Federal Attorney-General George Brandis has warned against the Coalition abandoning its reform agenda despite the Liberal National Party’s savage election routing in Queensland after one term.
An unprecedented majority didn’t help the LNP which has had to hand back more than 30 seats to Labor after three years of reform and a re-election campaign based on privatisation.
Despite the shock loss, and amid clear evidence that federal issues played a major part in the result, Mr Brandis on Sunday said the Abbott government should push ahead with its agenda.
He conceded Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s decision to award Prince Philip a knighthood, announced at the start of the campaign’s final week, had proven a distraction.
But the Queensland-based senator said: “This was not a ‘send a message to Canberra’ type election campaign.”
“We cannot be frightened by the Queensland election result out of undertaking the necessary reform.”
Deputy Prime Minister and Federal Nationals Leader Warren Truss also dismissed suggestions that federal factors played a part and denied the unpopularity of the Prime Minister had swayed voters.
“It was very clearly an issue, a campaign, that was run on state matters,” Mr Truss said.
“Obviously every government in Australia needs to look at an election like this one and seek to learn from the experience and make sure any errors that were made are not repeated.”
The comments came as a Galaxy poll published in NewsCorp newspapers showed Mr Abbott’s personal approval rating had sunk to 27 per cent, and the two-party preferred support for his government slumped two points since December to 43 per cent.
Queensland Liberal National Party president Bruce McIver insisted the Abbott government’s woes had a major influence on voters.
Mr McIver said there were “many” federal factors that were problematic for the LNP leading into the state poll, not the least of which was Mr Abbott’s decision to confer a knighthood on Prince Philip.
He said the knighthood decision left him stunned.
“I was shocked. I would have rathered Wally Lewis (Queensland Rugby League great) get the gong,” Mr McIver said.
Federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said Mr Abbott had a major impact, despite not even visiting Queensland during the campaign.
“While Campbell Newman tried to hide Tony Abbott, the Prime Minister was front and centre every day of this campaign,” Mr Shorten said.
Mr Shorten spent 11 days on the Queensland campaign trail.
Greens Leader Christine Milne said outgoing Premier Campbell Newman and Mr Abbott were two peas in the same pod.
“Kick this mob out is Queensland’s message to Abbott and to Newman, and I think that’s the message the whole of Australia wanted to send as well,” Ms Milne said.