With the race continuing to shift by the day, and early voting already under way, the 2020 Queensland State Election is expected to go down to the wire. Current Premier, the Hon Annastacia Palaszczuk MP, will be looking to retain Government, after being re-elected in 2017 and winning a surprise victory in 2015.
However, strong opinion polling for the LNP will pose a challenge for Premier Palaszczuk, with LNP Leader, Ms Deb Frecklington MP, relying on the party brand, polling well to push the LNP across the line and above Premier Palaszczuk’s strong personal results.
In the lead up to October 31st, here is our Nexus preview and analysis on the upcoming Queensland State Election:
The 2020 Queensland Election campaign has already been considerably different to those previous, with both campaigns adapting their campaigns to the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic. Further to this, the Pandemic has led the Electoral Commission Queensland to ask the electorate to vote before election day. Estimates predict only a quarter of the electorate may turn up to vote on election day.
After surviving an unstable first two and a half years in office, Premier Palaszczuk proved 2015 was no fluke, by winning the 2017 election with a small majority. Many polls since have shown the Labor Party failing to achieve a considerable lead, and in many cases trailing the LNP. However, Premier Palaszczuk remains popular as Premier and has risen with her strong stand on closing the state’s borders due to the pandemic.
The latest polling conducted by Newspoll indicates Labor has added three points to its primary vote, a lift to 37 per cent, which will erase the lead the LNP had going into the October 31 election. The LNP is one point down on the last poll, also on 37 per cent. Traditionally, it is very hard for the LNP to win and election with a primary below 40 per cent.
Labor goes into the 2020 election holding a narrow two-seat majority, with a loss in TPP of 0.7% resulting in the Palaszczuk government losing its majority. The LNP need eight seats for majority government and could achieve this on a swing of 3.5%, however third parties in Queensland will be critical in the eventual composition of the Legislative Assembly.
The Greens, Pauline Hanson’s One Nation and Katter’s Australian Party all hold seats in the current Legislative Assembly and have considerable chance of making further gains. The entrance of Clive Palmer and his United Australia Party may also complicate matters, having already outspent both major parties on advertising ahead of October 31.
Currently, two leaders are in contention to become Premier of Queensland.
Ms Deb Frecklington MP – Liberal National Party
Current LNP Leader Deb Frecklington MP is only the second female Queensland Opposition Leader in history, and the first woman to lead the non-Labor side in Queensland. Frecklington was elected to State Parliament in 2012 as the Member for Nanango and served as Assistant Minister for Finance and Assistant Minister to then Premier the Hon Campbell Newman MP. After the LNP loss at the 2017 state election, Frecklington was elected the leader of the LNP at a party-room meeting on 12 December 2017.
Latest opinion polling indicates Frecklington’s approval ratings remain stubbornly low, with more voters dissatisfied than satisfied with her performance — 44-37 per cent, a slight improvement on the July Newspoll — and 19 per cent undecided. Further, a recent internal party error where Frecklington has been referred to the state election watchdog by her own party for potentially attending a fundraising event attended by some developers, has not helped if she is to close the gap on Premier Palaszczuk before the poll on the 31st October. This distraction has cost the campaign some momentum in the final sprint to election day.
The Hon Annastacia Palaszczuk MP – Australian Labor Party
Before entering politics, Premier Palaszczuk worked as a policy adviser to several Queensland Labor ministers, including Minister for Communities, Disabilities and Seniors, the Hon Warren Pitt MP and former Minister for the Environment, The Hon Dean Wells MP. Premier Palaszczuk then pursued a career in the legal profession and was studying for admission as a solicitor when her father announced his intention to retire at the 2006 election and she was elected to replace him.
Recent polling of Queensland voters shows approval of the Palaszczuk Government’s response peaked at the height of the so-called “border wars” in May as Palaszczuk steadfastly resisted calls to remove the Coolangatta-Tweed barricades. Further, the latest NewsPoll indicates that Premier Palaszczuk holds a commanding lead in Preferred Premier, with 57 per cent of voters preferring her over Frecklington. However, while Palaszczuk’s personal polling numbers continue to be strong, the election remains tight with the LNP brand continuing to do well in the state. For more on Palaszczuk, Nexus has previously provided insights on her COVID-19 response, which can viewed here: https://www.nexusapac.com.au/2020/09/03/leaders-of-the-pandemic-queensland-premier-the-hon-annastacia-palaszczuk-mp/
Premier Palaszczuk holds a healthy lead in preferred premier polling over LNP leader Deb Frecklington MP. Despite holding a slim lead in two-party-preferred polling, some LNP figures recently led a failed attempt to remove Frecklington, primarily driven by polling that shows she has not been able to cut through against Premier Palaszczuk.
Minor parties will prove to be a critical factor in this election. Since the abolition of optional preferential voting, minor parties stand to benefit from strong preference flows. Further, while many city seats will be a three-cornered contest between Labor, the LNP and Greens, regional seats may fall to Katter’s Australia Party, Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party and One Nation, due to stronger polling and closer races for minor parties in regional areas.
While both the LNP and Labor are currently close in the polls, considering the impact of COVID-19 on the political agenda, and Premier Palaszczuk’s high personal approval ratings, Labor is a slight favourite to win re-election on October 31st. Whether the result is a majority government, or a minority remains to be seen, with a distinct possibility that both parties will need to negotiate with minor parties to form government. Nexus will continue to provide updates on the 2020 Queensland State Election as they continue to unfold over the coming weeks.
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