The Inside Word

State Politics Update – May 2024

We’re less than two weeks out from the State Budget and less than 150 days from the October 26 election. After a messy April, the month of May saw the Miles Government stabilise much of the media cycle and occasionally lead the debate with policies that caught the eye of voters.

The release of two pre-budget policies confirms cost-of-living will remain a top issue through to October: A non-means-tested $1,000 credit will be applied to all household power bills, and $0.50 public transport fares will be trialled for 6 months from August 5. 

Whether or not these are perceived as blatant attempts to buy votes, the Miles Government is prepared to go big in its pursuit of electoral victory.  It expects this direct relief to demonstrate its capacity to use the power of government to act, and to showcase a Labor government for all Queenslanders. It will also box in the Opposition’s ability to announce high-spending policies of its own. 

However, confirmation the upcoming budget will forecast a $3B deficit for 2024-25 and a less than $1B deficit the following year is somewhat denting the impact of these policies. Global prices for metallurgical coal, thermal coal and LNG will play an enormous role in whether such forecasts are met.

The Miles Government is hoping to expose the Opposition on coal royalties by seeking to legislate the 2022 progressive coal royalty tiers. Labor’s intent is to flush out a clear LNP voting position pre-election while creating a political opportunity to criticise a post-October LNP Government if it seeks to dial down royalties. 

In the words of Treasurer and Deputy Premier Cameron Dick: “The best way to keep progressive coal royalties as they are and protect them for the future is to vote for the Miles Labor Government in October. … The second-best way is the Keep Them In The Bank Bill.”

While the LNP Parliamentary Opposition has remained disciplined, some untidy manoeuvrings within the party itself have exposed division between moderates and conservatives. A small section of conservatives is concerned an LNP Government will not be ‘conservative’ enough, and it’s seeking to gain more control and influence. We’re watching this space, particularly the LNP State Conference in July, to see if these differences reveal a party in chaos or productive unity.

Opposition messaging remains tight, with cost-of-living, housing, health and crime remaining its four pillars. By contrast, Premier Miles has sought to introduce new topics to the public debate, including the Federal LNP’s nuclear policy and its implications for Queensland; supporting a ban on social media access for under 14s; and blaming federal migration settings for pressures on Queensland housing and infrastructure. The Queensland LNP will perform well if its four pillars define the debate, whereas the Miles Government will recover ground if it can broaden the debate.

When budget week is over, just two regular sitting weeks will remain between then and the election, with two other weeks set aside for budget estimates. This means most of the politicking will be carried out on Queensland streets, homes and businesses. 

The Miles Government will release its budget in two weeks and will need to follow up with a clear message about why it needs another four years, something it’s yet to achieve. For the Opposition, working through differences at a well-managed State Conference in July will go a long way toward showcasing its fitness to govern.

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