Daily Bulletin


News

  • Written by Chris Salisbury, Research Associate, School of Political Science & International Studies, The University of Queensland

Government responses to COVID-19 in Australia have received, by and large, bipartisan support. An exception, it seems, is the imposition of restrictions on interstate movement. State borders have become a lightning rod for political friction and feverish commentary. With elections in the frame, this has escalated into apparent “border wars”.

Going hard on borders

The latest salvos follow alarming coronavirus outbreaks in Victoria and, in lesser numbers, Greater Sydney.

After partially reopening Queensland’s borders mere weeks ago, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk surprised some by reimposing a “hard” border closure effective from the weekend. As case numbers ballooned in Melbourne and instances occurred of infected returning travellers “breaching” quarantine measures, many Queenslanders anticipated toughened restrictions – and indeed welcomed them.

Read more: Naming and shaming two young women shows the only 'enemies of the state' are the media

It should be remembered that the Queensland government’s generally successful handling of the pandemic crisis, including its readiness to close borders, enjoys broad approval. Some wondered why this latest border closure extended to the ACT as well, where there are no active cases.

But a hard line on borders to effectively “put Queenslanders’ health first” is a popular move. Support for the closures even came from a possibly unexpected source in Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate. Amid heightened anxiety, residents here will take comfort from the seeming security of “fortress Queensland”.

Election fever in the air

In Queensland, pandemic conditions currently favour the incumbent premier – in stark comparison to Daniel Andrews’s situation in Victoria. With community transmission largely under control, Palaszczuk has played a steady hand in easing lockdown restrictions, informed by her chief health officer’s advice.

Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk Annastacia Palaszczuk will benefit from being the incumbent leader during a crisis, with Queensland so far emerging relatively unscathed. Darren England/AAP

While impacts on the state’s economy and unemployment levels remain worrying – and potentially politically damaging – everything is viewed through the prism of the government’s ability to manage the crisis. These circumstances seemingly lend themselves to taking an “abundance” of caution.

Read more: View from The Hill: With an abundance of caution, Palaszczuk puts out the unwelcome mat to Sydneysiders

This has in turn invited criticism from some business quarters, but it’s an approach that suits both the times and the premier’s style.

A recent coronavirus outbreak in Brisbane’s south tested the premier’s leadership and her government’s responsiveness, providing a reminder of the disease’s unpredictability. Subsequently, taking a resolute stance on border measures, in defiance especially of naysayers from southern states and Canberra, will only boost Palaszczuk’s standing in her (often parochial) home state. With an election less than 12 weeks away, there are, variously, more rewards than risks in unapologetically prioritising the protection of Queenslanders’ health.

But as that election nears, both the premier and her LNP counterpart, Deb Frecklington, will look to turn circumstances more clearly to their political advantage. Opinion polls show the LNP holding a slim two-party-preferred lead – yet, perhaps significantly, Palaszczuk has a distinct lead as voters’ preferred premier.

The premier adopting a position of ‘strength’

Many in Queensland see Palaszczuk as personable and a “safe pair of hands”. This reassuring attribute might be well suited to these uncertain times.

With Palaszczuk’s leadership stocks running high, Queensland voters can anticipate a presidential-style election campaign come October. Messaging has already surfaced singling out Palaszczuk as a “strong premier”, suggesting she’s the leader to make “strong decisions”. But Labor may well tread this path warily, remembering what befell Campbell Newman, the last Queensland premier who campaigned relentlessly on “strong” characteristics.

Read more: Coalition maintains Newspoll lead federally and in Queensland; Biden's lead over Trump narrows

Admittedly, accentuating “strength” counters claims of being indecisive or too cautious, critiques that have dogged Palaszczuk’s leadership until now. This approach could work well politically, so long as events – or potentially the federal government – don’t turn against the premier’s handling of the pandemic. If there’s a heightened element to the crisis in coming weeks, the situation could reverse quickly for Palaszczuk’s government, leaving the premier wearing much of the blow-back.

Even Anna Bligh’s much-lauded leadership during the destructive 2010-11 cyclones and floods in Queensland didn’t translate to a long-term boost in support. But the looming state election is a more short-term prospect. The pandemic will remain front and centre, with Palaszczuk’s crisis management still very much in the spotlight.

When to oppose in opposition?

The spread of COVID-19 has presented a political challenge for the opposition in Queensland.

The LNP’s past criticism of the Palaszczuk government over the state’s border closure has come back to bite it. Echoing their leader, throughout June several LNP MPs (supported by the prime minister no less) called repeatedly for the border’s reopening. Events since, understandably, have forced an about-face from LNP figures. They’re now advocating “tougher” border measures at the risk of appearing inconsistent.

LNP leader Deb Frecklington Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington has refined her position on border closures during the course of the pandemic. Dan Peled/AAP

Regardless, the opposition finds itself – ironically – having to be cautious about the limits of striking a point of difference. This much is obvious in Frecklington’s newly struck tone of resigned consensus with the government’s border position. This is a bind opposition parties are experiencing nationwide, a hard reality especially in states and territories with elections nearing.

The LNP, having gambled on criticising the government’s border restrictions, now wears the fallout. Labor has pounced on the opportunity, in early signs of a de facto election campaign. Social media posts have highlighted how Frecklington – who’s had to endure her own party’s turmoil of late – called for Queensland’s borders to be opened “early” on dozens of occasions.

Queenslanders can expect to be reminded of this “rashness” from now until the election. The LNP, meanwhile, must identify issues not necessarily coronavirus-related – such as law and order or water security in regional Queensland – to provide it some campaign cut-through.

Palaszczuk in the driver’s seat

Notably, for ten of the past 13 years, a woman has been premier of Queensland. Whichever major party wins October’s election, a woman will be leader for (likely) a further four years. With Palaszczuk emphasising – in the face of LNP criticisms – that “the lady’s not for turning” from her border stance, she gives herself every chance to remain that leader.

Authors: Chris Salisbury, Research Associate, School of Political Science & International Studies, The University of Queensland

Read more https://theconversation.com/did-someone-say-election-how-politics-met-pandemic-to-create-fortress-queensland-144067

Writers Wanted

Queensland's LNP wants a curfew for kids, but evidence suggests this won't reduce crime

arrow_forward

We can no longer ignore the threats facing the Pacific — we need to support more migration to Australia

arrow_forward

The Conversation
INTERWEBS DIGITAL AGENCY

Politics

Prime Minister Interview with Kieran Gilbert, Sky News

KIERAN GILBERT: Kieran Gilbert here with you and the Prime Minister joins me. Prime Minister, thanks so much for your time.  PRIME MINISTER: G'day Kieran.  GILBERT: An assumption a vaccine is ...

Daily Bulletin - avatar Daily Bulletin

Did BLM Really Change the US Police Work?

The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement has proven that the power of the state rests in the hands of the people it governs. Following the death of 46-year-old black American George Floyd in a case of ...

a Guest Writer - avatar a Guest Writer

Scott Morrison: the right man at the right time

Australia is not at war with another nation or ideology in August 2020 but the nation is in conflict. There are serious threats from China and there are many challenges flowing from the pandemic tha...

Greg Rogers - avatar Greg Rogers

Business News

What Few People Know About Painters

What do you look for when renting a house? Most potential tenants look for the general appearance of a house. If the house is poorly decorated, they are likely to turn you off. A painter Adelaide ...

News Co - avatar News Co

Important Instagram marketing tips

Instagram marketing is one of the most important approaches for digital advertisers. If you want to promote products online, then Instagram along with Facebook is the perfect option. After Faceboo...

News Co - avatar News Co

Top 3 Accident Law Firms of Riverside County, CA

Do you live in Riverside County and faced an accident and now looking for a trusted Law firm to present your case? If yes, then you have come to the right place. The purpose of the article is to...

News Co - avatar News Co



News Co Media Group

Content & Technology Connecting Global Audiences

More Information - Less Opinion