Should Queensland go back to the future?

23 Feb 2015

Campbell Newman’s premiership was an object lesson in the dangers of untrammelled power. Queensland needs an upper house to keep governments out of trouble

From polling day on 31 January until the swearing in of Annastacia Palaszczuk as Labor premier seventeen days later, Queenslanders were treated to the usual tired scaremongering about the evils of minority governments. On 11 February the Australian Financial Review confidently told its readers that “the prospect of three years of minority government would be enough to scupper business confidence in Queensland.” The following day, the Australian breathlessly reported that Queensland now rates at 123 points on the Political Monitor risk index, “a record for the index.” (The least “risky” state, New South Wales, is on 56.)

By this time it was clear that Labor had won forty-four of the Legislative Assembly’s eighty-nine seats and could rely on the support of independent MP Peter Wellington. Not only had Labor taken power, but the results are unlikely to be anywhere near as dire as the pundits had predicted. Given that all of Australia’s political jurisdictions – every state and territory and the nation as a whole – have experienced minority government over the past twenty years, this sort of panic peddling might have had its day…

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