The Brisbane NRL Magic Round last weekend reminded me that there is nothing more exciting than a Queensland rugby league fan at a State of Origin match or supporting their team. Queenslanders are passionate about both sport and politics. In fact, Queensland has produced some of Australia’s best sportspeople and some of our most controversial politicians. From Ash Barty, Cathy Freeman, and Wally Lewis in sports to Kevin Rudd, Peter Dutton, Pauline Hanson, and Clive Palmer in politics, no one can say the state is short on personalities.
In every national election, political pundits predict that Queensland will determine who wins the federal government. This is because the ALP holds just six of the state’s 30 federal seats and explains why Scott Morrison held the Coalition’s campaign launch in Brisbane on Sunday.
As I moved through the weekend NRL crowd, it became clear that there was a lot of disappointment and a mood for some change, but no landslide victory. Fans told me ALP’s only chances of winning extra seats were Brisbane and Longman. In reality, they were more interested in the Broncos’ 38-0 thrashing of Manly.
Queensland will not decide this federal election, but the preferences of Palmer and Hanson could be crucial. NSW, supported by Western Australia and Tasmania, will primarily determine the outcome. Morrison needs to make a profit in NSW. Surveys indicate that this is where it can fail. His late push was hampered by millions of early voters and the Australian Bureau of Statistics which highlighted Australia’s disappointing wage growth.
The same polls point to a Labor victory tomorrow. In my humble view, it will be closer than many predict with Labor winning a close majority or even a hung parliament. Campaigns tend to tighten up in the last week. Preference distribution could make it a late night. The big change in this election will be the low primary vote for the major parties and the vote for independents, the Greens and other minor parties. This could be as high as one in three voters.
That should scare the hell out of both major parties and highlight the need for change. If the teal candidates win, this could be the start of a significant change in Australian politics.
If Anthony Albanese becomes Australia’s 31st Prime Minister, he can welcome the judgment of Australians that they had given the Morrison government a fair chance but found it wanting with late delivery of vaccines and rapid antigen tests and slow responses to fires and floods. Australians are unbiased, but they also know when a government is running out of ideas and it’s time for a change.
If Albanese loses, the Labor caucus will elect a new leader, possibly shadow treasurer Jim Chalmers. But Albanese’s colleagues should know that an ALP victory is down to Albanese’s tenacity, strength of character and sheer determination to overcome his early campaign mistakes. That required real guts.