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Queensland: a puzzle « Previous | |Next »
February 4, 2004

A 10% swing against the governing ALP in Queensland (Team Beattie) is a big ask, especially when it is the weak, ineffective and divided Coalition parties that have to do the job.

I mentioned in an earlier post that I did not really understand the south-east coast of Queensland. My image was that it was the heartland of the old National Party, the heart of the white shoe brigade developers and peopled by socially conservative retirees with a lot of money.

It was all about a 'develop or die' ethos. Development ravaging the country. The Gold Coast. The sunshine belt was resolutely anti-Labor.

So why did this region go over to Beattie in 2001 (he won 7 out of the 9 seats). Were they attracted by the aspirational slogan of Queensland as the Smart State-- eg., biotechnology, film production, high tech business? Queensland stands for the future not the past?

Or was it more likely that something had shifted on the ground?

Such as a dramatic demographic shift. A big migration of young people and families from interstate (Sydney and Melbourne) and I presume from Brisbane. seeking a new start in the sun.

If so, I cannot see these south east coast seats returning to the National Party.

And Beattie's strong support for coastal development in areas earmarked to be a marine park means that it is the Labor Party wearing the white shoes these days. That means "acting responsibly" by ensuring minimium controls on development in south east Queensland to ensure urban growth. It's called keeping the growth machine ticking over. Proeprty is the engine room of development.

It's probably a different story in the seats in the sugar belt though. It's protest votes all around there. A rural backlash? How many seats will Labor lose there?The sugar farmers are going to have to face the realities of globalization some day, start learning to value add and start finding new markets.

Graham Young's article confirms what I'd suspected from seeing and hearing Beattie on national television and radio. Graham says:

"Voters are not particularly happy with Beattie. They see "Cheshire Pete" as self-satisfied and smug, manipulative, using smoke and mirrors to cover for the fact that after six years he hasn't done much. They also don't like his team."

Not that different from the Rann Labor Government in SA.

Graham downplays the significance of the protest vote:

" I think the protest phenomenon is also a thing of the past. Electors understand it, partly because Beattie has inoculated them by explaining it. In the process, their cynicism is reinforced. It also depends on a lot of negative advertising. Voters are less susceptible to that now. They're also sceptical about promises....A protest vote campaign is one of the few available to an Opposition when electors are happy with the government. Even if the Queensland Coalition had got its message right, it isn't there for it in 2004. Voters have given up trying to make a difference. Times aren't what they used to be.

"Sunshine Pete" is doing enough to stay in power. Pity about the lack of an upper house though.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 10:30 AM | | Comments (2)


Whilst seen by the rest of the nation as the bastion of redneck conservatism, The ALP ruled the roost in QLD for decades before Joh came along, who promptly jury-rigged the whole state to favour his cronied special interests. SE QLD in particular is pretty solid Labor, whilst the Gold Coast has sometimes supported pockets of the Nats and Libs white shoe brigade (Bob Quinn represents Robina on the Gold Coast) but is currently back to being pretty much aspirational Labor heartland.

Thanks. We need to be reminded of Queensland history.I'd forgotten the long period of ALP rule.

What I would about the conservatism bit is that SA is probably more conservative than Queensland these days.

It's a different sort of conservatism to the redneck one though.