As the result slowly comes into focus, Saturday’s election in Queensland appears to have found ways to bring disappointment to all comers.
Annastacia Palaszczuk will remain Premier, but it’s touch and go as to whether Labor will get to a majority of 47 seats out of 93, as it will need to if Palaszczuk is to honour her depressing pre-election commitment not to make “deals” in a hung parliament.
For a first-term government whose leader enjoyed a strong advantage over her opponent in personal popularity, and which benefited from the unpopularity of a Coalition government federally, this is a distinctly underwhelming outcome.
Labor had factored in a few losses in the state’s economically floundering regions, but a casualty list of as many as four seats is more than they would have bargained for.
Hopes of making up for such losses through gains in south-east Queensland, as was done during One Nation’s first great disruption two decades ago, were only partly realised.
Labor has made only one clear gain in Brisbane and the Gold Coast, although there are a further two seats where they are a better than even chance.
However, any corresponding joy for the LNP has been blunted by its failure to win power, an 8% slump on the primary vote, and a likely defeat on statewide two-party vote (which Labor should win by as much as 52-48).
It was also a bad night for Pauline Hanson, who hopefully doesn’t believe her claim that One Nation can still win as many as ten seats.
Care should be taken not to overstate the party’s failure — its average in the 61 seats where it fielded candidates was around 20%, and the result would have been well in line with its strong pre-election polling if it had run in the other 32.
That’s more than enough to assure the party of a long-term Senate presence, but all it appears to have yielded at this election is the Labor-held seat of Mirani on the central coast, where their candidate looks likely to prevail on LNP preferences.
Nowhere was the LNP seriously threatened by One Nation, who would at best get to around 30% in rural LNP strongholds, then hit the roadblock of Labor preferences.
The biggest danger to the major parties proved to be not One Nation, but independents and Katter’s Australian Party, who could gain four regional seats between them.
There was also disappointment for the Greens, who failed in their bid to unseat Deputy Premier Jackie Trad in South Brisbane.
However, the party had a good night all round — its statewide vote was its highest ever at a Queensland state election, and it is well in the race to gain the inner-west Brisbane seat of Maiwar from the LNP’s Shadow Treasurer Scott Emerson, who will lose to Labor if he doesn’t lose to the Greens.
Labor’s worst case scenarios for the late count could leave them relying on a support from a Green in Maiwar and an independent in Rockhampton, but such support would assuredly be forthcoming.
Alternatively, Labor could yet get its hands on the untrammelled power that comes from being a party that wins a majority in a parliament with no upper house — something it will have achieved with the support of barely more than a third of the state’s voters.