The Newman LNP government has spent record political capital in record time. Matthew N. Donovan comments on a slippery slide after a record victory.
LAST WEDNESDAY, a very clear signal was shot across the bow of Campbell Newman and Tony Abbott.
The Together union, which represents Queensland public and private sector workers across health, education, clerical and administrative roles, commissioned Reachtel to conduct the "largest scientific political poll in Australian history" — a poll of 36,323 Queenslanders statewide.
The results are the stuff of nightmares for Premier Newman and his government.
Ever since taking office, the Queensland LNP government has sought what some see as political revenge attacks on Labor and the union movement. Bullying tactics, ill conceived words such as calling protestors "union stooges", judgment errors and scandal have dogged this government. They have been ramming through changes faster than almost anybody can keep up with.
This is the "shock and awe" approach to politics. Get it done quickly and hope people forget or don't notice.
The problem? People are noticing and they aren't impressed.
Queensland Attorney General Jarrod Bleijie has been on a "red tape" cutting spree.
This is a man with seemingly unchecked power and the licence to pass whatever political predelication he has on any given day. They include making it easier to get a liquor permit for community events, allowing bottle shops to open earlier, allowing licenced premises banned from serving glass to do so again, and increasing how much you can be bet on pokies.
Combine this with the watering down of civil union laws to please the Australian Christian Lobby and surrogacy laws (plans later shelved) and you start to get the picture.
The committee process had been railroaded and they seem completely oblivious to how poisonous they have become in the community. All opposition is ignored. Dissent is shutdown.
Health Minister Lawrence Springborg recently instructed senior public servants to start keeping track of who attends union meetings and who the union representatives are — an action that is seen at best unethical and by some as illegal.
It is my personal opinion Campbell Newman has little influence as leader of the LNP and the state. He can't control his caucus and has very little ability to head off or handle disasters when they arise. All this has been beautifully on public display recently. The scandals, defections and demotions too numerous to report in any detail here.
The real leaders of Queensland? Tim Nicholls, Jeff Seeney and Jarrod Bleijie; there is no question in my mind. My sources say the same.
Their latest idea revolves around the attempt to privatize all services except "core services such as policing, public safety, emergency and justice services" (pg. 11) purely on Peter Costello's say so.
Their "independent audit" has been completely delegitimised by various experts yet they still push forward in their attack on Queensland and our services. It was a stitch up, as they always are. Howard did the same thing when he came into office in 1996.
None of this was part of their election campaign. None of this has a mandate.
I use this extensive preamble merely as a backdrop to provide context for the environment in which the disastrous Reachtel poll numbers were released. The idea that people are turned off by the LNP after suffering one year is no longer up for debate. It's there in the numbers. Black and white.
When asked "If a state election were to be held today, which of the following would receive your first preference vote?", Labor receives 30.4 per cent of the vote. A swing to them of 3.74% from the election. The LNP receives 45.8 per cent. A swing away of 3.86% from the election. On a uniform basis, if replicated in 2015, would result in a net pickup of 9+ seats for Labor. All the swing away from the LNP comes to Labor. Greens and Katter's Australian Party (KAP) benefit little.
The news gets worse for them.
When asked "If the Liberal National Party state government called an election to seek a mandate from the Queensland people to privatise public services, which of the following would receive your first preference vote?", Labor would receive a further swing of 3 per cent leading to 33.4 per cent. The LNP would receive a further swing away of a whopping 6.1 per cent leading to 39.7 per cent, or a 9.96 per cent swing. On a uniform basis this would be a net pickup of 18+ seats for Labor. Most of the extra swing away from the LNP that doesn't come to Labor goes to "Other" and not KAP.
These seat predictions are pre-preferences so it could be considerably worse for them. Labor needs a swing of 12.5 per cent on a two party preferred basis to take back government.
The more traditional regional LNP parts of Queensland have held up, but Brisbane is looking like a train wreck for the LNP next time around if their agenda isn't toned down. Seats like Bulimba, Waterford, Greenslopes, Ipswich, Logan, Mount Coot-tha, Stafford and most obviously, Newman's seat of Ashgrove would come back to Labor.
This leaves open the possibility of personally popular former Labor members re-entering parliament and continuing to serve their communities.
Participants were also asked the following:
Would you support or oppose the privatisation of electricity and infrastructure assets in Queensland?
Support - 17.9%
Oppose - 70.5%
Unsure - 11.6%
Would you support or oppose the privatisation and outsourcing of hospitals and public health services in Queensland?
Support - 18.3%
Oppose - 74.1%
Unsure - 7.6%
Would you support or oppose the privatisation and outsourcing of community services such as disability support and child protection?
Support - 24.0%
Oppose - 67.6%
Unsure - 8.4%
I would have thought that was a pretty clear signal. Queenslanders don't support the LNP's latest agenda.
The official government line is "We don't comment on union push polling". This was a poll of regular Queenslanders.
Tony Abbott should be watching keenly because he wholeheartedly supports Newman's agenda.
That should concern us all.
(Disclosure: Matthew N. Donovan is a former ALP state candidate.)
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia License