Byelection disaster: Historian says Campbell Newman’s hubris could see him lose his seat
Campbell Newman’s iron grip on Queensland government is now looking decidedly limp-wristed following the disastrous Stafford byelection result.
The Premier’s Liberal National Party suffered an 18.6 per cent swing in the Brisbane bayside electorate, Labor’s victory giving it a ninth MP in the Queensland Parliament.
Historian Ross Fitzgerald predicted Mr Newman would definitely lose his own seat of Ashgrove at the Queensland election, expected within 11 months.
”Ã¢â‚¬ËœWhen they say the swing is on in Queensland, it goes bananas. And historically, it is most certainly is on, Professor Fitzgerald said.
The Premier won the biggest election victory in Australian history in 2012 but he is in danger of losing government.
And unless they find Mr Newman another seat, he will also lose his in the election. There are too many public servants in Ashgrove who haven’t taken kindly to the big staff cuts.
Professor Fitzgerald said the Queensland Liberal National Party had nobody to blame but Mr Newman for the slump in its electoral fortunes.
The government’s been brought low by Mr Newman’s hubris. Pure and simple, he said.
He thought because he had such a huge majority he could hurt, cut and do whatever he liked. Well, it is not panning out like that.
Mr Newman alienated large sections of the community by bullheaded legislation to bring bikie gangs under control and his high-handed appointment of Tim Carmody as Chief Justice, despite him having no Supreme Court experience.
There have been ongoing and embarrassing resignations of LNP MPs and ministers, but Mr Newman’s biggest black mark has been the reduction of 14,000 Queensland public service positions.
He promised to do so in the 2012 campaign. But in a large state where a government presence is a huge and valued component of regional life, the cuts are now starting to bite, and programs and locals are being jettisoned. Consequently, the Queensland government’s popularity has been falling for months.
The fall in the Newman government’s vote in Saturday’s byelection followed a 17 per cent swing to Labor in the Redcliffe byelection last February.
Mr Newman scored the biggest victory in Australian electoral history in April 2012, attracting 62.8 per cent of the two-party preferred vote.
Last April, however, Newspoll found his lead over Labor had fallen to 52 per cent to 48 per cent. Earlier this month the pollster had the LNP trailing Labor 49 per cent to 51 per cent.
On Saturday night Mr Newman acknowledged some Queenslanders were not happy with his government.
This evening I say to those people, weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve heard you, we understand how you feel, and I pledge this evening to continue to work hard, he said.
We will work very, very hard to take our message out to Queenslanders about the positive things we do want to happen in this state.
Labor leader Annastacia Palaszczuk said the byelection outcome was a result of Mr Newman not listening to voters.
This is a Premier who is taking Queensland backwards and tonight Stafford has sent him a clear message, she told supporters on Saturday night.
Damien Murphy, The Sydney Morning Herald, July 21, 2014, p 8.