Crikey



The hole where Queensland Labor used to be

Suddenly Kristina Keneally’s performance doesn’t look so bad. What happened to Labor in Queensland on Saturday is without any precedent in Australian history – certainly not since the Second World War, prior to which the party system tended to be more fluid. Labor can be assured of only six seats, holds the lead in only seven, and on the best case scenario will win only eight, for a total of 9% of the Legislative Assembly’s 89 seats. That compares with the “cricket team” of 11 members that Queensland Labor famously managed to return in 1974, at what was previously the gold standard for Australian election massacres – and at that time the parliament only had 82 seats. As for Keneally, she managed to win 20 seats in a chamber of 93, albeit that she did so with 24.0% of the primary vote against a provisional 26.6% for Anna Bligh.

I don’t normally presume to tell the voting public its business, but this is an unhappy state of affairs. While it might be argued that a useful example has been set for future governments considering breaking election commitments, the result is an unmitigated disaster so far as the effective functioning of parliament is concerned. Lacking anything that could meaningfully be described as an opposition, its sessions will henceforth resemble those of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR. The problem is exacerbated by Queensland’s lack of an upper house, both as a venue for holding the government to account and for providing Labor with a second-eleven to fill out a shadow ministry. The precise dimensions of the problem can be detailed with reference to an online cheat sheet for British high school politics students, which tells us that parliament has five functions: legislature, representation, recruitment, scrutiny and legitimacy. I shall consider the first three in turn, while also shedding light on the last two along the way.

It might be argued that the Queensland parliament’s legislative functioning will be little worse than usual: so long as a disciplined party has a majority of whatever size, a unicameral parliament exists largely to do the bidding of the executive. However, the result will hamper the vitality of the committee system, which offers the public and interested parties a point of access to the legislative process, and helps iron out problems in legislation to the extent that doing so doesn’t tread on the toes of cabinet and the forces to which it responds. Each of the parliament’s 10 current committees have three non-government members from a total of six (seven in the case of the Committee of the Legislative Assembly), requiring 30 non-government members to maintain the existing state of affairs. Since the election appears to have only turned up 11 non-government members, it is clear that these committees will be dominated by the government, tending to make them both less vigorous and less representative.

This brings me to the second function of parliament, which is the one that presumes to make the system democratic: representation. While nothing should be taken away from the immense achievement of the LNP on Saturday, it has still not on present numbers cracked 50% of the statewide vote (although late counting may tip it over the line). However, such is the system in Queensland that it has emerged with very few fetters upon its power. This is not a situation Queenslanders tend to lament. The public is very easily persuaded that good government can be equated to “strong” and “decisive” leadership, rather than apparent abstractions like accountability and consensus. Media players are eager to fortify this view, knowing that systems which concentrate power are most responsive the pressures brought to bear by powerful interests. It tends not to register that such issues lay at the root of the abuses of the Bjelke-Petersen era – for which, incidentally, Queensland voters were far more forgiving than they were for Labor’s failings on Saturday. Opponents of reform may argue that such abuses are best addressed by extra-parliamentary accountability mechanisms such as corruption commissions, ombudsmen and auditors-general, but none of these is a substitute for parliament’s role as the expression of the sovereignty of the people. For as long as it plays this role, democratic principles demand that it be chosen by a system which produces representative outcomes.

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Categories: Queensland Election 2012

683 Responses

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  1. Not sure if already posted, but Dick announces he won’t run for South Brisbane:

    http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/cameron-dick-will-not-run-for-labor-in-anna-blighs-seat-of-south-brisbane/story-fnbt5t29-1226310276812

    Shame, but not the end of the world. The end of the world happened last Saturday night. :)

    by trawler on Mar 26, 2012 at 2:31 pm

  2. Dishnest Gillard will make the whole MUCH bigger

    Notive she leaves the country and does not talk to media. Typical

    It’s the Daily Telegraph crew trying out their typing skills.

    I mean, they should have postponed the Nuclear Weapons Summit because of the Queensland election. Obama’s a mate. He wouldn’t mind.

    by Bushfire Bill on Mar 26, 2012 at 2:31 pm

  3. GeeWizz

    you haven’t said what it is she needs to hear.

    Saying, “I’m listening to you” is meaningless if it’s not followed by any action.

    So you appear to want her to pretend to care.

    by zoomster on Mar 26, 2012 at 2:32 pm

  4. Suzanne
    Are you one of those molluscs who need a flag and a mis-shapen map of Australia to fill the void in your skull where a brain should be?

    I truly despise conservative nutters for using the national flag as a symbol of their own pathology. Who gave them the right to mis-appropriate it from the rest of us? Arrogant twats.

    by Puff, the Magic Dragon. on Mar 26, 2012 at 2:32 pm

  5. mrs ron?

    Gussie, the Laksa is looking very tempting

    by The Finnigans on Mar 26, 2012 at 2:33 pm

  6. Dishnest Gillard will make the whole MUCH bigger

    Notive she leaves the country and does not talk to media. Typical

    Solly Gussie, i must tell Amigo Ron not to change SEX

    by The Finnigans on Mar 26, 2012 at 2:34 pm

  7. Boerwar,

    Labor is not going to expend time, effort, money and energy in chasing a recalcitrant 2% from the ‘never satisfied” extremists of the Greens. Capturing a vote back from the Libs provides full value to the Labor vote and thats where I’d be focussing my efforts.

    Do the maths. You’re talking crap.

    by Greensborough Growler on Mar 26, 2012 at 2:35 pm

  8. I endorse the concept that Gillard is making the whole of Australia bigger. Progressive policies and good growth are exactly what is required.

    by Greensborough Growler on Mar 26, 2012 at 2:38 pm

  9. Talking about long slow grinds, being opposition leader is a grinding experience. It wears you down and the longer you stay in that fairly impotent position the more well impotent you look.

    Abbott has now been opposition leader for 846 days.

    There have been 14 opposition leaders for longer (continuously), but only 3 (Whitlam, Curtin and Menzies) of those 14 went on to be PM. (Howard had to spend years in the wilderness before he could manage his Lazarus with a triple bypass effort). Each of those 3 spent over 2000 continuous days in the opposition leader’s seat before they finally prevailed and each had certain special circumstances behind their wins (took over minority government without an election during war for Curtin, was an ex-pm and leading the party he created for Menzies, the biggest ever It’s Time factor after 32 years for Gough)

    So 40 years since the last opposition leader who had been in the job longer than Abbott to win the Prime Ministership and that was Gough on the back of 32 year for the Libs and riding the crest of momentous cultural changes.

    Prime Ministers grow into the job (Gillard is finally starting to look like the PM), but opposition leaders just get on people’s nerves the longer they hang around. The continual negativity just puts people off.

    Abbott isn’t making any friends. He’s been brilliantly effective at creating Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt, but that alone hasn’t been enough to get elected in the past.

    Another part of the reason why I’m quite confident about Labor in 2013 and hope Abbott stays leader until the election. A change, even to a dunce like Hockey or Morrison could really change the equation much like Abbott’s ascension did against Rudd. But if being behind in the polls is what keeps Abbott and his policy free zone thinking in place for the next 18 months then it’s a price worth paying.

    by ratsak on Mar 26, 2012 at 2:38 pm

  10. Bugger, this used to be an SB free zone! an SB void

    by billie on Mar 26, 2012 at 2:39 pm

  11. Here’s the snippet of Abbott’s comments yesterday

    http://soundcloud.com/user8766762/the-most-conservative-thing-a?utm

    by spur212 on Mar 26, 2012 at 2:40 pm

  12. ratsak,

    The other interesting stat is that no Liberal leader that lost an election ever lead the Party at the next election.

    Howard lost in 87. But, spent the next 8 years in the wilderness.

    by Greensborough Growler on Mar 26, 2012 at 2:41 pm

  13. Boerwar

    I made two posts here. The first @ 74 concluded with the unemotive words:

    Labor needs to figure out how it will respond to these circumstances.

    In the second post I shared my personal reaction towards words that PM Gillard actually spoke to Australia, words that indicate the mindset within the ALP leadership and of many within the Labor caucus, as well as segments of its membership.

    Some responses (excluding yours) to these two posts:

    1. GG

    You’re being an apologist for the extreme Greens….The Greens can moderate their views to those of the Labor Party or they can piss off as far as I’m concerned.

    2. Centre’s mantra:

    I have said from day one, keep away from the Greens, they’re bad news.

    3. The Finnigans

    So they will do whatever to further their own political interests, including selling their own Grandma.

    And

    Greens do have “extreme” policies and not prepare to compromise

    Simply not true. The Greens have compromised on major legislation such as the Stimpac, CEF, and the MRRT and voted with the government to get them through.

    Voting records of the Greens in the HoR and Senate shows that the Greens Party votes mostly with the Government, yet Labor and the Coalition almost always vote together to defeat the progressive Greens Bills, including those on electoral reform.
    I have provided links to these records at least twice, as have other posters. Yet the meme keeps getting trotted out that the Greens do not compromise…..

    The Greens sell the government’s policies better than the government itself and attack the true enemy – the Coalition – with passion and conviction. Does the government ever publicly acknowledge the Greens support? In contrast, the Greens have publicly given kudos to the government.

    Yet, Gillard comes out with the “extreme Greens” meme.

    4. Victoria agrees with The Finnigans.

    snap

    Your responses include the following highly personalised and generalised comments, comments I find personally offensive:

    After all, flame wars are fun and emotionally satisifying at a barbaric sort of level.

    and

    Keep getting stuck into each other like that. It is all righteous feel-good stuff.The main thing to do is make sure it is in close and personal.

    If this blog is a microcosm of the real world there is not much hope for any grand coalition is there?

    That is the reality in which I decide what sort of political activism that I, as an ordinary citizen, engage in.

    (** See you later, maybe)

    by Pegasus on Mar 26, 2012 at 2:42 pm

  14. (** See you later, maybe)

    Horsey, dont cut & run again. it’s not looking good. Stand and fight like a good Horsey.

    by The Finnigans on Mar 26, 2012 at 2:43 pm

  15. mexicanbeemer

    The market mechanism will set the Carbon price to $5, which is the EU price at the moment, which is what people predict the carbon price to be for the next 20 years.

    This is because China, US, India plans on doing nothing, no carbon price.

    An AU$20 price would be like a suicide bomber trying to teach the US a lesson

    by dovif on Mar 26, 2012 at 2:44 pm

  16. Pegasus

    Please clarify. What issue am I agreeing with Finns?

    by victoria on Mar 26, 2012 at 2:46 pm

  17. As I pointed out in another thread somewhere, one of the interesting things about the Victorian, NSW and Queensland results is that they don’t bear out the ‘a curse on both your houses’ meme.

    It’s quite common to read – in the media and elsewhere – that people are becoming disillusioned with politics as it is and the two party system in particular, and are warming to the idea of independents.

    Now, I’ve previously pointed out that the experience of the few minority governments we’ve suggests that such governments make independents (and third parties) less attractive to voters rather than more.

    In the case of the three states I mentioned, conditions were ripe for a third party or independents to make a killing – if there were any truth to the idea that people were generally disillusioned with the two party system and thought independents were the way to go – an old government, and a dodgy Opposition should make a third option more compelling.

    If anything, however, the number of independents and third party members dropped.

    In Queensland, yes, a couple of Katterites got up, but a couple of indies were lost as well.

    People switched from one of the major parties to another. They didn’t seek out an alternative.

    The two party system is alive and well.

    by zoomster on Mar 26, 2012 at 2:46 pm

  18. GG

    Labor is not going to expend time, effort, money and energy in chasing a recalcitrant 2% from the ‘never satisfied” extremists of the Greens. Capturing a vote back from the Libs provides full value to the Labor vote and thats where I’d be focussing my efforts.

    Do the maths. You’re talking crap

    The maths is that Greens party vote is usually somewhere between 10% and 15%. Not 2%.

    As I noted above, I believe it will take at least a decade for sufficient centre-left voters to come to their senses. This will mean that Labor supporters will come to realise that telling the Greens party to, ‘Piss off’ will not work. And it will mean that Greens party supporters will come to realise that being a fringe party that ‘…will not go away will not work..’. Neither approach will do anything but entrench conservative governments across the length and breadth of Australia. A decade or more or Mr Abbott as Prime Minister…

    As long as there are sufficient people with aspirations for the centre-left vote to be captured completely by either the Labor Party of the Greens Party, a continued run of defeats is much more likely. That sort of hope will die hard. But die it must.

    by Boerwar on Mar 26, 2012 at 2:46 pm

  19. dovif

    This is because China, US, India plans on doing nothing, no carbon price.

    False premises abound.

    by Boerwar on Mar 26, 2012 at 2:47 pm

  20. GeeWizz

    Why didn’t Gillard just tell the Greens to shove it and they were going straight to an ETS?

    Actually, Labor wanted a 5 year fixed price whilst those pinko Greens were the ones who pushed for it to be only 3 years before becoming a market price. Strange days when the Greens hasten a market based price whilst the Coalition is pushing a planned economy approach.

    by poroti on Mar 26, 2012 at 2:47 pm

  21. Horsey, it might come as a surprise to you. We, as a family, actually voted Greens for the Senate in the last election.

    by The Finnigans on Mar 26, 2012 at 2:48 pm

  22. Pegasus,

    I posted over on the Niddrie site. However, it appears the Greens couldn’t even finsih second in the Niddrie bi election even without the Libs running a candidate.

    Any pretence that the Greens are anything but preference collectors for the ALP is washed away by the reality.

    by Greensborough Growler on Mar 26, 2012 at 2:49 pm

  23. SB@141:

    Dishnest Gillard will make the whole MUCH bigger

    Notive she leaves the country and does not talk to media. Typical

    Can someone translate this for me? I’m stumped.

    by don on Mar 26, 2012 at 2:50 pm

  24. Somehow I don’t think Julia Gillard decided late on Saturday night that a trip to South Korea might be just what she needed. International conferences are organised months in advance, the Nuclear Summit has been on the PM’s agenda for some time. Of course, she could have announced she was staying home and indulging in a bit of cycling or maybe playing with her puppy in the garden, but then the same whingers who criitcise her for leaving would be howling about her embarassing the country by not going. No matter what the woman does she’s always in the wrong it seems.

    by leone on Mar 26, 2012 at 2:50 pm

  25. Strange days when the Greens hasten a market based price whilst the Coalition is pushing a planned economy approach.

    poroti, strange no more. A one Party State Centrally planned economy is being practised now in QLD

    by The Finnigans on Mar 26, 2012 at 2:52 pm

  26. billie

    Bugger, this used to be an SB free zone! an SB void

    My thoughts exactly.

    by leone on Mar 26, 2012 at 2:53 pm

  27. P

    If this blog is a microcosm of the real world there is not much hope for any grand coalition is there?

    IMHO, this blog is a microcosm of the real world, but not a microcosm that faithfully represents the real world. As for a grand coalition between Labor and the Greens, not just now. IMHO, it will take at least another ten years of conservative governments before the centre left vote comes to its senses.

    That is the reality in which I decide what sort of political activism that I, as an ordinary citizen, engage in.

    So does everybody else. It is just that it is a waste of time to engage in self-defeating civil engagement. Individual civil engagement is not the issue. The issue is that Labor and Greens True Believers tend to define the struggle as being between my way or the highway, institutionally. While centre-left voters are consumed with that, the conservative cats will continue to lick the cream.

    (** See you later, maybe)

    I hope we do see you later.

    by Boerwar on Mar 26, 2012 at 2:54 pm

  28. don

    Dishnest Gillard will make the whole MUCH bigger

    Notive she leaves the country and does not talk to media. Typical

    Can someone translate this for me? I’m stumped.

    Translation: [I am stupid enough to think that a multi-lateral approach to containing North Korean nuclear ambitions is utterly irrelevant to Australia.]

    by Boerwar on Mar 26, 2012 at 2:56 pm

  29. I jokingly suggested a few weeks ago that Bligh should resign her seat, and Rudd should resign his seat, and they should do swapsies.

    He can then show everyone how popular he is in Queensland by winning the seat and being catapulted into the role of LOTO and then leading them to a magnificent victory in 2015. All hail King Kev; Labor’s two-time saviour!

    When I heard that Bligh was resigning, my first thought was: GO ON, KEVVY! YOU KNOW IT MAKES SENSE … :lol:

    by Danny Lewis on Mar 26, 2012 at 2:57 pm

  30. z

    People switched from one of the major parties to another. They didn’t seek out an alternative.

    Remind me, what percentage of Queensland voters sought the alternative of Mr Katter’s Australia Party?

    I suggest that that percentage alone would usually be enough to change governments at an election.

    by Boerwar on Mar 26, 2012 at 2:58 pm

  31. 141

    Strange, I have never known anyone called DISHNEST …

    by gigi on Mar 26, 2012 at 2:58 pm

  32. What I seem to be hearing from the ALP in here is that Qld did not happened, everything is going well, lying makes no difference…. all music to my ear.

    by dovif on Mar 26, 2012 at 3:00 pm

  33. Aw gawd …………conservative hacks Blake and GW both within 5 posts of one another!

    I think the latter, if not once, but 100 times has mentioned about “Julia not listening to Queensland”.

    Why can’t you get the message sport? Many of us here just don’t care what you think as you have nothing to add other than tory crap.

    At least some other conservative bloggers here do give perspective whereas you just sloganise.

    Meanwhil SB used to infest the other blogs on Crikey with continous fatuous one-liners and now she has turned up here.

    The quality of comment and average IQ of the blog just went south with these two.

    by Tricot on Mar 26, 2012 at 3:02 pm

  34. don

    it reads like something from Nostradamus, doesn’t it?

    Dishnest Gillard

    I think this is a reference to her gender – I’m assuming ‘dishnet’ is an archaic word for housewife.

    will make the whole much bigger

    So the (female) Gillard will expand what we already have.

    notive

    Again, archaic word, meaning (I believe) ‘notable’, ‘worthy of notice’.

    So the translation goes something like this:

    The female Gillard will expand the country. She is worthy of notice. She goes overseas and has more important things to do than speak to the media.

    by zoomster on Mar 26, 2012 at 3:03 pm

  35. d

    What I seem to be hearing from the ALP in here is that Qld did not happened,

    Where did you see that? Talk about lying.

    everything is going well

    Where did you see that? Talk about lying.

    lying makes no difference…

    You seem to think that lying makes a difference. You keep doing it.

    by Boerwar on Mar 26, 2012 at 3:04 pm

  36. Actually, I’ll revise my interpretation – ‘dishnet’ is obviously a reference to satellite dishes and the internet, so it’s a reference to the NBN.

    So it’s:

    Gillard, who improved the internet, will expand our whole economy. A notable person – here and overseas – she does not speak to the media.

    by zoomster on Mar 26, 2012 at 3:06 pm

  37. DL

    I said at the start of the election that Ms Bligh making a statement under parliamentary privilege that Mr Newman should be in jail rendered her unfit for government, unless she could provide some very, very substantial evidence, demonstrated that she was unfit for office.

    The Labor Party polling slumped 6% from around 11% to around 17% behind on the day that Ms Bligh was forced to announce publicly that she did not have any evidence and the CMC announced that it was dropping its investigation.

    If Ms Bligh had had the right political judgement that extra 6% might now mean that Queensland would have something approximateing a useful opposition.

    Quite frankly, recycling state reps past their reasonable use-by dates is not what federal Labor needs.

    by Boerwar on Mar 26, 2012 at 3:09 pm

  38. OK Billie and leone. I give in. What does SB stand for please?

    by BH on Mar 26, 2012 at 3:11 pm

  39. Simon Crean says Bruce Hawker 'obviously gave very [Anna Bligh] bad advice, it seemed to have been a particularly negative campaign.’

    by victoria on Mar 26, 2012 at 3:11 pm

  40. Just wanted to endorse Boerwar’s sentiment.

    Australia essentially is a centre left society when you look at social attitudes towards say gay marriage, abortion, contraception, religion and basic eqality/egalitarian issues.

    Economically too Australia too has embraced a social saftey net, medicare, PBS is anti privatisation and has a protectionist and economic nationalist streak in relation to industry.

    The extreme right works hard through its various instruments and megaphones to undermine this trend with some success from time to time.

    The Greens/ALP flame wars are adolescent nonsence to most progressive centre left voters. We want evidence based policy which equitably, rationally and efficiently adresses the many issues that confront us individually and collectively. How that happens and how that’s organised politically is neither here nor there.

    i alway look for a combined centre left vote above 50% as a minimum requirement. That wont happen if parties either ignore practicality to pursue purity or alternatively abandon principle or sensible policy to court the gullible or the ignorant.

    So what we need is rational practical policy based on progressive principles, explained and defended against alternative views, and modified if alternative views have merits, and then efficient and principalled implementation.

    A lot of party members and boosters on here belong to a diminishing club and the internecine warfare is pretty much irrelevant to its actual constituency and the wider electorate.

    The rout in Queensland, devastating as it was, could provide a catalyst for considered action in the months and years ahead.

    by gough1 on Mar 26, 2012 at 3:12 pm

  41. Zoomster@183:

    don

    it reads like something from Nostradamus, doesn’t it?

    Dishnest Gillard

    I think this is a reference to her gender – I’m assuming ‘dishnet’ is an archaic word for housewife.

    Thanks Zoom! Now it all make sense.

    :kiss: :grin:

    by don on Mar 26, 2012 at 3:12 pm

  42. Actually, Chisholm (the ALP Campaign Manager) said today that the decision to go extra negative on Newman and his family was taken after their research showed they were only going to win 2 seats. From his perspective the attacks on Newman yielded another half a dozen seats. So, could be regarded as mocerately successful.

    by Greensborough Growler on Mar 26, 2012 at 3:14 pm

  43. Fins actually we should have three parties in QLD when the new parliament sits.

    by DavidWH on Mar 26, 2012 at 3:14 pm

  44. zoomster

    Lol!

    by victoria on Mar 26, 2012 at 3:14 pm

  45. GG I think Chisholm is talking rubbish to plaster over his mistake. That’s complete rubbish.

    by DavidWH on Mar 26, 2012 at 3:15 pm

  46. Actually:

    ‘dishnet’ is an arcahic form for househusbands.
    ‘dishnette’ is archaic for housewives.

    In the post-modern, social media world, everybody is their own ‘dish-hero’.

    by Boerwar on Mar 26, 2012 at 3:17 pm

  47. Victoria

    So who gave the ALP the verdy verdy good advise to go really negative on Abbott, making him look like the PM of Australia

    by dovif on Mar 26, 2012 at 3:18 pm

  48. dovif @127

    The carbon tax is not a tax, wow that is news to me, considering I have heard footage of Gillard saying it is practically a tax.

    Prime Minister Julia Gillard admits she promised there would be no carbon tax | The Courier-Mail

    The prime minister explained that a fixed-price period, for an interim three to five years, would effectively operate as a carbon tax.

    Yes, dovif, it might operate as a carbon tax, but it is NOT a tax:

    Explained: Carbon taxes, emissions trading and direct action – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Cor…

    The Federal Government's plan, though widely referred to as a carbon tax, actually involves implementing a fixed-price ETS from July 2012 and then shifting to a standard ETS within three to five years.

    Explainer: The difference between a carbon tax and an ETS

    The proposed carbon pricing policy in Australia is now routinely referred to as a “carbon tax” by both government and opposition.
    This is odd, because the proposed scheme is not actually a tax.

    It would be very difficult for the government to explain the differences between a carbon tax and an ETS to a public who have made up their minds that JG lied thanks to the type of headline from the CM which infers that JG broke a promise when, in fact, she did not.

    by sisyphus on Mar 26, 2012 at 3:18 pm

  49. davidwh,

    It was a calculated decision and he’s not resiling from it. Why would he need to lie now?

    by Greensborough Growler on Mar 26, 2012 at 3:18 pm

  50. So 6 seats is considered saving the furniture then.

    The ALP backroom boys are pretty infallible eh?

    by gough1 on Mar 26, 2012 at 3:19 pm

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