Harms Election Watch: Round 5- Julia in form

Election betting has flattened out, but no matter how I look at it, I just keep coming back to one thing: the election result is all about Queensland.

And the pollies know it as well.

Queenslanders are still recovering from the Coalition’s launch on Sunday. Rarely have so many blueblood Liberals graced the Sunshine State. There they were with their straight teeth and pendants and their service record in the Grammar cadets standing as one like Nick Farr-Jones had just gone over under the posts.

When, actually, Tony Abbott had just delivered his campaign launch speech, which plodded along at the pace of the meandering Barcoo. It was enough to get John Howard excited. Though.

Mr Abbott was supported by the forgotten man of Australian politics, Mr Warren Truss, a Queenslander and the member for Wide Bay and of course the National Party leader. And we all thought it was Barnaby Joyce.

The Nationals have needed to barnacle themselves on to the Liberal Party for some time, but equally the Coalition wouldn’t be a threat without the National Party. This makes for interesting discussions behind closed doors.

If the Queensland Nationals were called the Queensland Party they’d do even better up north where the Libs and Nats have formed a single party. The Libs have had little choice. Joh’s legacy and a hopeless state Liberal branch will do that to you.

Yes, Joh was real. And so was Pauline Hanson. And so is Barnaby Joyce, a good bloke for the one-liner who freezes up when having to face the pressure of a sustained interview. But popular alright, and one of the reasons the ALP’s fortunes are on a knife-edge up there.

Queensland has 29 seats, plus a newly created seat to make 30. If the swing is around 6% Labor will lose about 10 of them. They only have 15 at the moment, and some of them are very flimsy. When that old stager Arch Bevis is under threat in the seat of Brisbane you know things are dodgy. He’s been the sitting member for 20 years and was one of only two Labor candidates to win in 27 seats in the debacle of 1996.

Queensland voters are parochial. David Malouf said it very gently in the latest edition of The Monthly. I’ll say it more forcefully. No matter where you are in Queensland they don’t trust people further south. (Barnaby is saved by the fact that he is a senator for all of Queensland – Joh was the premier). But if you live in Cairns you have to be suspicious of those from Rocky, and Brisbane is worse. Canberra represents an understanding so alien you have to disinfect with mango sap after visiting there.

Canberra corrupts people who started life as good Queenslanders. Only the strong and the true survive its power: men as strong as Barnaby and Bob Katter.

And look what happened to Kevin Rudd.

Don’t underestimate the backlash. Julia and her cronies did the pure Queenslander in, and they will pay. It’s in Queenslander’s conversation. And the polls are showing that it is an issue up there, or should I say, an even bigger issue up there.

Alongside that you do have the fact that Julia Gillard made a bit of a comeback on QandA last night. After appearing exhausted during the day she must have had a Bex and a good lie down because she was bouncing for Tony Jones and the probing audience that had gathered in the Adelaide studio.

Telling people “That’s a very good question” was another pewk moment in the campaign. Then answering in a way that suggested even if she were served up a half volley she’d be careful how she patted it back to the bowler was another.

But she did get one of the better lines of the campaign out. When suggesting Tony Abbott was the lovechild of John Howard and Bronwyn Bishop she said, “I suggest you think about that for a moment.”

Maybe that will help the ALP’s cause.

About John Harms

JTH is a writer, publisher, speaker, historian. He is publisher and contributing editor of The Footy Almanac and footyalmanac.com.au He has written many columns and features for numerous publications. His books include Confessions of a Thirteenth Man, Memoirs of a Mug Punter, Loose Men Everywhere, Play On, The Pearl: Steve Renouf's Story and Life As I Know It (with Michelle Payne). He appears on ABCTV's Offsiders. He can be contacted j.t.h@footyalmanac.com.au He is married to The Handicapper and has three kids - Theo10, Anna8, Evie6. He might not be the worst putter in the world but he's in the worst three. His ambition is to lunch for Australia.

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