Queenslanders, pundits, opposition MPs and Poll Bludgers alike were caught on the hop when news emerged around 11am that Peter Beattie was interrupting his holidays to pass on his personal regards to Governor Quentin Bryce. The outline of Beattie’s strategy has been quick to emerge – catch the Opposition on the hop, keep the campaign short and aggressively push the message that the Government will do nowhere near as well as everybody says.
A mark of his success on the first point was the manner in which the National Party website, dormant for a fortnight, suddenly spluttered back into action yesterday. The party still hasn’t nominated candidates for a number of seats allocated to it in the coalition agreement, including theoretically winnable Thuringowa and Hervey Bay. As for the Liberals, if you’re in the vicinity of their head office in the next few days and have nothing on in the coming weeks, you might want to volunteer your services as candidate for one of the many unwinnable seats the party won the right to contest as part of the coalition agreement (more on that at a later date).
It remains the conventional wisdom that One Nation will only cause trouble in a few regional seats, but it would be putting it mildly to say that the Hanson phenomenon has thrown up surprises before. One Nation are calling for their former messiah to "play a role" in their campaign, while Hanson herself is not ruling out the possibility of entering the ring as a candidate, although most talk since her release from prison has been that she would either run for the Senate or indulge in a spiteful, pointless gesture by standing against Tony Abbott in Warringah. Unless Hanson involves herself personally, the conventional wisdom is hard to fault on this occasion.
The Poll Bludger has long assumed that shrill child protection advocate Hetty Johnston would take advantage of the current political climate by running as an independent, as she has done in previous elections. But she is instead talking about running for the Senate, surely an act of folly unless there is a double dissolution. In any circumstance, the last thing Australian parliaments need is another Franca Arena.