Queenslanders are still scratching their heads at the election results. It is not entirely clear what the final result of the election ultimately is, as votes are still being counted, although a Labor minority government appears ever more likely. What is certain is Campbell Newman has officially retired from politics after losing his seat in Ashgrove.
What many in the LNP ranks are asking themselves now is: who or what is to blame? To go from a landslide victory in 2012 to opposition and leaderless in less than 3 years is a devastating result for the party. Was it Campbell Newman’s leadership or Tony Abbott’s Australia Day so-called ‘knightmare’ announcement that sealed the deal for Labor?
I’m not going to be diplomatic and simply state that it was a combination of both. One clearly contributed to a greater extent than the other. Tony Abbott’s miss-steps and unpopularity has been the top news story this week in spite of the Queensland election suspense and will continue to be the main BBQ talking point across Australia for weeks.
The Coalition is drowning in a similar media storm that the Rudd government found themselves in before Julia challenged his leadership. Whilst many of the promises the government made during the 2013 election have been fulfilled, a hostile Senate has blocked many of the budget proposals that Hockey and Abbott have been pushing for. The medical co-payment scheme was extremely unpopular with medical professionals and was not communicated effectively, and a tumbling snowball of unpopular cost saving measures resulted in an avalanche of criticism from the media and from voters.
This was the atmosphere when Campbell Newman called the election. In spite of harsh criticism of the party and Newman’s leadership style, the polls indicated that they would retain many of their seats, enough to comfortably retain power in the state. As long as Newman campaigned on state issues and distanced himself from the prime minister, the LNP were looking at electoral victory.
Now, I previously wrote an article arguing that Tony Abbott’s knighthood announcement would not result in a Labor victory in Queensland. I was wrong. The media refused to let this one go, as did the Australian public. At Queensland House in London the general atmosphere was that voters were happy to receive polling cards from both parties and we knew it was going to be a close call.
Whether Labor make it over the line and form a majority or even minority government or not, I think many LNP members will seriously reflect on Tony Abbott’s contribution to the result.
IMAGE: Tony Abbott (by Stefan Postles/Getty Images)