August 17, 2006
Chances of Liberals winning more seats than the Nationals
The chances of the Liberals winning more seats than the Nationals have declined sharply over the last couple of days. This is because the Liberals only win more seats than the Nationals if there is a "boil over" win, and the inability to acknowledge what every child ought to know - that the party with most votes "Rools" - has made it unlikely that the coalition will win, let alone rule.
Still, there are some interesting relativities between the parties, depending on what the swings are and whether they are uniform.
Our pendulum is colour-coded to make it easy to work out which Labor seats are contested by the Nationals, and which by the Liberals. It makes it easy to see where the parties are likely to stand after the election.
To win an absolute majority of 45, the coalition needs another 22 seats. This makes the swing seat Cleveland. Between Cleveland and Caloundra, the Liberals' most marginal, there are only 7 seats being contested by the National Party, leaving 15 to be potentially won by the Liberal Party. If this happened the National Party would have 23 seats, and the Liberals 22. Laurence Springborg therefore becomes leader.
However, if the swing runs up just one more seat, then the parties tie. Another seat, and the Nationals are back in front. And so it goes. Things are finely balanced.
But these calculations assume a uniform swing. What if the swing occurs at different rates in different seats? In the Parliament of 1995 to 1998 the Liberals held Mansfield, Greenslopes and Mt Ommaney, seats which look unwinnable at present. But if there was a swing back in Brisbane these seats might snap back much further and faster than others, and that could tip the balance towards the Liberals.
Or Queensland might be looking at a minority government of some sort. Of the six independents elected last election, only one is retiring - Elissa Roberts - and the others look fairly impregnable in their seats. So five independents might be negotiating with the coalition parties on the terms for forming a minority non-Labor government. It's possible those terms might involve the minor major party supplying the premier. In effect, the next Coalition government might involve not two, but more than two entities, and those much more minor entities will have a right to have a say in who is premier.
Given the campaign so far, these speculations are most probably idle - Labor looks to have the number of the Coalition. Still, it's interesting how unsophisticated the Australian commentariat is when it comes to assessing situations involving more than two major parties. Almost nowhere else in the world would this be the case. It is here because we have become hooked on viewing the world through a veil of duality, despite the fact that it hasn't applied at anytime in Queensland since at least 1957!
Beattie promises alcohol for all
According to this Australian article Peter Beattie has today promised to require all petroleum refiners in Queensland to produce only petrol with 5 percent ethanol. It's like Catch 22 - he can't make us buy it, but he can ensure it's the only product available.
This has got to be one of the most ludicrous policies I have seen in a long time. I'm not exactly sure what percentage of the nation's petroleum is refined in Queensland, but if you assumed it was enough for the Queensland market where is all the ethanol going to come from?
To put this in perspective. Beattie claims that it will involve consumption of 200 million litres a year of ethanol. But an Australian Parliamentary Library paper from 2003 says that Australia's total production is only 135 million litres a year. Where is the extra refining capacity, let alone supply capacity, going to come from?
Are we going to import it from Brazil? Or is Beattie going to relax his tree-clearing legislation so that we can clear more land to grow sugar cane to produce it? And has anyone factored in how much water growing the sugar cane is going to take (just at a time when we've realised there's barely enough to go around)? And what about the flow-on effects for the price of products using sugar, and grain crops that can be substituted for it?
Of course, he's likely to get away with this because the Oppposition still can't work out that elections are won by the party having the largest number of seats; and journalists are generally so dim, that asking really hard questions in a press conference when the media release in their hands is still warm from the photocopier is just a bit beyond them.
And it is obviously targeted at buying off the Green vote, alienated by Beattie's need to build some dams to deal with the water shortages.