The Inside Word

2024 State Politics Update – March

March 16 was a key date in the calendar with Queensland local government elections held alongside two key state seat by-elections of Ipswich West and Inala. The Ipswich West by-election occurred due to the resignation of the ALP’s Jim Madden. The Inala by-election was the result of the resignation of former Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk after last year’s ALP leadership change. 

In Ipswich West, the ALP candidate was Wendy Bourne, a former Palaszczuk staffer. The LNP candidate was Darren Zanow, Managing Director of a concrete and quarrying firm and President of the Ipswich Show Society. The ALP suffered a 15.1 per cent swing against it, with the LNP currently projected to win with a 18.5% swing. This is a big loss for the ALP, which had previously won Ipswich West at 19 of the past 22 elections and safely held the seat with a 14.3 per cent margin. 

The seat of Inala was the safest seat for the ALP, with the former Premier securing 78.2 per cent of the two-party-preferred vote against the LNP and secured 67.4 per cent of the primary vote. The ALP candidate was Margie Nightingale, a former teacher and advisor to Treasurer Cameron Dick. The LNP candidate was Trang Yen, public servant, acting CFO of Trade and Investment Queensland and a member of the large Vietnamese community in the electorate. Margie Nightingale won the seat, but the ALP suffered a 30.1 per cent swing against its primary vote and 21.4 per cent swing against the two-party-preferred vote, a larger swing than the Ipswich West result. 

Premier Steven Miles, who with the ALP Party office understood that both seats would see significant swings in the lead up to these elections, commenced expectations management and sought to downplay the ALP’s performance. Post-election, he used plain language to acknowledge that the ALP did not enjoy majority support of voters, particularly in the outer metropolitan and rural areas, given community concerns about both crime and cost of living. 

The Opposition Leader and the LNP were heartened by these two results and will continue to exert discipline with messaging. The LNP acknowledge that these results increate expectations of a strong LNP performance in October and that being the ‘front runner’ will involve more media scrutiny of their policy positions and candidate selection and commentary. It also risks a presumption of an election win by both their frontbench and backbench and could see internal policy and personality differences break out into the public sphere as jostling and positioning intensifies. 

Following the election, the Government released the findings of a 60-day review of Olympics infrastructure, which included several unexpected recommendations including building a new stadium in Victoria Park and abandoning the ‘Gabba’ stadium redevelopment. The Premier, acknowledging community concerns about large, expensive infrastructure builds, has made firm decisions to not follow key recommendations and instead prioritise cost-of-living relief. 

The next key ‘reset’ opportunity for the ALP will be the State Budget handed down in June, which is expected to include significant financial relief for households. Otherwise, the bi-election results confirm that the LNP is well positioned in regional and outer-metropolitan seats. When combined with the strong Greens party performance in inner city Brisbane seats, a re-elected LNP Brisbane City Council administration, and strong Queensland LNP representation at a Federal level, the prospects of a re-elected Miles Government are getting slimmer.

Sign Up

Subscribe to our newsletter