Queensland: Election outcome difficult to forecastby Brian MullinsNews Weekly
, February 10, 2001
Only one thing is certain in Queensland's current political scene: there will be a State Election on February 17.
As for the outcome of that election, the result of the approaching poll is one of the most difficult to forecast in the post-War period.
The reason: there are so many new factors bedevilling the normal issues that serve to make up an election analysis.
The first of these concerns the central character - Premier Peter Beattie - himself.
Beattie somehow managed to avoid personal involvement in the business of electoral rorting.
While other future State Secretaries, party officials and potential parliamentarians were gathering political experience and, it seems, rorting skills in university politics (particularly at Griffith University), Beattie is seen to be "a good bloke who has been surrounded by a bunch of crooks". Therefore, the reasoning could well be that, without the rorters, Beattie "will have a much better chance of developing a cleaner and more honest Labor Government".
Rob Borbidge, the Coalition Leader, attempted to delouse the argument by asking Queensland "not to forget that while Mr Beattie might be a good bloke, he led a corrupt State Government preoccupied with electoral rorting and unfit for re-election".
Premier Beattie's recent gesture seeking the advice of voters and friends around the state on the timing of the election is pure "Beattieism". The more staid members of the community and his political foes laughed at this new brand of "electoral corn", but Beattie knew that many voters would be flattered by the importance he seemed to be attaching to "voter consultation".
Seemingly, it didn't matter - or wasn't a source of disappointment to those "consulted" - that Beattie did the very opposite to the advice he was given. His individualistic streak had been seen earlier when he, as Premier, wanted a big new football stadium built at Lang Park when Brisbane's Exhibition Grounds would have been a far more logical and suitable location.
While Beattie may win the election, the stadium issue will be a much tougher proposition.
There are other factors that also muddy the State election pool. One of the more significant considerations is the impact the preferences of One Nation and its breakaway party, the City-Country Alliance, will have on swinging electorates.
While Rob Borbridge had every right to declare war on the newer parties in order to maintain the Coalition's former voting strength, some critics resent his declaration as too harsh and overbearing.
Allowing for the redistribution requirements, which will delete one (Labor) seat, the Beattie Government can establish some claims to 44 of the state's 88 seats.
With a stronger campaign this time and a more attractive policy program, the Coalition is hopeful of regaining three or four metropolitan seats that swung to Labor last election.
But with a parliamentary line-up of 44 actual and nominal ALP members, 32 Nationals and Liberals, six City-Country Alliance members and six Independents, anything could happen!