Election 22 / 12 May 2022

What’s what in Queensland

When it comes to federal elections, Queensland is Coalition country. But this time around, one of the big questions that’s in focus is whether voters will take another turn around the parliamentary dancefloor with the federal Liberal and National parties with the same degree of enthusiasm as they have in the past…

So Queensland is Coalition country?
That’s right. There are 30 seats in Queensland, and at 8 of the 9 elections since 1996, the Coalition has won 19 or more Queensland seats, which is more than double Labor’s representation. There is one exception to note and that is the defeat of the Howard Government in 2007, when Labor won 15 of Queensland’s then 29 seats.

That might have had something to do with a Queenslander who was running for Prime Minister…
Yep – his name was Kevin Rudd the became just the 2nd Queenslander to be elected PM. As he famously said when he became leader of the Labor party “My name is Kevin, I’m from Queensland, and I’m here to help.”

And his home state showed up to support him?
They did, but Rudd was still only able to get half of the seats in Queensland, and at the next election under Julia Gillard, just 8 of Queensland’s 30 seats went to the Labor.

Why has the Coalition been particularly popular in the Sunshine State since 1996?
It was when John Howard first swept to power and Queenslanders really dug him. Howard is at the core of a sort of political flavour change in how Queenslanders show up at a federal election that has benefitted Coalition hopefuls led by Tony Abbott, Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison. And it’s in contrast to what happens at the state government level where Labor is dominant – in fact, it has governed the state for 28 of the last 33 years.

What are the experts saying about Queensland this election?
So the rule of thumb in Queensland at a federal election is that the Coalition comes in at about 3 percentage points higher there than the rest of the country. That’s the standard.

What does a nonstandard election look like?
In recent times it looks like Labor gets its national message wrong as far as Queenslanders are concerned. So the gap can widen – and in fact, it blew out to 9% in the Coalition’s favour in 2019.

What was it about Labor’s message that Queenslanders didn’t like last election?
There was a lot of buzz about mining ahead of the 2019 election… Former Greens leader Bob Brown sent an anti-Adani mine convoy into Queensland, and it made it awkward for then-Labor leader Bill Shorten, who was trying to reassure Queenslanders that he backed jobs in the huge mining there while talking up his commitment to climate action elsewhere. And Shorten proposed reforms to retirement incomes that weren’t welcomed by Queensland’s retiree population either.

But when it comes to this election, the Coalition really needs to hang on to their Queensland seats…
They sure do. If they don’t at least hold on to the seats they have in favourable states like Western Australia and Queensland, they’ll need to pick them up in states that aren’t as friendly – and that’s a problem. So it’s a lot of pressure on the Coalition. But it’s also high pressure for Labor because for it to win the election, Queensland is the crucial state where it at least needs to at least break even – and preferably take some seats off the LNP.

So where is Labor targeting?
Longman is one that’s getting some attention. It’s been a swinging seat – it takes in Bribie Island, and the commuter belt of Caboolture, Morayfield and Burpengary and out to the rural hinterland. Cost of living is an issue there, and there are a lot of mortgage holders – young families who have moved out of Brissie to find more affordable homes. And there’s a large retiree population as well.

What are some seats to watch?
Longman is definitely one – it covers much of the Moreton Bay region. Analysts say preferences will play a large role in this election, but especially in this seat. That’s because a key player there is One Nation – it received 13% of the first preference vote at the last election – which is about 3 times its national average. So in this tight race, it’s a factor to watch. Pauline Hanson is a Queenslander, of course, as is Clive Palmer from the United Australia Party – remember he was a member of the House of Reps for the neighbouring seat of Fairfax winning that in 2013… So there are lots of eyes on the influence of those 2 on seats like Longman.

Any others to watch?
The Coalition is putting a lot of effort into holding Leichhardt. It’s in FNQ, it’s based in Cairns and the local MP is the enigmatic Warren Entsch. He’s a former crocodile farmer, he’s been in federal parliament on and off for a long time, and he’s a moderate who’s been influential in his support of things like same-sex marriage. Labor has also put a lot of effort into Flynn – it’s based around Gladstone and goes into some big farming and mining communities. The sitting LNP member Ken O’Dowd is retiring, and his 8.7% margin is courtesy of the anti-Labor swing in 2019. The new LNP candidate is Colin Boyce – he was the local state member. Labor’s candidate is Matt Burnett, who is a high-profile guy as the former Mayor of Gladstone.

What about Brissie?
Keep an eye on Griffith – that’s Kevin Rudd’s old seat. Labor’s Terri Butler holds it by 2.9% but the Greens candidate Max Chandler-Mather is having a real crack, as is the LNP’s Olivia Roberts – those 3 all ran last time, so they will be familiar to voters in Griffith. And Lilley was a seat the LNP was hopeful of picking up from Labor’s Anika Wells because it’s Labor’s 2nd most marginal seat on 0.6%. At least, that was until its candidate Vivian Lobo told the AEC he was living somewhere when he wasn’t and was referred to the Federal Police….

So Queensland is a state to watch?
It sure is – it’s super influential in the federal election scene, and if you’re the Coalition leader, you don’t want to see support drop on your watch. But it’s a state where you can be a Labor hero if you can pick up seats…

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