One of Australia’s most seasoned election watchers predicts Queensland’s premier will lose his seat even as his party is re-elected next year.
Queensland Premier Campbell Newman could lose his own seat even as the Liberal National Party is re-elected for a second term.
Veteran election analyst Malcolm Mackerras says this political situation would be “virtually unprecedented” in Australian politics, with this phenomenon happening only once previously in the Northern Territory almost four decades ago.
“The LNP will win the election and Campbell Newman will lose Ashgrove,” he told AAP.
“It is possible that Campbell Newman could shift to another seat.”
Mr Mackerras, who worked for the federal Liberal Party during the 1960s, predicted a 10 per cent swing would cut down the number of LNP seats from 73 to 50 but the party would still keep its majority in the 89-member parliament.
He compared Mr Newman’s political style with that of former Victorian Liberal premier Jeff Kennett.
“He’s very abrasive but less successful,” the Australian Catholic University visiting fellow said.
Mr Newman has announced a series of policy reversals, following a 18.6 per cent swing against the LNP at the weekend by-election in Stafford, which neighbours the premier’s northern Brisbane seat.
“Good leadership … is also about knowing when you’ve mucked it up and being able to turn around and say ‘Well, I’m not so proud that I won’t change my position’,” the premier told Fairfax radio.
But Mr Newman, who has committed to re-contesting Ashgrove, also said blame had to be shared.
“The whole cabinet takes collective responsibility for all the decisions of the government and collectively we’re saying sorry as well,” he said.
“I’m going to do my best from now on to be better at understanding and assessing how people are feeling about things.”
Mr Mackerras said public service cuts, bikie laws and controversy over the appointment of Chief Justice Tim Carmody would cause the LNP to lose seats in southeast Queensland, leaving Mr Newman’s “old National Party” deputy Jeff Seeney to become premier.
Griffith University political analyst Paul Williams said Mr Newman’s backflips are too little too late to win back support, adding bikie law changes were only cosmetic while policy reversals on the corruption watchdog and estimates hearings would not resonate with voters.
“The problem with the Newman government, is not what the premier has done, but how he’s gone about it,” Dr Williams told AAP.
“I can’t imagine anything that Campbell Newman could say or do that would mend fences.”
Crime and Corruption Commission heads will once again require bipartisan support, and budget estimates hearings will return to the old format of seven days instead of just two.
The government has also abandoned its policy of forcing convicted bikies to wear pink overalls in jail and do their time in solitary confinement.
“I don’t think there is anything they can do. The damage appears to be widespread and permanent,” Dr Williams said.
However the LNP remains committed to power privatisation.