Queensland political observers were stunned today when State Government Ministers started giving what appeared to be end-of-term wrap up speeches in Parliament, raising the possibility of an early election in September or October. With some of the Government’s recent announcements, and the heavy campaigning by both sides on social media, it certainly feels like an election will be called soon.
The Government may be motivated to call an early election because, as I have noted previously (see this post from July), economic conditions have been improving, and will allow the Government to contrast its performance with that of its predecessor (see chart below based on Queensland Treasury’s latest State Accounts data released earlier this week). The Newman Government had the misfortune of governing during the end of the mining investment boom, when large falls in investment spending detracted substantially from economic growth. The Newman Government’s public service cuts and budget restraint also detracted from growth, although such restraint was arguably necessary to slow down the accumulation of State debt.
The higher average economic growth rate under the current government—an annual average growth rate of around 3.0% compared with 2.2% under the previous government—may be due as much to good luck as to good management, but the economic growth data will nonetheless serve as ammunition in the Government’s upcoming election battle with the Opposition.
On the latest Queensland State Accounts, also see Pete Faulkner’s post:
Exports lead as QLD economy grows 3.9% y/y, 2.5% ann
Finally, I should note that Queensland citizen journalist David Marler has previously given good reasons why an early election may not be optimal for the Government (see his post At her discretion). The Government could just be playing mind games with the Opposition. But my feeling is that the Government is sensing it should call the election soon, while the economy is performing reasonably well and before a political crisis, such as another “rail fail”, eventuates.