The Courier-Mail’s Galaxy poll of federal voting intentions in Queensland is significant. The poll has Labor on a 47% primary and with a 55% two party-preferred.

Queensland has been Labor’s Achilles heel throughout the Howard era. Some commentators have expressed scepticism as to whether socially conservative Sunshine Staters would change their adherence in droves.

But the poll puts paid to the claim made by some of the punditariat that Howard would be able to rely on his “strengths” in economic management in Queensland and Western Australia – the “two track economy” thesis.

In the West, of course, the Brian Burke factor might be a significant variable. But in Queensland, Rudd has certainly played a smart hand in not just remaining content with the parochialism card, but also by joining forces with Beattie to advocate investments in infrastructure which are sorely needed – for instance fixing the horrendous and deadly Ipswich Motorway which Howard has consistently refused to fund. That’s of particular importance to the future of Liberal MPs in Blair and Moreton, but it’s only just one example. Infrastructure is a big potential issue with the continuing fast growth in south-east Queensland’s population.

However, before Labor supporters break out the champagne, this poll needs supplementing by some marginal seat polling. Many of the seats Labor has to win are regional, and statewide trends may not be safe to extrapolate.

There are also only two seats with margins under 3% – Bonner and Moreton. The Coalition significantly tightened its grip on many of the seats Labor needs to win in 2004 because the anti-Latham swing was particularly evident in Queensland.

But when Queenslanders historically have swung their baseball bats, they’ve hit the ball hard. In 1996, Labor was left with only two MPs from the state. The Galaxy poll does indicate that a very good result for Labor this year may not be out of the ballpark.

Peter Fray

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