Why Labor did so well in Queensland

From today’s Crikey email:

Before I discuss why Queensland swung so strongly to the ALP, I’d like to immodestly dispose of bragging rights issues! With the ABC currently projecting Labor to win 86 seats, I think William Bowe and I came closest to picking it – we were the two members of the Crikey commentariat tipping 87 to the ALP. And don’t forget you first read that Labor was in with a chance in Forde and Dawson in Crikey.

Well, that’s out of the way, and while I wait for Centrebet to pay their dividends, let me indulge in some analysis. There are four basic reasons why Labor did so very well in the Sunshine state – one of which you probably won’t see mentioned elsewhere, but it’s an important one.

That’s Peter Beattie’s excellent sense of timing and mastery of political tactics. While the “media tart” seemingly won’t go away – popping up again and again during the campaign as a commentator – he could well be asserting some bragging rights too if he wasn’t such a modest fellow. By stepping down as Queensland Premier, Beattie defused a whole host of issues and resentments which swirled around a long term Labor government, and allowed close Rudd ally, Anna Bligh, to take over just at the right time. Bligh’s popularity wouldn’t have harmed Labor’s chances in the slightest, whereas Beattie’s increasing unpopularity would have. Note that in some of the seats where it was predicted that the dreaded local council amalgamations would redound terribly on Kevin07 – like Flynn and Petrie – Labor in fact won comfortably. And in a fast growing state, infrastructure was a huge issue where the feds were missing in action, and “cooperative federalism” delivered real electoral dividends.

Secondly, Labor has a very sharp machine in Queensland, and lots of experience at belting the hapless local Tories around electorally. Kevin Rudd’s victory speech echoed Wayne Goss’ tactics in 1989 and Peter Beattie’s in 2001 – with the promise to govern for all Australians and to be mindful of those who were voting Labor for the first time. There were a whole host of state issues and personalities which undermined the Coalition’s cause, and this wasn’t helped by the Collins St driven localism which put the focus where they probably wouldn’t want it. The shambolic and divided Queensland Liberals may now be a precursor of what lies in store for their federal party.

Thirdly, as I’ve argued throughout the campaign, the “fresh” faces of Kevin07 and the Labor team – and significantly also smart women like Gillard, Roxon and Wong – appeal to a modern cosmopolitanism in Queensland as in much of the rest of urban Australia. The local boys made good factor isn’t just about the traditional image of Queenslanders, as Rudd’s persona should make very clear anyway.

And lastly, in a state where outside the South East corner, wages are below average (except in mining, and that brings problems in its wake in terms of pressure on housing and other industries) and casual work is common, WorkChoices and interest rates were both killer issues for the Coalition. John Howard’s no doubt right that the conservatives won’t risk “workplace reform” of that sort again, and that’s something that will be very welcome news in the Sunshine State.

Posted in federal election '07
40 comments on “Why Labor did so well in Queensland
  1. Su says:

    Just heard George Megalogenis on the radio talking about QLD. He mentioned that the coalition won only 1 out of 30 seats where there was a high proportion of single parent families and reckoned that the single parent vote was responsible for taking Brough out in Longman. He saw welfare to work as the third significant factor in the loss after Workchoices and water issues.

  2. David Rubie says:

    ..and yet, I did get a good laugh at my sister (in Brisbane) when we concluded that the only way to win Queensland is with a Queenslander. It might have been that simple. I still reckon QLD is a slightly different country in lots of important ways, despite the modernisation that has happened after all the Victorians moved there 🙂

  3. mbahnisch says:

    They’re both fair points.

  4. Paul Burns says:

    I think the welfare to work factor is huge, especially among single parents and possibly among people who have to do Tony Abbott’s Work for the Dole programme. I’ve never been able to understand how if there is work about why one can’t be paid a normal wage for it instead of the dole. Work for the dole is sheer exploitation.
    I’m not sure how Welfare to Work affected the disabled pensioner vote. Most of us already on disability pensions were protected from the massive cut to disability pensions introduced by Howard, unless we got a bit of work, went off the pension, then went back on it when the work was complete.New Disability pensioners may not have been aware that Howard had greatly reduced their entitlements.
    As some one from NSW, I’d also like to say to Queenslanders thank you very much for voting so overwhelmingly against Howard.May all your cane-toads end up in Howard’s bathtub at his Wollestonecraft cottage.

  5. Martin B says:

    while I wait for Centrebet to pay their dividends

    Don’t forget your earlier more imprudent wagers. :-p

  6. #1 Su: Single mothers voting against working is going to do lots to reinforce stereotypes.

  7. Ahh, wish I had the time & patience to dredge up all the columnist inches and all the political interviews from a few years ago that were going on & on (backed up by extensive reasoning) that a Queenslander would never be “acceptable enough” for the rest of Australia to allow one even as a contender for Prime Minister.

  8. FDB says:

    Steve – you talking about Joh?

  9. Su says:

    Cheers steve. Over 70% already work and voting against welfare to work does not equal voting against work.

  10. Paul Burns says:

    I suspect the reason why single mothers voted against Howard was because they didn’t like being forced to leave their children alone for long periods,, or because they could not spend as much quality time as they wanted to with their kids because they were forced to work.Mothers are funny like that, and I can remember from over half a cerntury ago that as a kid I really liked that about my mum.

  11. harry says:

    According to the Gold Coast Bulletin, the Libs are now going to consolidate here, and throw everything (ie whatever’s left) into controlling the Gold Coast City Council. Out of the ashes….?

    It might be a little harder than they think. Despite the hugely safe seats here on the Coast, and an almost non-existent local Labor election spending campaign as a result, there were still big slides against the Libs: 5.8% in Fadden, 5.2% in Moncrieff, 5.3% in MacPherson. One can only imagine what might have happened if the KEVIN07 bus had come through town in a big way. Next time, maybe?

  12. gummotrotsky says:

    Inconceivable, of course, that any of those single parents who voted against Welfare to Work were single dads. Just couldn’t happen, could it?

  13. #9 Su: I am talking about people who don’t work, being seen to vote against work and in favour of receiving handouts without having to work for them. Won’t do much to reduce stereotypes, which reign aplenty.

    #10 Paul Burns: You just reinforced the stereotype. It isn’t about “leaving kids alone” but about taxpayers financing perfectly healthy people who are (seemingly) not prepared to work.

  14. Su says:

    Not sure how to say this so that you actually understand SATP but I will try again;

    Over 70% of single parents (men and women) are currently employed.

    Or are you only interested in bolstering that stereotype.

  15. Gaz says:

    “Mothers are funny like that, and I can remember from over half a century ago that as a kid I really liked that about my mum.”

    Yes indeed,and the added luxury was,back then mums from normal happy family’s could stay home if they wanted, cos you could buy luxuries like food and clothes on one wage.

  16. They are uncommon Gummo, not inconceivable. Sort of like finding a union organiser with a healthy body mass index. 😉

  17. Su, you are saying that there is NO SUCH THING as a perfectly healthy welfare recipient who prefers to not work? Bwahahaha…

  18. silkworm says:

    It was evident to me that the Welfare to Work scheme was a part of the general punitive approach Howard took to the lower classes and the disadvantaged. Even as a disabled pensioner, I too felt this several years ago when Costello began talking about the need to get the diasbled back into work. It was at first touted as a compassionate measure, because, the theory went, work was good for everyone, even those who were not capable of work. Howard and Costello slackened off a bit when there was a public backlash, but this punitive social attitude never went away. It just found another expression in Workchoices.

    The primary purpose of being punitive was to get people off welfare (whether they got into work or not) and save the government money. It was Howard’s updated version of Fraser’s “razor gangs”.

    The secondary purpose was its use as a political tool, in that it had an appeal to the authoritarian personality structures of the conservative religious types, including the racists. This was particularly evident in the punitive measures taken against, of all people, refugees, those people who were already the worst recipients of life’s cruelties and punishments. It was also evident in the treatment given to Cornelia Rau, Vivian Solon, Tony Tran, and all the other victims of the Dept of Immigration, which brings me to another pet peeve of mine, conservative religion.

    Australia’s government under Howard was populated by authoritarian Christians, beginning with Howard himself. Though a Protestant, his closest affiliation was with the Exclusive Brethren, and I would be watching Howard to see what religious affilations he pursues as he seeks spiritual consolation for his losses.

    Of particular concern was Howard’s use of conservative Catholics like Tony Abbott and Kevin Andrews, whose abusive personalities were known by Howard at the start. Abbott’s punitive Catholic conservatism manifested itself in the end with the abuse of Bernie Banton, though his abuses throughout his career have revealed the patriarchal origins of his personality structure.

    Brough’s invasion of the NT had racist underpinnings. Costello’s love affair with Workchoices was underpinned by his Protestant work ethic.

    Howard’s approach to religion was cynical. Although he was himself religious, he was careful not to overplay it, because he knew that there is a strong secular feeling in Australian culture. When Bush got in, Howard felt emboldened, seeing how well the Neoconservatives went from exploiting the Religious Right in America. Howard met with Bush and Cheney on many occasions to swap notes, and build up the neocon playbook. Howard adapted it perfectly for Australian conditions, but his fatal mistake was Workchoices. Workchoices failed because Howard failed to find a proper religious conservative justification for it.

    The most ardent force behind Workchoices was Minchin. Although I do not know his religious affiliations, I feel sure there are some, because of the fanatical way he pursued it. Minchin’s failure as a neocon was because he was not the master of the religious language that Howard was.

    Although Rudd is a religious man, I expect the use of religious language to drop away, not in recognition of the secular nature of Australian culture, but because Rudd is not a neocon who uses religion cynically as a means to power. He is a genuinely “spiritual” man. By that I mean he is genuinely compassionate.

    I see good days ahead – “for all Australians”.

  19. Mark Hill says:

    Really? Job Network and Work for the Dole are potentially the most wasteful Howard programmes in existence.

    1. Ensures that the labour market doesn’t fucntion correctly (the quoata system). and 2. doesn’t teach skills, it takes away time looking for work and doesn’t tackle poverty traps.

    It would have been okay if their supposed mean spiritedness had grown a brain.

    Nothing wrong with Razor gangs – spending under Howard has grown in real terms from $8500 per person, p.a to $11500.

    Work Choices was bad for three reasons: i. jellybackness on the fairness test, ii, destruction of Federalism and iii. no sensible sweeteners like fundamental reform to the income tax system.

  20. Silkworm: So what happens next? Unfortunates and those incapable of feeding themselves can expect security of benefits. Causing the nation to feel a lot better about itself.

    Will the work-shy have the foot taken off their neck?

    There is a mandate, nay, demand from the electorate that workchoices be abolished/rolled back. But what does this mean? What will the mechanics of it be? (Will Rudd actually give up those powers under the corporations act which the High Court gave to Howard?)

  21. Mark Hill says:

    How can he give them up? Yes he can legislate away High Court decisions, but not constitutional law.

    What an awful mess.

  22. mbahnisch says:

    Don’t forget your earlier more imprudent wagers. :-p

    No, sadly!

  23. Nick Caldwell says:

    Steve at the Pub, why should anyone in a civilised nation have a foot on their neck in the first place? And do work-shy, able-bodied and yet not actually psychologically incapacitated people exist in such very large numbers that massive distortions of the welfare system are required to prevent them from living as they want?

    Seriously, the idea that someone out their might be bludging a bit doesn’t keep me awake at night. Why should it?

  24. Ambigulous says:

    mark b,

    thanks for your clear hypotheses on Qld swings. Did the ALP also have generally very strong candidates?

    I ask because here in McMillan, needing about a 5% swing, unfortunately Labor chose the wife (Mrs Maxfield) of a failed State Labor MP, Ian Maxfield. His loss at the relatively recent Victorian election, for an electorate with quite an overlap with McMillan, occurred with a VERY LARGE swing against him.

    So it didn’t just look like nepotism, jobs for the girls; she was linked [however unjustly] with a FAILED MP.


  25. Debbie(aussie) says:

    Well said Nick @23. I have never been able to understand this type of thinking. If a society as rich as ours isn’t willing to support the needy, which always includes a few bludgers, we don’t deserve our riches.

  26. #23 & #25, when you say “bludgers” do you mean those able-bodied who choose to be idle, or those able-bodied who choose to be idle whilst drawing full financial support from those who ARE working?

  27. Debbie(aussie) says:

    SATP, how do you get rid of the idle able-bodied getting full financial assistance with out really hurting those that deserve support. The harder the rules are the more genuine people are disadvantaged, the non-genuine always find a way around the rules.

  28. silkworm says:

    My dad used to be a cop, and he used to complain about the fat sergeants who would sit behind their desks and do nothing. These are the real bludgers – “working” bludgers. There are plenty of those in the corpulent world.

  29. Su says:

    There are half a million full time carers in this country, many of whom have no choice but to rely on carer benefit or allowance. We live below the poverty line whilst working the full time job of a carer under circumstances which would make most people blanch. We do it out of love of course, walking a fine line, maintaining compassion in the face of circumstances which often threaten our physical safety as well as our mental wellbeing. And it is the way of the world SATP, that many of us are sole parents.

    So I must say it is just peachy to have arsehats like you crap all over sole parents, or treat welfare as the sop for a nation’s prickling conscience.

    Just remember as you’re toting your self-righteous attitude around, that every time you bullshit on about bludgers it colours how everyone views sole parents and welfare recipients. We all get to struggle under overwhelming odds, regardless of the nature of our circumstances or how we got there, whilst being patronised (if we are lucky) or vilified by the likes of you.

  30. goodtobewithyou says:

    …”more imprudent wagers”… they’d be the Hawking Hedge ones?

  31. Michael says:

    SATP, I continue to be amazed that there are people out there who don’t believe that parenting is work, and bloody hard work too. I wonder whether the same disdain for single mothers/parents would be expressed if it was fathers/men who carried out the bulk of the daily grind of parenting work and not women

  32. goodtobewithyou says:

    Nice bit of wordsmithing there silk, conflating the fat sergeant image with contemporary corporatism. Works for me.

  33. wasjotoo says:

    It worked for me as well.
    And SATP did not even need to be mentioned.
    Whoops I just did it.

  34. Gaz says:

    If you are looking for sympathy from SATP on the social welfare front you are wasting your time.You see SATP is a captain of industry,an executive on the move,a high roller in the fast and moving exiting world of the hospitality business.Where time is of the essence,executive decisions have to made in an instant,one slip of total concentration can mean disaster.This is the life of a “Publican” and it aint easy.

    And what’s all this got to do with social welfare,nothing really,I just like to take the piss when I read his selfish inane comments.

  35. alan says:

    On November 24, those who think that the whole point of society is to be less unforgiving than wild animals achieved an “emphatic victory” over SATP. His ilk will get their turn again some time after 2013.

  36. Blair says:

    One thing that hasn’t attracted much comments is that, for all the hype, local council amalgamations appear to have had almost no impact on the federal result except for a handful of isolated pockets. Just about the only booth I could find amongst the hotspots which had an anomalous swing against Labor was Aramac (-7% compared with Flynn’s average of +9), and as this represents the grand total of 15 voters changing sides I don’t expect it’s something that Kevin Rudd is losing a lot of sleep over. Noosa (+4%) was around the Wide Bay average, Redcliffe (mentioned in despatches as another potential hotspot) had a +12% swing, and there were big swings to Labor in both Maranoa and Groom as well, covering big chunks of inland Queensland.

  37. mbahnisch says:

    I did make the point in the Crikey piece, Blair 😉

    Ambigulous, generally the Qld ALP did a lot better this time in picking good candidates than in 04 – partly because Rudd was closely involved in his own state and partly because some of the duds who ran last time made it really clear that the factional hack route was dead and gone.

  38. I concur. The ALP candidates in the electorates I straddle were not only of a high calibre, they had excellent local focus coverage in the news section of the hometown press.

  39. lauredhel says:

    satp: Find me a single parent who doesn’t work, and I will personally post you a cookie.

  40. chinda63 says:

    I’ll match that, lauredhel, and throw in a set of steak knives.

    I am a single mum who works part-time, not because I’m lazy or can’t get any other work, but because I believe my time with my daughter is precious. I want to drop her at school in the morning and pick her up in the afternoon. I want to be relaxed and happy when I interact with her, not stressed out and in a rush because I have to get to work/cook dinner/do the washing or whatever. It’s not good for me and it’s not good for her.

    The trade off for this is that we survive on a part-time income, plus a supplementary parenting payment. It is bugger all money and we don’t have any luxuries: so much for the sterotype of people sitting on their fat arses in front of their flat screen TVs. Trust me; you can’t afford anything when you are on a pension.

    I don’t see it as welfare, incidentally; I see it as an investment in my child’s future. If I am able to be by her side through her formative years then she has a better chance to grow up strong and confident and make a success of her life and, subsequently, go on to make a valid and valuable contribution to the society that helped and protected us when we needed it.

    The bond between parent and child is particularly strong in single parent families and time together is a precious thing. Yeah, there are times I wish I had a partner to share the load because it’s bloody hard, tiring work and a financial struggle, but it’s my life as I’ve made it and I wouldn’t swap it for quids.

    Okay; I wouldn’t mind winning the lottery, if the truth were told. But you know what I mean. Our children – everyone’s children – are a precious gift, and the more time parents are able to spend with them the better. If that means upping parenting payments to allow more parents to stay at home to parent their children rather than be forced to go out to work, then so be it. If you are going to have a middle class welfare state then at least have one that has a tangible benefit for the future of our country.

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