Peter out

Queensland Premier Peter Beattie has announced his intention to retire as of Thursday. He will hand the reins to long-established heir presumptive Anna Bligh, who will follow Carmen Lawrence and Joan Kirner to become Australia’s third female premier. This means a by-election looms in Beattie’s seat of Brisbane Central. While this is hard to get excited about (it is all but certain that the Liberals will not field a candidate), it’s interesting to note that Beattie’s margin fell from 25.0 per cent to 19.6 per cent in 2004 and then to 14.8 per cent in 2006. Of greater interest is the symbolism involved in two state premiers recently deciding to quit while at the top of their game, and the contrast presented by the present incumbent of The Lodge.

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.

446 comments on “Peter out”

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  1. I agree that the atmosphere generated by the Liberals at the moment is completely nonsensical and bizarre. If Howard does go now, it would be viewed as the PM pathetically cutting and running immediately before an election and voters will be turned off the government even further.

    Which is why I was so perplexed as to why he was adamant that parliament would continue to sit for the full two weeks. Even if he goes for a long campaign, calling the election ASAP would automatically get some swing back to Howard and unite the party to dig in and fight.

    This present dithering is only serving to further disintegrate the coalition’s hope of retaining government – it can’t possibly save it.

  2. You have to love Barnaby Joyce: “There’s no point going to an election if you’re going to lose.” That’s it then, no election.

    Howard on the ABC just now – quite adamant that he is not quitting.

  3. Federal election outcome betting market update. Movement from 10/9/07 to 11/9/07

    ALP: 1.42 → 1.39
    Coal: 2.90 → 3.00

    Sports Acumen:
    ALP: 1.41 → 1.39
    Coal: 2.92 → 2.95

    ALP: 1.40
    Coal: 2.90

    ALP: 1.45 → 1.40
    Coal: 2.75 → 2.85

    ALP: 1.45 → 1.40
    Coal: 2.70 → 2.90

    ALP: 1.42 → 1.38
    Coal: 2.85 → 2.90

    ALP: 1.48 → 1.47
    Coal: 3.00 → 3.00

  4. Talkon, I think the craziness of it all simply comes down to Howard’s ego. He probably should have just called an election, but he didn’t want to be seen to be pressured into doing it. He wants to do things on his own terms. And it is the same with the leadership. He doesn’t want to be seen to be pressured to quit, again wanting to do what he wants on HIS terms.

    But placing his party, and the country, on his terms is clearly his ultimate undoing. He will feign humility to try to get some votes, but in reality, Howard is anything but humble.

  5. The Australian headline 12/9/07

    Turnbull Rolls Howard
    Malcolm Turnbull today became the 26th Prime Minister of Australia following a leadership spill yesterday. An emotional John Howard said “I have always served my country and my party to the best of my ability. And look, I have always said I will stay as long as my party wants me to stay. I congratulate Mr Turnbull and I wish him all the best. Disunity is fatal in politics, and I trust my colleagues can work together in the the err best interests of the party and of australians” Asked what his plans were Mr Howard said he was considering his options.

    The Treasurer Peter Costello also congratulated Mr Turnbull, and when asked why he had not challenged for the role said “I’ve still got a lot of work to do in my current role. I’m still enthusiastic and I’ve got no particular aspirations towards that role.” Prime Minister Turnbull dismissed claims that a deal had been done with Mr Costello for the leadership.

    The Australian Headline 2015

    Turnbull Renegged on Deal – Costello

  6. “The Australian Headline 2015

    Turnbull Renegged on Deal – Costello”

    yeah, that’s pretty funny comment, Rob. It’d almost be worth another 8 years of the libs just to see Mr. Costellos’s face in 2015.

  7. Howard is hanging on grimly.

    ” … in my thirty years in parliment I have need walked away from a fight …”

    In other words – if you want me out you will have to challenge me.

    All his gile in now turned towards his own party.

  8. No way, John. I want to see them cry as Rudd slaughters them like Beattie did in the 2001 Feb Qld State election, when Labor won 66 of 89 seats to the Libs 3 and the Nats 11.

  9. Rob [407],

    I’ve got an alternative story:

    Howard cancels the election
    In parliament today John Howard dropped a bombshell by introducing emergency legislation to cancel the forthcoming election.

    “Ladies and gentlemen, I’ve always said that I would act in the best interests of Australia. That’s why I’ve decided to cancel this year’s election. There’s been far too much speculation about the election and people are annoyed with the constant polling that’s going on. It’s counter-productive to our nation’s economy. So to enable us to get on with the job of producing a fairer and more prosperous Australia, we think it best to not have an election”, John Howard said.

    “As far as the constitution goes, I’ve been to see the Governor General and he agrees with my decision and has indicated he will assent to the legislation.

    “To expedite this matter, we’ve also decided to abolish the High Court. But let me make it clear that avenues for appeal will still be available to anybody aggrieved by this legislation. In its place we’ve set up the Fair Legislation Commission, which I’m pleased to announce will be chaired by Professor David Flint.

    “I know some people will be unhappy with these decisions. But I say to these people, please think of the thousands of struggling families out there on $150,000 a year with a McMansion and two investment properties and private school fees to pay that we are trying to help here before you go out and do anything rash.

    Story ends.

  10. If Peter Costello gets the job then it’s very likely he will lose as badly as John Howard and then resign shortly after the election. Malcolm takes over.

    If Malcolm Turnbull gets the job he may just win.

    He may do the following:-

    Announce a review into the IR laws when elected.
    Reject the pulp mill and keep one or more of those Tasmanian seats as a result plus keep his own.
    Announce a review into old growth forests in Tasmania
    Promote several women to cabinet and get rid of ancient dead wood such as Ruddock.
    Announce a referendum for a republic after an enquiry into which republic the people want.
    Announce signing Kyoto
    Announce significant government assistance to geothermal power development and wind power.
    Announce a review into education expenditure
    Talk about a federal takeover of all hospitals

    In other words he will try to outflank Kevin Rudd on the left.

    Kevin Rudd may just have me-tooed a little too much.

    Result: Malcolm Turnbull PM for at least three years with a majority of two to four.

  11. I can see merit in your strategy Richard but the dominant right-wing of the Liberal party, not to mention the Business Council of Australia and the Melbourne Club just wouldn’t stand for this.

  12. All this speculation is entertaining, but most of you are forgetting a few important facts. One of these is that Howard is the incumbent Prime Minister and wil remain so until he resigns. The Governor-General can’t really intervene here, and he would be highly unlikely to. Howard has also stated quite categorically that he has no intention of resigning. This means the Libs have to fight a divisive leadership ballot in the shadows of an election, a ballot which no one could confidently predict the result of.

    Unless Howard chooses to resign, he will be PM come election day. Whether he remains PM afterwards seems pretty unlikely.

  13. If Malcolm Turnbull gets the job he may just win.

    He may do the following:

    Interesting suggestions, but it’s hard to see how the following could be done in such a short period of time without the party tearing itself apart…

  14. Costello as PM couldn’t pull it off, not after all the bitterness. Turnbull might do it. I think he’d have to do more than announce a review of WorkChoices. He’d have to make it the same as the ALP version. i.e. basically dismantle it, and do it before the election.

    Rudd would then have a real fight on his hands, and he might not come off so cool if the polls were showing an ALP loss. Internal ALP tensions that have been masked by the Rudd factor might then come to the fore.

    A new younger team with some women as Richard said. ‘New Liberal’ could swing it. But they’d have to be decisive about dumping WorkChoices. It could happen Adam.

  15. I don’t get all the rumblings about Malcolm Turnbull… from all my talks to regular people they don’t rate Turnbull very highly. He just doesn’t have the touched.

    He will be a failed Opposition Leader some day.

  16. Hugo’s right.

    As I said before, whatever happens out of this leadership tussle will mean a negative impact for the Liberal party. No permutation can produce a positive here for the Libs, which is beautiful.

  17. What a day it’s been so far! Love this blog. World’s best practise schadenfreude. QT on ABC telly(will you be watching, Janet?) at 2pm EST may well prove instructive.

  18. I agree that Turnbull would prove to be a stronger “firewall” for the Libs than Costello, but in order to do so, he will have to moderate many of the key policies of the government. He will basically have to shift them towards Labor. Turnbull can do this because he is less aligned with them than Costello, especially WorkChoices.

    But I can’t see how the government as a whole can do this while still gaining any credibility. After all the scare campaigns on Labor’s policies, they turn around and copy them? Their economic arguments will be smashed to smithereens. They will simply be viewed as the cheating, lying, and grubby individuals that we all suspected them to be.

    On top of this, giving Turnbull the leadership will completely smash all their talk about experience. Turnbull has only been in parliament for three years.

    In short, the government will give up everything that they have professed to believe in. It will be a monumental sacrifice simply for the sake of retaining power. It won’t take much for Rudd and Labor to then highlight this – they will be revealed as desperate, power-hungry, and soulless people.

    I don’t think Australians don’t like handing power to people simply because they want it. I still believe that the majority of people would vote for a party that they thought had something genuinely good to offer the country.

  19. There is nothing compulsory about being “tapped on the shoulder.” If Howard won’t resign as party leader, as is his perfect right, someone will have to move a “spill” motion at the party meeting – Tuckey has already said he will do so. It will then be up to the turkeys which Xmas they vote for. If Howard was voted out as leader he would immediately resign as PM – he may be stubborn but he isn’t mad like Bjelke-Petersen. He might, however, attempt to head off a party vote by calling the election. In theser circs, as I said before, the GG would be entitled to refuse him a dissolution if he believed that the PM did not have the support of his colleagues. This would be a big call for the GG but within his rights.

  20. The Greens are resorting to humor. Turnbull comes over terribly in front of the camera, cant hack being out in front and would be a campaigning disaster, Rudd and Co would thrash him quite easily. I doubt he would recieve Costello’s support either.

    I think some live in alternative universe and imagine that somehow the Liberals will be become the Greens best friend without Howard. You would have to be a Liberal plant to hold such views.

    The liberal party is firmly in the grip of the right – all the greens will end up doing by giving any voting for or supporting Liberals is aid the destruction of free speech, democracy, the loss of individual rights, the ‘enslavement’ of workers the dimunition of justice and the absolute politicisation of the public service and military. I guess it is quite convenient to be basically a one issue party, you dont have to think about the population of the country.

  21. This is the loveliest day in Australian federal politics for eleven years. And looks like it will only get better.

    Watching this filthy nest of rats ripping each other to pieces as they shriek about the bloody economy…unable to see that the electorate and the world have moved on from their insular, greedy, self-serving neo-con ugliness.

    And, I would just like to thank Nostro and Stephen Kaye for goading me into betting $3k on Rudd when he was $2.55 last December…and $50 on Maxine at $4.50. Onya boys.

    It’s a beautiful thing.

  22. Kina-
    let me assure you that as far as I know the Greens will never support the current Liberal party for all thereasons you outlined, and about a million others.

  23. Canadian PM Harper currently addressing Federal Parliament in both English and French.

    Apparently Prefect Downer has his hand up in the background wanting to address the class in French to show off his bi-lingual prowess.

  24. 435#

    The Greens are not a one issue party. Clearly. And although Costello and Turnbull are both more progressive than Howard, it doesn’t mean that they will start preferencing the Libs any time soon.

  25. Richard Jones comments eemind me of his performance in the NSW upper house – only a very limited grasp of the notion of party loyalty

  26. Kina- when will these fake Labor drones actually tell the truth… if one reads the Greens platform they will see policies similar to what the Labor Parties were thirty years ago before they become overtaken by economic rationalists and people in it for the money… The Greens now tend to be the party for reform and the poor and this is what Labor cannot stand, a party that actually is taking its constituency.

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