On January 6, 2015, Campbell Newman’s snap election call caught many off guard, including members of his own party. The Liberal National Party candidate to challenge Labor leader Annastacia Palaszczuk in her seat of Inala was overseas. The LNP candidate to face Labor’s Jackie Trad in the seat of South Brisbane had not even been named. In a normally festive time of year, journalists scrambled into action and canceled personal plans.
Did Newman’s call lead to one of the greatest defeats in Australian political history? Or, given the size of the swing to Labor, was it one of the greatest of political victories? I suspect, until the next vote and given the contemporary polarisation of Queensland’s electorate, the schooner residing on the bar of sunshine state politics will remain either half empty or half full.
Over 2015, most political commentators concluded that it was an accidental victory to Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk. During the election, The Courier Mail’s Steven Wardill used the phrase; “accidental premier” to describe Palaszczuk when a Galaxy poll swung around to put Labor in front on a two-party preferred basis of 52 per cent. Shortly after the election, under a somewhat unfortunate headline, a Maddona King article was published entitled, Annastacia Palaszczuk: Queensland’s accidental premier. This had the effect of crowning the new premier in the vernacular as; “Accidental Anna”.
Yet, King’s article was far from an attack on Palaszczuk. It explored her rise through the views of her school friends and constituents. It remains a highly recommend read.
Whilst there were multiple factors at work leading to the change of government, there remains one key element overlooked by commentators. Unions were protesting at the gates of parliament, doctors were perplexed by the contracts Newman was forcing upon them and Queensland’s legal fraternity was railing against Newman’s disregard for the separation of powers. By January of 2015, there wasn’t a group not linked to the LNP that Newman hadn’t politically offended.
Throughout this period, Palaszczuk quietly traveled across Queensland. Politically, she put her arm around all of these disenchanted groups and reassured them that a vote was not far away.
When it came, the general election announcement was no surprise. Fresh from her double-digit by-election victories at Redcliffe and Stafford, Palaszczuk was already on the campaign trail. What the LNP hadn’t realised was that since the 2012 poll she’d effectively managed to keep the state firmly locked into election mode. By the time Newman pulled the election lever, half of Queensland was just itching to vote.
The response to the election was overwhelming, it occupied most of the media and public attention nation wide. At NoFibs, there was so much to cover we had to break it up into ten separate blogs. In archiving this digital imprint I hope that in time historians, political scientists, archivists, students and of course you the reader can use it to answer that most vexing of questions; “Was it a great election loss or a great election victory?”
- Election called: Jan 06 – Jan 16 – Pt 1 Qld election blog 2015.
- Anti-party ads begin: Jan 17 – Jan 21 – Pt 2 Qld election blog 2015.
- Newman’s Stradbroke Is sand mining deals: Jan 22 – Jan 25 – Pt 3 Qld election blog 2015.
- Tony Fitzgerald’s verdict: Jan 26 – Jan 28 – Pt 4 Qld election blog 2015.
- Ashgrove in trouble: Jan 29 – Jan 30 – Pt 5 Qld election blog 2015.
- Polling day: Jan 31 – Feb 02 – Pt 6 Qld election blog 2015.
- Counting votes: Feb 03 – Feb 05 – Pt 7 Qld election blog 2015.
- LNP leadership: Feb 06 – Feb 09 – Pt 8 Qld election blog 2015.
- Newman resigns, Palaszczuk sworn in: Feb 10 – Feb 16 – Pt9 Qld election blog 2015.
- An archive of The Courier Mail’s front pages during election 2015.