These foolish things

Just one more sleep until the April Fools’ Day by-election for the Queensland state seat of Gaven, which as usual will be covered live on this site shortly after polls close at 6pm local time. The campaign period has been well-served for opinion polls, with today’s effort in the Gold Coast Bulletin adding to an overall picture of a likely Labor defeat, though with a less bruising swing than at last year’s Chatsworth and Redcliffe by-elections. No minor party figures are available in the online article, although the paper’s editorial refers to "the apparent collapse of the Greens vote" – though there is little doubt they are reading too much into results from a small sample (UPDATE: Gaps now filled thanks to Greens candidate Glen Ryman’s contribution in comments). The overall sample was 420, with 18 per cent of those surveyed failing to indicate a preference.

Labor 34 34 39 37
Nationals 11 41 43 43
Liberal 33
Greens 9 11 7 6
Others 13 14 11 14
Sample 230 300 265 345

Some recent developments on the campaign trail:

• Andrew Fraser reports in today’s Australian that Peter Beattie has indulged in a last-minute $50 million spending spree, designed to saturate the media with good news in the brief period after the end of the Commonwealth Games. The shopping list includes a new police precinct for the local area complete with 22 new officers; a new school; an upgrade of nearby Robina Hospital; and an announcement that $100 million will be spent on "power-related projects on the Gold Coast".

• Cyclone Larry, which has only dropped off Queensland’s front pages in the past few days, also fit in nicely with Beattie’s campaign media cycle. Furthermore, Mark Ludlow of the Financial Review reports that media monitoring data shows Beattie was mentioned 4165 times in the media in the past week, compared with just 86 mentions of Opposition Leader Lawrence Springborg. Ludlow also reports that "predicted swings of 15 per cent against the government have now been scaled down to about 10 per cent, courtesy of Mr Beattie’s performance after Cyclone Larry".

• A Labor radio advertisement that uses barnyard animal noises to mock the Nationals has provoked an angry response from the party, no doubt because they are sensitive to its likely impact in the wholly urbanised electorate.

• After earlier hedging their bets, the Greens have decided to direct preferences to Labor after receiving an undertaking that the government will "do all they can" to purchase 70 hectares of environmentally sensitive land from building company CSR Hynix.

• Independent candidate Phil Connolly will face court next month after police allegedly found an unlicensed semi-automatic rifle on his property.

Author: William Bowe

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.

6 comments on “These foolish things”

  1. From the hard copy of the Gold Coast Bulletin:

    NAT 35
    ALP 30
    GRN 5
    ONP 1
    Phil Connolly 4
    Daren Riley 6
    Other 1
    Undecided 18

    Elections are always treated as a hunting season on the Greens by the Gold Coast Bulletin. There is still a sizeable margin of error on these results, so I wouldn’t read too much into it yet.

  2. … and I’ve lost count of the number of times I have seen “the collapse of the Green vote” heralded by the media…!

  3. From this poll, I would say that the One Nation vote has pretty much transferred to Daren (due to pref swap) and the ONP candidate didn’t really take part in the campaign. I think the undecided are mostly Liberal voters which is what will make tomorrow very intriguing.

  4. As a semi-local (Brisbane) I can tell you the Channel 7 Nightly News report on the Gaven Byelection (15 minutes ago) was not kind for the ALP and there is no way they’ll keep the seat if many of the electorate watched it:

    – Showed Peter Beattie not remembering the ALP candidates name
    – Showed the ALP candidate dodging the fact that before the last election they promised a police station? that they didn’t deliver
    – Described the ALP (Premier + candidate) off to lunch with bigwigs while the coalition had a barbie “with the people”.

    The general tone of the story was cynical and negative to the ALP – based on this and the mood in QLD, I’m predicting a win for the Nats.

  5. A win for the Nationals in the Gaven by election today would be a flaunting of the political axiom that disunity is death. Already we have the spectacle of Springborg saying that if he loses it will be because of the effects of a cyclone and not because of the dreadful incompetence and division that the conservatives in Queensland display on a daily basis.

    This opposition is both the best resourced and laziest in the history of this state and the voters of Queensland have been able to see right through them in recent years and rewarded them according to their talents and effort.

    I think that tonight will prove that while some people can be fooled by a smoothing over of deep division, the majority probably won’t.

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