November 2017 is locked in as the date for the next Queensland election. Lock in 31 October 2020 as the date for the following election too, as the 2017 election will be the last time a sitting Premier has the ability to choose the poll date.
Before we get started, let us quickly recognise the LNP’s Lawrence Springborg, Jeff Seeney, Ian Rickuss and Verity Barton, the ALP’s Bill Byrne, and Independent Member for Nicklin and Speaker of the House, Peter Wellington, all of whom will retire at the election. All of these MPs, due to the election timing, will not have a formal chance to bid farewell to Parliament. Springborg ends his run as the state’s longest-serving parliamentarian after clocking almost 28 years as the Member for Carnarvon and more recently, Southern Downs. He was the youngest person elected to the Parliament of Queensland and is still a relatively youthful 49 years old.
It will be a close contest
We have prepared this visualisation of the new 93-seat parliament using data from the ABC and the Queensland Electoral Commission, with calculations based on optional preferential voting patterns at the 2015 election. The four seats that notionally change hands based on this calculation have been highlighted.
The ALP Government and LNP Opposition have 43 seats each, with four held by independents, two by Katter’s Australia Party and one by One Nation. As you can see, even after the redistribution of electoral boundaries and expansion of parliament, a minority government is still on the cards.
It could be another wildly swinging result
In 2012, a 13.7 per cent swing against the Bligh Government led to a landslide defeat that left Queensland Labor with only seven sitting members.
In 2015, a 14 per cent swing against the Newman Government saw Queensland Labor win 35 new seats and form minority government.
Both major parties need to increase their votes to win the next election but it is One Nation that will steal first preference votes this time. Opinion polling over the past twelve months suggests them collecting up to 15 per cent of the primary vote across the state. This complicates things considerably. While around three-quarters of electorates will be traditional two-party battles, the rest will rely heavily on One Nation preferences.
Expect the unexpected
The only thing to expect is a wild ride. The return of full preferential voting and the re-emergence of One Nation as a political force have created considerable uncertainty and an election that is too close to call.
While both major parties have ruled out preference deals with One Nation – and One Nation has vowed to put every sitting member last – seat-by-seat deals will play a big role and we may even see Labor preferences help the LNP win a few seats and vice versa.
Both of the major parties have different battlegrounds. Labor must retain its strength in the regions and pick up extra seats in the south-east to form majority Government. The LNP must protect the south-east and try to carve into Labor’s hold on the regions to form majority Government.
The past 18 months have taught us that nothing is simple in politics domestically and abroad. Expect the unexpected and you won’t be surprised.