The Hon Kevin Andrews MP is a member of the Australian Parliament and publisher of the Australian Polity. This will be the first of an occasional report he'll be submitting for ConHome readers. Follow Kevin on Twitter.
The Australian Parliament is in recess until the annual Budget session in May. Despite the break from proceedings in Canberra, much has happened on the political landscape in the past few weeks.
First, the Labor Party were thrashed in the Queensland election. In what is essentially a ‘first-past-the-post’ system (optional preferential voting) for a unicameral Parliament, the Liberal National Party, led by the former Lord Mayor of Brisbane, Campbell Newman, scored the biggest landslide in Australia’s political history, winning 77 of the 88 seats, and sweeping Labor from office. Neither the Greens, nor the Australia Party, an agrarian socialist movement led by former National Party minister, Bob Katter, made any significant headway.
The outcome was a result of a number of factors. First, the Queensland voters had been waiting for years to oust Labor from office, but there had not been a credible alternative. The unification of the previously warring Liberal and National Parties was a significant step in creating an alternative. The election of Newman, the popular Lord Mayor of Brisbane as opposition leader, albeit outside the Parliament, competed the process.
Finally, Labor ran a totally negative campaign, focused almost entirely on attacking Newman and his family. When they were forced to concede a few days before the polls that there was no substance to the mudslinging, the voters reacted with anger.