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Queensland's LNP is no opposition, let alone alternative government

By Scott Prasser - posted Monday, 10 June 2024

LNP and its role as the Opposition

If projects are fully funded, if they're in the budget if they're underway, good governments and good oppositions honour those commitments. I've repeatedly said that I want Queenslanders to know that I believe in in good governance. And if something's in a budget, if it's underway, people deserve the right to know that there's that stability. David Crisafulli, Leader of the Liberal National Party (LNP) Queensland Opposition at a press conference on 4 June.

In making this statement the Queensland LNP Opposition has endorsed the Labor Government's 2024-25 Budget before even being presented to Parliament for debate and approval. It is almost unprecedented for an Opposition in Queensland and Australia. It is a fundamental abrogation of an Opposition's role in a Westminster system of democracy where it is expected to:

  • hold the government to account by scrutinising its budget
  • highlight wrong spending and taxing priorities
  • expose misallocation of funding
  • propose alternatives, and
  • provide the electorate with a clear indication of what it would do if elected.

More importantly, in Westminster democracies Oppositions serve a distinct role of being not just a critic of the government but more importantly, being the 'government in waiting' or the 'alternative government'. It thus has a duty, a role, and a responsibility to detail and explain how it would govern, how it would do things differently if elected. That means reviewing and responding to a government's annual Budget, its key vehicle to implement its policies, its political agenda, and its ideological disposition.

This role of the Opposition is particularly important in Westminster democracies unlike in the United States where a president might be elected in November, but constitutionally does not take the reins of office until inauguration the following January. By contrast in Westminster democracies once an election result is clear on Saturday night, the very next day the Opposition becomes the government. The Opposition is expected to hit the ground running – to have its ministry ready to be sworn in and to start governing and initiating its policy and political agenda. It is a case of opposition one day, government the next.

The whole, wonderful basis of having a formal, recognised and publicly funded Opposition in Westminster democracies is, as the famous 19th century writer Walter Bagehot wrote, is so "the nation is forced to hear two sides – all sides perhaps, of that which concerns it". And what can be more important to any nation or in this case. A State like Queensland, but to hear an Opposition's views and critique of a incumbent government's budget?

Thanks to the LNP's full endorsement of the Budget before even seeing it, Queensland voters will only hear one side of the Budget – the Miles Government's side, the Labor Party's side.

The LNP's endorsement of the Miles Labor Government's Budget before it has been presented to Queensland Parliament is a fundamental rejection of the Westminster system of Government – the very system that the 1989 Fitzgerald Commission Report emphasised needed to be adhered to for the sake of responsible, democratic government and indeed good governance.

It means all programs announced by the Miles Labor Government in the 2024-25 Budget including the forward estimates for the following three years, are fully endorsed by the LNP.


It means that when the Opposition gives its Budget Reply speech then it has nothing to say – it agrees with the budget.

It means the Opposition, has apparently no policy response to the expected Budget deficit and growing State debt.

It means endorsing all announcements made and budgeted for – including those for projects that the LNP have stated they have previously opposed like truth commissions and treaties.

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This article was first published on Policy Insights.

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About the Author

Dr Scott Prasser has worked on senior policy and research roles in federal and state governments. His recent publications include:Royal Commissions and Public Inquiries in Australia (2021); The Whitlam Era with David Clune (2022) and the edited New directions in royal commission and public inquiries: Do we need them?. His forthcoming publication is The Art of Opposition reviewing oppositions across Australia and internationally. .

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