The angle that most political commentators seem to have missed out of the Queensland election was the strong performance of minor parties, led by the Greens and Family First. The religious Right party ran in 26 seats and averaged 6.76% and the Greens ran in 75 seats and averaged 9.31%, up from 8.35% at the 2004 election.

The mainstream media are not properly reporting this phenomenon but this might be because they are embarrassed about the inaccuracy of their published opinion polls. This is what The Australian reported on 29 August :

Support for the Greens has slumped since the last election, and remains on 2%, equal to that of Family First.

Truth be known, the Greens lifted their overall vote from 6.76% to 7.84%, despite not running in 14 seats. While Newspoll systematically underestimates support for the Greens, Fairfax’s Nielsen polls remain a joke because they still ask about One Nation and the Democrats, when Family First have clearly replaced both as the only alternative minor party to the Greens.

Indeed, the Greens are facing a serious threat from Family First. In the 21 seats where they went head to head on Saturday, the Greens were outpolled in six of them.

Where Family First entered the contest, the best the Greens managed on Saturday was 11.6% in Ferny Grove and the worst was 2.99% in Keppel, where Family First polled 9.17%. Indeed, the best 12 seats for the Greens on Saturday all didn’t have a Family First candidate. It sure does help being the only option for a protest vote.

Family First has plenty of cash courtesy of some big donations, and has no problems manning the booths thanks to its Pentecostal networks. Given the strong performance in Queensland on Saturday, they should be taken seriously in the forthcoming Victorian, NSW and Federal elections.

Peter Fray

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