Anna Bligh has announced that she is resigning from Parliament, effective March 30. That means that after running a campaign where she assured us all that she was in it for the long haul, she gives her electorate less than one week’s notice when she loses.
My bet is that this will be seen as breath-taking arrogance. Not for her the path of Gough Whitlam who stayed on as opposition leader after his massive loss to Malcolm Fraser in 1975. She is going to cut and run.
I assume that Bligh will support Cameron Dick, Andrew Fraser or Stirling Hinchliffe to replace her. She is going to need a good replacement for the following reasons.
She presumably has a personal vote in the electorate. If it is say, 5%, then the the seat is only marginally Labor on last night’s result. Voters are notoriously intolerant of politicians who make them vote again, with the previously incumbent party’s vote tending to drop in by-elections. So whoever Labor runs will need to be a superstar just on the mathematics.
But this decision exemplifies one of the reasons why voters rejected Labor this election – they felt it was untrustworthy and self-serving; aloof from the public and not listening to them. Resigning a week after winning demonstrates that Bligh was not really interested in serving Queensland at all, unless it was in her own interest and on her own terms.
At the same time as she was pillorying the Liberals because no-one knew who would be the leader of an LNP government if he didn’t win, she obviously had her own plans to leave Labor leaderless if she lost.
She is also dumping the next opposition leader in it. They won’t have access to her experience in running a government and performing in a parliament to call on. And there is very little talent left in the party. That is going to make rebuilding harder. What’s more, if the party does nominate an unpopular ex-member such as Fraser for the seat, the public will think that Labor hasn’t learnt anything from this election.
This election result was driven by a desire to punish Labor and Bligh. The desire was intensified when the campaign smears were revealed to be baseless and when Anna refused to acknowledge any mistakes. Demonstrating that she is still not prepared to mend her ways is likely to be like blood in the water to a white pointer.
If the LNP wants to run a hard campaign against Labor in South Brisbane it just might win it. Their candidate Clem Grehan certainly has an arguable case that he was dudded, along with everyone else.