Why Frecklington has a ‘Bill Shorten problem’

 

"THERE is nothing to indicate that (the Government) is not headed for a rout" at the election scheduled for later this year. "Suggestions of a comeback … are wishful thinking."

This is an important quote from a senior political commentator, and one we'll return to. For the moment, let's unpack the weekend's YouGov poll as a guide to a state election just over four months away.

First, the fact Labor's low primary vote fails to match the still strong public approval of Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk suggests we're seeing a ScoMo effect repeated - a solid evaluation of a leader that fails to translate into broader party support.

SHOCK POLL: Labor's vote shrivels, as LNP surges

Palaszczuk's incredible polling turnaround

 

Despite her party leading in the polls, LNP Leader Deb Frecklington has a low approval rating. Picture Glenn Hampson
Despite her party leading in the polls, LNP Leader Deb Frecklington has a low approval rating. Picture Glenn Hampson

 

In fact, it's remarkable Palaszczuk's 49 per cent approval rating is 20 points higher than in January, and that her disapproval is down 11 points to just 33 per cent.

Palaszczuk will also be buoyed by the nine-point fall, to just 18 per cent, among those "uncommitted" about her leadership. One way or another, voters are making up their minds.

The Premier will also be confident her 10-point hike, to 44 per cent, in those preferring her as premier (over Deb Frecklington who languishes on 23 per cent) will launch her re-election.

Yet despite this, one truth remains - it's virtually impossible to win an election from a 32 per cent primary vote base, especially with LNP support growing four points to 38 per cent.

While still competitive on 48 per cent after preferences - the two points off 50 is within the poll's margin of error - an election this Saturday would likely see Labor lose seven seats to the LNP, with Frecklington well placed to form minority government with One Nation and Katter's Australian Party.

In short, the YouGov poll, while accurately capturing last week's mood, might not be a reliable guide to what we can expect on 31 October.

This is a view shared by a former senior member of the LNP state executive who spoke to me on a condition of anonymity.

This poll, the member said, "will give the LNP a false sense of security… it masks a Bill Shorten problem. The Opposition party is polling better than the Government in the lead-up to the election, but during the campaign, the Opposition leader themselves becomes a drag on the Opposition vote. They become the issue ... In short, the Opposition Leader becomes the obstacle (to) winning."

 

Voters trust Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk with the Queensland economy, according to the latest YouGov poll.
Voters trust Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk with the Queensland economy, according to the latest YouGov poll.

 

The member repeated a fear I've heard from other LNP members: "A close examination of (Frecklington's) media performances shows that she cannot manage even soft interviews. How is she going to go during the fast-paced campaign or during the election debates?"

Ultimately, the member said, Frecklington and the LNP are "not race-ready" and are "sleep-walking into a train wreck".

The poll also reveals the trust Queenslanders place in Labor's ability to bail out a post-pandemic economy.

Indeed, the former LNP executive described the poll's finding of an
11-point lead for Labor on economic management as "terrible news" for the Opposition. "Economic management is the LNP's core strength. If the LNP leader can't beat the Labor leader in economic management, it is good night nurse," the member said.

So what about the quote that opened this column? Surely that's a confident statement that Labor is doomed? It would be. But that prediction was made weeks before the 2019 federal election when every serious commentator in the country had already written off the Morrison Government.

Dr Paul Williams is a Senior Lecturer at Griffith University.

Originally published as Why Frecklington has a 'Bill Shorten problem'



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