Premier should definitely call early Qld election

The Queensland Parliament is currently unmanageable, and it is no wonder the Premier is considering a snap early election in response to the threat from the Katter MPs and Rob Pyne to block the State Budget, as reported in this morning’s Courier-Mail. The need for an early election has been clear since at least December last year, when the Parliament passed one of the dumbest pieces of legislation passed by a western democratic parliament in decades: the Sugar Industry (Real Choice in Marketing) Amendment Act. This bizarre Act gives sugar cane growers a say in the marketing of the sugar made from their cane, even after they have sold the cane to the mill, creating a weird new property right that has never previously existed (see the Queensland Productivity Commission’s scathing assessment of the policy in the Regulatory Impact Assessment it prepared).

This Act would never have been passed in a normal parliament dominated by either Labor or the LNP. The Opposition, sensing an opportunity to embarrass the Government, sided with Katter Party MPs and Billy Gordon to pass the Act, which the Government opposed. This was a huge blow to the Government, because it showed it had lost control of the Parliament. All the Government could do was write to the ACCC and Federal Government in protest (see the ABC News report). Ever since that time, I have been of the strong view that, in the interests of good government and economic management, Queensland needs a new State election to get a more stable Parliament. The current situation is unsustainable and undesirable.

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8 Responses to Premier should definitely call early Qld election

  1. Glen says:

    Gene great article, the sugar act is a disgrace and many growers are now staring to see the folly created by its introduction as millers work through the process. Many growers still do not have contracts signed for 2017 supply and with the crush only 2 months away will have to plant cane without a contract in place, a very large gamble to take. Some growers in the Burdekin are moving to rice production as they see a more stable future both economically and structurally in rice, with a new mill and storage facility in place. If any cane farmer thought govt legislation could enhance their position at the bargaining table is now staring to realise it hasn’t.

  2. Mark Beath says:

    Also most of the sugar growers had already sold their stake in the mills at a healthy takeover premium to the current mill owners. Changing the rules subsequent to that is rather rude IMHO.

  3. Gerard says:

    I suppose we should congratulate the Qld Government for at least getting the Queensland Productivity Commission to undertake a Regulatory Impact Statement on sugar marketing. In this case it appears to have suited the government for an independent body to assess and ultimately criticise this regulation given the government did not support it. However, the Qld Government does not appear as enthusiastic at undertaking analysis on regulation with significant adverse impacts that it actually supports. For example, where was the Regulatory Impact Statement for the recently passed Lockout Laws? If ever there was a piece of legislation in need of an independent assessment of costs and benefits this was it! Why was this Bill allowed to slip into law without any preceding analysis?

  4. Jim says:


    I’m no political analyst, but I think the upside and downside risks of an early election need to be compared to the risk of a ‘do nothing’ option. An early election delivers no real upside policy risk (nothing amazing proposed by either side) and it might increase the degree of downside policy risk significantly. So why risk an early election?

    In my humble opinion, your example of why a new election is necessary is exactly why an election shouldn’t be called.

    The current Government has been pretty underwhelming, but it has been highly effective in slowing the silly policies and boondoggle projects that KAP and the cross benchers have been trying to get up. So the ‘do nothing’ option results in not much happening at all. No upside risk, and minimal downside policy risk.

    An early election is no guarantee of a majority for either side, but one potential outcome is a LNP minority Government reliant on KAP for supply. Given the evidence of what happen last time these two parties did something together (the Sugar Industry (Real Choice in Marketing) Amendment Act), should we expect four years of this under a LNP minority Government (all extracted from the LNP in exchange for supply)? Still no upside risk, but potentially significant downside risk.

    With no real prospect for upside risk from an early election, and the slight chance of a major downside risk, risk management 101 would suggest the best thing to do just ‘do nothing’.

    • Gene Tunny says:

      Thanks Jim, I’m certainly no political analyst either! Yes, not much would change and things could be worse if we just end up with another minority government relying on KAP support. That said, I expect the government will have no choice but to call an early election sometime this year as I can’t see it keeping parliament under control and it may need to go to the polls to avoid an embarrassing loss in the parliament.

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