The view from Queensland

From today’s Crikey email:

For reasons which I’ll explain in greater detail tomorrow, I’m not a big fan of making election “predictions”. I do like to have a punt though, and because of the sorts of data we have indicating the movement of public opinion, I think that the sort of “informed speculation” that a canny old bloke in a porkpie hat down at the TAB engages in is about the best we can really do in forecasting what’s going to happen on election day. Generally, a lot more modesty in punditry would be desirable, I think, though refusing to say what you think is going to happen is also a cop out in my view. After all, those of us who are politics tragics are all going to have a view.

But I’m more confident about my understanding of my local patch. I can claim bragging rights on the number of seats Labor won in the state election last year, and putting a spread on 58-60 won me about $1500 with Centrebet. All the money was following the almost unanimous prediction of the press punditariat – about 50-52 seats.

Let’s start with the state based and marginal seat polling we’ve seen on Queensland. If you’d been following it closely for a while, you’d have seen swings anywhere between 5% and 11% indicated. There are two points to be made about this – first, and it shouldn’t need saying but I suspect it does, public opinion can be highly dynamic during a campaign. There are seats that were probably in play early in the piece, but are probably more or less decided now. Secondly, my feeling from what I hear from the ground is that the race is tighter in the “true” marginals than in some seats that should be “safe” for the Coalition.

It’s also always worth remembering that Queensland is a very diverse state – sociologically and demographically. The South East corner is much more like the rest of Australia than it used to be, in terms of things like wages, education and occupation profile and ethnic diversity, but there are large parts of the state which are still well behind the national eight ball in terms of income and ahead of the curve in terms of casual employment. Even though there are big bucks to be made in some quarters from mining (which is much more unionised here than in the West), the resulting labour and housing market distortions have soaked up a lot of those dollars and made it very difficult for people not working in mining to get by. And I could go on, but there are good reasons for thinking WorkChoices is a particular cross for the Coalition to bear in the Deep North.

Thinking about individual seats, it’s worth dividing them into several concentric circles, as it were. The marginals in and around Brisbane’s south are going to fall over like nine pins – Bonner, Moreton and Blair in that order. Labor were confident of the first two, and hopeful in the third, even before Rudd came along.

Then there are the north Brisbane seats in play with safer margins. This is where it starts to get interesting. Longman and Dickson may be held by Brough and Dutton, though Brough’s in with the better chance. The other ministerial bailiwick, Petrie, is a better chance for Labor, though Teresa Gambaro is a tough nut to crack and Redcliffe parochialism over Council amalgamations may be in her favour.

Leafy Ryan, with spectacular own goals by Michael Johnson and the Libs, combined with the rise of the Rudd wets, is in a class of its own. I’d be a tad surprised if Labor’s Ross Daniels doesn’t win it.

In North and Central Queensland, Leichardt and Herbert look pretty safe Labor gains, as does the new and notionally National seat of Flynn. Dawson and Hinkler just might go Labor’s way, with De-Anne Kelly slightly more likely to lose than her Nats colleague Paul Neville despite his smaller margin.

The latter two are wild cards, but then if the swing is really on, some or all of the ministerial seats might fall as well – Mal Brough might be in need of some divine intervention. The vacant seat of Forde is also in play, but I suspect it’ll stay with the Libs, and down on the Gold Coast, McPherson is a remote possibility, but I have the sense that the chances of Labor ousting a notoriously invisible local member have receded. But the other story is that none of Labor’s marginals are remotely threatened – although there were some noises about Kirsten Livermore in Capricornia early on. Members who’ve in the past hung on by the skin of their teeth, like my local MP, Arch Bevis in Brisbane, should be entirely untroubled this time around.

So what’s going to happen? Worst case scenario for Labor – 3 or 4 seats. Likely scenario – 7 or 8. But it’s eminently possible that Labour could do better than that – expect a few who you might expect to fall over like Brough to hold on, but some who might be expected to hang on, like Johnson, to fall over. There could be more surprises in store, and it’s going to be really interesting watching.

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Posted in federal election '07
8 comments on “The view from Queensland
  1. gandhi says:

    Re “public opinion can be highly dynamic during a campaign” – not in this campaign, as the Newspoll dynamics show. Even today, many people are reading about Michael Hutchence instead of Rudd and Howard! You have to wonder how many folks will be surprised to see all the crowds milling outside election centers on Saturday: “Oh, is the election on today???”

    Also, let me repeat that the Gold Coast seats could be a lot more interesting if only the Labor Party had made more of an effort down here. Like you say, the social dynamics have changed radically. But the Labor candidates have been nearly invisible.

  2. Antonio says:

    Hi Mark,

    Interesting view as always!

    The word on my right wing street is a bit different.

    Brough is pretty safe with a high personal vote and a very different set of campaign tactic to the other candidates which I may have to share with you over a beer.

    Forde is gone for the Libs – possibly to the Nationals who have run an excellent campaign there, but more likely an ALP pickup.

    Blair is gone thanks to an appallingly amateur and geriatric campaign.

    Bonner and the sleazy Vastinator are gone gone GONE.

    Moreton will be very close indeed but I think the ALP will pick it up.

    Ryan will be close but I think Johnson will squeak home.

    Dutton will suffer a swing in Dickson but he is safe.

    Petrie will be very close and I reckon an ALP pickup due to a lacklustre Liberal campagin there.

    Dee-anne Kelly will just hold on in Dawson.

    Hinkler is safe for the Nats.

    Herbert will be close but Lindsay will squeak back.

    Leichardt will be good for Libs. Charlie has run a good campaign there.

    The Nats will pick up Flynn.

    So I reckon the Nats will pick up 1 (Flynn), maybe 2 (Forde), while the Libs lose Petrie, Bonner, Blair and Moreton.

    Net coalition loss in Queensland of three.

    That’s where my money is.

  3. Antonio says:

    Oh and I forgot to mention that I think that Bowman will stay Liberal but suffer a big swing.

  4. Mark says:

    Thanks, Antonio – I just realised I forgot Bowman. You may be right there.

    I would be interested in hearing about Brough’s campaign sometime.

    Aside from that, my best pick is 8 but it could be a little lower or a little higher. I think Labor will get more than 3 or 4 though!

    Forde will be interesting to watch.

    Anyway, I’m in a net cafe near UTS so gotta dash!

  5. mbahnisch says:

    not in this campaign, as the Newspoll dynamics show.

    Not much overall, but in some individual seats a fair bit, gandhi. And Labor has lost a little off its 2PP and primary during the campaign. But, what the polls miss is “churn” in the vote where some people switch from one side to another and others switch in the opposite direction. If you track it weekly as the parties do, it moves around more than you’d think. You can see that with “panel” polls but I’m not aware of any good ones in Oz though YouGov were supposedly going to set one up here at one point.

    As to the Gold Coast, I thought they were going to put a pretty big push on in McPherson but polling must have told them it’s not worth it. Still be interesting to look at the swings down the Coast. It’s sensible to run good campaigns a few years before you think you can actually take the seat – in my opinion, a seat like Groome is also winnable under a Labor government, or at least could be made marginal.

  6. I don’t know if it’s the “tactic” which Antonio is referring to, but it appears to me that Mal Brough has been more willing than most Liberal candidates to actually turn up at community forums and make his case, rather than try to hide behind advertising and pork-barrelling. Much as I disagree with a lot of what he says, not to mention his apparently inability to listen to anything which is inconsistent with what he believes, he does at least appear to have the courage of his convictions to a much greater extent than most of the soundbite and cliche recyclers around the place.

  7. Jack Robertson says:

    Hey, Senator AB, good luck this Saturday. If there’s a shred of democratic justice remaining in this country you’ll hang on. You’ve been a fantastic Senator under often shitty circumstances. Your bloggy efforts, and you and your fellow Dems’ SenateWatch site have been especially appreciated.

    Thanks. Whatever happens…bless. You make/made a big difference.

  8. Guy says:

    I’m taking the pessimistic (from a Labor perspective!) route and tipping a narrow Coalition victory.

    I just won’t believe all those required marginal seats have fallen over like nine-pins until it actually happens. Despite the high two-party preferred figures we have seen for Labor since I can’t remember when, it is yet to be seen whether these will translate into votes where they count most – the marginals Labor needs to pick up.

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