Queensland election minus two weeks

As the battle in Queensland begins in earnest, campaigns are launched, television is blitzed, stratagems are deployed, and poll trackers show up in blog sidebars.

The sidebar now comes with a poll tracker, which presently shows the Liberal National Party on track for a modest absolute majority. However, the recent emphasis on electorate-level polling means its most recent data points are from the first week of the campaign. Since this is a two-party model, the seat allocation for “others” simply assumes that the three relevant incumbents who won their seats as non-major party candidates in 2012, namely Mount Isa MP Rob Katter and Dalrymple MP Shane Knuth of Katter’s Australian Party and independent Nicklin MP Peter Wellington, will do so again this time, without being joined by anyone else. If any electorate-level polling emerges to disturb that apprehension, I will play it by ear if and when it occurs. The methodology is broadly similar to that for BludgerTrack (you can find an explanatory link for that somewhere on the sidebar), but with a few experimental tweaks to deal with optional preferential voting. Based on the way preferences in individual electorates behaved in 2012, I have derived the following models to determine the percentage share of the minor party and independent vote allocated to the two parties as preferences:

LNP: 0.295 – 0.089a – 0.095b
Labor: 0.047 + 0.208a + 0.341b

Where “a” equals Labor’s share of the major party vote, and “b” equals the Greens’ share of the non-major party vote. In other words, as either of these things increases, so does Labor’s share of preferences. Polling suggests the Greens vote to have been essentially static since 2012, so “b” isn’t much of a factor, but “a” of course has risen considerably. Even so, the effect of implementing the model is unspectacular: if 2012 preference flows (as best as I can determine them) were applied to the current primary vote numbers, the Liberal National Party would be up 0.4% on two-party preferred and two on the seat projection. The current split is roughly 30% Labor, 20% LNP and 50% exhausted. I should grant that modelling based on previous election preferences wouldn’t have worked that brilliantly at the last five elections due to the escalating rate of exhausted preferences, but presumably that trend has to level off eventually.

Random notes:

• Antony Green gets detailed on Campbell Newman’s “just vote one” strategy, the upshot of which is that the party that leads on the primary vote wants the exhausted preferences rate to be as high as possible. When Peter Beattie pioneered the strategy in 2001, the anti-Labor vote was splintering between Nationals, Liberal, One Nation and the One Nation breakaway City-Country Alliance. While the Palmer and Katter parties complicate the issue somewhat, the main issue today is the segment of the Left vote that goes missing as exhausted Greens preferences, which can only stand to be maximised if the Premier is out there reminding voters that they are not in fact obliged to number every box, as they would be at a federal election.

The Australian reports that the internal polling of both sides has the six LNP-held seats in northernmost Queensland “well within the ALP’s grasp”, namely the Cape York electorate of Cook, the Cairns electorates of Cairns and Barron River, and the Townsville seats of Townsville, Thuringowa and Mundingburra. However, it would seem Labor is better placed in Cairns and Thuringowa than in Barron River and Mundingburra.

• Sean Parnell of The Australian reports that “support is building” for Treasurer Tim Nicholls to take over if Campbell Newman doesn’t win Ashgrove, “although there is some support for former leader and Health Minister Lawrence Springborg”. Mark Ludlow of the Financial Review reports Nanango MP Deb Frecklington is “shaping as a possible deputy for Nicholls if he becomes premier” (see below for more on Frecklington’s status within the government).

• The LNP held its campaign launch yesterday at the Brisbane Convention Centre, which Steven Wardill of the Courier-Mail deemed “weird” even by the standards of the genre. From the limited material available to me, what stands out about the launch is the distinctly multicultural flavour of what Wardill describes as the “nodding heads placed strategically behind Newman”, one of which I take to be that of Yeerongpilly candidate Leila Abukar. The contrast with the Liberal Party’s federal campaign could not be more acute. Labor will hold its campaign launch tomorrow in Ipswich, presumably with an eye to the seats of Ipswich and Ipswich West, which the LNP holds on margins of 4.2% and 7.2% after titanic swings in 2012. The other Ipswich electorate, Bundamba, is held by one of Labor’s seven survivors from 2012, Jo-Ann Miller.

Steven Wardill of the Courier-Mail observes parallels between the looming election and Peter Beattie’s second landslide of 2004, starting with a February 7 election date that was barely less audacious than Campbell Newman’s, and continuing with a government on the front foot with respect to contentious areas of the policy debate. Following the lesson of history to its conclusion, he determines that Labor will find the going tough outside of a designated list of gimmes (Bulimba, Waterford, Lytton, Greenslopes, Sandgate, Nudgee, Ipswich and Logan). There may be quite a bit in this, but I would add the following qualifications. First, Peter Beattie took Labor into the 2004 campaign with its two-party poll rating in the high fifties, and the worst of its mid-term Newspoll results had been equivalent to 53-47. Both of which suggest he was doing four or five points better than Newman. Secondly, whereas the LNP has been savaged in two by-elections in the past year, Labor under Peter Beattie had performed quite creditably in its one by-election of the term, which was held in Maryborough nine months before the election. Thirdly, while the Beattie government’s federal counterparts were polling strongly under the new leadership of Mark Latham at the time of the 2004 election, Newman would be bracing for some heavy blowback against Tony Abbott.

• Certainly Wardill is on the money when he says that the LNP campaign is seeking to make a virtue of being “the agent of reform on the election’s key issue”. The party’s publicity material makes prominent use of imagery of Campbell Newman, Tim Nicholls, Jeff Seeney, Fiona Simpson and Deb Frecklington getting down to business, with Nicholls singled out for prominence in the television spot below as Newman spruiks “a plan we know we can pay for”. Interestingly, neither of the two women featured are actually part of the cabinet that looks like it’s being portrayed, the only female members of which are Tracy Davis and Jann Stuckey. Simpson is the Speaker, and presumably made the cut by virtue of her long-established public visibility. Frecklington holds a position in the outer ministry, but being the member for rural Nanango, rather than suburban Aspley or Currumbin on the Gold Coast, was presumably favoured over Davis and Stuckey in the interests of regional balance.


• The Courier-Mail reported on Saturday that both parties were to launch an advertising blitz over the weekend ahead of the start of pre-polling today, having spent the first half of the campaign relying on the internet. I can’t tell you if this is being reflected in what’s going to air, but the advertising on the parties’ YouTube channels is all positive in the LNP’s case, and all negative in Labor’s. The LNP may well be calculating that its interests are best served by keeping the opposition’s profile as low as possible. As for Labor, I was willing to cut its campaign team some slack for the poor quality of its 2012 ads, on the basis that 15 years of accumulating baggage in government gave it little left to work with, but this lot is making me wonder. The party’s channel essentially features three ads, the least underwhelming of which comes in 30-second and 15-second edits, with the longer version featured below.

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.

106 comments on “Queensland election minus two weeks”

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  1. This will be like the 1998 Federal Election.

    Anger at tough choices being made… but at the same time being rewarded for them with the knowledge the lame duck opposition leader has no answers.

    I can see Labor only winning about 30 seats, Anna P will get a pat on the back on what a great job she did(as always) on lifting Labor up from Tarago status to a footy match worth, but the truth is she has done poorly and will soon be knifed in the back… probably by someone not even in parliament yet.

  2. ESJ
    Three (3) more years of Campbellism coming up !

    Are you sure that’s not Three (3) more years of Cannibalism. eating up the states resources including the Great Barrier Reef

  3. [Three (3) more years of Campbellism coming up !]

    So no great barrier reef, no assets and no idea. would suck to be a Queenslander.

  4. [Labor up from Tarago status to a footy match worth, but the truth is she has done poorly and will soon be knifed in the back… probably by someone not even in parliament yet.]

    Yeah the only thing less reliable and more dangerous than Newman is a Labor caucus. Nasty evil things they seem to be.

  5. Interesting editorial who in today’s C-M comparing the competitions economic plans. Worth a read.

    Fairfax has brought Alan Jones to QLD to lobby against the Newman government. Interesting move.

    Still a fair amount of water to flow under the bridge before making any confident predictions.

  6. [will soon be knifed in the back… probably by someone not even in parliament]

    Can’t see Newman doing that twice. Anyway, he’s in the wrong party.

  7. I am out there campaigning for ALP. The absolute disapproval of Newman is about one quarter of the people I speak to. He won’t win Ashgrove so undecided voters may swing towards the party with an actual leader. Sure. 38 seats is a big ask but considering that the Murdoch press is thoroughly committed to getting the LNP back in and the independence of the ABC has been compromised a close contest is a worthy achievement. Ssadly for Queensland though. If the LNP win and they show their true selves, polls are going to plummet, similarly to the Federals Libs. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth and QLDers will be asking “Why did we do this to ourselves?”.

  8. I can see why Queenslanders are mulling over who to vote for. Anger at current government. Still angry at the previous government, and with OPV, there’s a chance that their votes will be exhausted and causing a non-preferred candidate to get in.

    People need to get out of the “just vote one” mindset.

  9. If you prevent mining activity from the mainland west of the GBR there would be no mining anywhere north of the Sunshine Coast and the only port that could be used would be Brisbane.

  10. it seems to me that left-minded people on PB are setting themselves up for disappointment here quite unnecessarily. Taken in isolation and after the unprecedented drubbing last time, you’d think that a 7% swing to the ALP and winning back 20 odd seats would be a solid result. As i recall after the 1974 cricket team election, Labor came back with only 23-24 seats at the following poll. I guess the context of Can Do’s deep unpopularity and 50/50 polls [or better] have shaped expectations, but I’d see it as surprising if the LNP failed to win a majority. The more recent poling and suggestions of an ALP seat haul in the mid to high 30s seems more plausible to me – and in historical terms, a very strong comeback in only 3 years, with a solid basis to win government in 2018. It would be nice to think i’m erring on the side of caution here…

  11. [it seems to me that left-minded people on PB are setting themselves up for disappointment here quite unnecessarily.]

    Oh don’t worry about us. 😉

    For my own part I am prepared to take the embarrassment of Newman losing his own seat followed by the chaos of the leaderless LNP infighting over the spoils of victory as amusement enough from this election. (Hoping of course that such chaos results in the nastier aspects of their agenda being curtailed.)

  12. max

    [As i recall after the 1974 cricket team election, Labor came back with only 23-24 seats at the following poll. ]

    The Bjelkemander took effect at the 1972 election. That didn’t help the ALP’s chances in 74 and 77.

    Like Martin B, I’m quite happy to see Newman get a bloody nose, and the Qld LNP survive as a toxic government that helps the ALP at federal level in 2 years time. If the ALP does win Qld, it would be as a slim majority or even minority govt, and I don’t think that would help Qld (or the ALP) in the long term.

  13. [davidwh

    Posted Monday, January 19, 2015 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    Interesting editorial who in today’s C-M comparing the competitions economic plans. Worth a read.]

    David the CM is a useless rag which is usually bought for the sports, comics & crosswords. Older people possibly use the tv guide & classifieds (to see who died). Hardly anyone reads the front page let alone the editorial.

  14. Someone suggested to me that winning incumbents in QLD tend to pick up in the final week. Did that apply to Beattie? Anyone know?

  15. Newman got a surge in 2012 when it became apparent the LNP were in for a landslide and also due to Labor’s failed smear. Not qualified to comment on elections before that, but by all accounts the Coalition were an unelectable rabble at state level

  16. [I can see Labor only winning about 30 seats]

    I’d say winning 30 seats would be a bloody good effort after the pasting they copped last time. Given that they currently have 9 and at least 3 are likely to be won by independents that would leave the LNP with 47 and a majority of only 5 – ripe for the picking next time.

    And the icing on the cake is that Newman most likely will have been sent packing by the electors in Ashgrove.

  17. The lack of proper polling so far in this campaign has been a bit annoying. Obviously the pollsters were as caught out by the snap announcement as Labor.

    Nothing has happened in the past week to shift me off my “moderate LNP win” position. Certainly not getting any noise from Anna in the southern media, whereas Newman’s at least getting some press, even if it’s not necessarily positive.

  18. teh patience. There is rumour a Morgan is close and a new ReachTel can’t be too far away.

    Probably won’t see another Galaxy before Friday or Saturday.

  19. Campbell Noman and his “weak as water choices” are going to get a hammering according the latest Galaxay poll 52/48 LNP (Murdoch poll). That represents an 11.3% swing from 2012 and represents a hung parlaiment. But then again, according to treasurer Tiny Tim Nicholls that as not as bad as a 5.7% swing against the LNP. And the big issue in Ashgrove – pork-barrelling. Oink, oink, oink, see ya later cambie.

  20. If the ALP can’t win Ashgrove, god help them.

    Interesting to note driving through Toowoomba that while all parties have their signs at intersections, far more ALP signs are visible on suburban streets.

  21. Looking from the south, in normal circumstances the LNP should romp home simply because the voters who count would perceive there is not enough experience and skill on the Labor side to form a solid government.

    The thing is, this is not normal circumstances. Newman appears to have hurt a lot of people, with more pain to come. Would those already hurt by him, with those fearful of what damage he could cause in the next three years worry enough to vote Labor back in?

    Personally, I don’t think so, especially if enough individual electorates are protected by a sophomore effect (which I think is real, but dependent on the performance of the specific member). But anything is possible. Should be interesting times.

  22. There is an extraordinary video out from the Alan Jones radio program,of last week,and he castigates Newman in the harshest way over coal seam gas and Newman’s lies and distortions

    amazing in its vehemance,and this from Alam Jones
    I understand he is now broadcast across Qland in the AM..
    have many heard him??

  23. Unfortunately I was dumb enough to listen to the first couple of minutes. The bloke is a complete fruitcake. They should keep him down south.

  24. Forgetting about actual Queenslanders –

    – the best result for Federal Labor would be the LNP winning and Newman retaining Ashgorve. (though I would hate to see this happen in my one time home state)

    – possibly the worst result for Federal Labor would be Labor winning the election – as the repercussions may bring on the “Tony gone by March” scenario and the Federal Libs dump Abbott. (much as that would be fun it would probably harm Labor’s prospects for federal poll in 2016)

    – so maybe the compromise result of the LNP retaining powere, but Labor winning 20-30 seats including Ashgrove has merit. I think this will happen.

  25. RR, the best result for Federal Labor would be ALP winning Queensland and demonstrating good governance, winning Ashgrove to show what democracy does to bad politicians.

  26. bug1 – I just can’t bring myself to get my hopes up for that, so I suppose I am rationalising so as not be disappointed with hwat will probably be a very big swing back.

    There is no love for Newman in either the L or the N parts of the LNP so basically everyone wil be happy to see him go.

  27. After John Howard’s first year in office the Coalition won only one more state election anywhere, that being South Australia in minority and with a 9.5% swing against. After the second year of Howard, the Coalition did not win any more state elections. (They did win NT in 1997 and ACT in 1998.)

    The Courier-Mail Galaxy poll article editing saga continues with a Twitter account apparently belonging to the editor denying that the online article was changed despite it being a proven fact that it was (indeed the original intro can still be found in links on Google News.) See https://twitter.com/mumbletwits/status/557290665126526976

    and search for “FIRST-term Labor Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk is on track to become premier in a hung parliament” on Google or Google News – the removed intro, which comes up on both but then doesn’t appear in the links.

  28. KB – fascinating.

    In 2013 I took a screen shot of the Herald-sun website near the end of the Brownlow Medal count with “Joel Selwood Wins Brownlow” – before Ablett won. Though I’m sure that was mopre of an accident than this headline change!

  29. In 1993 I got an early edition of the Sunday Sun I think in Victoria and the headline was “Keating in a photo finish”. I found out later that the very first edition had “Hewson in a photo finish” and I always wanted to get one, then get Keating to hold it up for a photo like Truman holding the famous “Dewey defeats Truman” newspaper.

    I think the editor justified the earlier headlien by saying he meant Hewson was IN a phot finish, not necessarily winning a photo finish yet.

  30. I like the idea(or conspiracy theory) by ALP Supporters that the Courier Mail ran the headline that Anna P would win the election to give a bounce to the LNP vote.

    What does this say to you about the Opposition?

  31. [What does this say to you about the Opposition?]

    It says that they face a hostile media environment with the major newspaper prepared to manipulate news coverage for partisan political ends.

    TBA, we are on a blog site dedicated to opinion polls. If you want to know about the public opinion of the OL it might pay to look at the polling. That doesn’t support your biased perceptions. She has favourable netsats and trails in preferred premier by a small amount, entirely normal for a non-incumbent. There is absolutely nothing in the published polling to suggest she is particularly hated, feared or disdained.

  32. [“She has favourable netsats and trails in preferred premier by a small amount, entirely normal for a non-incumbent.”]

    Just like Kim Beazley then…

  33. I’m back, TrueBlue “BiasedLiblover”,

    How about you read the info before you comment on it ?

    Why are you talking about Beasley ? It’s 2015 now. The internet is quickly displacing the press from it’s usual role of disseminating lies and slander. People can easily see right through Murdoch’ crap just like they see through yours.

  34. What may have happened with the Courier-Mail Galaxy thing is that there may have been two versions (both appearing in the paper) and at some point the second version may have been saved over the first. That’s the most charitable interpretation I can put on it since the original intro seems to have vanished from the CM site and links originally containing it go to the piece with the revised intro.

  35. http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/queensland-state-election-2015/queensland-election-2015-state-might-have-to-buy-back-assets-20150119-12tlrm.html

    [The LNP still cannot rule out that Queenslanders will have to buy back the state’s asset infrastructure at the end of their lease, but says voters just need “certainty” over its “clear plan”.

    The government has based its entire election push on its asset privatisation and leasing plan, stressing to voters that Queenslanders will retain ownership of the ports and power network it plans to lease as part of its $37 billion Strong Choices plan.]

    [But it has again been unable to rule out Queensland having to buy back the asset infrastructure after the lease period, something which was a key component of the agreement which South Australia made with the Chinese company which leased that state’s power assets.

    Under the South Australian agreement, the lessee can elect to own any infrastructure it spends more than $2 million replacing. If the state wants it back at the end of the agreement, it would have to pay the private company full value for the assets.]

    What sort of a bullshit lease is that? I rent out my house, and at the end of it, I might have to buy back the oven or the toilet or the entire house from the tenant. At the end of 99 years, I don’t think anyone will even remember.

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