“My political career is over.”
Campbell Newman’s spectacular entry into Queensland state politics has only been trumped by his spectacular exit.
After less than three years in power, and having led the LNP to a record victory in 2012, Newman has bowed out of politics after losing his Brisbane seat of Ashgrove. Even worse, his Liberal National Party looks increasingly unlikely to be able to hang onto government.
Late on Saturday night, it remained unclear whether Labor will reach a 45-seat majority in its own right, or whether it might need the support of others to form a minority government. The count will resume on Sunday morning.
A shock result and the likely LNP leader
The result was a stunning and unprecedented rebuke of everything Newman campaigned on during the election. His mantra focused on strength – but he, his party and most political observers all underestimated how vulnerable his government was.
So, where to for the LNP from here?
Newman said in his concession speech that his Liberal National Party was strong and stable.
But how can a government be strong and stable if it is removed after one term?
Given that the entire campaign was focused on everything that Newman said and did, even from a Labor perspective, the consequences of his shocking defeat remain largely unclear.
This result is the inverse of 2012, where Anna Bligh and Labor suffered a 15.6% swing against it.
In looking to recover from this result, the LNP may have no choice but to lay the blame squarely at Newman’s feet. Last night, several senior state MPs were also talking about unhelpful federal “distractions”, including speculation during the campaign about raising the GST and Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s surprise decision to knight Prince Philip.
Who would want to take the LNP leadership in these circumstances? Treasurer Tim Nicholls is now in the box seat, as Springborg is unlikely to want to be opposition leader again for another three years.
‘Absolutely stunned’: Labor MP
The ALP ran a hugely successful negative campaign against the government, with almost no policy content aside from refusing to sell assets. Newman made a big show during the leadership debate on Friday over the fact that ALP’s election costings were contained on just four pieces of paper.
Even the most confident of Labor’s supporters would be surprised by this outcome. Di Farmer, who has reclaimed her old seat of Bulimba after being defeated in 2012, told ABC TV:
I am absolutely stunned. Look, I was very aware as a local candidate that there was a really, really strong feeling about Campbell Newman and the LNP just not listening to people. It was very, very strong … I had no idea that people really so desperately wanted to send a message to them that this is how they were feeling. I think everyone would be amazed by it.
Palaszczuk looks set to be the first woman to win a state election from opposition: an historic achievement by any measure.
But Palaszczuk’s biggest challenge if Labor does form government will be to come up with a set of policies as quickly as possible. Otherwise the results of 2012 and 2015 may repeat themselves in 2018.
A week into the election campaign, Palaszczuk repeatedly ruled out doing deals to form a minority government in a hung parliament. As AAP reported:
‘Let me make it very clear: no, no, no, no deals. Next question,’ Ms Palaszczuk said while campaigning in Ipswich on Monday. It was part of a response where she said ‘no’ 10 times in under 15 seconds to emphasise her point.
Palaszczuk’s pledge was a response to the LNP’s promise not to form a minority government, and its warning about Labor “flopping over the line” with the support of minor parties and independents.
It may have seemed like an easy promise for Palaszczuk to make at the time. But it gives Labor one more more reason to hope it gets the numbers to govern in its own right.
Read more of The Conversation’s Queensland election 2015 coverage.