A chart for your enjoyment

It occurs to me that a chart like this is a good way to illustate Queensland’s long, strange electoral history since the onset of the Joh era. Results obtained from the Australian Government and Politics Database, product of the world’s finest political science department.

UPDATE: Why stop there. This chart goes back to 1926, late in the life of the Labor government that came to power in 1915; before that the various conservative groups are too hard to categorise. The Queensland People’s Party and United Australia Party are counted as Liberal.

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.

19 comments on “A chart for your enjoyment”

  1. I’m still old enough to remember Qld politics in the late 70’s and 80’s (though I was in short pants at the time). ‘Fascinating’ is certainly the word for it, with Joh and his mob in power. However, I’m glad this ‘fascinating’ era is long over. The Nats will never be the same again – thank God.

    Thanks for the chart – very interesting indeed. It would be fun to compare the party representation for the Qld HoR seats in Fed parliament and see how differently it compares to the Qld state elections, especially over the past 20 years.

  2. Good graphs. Beattie has continued a pattern in Qld politics of Labor state ascendancy and conservative federal ascendancy. Qld was the first state to turn against Chifley; it was the only state that voted Liberal in 1946. Since then it has been Labor’s weakest federal state but that didn’t stop Labor being dominant at the state level until 1957 and since 1989. The voters that split their allegiance were I think in rural areas before 1957 today they seem more to be in the provincial cities and Brisbane. The pre-1957 conservatives did better in Brisbane than they do now.

  3. The poor old QLD libs will never get anywhere until (in opposition) they have mores seats than the Nats. You can’t have a viable alternative premier ( nat leader) who can’t ever win enough seats to form government but the libs can’t breakthrough because Brisbane and Gold Coast voters won’t vote for a NAT lead coalition – a chicken and egg argument.

    Maybe they should have 3 cornered contests and in Labor seats and hope to break through that way.

    The other point to remember is that both the 1949 ALP gerrymander and the subsequent CP/ Nat gerrymanders were aimed at the Libs, keeping them bottled up in Brisbane.

    A question for the readers – how much grass roots support do the Nats actually have on the Gold and Sunshine Coasts? No federal seats – are they about to turn up their toes and die?

  4. Something to remember about the graphs is that there was a merged state conservative party at the left part of the graph – they might have been called the Nationalists?

  5. For those that may be interested in fleshing out their knowledge of the ebbs and flows of Queensland politics in the 1915 to approx 1985 period, Ross Fitzgerald’s History of Queensland Volume 2 is the go (published by UQP). I have had my copy since 1990 so I don’t know if it has ever been republished and/ or updated. Very thorough and very readable.

    Maybe what the graphs do show is that (with the possible exception of the early Goss years) Queensland government has been one and the similar since 1915 and the successful governments have been very much in tune with the ‘average’ queenslander.

  6. Here are the comparative ALP state and federal primary votes:

    Federal State

    1996: 33.2 1995: 43.2
    1998: 36.1 1998: 39.0
    2001: 34.7 2001: 48.9
    2004: 34.8 2004: 47.0
    2006: 47.4

  7. Right on, blackburnpseph. Chicken-and-egg, definitely. However, I don’t think the Libs need to have more seats than the Nats in opposition in order to be elected into government – the task is not quite that daunting. What the Libs need to do is win back a handful of seats the first go-round, to give them the ‘critical mass’ of seats they need as a launchpad for govt. This way, they could project the impression the next time around that they could win a majority of Coalition seats and be the major player in govt.

    This is why the Sept 9 election was such an unmitigated disaster for them. Nobody seriously though the Coalition would win. The best the Libs could have hoped for was to claw back some SEQ seats, to put them in reach of govt at the next election. But they failed miserably. Unless the ALP vote utterly collapses at the next election, the Libs have sentenced themselves to 2 terms in opposition.

    The other problem is that as Qld has become less rural, the Nats have become more rural. They’ve effectively lost their toeholds in the Gold and Sunshine Coasts. I think the more rural ‘face’ of the Nats is the result of the incursions of ONP and various rural Independents into their heartland, which scared the pants off them and led to a rearguard action by the Nats. But this more rural face is a turn-off to the metropolitan voters of SEQ. This doesn’t matter at fed elections, because the Libs always have a big majority within the Coalition, where the Nats are a rump.

  8. Tijawi is quite right about the Nats retreating into their rural heartland. If you compare state and federal results the Libs romp in on the Gold and Sunshine Coasts. The Nats are being nostalgic if they believe they can still win seats in what is now Australia’s 6th largest city – the Gold Coast, and the Sunshine Coast is essentially suburbia too.

    This change from rural to suburban is about to eat into one of their remaining heartlands the NSW North Coast when Ian Causley retires at the next election, can the libs knock over the Nats there? and it was often said that Larry Anthony was always going to be the last National member for Richmond. The suburbanisation may knock the Nats out of Wide Bay and Hinkler at some stage as well. Mark Vaile onyl outpolled the LIbs by 2 (yes 2) votes in 1993 in Lyne.

    It has to be said that the Nats are having a protracted death, and it seesm to be that when they lose a seat to the libs, they never win it back (Indi, Farrer, Hume, Murray, etc.).

    Unfortunately for the Nats, more rural, less relevant.

  9. I have the impression the gap between the state and federal Labor votes is bigger on the Gold Coast than elsewhere in Qld, it seems a distinct anti-National vote. If Causley retires in Page Labor would be favoured but I doubt the Nationals could win it back from Labor.

  10. I believe that there’s going to be a redistribution of Qld state seats in the next two years which may abolish a natural Nationals seat. My guess is that an extra seat will be created in Logan/Gold Coast, an extra one may be created in the Sunshine/caboolture/pine rivers/redcliffe area, and that a seat in south/western qld is abolished, as is one in Brisbane.

  11. I don’t see the Libs gaining Page. They scored less than half the Nat vote when they last contested the seat in 1996. Similar story to Cowper 2001. Labor is still the biggest threat.

    On an anal retentive point, Vaile’s 2 vote lead was on the primary vote. That expanded to (an admittedly still meagre) 233 votes once whittled down to a 3-candidate contest. So he could have even started (slightly) behind on primaries and still have won the seat. But pedantry aside, Mark Vaile will likely be the last Nationals member for Lyne.

  12. In Page in 1996, the Nats has a very high profile candidate in Ian Causley – state member and former state minister.

    He is retiring in 2007 (I think) so it will be interesting to see what progress the Libs will have made after another 11 years of demographic change.

  13. Depending on Ian Causley’s personal vote and demographic changes in Page since 1996. Either Labor (witness their win in neighbouring Richmond in 2004) or the Liberals could pick up Page at the 2007 Federal Election. Page is a seat to watch for, especially if the election is a close one.

  14. I think Page is still predominately rural, without the urban coastal sprawl (yet) of Richmond or the other north coast seats. Perhaps not quite the critical mass to tip the Nats out and Liberals in.

  15. I’ve been looking at that chart of party representation in Queensland since 1969 and I have a good gut feeling that the next Coalition premier of Queensland will be a Liberal in a Liberal dominated Coalition. For the Coalition to get back in government in Queensland either the Nationals and Liberals merge into a single Conservative force or the Liberals to improve their performance dramatically.

  16. Interesting graph. It shows the frequency of Queensland politics is some what more laid back than else where. 42 years of Labour with a blip of the Moore years (29-32), 32 years of Nats (with Libs for some of it), 19+ years odd years of Labor with one blip of the Borbidge years.

  17. Remember that when Borbidge was Premier, the Nats had 29 seats and the Libs had 15. The Libs would have to pick up quite a few SEQ seats to win a majority of the Lib/Nats, as there is such a relatively large fraction of the population living outside of SEQ.

    The Libs could win regional city seats including Barron River, Cairns, maybe Mulgrave, some of the Townsville seats, Whitsunday (big tourism industry there) and Hervey Bay, they could win Glass House, Pumicestone, Aspley, Indooroopilly, Ashgrove (possibly), Cleveland, Chatsworth, maybe Greenslopes, Mansfield, Mt Gravatt, Mt Omanney, the gold coast seats – Broadwater, Southport, Burleigh, Mudgeeraba, Gaven and Albert. If they did this they’d have a chance to be the senior coalition partner.

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