parliamentary sitting day before the election, there is still no proposal for upper house reform.




Read more:
Victorian ReachTEL poll: 51-49 to Labor, and time running out for upper house reform


WA Galaxy: 51-49 to federal Coalition, 54-46 to state Labor

A federal Western Australian Galaxy poll for The Sunday Times, conducted August 2-3 from a sample of 831, gave the Coalition a 51-49 lead, a three-point gain for the Coalition since July 2017, but still a 4% swing to Labor in WA since the 2016 election. Primary votes were 42% Coalition (up three), 36% Labor (down one), 10% Greens (down one) and 5% One Nation (steady).

By 50-36, voters opposed company tax cuts for all businesses, including those with turnovers over $50 million a year. Turnbull and Shorten were tied at 40% each on ensuring WA receives a fairer share of GST revenue.

State Labor had a 54-46 lead in the same poll, a 1.5% swing to the Liberals/Nationals since the March 2017 state election. Primary votes were 40% Labor, 32% Liberal, 6% National, 11% Greens and 5% One Nation.

Queensland Galaxy: 51-49 to state Labor

A Queensland Galaxy poll for The Courier Mail, conducted August 8-9 from a sample of 800, gave state Labor a 51-49 lead, a two-point gain for the LNP since May. Primary votes were 37% LNP (up two), 35% Labor (down three), 11% Greens (up one) and 10% One Nation (down two).

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk had a 41-38 approval rating (46-38 in May). Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington had a 31-26 approval (31-28). Palaszczuk led by 44-23 as better Premier (47-27 in May).

Super Saturday byelections: final results and analysis

This section gives final results and analysis of the three contested Super Saturday byelections held on July 28. Swings are compared against the 2016 election results.




Read more:
Super Saturday: Labor holds Braddon and easily wins Longman, while Sharkie thumps Downer in Mayo


In Braddon, Labor defeated the Liberals by a 52.3-47.7 margin, a 0.1% swing to Labor. Primary votes were 39.3% Liberal (down 2.3%), 37.0% Labor (down 3.1%), 10.6% for independent Craig Garland, 4.8% for the Shooters and 4.0% for the Greens (down 2.7%). Labor probably benefited from Liberal attacks on Garland, which increased his profile and made his voters more hostile to the Liberals.

In Mayo, the Centre Alliance’s Rebekha Sharkie defeated Liberal Georgina Downer by 57.6% to 42.4%, a 2.6% swing to Sharkie. Primary votes were 44.4% Sharkie (up 9.5%), 37.4% Liberal (down 0.3%), 8.9% Greens (up 0.9%) and 6.1% Labor (down 7.5%).

In Longman, Labor defeated the LNP by a 54.5-45.5 margin, a 3.7% swing to Labor. Primary votes were 39.8% Labor (up 4.5%), 29.6% LNP (down 9.4%), 15.9% One Nation (up 6.5%) and 4.8% Greens (up 0.4%).

We do not yet have the preference flows for each candidate, but we can make some deductions. In Longman, if 80% of Greens preferenced Labor (it was 80.7% in 2016), then the LNP received 58% of all Others preferences, up from 44% in 2016. In 2016, One Nation directed preferences to Labor, and Labor won 56.5% of their preferences; at the byelection, Labor probably won less than 40% of One Nation preferences.

As regards One Nation preferences, the Longman byelection validates Newspoll’s decision to assign One Nation preferences about 60-40 to the LNP, rather than the 50-50 split at the 2016 federal election.




Read more:
Poll wrap: Labor’s Newspoll lead narrows federally and in Victoria


There have been three vigorously contested byelections between the major parties since the last election: Bennelong, Braddon and Longman. At the December 2017 Bennelong byelection, there was a 4.8% swing to Labor, compared with a 3.7% swing in Longman and just 0.1% in Braddon.

The ConversationHowever, at the 2016 general election, there was a 7.7% swing to Labor in Longman, a 4.8% swing in Braddon, but a 2.0% swing to the Liberals in Bennelong. Adding the byelection swings to the 2016 swings gives an 11.4% swing to Labor in Longman, a 4.9% swing in Braddon, but just 2.8% in Bennelong.

Adrian Beaumont, Honorary Associate, School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Melbourne

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

John Alexander easily retains Bennelong, and how the LNP saved Labor’s Jackie Trad in Queensland



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The Bennelong byelection result will boost Malcolm Turnbull’s standing in the Coalition.
AAP/Mick Tsikas

Adrian Beaumont, University of Melbourne

Liberal John Alexander defeated Labor’s Kristina Keneally in the Bennelong byelection by a 54.2-45.8 margin, a swing to Labor of 5.6 points since the 2016 election. Primary votes were 44.1% Alexander (down 6.3), 36.3% Keneally (up 7.8), 6.9% Greens (down 2.2), 4.5% for the Australian Conservatives, and 3.2% Christian Democrats (down 3.2).

Up to 16,000 postals are still to be counted, and these will further increase Alexander’s vote, probably pushing his lead out to 55-45.

The easy win for Alexander restores the Coalition’s 76 seats in the lower house, returning it to a two-seat majority (76 Coalition vs 74 for all others).

In Bennelong, Newspoll and Galaxy had Alexander respectively at 50% and 51% two-party-preferred in polls conducted in the final week, while ReachTEL gave Alexander a 53-47 lead. In this case, ReachTEL was better than Newspoll and Galaxy.

Before the byelection, I said that, given the inaccuracy of seat polls, Labor could win, or there could be a thumping Liberal victory. Unlike the Alabama Senate byelection, this time the vote of the right-wing candidate was understated.

In New England, there was a large swing to Barnaby Joyce following a Section 44 disqualification, so Labor’s consolation in Bennelong is that it received a swing that would have easily won it a general election. Nevertheless, given the polling that suggested a close contest, this is a disappointing result for Labor, and will boost Malcolm Turnbull’s standing within the Coalition.

At the 2016 election, the Christian Democrats won 6.4%, so the overall vote for the Christian right (Australian Conservatives and Christian Democrats) was 7.7%, up 1.3 points.

Bennelong voted marginally against same-sex marriage (50.2-49.8), but this result does not suggest a massive number of same-sex marriage opponents are turning to the Christian right. Alexander had supported same-sex marriage.

Queensland poll critique, preference flows, and how the LNP saved Jackie Trad

The table below shows the final three Queensland election polls, and how they compare with the election results.

Kevin Bonham estimated Labor won 51.2% of the two-party vote, virtually unchanged on 2015. A poll result within one point of the actual outcome is in bold.

Queensland election polls vs results.

ReachTEL asked for statewide One Nation support, while Newspoll and Galaxy only asked in the 61 (out of 93) seats One Nation contested. ReachTEL may have been close had One Nation contested all seats. Newspoll was very close on all primary votes, while Galaxy was a little high on the major parties, and a little low on the Greens and One Nation.

Tim Colebatch wrote in Inside Story that One Nation preferences flowed to the LNP at a 65% rate, while Greens preferences went to Labor at a 76% rate.

This data is based on the distribution of preferences, which includes preferences from other candidates in the One Nation and Greens totals. It is likely the flow from One Nation primary votes to the LNP was higher than 65%, and the flow from Greens primary votes to Labor was higher than 76%.

I believe Newspoll and Galaxy expected a One Nation flow to the LNP of about 60%, while ReachTEL used respondent-allocated preferences. The final ReachTEL poll was thus better than Newspoll or Galaxy on two-party-preferred terms. However, earlier ReachTEL polls consistently had the LNP ahead by 52-48, before the final poll became more in line with Newspoll and Galaxy.

31% of overall votes were won by parties other than the big two, but Colebatch says One Nation and Greens preferences effectively cancelled each other out.

84 of the 93 seats went to the primary vote leader. Of the other nine, Labor lost three it led on primary votes, but won four it trailed on. The LNP lost two seats to the Greens and Katter’s Australian Party that it led on primary votes.

Labor’s left-wing deputy premier, Jackie Trad, became treasurer after the election. She would almost certainly have lost her South Brisbane seat had the LNP recommended preferences to the Greens ahead of Trad.

Primary votes in South Brisbane were 36% Trad, 34% Greens, 24% LNP. Trad won 62% of LNP preferences, giving her a 53.6-46.4 win over the Greens. Had the LNP put the Greens ahead of Trad on its how-to-vote cards, rather than the reverse, the Greens would have very probably defeated Trad.

Belated Western Australian election poll critique

I was expecting a statewide two-party count in all Western Australian seats for the March 11 election, but this has not occurred.

Antony Green estimated Labor won 55.5% of the two-party vote, a swing to Labor of almost 13 points since the 2013 election. I have used this estimate in the table below.

Western Australian election polls vs results.

All polls asked for One Nation support statewide, when One Nation did not contest many seats. This error led to the change in Queensland for Galaxy and Newspoll.

In WA, all polls underestimated Labor and the Greens, overstated One Nation, and had the combined Liberal and National vote about right. Labor performed better after preferences than expected.

The ConversationAs in Queensland, ReachTEL’s earlier polls in WA were worse for Labor, before its final poll fell into line with Newspoll and Galaxy.

Adrian Beaumont, Honorary Associate, School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Melbourne

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Queensland finally has a government, but the path ahead for both major parties looks rocky



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This is not the clear-cut election result Annastacia Palaszczuk and Labor hoped for.
AAP/Glenn Hunt

Chris Salisbury, The University of Queensland

After going to the polls on November 25, Queenslanders finally have a state election result as Liberal National Party leader Tim Nicholls conceded defeat on Friday.

Following a four-week campaign, votes were counted for almost a fortnight until Annastacia Palaszczuk’s Labor Party was confirmed the victor. Palaszczuk is the first female premier to win back-to-back elections. In 2015, she’d become the first woman at state or federal level to lead her party to government from opposition.

But it’s not the clear-cut result Palaszczuk desired. Labor appears to have won 48 seats in the 93-member parliament to the LNP’s 39. This leaves Palaszczuk’s returned government with a slim majority and a diverse crossbench.

A complex contest

With a record field of candidates in an expanded number of electorates – many with redrawn boundaries – this shaped as a complicated election. Adding to its unpredictability was the reintroduction after 25 years of compulsory preferential voting.


Further reading: With One Nation on the march, a change to compulsory voting might backfire on Labor


While two-party-preferred swings were generally not as large as at the last two state elections, overall figures showed a fragmented statewide vote. More than 30% gave their first preferences to minor parties and independents. This exceeded the One Nation-driven protest vote in 1998.

This continues the trend of a declining primary vote for the major parties. Combined with compulsory preferencing, several electorate contests duly developed into three- or even four-horse races, extending the time needed to correctly distribute preferences and declare results. Some seats were decided only after the arrival of postal votes, up to ten days after the polling date.

Like the previous Queensland and federal elections, a close and protracted count left the government in extended caretaker mode. Voters in Queensland and the rest of Australia may need to accustom themselves to a new norm of tight, drawn-out contests, where party leaders’ election night speeches might be obsolete.

Winners and losers

Labor went into the election with a notional seat count of 48 following the redistribution. Despite a 2% decline in its statewide vote, it emerges with little change in its electoral stocks.

Gains in the state’s southeast corner at the LNP’s expense offset a few seat losses in central and north Queensland, where persistent unemployment has been a worry.

To the government’s relief, every cabinet member held their seat. Deputy Premier Jackie Trad survived one of the stronger challenges, a 10% two-party-preferred swing to the Greens in South Brisbane. Brisbane’s inner suburbs, as in other state capitals, are now highly vulnerable to a rising green tide.

The LNP suffered a negative swing of almost 8% – and even higher in parts of the southeast. High-profile casualties included shadow frontbenchers Scott Emerson, Ian Walker, Tracey Davis and Andrew Cripps in the north falling victim to erratic preference flows.

Emerson has the distinction of losing the newly created seat of Maiwar in inner Brisbane to Queensland’s first elected Greens MP, Michael Berkman.

In other firsts, Labor’s new member for Cook in far-north Queensland, Cynthia Liu, is the first Torres Strait Islander elected to any Australian parliament. Innovation Minister Leanne Enoch becomes the state’s first Indigenous MP to be returned at an election.

One Nation’s Stephen Andrew, who defeated veteran Labor MP Jim Pearce in Mirani in central Queensland, becomes the first descendent of South Sea Islander labourers to enter state parliament.

Decisive issues

Besides bread-and-butter issues of job creation, power prices and transport infrastructure, neither Palaszczuk nor Nicholls could escape the dominant themes of this election. The proposed Adani coal mine project animated voters in different parts of the state for different reasons, as did the spoiler role that Pauline Hanson’s One Nation was presumed to play.

Together, these factors reinforced an impression of “two Queenslands” in contention during the campaign.


Further reading: Adani aside, North Queensland voters care about crime and cost of living


Protests against the Adani mine’s environmental impact – and questions over its long-term economic benefit to regional communities – featured regularly once the election was called. Palaszczuk succeeded in defusing the issue to some extent early in the campaign with an abrupt declaration that she would veto federal infrastructure funding for the mine’s construction.


Further reading: Why Adani may still get its government loan


A feared backlash in places of regional discontent and high youth unemployment, like Townsville, didn’t entirely materialise, with Labor incumbents holding seats against expectations. But these concerns, in tandem with uncertainty over the Adani project, saw Labor lose Bundaberg and nearly lose the traditionally Labor-voting Rockhampton to independent candidate and former mayor Margaret Strelow.

The LNP’s position on supporting the Adani mine with public funds, and Nicholls’ prevarication over dealing with One Nation, appear to have hurt the party in Brisbane especially. But so too did Labor reminding voters of Nicholls’ role as treasurer in the Newman government.

As the election neared, Nicholls was swamped by constant questioning about cosying up to One Nation.

While always difficult to quantify, the federal Coalition government’s woes amid the same-sex marriage debate and citizenship fiasco likely did the LNP few favours.

Role of the minor parties

The Greens and One Nation capitalised on the dip in major party support, gaining significant vote shares of 10% and almost 14% respectively. However, each party won only a single seat.

Critically, both parties stripped valuable primary votes from Labor and the LNP, especially the latter’s vote in the regions. This will furrow the brows of federal Coalition MPs through this term of government. For good measure, One Nation preferences likely helped unseat some LNP MPs in the southeast.

The party’s state leader, Steve Dickson, lost out to the LNP in Buderim, while Senate outcast Malcolm Roberts didn’t present a serious threat to Labor in Ipswich.

Despite its failings, One Nation attracted more than 20% in the seats it contested and finished runner-up in two dozen of them, perhaps largely down to Hanson’s constant presence throughout the campaign.

Katter’s Australian Party (KAP), though standing candidates in only ten seats and not making much impact on the campaign, might have done best of all the minor parties. Its primary vote improved to more than 2%, gaining it another seat in Hinchinbrook on Labor and One Nation preferences.

KAP’s targeted approach might prove unwelcome news for the federal Coalition, which can expect similar levels of focused disaffection from conservative regional voters elsewhere. But a fragmenting primary vote spells trouble for all the major parties.

What next for Queensland?

Queensland now enters its first fixed-term period of government. The next election is due on October 31, 2020, with four-year terms following that.

Labor holds only 13 of 51 seats outside the Greater Brisbane area. With all seats decided, factional negotiations will now unfold to determine the make-up of Palaszczuk’s new cabinet. It’s fair to assume it will be Brisbane-centric.

With such a concentration of government MPs in the capital, Palaszczuk’s team will presumably clock up many kilometres – and spend some political capital – reassuring the regions they’re not forgotten.

In the wake of an underwhelming result for the LNP, Nicholls announced he is stepping down as party leader and won’t contest a leadership ballot early next week. The likes of David Crisafulli or Tim Mander, or potentially Deb Frecklington, loom as Nicholls’ likely successors.

Party insiders have complained that the election result proves the marriage between the formerly separate Liberal and National parties in Queensland has failed and should be broken up.


Further reading: Queensland Liberals and Nationals have long had an uneasy cohabitation, and now should consider divorce


The ConversationThe road ahead for both major parties will be anything but easy.

Chris Salisbury, Lecturer in Australian Studies, The University of Queensland

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.