Sunday, February 15, 2015

Sunday Essay - the return of Labor

Queensland Labor leader Annastacia Palaszczuk has been sworn in as the state's 39th Premier at Government House in Brisbane. Am I right in thinking that she is the first Polish ancestry premier or prime minister? 

The new Government's position is still a little unstable because of the possibility of a by-election in the seat of Ferny Grove where the Palmer United Party candidate has been found to be ineligible to run since he was an undischarged bankrupt. That one will go to the courts. 

The new premier, her deputy and the the new treasurer have already begun to receive public service briefings. In the Westminster system of government, the public service prepares two sets of briefings prior to the elections, one for each side. These cover both machinery and policy matters with the aim of ensuring a smooth transition from one Government to the next. 

In NSW during the recent long period of Labor rule, this became a fairly perfunctory process. That is no longer the case. It is one unseen plus from increased political instability. These briefings are important. The paper work alone involved in transition of Governments is staggering. 

Over at The Poll Bludger, the inimitable William Bowe has added the latest public opinion poll results taken just before the Federal Liberal Party spill to his consolidated Bludger Track. By consolidating poll results, Bludger Track smooths out the vagaries associated with individual polls. 

The picture presented is staggering. Federally, the Coalition is looking at a 42 seat loss. In NSW where the Baird Liberal-National Party Government is going to the polls on 28 March, Bludger Track suggests an eleven seat loss. These are national, not state, results. The Baird Government is still favoured in NSW, but no-one now is certain. 

One of the unseen and not often commented on aspect of the Australian political process is the important role played by the party worker, the host of unpaid volunteers who door knock, raise money, organise meetings and man the polling booths. These are the foot soldiers. 

When, as happened in NSW at the end of the Labor regime, a Government is on the nose the ruling party struggles just to man the booths. Mr Abbott has energised the NSW Labor Party. That party should have had no hope. However, the feeds that I follow show high levels of new grass root involvement even in seats where Labor has no hope.

I am not saying that Labor will win in NSW. I am saying that it is in with a chance.        


2 tanners said...

I have to wonder. Is instability a bad thing, because governments can't plan (e.g. good infrastructure), or a good thing because they can't plan things which the majority of people really don't want (e.g. poorly justified asset sales.)

What we probably need are politicians who can tap into the electorate feeling (a bit like Kevin Rudd did) yet have the courage of their own convictions, like Mr Abbott so obviously does.

But they've got to be the same person, as Campbell Newman so clearly wasn't.

Jim Belshaw said...

Nice points, 2T. That first para is a masterpiece!