2018 political insights

Published on
April 19, 2018

Relatively speaking, 2018 in Queensland will be politically calm and by comparison with the United States, positively boring.

There will be no more elections in Queensland or Australia this calendar year.

This does not mean the major political parties have seen off minor party insurgency as has been suggested after Tasmania, South Australia and the Batman by-election.

If we take the major parties as Labor, Liberals and Nationals, Australia now has 14 minor parties sitting in its federal, state and territory parliaments. Between them, they hold 73 seats. Of those, the Greens have 38, leaving the other 13 parties with just 35 between them. One Nation is next with seven.

We now have more serious competition Australia-wide for a share of the “we don’t want either of them” vote.

In Queensland, the Greens have enjoyed electoral success. In 2016, they won their first seat in Brisbane City Council, in the inner Southside.

In the November 2017 Queensland state election, the Greens captured 10 per cent of the vote and won their first state seat, Maiwar, in Brisbane’s inner west, and came close in South Brisbane.

The surprise is the Katter Party. It has more parliamentarians than One Nation and Independents combined and has genuine strength in northern Queensland.

So why are Australian voters angry at the major parties?

And why are they particularly angry in the regions?

In a recent study, The Grattan Institute suggested that eroding trust in government explains much of the dissatisfaction.

Since 2007, there has been a significant increase in the share of people who believe that politicians look after themselves and that government is run by a few big interests.

As a result, the major parties are struggling in the regions.

The further you drive from Brisbane, the higher the minor party vote and the more it has risen.

Minor party influence is small in the Parliament but powerful in their preference delivery in elections. Only in Tasmania has a major player, the Liberals, delivered 50% of the primary vote. In most other states and Federally, the majors attract a combined vote of between 60 – 70%.

So why is there stability in the face of electoral fracturing?

In Queensland, the voting system has delivered majority Government at all three levels of lower house Government.

In the Senate, the Federal Upper House has proportional voting and the number of Senators to be elected in each State makes election easier for minor parties. So, the Australian Senate is where consultation on legislation must occur.

So what can we expect internationally in 2018?

The United States, China and the interaction with Russia will be ongoing sources of tension in trade, foreign relations and economics.

Putin has secured a six-year term, Xi has life tenure, and the American November mid-term elections will be the political sword dangling over a chaotic Trump administration.

A lower Australian dollar, good commodity prices, a strengthening economy mixed with low private sector wages growth will be the economic realities facing us.

Good relations with all sides of politics are the best insurance policy companies can have and Rowland is well placed to assist.