On the Queensland state election

Martin Gordon writes: Re. “Turnbull rattled over One Nation’s pull on conservatives” (Monday).

The problem in the election result is not actually new, and has occurred to both major political blocks over the last century or so (for the ALP this was during WW1, The Great Depression and the 1950’s ALP split). Currently the ALP is in the enviable position that disgruntled former Coalition supporters in the main (but not exclusively) are taking votes from the LNP to ONP, and in the anti-incumbent preferencing strategy of the ONP and the ill-disciplined preferencing of ONP voters effectively delivering a large portion of those preference votes to the ALP. The biggest winners from the ONP are in fact the ALP.

The irony is that the ALP could be very unpopular, and yet in this process record swings to them. Which is what appears to have happened last Saturday, as well as a surprisingly large vote for extreme parties (a sizeable portion of which is protest driven), ONP on the right and the Greens on the left. In fact buried deep in the coverage is a growing problem for the ALP, and it has nothing to do with the ONP, and that is the Greens. The Greens threaten to win Maiwar (from the LNP) and South Brisbane (from the ALP Deputy Leader), and former seat of Labor luminaries such as former Premier Vince Gair. Trying to please the Greens loses the ALP votes outside in the inner city. The recent loss of Northcote to the Greens due to the absence of a Liberal candidate/Liberal voters voting Green in preferences over the ALP as Charles Richardson described shows that political fortune can be transitory.

If history is a guide in 1998 the ONP tide receded sufficiently to not do too much damage to John Howard in the same year, and in WA in 2001 ONP may have helped the ALP win but again the ONP political impact receded. The message is to calmly respond, and not give any credence to idiots like George Christensen, who is like the Eddie Ward/Arthur Calwell whinger in the wings to their party leaders. Calmly work on governing, addressing some issues with policy, win back voters, point to the protest voting not actually achieving anything. Shorten may smile for a while, but Kim Beazley made little headway, and a shrewd PM can win through. Before Howard, Hawke had done it, and should Shorten win, he will have to make the Greens happy, and in time they will make his life hard as they stand for different things. Political fortune can indeed be transitory.

Barry Welch writes: Re. “Turnbull rattled over One Nation’s pull on conservatives” (Monday).

The dilemma for the conservatives is whether the LNP should join Pauline and become LNPHON or let the Nats go and be NPHON.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey