It’s still only 10 months or so since the LNP embarked on their daring game of leadership switcheroo in a bid to win government in Queensland for the first time this century. On paper, the Newman-lead LNP seems likely for win the election and form government, and yet there are two new factors to consider: the risk of the Campbell Newman failing to win in Ashgrove, and the impact of Katter’s Australian Party. Despite much media noise over a recent ReachTel poll in Ashgrove, the polls simply don’t ask all the right questions.
Campbell Newman was a well-known and popular Brisbane Lord Mayor, but ask any Queenslander what Mr Newman achieved as Lord Mayor of Brisbane, and they’ll tell you three things: bridges, tunnels and those yellow bikes in the CBD. Probe a bit further and you’ll find that the bridges aren’t that popular, the tunnel (the Clem 7) is a financial failure, and the City Cycle Scheme is a punchline.
A topic that is starting to get some attention is the various permutations of governmental leadership in Queensland after the election. With Newman’s position as Leader-elect of the LNP, pending his victory in Ashgrove, this isn’t like other elections. To add to the uncertainty, would Anna Bligh take to the back benches if the ALP is defeated? If so, is 35-year-old Andrew Fraser “The Man”?
To test the Newman-factor, we can look to the fact that he was elected Mayor of Brisbane twice, and in both cases, his vote in areas in and around the state seat of Ashgrove was very very solid. Does that translate to victory in a State Government seat against a phenomenally unpopular Government, but with a popular local member in Kate Jones? Polls suggest that it might be too close to call…but how far should polls be trusted 6 weeks out, particularly as they aren’t taking into account the impact of the minor parties.
Polling is based on a strict 2 Party model, where one of the key metrics is a two party preferred number. It doesn’t factor in a Katter Australian Party, or any other third party. This is insane, given the presence of third parties and independents in recent Queensland history: Democrats, Greens, One Nation, and now KAP, all exerting influence at various times in the past 30 years.
The KAP is attempting to run candidates in every seat, and is expecting to win some of them. Bob Katter’s son Robbie is standing in Mount Isa, and former cricketer Carl Rackemann is standing in the seat of Nanango, currently held by a retiring independent. Name recognition will give both of these candidates a boost. In addition, there are two sitting members who were elected as LNP members, and have quit the party. They have continued as independents, but are now KAP members. Will this change of affiliation change voter behaviour?
Meanwhile, One Nation still exists, and Queensland State President Jim Nelson is himself standing against Newman and Jones in Ashgrove. One Nation, a party which currently holds exactly zero seats in any government in Australia, is so concerned about the KAP, it has published on its website, a piece declaring how it is superior to the KAP.
With all the parties except the Greens performing this snuggly shuffle to the right, it's hard to know where the minor parties fit into the picture. I think it looks something like this:
Personally, I think that the ALP is also to the right of the centre-ish line, but we'll give them the benefit of the doubt. There's plenty of crowding on the right hand side of the page without the ALP getting in on the act.
Can Campbell Newman win in Ashgrove? I honestly don't know. The conservative parties are playing some random form of preference bingo, and it's almost impossible to predict who will steal which votes...other than to say that One Nation is a spent force.