The somewhat uncertain coalition between the Liberals and Nationals in
Queensland took a step forward last week. The two parties promised in
September to conduct “joint preselections” in six seats in readiness
for the state election due in early 2007. On Saturday it was announced that the first of them – Springwood, in the outer southern suburbs of Brisbane – has gone to a Liberal, Peter Collins.

Springwood was contested by the Nationals at the last election, so this
is a gain for the Liberals, but with the ALP sitting on a margin of
9.7% it is not high on the opposition’s target list. The way the
Beattie government is travelling at the moment, however, swings like
that are not impossible – the Liberals got a 13.5% swing to win nearby
Chatsworth at a by-election in August.

Of the other five joint preselections, two – Gaven (5.0%) and
Mudgeeraba (1.9%) on the Gold Coast – were contested by the Liberal
Party last time, so it must be expected that they will do so again. A
third, Redlands, was in the National Party column, but like the
adjacent Springwood it is, at least on paper, reasonably safe Labor at
8.5%. The two interesting ones will be Broadwater (4.1%) and Hervey Bay
(4.0%): marginals contested by the National Party last time, in which
it failed to make up much ground (in Broadwater it went backwards).

The Liberals are convinced that they can do better in seats like this,
and they are determined to get their chance. But if the National Party
decides that primacy within the Coalition is more important than
winning government – the decision that it has, quite rationally, taken
in the past – then those are the places where it will put up a real