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Mar 30, 2012

Bonfire of the independents.

Cartoon: By Bill Leak. 


Federal Labor has been in denial over the results of the Queensland election, claiming that it was purely a state matter with no implications for the party nationally.  Certainly, Queenslanders detested the wasteful, arrogant, and incompetent state government but issues such as the carbon tax and the exploding cost of living played a strong part in the result. 

Now Tony Windsor is attempting to reassure himself with the claim that while the unpopularity of Gillard may have played a part, there is nothing for independents to worry about.  He even makes the extraordinary claim that independents did well here: 
But he [Tony Windsor] shrugged off suggestions that the public’s view of independents had been negatively affected by his and fellow independent Rob Oakeshott’s support for the minority government.  “If people are trying to draw a connection between Queensland and the Commonwealth, independents actually performed quite well at the [Queensland] election,” he said. 
 “[Gladstone MP] Liz Cunningham was re-elected and she put Rob Borbidge in power after a hung parliament. [Nicklin MP] Peter Wellington was re-elected and he helped install Peter Beattie after a hung parliament.  “So if people were looking for an opportunity to punish independents for supporting hung parliaments, that would have been a prime opportunity to do it.”
The reality is that prior to the election there were six seats held by independents, one of whom stood as the leader of the Bob Katter Party and there are only two left.  The independent who held Nanango did not stand for reelection.
The remaining two are popular independents who have held their seats for multiple terms.  Liz Cunningham holds the traditionally Labor seat of Gladstone with the blessing of the LNP.  While her primary vote dropped owing to the LNP standing a candidate this time, and the entrance of the Bob Katter Party, she has increased her two party preferred vote by 8%. 
While Peter Wellington supports Labor on occasions, he is not seen as a pro Labor flunky like Oakeshott and Windsor are.  He has managed to hold his seat comfortably after a scare, but had a massive drop in support.  Other than Maryborough where Chris Foley is losing narrowly, the rest were smashed.
Windsor believes that the largesse he gained for his electorate as a price for his support will get him across the line.  The problem in this is that he could have done quite well from Abbott had he chosen to support the Liberals, and come the next election the love in comes to a grinding halt and the voters know it.  In the meantime the vast majority of taxpayers who have provided all of this free stuff and watched their own electorates miss out, have a seething resentment towards Labor and its lackeys.   

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