Qld Budget, economy and polls will give Premier confidence to call election this year

The Australian reports this morning that the Palaszczuk Government is polling well in two-party preferred terms (53% for ALP vs 47% for LNP). The strong result is largely due to One Nation smashing the LNP primary vote. It does not appear to be a huge vote of confidence in the Government, which is polling at around the same level as it was at the time of the last election (37% vs % 37.5% for the ALP primary vote). That said, in the upcoming election campaign, the Government will be able to point to a strengthening State economy (e.g. see this post of mine from July) with reasonable jobs growth and economic growth higher than in the rest of Australia. It will also benefit from recent good fortune regarding the State Budget.

The Queensland State Budget has been bolstered this year by elevated coal prices and a surge in wholesale electricity prices that increased the earnings of government-owned power generators. It was revealed yesterday that the State Government has unexpectedly shifted more than $1 billion of expenses back into the 2016-17 financial year, allowing it to take advantage of the elevated revenue in that year, and to improve the forward budget estimates (see Steven Wardill’s informative article in today’s Courier-Mail). This type of budget re-profiling is engaged in by all governments from time-to-time. It is tricky and misleading, but nowhere near as egregious as the shifting of debt onto government-owned business in 2015 or the superannuation assets raid of 2016.

In my view, the biggest challenge for the Government, and the biggest threat to its re-election, is the ongoing “rail fail”, with another incident of delays yesterday afternoon. In my recent Future Brisbane opinion piece for the Courier-Mail, I noted that one of the areas the globally influential Monocle magazine identified for improvement in Brisbane was public transport. Let us hope the next time they visit Brisbane the Monocle correspondents stay somewhere in the inner city, perhaps at the ultra-hip Johnson Hotel where my office is located, and Uber around and avoid QR City Trains. Otherwise Brisbane may drop out of Monocle’s top 25 global cities list!

In my Courier-Mail opinion piece I offer a few suggestions for improving Brisbane’s liveability and the city’s appeal to international visitors, including:

  • repealing the compulsory bike helmet law, which would result in a big increase in City Cycle utilisation,
  • scrapping the ridiculous ID scanning law which almost saw Prince Frederik of Denmark denied entry to Jade Buddha,
  • deregulating retail trading hours far beyond the Government’s timid response to the Mickel review, and
  • tapping into Federal Government support to increase tree coverage in the CBD and inner city.

The Government may want to have the next election before another Christmas-New Year period, which could see another major rail fail, as many drivers take annual leave. Taking this into account, and the current good fortune for the Government mentioned above, expect the Premier to call an election in the next month or so, probably very soon after the NRL Grand Final on Sunday 1 October. So expect an election in early November.


Let’s hope the Monocle correspondents avoid the trains when they next visit Brisbane

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