A Queensland Galaxy poll, conducted probably on 1-2 November from a sample of 900, gave Labor a 52-48 lead, a one point gain for Labor since an early August Galaxy. Primary votes were 35% Labor (steady), 32% LNP (down 4), 18% One Nation (up 3) and 9% Greens (up 2). The Queensland election will be held in three weeks, on 25 November.
41% approved of Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk (up 2), and 42% disapproved (down 2), for a net approval of -1. Opposition leader Tim Nicholls had a net approval of -12, up two points.
This poll is bad for the LNP, not just in vote shift terms, but because it undermines perceptions that the LNP can win a parliamentary majority without One Nation. There are likely to be many normally conservative voters in south-east Queensland who will vote Labor if they believe the only alternative is an LNP/One Nation government.
Labor has other advantages. Palaszczuk is relatively popular, the Federal Coalition is unpopular, and Nicholls was the Treasurer during Campbell Newman’s government, in which there were drastic job cuts to the public service.
Labor’s support for the Adani coal mine is a vote loser for them on both the left and right. On the left, Adani is a high priority issue for the Greens and Labor’s left-wing activists. That means activists will be less enthusiastic about on-the-ground campaigning.
While Newspoll assumes Greens preferences will flow to Labor at an 80% rate, some Greens will be so disappointed with Labor over Adani that they will preference the LNP. If Labor only wins 70%, not 80%, of Greens preferences, their two party vote will be about a point lower.
The LNP and One Nation will always be able to outflank Labor from the right. People who want the Adani coal mine are likely to trust these two parties over Labor. Had Labor rejected Adani soon after winning office in early 2015, the Adani issue would probably be dead now; instead, it has continued to fester.
While working class voters in general prefer jobs to environmental concerns, Adani is likely to create far fewer jobs than the 10,000 advertised, and will cost tourism jobs. Had Labor opposed the mine, they could have forcefully made these arguments. Jobs created through renewable energy projects would be far better politically for a left-wing party.
One Nation is an anti-establishment party, which will perform best when the two major parties appear close. By sticking with Adani, Labor is playing into One Nation’s hands. One Nation’s preferences are likely to assist the LNP on cultural grounds.
Palaszczuk announced yesterday that she would veto Commonwealth funding for the Adani mine through the Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund. This announcement should encourage left-wing activists, and ensure a strong flow of Greens preferences to Labor.
As the LNP will not veto the NAIF funding, there is now a clear distinction between Labor and the LNP over Adani, so it is possible that the two major parties will regain support from One Nation.
Many commentators think Palaszczuk’s announcement will cost Labor in regional Queensland, but those people who like Adani are unlikely to trust Labor on this issue no matter how pro-Adani Labor is.
Authors: Adrian Beaumont, Honorary Associate, School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Melbourne