Saturday, March 24, 2012

What Kind Of Day Has It Been?

It's after midnight on Friday night - Saturday morning, really - and I think it's time now to admit that tomorrow will be one of those rare days when a state officially flips ends of the political divide. Tomorrow, the ALP Government that has steered Queensland through most of the post-Joh years will take a monumental beating, if the polls are to be believed. 

Unfortunately for the ALP true believers, the polls tend to be in agreement with each other. They aren't close either; the LNP is going to win tomorrow, and win big. 

Since the 2009 election, the ALholds held government with 51 seats. By this time tomorrow, that number could be approaching single digits. Thirty or forty good people will lose their jobs tomorrow.

Those people will be replaced by new members of parliament from the LNP, and possibly a couple from Katter's Australian Party. There might even be a Green.

These are big changes, and while commentators will be talking policies, and punters will be celebrating - or not - an infinite number of smaller changes will be taking place in the lives of so many people. 

Outgoing Premier Anna Bligh will probably sleep in on Sunday. Another thirty or forty outgoing members will probably do the same. There'll be wounds to heal, hangovers to endure and lives to re-arrange. 

It doesn't stop there; electorate office staff may change. Campaign staff will move on to the next challenge, some within the new LNP Government. Media will change focus from the campaign to the formation of a new state government. The campaign buses will need new paint jobs and new missions. Public Service Executives will be nervous.

It will be easier on the outgoing ALP members, although the emotional impact will be cruel. Most of them will be allowed to disappear quietly into their lives. The higher profile ministers won't be as lucky. They'll be watched, at least for a while. I hope they'll all keep doing great things. Anything less is a cop out.

Anna Bligh will probably retain her seat, but will she continue to lead the ALP in Opposition, or will she remove herself to the back bench? Will there be a back bench, or will the ALP have so few seats that every member will have to step up?

And Kate Jones? This week's polling suggests that she won't defeat Campbell Newman. Kate's young - 33 - with a high profile and a degree in journalism. Kate can do anything she wants to.
Meanwhile, Campbell Newman will be thinking about formalising all those ideas he's been tossing around. He'll need to get in a room with Bruce McIver and the LNP chiefs to form a functional government from a group of politicians high on adrenaline and unused to governing. It's heady stuff.

Newman has the experience as team leader, but no experience at state level. He'll have help though; a winning LNP team would include a rich vein of former leaders, although their experience will be in opposition. 

It's a huge change in perspective, from a position of negativity and powerlessness to a position where your decisions will be enacted. Please be careful; these aren't just concepts or ideals now.

I hope both sides have learned from recent history. I hope that whatever remains of the Queensland ALP on Sunday takes note of the Federal Opposition and chooses a different approach. The role of the Opposition in Queensland is so much more important than most Oppositions as Queensland has no Upper House. The ALP will need to do more than oppose; they'll need to oversee the Government from a position of political impotence. With numbers as insignificant as maybe 15% of the seats, they need to be the other half of Queensland's democracy.

And the LNP Government? What are their challenges? Firstly, they'll need to stop campaigning and actually govern. Secondly, they'll need to accept that things will look different from the grown up seats. Some of their policies and promises might not survive the reality test; they need to make decisions that are right for Queensland, not decisions that will get them re-elected. 

Finally, they need to remember who they're governing for, and that's all Queenslanders. The LNP won't win because Queenslanders love them and believe in them. The LNP will win because they aren't the Labor Party and because it's time for a change. Somewhere around half of us will be voting for someone else.

In all likelihood,Queensland will elect an LNP Government tomorrow. It'll be up to them to earn our respect.


  1. Nice post Sal. Sums up how quite a few of us are feeling I think. See you at the ballot box!

  2. Thanks Donna. Democracy is always challenging, isn't it. :)