Palaszczuk to follow Goss in Qld election

Annastacia Palaszczuk faces economic uncertainty similar to what Wayne Goss had in the early 1990s.
Annastacia Palaszczuk faces economic uncertainty similar to what Wayne Goss had in the early 1990s.

Queensland Premier Palaszczuk will either emulate or eclipse her Labor hero Wayne Goss in the state election.

She shares many similarities with the late Mr Goss, who was premier from 1989 to 1996.

On Saturday, Ms Palaszczuk will either win a third term, surpassing his record, or be narrowly ousted like Mr Goss just short of his six years in power.

University of Queensland political historian Chris Salisbury says both Labor premiers led cautious, reforming governments.

They both come from working-class areas southeast of Brisbane, Ms Palaszczuk from Inala and Mr Goss from Salisbury and then Logan.

Both were nominally aligned to the Australian Workers Union but neither was radical.

"They both come from certainly not radical upbringings, but more steeped in the orthodoxy of Queensland Labor politics," Dr Salisbury told AAP.

"They more or less tend to stand above the sort of factional power players inside the Labor Party."

The pair also led cautious, reform governments after controversial conservative administrations.

Ms Palaszczuk followed Campbell Newman, who was in power for three years, while Mr Goss followed Joh Bjelke-Petersen's government after 32 years of conservative rule.

In his first term, Mr Goss reformed the electoral system and brought in social reforms.

Dr Salisbury said Mr Goss was always careful not to "spook the horses" - in the late premier's own words - and get the electorate offside.

Ms Palaszczuk arguably didn't have much of an agenda when she was elected and the first half of her first term was almost "government by review".

"They initiated dozens of reviews and looked to overturn aspects of what the Newman government had put in place," he said.

"That's also similar to Goss, how his first years in government were."

Dr Salisbury said economic conditions in Queensland reminded him of the recession in the early 1990s, when Mr Goss was premier.

Ms Palaszczuk now faces similar economic uncertainty, which could play out favourably at the election as it did for Mr Goss in 1992.

"At the 1992 election, it was pretty much status quo. There was no net loss and no net gain for Labor," Dr Salisbury said.

Unfortunately for Ms Palaszczuk, the current election also bears a resemblance to the 1995 election where Labor won but lost power after a by-election in the seat of Mundingburra in early 1996.

The former premier didn't have an exemplary record on the environment, which sapped his support among left-wing voters.

Ms Palaszczuk has also been criticised for her environmental record after approving a number of coalmines.

She has regularly sidestepped or given vague answers to questions about man-made climate change and greenhouse gas emissions during the campaign.

"Palaszczuk does not want to lose too much support in Brisbane to the Greens," Dr Salisbury said.

He explained that environmental issues dogged Mr Goss during his second term.

Labor made some concessions to hold on to much its Brisbane vote 25 years ago.

But it lost a few regional seats including the south Townsville seat of Mundingburra and Barron River, which are both in play at this election.

Dr Salisbury also noted that 1995 was the first election the Greens contested as a registered party and won 2.87 per cent of the vote.

"It was a mark of dissatisfaction about the environmental agenda of the Goss government," he said.

"There's some parallels in the increase in the Greens vote today."

He pointed out that "Tree Tories" campaigned heavily against a proposed Koala Road - a road linking Brisbane to the Moreton bayside - that would have destroyed koala habitat.

He believes today's LNP has made a small concession to progressive voters in deciding not to place the Greens last on how-to-vote cards.

"It's uncertain whether that's enough or if there's anything more that they can actually do," Dr Salisbury said.

Meanwhile, the Palaszczuk government has channelled Mr Goss's second-term government with a crackdown on protesters after passing stricter laws earlier this year.

"That was a signal that it was a government in control and not wanting to be held hostage by left-wing interest groups," he said.

Similarly, Mr Goss launched a crackdown on crime in the lead-up to the 1995 election to send a signal.

"It was saying it was a government pursuing progressive reforms, but still willing to be authoritarian in that kind of Queensland tradition and appeal to some of the moral sentiments," he said.

Dr Salisbury said both second-term Palaszczuk and Goss governments had tried to walk a fine line and please both progressive and conservative voters.

Unfortunately, it didn't work in 1995 with Labor initially narrowly winning and then losing the election by a single seat after a recount in early 1996.

Whether Palaszczuk emulates her hero's loss or surpasses his record by winning a third term will be determined after Saturday's state election.

"There are plenty of people predicting we could be left with a similarly close result this time or a hung parliament," Dr Salisbury said.

"It will be interesting to see just what the numbers are."

Australian Associated Press