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Mike Baird’s assets test

By Graham Young - posted Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Privatising assets didn't cost Newman his election. Ignoring basic politics did.

While asset sales are not necessarily a vote winner, they're not necessarily a vote loser.

New South Wales' Mike Baird can privatise assets, and become premier in his own right.


Of course Labor has jumped on the Queensland election. Their constituency will back them, and they might get lucky and panic the Baird government making them look weak and divided.

The Queensland swing isn't as strong as it looks as most if it is attributable to a natural correction after an unnaturally large margin at the last election. The swing back from 63% two-party preferred was always going to be of the order of 10 percentage points.

A similar reversion to the mean is happening in NSW.

We ran an online qualitative exit poll, so we have a very good idea of what drove the vote on the day in Queensland.

Of those who deserted the government this election, 29% nominated asset sales as the most important election issue, 17% Newman and 17% style of government. That was followed by the Environment on 8% and the Economy and Jobs 8%.

So the premier and the government (34% combined) were the top issue, followed by asset sales. Despite the noise, alleged cuts to "frontline services" didn't rank as an important issue, while the culling of the public service went more to style than substance.


But voters don't always vote on issues. 33% of swingers said they were voting strategically, sending the government a message, 21% voted against Newman and 13% against the style of government, and only 13% against asset sales.

This makes strategic and style issues the pre-eminent ones.

It's a reasonable bet that if the LNP had not had Newman as leader they could have won the election despite privatisations. Baird is not Newman.

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This article was first published in The Australian.

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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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