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Can the LNP overcome the Newman factor?

By Graham Young - posted Monday, 12 January 2015


On March 24, 2012 Campbell Newman and the LNP swept into power in Queensland with 63.1% of the two-party preferred vote.

Labor retained only 7 seats in the 89 seat parliament, a loss of 44.

Pundits predicted a long generation of conservative governments.

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So how is it that the latest Newspoll has the parties on 50% each of the vote and a notional loss as they need around 52% of the vote to win enough seats to govern?

63% is a statistical outlier. Most state and federal elections are won by less than 55%. For example Malcolm Fraser's record 1975 landslide was 55.7%

There was always going to be a reversion to the mean, and, on the balance of probabilities, something like a 9-11% swing against the government.

Which leaves Newman and his government responsible for say 4% of the swing against.

Newman is one problem. He's a short aggressive man with the reputation of being often charming, frequently distant, and a bit of a martinet. He is a left-brained, former army engineer and former Lord Mayor of Brisbane who has left an unprecedented civic legacy of congestion-busting transport tunnels and significant debt.

Branded in the City Council as CanDo Campbell he acts first, and consults second and has a pugnacious, often unpredictable style. His entrance to state politics was unconventional. He became opposition leader while not even elected to parliament and contested Ashgrove, a relatively safe ALP electorate.

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Voters only ever really warmed to Newman during the election campaign. Since then his personality has increasingly grated.

Then there is the perception of dishonesty, which cannot be discounted as a motivator of electors.

Labor lost so heavily in 2012 election loss because it misled voters twice.

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An edited version of this article was published in the Australian Financial Review.



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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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