GIVEN that the Newman government's
election in March last year was the biggest win in
Australia's political history, there was always going to be
a substantial swing back to the ALP over the LNP's first
But what should be a matter of concern for
Campbell Newman and his party over the Christmas break is that
the past few months -- which is when this Newspoll was taken --
have been dominated by the government's crackdown on bikies, for
which it has always claimed there was popular support.
These poll results show that the government
may have overcooked this particular goose. Few people are going
to defend violent criminals, but there seems to be a sense that
these new laws are unnecessary.
Most of the bikies who have been involved in
criminal activities have been arrested under the old laws. The
new laws have seen situations like five men arrested in a
Sunshine Coast pub for having a beer together, despite them not
wearing bikie colours or insignia.
The champion of the bikie laws has been
31-year-old Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie, who has become one
of the most public faces of the government. His tough
law-and-order stance may sound great rhetorically but the
state's judges don't seem terribly impressed, and the way he
bungled laws supposed to keep notorious child sex offender
Robert Fardon in jail made him sound like a sheriff who talked
tough but was firing blanks.
Some other frontbenchers such as Deputy
Premier Jeff Seeney, Treasurer Tim Nicholls and Transport
Minister Scott Emerson are all capable performers but, really,
the perceptions of this government all come down to how Newman
himself is performing.
In this light, the biggest worry for the LNP
is Newman's seat of Ashgrove. Put simply, the size of the
victory disguised the fact that the Premier is in a marginal
seat and without a big swing such as the one the LNP enjoyed in
March 2012, Newman was always going to have to spend time
defending a marginal seat. He holds Ashgrove with a margin of
5.7 per cent -- this Newspoll shows a general swing against the
government of 8 per cent.
The obvious way out is to find him another
seat, but this is the sort of cynical political manoeuvre that
Newman has enough of a majority not to worry
about losing the next election, but he would be wise to remember
the words of his father's old boss, Malcolm Fraser: life wasn't
meant to be easy.