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. Peter was in good form in his press conference. His statement “Governments must renew or die, parties must renew or die” seemed to be aimed directly at Howard.

    I wonder if Beattie even timed his announcement until just after all the Libs had gone on record saying Howard will continue on to the election. Effectively making the point the Libs have choosen not to renew.

    Meanwhile in a parellel unverse – PM Costello, after a year in the job, has commited to signing Kyoto, apoligised to the stolen generation, called for a new process for a Republic, implemented a staged withdrawal from Iraq and has accepted most of the ALP changes to work choices. Trailing slightly in the polls the bookies have him as a warm favorite to win the election.

  2. Anna Bligh taking over from Peter Beattie is not like the poisoned chalice that Carmen Lawrence and especially Joan Kirner were given. From here in the south, Anna Bligh seems smart and in tune and not likely to leave a trail of political wreckage like Carmen L. Joan K. left economic wreckage, but her political achievement was that the Victorian ALP through he dogged and dare I say gutsy leadership were not totally wiped out in 1992. The ascendancy of Anna Bligh may lead to conservative leadership renewal in Qld as well. Any likelihood that she would go to the polls in the next 6 months or so to get her own mandate?

    As others have said, some know when to go, and some don’t ….

  3. It has only been 12 months since the last Qld election, the Libs have an outstanding 8 seats.

    Why should Bligh think about an election? She has two years and no upper house. 🙂

  4. Queensland has come a long way since sir Joh, until his death i was a friend of Ray Whitrod– ex commissioner of commonwealth police, New Guinea police and Queensland police, Ray was one of the straightest most honest men i had ever met, he resigned rather than tolerate the corrupt cops Joh insisted he accept— especially as his assistant commissioner, his good name was smeared and he came back to Adelaide to retire, we celebrated loud and long when the royal commission over there cleared his name and validated his stance, we used to chat for ages and he told many a story about Joh and the Queensland corruption, as i said Queensland has come a long way.
    after Ray came back to Adelaide he was convinced by two mothers of murdered children who had helped each other through their grief to help them start up the very first victim support group in the world, along with Bob Whitington {who had become a father figure to one of the mums} Bob was the senior crime reporter for the Advertiser at the time—well thats my bit of trivia for the day.

  5. Evan @ 50.

    The economy doesn’t run itself, it has to be managed. Admittedly, it is much easier to run when times are good.

    And we are now in a situation, which we haven’t had in my poltical memory when the economy, and it’s handling it not at centre stage. Possibly due to the world economy, possibly due to P. Costello.

    Others no doubt will shoot me down, but there have been some great economic successes of the Howard government, introduction of the GST, and the shepherding through the Asian economic crisis of 97 – 98.

  6. PeterBeattie, beautiful timing. What`s known in rugby league these days as a try assist.

    Just to follow on from Simon`s comments on the previous thread re.portlandbet. As he mentioned, Labor favourites to gain 15 seats, coalition 0. No recent change, but significantly 17 coalition seats where they remain favourites but Labor at less than $2.50. Another 7 have Labor between 2fiddy and 3 bucks.

    re.the next GG Chris B (not my brother are you?) just to up the ante in the culture wars, it`s got to be PK!?

  7. Albert F @ 49
    You left out the most relevant part of your alternative universe. Such a reversal of policy would split the Liberals asunder and I would be more optimistic about aruddslide than I am now. I don’t think such wet policies would help Costello.

  8. Blackburnpseph: I agree that Bligh is in a completely different position to Kirner and Lawrence. For one thing, she hasn’t been shoe-horned into the job to take the fall for the mismanagement of her predecessors.

    If you want a parallel, think present day Federal Libs.

    They’re clearly an on-the-nose Government whose time has come. The difference, of course, is that no-one in the Federal Liberal Party has the guts to topple Howard and take the fall.

    Says it all, really. Both Joan and Carmen had more courage in their little fingers than Tip has in his entire body. Both were prepared to step-up to the plate when the Government was on a hiding to nothing and take the job, knowing full-well they’s be tossed-out.

    Tip, on the other hand, just sits on his arse bitching to all who’ll listen about how he “wuz robbed” of his chance at the top job.


  9. When will the rodent get the message? 10 years in the top job is long enough. Howard of course has delusions of grandeur, he believes only he can save the Coalition from electoral defeat.
    I’ll miss Beattie a lot, he’s a great bloke and has been a fine Premier.
    Anna Bligh will no doubt have a honeymoon period, which will be helpful to Rudd too. I wonder if Premier to be Bligh might soften the council amalgamations or delay them?

  10. Boll,

    I think the Portlandbet punters are waiting for one more disastrous poll for the Government or the Government calling the election before they start tipping more seats into Labor favoritism

    That said, when one goes (looks like Herbert is the most likely atm), a whole swag will probably go – similar to what happened with Stirling and Swan – when one went to Labor, the other went almost immediately.

  11. oakeshoot,

    Eh you might be right – but they might be prepared to suck it up to stay in power. Anyway its purely hypothetical – if they tried that path at this late stage they would lucking to hold the ALP to 100 seats.

  12. I wouldn’t underestimate Anna Bligh. Beattie wouldn’t have groomed her for the top job if he had any doubts about her abilities.
    Evan, I’m in full agreement with you mate(yes, great minds think alike, especially those with the same first name).

  13. On the betting it just makes sense. The polling (and therefore the betting trailing polling theory) clearly indicates massive Labor landslide, but many still cling to the close election theory. You’re winner bet is for labor.

    But down to a seat that needs a 6% swing (well within the prediction of the polling) you remember you expect a close election, 6% looks really really big the local is a good guy with x, y and z up his sleeve, you bet incumbent. Surely most of the money in these seats will be picked up by people who know during campaign polling nearer to the election.

    BTW was called by the powers that be to smile at the people at a local booth, and handout the HTV’s. Sadly they couldn’t provide a day yet!!!!!!!!!

  14. Howard Hater: I had the misfortune to know Tip back in my Uni days at Monash.

    He never had the guts for a good stoush and as for ability, well, Michael Kroger performed all his higher brain functions for him.

  15. Where’s Glen.

    I want him to justify the pulling of the Crosby/Textor Analysis from Crikey.
    We have belittled your contributions, we have abused you for your naiivity and stupidity. We have given encouragement to your tenacity of sticking with your beloved Libs despite all slings, arrows and poor polls. But no one has ever said you don’t have a right to present your story.

    So, tell me, How does censorship and closing down legitimate debate sit with true committed Liberals.

    This Government and its minions are out of control and need to be put down asap.

  16. Swampy, good to see your mention of Bob Whitington, a POW in Japan during World War II and a wonderful colleague at The Advertiser. Bob lost many police contacts but preserved his integrity when he broke the story on George Duncan, the homosexual law academic who drowned when thrown into the River Torrens allegedly by police officers.

  17. Unfortunately, we don’t seem to get people like Whitington in the MSM these days. It’s now full of propagandists, the likes of Ackerman and Albrecthsen.

    As for Whitrod, we could have used someone like him here in Sydney during APEC. Perhaps he could have talked some sense into the young coppers under his command and reminded them that not every middle-aged jaywalker or mum with a stroller is a mad terrorist bomber.

    As it is, it was like a re-run of the good-old Joh/Bolte/Askin Laura Norda days. Aaah, shades of the Moratoriums and Springbok demos of my youth. The cops were just as stupid and authoritarian, too.

    I do hope our Morris is not turning into Sir Robert.

    That’s a renewal I do not wish to see.

  18. [I want him to justify the pulling of the Crosby/Textor Analysis from Crikey.]

    Why was it pulled from Crikey, but not from Possums own blog? 😛

  19. while I’m happy to only watch this election from afair, being as I am reasonably unacquainted with the nuances of Australian politics, I have to ask – doesn’t Beattie’s retirement make it look like ALP attrition before the starter’s pistol even fires? Why is it in their interests to have him stand down now?

    I have three theories, if anyone wants to add some of their cents and set me right

    1. to make Howard look like he’s a straggler and has to go (but the last number someone quoted me said that 50% of Australians prefer him as PM, which says Howard has a support base his government doesn’t share)

    2. Because Beattie is phenom. unpopular and Howard might try to make something the QLD ALP Gov’t does/will do into an issue, and Beattie’s just too much of an electoral albatross to shake it off, and Anna Bligh can just do what Morris Iemma did about NSW in the Carr years and say “a big boy did it and ran away”.

    3. because Beattie is too much like Howard, too much a Howard-era politician and Rudd wants a fresh face to front things in Queensland, because after all, the election basically hangs on two states (WA and QLD), and this is his way of sealing the deal.

    Those are just my guesses. It’s just that Kevin Rudd is reaching a point where he can’t afford to change his pillowcases without a strategy, so it seems to be a decision made for a reason. can anyone out there help me?

  20. [[I want him to justify the pulling of the Crosby/Textor Analysis from Crikey.]

    Why was it pulled from Crikey, but not from Possums own blog?

    Hmmmm forget the justification for a moment, think why would they want to know who leaked it (surely so long as it is a liberal there is nothing for Crosby/Textor to fear) and demand it be deleted, which is much more likely to get it and Possum’s analysis deleted.

    Would the law firm be trying to find the real possum before issuing the cease and desist letters. They were always fun to write those letters, a young lawyer didn’t ever need to worry about the law, just the big fat implied my great big client will sue you life away from you threat, signed lovingly by jas. Writing those letters to a marsupial with a desire to look like foreign furry critters wouldn’t be nearly so fun … like threatening to sue a transvestite skippy.

    But still I’m not sure why poke a stick into an internet / media hornets nest. And if perchance they find it was leaked from the Treasurers office, would they sue the Treasurer? It is all a bit weird.

    Oh except the bit where Possum says they are using basic techniques a decade old (they might have told the Libs it was state of the art) or the bit where possum says it is obvious they have lost and know it … that might not have been said out loud previously ….

  21. Mike F (76), Beatitie’s resignation is not especially connected to the Federal election as he is a State premier, operating off his own timetable. He flagged retirement a few months ago, but he probably delayed it till now to feed into Federal speculation. There was no particular reason for him to go other than that he’d had enough (much like Carr & Bracks), though he is no doubt conscious of the comparison with Howard, hanging on for grim death. I can’t imagine it’ll change too many votes either way, though it no doubt helps Labor build a case of “time for a change”.

  22. mike f, I think you`re confusing preferred PM figures with voter approval figures. According to most recent poll, Rudd ahead 52/39 as preferred PM. Rudd`s approval at 67, Howard`s at 50.

  23. Putting the frighteners onto Crikey and forcing it to delete the Crosby/Textor analysis is going to achieve bugger-all.

    The data’s all over the internet now and bullying Crikey into pulling it from it’s site won’t force the leaked information back into the “secret” bag.

    Talk about closing the gate after the horse has bolted.

    Threats of this nature are an exercise in impotence.

    But then, isn’t that the current definition of the Howard Government?

  24. When Colonel Klink (as he is affectionately known at Yarralumla) hangs up his swagger stick I would think Beattie would make an excellent GG.

    Albert you’re kidding yourself if you think Costello as PM would have repealed any significant part of WorkChoices. He is committed to the Reaganisation of the workplace as Howard, maybe more so. If Costello is ever PM (which I doubt will happen) we can expect to see WorkChoices II at the top of the bill.

  25. Beattie was very popular and I suspect his replacement will be less so. The potential impact is that the amalgamations will now either be championed by a retired Beattie or his replacement.

    Either way I think the amalgamations will be harder to sell during the referendum and may favor Howard.

  26. I’ve received, today, pretty good indication that the election is to be called sooner rather than later. I’ve been betting until now on a late November/Early December election… now I’m thinking it’s likely to be a little sooner than that.

  27. what a diff on the 7.30 report. beattie saying had a good innings made and named some mistakes. contrast howard shifty the electorate will come around havent been perfect yet wont name where and im the best for aust. please call the election so we can be rid of your lies.

  28. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery – Howard banging on on the 7.30 report with the trademarked Beattie line that “I don’t pretend we’ve been a perfect government”. Unfortunately, without the big Beattie grin it doesn’t translate too well.

  29. Howard seemed a little delusional to me on 7.30 Report talking about preconditions for a change of government, etc. As if voters have a formal list they have to tick off before they decide how to vote. I think in his mind this is 1961 and he’ll scrape back in like Menzies did. This is going to be very ugly for him personally. If he loses the Party will turn on him after it gets over it’s shock of defeat.

  30. CTEP: Given Howard said tonight that parliament will sit for at least the next 2 weeks. Which means if he goes for an election straight afterwards, means we could be looking at Oct 27

  31. paul k @ 92: I thought the same. When you stand back, the statement is ridiculous. People don’t vote to “change the government”, they vote on who will form the new government – that may end up being the party that formed the old government or a different party. In either case it’s actually a new government. I think the “change of government” meme actually distorts a lot of analysis around “swings” and polls in general.

  32. Well, having just seen the interviews with Beattie and Imhotep himself on the 7.30 report, the contrasts between them couldn’t have been starker.

    Beattie with his “a man’s gotta know when it’s time to go” responses and Howard with his “who says I’m over the hill?” mantra.

    I must admit, I was surprised to see Howard actually admit that his government had made mistakes, but (predictably) the only one he was prepared to nominate was Workchoices. Even then, the error nominated was not that it was a hopelessly flawed policy, merely that he hadn’t sold it to the public well enough.

    Talk about a Clayton’s apology: “It’s a good policy, you just don’t understand it, you ungrateful idiots.”

    That’s gonna go down real well with punters who are taking it up the kazoo on award-stripping AWAs.

    If that’s the best he can do, then I think it’s safe to say that Imhotep will be safely interred back in Hamunaptra by Christmas (along with the rest of his rotting Government).

  33. [What is a “Full Employment Economy” seems to be Howards new mantra?]

    Most economists say that an unemployment level of 4% would just be people transitioning between jobs, and does not demonstrate functional unemployment where there are certain inherent skill shortages stopping the economy from growing.

  34. Howard was saying that in 92 Keating was 10 points behind and still won the election, but Kerry in the end pointed putting him in his place saying the polls were closer to 8 points and that the polls had been all over the place that year but the current polls have been in Labor’s favour for 18 months.

    Howard seemed very uncomfortable, and it didn’t even sound like he believed what he was saying about Labor.

    Definitely not one of his best interviews.

  35. Yep, just watched Howard on the 7.30 Report. He looks very weakened and vulnerable. There were even a couple of moments when he seemed like he was about to break down. VERY uncomfortable.

    He is also very desperate. He is now trying out the honest and humble “I’ve made my share of mistakes” line, which is way out of character. But it completely bombed in my opinion. For a start, he refused to actually point out his mistakes apart from saying that he thought WorkChoices “unnerved” people, therefore warranting a fairness test. Secondly, it was all facade. It lacked genuineness.

    All up, Howard looked like he was already giving up. Maybe he will call that election soon, just to get it all over with.

  36. You could spin it,
    Carr, Beattie, Beazley……say what you like about Howard but you’ve got to give it to him, he has outlasted the lot.

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