How Qld delivered Scott Morrison’s ‘Miracle Election’

Kangaroo Point an inner city suburb in Brisbane, Qld. Photo: Marc R R Dorda.

Queensland’s unexpected result in defiance of reputable public polls for the 2019 Australian federal election, confirms the ‘Queensland is different’ theory according to a Griffith University expert.

Dr Paul Williams is among the Griffith University academics contributing to election analysis.
Dr Paul Williams specialises in Australian federal and state elections and voter behaviour.

Dr Paul Williams from the School of Humanities, Languages and Social Science has written a post-election analysis of Queensland’s results focusing on local factors and trends for a new edited collection.

He says Queensland stands out because the opinion polls representing voting intention was the most inaccurate in all of Australia.

“The 2019 election is one of historical significance because of the continued pattern of Queensland conservatism, particularly in the regions and cross-interest voting or voting contrary to class interests, which was present across Australia but especially in Queensland.”

A longstanding advocate of Queensland’s unique decentralised political culture, where more voters live in regional than urban areas, Dr Williams said Queenslanders put a premium on strong leadership and pragmatism over ideology, which Scott Morrison personified.

“Scott Morrison came in as a blokey Australian with a plain speaking, casual style that resonated deeply with regional Queenslanders and was one of the top factors in deciding Queensland votes.”

The concentration of voters in Queensland’s regions also meant there were significant collective differences that researchers needed to track said Dr Williams.

“I argue now that my research shows there are at least six ‘Queensland regions’. The sort of populism that resonates in the Sunshine Coast is very different to the populism that resonates in Townsville or Cairns.

“Queensland is very distinct from other states and within the state itself.”

“Queensland is very distinct from other states and within the state itself.”

The Adani factor: ‘Lifeline to regional revival’

The Adani cola mine was another polarising flashpoint, which Dr Williams said clearly shaped voting intentions in all 30 Queensland seats and particularly in the five seats closest to the mine’s site in the Galilee Basin.

“There is no great love for the Adani project, as other opinion polls show, but what it became is a totem for state development, jobs, mining and investments in the regions. For Queensland voters, Labor and the Greens appeared to oppose that with their anti-Adani position.”

There are also lessons for the upcoming 2020 state election, with minor parties continuing to exert pressure in future Queensland state and federal elections.

“The Greens have carved out a permanent presence in terms of the Senate vote and the Queensland Parliament. But One Nation is also here for the long haul in state and federal politics.

“That is the challenge for both parties, to mitigate the effects of those two extremes.”

Morrison’s Miracle: The 2019 Australian Federal Election book is available through ANU Press.