As the Queensland election campaign enters its death throes, momentum is building behind the idea, if not the reality, of a late Coalition revival. Centrebet has received a last-minute flood of bets on Labor losing more than 10 seats, bringing its shortest price Labor seat outcome down from 59 to 55. AAP reckons "internal party research from both sides shows the Labor vote softening, albeit in patches across a range of safe and marginal seats". Peter Beattie is predictably disinclined to scotch the idea, warning of "movement against the Government in the last week". But unless you count Tuesday’s unconvincing Roy Morgan poll, the only evidence anyone can point to is party polling which might well be, as Lawrence Springborg would have it, "constructed research from the Labor Party … to try to blunt what they would perceive as a protest vote".
This morning brings yet another published poll to give credence to Springborg’s claim. According to the Courier-Mail’s Galaxy Research poll, Labor’s primary vote is up 1 per cent from the 2004 election to 48 per cent, with the Coalition also up slightly from 35.5 per cent to 38 per cent. The slack has been taken up from the ongoing decline of One Nation and its splinter groups, while the Greens have reportedly made late gains. It may still be true, as many have said, that the picture across the state is "lumpy", with Labor holding up in some areas and fading in others. Two assessments of the situation are worth quoting at length, the first from Dennis Atkins in Tuesday’s Courier-Mail:
The Nationals went into this poll confident they would pick up at least seven more seats than the 16 currently held and senior strategists for the Opposition still believe they are looking at an outcome with a "2" in front of it. High on their list are the Labor seats of Bundaberg, Toowoomba North, Hervey Bay and Keppel and a pair of Independent-held electorates, Gympie and Nanango. There is also optimistic talk of taking Mulgrave in the far north and Kallangur in the metropolitan northeast. Putting those last two seats aside, the other four Labor seats are certainly in play and a case can be made for Labor losing one or all of them. Toowoomba North’s local hospital story is shocking and water issues are as hot there as anywhere, while Bundaberg is the epicentre of everything horrible about Queensland Health. In Hervey Bay there is a bad hospital record and Keppel is a seat Labor never expected to win in 2004 and could easily lose.
The second comes from Greg Roberts and Andrew Fraser in today’s Australian:
The seat of Pumicestone is at risk because of the water issue and troubles with Caboolture Hospital … Labor seats within Brisbane that are marginal, such as Indooroopilly and Clayfield, appear safe. But supposedly safer seats on the city fringe are at risk, such as Cleveland and Everton, which is held by senior minister Rod Welford. Labor research suggests the two seats picked up by the Liberals in mid-term by-elections Redcliffe and Chatsworth could be returned, while outside Brisbane, Labor could lose Toowoomba North and the Gold Coast’s Mudgereeba.
All of which might yet prompt one or two revisions to the Poll Bludger’s election guide, but it is unlikely more than one or two seats will be shifted out of the Labor column. Some final Campaign Update additions:
Currumbin (Liberal 3.2%): The government has effectively scotched a controversial housing project in Currumbin Valley linked to former Labor heavyweight Terry Mackenroth. The Devine Group’s Hideaway development, which had been approved by Gold Coast City Council and upheld by the Planning and Environment Court, will now be called in for "review" after the election. According to Greg Stoltz of the Courier-Mail, "Labor sources said the project was ‘dead’". The project had been opposed by both Liberal member Jann Stuckey and Labor candidate Michael Riordan.
Bundaberg (Labor 5.3%): The Liberal campaign to tar Labor candidate Sonja Cleary with the Jayant Patel brush went all the way to federal parliament yesterday, where Health Minister Tony Abbott called for her disendorsement. As a local nurse, Cleary served on the District Health Council when its chairman signed a supportive letter to Patel after allegations were first raised against him. It also discussed efforts to identify those who had released information concerning Patel, which Abbott portrayed as a "witch-hunt against whistleblowers".
Gaven (Nationals 3.4%): Former Liberal vice-president and Gold Coast party identity Jim MacAnally has made a well-timed repeat of his criticism of the Coalition deal that allowed the Nationals to take Gaven. MacAnally claims the Liberals had "five times the electoral support of the Nationals in Gold Coast seats", which will come as no surprise to anyone who looks at the corresponding federal election results.
Caloundra (Liberal 1.3%): Lisa Allen of the Australian Financial Review reports on local anger that Caloundra’s Tripcony Hibiscus caravan park has been exempted from the government’s promise to cease selling parks for development.
Before I go, allow me to promote the fact that I will as usual be live-blogging the election count from 6pm EST tomorrow. Do come along.