Podcast #116: Wrapping up Queensland’s local elections


Ben is joined by Maggie Perry from 6 News Australia to discuss the results of council elections and by-elections in Queensland. We mostly focus on the Brisbane City Council results, and also touch on the results of the two state by-elections and other local council elections.

This podcast is supported by the Tally Room’s supporters on Patreon. If you find this podcast worthwhile please consider giving your support.

You can listen to an ad-free version of this podcast if you sign up via Patreon for $5 or more per month.

This podcast is sponsored by Zencastr. Use my special link to save 30% off your first month of any Zencastr paid plan.

You can subscribe to this podcast using this RSS feed in your podcast app of choice, but should also be able to find this podcast by searching for “the Tally Room”. If you like the show please considering rating and reviewing us on iTunes.

Liked it? Take a second to support the Tally Room on Patreon!
Become a patron at Patreon!


  1. I think this is a continuation of a long slow trend. Labor are suffering a declining first preference vote and they are in complete denial that this is happening. I recall going to a post Federal election event at Queensland Parliament where all parties spoke about their interpretation of the result. The thing that struck me was the trumpism of the Labor person, but when I pointed out that they only got about 32% 1PP, this was completely dismissed. In this LG election people had the choice to not preference Labor and that to me showed up how weak their primary vote is. It is like a dodo that didn’t adopt to their longer term detriment.

    As far as the Greens go, I will be interested to see who they replace JS with. Will they go for a more acceptable face and try to hover up those people who feel Labor no longer represent them and continue their long slow progression.

  2. Neil, I would say the Greens do need to tone down some of their ‘activist’ rhetoric and image which doesn’t really play well with the wider community (except young voters of university age, who support this type of view).

    I believe a ‘small target’ focus similar to how the Greens operate on local councils for NSW and Victoria is probably what is needed to expand their base in BCC.

  3. The problem with Labor is that they are being squeezed on two fronts. Traditional ‘working class’ type voters employed in primary industries, or the trade profession are no longer unionised and have moved towards a more entrepreneurial style of thinking – so the Coalition/LNP is a more natural home for them.

    For those on the progressive side (mainly young voters of university age), they feel that Labor is no longer adequately supporting them by still being committed to old business interests (particularly in the energy sector).

    Either way, it is like a catch 22 situation because if Labor moves more to the right to try and increase their support amongst ‘working class’ voters, they lose support from their younger and more educated base (and vice versa).

  4. I think a good starting point for reforming the Labor Party would be to look towards modelling it on the Liberal Party of Canada, a centrist party that bridges the gap between the Conservatives and the left wing New Democratic Party. The ALP would benefit trying to get the ‘teals’ onboard in joining a reformed centrist party in this case.

  5. Nice to see a 6 news crossover. They had pretty much the only real live coverage of the Queensland local elections on election night and they did a very impressive job. Hope to see more of them on the podcast.

  6. I don’t think the plan was to win Wards.
    The Plan was to take the Lord Mayoralty. They just needed a few more % to get Jonno up on Labor Preferences.
    The Libs did similar with Newman in 2004 [which Ben is talking about now].
    Once you’ve got the Mayoralty, the Wards will follow 4 years later.
    The argument that the State Government should change the system to benefit Labor backfired when the Coalition tried that in 1972.
    The Lord Mayor had always been a separate Election, but for 1973 the LM candidates had to be Councillors too.
    It was rightly seen as bastardry to oust Clem Jones and Lasbor ended up winning 20 of the 21 Wards.

  7. @ gympie

    No the Greens plan was certainly to win wards this time.

    It is amusing though that if it were a CPV system the Greens aren’t too far off winning the mayoralty, but attempting that would be considerably against what is the Greens’ competitive advantage in elections:

    The LNP and Labor who have a status as “parties of government” and in order to have a “successful” election must win (n/2)+1 seats. This necessarily spread their resources. But the Greens can concentrate all their resources at a much smaller geographic concentration of voters.

    Going for the mayoralty would be the opposite of this, that’s every voter!

    Note: I think the Greens made the strategic error of spreading themselves too thin this election regardless of whether they were thinking about the mayoralty. I saw at least passing mention from the Greens about Enoggera, Pullenvale, and Holland Park which presumably mean they did not maximising concentration in Walter-Taylor, Central, and Coorparoo which they (narrowly) failed to gain.

  8. The idea the Greens should ‘tone down their activist rhetoric’ is sensible but disregards how radical the Greens are. I was talking to a Pullenvale resident who had the Greens knock on her door before the election and ask whether she and her husband should be living in such a big house when there are so many homeless. She felt like they were being assessed for property redistribution after the revolution. The Greens pretend, pretend pretend already. They are hiding behind the ALP and when they finish sucking the life out of them, will explode from the body of that old and respectable party like something out of a sci fi horror movie.

  9. I heard the Greens also went door to door collecting funds for ISIS and want to ban wearing underwear.

  10. Wilson, I presume your comment was meant as sarcasm. I don’t recall any Greens campaigners going door to door in my area (inner North suburbs), although Lynne may be right that it could be one or two rogue campaigners who did some illegal acts.

    Nevertheless, to tar all Greens campaigners with the same brush is probably too much – many campaigners I have run into seem quite pleasant and not really ‘in your face’.

  11. My limited observations of Greens handing out HTVs is that they’re in your face toward elderly women, close to harrassment, and if they’re even aware of the No Spruiking Rule, couldn’t care less.
    I’m interested to see what Turnout on the day for the LNP was like compared to 2020, because my fantasy is that plenty marched out on the day to vote against Jonno.

  12. There’s no such thing as a “No Spruiking” rule. Parties are free to do what they like within the rules to try to engage with voters.

    The Greens call talking to people as they’re lining up to vote “scrapping” and they believe that when done well it gets them votes.

    If you feel harassed when somebody tries to talk to you you should tell them to stop. If they ignore your request that could escalate to actual harassment and you should tell somebody from the electoral commission at the booth.

  13. ‘Scrapping’ with a 75 y.o. grandma is harrassment from the get go.
    Complaints to the RO/DRO are met with the [polite] reply:
    ‘Well, I didn’t see it or hear it, so, …’
    Spruiking, canvassing, call it what you like, it’s against Rules and it’s not playing the game.
    Greens create bedlam outside some Polling Booths and the AEC is like the 3 monkeys.

  14. @gympie Greens “scrapper” here I was on the booths for election day and pre poll can tell u now we are under strict instructions not to pursue conversations with ppl who obviously blow us off or say no thanks (bit of common sense there real shocker ik) most of these chats are us asking voters what issue are important to them, instead just waving a HTV in their face. I personally think that’s a better use of time if a new way of doing things. Obviously if there are examples of greens volunteers going too far that’s unacceptable but we know being too in ur face with it is a turn off, so why would we do it?

  15. Thank you both for making this podcast!

    I thought Ben was on the money with his analysis, accurately pointing out that the LNP got less than half the first preference vote but won big from OPV, and that the preference flow between Labor and Greens was much higher this election with a lot less exhaustion.

    I’m normally a big fan of Maggie’s analysis, and I agree with her that the fundamental difference between 2022 and now is that voters had their baseball bats aimed at the federal Coalition government then, whereas now they’re aimed at the state Labor government. However, I disagree with her analysis of the Greens’ areas for improvement.

    The issue for the Greens isn’t so much about improving preference flows from Labor, because as Ben pointed out, the flow rate between Labor and the Greens was significantly higher this time. And it will never be perfect anyway, because this is an occupational hazard of OPV. Rather, this result makes me reinterpret the 2022 election as being less about a voter shift from the LNP directly to the Greens, and more about a shift from Labor to the Greens which was compensated for by a shift from the LNP to Labor.

    If that’s true, what changed this time (as I think Maggie was alluding to but didn’t say outright) is that there was a similar shift from Labor to the Greens in places where the Greens weren’t already the dominant party of the left, but the shift from LNP voters to Labor didn’t happen for several reasons, such as the LNPs attack ads against Sriranganathan scaring voters into continuing to vote LNP, the unpopular state government bringing down the Labor party brand reputation, and as Ben said, Labor not taking council elections all that seriously.

    It’s clear the Greens can’t always depend on Labor to weaken the LNP for them as was the case in 2022. They have to eventually find ways to appeal to previous LNP voters, or to shift the whole Overton window to the left. This isn’t as important at the state election, as the Greens should be able to easily gain a lot of dissatisfied previous Labor voters and win seats from Labor that way, but it will be important for keeping Ryan and Brisbane in their hands at the next federal election, and for progressing further in council. That probably means shifting their mayoral candidate from Sriranganathan to someone who is less easily tied to a scare campaign.

    On the Ipswich West by-election, Maggie is correct that the area tends to be economically left and socially conservative, but I don’t agree that social issues are the reason for the huge fall in the Labor vote (apart from perhaps youth crime, although I see this as largely being a media beat-up than a genuine crisis). My view is that the cost of living increases and interest rate rises have taken a big toll on areas like Ipswich West that have a lot of household poverty, and people expected the state government to provide significant financial support. While initiatives have been announced in this year’s budget, it is too little, too late for a lot of people who feel negative towards the government for not assisting them sooner.

    I would have liked to have seen a discussion of how home ownership demographics played a part in the results of this election. There was an interesting analysis of this by @grugstan on Twitter, which can be summarised as the LNP having captured the votes of the secure homeowning class (at council level, anyway), the Greens having similarly captured most of the renting class, and Labor left stuck in the middle, with their moderate policies not appealing to many people when society has been split into haves and have-nots for an essential need. Based on this, for the LNP to lose power, either Labor or the Greens has to find a way to win over homeowners next election.

    Looking forward to the Tasmania wrap-up podcast!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here