Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Newmania: The Fall

ReachTEL - Newman's Performance

Congratulations. If you’ve been watching politics in the Sunshine State during the past couple of months, it’s probably time to take a bow and say I told you so…because you probably did. Gleeful King Campbell and his team of conservatives are no longer enjoying the popularity he did when he claimed victory only five months ago. No-one seems happy, and with good reason. Every Newmanian is feeling some kind of government-induced pain.

But don’t crack the champagne open just yet.

King Campbell has acted swiftly, authoritatively, brutally, to take what he considers to be necessary action for enact his talking points. He always said that he was going to get the state back on track by: 

                 Growing a Four Pillar Economy
Easing the Cost of Living
Eliminating Waste
                 Restoring the Economy
This is the basis on which the CanDo team campaigned to be elected, and won with an overpowering majority. They had their mandate to do exactly what they had campaigned on, and they got on with it, literally, from King Campbell’s Day One.
Five months later, the reality bombs are exploding all over Newmania. The People are not happy, although to be fair, King Campbell’s CanDo Team would easily win another election right now. It just wouldn’t be the near-complete destruction that befell the ALP on March 24. Two polls have been conducted within the last week, and each one shows that King Campbell is has gone from Saviour of the LNP and Queensland, to Gleeful, Insensitive Assassin.

It would be too easy to say that the massive public service job cuts are to blame for the King’s slide in popularity, but that’s the tip of an iceberg in a sea of ice. Over seven thousand jobs have already gone from the Public Service, but the genuine threat of more job cuts has imbued the entire public service – over 200,000 employees – with anxiety. Staff engagement rates would be way down, costing millions in productivity. The entire public service sector is toxic.

That’s just the “Jobs” iceberg, the most visible of his cuts.

Emotional issues are less visible, but every bit as confronting. Members of the LGBTI community and their supporters have been hit hard, with a roll-back of Civil Unions legislation, the defunding of their support centre (QAHC), the continued existence of ‘gay panic’ laws and threatened changes to surrogacy access. Environmentalists are disheartened after a series of green programmes, including ClimateSmart and the Environment Defenders Office were cut.

In fact, there have been cuts to virtually every single aspect of the State Government responsibility, from health to justice to the arts to prisons to schools to tenancy advice to heritage to housing. There’s even been changes to the ways that we can access parliament: the Speaker, Fiona Simpson, has already removed cameras from parliament; next on her list is removing anyone she decides is “protesting” in the gallery.

Morgan Polls - Newman Approval

Throughout these five tortured months, King Campbell has been grinning while assuring us that it was all necessary. So incredibly unaffected is The Axe King that he described his first 100 days in office as "a lot of fun".  

But now, a couple of months further down the track, the pollsters are taking note of Queensland again. Things are not always as they may seem. All the media chatter has been about King Campbell’s declining popularity, yet when you look at the trends in Morgan polls this year, the numbers have barely moved from where they were in March, prior to the election. In fact, the largest movement occurred prior to Black Friday, when the first major round of job cuts was announced. The LNP was up, the ALP was further down, and all the talk was of ALP statewide extermination.

Since then, since the tough decisions have been announced, the LNP lead has retreated to a level close to numbers that saw the LNP win Queensland with the biggest majority in history. In fact, the difference between the March figures and this week’s figures would all be very close to being inside the Margin of Error. Context suggests the numbers are real though.

Reachtel Primary Voting Intention

And then there’s the ReachTEL numbers, which suggest a more dramatic change, particularly as regards King Campbell’s personal approval.

As always, it’s a case of making up your own mind, yet with threats of a painful State Budget hanging over us, and a solid electoral buffer, you can bet that King Campbell won’t be chasing votes by softening his approach for some time to come.

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