Those who followed the Queensland election last September will find this morning’s lead election story in the Daily Telegraph oddly familiar. As has been the case in New South Wales, the Queensland campaign began with a barrage of horrible polling for the Coalition, including a 58-42 Newspoll result. Then came a Courier-Mail report of "secret Labor research", which showed "the Coalition may win some safe Labor seats while a host of marginal seats are too close to call". Today, the Telegraph brings us the headline "Iemma isn’t safe", atop a report which begins: "Premier Morris Iemma is looking down the barrel of a marginal seat blitzkrieg with secret polling revealing the state election is neck and neck in at least 10 key seats".
The Courier-Mail’s thesis that the election was up for grabs was easier to debunk, as it was not actually supported by the hard facts contained in the article. It only went so far as to say there were two particular seats where Labor was in trouble, and that a "host of marginal seats are too close to call". Given the size of Labor’s majority, the prospect of the Coalition being merely competitive in marginal seats did not suggest the Beattie government was in real trouble. The Daily Telegraph report is somewhat different, as it offers detail about what a Labor defeat might look like. If both papers can be faulted for playing along with Labor’s expectations management, the Telegraph has done so after a much harder sell.
The Labor-held seats of Camden, Riverstone, Menai, Miranda and Port Stephens are all set to fall. And the contest is line-ball in two other ALP seats â€“ Penrith and Tweed. The loss of just one more seat would see Labor lose its majority and force it to form government with support from independents … The electoral landscape is so tumultuous that Riverstone â€“ held by former senior minister and now Lower House speaker John Aquilina by a whopping 13.1 per cent â€“ could now comfortably fall to the Liberals 53 to 47, on a two-party preferred basis.
However, it is also noted that "the Government would hold on to the volatile seats of Monaro, Gosford and The Entrance". The latter runs contrary to last week’s assertion by Imre Salusinszky of The Australian that polling by both parties had Labor in "a virtually hopeless position", with "one senior local Labor Party figure" declaring the seat to be "gone".