Here are three reasons it’s historic:
- it is the last time the Government gets to pick the Election Day – after this one, Queensland moves to a fixed, four-year election term;
- it is the first time preferences will be compulsory since 1992, when they were made optional*; and
- the number of seats has been increased from 89 to 93, which means to win Government a party or coalition needs 47 or more seats.
New or updated enrolments close on 3 November, and nominations of candidates close on 7 November. If you need to update your enrolment the best place to do it is via the links on this page: www.ecq.qld.gov.au/voters-and-voting/enrolment.
Because the number of seats has increased, electoral boundaries have been changed all over the place. Here’s a table of changes driven by new boundaries, from psephologist Antony Green www.abc.net.au/news/elections/qld-redistribution-2017/#ChangeTable.
Green’s analysis of the political impact is here www.abc.net.au/news/elections/qld-redistribution-2017/#PoliticalImpact, and his new electoral pendulum is here www.abc.net.au/news/elections/qld-redistribution-2017/#Pendulum.
You can access his overall guide to the election here http://www.abc.net.au/news/qld-election-2017/.
… and here’s a link to the latest polling http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Queensland_state_election,_2017#Opinion_polling.
* Corrected – thanks to Cameron Milliner for noticing the error!
Last week several business organisations, including one of which we’re members, echoed calls from Liberal-National Party Leader Tim Nicholls, and demanded the Palaszczuk Labor State Government call an election immediately.
Apart from this echo chamber, it’s hard to detect any groundswell of demand for an immediate election – it’s due by 5 May, and the (usually but erroneously presumed three-year) Parliamentary term isn’t up until late January 2018 (the anniversary of the last election) or more appropriately 14 February (the anniversary of the Palaszczuk Ministry) – or, legally and correctly, 5 May*.
Premier Palaszczuk has said several times she intends the election will be in 2018.
There are always constraints in choosing an election date, and here are some presently operative in Queensland:
- The Queensland election process must take a minimum of 26 days, from announcement (issuing of the writs) to Election Day – incumbent parties normally give little more than the minimum notice, for tactical advantage;
- Don’t look like you’re calling it early for expediency or advantage – voters aren’t dumb and can usually see through that;
- Don’t cut across
- football finals (in this case, AFL and NRL, which expire on 30 September and 1 October, respectively);
- school holidays (which commence from 17 November for year 12 students, from 24 November for years 10 and 11, and 8 December for the rest) because
- so many people are away and will get cranky at the inconvenience of voting, and
- if voters are away they will mostly miss appreciating the value of all of that money you’re spending on election ads …
… schools mostly resume on 22 January 2018;
- Christmas and New Year;
- The Commonwealth Games run from 4 to 15 April: if the Government changes in the month before the games, or there is campaigning across the games, there will be major distraction from the Games and this may harm the success of the game;
- If you announce an election between Christmas (really, mid-December) and Australia Day, you will either cause chaos because so many Members of Parliament and public servants are away, or you’ll tell them they can’t take leave which gives the game (and tactical advantage) away:
- Members of Parliament, and particular Ministers, take their holidays between the last Cabinet meeting of the year and the first of the next year – the Monday nearest Australia Day: if you call an election before Australia Day, you’re doing it while many sitting Members of Parliament are still away – that’s arguably quite unfair to non-Government MPs;
- The Queensland public service shuts down from Christmas Eve (this really commences in mid-December) until late January, say Australia Day;
- Most polling places are in school halls or similar, and it can be an incredible nuisance to get proper access to school halls during school holidays;
- The Party in power hasn’t finished selecting all of its candidates yet, although the few remaining are not in highly targeted seats;
- And, as Michael Todd reminds us: after this election Queensland moves to four-year fixed terms, with the election on the last Saturday of October (starting in 2021) – choosing a late October/early November date tends to bring this election into alignment with the future.
These things in combination mean the election could be announced
- Anytime up until 2 October, for a 28 October Election Day, if the Premier is prepared to explain why it can’t be next year as she has previously said, or
- Anytime up until 9 October, for a 4 November Election Day, with the same proviso, or
- Not between 10 October and Australia Day for the reasons advanced above, and
- Not for a date after 10 March, to avoid the Commonwealth Games and their build up, and
- Just possibly after an early Cabinet meeting on 22 January, for 17 February, or
- More likely, sometime in the two-and-a-bit weeks after Australia Day, for an Election Day of 24 February, 3 March, or 10 March.
The Queensland Premier (and her staff) has not been consulted in the drafting of this article, and nor has she consulted us!