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Issue # 1404      25 March 2009

Qld election:

Greens a decisive factor

The Queensland state election has returned Labor with a reduced majority but a comfortable 17 seat margin. The first elected female premier in Australia now takes office.

Another first was the high vote recorded by the Greens candidate and the probable return in rural electorates of four independents, continuing the departure from some electorates by the major parties.

In Indooroopilly Rohan Lee, the former Labor member turned Green who deserted Labor on the basis of its environmental record, has recorded almost 26 percent of the vote and refuses to concede defeat to the Liberal National candidate.

The Greens were the decisive factor in some seats behind Labor candidates being returned, including the State Treasurer Andrew Fraser in the seat of Mt Cootha, a Brisbane seat to the west of the city in the green belt.

The election was called as a virtual snap election with a short campaign period and the publicity was confined mainly to those parties or candidates with parliamentary representation.

The media, such as the Nine and Seven networks, along with the Courier Mail, tried hard to promote the extreme right-wing Pauline Hanson in the semi-rural seat of Beaudesert, an electorate to the far south west of Brisbane. Despite predictions to the contrary from the Mayor of Ipswich Paul Tully, a conservative renegade from Labor with anti-worker credentials, the Hanson push tanked and she ran third and not first or second as the media barons had hoped.

The central issue of the campaign was jobs. Liberal National Party leader Lawrence Sprinborg was promising to slash a billion dollars or more from the state budget and Anna Bligh and the Labor Party successfully campaigned as the party supporting jobs.

In some northern seats where mining plays a role Labor actually recorded small gains in votes, as in the Gold Coast and South East Queensland. Their major losses were in areas of high share ownership and self funded retirees such as Aspley and Clayfield which have been traditionally held by the conservative parties.

The promising part of the campaign was the late activity by the Labor Party and some unions around jobs issues and agreements reached in support of workers. This was what caused the bleeding to stop for Labor and reversed what was predicted to be a Liberal National Party victory.

The comment of Nationals Barnaby Joyce on ABC television election coverage raised the bitter divisions in the conservative camp “We have to understand that the Greens are a branch of the Labor Party, the sooner we understand this and treat them accordingly the better.”

The National had seen victory snatched from them by Greens’ preferences; the swing on first preference was 7 percent but only 3-4% after preferences the Greens’ preferences.

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