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Labor and LNP avoided big issues in campaign

By Graham Young - posted Friday, 8 December 2017

There are always more election campaigns available than it is possible to run. For starters there is the negative campaign and the positive campaign.

Then there are almost endless variations on those. There is the small target strategy, looking fetching on both the arm of the negative campaign (say John Howard in 1996), or the positive campaign (Kevin Rudd 2007).

And there is the large target campaign: like Donald Trump’s impossibly large target strategy, or John Hewson’s impossibly honest GST – and sometimes it even works.


At times campaigns address real issues facing electors, and at other times they are genteel conversations about things that don’t matter much at all: as everyone ignores the bear in the corner.

This Queensland election was pretty much in the last category. There was a little negative campaigning, but compared to what we’ve seen in previous campaigns this was mild. I suspect that both sides feared negative campaigning would rouse the One Nation beast, which would gobble their campaigns up.

The LNP were upbeat in their advertising, until they hit on electricity prices in the last week. Labor ran negative from the beginning, equating Nicholls alternately with Campbell Newman, or Pauline Hanson, but the sound track was subdued.

By and large, neither side addressed a multiplicity of issues that might have made a difference to the state, apart from Adani.

And I’m pretty sure that Adani was not meant to be part of the conversation, but the Greens insisted, probably picking up a seat as a result and creating mayhem for the majors in a slew of others.

Reading the entrails of our exit poll, not a lot changed between the end of the campaign and the beginning, except for a sharp decline in the standing of Tim Nicholls. Pace everything else, this must have been the determining factor.


Nicholls started the campaign in touch with Palaszczuk. Her approval rating was -15% in our first poll, and his was -27%. In our second poll she had improved marginally to -9%, but he had declined to -41%.

(For comparison Donald Trump currently has a -19% approval rating on the same basis, according to Gallup).

This was mostly a result of a change in the attitude of LNP voters with a 17 percentage point drop in Nicholl’s approval rating from 57% to 40%, and an almost equal increase in his disapproval rating from 12% to 28%. There was also a significant decrease in approval amongst One Nation voters.

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This article was first published in an edited version by the Courier Mail.

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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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