Queensland’s the only state to hold an election this year, and excitement is obviously building. Well, that’s one way of looking at it — if you’re either a News Limited journo looking for a lazy piece to write about “early poll speculation” or if you’re a member of the LNP. The supposedly reinvigorated (“new”, “fresh” and all that) amalgamated opposition seem to be constantly poised at the blocks waiting for the starting gun to be fired. The latest symptom of this silly season syndrome is a very excitable story in the Courier-Mail today.

The paper’s breathless reporters write:

The prospect of an early state election has arisen again after Labor began letterbox dropping households in battleground seats at the weekend.

It doesn’t appear to have occurred to the LNP apparatchiks that just as their members have been spending Saturday mornings for a month or more sweating in the summer sun on stalls on shopping strips (only to be ignored by electors focused more on, well, shopping) that Labor might also be doing a bit of profile raising for its new candidates.

In fact, the ALP might be doing its bit of early campaigning in a somewhat more strategic fashion than their opponents. It’s hard to see the logic of the Lib Nats actively campaigning in Brisbane Central before Christmas — held by a margin of 14.4% on the 2006 figures. And it’s hard to see why Michael Palmer would be booking billboards along Sandgate Road in Nudgee — where Labor is defending a margin of 18.2%. But, then, Palmer can probably afford a bit of youthful enthusiasm, since his dad, Clive, has been largely funding Opposition Leader Lawrence Springborg’s makeover.

While Anna Bligh will no doubt want to retain some flexibility over the timing of the election, just because the LNP and News Limited say there’ll be an election next month won’t make it so. Bligh’s only recently flicked the switch to negative on the opposition, and there’s a lot of scope left for tarnishing The Borg’s image and exploiting divisions between the Libs and the Nats, or rather between the LNP and Liberal voters. Not to mention a fair bit of unfinished business in “renewing” the ALP, which Bligh hinted at in an interview with the Fin Review yesterday.

LNP strategists might like to spend a little more time developing an actual political strategy and a bit less time assuming that one leaflet drop means we’ll soon be off to vote.

Peter Fray

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