September 27, 2005 | Graham

“Coalition of Equals” could usher in Captain Bligh

I’ve been ruminating about the likely result of the new Queensland Coalition which, according to its proponents is really a “partnership”, and I think its result might be Queensland’s first female Labor premier.
My thought processes run like this. The Coalition agreement, that is really a partnership, isn’t going to stand up too well to public scrutiny and in fact draws attention to the tension between the National and Liberal Parties. In the long run this will be a problem for them.
In the short run, the new Coalition is a problem for Beattie. This is because one of the reasons that the Coalition has been formed is that the non-Labor parties are trying to capitalise on a public perception that Beattie could lose the next election. That perception creates its own reality and their coalescence brings a much sharper point to it, giving it momentum already there from their by-election wins.
I’ve lifted the lid on our current polling and had a peek. It’s not good for Beattie. It suggests there is a good chance he will have to front the Bundaberg Hospital Inquiry (how did Geoff Davies convince him to reconstitute it?) because of public pressure. Even if he doesn’t show, not appearing will look as bad as appearing probably would have, and it will make the polling even worse.
Labor only chose Beattie in the first place because he was the last credible man standing, and they didn’t have a lot of choice. Now they have some choice. Our polling suggests Anna Bligh might have some attraction as Labor leader. Not that she polls nearly as well as Beattie, but if you were convinced he was going to lose to a rejuvenated Laurence Springborg, you’d probably take a chance on her.
It’s a time-honoured ALP gambit anyway. Replace a tarnished male premier with a left-wing female one, as happened with Carmen Lawrence and Joan Kirner, and hope for the best.
So, on this scenario, Coalition Lite provides sufficient momentum to public perception to force the Labor caucus to reassess its leadership resulting in a change to Deputy Anna Bligh. Robbed of the lubricant that is the Bundaberg Hospital Commission Coalition Lite then runs out of momentum as the flaws in the Coalition become apparent. Bligh then has a solid victory at the next election although ceding maybe 15 or more seats to the Coalition. These are shared between National and Liberal, who continue to squabble because neither has the popular edge but the Nats have more seats, guaranteeing Anna two or more terms.
I won’t stake my forecasting record on it, but it is plausible. There may be little bounty in this coalition for the conservatives if Captain Bligh is the Labor choice.

Posted by Graham at 8:07 pm | Comments (3) |
Filed under: Australian Politics


  1. “It’s a time-honoured ALP gambit anyway. Replace a tarnished male premier with a left-wing female one, as happened with Carmen Lawrence and Joan Kirner, and hope for the best.”
    Any chance of that at the federal level?

    Comment by matt byrne — September 28, 2005 @ 12:32 pm

  2. Well, the same will go for the selection of Bligh as the next Premier. As leader of the parliamentary ALP in Queensland, she will possibly make a good leader of the Opposition. Beattie will lose seats at the next election, and I expect that Bligh will be put forward to replace him. Bligh will also be elected under protest from some factions of the party, unless they work quickly. Unfortunately for Labor, Beattie is such a strong obvious figurehead that most Ministers appear pale and insipid when compared to him. By accepting responsibility as he has so frequently done with respect to mismanagement by Labor Ministers and bureaucrats within his Government, Beattie’s star is fading. Yet the Ministers and most non-performing bureaucrats of lower ranking still remain. Bligh on the other hand has been scrupulously invisible as a Minister except for the good news stories coming out of Education Queensland, where they had a mammoth 25% to 33% of the whole of the Queensland budget. Yet when Bligh was tested on something quite simple as the asbestos issue, she failed miserably – not getting data right and by simply allowing QBuild to give its long timeframe for removal of risky untrested asbestos thereby putting Queensland State School children at high risk; not attending to long standing maintenance issues in State Schools; and proposing legislation disregarding human rights and writing out a Common Law Right to Natural Justice for some Queenslanders. It will be realised that Bligh is an apologist for government bureaucrats and dogmatic about implementing Labor policies even when policies are not realistic and cannot be impemented. This is where Bligh as Deputy and Beattie as Premier will come to loggerheads, with Beattie being pragmatic, although generally late in the event, to suit Labor allegiances and Bligh dogmatically pursuing implementation of Labor policy, no matter what the effects are, discriminating against those ordinary people who don’t support or don’t want what the Labor Party policy dishes up, eliminating those who don’t agree with her. As Premier, Beattie ought to keep looking over his shoulder. The payback for appointing Bligh as Deputy Leader will come, slowly or swiftly.

    Comment by Derek Sheppard — September 29, 2005 @ 8:51 am

  3. I must say the coalition of equal partners has me concerned for Liberal prospects. The Nats are just too undisciplined and dangerous to campaign with. They have burned the Libs so many times before. When will the Libs learn that the Nats are a liability in campaign time.
    If the Nats/Libs have the numbers after an election to form government then that is fine.

    Comment by R — October 4, 2005 @ 9:54 am

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