Bit late off the mark with this one, but yesterday’s Australian carried a Newspoll survey of voting intention in Queensland which emphatically answered two key questions: will Anna Bligh’s flood-and-cyclone poll bounce endure (no), and will voters play along with the Campbell Newman experiment (yes). The poll finds that not only is Labor almost back down to its late 2010 primary vote nadir, but that the Newman-led LNP has sucked in huge numbers of votes from minor parties and independents. Labor’s 31 per cent compares with 29 per cent in the third quarter of 2010 and 26 per cent in the fourth, while the LNP’s 51 per cent is fully six points higher than at their previous peak in October-December. The Greens meanwhile have shed three points to 7 per cent, with “others” down four to 11 per cent.
The effect of this multiple transfusion to the LNP primary vote has been to push their two-party lead to a new high of 60-40, a better result than the October-December poll which had Labor’s primary vote five points lower than at present. In between came a remarkable result in the January-March poll which was not replicated elsewhere, showing Labor with a 52-48 lead from primary votes of 38 per cent for Labor and 37 per cent for the LNP. That poll probably set a few records for sharpest polling reversals, some of which would now have been broken again.
On personal ratings, Anna Bligh is still doing a lot better than her 24 per cent approval and 67 per cent disapproval in October-December, but has nonetheless shed nine points on approval to 40 per cent since January-March and gained seven on disapproval to 50 per cent. Campbell Newman’s debut performance is 50 per cent approval and 22 per cent disapproval, and he leads 49-35 as preferred premier. Bligh’s January-March lead of 53-26 over John-Paul Langbroek – the only lead she has recorded this term – now looks a remarkable example of fleeting glory.
First round of preselection news for the new season, some of it going back a few months:
• Michael McKenna of The Australian reports the coming weekend will deliver a “super Saturday” of Labor preselections, which are likely to amount to a collective rebuff to Anna Bligh over privatisation. There were reports last month of a deal to ensure that four outgoing members – Lindy Nelson-Carr of the Left in Mundingburra, Desley Boyle of AWU/Labor Forum in Cairns, Stephen Robertson of the Left in Stretton and Robert Schwarten of the Right in Rockhampton – were replaced by factional colleagues. However, the force of the local rank-and-file vote is reportedly set to deliver not only Mundingburra to Mark Harrison of the Electrical Trades Union, but also Cairns to Richie Bates of the Rail Tram and Bus Union. They are respectively opposed by Paul Fletcher and Kirsten Lesina, both from the AWU/Labor Forum sub-faction of the Right. Information on Rockhampton is surprisingly thin on the ground, The Australian’s report saying only that “a brawl erupted yesterday between the retiring veteran minister Robert Schwarten and supporters over the two Labor Unity candidates running for his seat of Rockhampton” (UPDATE: Why Worry points to a Morning Bulletin article idenifying the candidates as Bill Byrne and Matthew Flanagan, the former being backed by Schwarten). It also informs us that Bligh’s favoured Left candidate in Sunnybank, who has variously been reported as Megan Jones and Megan Bishop, faces defeat at the hands of Adam Obeid, an AWU/Labor Forum faction member who has the backing of the incumbent, former Police Minister Judy Spence.
• The LNP has twice hit trouble in its efforts to preselect a candidate for Beaudesert. Scenic Rim mayor John Brent recently withdrew on the grounds that he is facing a Department of Local Government misconduct inquiry; he says he is “quite sure I will be cleared of any wrongdoing”, but wishes to ensure the party has a “clear run-up to the state election”. So highly rated was Brent that there were rumours he had been offered the deputy leadership, according to an AAP report. The LNP initially chose at its candidate Andrew Macarthur, a former general manager of Stanbroke Pastoral Company, but he withdrew in early April citing personal reasons. The current member for the seat is Aidan McLindon, who succeeded Kev Lingard as LNP member at the 2009 but has since quit to help for the Queensland Party.
• LNP preselection for the Gold Coast seat of Burleigh, which Labor’s Christine Smith has done remarkably well to hold since 2001, produced a field of 11 candidates. The nod yet again went to local business owner Michael Hart, who also ran in 2009 and for the Liberals in 2006. Police senior sergeant Mark Anderson had previously been rated the front-runner by Suzanne Lappeman of the Gold Coast Bulletin.
• Townsville Regional councillor John McVeigh has won LNP preselection for Toowoomba South, to be vacated at the election by one-time Nationals leader Mike Horan. McVeigh prevailed in a field of five which included “Toowoomba Regional councillor Mike Williams, Wagners laboratory manager Darryl Low, David Janetzki from Heritage Building Society and Easterfest CEO Isaac Moody”.
• The LNP member for Lockyer, Ian Rickuss, has seen off a preselection challenge from Lockyer Valley Councillor David Neuendorf. Condamine MP Ray Hopper also prevailed against a challenge from a candidate whose identity a party spokesperson did not see fit to reveal.
• Christopher O’Leary of Springfield News reports the Labor member for Bundamba, Jo-Ann Miller, easily overcame preselection challenges from “electorate officer Kerry Silver and home accessories manufacturer Ian McIlmurray”.