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Bligh’s highs still won’t stem the tide against Labor

12 March 2011 3,779 views 5 Comments

A MERE 2 1/2 months ago the Queensland Labor government was seen to be facing the political oblivion that looks certain to beset its counterpart in NSW.

This was until the January floods and Cyclone Yasi allowed Anna Bligh to show some political leadership for the first time. Her performance was impressive but it took more than three years for Bligh to act like a premier. And it remains to be seen whether her improved personal ratings, coupled with a revamped cabinet, will carry over into electoral support and save her government in the long term.

On March 21, the Bligh government will celebrate the second anniversary of its election in its own right following the hand-over of the premiership by Peter Beattie. While Bligh’s personal approval rating has dramatically improved, her government still trails the opposition in both the primary vote and on a two-party-preferred basis. On the latest figures her government would still be defeated.

It is likely that Prime Minister Julia Gillard will face hostile state governments in all but two states from early 2012. This would be a shot in the arm for Tony Abbott’s ambitions to become Australian prime minister and provide vital firepower for the federal Liberals and the Nationals.

The fate of the Queensland Labor government is unlikely to be as devastating as NSW Labor’s, but it’s too early to tell and will depend entirely on Bligh’s ability to continue the momentum after her positive flood performance, and recent cabinet reshuffle, which is perhaps why Bligh has said an early election would be “wrong”. This is code for the government needing more time to rebuild electoral support.

Prior to the floods Bligh’s poor performance had managed to drag the ALP primary vote below 30 per cent and she was facing a thrashing at the poll. The core problem for the ALP in Queensland is that, while there has certainly been a huge spike in support for the party as a result of the floods, Bligh’s ability to run a competent government is still in question.

That will be her real challenge and will become more obvious when, as is certain to occur, the media return to more objective reporting of Queensland politics: this will especially apply if the large-scale plans for reconstruction don’t proceed as promised.

Examples of recent state government incompetence are already many and varied. As Queensland was recovering from the crisis, the health department was demanding proof such as photos from flood-affected health workers before they could claim absent days; aspects of help to flood victims were means-tested; and there are suggestions that poor management of the Wivenhoe dam considerably worsened the flood damage to Brisbane.

Plus the fact that, for more than three years, the Labor government failed to build the promised cyclone shelters along the Queensland coast. If the government’s poor track record continues, then unfortunately for Queenslanders the rebuilding could become a serious problem.

Adding to the long-term difficulties for the Bligh government is the growing perception that, by a succession of enterprise-bargaining deals with its workforce, it has squandered the strong financial legacy it inherited from Labor and conservative governments alike. These deals have undermined the state’s budgetary position and made a significant contribution to putting the Queensland budget in the red.

This is one of the reasons Queensland lost its AAA credit rating and has fallen behind other states economically. While Bligh cleverly hid this incompetence behind a wall of asset sales by highlighting the virtues of privatisation, the state’s financial weakness will take years to repair.

Former premier Peter Beattie, who was so dominant a leader, may not admit it publicly but he must be privately shaking his head in disbelief at the current state of the Labor government. His strong fiscal and economic legacy has been squandered.

Before the floods, Queenslanders were waiting with sledgehammers to dismantle the state Labor government at the first opportunity. In nine months many voters may well revert to their previous position.

The Bligh revival may turn out to be the worst of all worlds for the ALP. It may have saved Bligh herself but prevented Labor from getting a new leader and a real fresh start, not just a reshuffle.

The Labor Party believes the Queensland government will get re-elected if Bligh can bleed the floods and cyclone for as much political gain as possible.

This is why Bligh has spent time governing from North Queensland and is being profiled in TV variety shows and by colour magazines, including Women’s Weekly. However, the absence from cabinet of the wily, Rockhampton-based Robert Schwarten can only make Bligh’s task more difficult.

Unfortunately for Bligh, her poor polling at the end of 2010 strongly reflected resentment by Queenslanders that she went to an early 2009 election without telling voters of her privatisation plans. The catastrophic floods may not wash away this loss of trust and if Bligh should call another early, opportunistic, Queensland election before it is due in June 2012 this would backfire on her badly.

Deputy Premier and former failed health minister Paul Lucas is widely regarded as one of the reasons for the government’s poor electoral standing after the health department’s (Queensland Health’s) new computer system was publicly shown to be incapable of paying Queensland’s health employees properly.

Public sympathy will always be with nurses and other health workers when they are up against government. This is certainly true when these crucial workers can’t even be paid correctly.

This expensive, drawn-out, administrative debacle should have seen Bligh sack Lucas but she has been too weak to overcome her long friendship with Lucas that started at the University of Queensland.

Bligh should have made Lucas accept responsibility for the mismanagement and removed him from the ministry. Instead, in her recent reshuffle he was moved to Attorney-General, Minister for Local Government and Special Minister of State.

The Liberal-National Party opposition believes it can win the next Queensland election on the health issue alone. Notwithstanding that there is now a new Health Minister — former education minister Geoff Wilson — the anger and disillusionment among health workers towards the Bligh government will not easily be forgotten.

Opposition Leader John Paul Langbroek has understandably slipped behind Bligh as preferred premier because he did not play politics on the floods. But together with experienced and extremely capable former opposition leader Lawrence Springborg and talented opposition treasury spokesman Tim Nicholls, the state LNP contains the nucleus of a credible alternative government.

February 17 was the tenth anniversary of Beattie’s landslide election in 2001 when the ALP won 66 of the one-house state parliament’s 89 seats.

There has been no acknowledgement of this by Bligh or Queensland Labor. The last thing Labor wants to do is remind the electorate of past victories. The Bligh government’s chance of re-election is almost totally dependent on playing flood politics and, to achieve this, there can be no distractions.

The Weekend Australian, March 12 -13, 2011.

5 Comments »

  • Bruce Woolley said:

    Lay-by leader for Queensland Opposition

    Bruce Woolley from AM reported this story on Wednesday, March 23, 2011 08:24:00

    TONY EASTLEY: When Queensland Parliament resumes this morning there’ll be a new leader of the Opposition tackling the Premier, Anna Bligh.

    Jeff Seeney was elected by Liberal National Party MPs at an extraordinary meeting last night.

    But it’s not his ascendancy that’s the story, rather, the way in which he got there, and the fact that he already wants to quit.

    He is, for all intents and purposes, a lay-by leader.

    From Brisbane, Bruce Woolley reports.

    BRUCE WOOLLEY: John-Paul Langbroek is gone, remembered by his deputy as “Queensland’s gentleman politician” after falling on his own sword.

    Jeff Seeney now has the job of parliamentary Opposition leader, but he admits he’s just a seat-warmer for Brisbane’s Lord Mayor, Campbell Newman.

    JEFF SEENEY: It’s certainly different, but I think it sets up a great contest for the next election.

    The people of Queensland will have a choice between Anna Bligh and Campbell Newman.

    BRUCE WOOLLEY: The leadership arrangement the LNP has concocted is unheard of in Australia, although there are Canadian precedents – a leader-in-waiting, but not in Parliament.

    Campbell Newman must first win LNP pre-selection, then he will be regarded as the alternative premier as he campaigns for the party from outside the House.

    If he can win his own seat and the state election too, he’ll enter Parliament as the first LNP premier, and Labor’s nemesis.

    His colleagues believe he can do it and Professor Ross Fitzgerald, a political historian from Griffith University, also thinks he has a very good chance.

    ROSS FITZGERALD: Oh, it’s an extremely audacious move but I think it’s very clever flood politics, because you’ve got to remember that before the floods Anna Bligh was going to be- going to be thrashed electorally.

    She had a rating of about 30 per cent in terms of popularity.

    And she’s been hoping- I mean, she performed brilliantly during the floods but so too did Campbell Newman who as Lord Mayor of Brisbane actually warned that the floods would be likely to happen.

    So he’s known as a man of tremendous integrity and efficiency.

    And it’s a very bold, but I think, clever move for him to stand up against Anna Bligh.

    BRUCE WOOLLEY: Now Anna Bligh is saying that Parliament is going to be at risk of descending into a dysfunctional farce, and she may well use that as a pretext for an election.

    ROSS FITZGERALD: Oh, she’ll certainly do that. I mean previously she said that there wouldn’t be an early election, but I’d be tremendously surprised if she didn’t call an election quite soon.

    Because she would think that is the best way of counteracting what will be the fairly great attraction to metropolitan and Brisbane voters, certainly, and perhaps for the rest of Queensland, to Campbell Newman.

    BRUCE WOOLLEY: How do you think that voters will respond to this rather unusual arrangement, and the fact that the organisation of the LNP – in particular the president, Bruce McIver – is actually playing king-maker.

    ROSS FITZGERALD: I would have thought Brisbane and Metropolitan voters would be supportive of this move. I’m not sure how many, for want of a better word, old fashioned ex National Party people will feel about this.

    Ideally, the best ticket would be Campbell Newman as leader of the Parliamentary and National party and Lawrence Springborg as his deputy. But I don’t think that’s likely to happen – any more than I think it’s now likely that John Paul Langbroek will be made the shadow minister for health.

    TONY EASTLEY: Historian and political scientist, Professor Ross Fitzgerald, ending that report by Bruce Woolley in Brisbane.

  • ross (author) said:

    LNP’s Newman plan ‘clever flood politics’

    By Bruce Woolley

    Campbell Newman moving on

    Campbell Newman’s profile has risen through his handling of Brisbane’s flood crisis. (AAP: Lisa Martin)

    The leadership arrangement Queensland’s Liberal National Party (LNP) has concocted is unheard of in Australia, although there are Canadian precedents with a leader-in-waiting but not in Parliament.

    Brisbane Lord Mayor Campbell Newman must first win LNP preselection and then will be regarded as the alternative premier as he campaigns for the party from outside the House.

    If Mr Newman can win his own seat and the state election too, he will enter Parliament as the first LNP premier and Labor’s nemesis.

    In the meantime when State Parliament resumes this morning there will be a new Leader of the Opposition tackling Premier Anna Bligh.

    John-Paul Langbroek is gone as opposition leader, remembered by his deputy Lawrence Springborg as “Queensland’s gentleman politician” after falling on his sword.

    Jeff Seeney was elected as interim LNP parliamentary leader by party MPs at a meeting last night, but admits he is just a seat-warmer for Mr Newman.

    “It’s certainly different, but I think it sets up a great contest for the next election,” he said.

    “The people of Queensland will have a choice between Anna Bligh and Campbell Newman.”

    Professor Ross Fitzgerald, a political historian from Griffith University, also thinks Mr Newman has a very good chance.

    “It’s an extremely audacious move, but I think it’s very clever flood politics,” he said.

    “You’ve got to remember that before the floods Anna Bligh was going to be thrashed electorally.”

    “She had a rating of about 30 per cent in terms of popularity.

    “She performed brilliantly during the floods but so too did Campbell Newman who, as Lord Mayor of Brisbane, actually warned that the floods would be likely to happen, so he’s known as a man of tremendous integrity and efficiency.

    “It’s a very bold, but I think, clever move for him to stand up against Anna Bligh.”

    Professor Fitzgerald says now Ms Bligh is reconsidering her promise of not going to the polls early.

    “She’ll certainly do that – previously she said that there wouldn’t be an early election, but I’d be tremendously surprised if she didn’t call an election quite soon,” he said.

    “Because she would think that is the best way of counteracting what will be the fairly great attraction to metropolitan and Brisbane voters certainly, and perhaps for the rest of Queensland, to Campbell Newman.”

  • Bruce Woolley said:

    Bligh eyes NSW amid election talk

    Sat Mar 26, 2011 11:45am AEDT
    Campbell Newman moving on

    Queensland Premier Anna Bligh will be looking to the New South Wales election outcome today as she considers her own poll options.

    Ms Bligh is making no secret of the fact that she is considering an early election following this week’s leadership spill in the Liberal National Party.

    Leader John-Paul Langbroek resigned in anger after Brisbane Lord Mayor Campbell Newman declared his intention of moving, not just into state politics, but into the LNP leadership.

    “Right now I’m not in election mode, I’m in rebuilding mode and that’s where I’m going to stay,” Ms Bligh said.

    In the past she has promised Queensland voters she will serve her full term and oversee the flood recovery, but she must now be tempted to capitalise on her zero-to-hero public opinion ratings.

    Because of her performance during the January floods, she has staged the biggest turnaround in Newspoll’s history, lifting Labor to 52 per cent against the LNP’s 48 per cent.

    Since then, the Opposition seems to have helped her cause with its leadership struggles and apparent disarray.

    Just last night on ABC1’s 7:30 Queensland, Lawrence Springborg blasted LNP officials for their role in drafting Councillor Newman into state politics.

    “I’m demonstrating it today that I’m uncomfortable with this and a lot of members are uncomfortable with this, and I am saying to the organisation that you may have got away with it once but don’t ever, ever think you can do it again,” he said.

    Political historian Professor Ross Fitzgerald says Ms Bligh must now be considering an early poll.

    “The reason that she’d want to go to a very early election is to stop Campbell Newman gaining any momentum, especially outside Brisbane and the metropolitan areas,” he said.

    “But she’d also want to stop Newman trying to establish himself amongst the electors at Ashgrove when the person who he’d have to take on, the current Minister for the Environment, is a woman who actually increased her vote in the 2009 elections, unlike most Labor Party members.”

    Professor Fitzgerald says the LNP could be in with a chance if an early election was held.

    “What would be quite bizarre of course would be that the Liberal National Party wins the Queensland election but Campbell Newman doesn’t win the seat of Ashgrove,” he said.

    “So that would mean that the current parliamentary leader of the Liberal National Party and his deputy would become premier of Queensland and deputy premier of Queensland and presumably Campbell Newman will go back to being Lord Mayor of Brisbane.”

    Meanwhile, Queensland’s Deputy Premier Paul Lucas is calling on Councillor Newman to immediately resign from the Brisbane mayoralty.

    He says Campbell Newman is now the LNP candidate for the seat of Ashgrove because he is the only one contesting the position.

    Mr Lucas says the pre-selection process was secretly closed off before any other party member could nominate.

    The LNP says the pre-selection for Ashgrove is due to be finalised next Sunday.

  • ross (author) said:

    ABC 666 Canberra (National Australia)
    AM (Saturday) – 26/03/2011 – 08:16 AM
    Elizabeth Jackson

    Interest in the NSW election result is likely to be strong north of the border as Anna Bligh, Queensland Premier and Minister for Reconstruction makes no secret of the fact that she is considering an early election after this week’s leadership spill in the Opposition Liberal National Party. John-Paul Langbroek, Queensland Opposition Leader resigned in anger after Campbell Newman, Brisbane Lord Mayor declared his intention of moving not just into state politics but into the MP leadership. In the past, Bligh has promised the Queensland people that she will serve her full term and oversee the flood recovery. Due to her performance in the January floods, she has staged the biggest turnaround in the history of Newspoll lifting Labor to 52% against the LNP’s 48%. On ABC 1’s 7:30 Queensland, Lawrence Springborg blasted LNP officials for their role in drafting Clr Newman into state politics. According to Professor Ross Fitzgerald, Political Historian, Griffith University, Bligh must now be considering a very early poll.

    Interviewees: Anna Bligh, Queensland Premier [Excerpt]; Lawrence Springborg [Excerpt]; Professor Ross Fitzgerald, Political Historian, Griffith University [Excerpt]
    Duration: 3:16

    4CA AM (Cairns)
    John Mackenzie – 24/03/2011 – 09:10 AM

    MacKenzie reads a story from the Cairns Post about snide Government attacks on Queensland’s Opposition which has said Lord Mayor Campbell Newman will be the next Premier. Jeff Seeney is warming the seat for Newman. MacKenzie comments that he saw a poll on television last night which showed an ’83 to 17 result.’ MacKenzie says he didn’t expect it and that such polls can be misleading. MacKenzie comments that a poll taken by The Australian before ‘this event’ showed that the Bligh Government was in the lead and heading for a victory. MacKenzie mentions that Ross Fitzgerald yesterday predicted an election within eight weeks.
    Duration: 1:37
    ABC1 (Brisbane)
    ABC News – 23/03/2011 – 07:05 PM
    David Curnow
    State News Editor Mr Bernard Bowen

    Campbell Newman, Brisbane Lord Mayor, hasn’t chosen a safe LNP seat for his gateway into state politics. Newman will go up against Kate Jones, Cabinet Minister, whose seat has been held by Labor since 1989. As Newman campaigned in Ashgrove today, Newman commented that local Government has been patronised and beat up in the last 10 year. Professor Ross Fitzgerald, Griffith University, says ‘the fact is local Government has been kicked around by the State Government over the last few years and there are many unhappy campers on the Gold Coast, Cairns and in central Queensland’. Kate Jones, Environment Minister, holds the seat by a margin of more than seven per cent. Jones says ‘I don’t underestimate Campbell Newman but I will face the full brunt of the LNP political machine’.

    Interviewees: Professor Ross Fitzgerald, Griffith University; Vox pops, locals
    Duration: 1:55

    ABC 612 Brisbane (Brisbane)
    Drive – 23/03/2011 – 03:07 PM
    Presenter Ms Kelly Higgins-Devine
    Higgins-Devine talks about LNP leader Jeff Seeney’s appeal for an early state election and Premier Anna Bligh’s reply that Seeney is an ‘illegitimate leader’. Higgins-Devine talks to Dr Tracey Arklay, a lecturer at Griffith University, about whether Brisbane is the only meaningful battleground in the state election due Lord Mayor Campbell Newman’s bid for leadership of the LNP. Arklay argues that the election is about more than Brisbane but that the LNP will need to gain credibility in the city with the ALP holding 30 seats in QLD’s southeast region. Arklay suggests that if Newman wins the State Seat in Ashgrove the LNP will have a good chance of becoming the QLD Government. She suggests that is Newman takes Ashgrove other ALP seats could fall, mentioning the seats of Chatsworth, Everton, Mansfield currently held by ALP member Phil Reeves, Ferny Grove currently held by ALP member Geoff Wilson, Mount Ommaney currently held by ALP member Julie Attwood, and Mt Coot-tha currently held by ALP member Andrew Fraser. Arklay says this is the first time a QLD party has nominated a leader from outside Parliament. She mentions the seats of Barron River, ALP member Peter Lawlor’s seat of Southport, Townsville, and ALP member Desley Boyle’s seat of Cairns as ‘marginal’ seats which could be taken by the LNP is Newman is successful. Arklay talks about the importance of regional QLD and argues there are no real constitutional problems with Newman’s move. She talks about the role of the QLD Party and says Bligh should be careful when she decides to call the election. Higgins-Devine quotes Ross Fitzgerald as calling Newman’s move ‘shrewd’, and Arklay says she was not surprised by Newman’s decision considering Bligh’s ‘slump in the polls’ since the disasters. Arklay argues Newman is a better leader for the LNP than former Opposition Leader John-Paul Langbroek.
    4CA AM (Cairns)
    John Mackenzie – 23/03/2011 – 12:33 PM

    Interview with Professor Ross Fitzgerald, Griffith University on Campbell Newman, Lord Mayor, Brisbane’s recent announcement. Fitzgerald says before the floods, Anna Bligh, Queensland Premier’s government was on a ‘hiding to nothing’ but the floods and cyclone lifted her profile ‘something fierce’. He says Newman also performed well, and this was a clever move to undercut Bligh’s ‘flood politics’. Fitzgerald says the Bligh Government’s failures, including those in health, can now be focused on during the election. He says he would be surprised if Bligh does not call a very early election to capitalise on disaffection among members of the LNP. Fitzgerald says he would see this in six weeks to two months. He says the two Parliamentary leaders are acting in proxy to Newman. Fitzgerald says John Gorton would be a close Federal approximation. He says it is not certain Newman will win the seat of Ashgrove, and King says the Greens’ preferences will flow to Labor. Fitzgerald says it will be a different kettle of fish for Blight to run against Newman as opposed to John-Paul Langbroek. MacKenzie says he was amazed that Bruce McIver, Qld LNP President could not convince one of the more tired LNP members to retire prematurely and offer up a seat for a by-election. Fitzgerald says people want to hang on to their seats, and mentions the Suicide Club in 1992 which would not happen now due to people backing self-interest. King mentions the ‘faceless men’ phenomenon as related to Kevin Rudd, and asks if the same thing will apply to Langbroek. Fitzgerald says it will not be as important for when Julia Gillard, Australian Prime Minister took over, and says Langbroek’s reputation for integrity and efficiency may override these concerns. Fitzgerald says if he was a punter, he would have a sly bet on Newman beating Bligh as Premier of Qld. King says this move effectively neutralises any political capital Bligh won during the floods. Fitzgerald says they have a Lord Mayor in Sydney, Clover Moore, who is also the Qld MP for Sydney. He says that he believes she will be re-elected as an independent.

    Interviewees: Professor Ross Fitzgerald, Griffith University
    Duration: 7:36

    ABC 936 Hobart (Hobart)
    Statewide Mornings – 23/03/2011 – 10:06 AM
    Leon Compton
    Compton suggests that the Qld Opposition may have thought a little bit like Barry O’Farrell in NSW and they would will the upcoming election. He notes that Anna Bligh’s performance approval received a huge boost off the way she handled the floods in the earlier part of the year. He discusses the political contortion in Qld politics yesterday, which saw Brisbane Lord Mayor Campbell Newman announce plans to stand for the seat of Ashgrove and lead the Liberal National Party. Ross Fitzgerald Griffith University Emeritus Professor in History notes that Bligh easily outstripped then-Opposition Leader Paul Langbroek and reminds that the seat is held by the Labor Party with a 7% margin. He notes that Jeff Seeney will be the Opposition Leader in Qld Parliament and Tim Nicholls as the Deputy Parliamentary of the Opposition.

    Interviewees: Ross Fitzgerald, Emeritus Professor in History, Griffith University
    Duration: 3:58

    4BC (Brisbane)Greg Cary Morning Show – 23/03/2011 – 09:40 AM

    Cary speaks to Professor Ross Fitzgerald, Political Analyst says in Sydney, Clover Moore is both the Lord Mayor of Sydney and the state member for Sydney, which seems to have worked quite well. Fitzgerald says the floods and cyclone have increased Anna Bligh, Qld Premier’s support, but making Campbell Newman the leader of the Opposition would undercut her support as he performed brilliantly in Brisbane during the floods. Fitzgerald believes that the LNP are more likely to win the next state election, and says the NSW election will be an ‘absolute massacre’ against Kristina Keneally, NSW Premier. Fitzgerald says the Labor party under Keneally is an absolute shambles

    Interviewees: Professor Ross Fitzgerald, Political Analyst
    Duration: 4:48

    ABC 666 Canberra (National Australia)
    AM – 23/03/2011 – 08:19 AM
    Tony Eastley

    Jeff Seeney has been elected leader of the Liberal National Coalition in Qld, replacing John-Paul Langbroek. Seeney admits he will be replaced by Campbell Newman, Brisbane Lord Maor who will face Anna Bligh, Queensland Premier and Minister for Reconstruction in the election. Prof Ross Fitzgerald, Griffith University, thinks the move is audacious but clever. He thinks Newman is known as a man of integrity and efficiency and that an election will be called soon. Fitzgerald responds to questions about voters’ thoughts on Bruce McIver, President new role as ‘king maker’ by saying he thinks that Brisbane and metro voters will be supportive of the move but that old fashioned people might not.

    Interviewees: Jeff Seeney, Qld Opposition Leader [excerpt]; Prof Ross Fitzgerald, Griffith University [excerpt]
    Duration: 3:19

    ABC Capricornia (Rockhampton)
    Breakfast – 23/03/2011 – 07:37 AM
    Presenter Ms Jacquie Mackay
    Mackay talks about developments in the LNP which took place yesterday and an article on the ABC website which suggests a possible early election. She says that the ‘leader in waiting’ situation is unprecedented in Australia but examples have been seen in Canada. Campbell Newman, Brisbane Lord Mayor, has to win LNP pre-selection and will then be regarded as the alternative premier as he campaigns from outside the house. Prof Ross Fitzgerald, Griffith University, thinks Newman is a good choice as ‘it is very clever flood politics’. He says he would be surprised if Anna Bligh, Qld Premier, did not call an election soon.

    Radio National (National Australia)
    AM – 23/03/2011 – 07:27 AM
    Tony Eastley
    Jeff Seeney has been elected leader of the Liberal National Coalition in Qld, replacing John-Paul Langbroek. Seeney admits he will be replaced by Campbell Newman, who will face Anna Bligh in the election. Prof Ross Fitzgerald, Griffith University, thinks the move is audacious but clever. He thinks Newman is known as a man of integrity and efficiency and that an election will be called soon.
    Interviewees: Jeff Seeney, Qld Opposition Leader [excerpt]; Prof Ross Fitzgerald, Griffith University
    Duration: 2:33

    ABC 666 Canberra (Canberra)
    Drive – 22/03/2011 – 05:20 PM
    Louise Maher
    Interview with Ross Fitzgerald, Emeritus Professor of History and Politics, Griffith University, discussing the events that unfolded in Queensland this afternoon following the Mayor of Brisbane announcing that he would retire as mayor and put his hand up for a seat in Brisbane with the idea of becoming the leader of the Liberal National Party in Queensland, after which, current leader John Paul-Langbroek and his deputy both announced their resignations from he leadership. Fitzgerald says it looks like there will be a Parliamentary leader and deputy, yet Campbell Newman will be ‘the leader of the Liberal National party at large’ and would be recognised as such by most LNP Parliamentarians. Fitzgerald says that this afternoon, Anna Bligh gave all sorts of hints that because of the unusual nature of what’s just happened, she is neither ruling in or out an early election, picking there will be ‘one quite soon now’
    Interviewees: Ross Fitzgerald, Emeritus Professor of History and Politics, Griffith University
    Duration: 5:49

    4BC (Brisbane)
    Greg Cary Morning Show – 17/03/2011 – 10:45 AM
    Cary briefly discusses an article in the Canberra Times by Ross Fitzgerald, Writer, relating to the right to silence. Fitzgerald says in England legislation was passed whereby even though everybody had a right to silence, if the accused says nothing, adverse inferences can be drawn from that, whereas in Australia they cannot. Fitzgerald discusses the origins of the right to silence and not to incriminate oneself, and says he would like to discuss the notion of fairness, and questions how fair it is that perpetrators are not found guilty by saying nothing.
    Interviewees: Ross Fitzgerald, Writer
    Duration: 3:31

  • Bruce Woolley said:

    Newman stands up before taking a seat

    Bruce Woolley reported this story on Monday, April 4, 2011 12:18:00

    ELEANOR HALL: The Queensland Opposition now has a new and popular leader. Campbell Newman was elected just a short time ago by Liberal National Party MPs to lead them into the next state election, even though he doesn’t yet have a seat in Parliament.

    The Premier Anna Bligh is set to call the election sometime within the next year, as Bruce Woolley reports from Brisbane.

    BRUCE WOOLLEY: Campbell Newman has leapt over some major hurdles this week in his race to become Queensland first LNP premier. He’s handed over the reins as Brisbane’s Lord Mayor to a hand-picked successor.

    Yesterday he won pre-selection for the seat of Ashgrove where he’ll be up against a Labor minister, Kate Jones and this morning, just a short time ago, he was elected by MPs as their party leader.

    CAMPBELL NEWMAN: I can’t stand by any longer and see Queensland implode. We have to get rid of the BLF: Bligh, Lucas and Fraser.

    When I first came to Queensland, this state didn’t have any debt. Indeed, 20 years ago it didn’t have any debt and now we are headed for $80 billion worth of debt. We are seeing a situation where the Treasurer has said quite openly through his financial documents, that the next four years will see accumulated deficits of $10 billion.

    I say shame and it must stop. It must be turned around.

    BRUCE WOOLLEY: He doesn’t have a seat yet, but he does have a campaign slogan.

    CAMPBELL NEWMAN: I will be going forward campaigning across Queensland. Our theme is all about Can Do Queensland.

    BRUCE WOOLLEY: Mr Newman did have some opposition from inside the party room. Sunshine Coast MP Jarrod Bleijie says there are some who didn’t like the way this has came about, with the heavy-handed involvement of the party’s unelected officials. But he says now is the time for a united front.

    JARROD BLEIJIE: We have to because people understand and the MPs are smart enough to understand that if they don’t then we’re not going to have electoral success at the next election.

    BRUCE WOOLLEY: Mr Newman is expecting an election call at any time. So he’s asked supporters, members and non-members alike, to give $5 each towards the LNP war chest.

    Queensland Treasurer Andrew Fraser says that shows he’s more interesting in politicking than helping to rebuild the state following January’s floods and cyclones.

    ANDREW FRASER: Campbell Newman is declaring that his own campaign is more important than the rebuilding of Queensland.

    BRUCE WOOLLEY: The Labor Government is putting up another hurdle to the LNP’s fundraising efforts. It will limit individual donations to political parties in a bill to be introduced this week.

    Political historian Professor Ross Fitzgerald says that is intended to hurt the Opposition more than Labor.

    ROSS FITZGERALD: It’ll certainly hurt the LNP more than Labor because the LNP would be looking or would have been looking for a fairly substantial input from individuals and from groups.

    BRUCE WOOLLEY: Professor Fitzgerald says Campbell Newman has made fast progress towards his stated aim of becoming the next Queensland premier, but the race is far from over.

    ROSS FITZGERALD: Well, there is a number of hurdles in his way. It is by far from being a lay down misere that he will actually win the seat of Ashgrove. It is possible that the Liberal National Party under his leadership may win this forthcoming election but that he himself not be elected to the parliament.

    BRUCE WOOLLEY: Do you understand that there are some people who are scratching their heads wondering how Mr Newman can be the LNP leader without actually having won a seat?

    ROSS FITZGERALD: It is a very audacious move and I can understand how a lot of ordinary punters must be scratching their heads saying well what’s actually happening? How can this chap be the leader of the Liberal National Party and not be in parliament?

    BRUCE WOOLLEY: So far there doesn’t seem to be a reaction against that from the public. Do you think that that might develop over time?

    ROSS FITZGERALD: It could develop over time but at the same time what could also develop over time is that Campbell Newman and the Liberal National Party gain momentum, not just in Brisbane, and the metropolitans but throughout the vast state of Queensland.

    ELEANOR HALL: That is political historian Professor Ross Fitzgerald from Griffith University ending that report by Bruce Woolley in Brisbane.