The size of the LNP margin puts such high expectations on them that they will be unable to meet them.
In many Asian countries, the government is less than transparent and accountable when it comes to awarding tenders for major infrastructure projects. In return, they insist those projects delivered to specification, and stay within time and budget constraints. In Australia, government can be less than transparent and accountable when it comes to awarding tenders for major infrastructure projects at times, but almost always those projects regularly suffer from time and budget blowouts, and the companies involved retreat and let the relevant minister or head of government cop all the flak. If you're going to get schmoozed by a big company and do them a billion-dollar favour, surely you'd insist on absolute rigour in terms of reporting and no excuses for failure. Expecting that all state government infrastructure projects in Queensland will be models of probity and lessons in how to manage a large-scale project effectively is probably, if you pardon the expression, a bridge too far.
The fact that the CMC cleared Campbell Newman of misconduct allegations surrounding property deals (or at least recommended they be referred to the Ombudsman) should mean that the LNP is especially vigilant in steering clear of any and all perceptions of corruption. Look, it might work, but you have to be prepared for the possibility that it might not.
To give one example: Queensland needs a better health care system. The Bligh government concentrated on building capital equipment, albeit from a depleted base, to look like they were doing plenty when they weren't doing enough. They got the rewards that governments get when they privilege capital expenditure over operational, which is: thanks for the new gear, now rack off! A focus on capital expenditure is designed to treat people like shallow yokels who are meant to be overawed by the $millions attached to such projects. Those who propose such projects tend to believe their own publicity after a while, and wonder what "the punters" could possibly want more than a shiny new building worth $millions, catching themselves in their own shallow-yokel trap. Newman is going to lead a new government trying new things, and he's going to be transparent? Yeah, right:
The LNP knows that good economic management and careful planning can deliver health services on time and on budget.Where's the proof that it can deliver "good economic management"?
... and less beds than originally promised.Even though this is Queenslanders writing for Queenslanders, it's still fewer, not less. If you focus on this "accountability" too much you have health care professionals spending all their time answering to snippy auditors and spinners. This might not be that different to what they do already.
The LNP has won 44 seats. There are 89 seats in the Parliament. Add to that other MPs who didn't contest this election and were replaced by a member of the same party, and new members such as the Katterites, and you've got a Parliament where a majority of members - including the Premier - doesn't know their way around the details of Parliament and government. Basically, the LNP will need to run the perfect government in terms of delivery and probity, in order to match the high expectations reflected in last night's vote. No stumbling new ministers, no new MP who have dodged the kind of scrutiny that felled two candidates for Broadbeach but who may yet slip up.
It will also need to run a perfect government in order to carry the dead weight of their Federal counterparts, and Misha Schubert:
Coalition strategists say Labor would be "massacred" in Queensland if Gillard were forced to head to the polls soon. Of its eight seats north of the Tweed, they think Labor will be lucky to hold just three ... Griffith might fall too if Kevin Rudd does not recontest.Here is the wolf of one party's wishful thinking dressed up as the sheep of pragmatism. On what basis would the Federal government be "forced" to the polls? Would Tony Windsor wake up one day and suddenly regard Abbott as a man of substance and discernment? Is Craig Thomson finally going to fall over (and is Dave Mehan really going to be unable to fend off whatever deadweight the NSW Liberals foists upon Dobell?)? It's a weak premise on which to hang a story. Besides, all those Liberal
Campbell Newman is not Tony Abbott. Newman has made some mistakes but he's a far better man than Abbott and he appears to actually like and respect women, in general rather than in particular. Newman has a record of achievement in his own right whereas everything Abbott has done has been under the close but paternally indulgent supervision of Fr Emmett Costello, Trevor Kennedy or John Howard. By the time of the next Federal election:
- Newman and the LNP will have lost some of the best wishes and benefit-of-the-doubt it has today. It may not necessarily have lost all credibility whatsoever, but it will be a bit more shopworn than it is today; and
- Gillard will have a greater record of achievement than she has already; and
- Abbott and "Liberal strategists" will still be looking for that one knockout blow that obliterates all of Gillard's patient work.
Katter has arrived. He would have been embarrassed with no seats, but two seats is a start without the flash-in-the-pan aspect of Hanson's 11 in 1998. Katter took almost all the swing against Labor in regional Queensland. They'd have to be a strong chance for a Senate seat at the Federal election. In other states:
- The WA Nationals seem to do what Katter is doing already;
- Katter has a real ability to take votes from the Nationals and Liberals in rural NSW, particularly if he wades in to the Murray-Darling dispute;
- He could do well in Tasmania as the anti-Green, attractive to disenchanted Labor voters who can't go all the way to the Liberals;
- He could split the CLP in the NT, just as Labor is on the ropes there with its inadequate response to the Federal intervention; and
- In other states he could be interesting.
Anna Bligh faces the prospect of spending every day for the next year getting hammered by the new government, now wonder she wants to get out as soon as possible. The problem is that she is going to be replaced by one of the dauphins whom the LNP rightly targeted, who will have (like the Bourbon monarchs of France) learned nothing and forgotten nothing.
If Cameron Dick or Andrew Fraser or [insert other name of a recently defeated Queensland Labor MP who is a real loss to public life here] was really all that, have them teach a class or practice law for underprivileged people or something like that - not as a one-off media stunt but as a job that needs to be done, regardless of who's in state government and what they're doing with it. However convenient it may be to shun them into a political staffer job or something with a union, it would be counterproductive for Labor over the long term. Even in a caucus of seven or eight, if Annastacia Palaszczuk (pronounced palla-shay, apparently) becomes leader the media scrutiny on he new government will become distracted by phantom stories of the dauphin in South Brisbane maneuvering against Palaszczuk.
Last night Bligh was gracious in accepting defeat. It wasn't the time for coulda-shoulda-woulda but Labor does need to face up to why it lost. Assuming Newman will be incompetent and corrupt is a recipe for 20 years in Opposition. The dauphins are the answer to the wrong question. Gillard faces different challenges but is not prevented from getting out there and communicating what she's doing, and what Abbott isn't doing; she is not shackled to the corpse of the Bligh government by any means, and nor should she cringe before the phantom of the essentially dysfunctional LNP rolling over her.