Perfect the next

There’s so much going on in Queensland at the moment that a progressively updated post on developments seems in order, starting with the relevant entries from last night’s general post.

Monday, February 23

• Missed a spot from Steven Wardill’s Courier-Mail report on Chris Bombolas’s departure from Chatsworth: “Frontrunners to replace Mr Bombolas include his electorate officer Margaret Young and Police Minister Judy Spence’s policy adviser Simon Tutt.”

• Chris Pianta, who as of 2005 was Bundaberg secretary of the Australian Federated Union of Locomotive Employees, has been nominated as Labor’s candidate to run against Rob Messenger in Burnett.

• Déjà vu all over again: Pauline Hanson in shock comeback bid, and Greens threats to withhold preferences from Labor.

• Liberal National Party television ads viewable here.

Tony Raggatt of the Townsville Bulletin on Mandy Johnstone’s preselection win in Townsville:

Even in Labor circles, there are questions. Not the least of which is why Mike Reynolds suddenly changed his mind after only days before going to the expense of preparing his advertising material, including video shoots with the other Townsville Labor candidates. Mr Reynolds told the Townsville Bulletin he made the decision during the past week due to health problems and rejected any suggestion he had been pushed …

Another question surrounding the preselection is why Labor’s factional bosses in Brisbane preselected a Left candidate from the Nelson-Carr group which is so openly hostile with Reynolds’ own Left group … There is a split between the Socialist Left factions of Mike Reynolds and Lindy Nelson-Carr (there is also a separate Labor Left faction). The Nelson-Carr faction would appear to have won the day by gaining the Townsville seat with its candidate Mandy Johnstone, apparently a cousin of Ms Nelson-Carr, while the Reynolds’ hopeful, Cathy O’Toole, his sister-in-law, will have to wait her turn.

Sunday, February 22

• The latest from the Courier-Mail:

ON YOUR marks, get set . . . The 2009 election race is almost under way. All that’s required to start the contest proper is for Anna Bligh, above, to take a quick drive up Paddington’s Fernberg Rd to visit Government House. That road trip will almost certainly happen some time in the next 10 days, with some predicting she’ll visit the Governor on Monday for a March 21 poll. Or will she wait a week and pull the trigger on a March 28 election?

They’ll have to be right eventually.

• Madonna King in the Courier-Mail sees things from Anna Bligh’s perspective:

Of course we’re going to lose seats. We’ve been in power for 11 years for goodness sake. But the boys (advisers chief-of-staff Mike Kaiser, Treasurer Andrew Fraser and state secretary Anthony Chisholm) all reckon we can win Gladstone, Mirani and Burdekin … The redistribution should deliver Mirani and Burdekin, and Gladstone should never have gone to an Independent in the first place. And don’t forget Bundaberg. The LNP might have sneaked across the line there, but this was Labor’s heartland for a century … Chris Bombolas just handed Chatsworth to the LNP … And there are other seats looking bad, too. Hervey Bay, where that former mayor Ted Sorensen is in with a good chance; Pumicestone; Aspley; not to mention Indooroopilly … Cleveland, Mansfield, Redlands – they’ll all be hard to hold and that’s not even considering those Gold Coast seats.

• Queensland’s very own Pitt the Younger, Curtis Pitt, is inevitably having to field questions about nepotism after succeeding his father as Labor candidate for Mulgrave. Curtis’s story seems to be that he worked locally as a cinema manager before moving to Brisbane in 2003 to take up a public service position, where he still remains.

• Elsewhere: Larvatus Prodeo, Woolly Days and Leon Bertrand.

Thursday, February 19

Fairfax confirms that Mandy Johnstone and Cameron Dick have won Labor preselection for Townsville and Greenslopes. ABC Radio reports the Mulgrave preselection has gone to Curtis Pitt, the son of outgoing member Warren. What’s more, a new front has opened with the surprise retirement of Chris Bombolas in Chatsworth, saying doctors have advised him to reduce stress due to diabetes. The ABC reports a successor will be chosen on Monday. A former Channel Nine sports reader, Bombolas won the seat in 2006 from Liberal powerbroker Michael Caltabiano in 2006, who in turn won it from Labor at a by-election a year before. Caltabiano’s personal vote as state member and earlier as a Brisbane City councillor would have meant the 0.8 per cent margin (reduced to 0.1 per cent after the redistribution) exaggerated Labor’s vulnerability, so long as Bombolas remained candidate – and assuming Caltabiano’s personal vote doesn’t transfer to his wife Andrea, who is the new Liberal National Party candidate. Now he’s gone, the seat can be ranked among those that will fall to the LNP barring a total disaster. Anna Bligh has intimated there might be more departures to come. Elsewhere: Cate Molloy to run again as an independent in Noosa (UPDATE: Make that “likely to run”).

Wednesday, February 18

• Queensland election speculation has stepped up yet another notch in recent days with three Labor members announcing their retirements (see below). The most excitable stories had it that the election would be called two days ago for March 28. The minimum election period is 26 days, so I gather an election for that date could be called as late as March 2. Darryl Rosin lays out the obstacles for various election dates beyond that in comments at Larvatus Prodeo, which are considerable if the government is of a mind to get in before the budget. The Courier-Mail reports outgoing Labor MP Mike Reynolds has told a radio interviewer the election “could be in late March”, while Tourism Minister Desley Boyle says she “suspects the election is not far away”. While you wait, enjoy Antony Green’s guide to the election, which went live this evening. My own effort remains a work in progress.

• Labor’s retiring Queensland MPs have made three seats available for new passengers on the Anna Bligh express ride to death or glory. Open for preselection are Townsville, where Mike Reynolds is calling it a day after 11 years; the outer Cairns seat of Mulgrave, home to Warren Pitt on-and-off-and-on since 1989; and the inner southern Brisbane seat of Greenslopes, vacated by another class of 1989 graduate in Gary Fenlon. Acting with remarkable haste, Labor set up preselection processes to replace Reynolds and Fenlon within three days of their retirement announcement on Sunday, with Pitt’s successor to be chosen two days after his announcement on Tuesday. In each case the decision will be made by the party’s administrative committee. Yesterday’s Townsville Bulletin reported that “insiders are tipping failed Townsville City Council contender Mandy Johnstone will get the party nod ahead of former mayor Tony Mooney” (who was defeated at the 1996 Mundingburra by-election which spelled the end for the Goss government). The ABC reports that Cameron Dick, brother of Brisbane City councillor Milton Dick, is likely to get the nod in Greenslopes. I gather we will find out in each case very shortly. The Cairns Post rang around trying to find someone who would admit to being interested in the Mulgrave preselection, apparently without success.

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.

188 comments on “Perfect the next”

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  1. Rua,

    fargo seems to be enthralled and cowed by the power of the media.

    The reality is the voters choose on their issues. Evidence the last NSW election.

  2. The power of the media is so great that they haven’t been able to rustle up a Galaxy, AC Nielson or Newspoll since Decembe,r despite months of breathless writing about an imminent election on a daily basis. Bet if the Nationals were ahead, we’d have had fortnightly polls.

  3. Hi Ruiawake-

    I think that the LNP candidates will be trained to say nothing, just like the members of historical ‘Know Nothing’ party in the USA. They will simply have lots of ‘concerns’ that they will express, and make meaningless ‘motherhood and apple pie’ statements.

    That is what Mr Springborg has pretty much done himself the past 12 months. If you look at the LNP press releases (even some of the ones costed as provided in that link from Steve, above) you can see that lots of them are not actually promises at all, just concerns, and statements along the line of “we will have a look at it when we are in Government”. Basically the same strategy adopted by John Howard in 1996.

    As for seats- counting the ALP as currently having 62 seats, as per notional margins from redistribution reported by Antony Green, (but counting them as still having Indooroopilly), I would regard all of the all seats requiring a swing of less than 4% as being at significant risk- Indooroopilly, Chatsworth, Clayfield, Whitsunday, Burdekin, Mirani, Cleveland, Hervey Bay, Mudgeeraba, Aspley, Gaven.

    Gladstone, Nicklin and Maryborough should return independents, Nanango may be a toss up, but I think the LNP would be favoured.

    That would make ALP 51, LNP 35, Ind 3. That really should be the worst that the LNP do, despite themselves.

    Out of interest, why do you think the ALP will win seats, what sort of media coverage are you expecting, and do you want to predict ALP, Green, LNP votes in Indooroopilly? Based on the poll in the previous thread, the LNP would win that seat.

  4. Fargo a win by the Nationals in Nanango would literally take us back to the Bjelke Petersen era. Joh’s son John is the candidate, I believe.

  5. Muskiemp

    The ALP lost Bundaberg last election because of the Patel “crisis”. The issue is now irrelvant because Patel is before the courts.

    The huge issue that many people ignore is that 1,000 people a week are moving to SE Qld (hence the extra Qld seat at the next Federal election).

    These guys are not Qld National Party supporters, and as I have said ad-nauseum the Labor vote is slowly increasing up the Bruce Hwy to Bundaberg.

  6. The ALP will not win back Bundaberg, media coverage of a certain court case will put pay to that.

    Steve- Yes we could yet have a Bjelke Petersen back in the parliament- and by coincidence I saw Lady Flo on a TV ad tonight, promoting a retirement village. It will certainly be an interesting contest, a narrow margin either way.

  7. Burdekin looks good for Labor with the mining town of Bowen being added in the redistribution. It will be very difficult for the Nationals to take that one I would imagine.

  8. On the subject of candidates, I had a look on the websites of both the Greens and the SEQ4DSP, for a list of endorsed candidates, just a few nights ago, but without success. Can anyone help?

    And also, can anyone suggest how I can find out now what preference recommendations either the Greens (or Family First) made on a seat-by-seat basis last election? I have made up a spreadsheet of the Greens votes last time, their exhaustion rate, and their preference flow, but it would be good to have a record as well of what recommendation they made for each seat that they contested.

  9. Fargo, how do you see the SEQ4DSP going on the Gold Coast? That would be where their support would be strongest and it might make it difficult for Gold Coast Nationals to get any real traction against a daylightsaving Party.

  10. Which policy is the National Party going to adopt now? The fade your curtains and the cows will not know when to come home or the pro business different time zones for different parts of Queensland line?

  11. That court case re Bundaberg, the truth and the fact that it is being dealt with should help the ALP candidate and the sitting Nats member is a dodo.

  12. Fargo

    To the best of my recollection Anthony said Mal Brough should win Longman, I stated he CANNOT win Longman.

    The ALP will be elected with a similar number of seats as they now hold.

  13. Steve,

    Their official policy is that they only have a policy on daylight saving- and will have no other policies, so I can’t see them getting many votes- and none if they dont actually have candidates. They are supposed to have 500 members, but how many willing to stand, and with what funding?

    To the extent that they do get votes, I expect that that would on balance disadvantage the LNP, as it is mainly urban Liberal voters who favour that silly imposition, and so I expect that they will suffer from exhausted votes, but the numbers may not be significant.

    How do you think that the DSP4SEQ will go?

    Also, you posted a while ago that you expected to see independent Liberals running, do you have any info on that? I have seen nothing else about it.

  14. Fargo,

    We will see what independents run the day nominations close. It would have to be significantly up on previous elections, I’d say and I would expect a few to win too.

    Much will depend to what extent the Tories implode during the actual campaign. I’m sure they will do us proud in the time-honoured tradition.

  15. The member for the neighbouring electorate of Burnett, a Rob Messenger did most of the campainging in condemming the Beatty Government on what went on at Bundaberg, so helping to win both electorates for the Nats. Even though the ALP had no chance to win Burnett.

    Here Messenger is again misrepresinting the truth as he has been for the last 5 years.

    [“Obviously Queensland Health takes any allegations very seriously, as well as ensuring whistleblowers are provided with the utmost support throughout the process,” Mr Robertson said.

    In a press conference, Mr Robertson also said the two specific allegations raised had been investigated 12 months ago, a statement questioned by Mr Messenger]

  17. [“The Government has put no money away for the bad times.”]
    There is always a populist flip side of the coin for every government action or policy.

  18. This shows the mess the LNP have Messenger is Shadow Minister for Tourism and Small Business.

    But no he has to butt into health issues instead of passing them to Mark McArdle who I think is the Health guy for the LNP? Er yes he is, his claim to fame is having 2 childrens hospitals on the Nth and Sth side of Brisbane while claiming his parties policy is one centre of excellence – but at a different hospital to the new purpose built one already under consturction.

    Why would anyone vote for them????

  19. Bob Brown can never “guarantee” Green’s preferences.

    Preferences are decided by local groups, but the State Council gives recommendations.

    Last election Greens preferences were directed to Labor in 22 seats.

  20. Any figures concerning how much difference a decision to direct or not direct Greens preferences to Labor makes to the proportion of Greens prefs that actually go to Labor in Queensland state elections, or any others conducted using optional preferential?

    These sorts of preference threats are often seen but rarely have the potential to swing more than the odd seat, because most Greens voters tend to ignore them. I was wondering if it’s like that in Queensland to, or if the threat to recommend “Just Vote 1” is more serious because it encourages the voter to conserve effort.

  21. It will be interesting to see how many candidates the DLP field, and the effect it will have on the election.
    Unlike in previous years, the bulk of the DLP preferences will go to the ALP.
    It is a different party to before, when their preferences usually went to the conseravite side.

  22. [because most Greens voters tend to ignore them.]

    I thought you were asking for evidence of whether this is the case or not?

    What you’d need to do is compare the leaves of exhaustion betweens seats where The Greens directed preferences and where they didn’t. I’m having difficulty finding exactly which seats they directed preferences.

  23. Kevin, never looked that closely at them. Appendix table three probably has some of the figures. Page 10 tells us the main seats where preferences were directed to Labor.

    Labor at the last published Newspoll in Dec 2008 was on 45% primary vote. If this vote is holding up or increased then Green preferences diminish in importance.

    [The Greens sought to make a strong impact by contesting 75 of the 89 seats. They criticised the Government over the Mary River dam, a lack of enforcement of tree-clearing laws and the proposed development of the Southport Spit. On the other hand, they were concerned that a Coalition government would reverse hard-won environmental gains in regard to landclearing and protection of wild rivers. After early stories that suggested the Greens might not preference any parties, it was later reported that they were planning to preference Labor candidates in marginals that the Coalition had a chance of winning or reclaiming. These included Chatsworth, Clayfield, Indooroopilly, Maroochydore, Keppel, Cairns and Hervey Bay.]

  24. To only give 1 vote is a waste of a vote, and destroys voting power of that voter.
    It also destroys the credabitity of the party that supports such a action.
    A party that has tightly controlled preferences can have an impact far in excess of the number of votes it gets.
    The DLP previously was able to tightly control its preferences and decided the outcome of a decisive number of seats.
    A party that does not direct preferences, or is not consistent with who it gives it preferences to is that much less powerfull.
    In the seats the DLP stand in they will be consistent in their preferences, and will gain crediability with voters and parties for future elections.

  25. Greens preferences will not decide the election so much as Greens vote exhaustion will decide the election. The ALP’s abysmal performance in health, infrastructure and education may convince enough people not to allocate preferences to them. While the LNP’s stigma of the National Party and lack of Shadow Ministerial talent may make them as equally unattractive. In this situation we may get a large amount of Greens preferences exhausting, which can only advantage the LNP because the lion’s share of protest votes against the government rather than the oppostion. On election night we may see a few seats fall due to this.

    The Greens are a double edged sword for Labor.

    Also, ruawake’s prediction of LNP losses on the Sunshine Coast is crazy talk. I would be incredibly surprised if the Tories lose ANY of their seats in the coming election let alone some of their safest.

  26. ruawake: Agree with you about Caloundra, but don’t count out Kawana especially with the redistribution, the seat just about covers all the booths that favoured during the Cummins era and the ALP are running a solid local candidate . I think the ALP are more likely to win Kawana than Caloundra, although its possible that they could pick up both

  27. sunnycoaster, ruawake did list Kawana as a Labor gain. The big difference with Caloundra this time is the candidate was selected a while ago whereas last election it was a very late choice. Added to this is the redistribution that includes the Australia Zoo area in Caloundra this time, usually a Labor voting area.

  28. Yes, I did see that ruawake tipped an ALP win, I was speaking more generally, apologies for my lack of clarity. I was part of the pre selection process for both candidates, and I do agree the party is better placed because of it.

  29. sunnycoaster, any thoughts on Pumicestone? Apart from the National Party wanting to build a mammoth desal plant there to get less water for more cost, I have heard very little about it.

  30. I honestly don’t think much will change with Pumicestone in terms of margin. The fact that you’ve heard little indicates that the LNP have not got any traction in the electorate. Despite no change in the margin, the redistribution was kind to the ALP. I also agree with Antony’s assessment that the LNP need to win the seat to obtain government, an unlikely task

  31. The thinking in that Madonna King article seems to be that Labor’s vote will hold up (and even improve) in the country marginals, but they’ll incur big swings against them in the south east.

    What’s the basis for this thinking?

    (The answer certainly isn’t incumbency, which works against Labor in those central Qld seats.)

  32. Re #132, my experience is that in other single-member elections, where distributing preferences is generally compulsory (eg House of Reps), the Greens can decline to preference Labor and it makes little difference. For example, comparing the Tasmanian lower house seats in 2004 to 2007, in the first case Labor preferenced the Greens in Tasmanian seats; in the second case they didn’t, and Labor’s share of Green preferences only went down a handful of %. That was what I had in mind with my general comment that Greens voters tend to ignore how to vote cards. But what I was wondering is whether the threat to not direct is much more effective in optional preferential elections. It sounds like it may well be.

  33. Steve, I have stocked up on popcorn and fluoridated water. All I need are some of Anna’s corn beef fritters and I’ll be set.

    McArdle would be a huge scalp, you would need some sort of celebrity candidate to take it in a reset election. Given that the ALP are fresh out of Chris Bombolas I don’t think that will happen. Relax though, Curtis Pitt and Cameron Dick may still get up, once they find the seats they are running for.

    I wonder if today the Courier Mail will today be printing pull-out a full colour lift-out map of the likely route Anna might take to Government House? It would make my day.

  34. Ryan,I bought myself a new akubra hat, tweed jacket, moleskin trousers and RM Williams boots and ordered in a bale of hay just so I can look inconspicuous if I ever need to go into National Party heartland of the Brisbane CBD within the next three years.

  35. Steve at #146. Although McArdle is well liked in the heart of Caloundra city, being the former leader of the Liberal Party doesn’t mean much beyond that part of the electorate. My gut feeling is that is that it will be a tight result either way. The result will probably be a Liberal retain, I think it may well be ‘too close to call’ at the end of the night.

  36. sunnycoaster, another minus for McArdle is he will be expected to tour the state in a show of farce with Springborg, so don’t expect him to be in Caloundra too often during the campaign.

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