March 09, 2009 | Graham

Labor heading for slo-mo pile-up

(Cross-posted from What the people want). Voters are bored and disillusioned with Labor – that’s the basic reason that the Liberal National Party looks likely to achieve at least a minority government after this year’s Queensland state election.
It’s an “It’s time” election, but one where there is little sense that changing governments will really create much change. There is a pervading mood that no-one could do worse than the incumbents, so someone else might as well be given a go. There’s little perceived risk in a change, because voters see so little of value in what they have now.
This qualitative analysis is based on what voters who have already swung (I’m calling them “swung voters”) are telling us and assumes that what has swung them will ultimately swing other voters.
Labor is currently running a series of ads based on jobs. Saving jobs – “It’s in our DNA,” Bligh declares. Swung voters see the most important issues as Health and Hospitals, the Economy, Education and Jobs, in that order, so why is Labor running on the least significant issue?
You could argue that the economy and jobs are the same thing, which they might be, so jobs are more important than I’m suggesting. But while they may be interlinked, voters won’t equate them unless they’re worried about their own jobs. At the moment voters’ concerns about the economy are abstract and more to do with savings and investments. Concern about jobs is likely to be much stronger later in this year, or next.
Labor is running on the most minor issue amongst Swung voters concerns because they don’t do well on the other issues. It’s the best they have.
Until recently, Health was the only issue that the Liberal National Party was judged to be superior to Labor on. So Bligh can’t effectively campaign on that. Never fight on your opponent’s strengths.
As a former state treasurer and education minister the Economy and Education also hold pitfalls. When Bligh stands on her record, our respondents react badly.
They still remember her less than transparent handling of the issue of asbestos in schools, and see the downgrading of Queensland’s credit status as a judgement on economic competence. Respondents are also antagonistic to Treasurer Andrew Fraser. Perhaps that is why, according to Galaxy, the LNP has also nosed ahead of Labor on the issue of who is best to handle the Economy.
Which leaves Jobs, a theme which has previously featured heavily in state campaigns and more recently was a decisive factor in the 2008 federal election, so it has some promise.
Will repetition of this theme be enough? The evidence suggests not. This election is being run as a presidential contest, so comparing leaders gives a good view of comparisons between the parties. When we asked swung voters why they were voting for Springborg rather than Bligh it was summed up in terms like these.
“Boring and pompous sounding is not as bad as egotistical and self-obsessed. I think Lawrence would work hard to develop a new vision for the whole of the state.” Male, 65-74
“Anna Bligh has had more than one opportunity to support the works and move QLD forward, all she is good for is same old same old. AND I DON’T WANT THE DAM.” Male, 65-74
“Qld needs a fresh start. Sweep out the old dead wood and the incompetent ministers.” Male, 55-64, Teacher
“Best of two evils” Male, 55-64, educator
“I have always voted labor and it’s not that I think Anna Bligh has been a failure but I think the time has come to cut through the spin and get on with fixing the problems. I am just sick to death of the bureacratic bunkum that has permeated the system. In fact it’s time to get rid of the states altogether and stop the wasteful duplication and get on with governing without all the crap that goes on. I am totally fed up.No-one has any vision or gumption to do what is required.” Female, 65-74
“Simply because we need a change. The Bligh Government is full of jobs for their mates and relatives and far far to many corrupt Politicians have bit the dust over the last 3 or 4 years. I will not be forgetting those who have defaulted” Male, 55-64, Sole Proprietor
“Arrogance vs naivety; botox vs bathroom towel; bully boys vs cardigans; spend spend spend vs white-uptight-middle-class iniatives “ Female, 45-54, Public Servant
Is there any hope for Anna? There is some, but it is faint. While our respondents are over Anna, they’re not really sure that they want a long-term relationship with Lawrence. Only around 20% of respondents have anything positive to say about him, meaning that his support is soft. If Springborg makes a very big mistake in the next week and a half, then Bligh could be back into the game. Or it’s just possible she may find a game-changer herself.
It would need to be a very big mistake or change in game. Even though Swung voters are by definition voting for Springborg 44% of them still expect Labor to be returned and only 22% the Liberal Nationals. The remainder are almost evenly split between forecasting a hung parliament or being unsure.
This means that there is not a lot of risk voting for Springborg because they either don’t think he will be returned, or think whoever forms the government will be forced to deal with a hostile parliament that will keep them in check. It also makes it difficult for Bligh to get the under-dog vote because voters still think she is on top.
The somnolent pace of the election campaign also isn’t helping Bligh. With no sense of urgency in the campaign you get the feeling that Labor has resigned itself to a small tail-ender. With a notional 62 seats after last year’s redistribution in the current parliament, they probably saw a benefit in losing a few, but that expectation looks to be expanding into a multi-car collision.

Posted by Graham at 11:38 pm | Comments (4) |
Filed under: Australian Politics


  1. “It’s time.” And at the federal election it will be “ETS’ time,” when the Al Warma terrorists get a cold shower.

    Comment by Faustino — March 10, 2009 @ 5:50 am

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    Comment by Logarexx — March 10, 2009 @ 12:00 pm

  3. That DNA line is stolen for Sony adverts for their HD TVs in the USA.
    “HD – Its in our DNA.”
    (I don’t watch commercials on TV anymore, I skip them and only saw this Sony DNA advert on a video podcast. Handy for Political Parties to be putting their adverts on youtube.)
    “Jobs for the Boys – Its in Labor DNA.”
    Here is another one from NZ
    “DIY its in our DNA”

    Comment by tv — March 10, 2009 @ 12:39 pm

  4. I’m just over state politics.It would be better that they were all eliminated.In NSW,no one gives a fig anymore.We just lurch from one debacle to another and there is nothing we can do to change the juggernaut of decay.
    Everyone in Govt knows what must be done,but no one has the courage or altruism to want to achieve it.
    Qld,it seems,is not far behind.

    Comment by Arjay — March 12, 2009 @ 6:20 pm

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