It’s almost proverbial these days to assert that State government is about service delivery, not big ideological issues. The big ticket economic and social policies are the domain of Federal politics. But it’s also always been the case that Australian electors like to balance a Commonwealth government of one partisan stripe with State governments of the other.
Recently, on Crikey, I wrote that one of the key issues Graham Young and I were picking up in our online polling for The National Forum was IR. Queensland voters were deeply worried about job security. There’s no real surprise there as Queensland has the highest level of casual employment and had the State IR system with the biggest coverage in Australia. And wages in Queensland have historically been, and are still below the national average.
As I predicted, Team Beattie is campaigning on Federal issues. TV ads push both the interest rates and WorkChoices buttons, and wrap the theme together with Coalition disunity. But interestingly, Lawrence Springborg has also taken a leaf out of the Federal playbook.
The Coalition’s campaign launch on Sunday highlighted promises designed to appeal to first home buyers and motorists, as well as a twist on the private health insurance boondoggle.
The Nats obviously think that Federal issues can play their way too. It was an interesting gambit to play with Howard and Vaile in the room. Howard must have brought his campaign launch spendometer with him, as the Coalition’s promises now add up to $5.7 billion of new spending. And the figures don’t add up. But then no one imagines that Michael Catalbiano will have to start doing the sums as Treasurer on Monday. He’ll be more likely calculating what his super payout is.
One thing is undeniable. Whatever Federal pollies will say on Sunday morning, it’s impossible to claim that this Queensland election doesn’t send a message about Australian politics. Political strategists should be pondering what the election portends for the many low income regional seats the Coalition hold nationally.