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Labor needs to head left, and drop Adani, to win Queensland poll

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The Conversation

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk today called the state election for 25 November, about two months before the three-year anniversary of Labor’s shock win in January 2015. There will be 93 single-member electorates at this election for the lower house; Queensland has no upper house.

There have been two recent polls by reputable pollsters. A mid-October Newspoll gave Labor a 52-48 lead from primary votes of 37% Labor, 34% LNP, 16% One Nation and 8% Greens. However, a late September ReachTEL gave the LNP a 52-48 lead from primary votes of 34.8% Labor, 33.2% LNP, 19.6% One Nation and 8.1% Greens.

The major difference between Newspoll and ReachTEL is that Newspoll assumes that Labor will win 80% of Greens preferences, 40% of One Nation preferences and 50% of all Others. ReachTEL uses respondent-allocated preferences, and is clearly finding a strong flow of One Nation preferences to the LNP.

On current polling, four outcomes are plausible. There could be a Labor or LNP majority government, a Labor minority government with Independent or Katter Party support, or a LNP minority government with One Nation or Katter support.

In recent overseas elections, UK and NZ Labour greatly increased their vote share from the previous election by offering a clear left-wing agenda, emphasising their differences from the conservatives. However, at the German and Austrian elections, far-right parties performed well partly because the major centre-left party was perceived as too close to the conservatives.

It appears that many voters want a major change from the prevailing orthodoxy. If the major centre-left party does not offer such a change, these votes are likely to go to right-wing populist parties.

In my opinion, Queensland Labor’s strong support for the Adani coal mine is a major negative. Not only does this anger environmental activists, it also means Labor is perceived as close to the LNP on this issue. It would have been better for Labor if they had rejected Adani at the start of the current term.

I think Labor can win over some of the One Nation voters if they advocate populist left-wing economic policies. If Labor’s primary vote rises into the 40’s, they would be assured of winning. If Labor does not advocate left-wing policies, One Nation is likely to win a high teens primary vote, and their preferences will probably assist the LNP on cultural grounds.

Earlier in the current term, before One Nation’s rise began, Labor changed the Queensland electoral system from optional preferential to compulsory preferential voting, in an attempt to ensure strong Greens preference flows. With One Nation winning at least double the Greens in the polls, this change looks like a mistake.

In its attacks on One Nation, Labor should target their right-wing economic policies, not their perceived racism. As at August, One Nation had voted with the Coalition in 79% of Senate divisions where Labor was opposed. This record is more likely to dissuade working class voters from One Nation than calling Hanson and co racists.

Labor has never been far ahead in the Queensland polls during the current term, and this can be attributed to the hung Parliament, particularly having to rely on Labor defectors such as Billy Gordon.

The unpopular Federal Coalition government will be a drag on the state LNP. If state Labor wins, they are likely to be a drag for Federal Labor at the next Federal election. From the viewpoint of maximising its chances at the next Federal election, Federal Labor would prefer an LNP/One Nation Queensland government.

In 2016, a referendum for fixed four-year terms was passed, with the election on the last Saturday in October; this did not apply to the current term. If this election had been held after 1 January 2018, the next election would have been in October 2021. As it is, the next election will be in October 2020, just under three years after this election.

Source: The ConversationReproduced with permission.  

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  • Joe

    Yesterday the ‘Stop Adani’ protestors showed Premier Annastacia the direction to go !

  • Mike Westerman

    Sadly Adani is a vote loser for Labor only in the south where compulsory preferential voting makes the lose of 1st prefer votes immaterial. But if Labor polls strongly enough the Left will be able to frustrate further development. On the other hand if LNP get in with PHON support Adani and a coal fired power station will be on. Activists need to wait for after the election keeping their powder dry for now.

    • brucelee

      Such an interesting strategy

      • Mike Westerman

        Sad, but such is the influence on many voters of the Murdoch press.

        • brucelee

          It totally makes sense,
          but I also think if they recognise this, they have an even greater opportunity and obligation to use their pr/media time to communicate the economic opportunities of RE

        • Rebecca

          I have not bought a Murdoch based Newspaper for donkey years, as a matter of fact I search on-line for all information & make my own decisions as we all should.

          • Mike Westerman

            Great – and even better if disaude friends and colleagues from buying from this US sellout.

          • Rebecca

            Pretty sure I have altered the Sunday Paper Ritual.

    • Rebecca

      I think you may find not just in the South, Australians are sick to death of the two major political parties & they were patient for lots & lots of years. If you don’t believe this you are mistaken.

      • Mike Westerman

        Yes and it’s good we have preferential voting so you express your disgust without wasting your vote. A tragedy tho if you hand government to vandals with no thought as to the damage their policies will bring, so LNP/PHON belong at the bottom regardless oh who gets your first preference.

  • I will explain why Labor must go hard left on energy. Soon the economics will settle the politics. It will not be a wedge issue. Labor will make the move to get in earlier than the Coalition, which is soon to see some new leadership and expunge the toxic Abbott crowd. There is no more wriggle room for either of the major parties so Labor will transition away from coal and oil to renewables. I guess its up to Shorten if he wants to be seen as a failure like Palaszczuk, Abbott and Trumballs.

    • Mike Westerman

      You seem to overlook that Palaszczuk has equal seats to the opposition and with a cross bench who are pro-coal. So the marginal northern seats, which would be lost to her if she made any big moves at the moment, are crucial. The north is in a bad way, and have not yet seen the benefits of Kidston and large renewables projects. The Murdoch press makes sure many are lied to about the real state of play.

      • > The north is in a bad way,

        What do you mean?

        We will all be part of the transition. Its unavoidable. It can’t be another way.

        Coal is wrapping up shortly. Big thermal coal mines shutting prematurely. Big stranded assets. Coal export ports winding down. Coal-fired power stations shutting down over the next decade.

        Do you understand the untenable nature of the pro-coal position? Its like climate change denial or denying the negative effects of cigarette smoking or like drumpf pretending he is a good person.

        • Mike Westerman

          Northern Qld needs investment – it is why the NAIF was established. Paluszcsuk needs votes from marginal northern seats. She can afford to frustrate Brisbane seats by her obfuscation on Adani. Coal exports will continue from existing mines for some time so in the meantime coal mines will stay in play even as coal power stations are shut down. The end result will ultimately be the same but in the short term Qld cannot afford a LNP/PHON government.

          • All this focus on the petty local politics means diddly. The Paris Agreement supersedes any pro-coal nonsense. Pro-coal will follow climate change denial to the fringe, like all parts of the conservative agenda. Marriage equality another example. Soon we will see the removal of discrimination by the the church against queer people. The backlash against drumpf will further push liberal and progressive ideology mainstream and conservatism away. Hanson will be like Palmer and Katter, pure failure, achieving nothing. Meanwhile all the issues that the Greens led on will come to the fore.

            A thermal coal industry is not viable in the coming carbon restrained world. Any delay to the transition is just pushing Australia further behind and creating more havoc. The fossil fuel farce is due for major contraction whether its part of the discourse in politics in Queensland, or not.

          • Mike Westerman

            All politics is local! Grand aspirations are built on local action. Most of the Australian polity are fedoing a constant stream of crap on commercial media and live like there’s no beyond or tomorrow.

  • Rebecca

    Annastacia Palaszczuk could possibly have a bigger base for her election those 60,000 or more who’s jobs may be at risk in the tourism industry, they are making their feelings felt. And say no to Adani they don’t want a bar of him.

    • Mike Westerman

      Which electorates are they in? Gold Coast all voted for LNP. Same with many other tourist towns: Kawana, Noosa, Hinchinbrook, Cook, Burdekin, Caloundra etc so unless those negatively impacted can get out and win their communities across, we will have an LNP/PHON government that will open the Adani mine and build a coal power station in Townsville, its as sad and simple as that. People can’t have their cake and eat it too.

      • Rebecca

        No offence, I would have liked to have voted for Annastacia but cannot on the Adani Issue. My gripe are several issues important to Farmers our First Australians & our Future Generations. We cannot survive without water & the unlimited water supply to Adani. If you have struggled in a farming community in droughts & realised the importance of this precious commodity, food our Farmers provide, our Great Barrier Reef & Clean air opposed to Coal Dust. My concern & caring of our Australian Coal Miners with Black Lung disease also other health implications have you any idea what its like to have trouble breathing. My decision is more then a Political.

        • Mike Westerman

          I can understand how you feel and wouldn’t want to disaude you at all. But I hope in allocating preferences all voters of such persuasion put PHON and LNP last.

          • Rebecca

            Mike Westerman. I have to think very carefully about my vote & then make sure my preference will go to a worthy politician.

          • Rebecca

            As I have done in the past. And I am proud to see the Catholic & Anglican Bishops join the fight against Adani, have never been so proud, am on my way to personally thank them.

          • Mike Westerman

            Brilliant!

        • RobertO

          Hi Mike, remember that Labour wants 50% RE and LNP want to stop RE at 26% to 28%, sometimes the devil you know is better than the devil you do not know. A hung parliment may give LNP and ON control and then you may have a new Coal Power station in NQld, when a Labour may finally dump the Adani Mine.
          Main point to remember is “All Pollies are liers and cheats”!

          • Mike Westerman

            Once this election is over and provided Labor are across the line, that will be the next challenge! Over 6GW of newish coal stations, some of which won’t close by 2030 unless strong incentives are there.

          • RobertO

            Hi Mike Westerman, the incentive may be totally price driven when people realise the fuel costs for RE are $0.00 per day and coal is nearer to $50 per MWhr. It will change as mining goes to automation, but the costs of the mining will power upwards as install make a mockery of the 5 or so machines need for coal verses the costs of many wind and solar generators. It will happen provided the Fed Gov is unable to stop RE

          • Mike Westerman

            Unfortunately Robert these power stations have access to very cheap coal, and have written down their capital value. So they can bid at medium run marginal costs currently below large solar or wind. They can probably bid at short run marginal costs below solar for several years after that. So it will need a price on carbon of $20 or so to put them out of business.

          • Rebecca

            Sorry didn’t find your message. So we can give Labor points for being half right.

      • Rebecca

        With Annastacia Palaszczuk behavior including flying Local Mayor’s to India to court Adani. I would say courtesy of Qld Taxpayers. No Q.L.D person was asked if it was ok to give this unlimited water supply to Adani. Lots of Australians have a great respect for our resources apparently not our Premier. With Annastacia Palaszczuk courting of Adani. What she will after the election change her mind? I believe she will find that pretty impossible. On this issue I find it very hard to distinguish her actions from LNP

        • Mike Westerman

          I think many in the party were dismayed at that but at least there is significant resistance to support of the mine within Labor whose hand will be significantly strengthened by a solid win. The Greens have the luxury of knowing they won’t be the Government but good on them for having a clear narrative. But if PHON control the house the sustainable economy goes out the window Australia wide.

        • Joe

          Adani promised to start the mine construction in October. Today is the 31st. I must have missed the ‘first sodding ceremony’. You know the one where the pollies get the shiny new shovel a diggin’ in the dirt in front of the onsite media scrum. Can anyone tell me if the first sodding has been done?

          • Rebecca

            No I have no idea, seems like he in China begging for money, with a letter courtesy of Politicians. Lets hope China is smarter then political parties.

  • Robert Comerford

    The main reason Labor are now in office is the support for Adani. Voters up north believe the lies about all the jobs it will bring despite the facts being presented to them.
    Straw clutching just like many of those voting for Trump.
    I suspect many in Qld Labor do not support the Adani nightmare but realise nothing can be done when not in govt.

    • Mike Westerman

      Do you have any evidence for this Robert? I don’t think it was an issue at the time – most of the swing back to Labor was people realising what a disaster Newman was, and the LNP shitting in their own nest. If you look at this time around, there are several marginal seats in the north: Mundingburra, Cook and Cairns, that Labor needs to hold or win back from deserting independents.

      You are right that many ALP supporters don’t want Carmichael to proceed, and that is why Paluszcsuk has been forced to refuse economic support. Hopefully with a bigger majority and more desirable candidates, she can be won around to ditching any support (along with convincing Townsville and Rocky mayors to do likewise) and firmly getting behind RE in Qld.

      • Robert Comerford

        Only from all the excited talk from the locals about the new coal mine that would be built in the centre of Qld to give them more jobs when the gas boom ended. I was working up that way in the Newman era.

    • JIm

      ‘Up north’ isn’t a monoculture Robert. Rob Pyne’s decision to leave Labor and become the independent Member for Cairns reflected his annoyance at the way the government was influenced by big corporations like Adani. As the north Queenslanders I know feel similarly, it would be interesting to see if he is running and has a chance of holding his seat. As far as I can tell, what Cairns with its marine tourism industry gets from this deal is more coral bleaching and ocean acidification.

      • Robert Comerford

        Yes Jim ,I should have inserted the word ‘many’ before ‘voters’
        I have many friends and relatives from Rocky to Townsville and without exception they all believe in the great god Adani.

  • Arno Borowicz

    It seems the choices for this election are very limited, all the parties want ADANI to go ahead. But remember the finances for this mine are still up in the air and more than likely it will not be forthcoming.

  • Rebecca

    This saga just gets worse Adani trying to get a Loan in China with a letter provided by Government, has details of the letter been disclosed don’t think so. But this is interesting bit of information for the Australian population to think on. If the Federal government were to provide Loan Insurance or a Loan Gaurantee to Commercial Banking Syndicate, Banks might be more enclined to Fund Adani. Australian taxpayers however, would then be at risk for the estimated $10 Billion project finance on top of the NAIF loan that NAIF is considering of $1 Billion. At Risk to Australian Taxpayers a Total of $11 Billion dollars.

    • Mike Westerman

      Desperately trying to keep ship afloat for long enough for their RE company to list and get them out of trouble!

      • Rebecca

        And take Australia down with him. This is All Political Madness. Need to get my printer working & put all information out.

      • Rebecca

        Just had a funny thought maybe I should run, at least I know were my parents were born & my grandparents.