Queensland is going to the polls on November the 25th. And if you’re anything like me, you probably don’t know much about who on Earth we’re voting for. For those of us who keep our eye focussed more on federal politics (we’ve done deep dives on their energy, immigration and indigenous policies), the comings and goings of state politics, covered by local newspapers and commercial television, can pass us by.
That’s a shame, because this election may make or break the middle-term future of the entire One Nation Party, and will almost certainly decide the fate of how Queensland approaches new, massive coal mines.
We’ll do another, final round robin of the major players in the week before the election, but in the mean time, here’s the stuff you need to know.
How do I know if I’m enrolled? And can you please briefly explain how to vote because I’m in my thirties and I still don’t know and I’m too embarrassed to ask anyone now… (skip this bit if you know it already)
First things first. Go to the Australian Electoral Commission website to check if you’re enrolled and where you’re enrolled.
If you aren’t enrolled, they’ll tell you how to sign up. You may need to update your details. If you are enrolled, they’ll tell you the name of your electorate. For the Queensland Election, you are voting for someone to represent you in your state district.
To find out more about your state district, you can go to this page on Wikipedia and find your district. The information there should help you see what party currently holds your seat, and by how much they won in the last election.
Given Queensland’s booming population, a number of new seats will have their first election this time round.
In Queensland, preferential voting is now compulsory. Your voting form will look a lot like this:
You need to put a number in each box for your vote to be counted.
If we look at the example in the image, we see that this made up person – let’s call her Muriel – has put a number 1 beside the rather boringly named Candidate 2. Hopefully, Muriel’s dreams come true and Candidate 2 wins. If that candidate doesn’t win, however, Muriel’s vote will go to her second preference – candidate 1. If Muriel’s dreams are shit on even more, then her vote will go her third preference….and so on…
This system is called preferential voting. It means that you get to rank who you’d like to be in power.
It’s helpful to understand some basic information about your seat and how things went down in the last election.
Let’s take a look at my old stomping ground, North Toowoomba, and break down some figures. This is the table that’s available at the Wikipedia page for North Toowoomba.
So, Trevor Watts, on the LNP Party, won the day. And we can see that they won with 44.41% of the total vote. The final column with the weird plus and minus symbol shows how much of a ‘swing’ happened since the previous election. So the Liberal Party lost 5.35% of their vote from last time – which is huge. (And kind of happened all over Queensland in 2015.)
If we go down to the ‘two-party-preferred’ result – we can see how the numbers behave if we pretend that only Labor and the LNP had run in this seat. So once we take in everybody’s preferential votes, we see that the LNP won over Labor by a small margin – and the swing was huge – 7.97% away from the LNP to Labor. Nevertheless, that swing wasn’t enough and the LNP held the seat.
So this table helps us understand that there’s not much of a gap between the Labor and Liberal Party for North Toowoomba. It’s a seat that could go either way in this coming election. Some seats are closer – like Mansfield, in Brisbane, which is a Liberal seat by just 1%.
If you’re bamboozled by this, or have any other questions about voting or the election in particular, please send me an e-mail or comment here.
Um, who’s the Premier?
The current Premier of Queensland is Annastacia Palaszczuk of the Labor Party. The Labor Party stormed the last election after Campbell Newman had a pretty disastrous run as leader of the Liberal National Party in Queensland.
The current leader of the opposition in the Parliament of Queensland is Tim Nicholls.
Sorry who? I swear to God I haven’t heard of either of these two.
It’s quite possible that’s not a mistake. When Labor won back Queensland in the 2015 election, it was big news. Campbell Newman’s Liberal National Party took a major blow after years in the headlines. Annastacia Palaszczuk’s Labor was built on calm, steady leadership. It means that her time in office has been marked by a lack of bold decisions or policies. In fact, the first part of her time as Premier was spent rolling back the most unpopular measures of the Newman government (restoring the public service and stepping back on punitive criminal laws). But Palaszcuzuk’s big problem, which has added to the no-headlines grabbing policies, is that Queensland has the biggest debt of any Australian state. So there’s been attempts to defibrillate regional Queensland’s economy in the mining downturn, but they’ve been tripped up in a lack of dosh.
Some of the bigger moments have included:
- An early scandal involving one of her ministers, Billy Gordon, who had to resign because of an undeclared criminal history. Just a couple of days before calling the election, another MP, Rick Williams, was dumped by Palaszczuk after a long series of complaints about his behaviour;
- The expunging of men who had previously been convicted of criminal homosexuality, not a criminal offence since 1989…not a headline at the time because it was 2017 and you would’ve thought Queensland WOULD’VE DONE IT A BIT EARLIER;
- A move to ban donations to political parties from property developers after a report was published revealing wide-spread corruption in Queensland local governments;
- Attempts to restrict tree-clearing, which is a huge issue for Queensland. There was a 33% rise in clearing in 2015/16. Queensland now has two thirds the annual rate of deforestation as the Amazon rainforest. Campbell Newman scrapped restrictions in 2013. Labor’s attempts to re-instate the restrictions failed in Parliament, but Annastacia Palaszczuk has said she’ll have another go if she’s re-elected.
Tim Nicholls, meanwhile, as leader of the opposition, has failed to bring his party back to credibility after the Newman years. He’s a well-connected member of the Liberal Party, but he hasn’t connected with the all-important regional vote, where One Nation is gaining ground.
What’s the deal with One Nation?
One Nation has a lot of potential power in this upcoming election, for two main reasons.
Firstly, the election is likely to be very close between the Labor and Liberal Party – neither may win enough seats to form an entire government, meaning they would have to do deals with the ‘cross bench’ – like the Greens or One Nation – to get policy through. It is predicted that One Nation will end up holding the balance of power in this next election – so a relatively minor party is suddenly lumped with a lot of responsibility.
Secondly, this is the first election where preferential voting is compulsory. Previously, you could just put a ‘1’ beside your favourite candidate. But the preferential voting could end up benefiting One Nation, as Liberal voters are more likely to put One Nation second on their ballot.
Not that One Nation loves the Liberal Party. Pauline Hanson thinks that Tim Nicholls is ‘arrogant’. But Liberal voters are more likely to drift towards One Nation.
Interestingly, but not surprisingly, recent surveys have shown that more than half of likely One Nation voters are so inclined because they are against the Labor and Liberal Party, and they often disagree with One Nation’s policy platforms. One Nation’s policies are built on protecting Queensland small business and philosophies that generally rest in the ‘extreme conservative’ bracket, such as the denial of climate change, advocacy for pro-life, and anti-immigration.
But there’s not much difference between the Labor and Liberal Party, right?
Labor and the Liberal Party are both pushing the message of ‘jobs, jobs, jobs’ to try and attract voters away from One Nation. They have very similar policies in this regard. Under Annastacia Palaszczuk, unemployment has fallen from 6.7% to 5.9%.
Both major parties support the construction of the Adani coal mine, as does One Nation. The Greens are the only major party to resist the giant coal mine outright. But Annastacia Palaszczuk has recently distinguished her stance in an attempt to court Greens voters – she won’t let any taxpayer money support the coal mine. Adani wants a loan from federal and state governments, and Palaszczuk is apparently happy to veto the move. She wants jobs for the region, but not at taxpayers expense. She says if Adani can’t do the job without the government’s help, then a competitor, such as Aurizon, will most likely take up the giant mining project.
Ugh, I’m kinda bored. What do I need to know?
- LNP seats Mansfield and Mount Ommaney will be Labor targets – Mansfield is on a knife edge. Labor also has a strong chance on the Gold Coast, in the new seats of Gaven and MacAlister. The LNP are likely to want to fight to hold onto Whitsunday and get Pumicestone back under their Party.
- One Nation may take the seat of Lockyer off the LNP. One Nation also stands a chance in Callide, Condamine, Burnett and Burdekin. One Nation may significantly damage the Labor vote in parts of Ipswich and Caboolture, Mackay, Bundaberg and Rockhampton.
Read the news if you want, but be careful of your sources. I’m a Labor, lefty guy, so if you’re not in that camp, it’s worthwhile looking at the LNP platform, which I haven’t gone into much here. If the whole thing exhausts you, well done on reading this whole bloody article – we’ll provide a shorter, simpler, quick and dirty guide in the week leading up to voting time, so you can make your mind up then. And make sure you’re enrolled to vote.
Photo at the top by Darren England. Photos courtesy of Guardian News & Media Ltd.
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We’ll be back at the end of the week with the news.