Campbell Newman is stepping up pressure on Anna Bligh to call an election later this month by scheduling a very early campaign function for next Tuesday.
It is a breakfast function where he is advertised to “be setting out his vision for 2012 in a year where Queenslanders will be asked to make a choice. A choice between a tired, 20 year Labor Government or a fresh, energised CanDo Team led by Campbell Newman.”
While most would expect the next Queensland election to be no later than three years after the previous one there are some reasons why Bligh might try to extend her term into June where the last possible legal date to hold an election would be the 16th.
These include the belief by Labor that the longer they can keep Campbell Newman in the limelight the more damage they can do to him. Our latest research certainly shows that the negative campaign of last year knocked a lot of the shine off Newman, although it left the LNP vote virtually unscathed.
Then there is the confusion that might be created over an extended period of time by the new Bob Katter Australian Party with its appeal to a rural anti-big party, anti-coal seam gas constituency.
The ALP might also hope to lure the LNP into spending its war chest early leaving it depleted by the time of the election while they coast through using the resources of government to get their messages out.
But these are overborne by the negatives.
This is a government that has a reputation for trickiness and dishonesty starting with the breach of promises not to privatise government operations like Queensland Rail and to retain the fuel subsidy.
Any attempt to run more than three years beyond the date of the last election would be seen as more of the same, and yet another reason to punish them at the election.
As Queensland’s local governments have their compulsory elections on the 31st of March, and the government wouldn’t want to risk getting its campaign caught up in these, that means that the election needs to be called for some time in February – probably the 18th or the 25th.
If it is to be the 18th, then the election would need to be called no later than the 23rd of January, with the 30th January being the last date for the 25th.
By holding his function on the 17th Newman gets the jump on the Premier’s campaign whenever she announces it, branding himself as more ready to govern than her, and makes her look scared or tricky if she doesn’t announce it at all this month.
In fact the word around town is that Newman has hired the chicken suit and there is a Young Liberal ready to don it and stalk the premier’s media conferences.
Certainly once Newman has kicked off (the function is being held on Rugby Quay) you can expect the chorus on talk back radio and the online comments sections of the Courier Mail and the Brisbane Times to be putting the pressure on Bligh in a negative campaign that money couldn’t buy.
In which case Newman will probably be hoping that Bligh does hold off. The detriment to Labor outweighs any disadvantage he might suffer.