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The election best lost

By Tim O'Hare - posted Thursday, 12 February 2015


The Queensland election is over and Labor has defied the odds and gone from a netball team to what looks to be shaping up to be a minority government with the support of independent Peter Wellington.

Social media is exploding with pro-Labor sentiment and political commentators are speculating about what this means for Tony Abbott and his government.

What's missing is an assessment of what Labor and Annastacia Palaszczuk will do now that they have defied even their own expectation and won government.

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Labor's strategy was in Palaszczuk's words to run 'a referendum on asset sales', an extraordinary single-issue campaign against a policy they advocated at the 2012 election, and it worked.

Labor mobilised a groundswell of grass-roots, anti-privatisation sentiment complete with a close working relationship with the union movement and a formidable campaign by the external organisation Not4Sale.

This has also brought Labor closer to its splintering working-class base, through playing to their hysteria around private ownership.

The only problem with this strategy was that it worked, far too well in fact.

As a result the Labor Party has won a mandate to oppose the asset sales that they were hoping the LNP would make.

The last two terms have seen both Premiers back-flip on their pledge not to sell assets.

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Commentators are quick to assert the toxicity of asset privatisation, what's often overlooked is perhaps the necessity of it given that leaders across the aisle are willing to sacrifice their reputations for it.

For these reasons its always been in Labor's interests to let the LNP expend its political capital on asset privatisation, while future ALP governments reap the economic benefits of privatisation.

Unfortunately when Labor tried to run a single-issue, protest-vote campaign against asset sales in order to pick up more seats, consequently Labor has unexpectedly fallen into government.

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About the Author

Tim O'Hare is a Brisbane-based, History graduate from the University of Queensland. He is a freelance commentator on political and cultural issues with specific reference to economics, education and free speech. Along with his commentary on social media, online publications and blogging he also finds creative expression in stand up comedy in a variety of bars in and around the Brisbane CBD.

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