January 17, 2004

Media coverage Day 4 - Merri Rose again

Day is dominated by Merri Rose. “CMC cleared bully Rose” was the CM headline. Their writers, particularly obvious in an article by Sean Parnell, still think it is damaging to ALP election chances reporting Beattie raising the possibility that his campaign “might not recover from the blow”. However, by the evening Sean Parnell seems to have changed his opinion – see the Lateline report below.

The coverage has woken up to the possibilities of independents in particular areas doing well, and the paper highlights problems in the sugar seats. “Federal Independent Bob Katter is marshalling assaults on Labor-held sugar seats such as Burdekin, Mulgrave, Bundaberg, Whitsunday, Mackay, Hervey Bay and Burnett”

Policy reporting is starting to come through. There are clear signs that both sides see the job of government as redistributing wealth, not necessarily creating it. Peter Beattie announced a number of “job creation” initiatives at the same time that he took credit for national job figures. (Interesting division of labour, Howard takes responsibility for national health issues and Beattie takes them for employment). Most of the initiatives were training related, with apprenticeships (a touchstone for blue collar conservative voters) front and center. Part of the package was a payment of $450,000 to the Oakey Abbatoir. As the abbatoir is spending $50M on an upgrade and needs the extra 500 workers, you’d think they’d be able to afford to train them themselves.

The Opposition was at it too, promising to spend $30M a year to persuade people to live outside the South-East corner. These sorts of schemes never work in the long-term. People and businesses settle where the work and infrastructure is, and where they can afford to. The National Party has long been in the business of trying to make water run up-hill (sometimes literally) but it pains me to see Bob Quinn announcing this sort of nonsense.

He should be doing more announcements like the one on the Ipswich Motorway. While the Coalition can win government without seats in Brisbane, the Liberal Party can’t do well without them, and a Coalition too unevenly divided between Nats and Libs is unstable. Road expenditure like this can be demonstrated to create real jobs; it acknowledges that people have made a valid choice to live where they have chosen to; and it doesn’t play favourites in the way the $30M a year policy does. The promise is conditional on the Federal Government meeting the $600M cost, but if the $30M was applied to paying interest on borrowings, the Queensland Government could fund $500M of the project without being any worse off for cashflow. The increased economic activity would probably pay off the rest.

Courier Mail also reveals the depth of selfishness of Pauline Hanson. At the same time as her erstwhile party says it is almost broke after having spent $500,000 on her well publicized travails, it reveals she will be working in promotion and property marketing now and won't be doing anything to help them. Party Leader Bill Flynn puts a brave face on it and says that they deal with her through an “intermediary” anyway. Not for much longer. Support has probably moved on to Greens and Independents, and without the Hanson blessing it most certainly has.

The Australian has a better take quoting a very bitter Hanson who lambasts the Australian people: "Australians can be so stupid sometimes. They whinge and complain and every Anzac Day they stand there waving flags and say they love Australia. But when it comes to voting, they don't know who they are voting for or what they are voting for.” Yes, well a lot of those who voted for her would be wondering why they did if they read this, but then perhaps she’s learnt enough to know that they won’t read it.

pendulum tends to bear this out. A uniform swing of 10% would bring them government but only 6 seats in Brisbane. It would take a uniform swing of around 17.5% to win a dozen seats in Brisbane – a result similar to Beattie’s own landslide.

The show also featured a recap of the last 20 years of elections in Queensland. It was an interesting reminder of the past, and also how easy it is for researchers who weren’t there at the time to get things horribly wrong. After a clip of Joh Bjelke-Petersen resigning the voice-over said “And the electorate didn't want the party without him. In 1989, Russell Cooper had no chance.” Sorry. Play that one again. No mention of Fitzgerald? They didn’t want the party without him, and they would have wanted it even less with him.

They also got the technicalities of the 1995 election just a little wrong. Wayne Goss didn’t win because the judge found that Mundingburra, the seat he depended on for his victory, had been wrongly decided and ordered a re-election. They might also have mentioned that the reason that the Bordbidge government got the support of the independent Liz Cunningham was that they had in fact won the majority of the two-party preferred vote.

Posted by Graham at January 17, 2004 10:47 AM

Alex, if you are suggesting it is more likely to be a potent issue at a federal level I think you are right. Whether it will shift votes is another matter. The Federal government's ethanol policy is a vote-buying exercise to keep just this constituency quiet. The press has concentrated on Manildra and links with the federal libs, but Manildra's greatest leverage isn't donations to political parties but the fact that the people who produce the raw materials are concentrated in marginal coastal seats.

The lack of effective criticism of the ethanol policy by the ALP suggests that they believe it is an effective vote buyer, and they don't want to get on the wrong side of it.

Deanne Kelly does a pretty good job of representing this part of her constituency, so will be interesting at a federal level to see whether Katter even runs anyone against her.

Then you've got Neville and Truss, running down the coast, and Lindsay and Entsch running up. I think they're all protectionists and most of them inclined to mouth off. Could be interesting to see what Kelly does now she has a Parliamentary Secretaryship.

Posted by: Graham Young at January 18, 2004 03:37 PM

So who should be most worried about the sugar seats?

Peter Beattie because it might reduce his majority a bit?

John Howard and especially the Federal Nationals because it might reignite the debate about free trade in a way that could be very damaging for them?

It might be a way for Federal Labor to differentiate themsalves from the coalition which seems now to be totally locked into the free trade position.

Posted by: Alex McConnell at January 17, 2004 01:04 PM
Graham Young
John Black
Mark Bahnisch
Michael Lee