Recent events – Queensland 2012

Peter Beattie stepped down as Premier of Queensland in 2007 after nine years in power. Anna Bligh took over as leader of the ALP and as Premier after serving in a number of ministerial roles, including as Deputy Premier and Treasurer.

The first few years of the Bligh government saw Labor continue to perform well in the polls, and for most of the lead-up to the 2009 election Bligh was expected to win a comfortable victory.

After calling an early election for March 2009, Lawrence Springborg’s Liberal National Party improved its position in the polls and was close to winning, however in the last few days the Labor position improved, and Bligh won the election relatively easily. The ALP did lose eight seats, with the LNP gaining nine (One Nation’s sole remaining MP lost her seat).

Following the 2009 election, Springborg stepped down as LNP leader, and was succeeded by John-Paul Langbroek, a former Liberal MP from the Gold Coast.

In the last term of the Labor government, Bligh and her ministers have pursued an agenda of privatising a number of state assets to reduce the government’s debt levels. The policy has been controversial and has seen a number of unions turn on Bligh, but the policy hasn’t seen the same deep divisions in the ALP as were caused by privatisation plans in New South Wales.

Queensland suffered from a series of natural disasters in 2010 and 2011, with flooding in central and south-east Queensland, including throughout Brisbane, as well as Cyclone Yasi, which hit north Queensland in February 2011. Bligh was generally considered to have handled these crises well, and improved her personal ratings.

Most polls since mid-2010 have had the LNP well out in front of the ALP in election polling. Since July 2010, all state Newspolls bar one have had the LNP on between 56% and 61% of the two-party-preferred vote, which would give them a solid majority. The ALP recovered to 52% of the 2PP vote in the aftermath of the floods, but this soon faded.

In March 2011, John-Paul Langbroek was replaced as leader of the Liberal National Party by Campbell Newman. Newman had been popularly elected twice as Lord Mayor of Brisbane, the most powerful local government position in Australia. In a departure from Australian political convention, Newman was not a sitting member of Parliament. Former National Party leader Jeff Seeney was elected as interim parliamentary leader of the LNP, with Newman challenging Environment Minister Kate Jones in the seat of Ashgrove at the upcoming election.

Since Newman’s ascension to the LNP leadership, the LNP has generally continued to poll at a level sufficient to win power, usually slightly better than Langbroek had performed in late 2010.