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08 January 2015
by Bob Ellis

Campbell Newman's sneaky gamble

Campbell Newman's electoral prospects are sinking so fast, he has called the first January election - Federal or state - since Federation

Campbell Newman's snap early election announcement in Queensland yesterday was a cheat to keep as many young people off the rolls as possible, which still might fail.

Newman’s move is a tremendous cheat, of course – many, many people, in particular students, will not get on to the electoral rolls by Saturday; a goodly number are not even in Australia – and it may well keep his party in power. But it’s possible it won’t and it’s worthwhile reasoning why.

The LNP is a new party, and this is only its second outing. There was a fourteen percent swing to it, three years ago, and there’s a thirteen percent swing away from it now, according to Galaxy, a Murdoch poll. But it’s likely the swing is greater than that. A Bjelke-Petersen is the figurehead of another cashed-up conservative party. A Katter is running elsewhere, and Pauline Hanson herself, and the federal Senate is investigating Newman’s criminality. It’s unlikely those Senate findings will go unleaked.

There is also the matter of the people Newman sacked – nurses, firemen, public servants – after saying he wasn’t going to. Given the million voters that Abbott lost by a similar turnaround swearing jobs would be safe, and savaging the ABC, SBS, the universities and the submarine factories – it may well go harder with Newman, who has an uglier personality.

It is certain, pretty much, that Newman will lose his seat. And this poses a difficulty: Who, then, are the voters electing? Springborg, maybe. Seeney. Who knows?

It is Labor’s habit to imagine they "won’t quite make it", in an election that, properly managed, could be a shoo-in. "Too many seats to win" sounds like a convincing assessment, but only for a while, until you realise Palmer can win ten seats, Katter eight, Hanson two, and this leaves Labor only … seventeen to win if they are to form, in an uneasy coalition, a government that may last a year or so. Seventeen is not that hard. Twenty-five is not that hard.

We will know more when the Morgan Poll comes in. It is accurate; and it has lately shown Labor, federally, to be on 54.5, two party preferred, in Queensland. Although ‘two party preferred’ is next to meaningless in a state with five parties as plausible contenders, it is an indication.

It is an indication of how unpopular the tory parties are, especially after the world’s hottest year, and a "climate change is bullshit" Prime Minister upbraiding Obama, of all people, for bringing the subject up.

And it is hard to see how Campbell Newman is more popular than Abbott. Which means, under normal conditions, 53 or 54 percent, two party preferred, for Labor on January 31.

Let us hope – sincerely hope – enough Labor voters get on to the rolls by Saturday.