Queensland election: party insiders say minority government is increasingly likely

Ben Smee
·3-min read
<span>Photograph: Dan Peled/AAP</span>
Photograph: Dan Peled/AAP

The likelihood of a minority government in Queensland has increased significantly since the start of the state election campaign, analysts say, as both major parties find themselves with narrowing paths to an outright victory.

For the past four weeks, the Queensland campaign has played out as if occurring in two separate states – Labor and the Liberal National party have crafted separate messages for the urban south-east compared with the rest of Queensland.

Party sources also say they expect wildly different results in different seats on Saturday night, including swings in both directions, and gains for minor parties and independents.

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“I think the concern that the major parties will have is that there’s not going to be a uniform big swing one way or the other, and we could end up with results which are seemingly contradictory in different parts of the state,” says Glenn Kefford, a political scientist at the University of Queensland.

“There’s this real patchwork feel to what the election potentially might look like and the results might look like.

“The path to majority government for either of the major parties looks narrow and any path you potentially draw up, you can point to a number of reasons to why they can’t get there.”

The prospect of a minority – for better or worse – has featured heavily in the pitches of the major parties, minor parties and independents.

Labor and the LNP are reluctant to be drawn about post-election arrangements that could prop up a potential government, instead making the case they should govern in their own right. Labor in particular has sought to characterise the uncertainty of a minority government as a “Frankenstein parliament”, at a time when stability is needed to manage the pandemic.

Supporters of the Katter’s Australia party and the Greens – the mostly likely groupings to hold a balance of power – are pitching the benefit of a minority government in which they hold sway.

The Greens have said they will only negotiate with Labor and on Thursday released data that showed substantial comparative emissions reductions occurring during previous federal, state and territory Labor-Greens arrangements.

“Where we’ve shared power with Labor, we’ve had major wins for essential services, the environment and the climate,” the federal Greens leader, Adam Bandt, said.

“The only time pollution has rapidly dropped is when Greens shared power with Labor.”

Labor sources have become increasingly dismissive of the idea they might strike any arrangement with the Greens – they are concerned any partnership would damage the party’s standing in working class regional areas outside Brisbane.

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“The seven years in federal opposition since we needed a vote from the Greens should tell you something,” one Labor MP said. “It would be a ticket to opposition in 2024. If there’s a discussion about a deal, first it will be with the Katters.”

When Palaszczuk and others in Labor have warned of the negatives of minority government, they usually cite the Greens, One Nation and Clive Palmer’s spoiler party as potentially destabilising forces. KAP is not mentioned in the same breath.

Robbie Katter has said he is “infuriated” by the way both camps have refused to discuss the notion of a deal, and says his party – which attracts voters who would traditionally support Labor or the LNP – was not yet convinced about who his party might support.

“If anything, I’ve been infuriated more by the major parties coming up to the north and trying to bribe people,” Katter told the Australian this week.

“It’s driven my resolve to be vigilant in my negotiations and to negotiate hard.”