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‘A tale of two parties: Contrasting performances of Annastacia Palaszczuk's Labor and the post-Newman LNP in Queensland’

  • Chris Salisbury (a1)

Abstract

Queensland's 2017 state election resulted in Annastacia Palaszczuk's Labor government being returned with a slim majority. While not a resounding victory, the result seemingly vindicated the premier's decision to head to an early election, and reinforced her standing in a succession of opinion polls as ‘preferred premier’ for most voters. The result also halted the short sequence of Queensland governments being voted out of office in no uncertain terms by a supposedly volatile electorate. The extent to which Labor's recent electoral success in Queensland — and the quelling of that volatility — can be attributed to Palaszczuk's leadership is still open to debate. It is instructive, though, to note the differences in leadership and campaigning styles between Palaszczuk and her opponents, which saw her drag a decimated Labor Party back to office after a single term in opposition, then saw it returned with a working parliamentary majority. This article highlights those differences over the last term of government, contrasting the performance of the two major parties in Queensland in terms of their leadership and election campaign approaches. The analysis helps to explain some of the reasons for the respective parties’ recent electoral showings.

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Endnotes

1 Brent, P., ‘Perplexing the poll-watchers’, Inside Story, 30 October 2017, http://insidestory.org.au/perplexing-the-poll-watchers, accessed 20 February 2018; Raue, B., ‘One Nation and preference rules make this Queensland election hard to predict’, The Guardian, 29 October 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/oct/29/one-nation-and-preference-rules-make-this-queensland-election-hard-to-predict, accessed 20 February 2018; and Salisbury, C., ‘Palaszczuk must grapple with One Nation, and history, in unpredictable Queensland election’, The Conversation, 29 October 2017, https://theconversation.com/palaszczuk-must-grapple-with-one-nation-and-history-in-unpredictable-queensland-election-86389, accessed 20 February 2018.

2 Galaxy Research, ‘Newspoll QLD election 2017’, http://www.galaxyresearch.com.au/newspoll-qld-election-2017, accessed 20 February 2018. See Wardill, S., ‘Battle down to a split decision’, Courier-Mail, 24 November 2017, 9.

3 Galaxy Research, ‘Newspoll’. See Walker, J., ‘Parties told: “You don't deserve our vote”’, The Australian, 14 November 2017, 6.

4 Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, quoted in Henderson, A., ‘Malcolm Turnbull shares “continuity and change” slogan with US political comedy Veep’, ABC News, 22 May 2017, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-03-22/turnbull-shares-continuity-and-change-slogan-with-veep/7265992, accessed 20 February 2018.

5 Charlton, P., State of mind: Why Queensland is different (rev. ed.) (Sydney: Methuen Haynes, 1987), 1223; McQueen, H., ‘Queensland: A state of mind’, Meanjin, 38 (1) (1989): 4151.

6 Bean, C., ‘Conservative cynicism: Political culture in Australia’, International Journal of Public Opinion Research, 5 (1) (1993): 5877; Wear, R., ‘Queensland premiers’. In Galligan, B. and Roberts, W. (eds), The Oxford companion to Australian politics (Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 2007), pp. 488–90; Williams, P. D., ‘Leaders and political culture: The development of the Queensland premiership, 1859–2009’, Queensland Review, 16 (1) (2009): 1534.

7 Scott, R., ‘The declining attraction of authoritarian leaders?’ TJ Ryan Foundation, 7 September 2015, http://www.tjryanfoundation.org.au/_dbase_upl/Declining_attraction_of_authoritarian_leaders.pdf, accessed 20 February 2018; Winther, T., ‘Campbell Newman and the weaknesses of the “strong leader”’, Social Alternatives, 34 (3) (2015): 611. See also OpEd, ‘Election result a wake-up call to both the LNP and Abbott’, Sunday Mail, 31 January 2015, http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland-state-election-2015/editorial-election-result-a-wakeup-call-to-both-the-lnp-and-abbott/news-story/b74e30adc0750219e48c05946bc6b467, accessed 20 February 2018.

8 It is acknowledged, of course, that other jurisdictions in Australia featured female leaders ahead of Queensland: Chief Ministers Rosemary Follet and Kate Carnell won Australian Capital Territory elections in 1989–92 and 1995 respectively; Western Australia's Carmen Lawrence (1990–93), Victoria's Joan Kirner (1990–92) and the Northern Territory's Clare Martin (2001–07) all held office prior to Anna Bligh (2007–12). See McCann, J., Australia's female political leaders: A quick guide (Canberra: Australian Parliamentary Library, 2014), https://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_Departments/Parliamentary_Library/pubs/rp/rp1314/QG/FemalePolLeaders, accessed 20 February 2018.

9 L. Downer and C. Salisbury, ‘Queensland political leadership: From the functional strong man to emotional every(wo)man’, paper presented to Australian Political Studies Association National Conference, University of Canberra, 28–30 September 2015.

10 See Salisbury, C., ‘High water mark — the shifting electoral landscape 2001–12’, Queensland Historical Atlas, 21 January 2013, http://www.qhatlas.com.au/high-water-mark-shifting-electoral-landscape-2001-12, accessed 20 February 2018; Scott, R., ‘Political tsunami — the 2012 Queensland election and its aftermath in parliament’, Australasian Parliamentary Review, 27 (2) (2012): 8998 and Williams, P. D., ‘Where Queensland sits on the political Richter scale’, Online Opinion, 4 April 2012, http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=13461, accessed 20 February 2018.

11 Newspoll, ‘Quarterly reading of Queensland voting intention and leaders’ ratings’ (2015), http://polling.newspoll.com.au/image_uploads/141204%20QLD%20Voting%20Intention%20&%20Leaders%20Ratings%20Oct%20-%20Dec.pdf, accessed 20 February 2018.

12 Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, quoted in Mellor, L. and Ford, E., ‘Queensland election 2015: Who is new Labor premier Annastacia Palaszczuk?’ ABC News, 13 February 2015, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-02-13/who-is-qld-new-premier-annastacia-palaszczuk/6090968, accessed 20 February 2018.

13 Keith De Lacy, quoted in Eaton, M. and Watson, M., ‘Queensland election 2015: Former treasurer Keith De Lacy says Labor not ready to govern after shock result’, ABC News, 3 February 2015, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-02-03/queensland-election-labor-not-ready-to-govern-former-treasurer/6066594, accessed 20 February 2018. See also Fagan, D., ‘Queenslanders deserve a government they can trust’, The Conversation, 2 February 2015, https://theconversation.com/queenslanders-deserve-a-government-they-can-trust-37025, accessed 20 February 2018.

14 See King, M., ‘Annastacia Palaszczuk: Queensland's accidental premier’, Brisbane Times, 3 April 2015, https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/lifestyle/annastacia-palaszczuk-queenslands-accidental-premier-20150402-1mdq2e.html, accessed 20 February 2018; and Ludlow, M., ‘Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk on her pragmatic approach to politics’, Australian Financial Review, 20 October 2016, http://www.afr.com/leadership/annastacia-palaszczuk–the-cautious-reformer-20161010-grz5si, accessed 20 February 2018.

15 Williams, P. D., ‘Political chronicles: Queensland, July to December 2015’, Australian Journal of Politics & History, 62 (2) (2016): 307.

16 See C. Chang, ‘The hunt for Adani's 10,000 jobs brings up “zero results”’, News.com.au, 27 September 2017, http://www.news.com.au/finance/business/mining/the-hunt-for-adanis-10000-jobs-brings-up-zero-results/news-story/7532705440f71254b658b320d91ed02e, accessed 20 February 2018; Crowe, D., ‘Greens to target Jackie Trad's seat over Adani mine’, The Australian, 31 May 2017, https://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/state-politics/greens-to-target-jackie-trads-seat-over-adani-mine/news-story/5ed5aec6ccf74ade764c18295daefb69, accessed 20 February 2018; and Robertson, J., ‘Adani mine: Palaszczuk faces factional fight to seal new royalties deal’, The Guardian, 24 May 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/may/24/adani-mine-palaszczuk-faces-factional-fight-to-seal-new-royalties-deal, accessed 20 February 2018.

17 Williams, ‘Political chronicles: Queensland, July to December 2015’, 304.

18 Wardill, S., ‘Cunning vote move open to scorn’, Courier-Mail, 22 April 2016, 13.

19 Harrison, J., ‘Asset sales did not bring the end of the Newman LNP government’, Sydney Morning Herald, 16 October 2016, http://www.smh.com.au/comment/asset-sales-did-not-bring-the-end-of-the-newman-lnp-government-20161016-gs3ni5.html, accessed 20 February 2018; Wardill, S., ‘Queensland politics: Why the LNP lost the 2015 Queensland election’, Courier-Mail, 29 May 2016, http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/queensland-government/queensland-politics-why-the-lnp-lost-the-2015-queensland-election/news-story/8a0997d637df254b437d44463c179f41, accessed 20 February 2018; and Wordsworth, M., ‘LNP review blames “leadership” for surprise 2015 election loss’, ABC News, 29 May 2015, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-05-29/lnp-hands-down-report-into-newman-government-election-loss/6506820, accessed 20 February 2018.

20 See L. Downer, ‘“Can Do” has been canned . . . and other political branding tales from the 2015 Queensland election’, TJ Ryan Foundation, 16 February 2015, http://www.tjryanfoundation.org.au/_dbase_upl/Can_Do_brand_is_Canned_.pdf, accessed 20 February 2018; Williams, P. D., ‘Political chronicles: Queensland, January to June 2015’; Australian Journal of Politics & History, 61 (4) (2015), 639–40; Winther, T., ‘Queensland's early election hinges on a test of Newman's strength’, The Conversation, 6 January 2015, https://theconversation.com/queenslands-early-election-hinges-on-a-test-of-newmans-strength-35893, accessed 20 February 2018.

21 Williams, P. D., ‘Political chronicles: Queensland, January to June 2016’, Australian Journal of Politics & History, 62 (4) (2016): 628–9.

22 This would include a well-publicised ‘charm offensive’ where Nicholls was photographed in ‘relaxed’ mode with family members, describing his affinity for ‘everyday’ outdoor pursuits such as boating and trail bike riding. See Whiting, F., ‘The test of Tim’, Courier-Mail QWeekend, 28 January 2017, 8.

23 Galaxy Research, ‘Newspoll’.

24 Salisbury, C., ‘Nicholls toppling Springborg lays bare the still-uneasy marriage of Queensland's Liberals and Nationals’, The Conversation, 6 May 2016, https://theconversation.com/nicholls-toppling-springborg-lays-bare-the-still-uneasy-marriage-of-queenslands-liberals-and-nationals-58993, accessed 20 February 2018.

25 Passmore, D., ‘Referendum Queensland: MPs will force referendum to split Queensland in two’, Courier-Mail, 27 March 2016, http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/queensland-government/referendum-queensland-mps-will-force-referendum-to-split-queensland-in-two/news-story/db33f9f3103008531585777eeb6e8e59, accessed 20 February 2018.

26 Galaxy Research, ‘Newspoll’.

27 Williams, ‘Political chronicles: Queensland, January to June 2015’, 637–8. See also Jabour, B., ‘Campbell Newman uses “strong” 23 times in election soundbite overdose,’ The Guardian, 13 January 2015, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jan/13/campell-newman-uses-strong-phrase-21-times-in-election-soundbite-overdose, accessed 20 February 2018.

28 Williams, ‘Political chronicles: Queensland, January to June 2015’, 641.

29 OpEd, ‘Voters need more than this to ensure better days for Queensland’, Courier-Mail, 30 October 2017, 22.

30 See comments by Professor John Wanna, quoted in Moore, T., ‘Experts lament the lack of vision in Queensland election campaign’, Brisbane Times, 17 November 2017, https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland-election-2017/experts-lament-the-lack-of-campaign-vision-20171116-p4yx1r.html, accessed 20 February 2018.

31 Marszalek, J. and Killoran, M., ‘Premier accuses Canavan of smear’, Courier-Mail, 7 November 2017, 5.

32 Hamilton-Smith, L., ‘Queensland election: What the leaders should do if there is a hung parliament’, ABC News, 19 November 2017, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-11-19/qld-election-how-the-leaders-should-deal-with-one-nation/9163654, accessed 20 February 2018.

33 Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, quoted in N. Wiggins, ‘Queensland election: Political leaders make final push to persuade voters’, ABC News, 25 November, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-11-24/queensland-election-leaders-final-pitches-to-voters/9190038.

34 Opposition Leader Tim Nicholls, quoted in Vogler, S., ‘ALP leads by seat of pants’, Courier-Mail, 26 November 2017, 2.

‘A tale of two parties: Contrasting performances of Annastacia Palaszczuk's Labor and the post-Newman LNP in Queensland’

  • Chris Salisbury (a1)

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