’Palaszczuk’s Pensioners’ key to Labor victory

 

IN the aftermath of her stunning victory last Saturday, Annastacia Palaszczuk has begun visiting areas of Queensland that haven't seen much of Labor politicians in years.

Caloundra and Hervey Bay were top of the Premier's to-do list after delivering her Government two freshly-minted members and an increased majority at last weekend's election.

It's been a bit of a running gag for some time in political circles that the Sunshine and Fraser coasts have been like a demilitarised zone for the Palaszczuk Government.

The closest Palaszczuk and her ministers came to this picturesque stretch of the Sunshine State's coastline was flying over in the Government jet to more friendly territory further north.

Yet on the weekend they swung significantly to Labor.

In Caloundra, Labor's primary vote surged by an incredible 12.8 per cent.

It's the first seat that Labor has held on the Sunshine Coast since colourful Cate Molloy was disendorsed and then quit the party in 2006 over the proposed Traveston Dam.

 

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk holds a doorstop with Jason Hunt on the Sunshine Coast. Picture: Patrick Woods
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk holds a doorstop with Jason Hunt on the Sunshine Coast. Picture: Patrick Woods

In Hervey Bay, the swing was equally remarkable at 10.6 per cent, and the seat returned to Labor for the first time since 2009.

These seats are unique because in both there were retiring LNP members and, with a higher-than-average number of older voters, the retirees are believed to have back Labor.

This group has already been dubbed "Palaszczuk's Pensioners", older voters whose primary motivation at the ballot box was picking the person who they believed would keep them safe from coronavirus.

This phenomena was also evident further south in the seat of Pumicestone where the LNP's Simone Wilson quit after just one term for a career spruiking local real estate.

Stretching into Caboolture, Pumicestone has never been a natural LNP seat and it was no real surprise it fell to Labor.

The LNP has only won there twice in two decades, during the 2012 Campbell Newman whitewash and in 2017 after the fiasco surrounding ousted Labor MP "Slick" Rick Williams.

Yet in the booths of Bribie Island, home to a high number of retirees, the swings to Labor were significant.

However, critically, it wasn't LNP voters deserting Deb Frecklington en masse that made the big difference.

It was predominantly Pauline Hanson's people from the 2017 Queensland election backing Palaszczuk.

 

Pauline Hanson’s loss was Annastacia Palaszczuk’s gain. Picture: Matt Taylor
Pauline Hanson’s loss was Annastacia Palaszczuk’s gain. Picture: Matt Taylor

In Hervey Bay, the LNP primary vote did declined by 3.2 per cent.

But in Caloundra the LNP's vote was almost unchanged while the party's Pumicestone candidate Fiona Gaske got a healthy swing to her of 6.6 per cent.

The radical movement was away from One Nation, with Hanson's vote plummeting 16.4 per cent in Caloundra, 14.2 per cent in Hervey Bay and 15.6 per cent in Pumicestone, and over two thirds of these voters sided with Labor.

The same trend is repeated across the state, with a slew of marginal Labor seats converted into electorates with fat buffers and safe LNP seats into marginals.

Some of this can be put down to Hanson's calamitous campaign.

She based herself predominantly in central Queensland trying to win seats like Keppel but went backwards.

Her politics of fear and disenfranchisement did not work in the COVID-19 environment.

In fact, Hanson campaigned to open the Queensland border which was what many of her voters would have feared most.

Both the Labor and the LNP camps recognised well before the election that One Nation's vote was evaporating, just like it did at the 2001 Queensland election.

Yet it was proving difficult to pin point where it would land.

 

 

 

 

Many in the Labor camp were nervous going into election day that these "undecided voters" would split in a similar way to other voters across the state and the Government would fall short of the 47 seats needed for a majority.

The LNP had banked on this happening.

Yet Palaszczuk's superior message about borders and successful record stopping the spread of coronavirus in Queensland beat out the alternative of Frecklington, who voters didn't particularly know and didn't want to risk.

With the LNP reduced to just 34 seats, 13 short of a majority, the road back to relevance looks very difficult for David Crisafulli, the Gold Coast MP who will replace Frecklington as LNP leader when the party room is convened.

What's worse, the LNP failed to add to the lowly four seats it holds in Brisbane and didn't win anything in Townsville and Cairns.

However, the Queensland electoral map is now packed full of seats with inflated "COVID margins", reflecting voters who have switched from the LNP to One Nation and now Labor over the last four state elections.

By 2024, with the pandemic a bad memory, Palaszczuk's pensioners will be waiting to be won over once again.

Originally published as 'Palaszczuk's Pensioners' key to Labor victory


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