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Redcliffe byelection loss an opportunity for Newman

By Graham Young - posted Monday, 24 February 2014


The Redcliffe byelection loss provides the Newman government with an opportunity.

Like most oppositions who win government, particularly with a large majority, they have been having trouble justifying themselves.

At the last election electors' preoccupation was with ridding themselves of the Bligh government. They didn't give a lot of thought to what the LNP would do when elected. The LNP didn't encourage them to either, as it might have moderated their voting intention.

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So they won government without a compelling positive narrative, with a huge and naive backbench, and with little experience in coordinating a multi-pronged policy assault which is what reformist governments need to do.

That has seen them perform creditably in a policy sense, but without gaining public kudos for it because their achievements have been obscured by poor media management.

A sixteen percent swing in Redcliffe is savage. It's hard to know how much is due to the corruption of the previous LNP member, Scott Driscoll, and how much to concerns about the Newman government, but a proportion of it is certainly an attempt to send Newman a message.

The LNP also ran a poor campaign, and it would appear Labor ran a better one. This repeats the relative performances of the parties in the Griffith byelection, although there the LNP result, though not as good as it should have been, was certainly better than Redcliffe.

The LNP campaign message to electors was that there was no point voting for Labor's Yvette D'Ath because if elected she wouldn't be in government and couldn't do anything for them. They also promised to spend up big on a number of projects including $12 million for Redcliffe Hospital, $900,000 for state schools, and $400,000 to turn the Redcliffe Fire Station into an arts and volunteer hub.

The problem with this approach is that electors feel they are being bribed, and while you can buy electors, they have enough self respect that they don't want to feel like they've been bought.

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They also wonder why you have only just thought of doing these things (even if they may have been in the pipeline for some time).

In addition the LNP undertook to get the GP Super Clinic that Kevin Rudd promised two elections ago up and running and deliver on the Moreton Bay Rail link.

As the former federal Labor member Yvette D'Ath, the successful candidate, can claim responsibility for the rail link, as it was Labor federal funding that made it possible, after 119 years of it being promised. Federal Liberals ridiculed the GP Super Clinics, so it doesn't make much sense that state Liberals are going to prove it was a good decision! Both of these policies are counter-productive to winning votes.

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A variant of this article was published on Ambit Gambit.



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About the Author

Graham Young is chief editor and the publisher of On Line Opinion. He is executive director of the Australian Institute for Progress, an Australian think tank based in Brisbane, and the publisher of On Line Opinion.

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