Queensland State Election Result A Disaster For Prime Minister Tony Abbott

Posted on Sun 02/01/2015 by


Bolt New 01By Andrew Bolt ~

The Queensland election result is a disaster for Prime Minister Tony Abbott:


Queensland Labor Party Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk

LABOR is on the brink of forming government in Queensland after a rout of the first-term Liberal National Party government…

Just three years after suffering the worst-ever electoral defeat in Australia, and being reduced to a caucus of seven MPs in the 89-seat unicameral parliament, Labor leader Annastacia Palaszczuk needs just two more seats to govern in her own right…

Labor has 43 seats against the LNP’s 39 seats, with three seats — Mansfield, in the south of Brisbane, Maryborough, north of the Sunshine Coast and Whitsunday, on the central coast — too close to call…

If Labor wins any of the three seats, then it is already well-placed to form at least a minority government with the expected support of longtime independent MP Peter Wellington — a strident critic of the Newman government.

The result hurts Abbott for two main reasons. First, because he dragged down the LNP vote through his own unpopularity and miststeps like last week’s knighthood fiasco, and may have been the difference between narrow victory and defeat.

One in five voters told a Sky News exit poll that federal political issues were very important in influencing their vote in the state poll.

Queensland Treasurer Tim Nicholls went further, stating: “There were certainly federal factors and there were less-than-helpful things. Raising discussion about the GST was something that certainly didn’t help the campaign. The Medicare co-payment was again something that we didn’t support as we didn’t support raising the GST…

“We felt that the knighthood was a decision out of left field for everyone… Those have certainly played into what we have seen here tonight.”

Second, the LNP defeat damages Abbott because the analogy between Newman’s fall and Abbott’s own decline is so powerful.

Premier Campbell Newman tried to slash Queensland’s massive debt, left over by promise-anything Labor, and voters resent austerity. But worse was that he broke promises, picked too many fights, rammed decisions’ down voters’ throats and carried on at times like an autocrat with idiosyncratic decisions such as making a seemingly underqualified magistrate the chief justice:

…as time passed, his style of leadership distracted voters from the substance of his policies. As he cracked down on bikies, slashed hospital wait times and cut the deficit, Newman branded bikie lawyers criminals and doctor groups union thugs, and undermined the anti-corruption body.

He just seemed arrogant and beyond the control of voters – a fatal flaw in Australian politics.

Abbott hasn’t had Newman’s freedom to smash through as he tackles another Labor debt, thanks to a mutinous Senate. But he, too, has broken promises, picked too many fights, announced radical schemes without real consultation and made idiosyncratic decisions such as reinstating knighthoods. Abbott is a good man, but has built an image of a leader out of touch, unpredictable and too self-willed.

Australians can’t be commanded, tricked, bullied, surprised, taken for granted or treated like fools. How many leaders have learned that already – Paul Keating, Julia Gillard, Jeff Kennett…

I don’t know if Abbott can recover, but I do know he won’t unless he immediately shows he knows the public is his master.


Jane Prentice, a Queensland-based federal Liberal National backbencher, warned on live TV that Mr Abbott could face a leadership challenge if he did not nail a critical address to the National Press Club on Monday.

Asked on the ABC whether Mr Abbott was the right person to lead the Coalition to the next election, Ms Prentice replied: “Well, that’s a discussion, isn’t it? We need to look at where we’re going.”

“Tony has said he has listened and learned. He is making a keynote speech on Monday at the press club [and] we can’t continue as we are. We are not taking the people with us. We are getting bad feedback.”…

Ms Prentice agreed Monday’s speech was “make or break” for Mr Abbott.

More instability:

Former Howard government minister Mal Brough, described by some Liberals as a “suicide bomber”, threw a political hand grenade when he refused to rule out forcing a spill…

But furious ministers accused deputy Liberal leader Julie Bishop of disloyalty for failing to publicly support the PM since her return from ­Afghanistan and suggested Mr Brough was destabilising to prepare the ground for a leadership change.

“She should not be allowed to operate in the shadows,’’ a cabinet minister said.

Ms Bishop strongly denied that Mr Brough was acting on her behalf in any manner. “No, not true,’’ she said.

The Sunday Herald Sun has confirmed that she has privately assured Mr Abbott that she was not undermining, leaking, destabilising or coveting his job. This would not necessarily preclude standing if another challenger emerged or Mr Abbott stood down.

Dennis Shanahan:

For Abbott there is no doubt his thoughtless and ideologically blind decision to appoint Prince Philip an Australian knight will have played some part in Newman’s loss in Ashgrove.

Federally it will increase the sense of panic and trouble making from Queensland, encourage leadership destabilisation and limit Abbott’s options generally.

Realistically the size of the swing against LNP in Queensland can’t be sheeted home entirely to Abbbott but when there is a disaster anyone on the bridge is blamed.

Andrew Bolt is a journalist and columnist writing for The Herald Sun in Melbourne Victoria Australia.

Andrew Bolt’s columns appear in Melbourne’s Herald Sun, Sydney’s Daily Telegraph and Adelaide’s Advertiser. He runs the most-read political blog in Australia and hosts Channel 10’s The Bolt Report each Sunday at 10am. He is also heard from Monday to Friday at 8am on the breakfast show of radio station MTR 1377, and his book  Still Not Sorry remains very widely read.

Read more excellent articles from Andrew Bolt’s Blog . http://blogs.news.com.au/heraldsun/andrewbolt/