- Though NSW sets the country's political norms in may respects, last year's election was a freaky, freaky set of circumstances;
- Victoria was and remains a close-run thing, thanks to Baillieu's failure to entrench himself and devastate his opposition;
- Tasmania is freaky too, with its huge Greens presence, and its almost total absence of scope for economic growth in the twenty-first century (which is why they haven't made much of the NBN or those Harradine-era telco reforms that preceded it), not to mention its wacky voting system;
- Western Australia's government has, in contrast to Victoria, both entrenched itself and devastated its opposition;
- The South Australian election will be held after, not before, 2013; and;
- NT, ACT and other local government elections: too small, too freaky, who cares?
The conventional wisdom is that:
- Labor will get hosed;
- the LNP will win with a thumping majority; and
- the LNP will govern Queensland for a long long time.
Labor has been in a long time, 20 of the past 22 years. Labor people make much of the "new faces" in the Bligh cabinet, but hacks are always overrated because they assume that popular appeal is just some mysterious part of public office. Dumping the rural fuel subsidy and privatising state assets are long-overdue injections of the sort of things the rest of Australia went through in the 1980s, which only emphasises the indictment of Labor's supposed political smarts in getting them to the position they are in now. They won't be thrashed because they are not the rabble that NSW Labor was (and is).
Every new initiative by Labor is an implicit criticism of their own experience ("Why didn't you do this 20 years ago?"). An example of this is the response to the flood that devastated Bundaberg in 1991: a report was commissioned into that flood and it recommended that a levee be built.
The polls have favoured the LNP but in an election campaign like this, so what? Voters are still baulking at Newman, Seeney, Nicholls, Langbroek et al actually running the government. The parallel here is with the first week of the 2010 federal campaign, where Australia realised that a vote for the Coalition means Tony Abbott becomes PM!, leading to Labor getting a second chance. If Newman starts getting rattled or snappy on the campaign trail, or if the boofheads from the bush or the LNP machine override him, Queensland state politics could turn very quickly.
I've had my say on the LNP. Graham Young said this morning on Radio National that the directionless and unelectable nature of the LNP was "cure[d]" by the appointment of Campbell Newman as leader, but in an election contest like this it is wishful thinking. If you put a glacée cherry on top of a cowpat it does not become an ice-cream sundae, and it doesn't matter if you have polls that say otherwise. If Newman promises something to Brisbane voters that rural MPs such as Jeff Seeney do not like, they will simply contradict him. If the reverse happens, Newman will be expected to suck it up in the name of "loyalty". Newman hasn't solved all this simply by turning up. Newman will not fare well over a marathon eight weeks. He's used to being obeyed and not used to being challenged.
This is not to say that Labor are being smart in wearing Newman down over the long run; they too will get tired and prone to mistakes. Newman has take a leaf out of the Tony Abbott playbook by bagging Bligh's unpopular fuel subsidy, but he hasn't promised to reinstate it himself. If Bligh does a Beattie-style mea-culpa and reinstates it, the LNP will have a real fight on its hands.
Ashgrove will not vote for Newman if the rural LNP or the party machine get ahead of themselves. If Newman doesn't win Ashgrove the LNP won't win government, and vice versa. Swinging voters in regional Queensland or even other parts of Brisbane won't vote LNP if Newman is too worried about his on seat, which will mean the people of Ashgrove won't vote for him, which will reinforce etc etc and this is how you get a downward LNP spiral - now, does somebody still want to preach to me about polling and how important it is to react to it?
In NSW and Victoria the Greens pose an existential threat to Labor's inner-city heartland. They pose no such threat in Queensland's unicameral state parliament (though next year, the third-placed Labor Senate candidate will have a run for their money against a Green). The LNP face a direct threat from Katter candidates, particularly those rural areas threatened by CSG or other mining. The idea that the LNP won't enter into a coalition with Katteroids is stupid if the alternative is 24 years out of power.
Federal parliament will sit for much of the Queensland campaign. Of course the MSM are filtering it through their Rudd-Gillard
Prediction for next Qld Parliament: Labor 40, independents/other 7, LNP 42. Newman will demand the bigger party gets independent support, especially as most non-Labor seats will be "normally" LNP seats anyway. In a close fight you'd have to back Bligh because a close fight would mean the LNP had squandered it.
If the LNP win such a fight they will chafe against a minority government and go down at the next poll, like the NSW Coalition did 1991-95 (and, indeed, like the Borbidge government did; consider that Borbidge was a more stable leader than Newman has proven so far).
Whoever loses the Premiership, Bligh or Newman, will probably run against and beat "Stinky" Gambaro for the federal seat of Brisbane. The LNP will give it to Newman as compensation for their stupidity, because he can't go back to City Hall with his tail between his legs. They will ignore Abbott's pleas for his frontbencher. Gillard would want Bligh in Cabinet and, after she licks her wounds, she'd leave state politics to others to take on such a challenge.
For more measured, sensible and informed contributions, I recommend Antony Green as well as Mark Bahnisch and the LP crew. Suggestions for other sites are not only welcome but actively sought.