Modia Minotaur

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Thursday, August 17, 2006

Qld Election

It's old news by now, of course (more computer problems - this time the net connection), but Qld Premier Peter Beattie has called an early election for September 9th (coincidentally, the day we will also learn who the candidate will be for the seat of Balmain). Beattie's decision to announce another scandal within the Queensland hospital system shortly beforehand - in fact, during the press conference many assumed would be to call the election - was curious at the time, but in retrospect, was a quick way of putting out a spot fire that would inevitably flare during the election campaign.

I've said before that despite the problems Beattie faces, losing the election will be almost impossible, especially given Queensland's one-house system of Parliament and the massive majority of 16 seats that it now holds. However, the election may be an interesting indicator of the electoral mood amongst the states. The results are likely to particularly interest the NSW Government.

Like Queensland's government, the NSW Government is a long-term government that has seen periods of extraordinary, nearly insurmountable popularity, but now faces a number of issues that need to be solved to maintain public support. However, both also face weak Oppositions that are riven by internal conflict. The disastrous failed merger of the Qld Liberals and Nationals was only a matter of months ago, while the new leader of the local Liberals, Bruce Flegg, was elevated only a week ago.

I think this is an important point to consider. It is true that governments are voted out, not voted in, as the old saying goes. However, as I alluded to in an earlier post, the Opposition has to look like they're up to running things for people to take a punt on change rather than stay with the status quo. Again, it comes down to Howard's line, so effective in a time when people are taught to be mistrustful: who do you trust? A government is more than just its leader, and there isn't a whole lot I'd like to entrust to the current Opposition frontbench, some of whom, such as Shadow Attorney General Chris Hartcher are almost maniacally nasty pieces of work, and others of whom, such as Andrew Humpherson are frankly boofheads; while others are just plain invisible. Did you know Peta Seaton is the Shadow Treasurer? Does anyone, besides herself and I?

It is very foolish to rule out a landslide, as everyone who observed the election that saw Jeff Kennett tumbled from power in favour of Steve Bracks. Seats will undoubtedly be lost, but the appetite for wholesale change does not seem high.

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