After the shortest campaign allowable, today Queenslanders will be the first Australians to vote in a January election since 1913.
The Liberal National Party’s (LNP) enormous parliamentary majority (73-9) gives it an almost unassailable lead, and expectations are the party will be returned to government.
But a predicted strong swing to Labor means a returned LNP will be missing many from among its ranks.
Premier Campbell Newman could be among them if polls in his seat of Ashgrove are correct.
Mr Newman has promised $18 million in funding for the seat, contingent on his re-election.
That was three times more than the LNP’s promised to any nearby seat, and triggered allegations of pork-barrelling that the Premier refused to acknowledge during the campaign.
Statewide, Mr Newman has run a campaign based on infrastructure promises, funded by the lease of state-owned assets.
The LNP has effectively been campaigning on the issue for almost a year, beginning its “Strong Choices” campaign last February.
During this election, the party has promised around $6 billion in specific infrastructure projects around the state.
Mr Newman said during the campaign that electorate-specific projects were not guaranteed if the LNP candidate was not elected.
The LNP said it expected to reap $37 billion from asset leasing, and would spend $25 billion on debt reduction, $8.6 billion on infrastructure and $3.4 billion paying costs associated with home solar systems, to reduce overall power bills.
The Treasurer said the income from the leases would be allocated as it comes in, roughly over a five year period.
The Premier said some of it would be used to fund the infrastructure promises the party made during the campaign.
Labor’s campaign has been based almost entirely around not leasing state-owned assets.
The party promised modest spending and said it would merge the state’s power distributors and generators from five into two companies.
It said the savings would pay down the state’s debt, and in future years, it would use two-thirds of the income from state-owned assets to pay down more debt.
But it would need to grow the income from those assets to make major gains.
It would be by far the biggest turnaround ever in Australian political history if the labor party won this election.Antony Green, ABC’s election analyst
The party said the LNP was overstating the State Government’s debt, because it was including the $18 billion of debt held by government-owned corporations in its overall figure.
Labor said its plan pays down $12 billion of actual government debt over 10 years, more than the LNP’s would.
Both parties want to reduce Queensland’s high unemployment rate.
The LNP says its infrastructure projects will do it by creating more than 200,000 jobs, while Labor is offering to invest in training, innovation and productivity.
The parties have also clashed over law and order, with the Premier linking Labor and the unions with criminal bikie gangs.
Mr Newman has repeatedly made comments about bikies potentially funding the Labor campaign, but offered no evidence of any actual links.
The campaign turned farcical when bikies began donating to the LNP to make a point, although the party refunded the money.
Both sides are claiming a strong law and order focus: the LNP says it has the strongest record of reducing crime, while Labor has released a plan for an organised crime inquiry and a taskforce to review the LNP’s controversial bikie laws.
Antony Green says election will be close
ABC election analyst Antony Green said the 2015 election would be close, but he would be “stunned” if Labor won the election, given it goes into the poll with just nine MPs.
“It would be by far the biggest turnaround ever in Australian political history if the Labor party won this election,” Mr Green said.
He said a massive swing was required for Labor to form government.
“It’s well over 12 per cent. Labor needs to win 36 seats,” he said.
“It would be absolutely unprecedented to do if they win, which is why I think it’s more likely Labor will get a lot of seats, but they won’t necessarily win the election.”
Mr Newman has repeatedly warned voters about the prospect of a hung parliament, but Mr Green was doubtful.
“I don’t think the Labor party can win the 30 odd seats which would bring a hung parliament into play,” he said.
“I think it’s more likely than a Labor victory, but it’s far less likely than an LNP victory.”
Green said seats in north Queensland would be pivotal, including Barron River, Mundingburra and Townsville.
He said Brisbane seats would also be crucial.
“There’s a whole range of seats which Labor had never lost: Bulimba never lost before, Lytton never lost before. You’d expect those seats to easily come back,” he said.
“It’s when Labor starting pushing into seats like Springwood, Mansfield, Sunnybank, Stretton, Kallangur and those sorts of seats which are on much bigger margins around double digits, if Labor starts to win seats like that then you’re looking at the possibility of Labor getting close to government.”
As for independents and minor parties, Green said he expected Peter Wellington in Nicklin, Robbie Katter in Mount Isa and Shane Knuth in Dalrymple to be returned.