This weekend Queensland decides. It seems like it was only yesterday that the LNP announced the surprise election, quietly confident in a second term in government. With the Labor party caught off guard, without any policies, it was hardly going to be a difficult one to win.
And then Australia Day happened. Our prime minister declared that Prince Philip would be recognised as a Knight of Australia, even though he previously promised that this controversial award would be reserved for Australians.
Abbott’s own Cabinet didn’t see this one coming. I was mightily confused and disappointed. The Prime minister had absolutely nothing to gain politically from this move and a lot to lose, including the approval and respect of his own party members. Andrew Bolt opined in his first media outing since returning to Australia that Abbott’s decision was “stupid”.
How will Abbott’s ‘knightmare’ impact on the Queensland election?
Incumbent Queensland Premier Campbell Newman distanced himself from the prime minister in this campaign and chose to focus his public appearances on state issues. He sent out a clear message that the state government was its own entity and didn’t need hand-holding from their LNP colleagues in Canberra. Whilst this may not save Newman from electoral defeat in his own electorate (polls show Labor’s Kate Jones in front for his seat of Ashgrove) it has had a positive effect on his party’s campaign.
Voters are aware that the State Government had nothing to do with Abbott’s decision to knight Prince Philip and although there is an expected swing towards Labor, I can’t imagine this would be drastic enough to warrant a change of government. The LNP have long made clear their plans for the state, while the opposition releasing their costing plans just 2 days before the election.
Abbott’s Australia Day announcement is unlikely to cost the LNP the Queensland election. Voters in Queensland have not easily forgotten what life was like under a Labor government prior to 2012, and those who swing between parties are likely to make their decisions based on policies as opposed to the prime minister’s ‘captain’s call’.
By the way, we are still waiting for the “bombshell” that Clive Palmer promised.
IMAGE: Prime Minister Tony Abbott on Australia Day 2015. (Stefan Postles/Getty Images)