October 06, 2008 | Graham

Ronan Lee puts LNP one closer to winning

New Greens MP Ronan Lee has probably handed the Liberal National Party its first seat at the next election. Lee, until yesterday the Labor member for Indooroopilly, is unlikely to hold the seat for the Greens. His defection should cause enough problems for the ALP that the LibNats will pick the seat up.
Lee was an accidental member of parliament. He was elected at the age of 25 after beating the incumbent Denver Beanland in the Beattie landslide of 2001. No-one expected Beanland to lose, who prior to 1998 had held the seat by a margin of 13.3%. This had been whittled down to 0.7% after that election, but Beanland was well-entrenched in the area and many observers expected a swing back to him at the 2001 election.
Lee has been an enthusiastic supporter of environmental causes and claims the Queensland Government’s “Wild Rivers” legislation as one of his successes. In recent speeches he has been openly critical of the government, leading me to suspect that he was going to “do a Beattie” and run against his own party at the next election, whilst remaining a member.
To be returned as the member for this seat at the next election Lee would need to win all of the Greens votes last election and approximately half the Labor vote to give him a primary vote of around 35%. That would reduce the Labor vote to around 20% and might be just enough, assuming at least fifty percent of Labor voters allocated a preference to him, and none to the Liberals, for him to get over the line. Pigs might fly too.
What is more likely is that he will attract sufficient Labor voters to decrease their first preference total, but still run second to the LibNats, and more importantly, ahead of Lee. Having effectively delivered a vote of no-confidence in the government, his voters may well be then even less inclined than usual to allocate preferences to anyone, leaving Labor short of the flow that it needs to retain the seat. Added to that, any good potential preselection candidates will be able to do this maths too and will find somewhere else to run, ensuring a lacklustre ALP campaign.
While his defection says more about Ronan than it does about the government, it is likely to be leveraged by opponents of the government as a sign that it is on the skids. Bligh is already facing suggestions that her ship of state is sinking, and Lee won’t help.
This seat should be very safe LibNat, so for the future of Queensland politics it is to be hoped that they choose a candidate with leadership potential. They threw away their chances at previous elections with poor preselection choices.
It looks like the LibNats now only need to win 24 seats to have an absolute majority in the next parliament. Put that way, Lee also has a message for them. Bligh’s ship might be leaky, but it’s still riding very high on the water, relatively speaking.

Posted by Graham at 12:10 pm | Comments (10) |
Filed under: Australian Politics


  1. Graham, I agree with you, Ronan Lee is the best thing to happen for the coalition, or whatever you want to call them, since, oh I dunno, Drew Hutton and the Koala Roadsters.
    Along those lines, and in the interests of maximising Ronan the Green’s utility in Getting Rid Of Anna Now (GROAN), could you give me a reality check on whether Trinity Lane, (if i might use that metonym), thinks there is a snowball’s chance in hell of the LNP taking South Brisbane, considering the Greens 21.5% primary, and the way their (actual) preferences flow?

    Comment by Danny — October 6, 2008 @ 1:57 pm

  2. No idea Danny. They don’t talk to me much. I would have thought that was a bridge too far. They’ve only ever held that electorate once in my lifetime, and that was the 1974 Joh victory when the ALP was reduced to 11 members of parliament.
    Demographics have changed since then to some extent, but I think it would still be a hard ask. And if they did win it, then they’d easily pick-up the other seats they need to win an absolute majority.
    Another reality check on this possibility is that the Liberals couldn’t win the ward of Woolloongabba in the last council election. Is The Borg likely to be a bigger vote magnet than the Can Do Man? I doubt it. The map of South Brisbane is here http://www.ecq.qld.gov.au/elections/state/state2008/redistributions/finalReport/html/SouthBrisbane.html, and you can see the map of Woollingabba here http://www.ecq.qld.gov.au/elections/bcc/review2007/maps/the_gabba_A3_web.pdf. They look almost identical.

    Comment by Graham Young — October 6, 2008 @ 2:10 pm

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    Comment by chachiksin — October 6, 2008 @ 4:09 pm

  4. It’s a bit of a turn-up as far as I’m concerned. It’s been mentioned elsewhere, but when Mr Lee and I were both in Young Labor, he was notable as an arch-Catholic right-winger. Not sure if the marriage of convenience will work on “issues of conscience”. You can be sure that Labor will pull out all stops to make sure that if they can’t win, nor can he – rats aren’t popular.

    Comment by Jason — October 6, 2008 @ 8:56 pm

  5. Yes Jason, he takes being Irish very seriously! And there’s something very Irish about this whole thing. 😉

    Comment by Graham Young — October 6, 2008 @ 9:46 pm

  6. haha

    Comment by Jason — October 6, 2008 @ 10:00 pm

  7. I used to live in Ronan’s electorate. It is very green, but also conservative. He would be better to run for Anna Bligh’s seat in West End? 🙂

    Comment by Jennifer — October 7, 2008 @ 9:58 am

  8. “They don’t talk to me much”…. Now that’s what I call a dry sense of humour.
    Jennifer: “He would be better to run for Anna Bligh’s seat in West End? :-)”…
    That’s what I reckon too, he only needs to get 5.4% of South Brisbane first-pref laborites to admit they really are green, Ronan Lee Greens as it were, and Anna has to go to preferences, the Greens are second past the post, and it’s the lib preferences being counted. Depending on how much they as a tribe want to Get Rid Of Anna Now, and preference green accordingly, it’s do-able, with a special candidate, and Ronan might be the one to pull the sword from the stone.
    But it rests on the LNP accepting that the actual green voters will stop the LIbs ever getting Sth Brisbane themselves, as above, and biting the bullet that preferencing green is worth it to decapitate labor. Fat chance .
    The libs could even just not field a candidate, (a la Mayo, and brisbane central by-election) and intead get behind the sth Brisbane green candidate.

    Comment by Danny — October 7, 2008 @ 2:59 pm

  9. Graham,
    I agree with your assessment. But there needs to be greater identification with the public if serious in roads is to be made.
    I do suggest however that there are a number of State seats that up for grabs and will depend on (council level) local factors. There are clearly perceived links between some ‘arrogant’ conservative leaning councils with developers.
    Issues like dams, water, health, infrastructure failures by the Labor have decreased their popularity. LNP in a number of areas hasn’t been able to align itself with community wants. Consequentially there is a sizeable pent up ‘frustration’ vote waiting to take place which has in the council areas gone overwhelmingly Green (anti development) or independent. Analysis of booth numbers and local contacts they seem to indicate that a comparable swing to green in The State will probably follow.
    The lack of penetration by the ‘now party’ is often due to the poor choice of candidate. Many having lengthy, less than acceptable records in the collective minds of the voters. It seems that reliance on internal party politics take precedence over the objective assessment of candidate’s history and suitability.
    e.g. One sitting Federal member has taken a safe Lib seat and turned it into one of the most marginal seats in Australia, getting back by fewer than 30 absentee votes. That member has a history of chasing State and council issues rather than Federal. Federally he is closely aligned with the right of the party. His links with the local recently dumped LNP ideologically dominated council and specifically with an equally ‘fingernail surviving’ councillor (now state LNP aspirant) has been widely noted. This association is widely perceived adversely.
    A number of new LNP branches have sprung more leaks (internecine) than a ill fitting nappy complete with anti community smells.
    This situation is repeated in a number of electorates up and down the coast and near Brisbane municipalities.

    Comment by examinator — October 7, 2008 @ 3:14 pm

  10. Graham, I wouldn’t be banking on green preferences to get any party over the line at this stage of the socioeconomic cycle. As the greens have built up significant toxic baggage and a barrage of unfulfilled story lines,”hot thumping whoppers” which will at some sage bite the greens on the bum.

    Comment by Dallas Beaufort — October 8, 2008 @ 1:31 am

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