Who will lead Queensland Labor after the LNP-slide?

I have been a bit surprised that there’s been little discussion during the election campaign about who will replace Anna Bligh as Labor leader. Perhaps that’s because Andrew Fraser was rightly assumed to be next in line. But, on the basis of the latest polling, the LNP’s decapitation strategy will work by default, with leadership contenders such as Deputy Premier Fraser, Education Minister Cameron Dick and former QCU Secretary Grace Grace likely to be swept away in the LNP-slide.

I’ve taken a look at this question in today’s Crikey. I think the next Labor leader will be a woman, and I suspect it will be Member for Inala and Transport Minister Annastacia Palaszczuk.

The other big question, and it’s one that also goes to Labor leadership, is whether a wipeout of the Queensland Labor Party on Saturday also necessarily implies that Labor will lose the next federal election in this state alone. I suspect it does.

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41 responses to “Who will lead Queensland Labor after the LNP-slide?”

  1. Terry

    Wasn’t Anna Bligh supposed to be staying around, as the hard working member for South Brisbane?

  2. Paul

    I understand that the options will be limited after Saturday’s slaughter but Palaszczuk is a lot more highly regarded outside the party than in. Her manner behind closed doors is erratic at best and she’s well known for promoting and championing factional hacks far beyond their abilities.

    She might become leader by default I’d the likes of Dick and Grace Grace fall, but anyone expecting a brand new day for Queensland Labor under her are dreaming.

  3. Terry

    In one sense, who cares? The person will just be a place-holder until there is a sense that the Queensland ALP is electorally competitive again, at which point a preferred candidate will be got into a safe seat. Its a job for the party water buffaloes, the John Robertson types with few ambitions or other opportunities.

    The LNP got the candidate bit sorted out, but nearly screwed the pooch on the safe seat bit.

  4. Terry

    I’ll give Anna Bligh 12 months. Long enough to ensure that Newman has made himself unpopular enough to ensure they don’t lose the seat. There will be loads of people who could run by that time.

  5. jumpy

    Kim, you said on the other QLD election OP,

    I would hope that Bligh would be succeeded by another woman (for my money, Annastacia Palaszczuk) and she almost certainly would be.


  6. jumpy

    Why do you hope a woman will replace Bligh? I would have thought gender was irrelevant.

    I’d vote for redheaded hermaphrodite eskimo, if that person was competent and honest, policies secondary( at this dark point ).

  7. Martin B

    Personally I would hope that Bligh stays on for a year or so to let things find their level, as it were, before passing on the baton.

  8. Kim

    Jumpy – if there is a uniform swing conforming to the Galaxy Poll, 4 out of 5 remaining Ministers will be women.

  9. GregM

    Jumpy – if there is a uniform swing conforming to the Galaxy Poll, 4 out of 5 remaining Ministers will be women.

    Kim – if there is a uniform swing conforming to the Galaxy Poll, 4 out of 4 of those women won’t be Ministers.

  10. Terry

    But everyone will be a Shadow Minister for something?

  11. Kim

    Current Ministers, Jumpy! Obviously the ALP will not be in government.

    Anna Bligh will be the backbench, Terry.

  12. Sam

    Anna Bligh will be the backbench, Terry.

    As Enoch Powell once said, all political careers end in failure.

  13. Terry

    West End sausage sizzles. I wonder if Anna is making discrete enquiries about Future Fund Board membership? Or perhaps the Senate? Bob Carr has really set a precedent there.

  14. Hal9000

    Paluszczuk, Darling and Nolan all have the same life experience – Uni of Qld, political staffer, parliament. All are associated with the cynical policies of the Bligh/Fraser period that have led to the impending electoral disaster, Darling the least. None has been impressive as a minister – indeed I struggle to nominate Paluszczuk’s portfolio, although I’m a close observer of Qld politics and work in the state bureaucracy.

    I’m not at all sure why you’ve casually written Tim Mulherin off. I’d have thought the best leader for the wilderness years would be Mulherin, who at least has the regional credentials to try to restore the ALP outside of SEQ, where he’s likely to hold one of only two or three non-metropolitan seats. He’s been an active and (most unusually for the Bligh administration) decisive minister. That he’s likely to hold the mining-dependent seat of Mackay shows how in touch with his voters he is.

    Last, Paluszczuk is a lifelong factional warrior for the AWU, who will no doubt have put a number of surviving caucus noses out of joint through such factional activities as breaking union ranks and supporting the asset sales that did so much to wreck the ALP’s electoral stocks.

    IMO, Bligh will continue as leader until a new leader emerges or can be groomed, and then retire as the LNP’s popularity wanes (which should be fairly soon). That’s on the assumption that Bligh survives Saturday.

  15. Hal9000

    All salient points, Kim. I think the first priority for the ALP in opposition is going to be to recover some of their core support – about a quarter of its first preference vote has gone straight to the LNP. They need to reassure voters who don’t like the smart young spiv/apparatchik image projected by the Bligh government, and the cynical trashing of policies that went with it. Paluszczuk’s elevation will likely confirm voter impressions that the ALP remains a party of careerists.

    Mulherin looks and sounds like an old-style Labor man – just the sort of image to lure back to the party those who will soon be appalled by the thrusting young spivs of Newman’s team and what will turn out to be more of the slash and burn they hated about Bligh.

    I don’t buy the ‘elected in her own right’ line, btw. This perpetuates the growing mythology (cf. the ‘coup’ talk about Rudd’s departure from the Lodge) that we in some way directly elect our heads of government. Bligh’s predecessors as women Premiers all got there the same way she did – by winning the numbers in caucus. Better to say she’s the first female incumbent Premier who led her party to victory at a general election.

    Retirement to the back bench will not be an option for Bligh, should she be reelected for South Brisbane. All surviving ALP MPs will need to hold at least one shadow portfolio, just to cover the Newman ministry. One silver lining, though: I should imagine Bligh will have more domestic support after Saturday, since her partner’s tenure in the state public service is unlikely to survive next week, and he’s equally unlikely to be swamped with job offers from either the public or private sector.

  16. Meeee

    It’s not only Bligh’s husband that will be having employment issues. There will be hundreds of labor admin, policy, and press staff looking for work on Monday. I imagine it will be a very hard job market for them. Not only will there be many more than usual after an election but, given the length of time the ALP has been in govt, many of them will be mid-career with no other experience.

    I was wondering just the other day where the young ex-members with a Student union / MP staffer / Member employment history would look for a job. Most of the policy or advisory positions they are qualified for would be party political and a 15 year old BA in politics wouldn’t open many doors. I can’t see the unions absorbing all of them.

    Perils of joining the political class, I suppose.

  17. Paul Norton

    Further to Meeee’s comment, the silver lining on the cloud which will descend on Saturday is that the Sean Blacks of this world will now join the LNP at university as the foundation for their careers rather than joining the Labor Right at university, as the gravy will now be in short supply on that train.

  18. Terry

    Lots of sessional tutors suddenly available for journalism courses at universities.

  19. jumpy

    Don’t be sad for Greg Withers ( Anna s hubby ), in December with the impending QLP election spanking ,he was offered ( negotiated?), and signed a lovely new contract*. If he’s shown the door, he still collects.

    (* $220,000 pa for two years, optional third year.)

    I’m sure we can safely say Anna and Greg are gunna be OK financially.

  20. Sam

    Lots of sessional tutors suddenly available for journalism courses at universities.

    That is really cruel.

  21. Sunny Jim

    Those Labor staffers have been beating a path to Canberra since September last year. Pickings are pretty slim there too, although the Fed staffers have been visibly plotting their exit strategies all this year – the only aspect of the EBA currently being negotiated in which they have shown any interest is the severance package.

  22. Paul Norton

    There’s a reason why it took til 83 for a decent number of seats to be won again after Joh took the party down to 11 in 74.

    There’s another reason, which is that the Queensland Branch of the Labor Party was a blokey, smoke-filled, corrupt, archaic shambles for most of that period.

  23. Sam

    The Labor staffers could always ask Clive Palmer for a job. Or they could work for a Gold Coast property developer, a Noosa coke dealer … the possibilities are endless.

  24. Sam

    the Queensland Branch of the Labor Party was a blokey, smoke-filled, corrupt, archaic shambles for most of that period.

    It’s often forgotten what a pivotal role Peter Beattie and Dennis Murphy played in that period in reforming the party and making it electable.

    Beattie of course went on to bigger things. Murphy died in 1984 of cancer aged just 47. Queensland Labor would have been much better in the long haul had Murphy not been cut down.

  25. Zedar

    Would there be a precedent for someone like Grace Grace or Cameron Dick moving to Anna Bligh’s seat in a by-election? They’re both reasonably close in geographic terms so it wouldn’t seem out of the question, but I don’t know how the politics would play out.

  26. Mk 50

    …the Queensland Branch of the Labor Party was a blokey, smoke-filled, corrupt, archaic shambles…

    So nothing’s changed in the least, then, is what you are saying.

    A audit of what has been going on financially for the last decade or so would be very interesting, I suspect.

  27. Hal9000

    Zedar, why would you want either Grace or Dick back in Parliament?

  28. what the?

    Zedar, I don’t think there is much chance of the branch members in South Brisbane supporting either Grace or Cam Dick. My guess is that Anna will try to impose Jacki Tradd in Sth Bris… and fail!

    Hal9000, are you related to Tim Mulherin? Without discussing his merit, or lack there of, he looks and sounds terrible on television which is enough to prevent him from being considered.

  29. danny

    [email protected]

    My guess is that Anna will try to impose Jacki Tradd in Sth Bris… and fail!

    A by-election in Sth Bris would be Greens’ best scenario for getting a lower house ( oh that’s right, it’s the only sort there is here, doh) in Qld wouldn’t it? But the opportunity won’t last…
    As the peninsula is morphed into a high rise sardine can ( and who doesn’t think Newmania will be the best of times for the developer class, hang the town planning guidelines), the slated influx into just the riverside precinct will double the population in the seat. I’d’a thought that’d mean a new seat will be have to be created, and won’t it be a surprise when it votes like the high-rise Kangaroo Point booths solidly do now (ie Lib) making the new Kurilpa seat safely tory, per design specs.
    Which is deeply ironic given that at it’s Peel Street centre, like a land locked Kronstadt, is Labor’s property portfolio ghetto, the magic mile of Unions.
    Hmm, blue on the outside, red in the centre…. like a … haematoma?

  30. Hal9000


    Good god no.

    I just don’t think smooth tv performers are flavour of the month. The electorate seems to have warmed to Newman’s openly abrasive and dismissive style and rejected warm and smiling Bligh in matronly pink.

    Mulherin hasn’t been associated with any of the Bligh government’s self-inflicted policy and administrative disasters. His rough media manner and public speaking skills can be used to build an impression of authenticity in the minds of the electorate, particularly the alienated core Labor vote. In addition, he’s the only likely survivor to have been through opposition before, other than Bligh herself.

    I’m not saying Mulherin is going to lead Labor out of opposition, or that he’s any kind of paragon leader, but the job is to get back enough of the disaffected core Labor vote to double the size of caucus following the 2015 election. I’d be surprised if that slice of the electorate will easily be wooed by yet another bright young articulate professional politician.

  31. Lefty E

    A lot of those who lose this weekend will be back in 2015. The leadership issue will be largely academic until that point anyway.

  32. Lefty E

    And I agree: Sth Brisbane is more likely to fall to the Greens than the LNP (not that either are especially likely in an absolutely sense).

    I knowSth Brisbane is now feel of unit dwelling blow-throughs, but Ive read soe v. interesting research on that crew that would blow your mind.

    The short version is: they dont vote. In enormous numbers, and especially not at state elections. Low social capital and communty connectedness.

  33. nasking

    I reckon Tim Mulherin as leader.

    Annastacia Palaszczuk as Deputy.

    Top post Kim…per usual.

    Useful and informative comments.


  34. Sam

    Could be a good time to be in opposition, or at least a bad time to be in government. Leading a state government is very tough right now, with GST revenues falling through the floor as consumers keep their wallets and purses firmly zipped. Problem is, the schools, hospitals, police, transport and prisons still have to be paid for, and the punters are demanding more and better sevices, which are getting increasingly expensive to deliver.

    I’d like to be in the room when Newman gets his first briefing from Treasury, just to watch the colour drain from his face.

  35. Paul Norton

    Lefty E @36, I was looking at the ECQ data on South Brisbane yesterday and it pretty much confirms what you’re saying. A very transient population, and a significant percentage of non-citizens. Also has the profile of an electorate with a lot of students, which is nothing new for South Brisbane.

  36. Terry

    If Labor has been sandbagging Lytton, Sandgate and Nudge, then South Brisbane is definitely in play. And if that is the case, then we are talking about 12 ALP seats, not 20.

  37. Terry

    Will there be a Queensland election open thread here tonight?