TAKING STOCK: USQ Pro Vice-Chancellor and political commentator John Cole.
TAKING STOCK: USQ Pro Vice-Chancellor and political commentator John Cole. Cordell Richardson

The lessons Ipswich's Labor stronghold needs to learn

IPSWICH'S Labor stronghold will need to take important lessons from Scott Morrison's 'miracle' victory to retain government ahead of next year's state election.

That is the opinion of University of Southern Queensland Pro-Vice Chancellor and political commentator Professor John Cole in the wake of the unlikely outcome, which saw hordes of Queenslanders turn their backs on Labor.

Although it proved to be a comfortable win for Milton Dick in Oxley, Shayne Neumann was made to sweat in what was expected to be a formality in Blair.

Having held the seat since 2007, Mr Neumann experienced a 9.2 per cent swing against him for first preference votes with a quarter of the votes still to be counted on Wednesday afternoon.

Professor Cole said this did not necessarily mean a blue wave would sweep through Ipswich's traditionally strong Labor areas as voters knew the difference between the two levels of government.

"Queenslanders throughout the (former Premier Peter) Beattie years voted for the (Coalition) federally and voted Labor in the state," he said.

"In the year John Howard won the 2001 federal election, Peter Beattie won a massive landslide in Queensland. Good political leaders can manage this."

But he said there were major political differences between now and then and our local representatives could not overlook the growing sentiment of people outside the big cities feeling overlooked.

"The difference is regional communities are just despairing at what seems to be inner-city elites holding sway," he said.


Former Queensland Premier Peter Beattie.
Former Queensland Premier Peter Beattie. Inga Williams IR080813BEATTIE12

"The rise of the green left and all of that is having an impact. We're seeing that in seats like Blair, the average person knows the green left doesn't represent their interests. It is for people that are well enough off to not have to worry about where their jobs are going to be or young enough not to care really.

"There's no doubt that people in regional areas don't believe the Labor government is listening to them and sees a government that are listening more to the inner suburban, inner city left rather than their needs."

Professor Cole said Annastacia Palaszczuk's government still had time to address the "cleavage" between urban and regional areas.

"If they demonstrate they are genuine about the message of jobs, economic development and they will listen to people. That's probably the most important thing," he said.

"Governments have got to get a lot more serious about showing they actually understand the issues and are in the business of managing rather than playing symbolic politics.

"Government investment in the right kind of services and infrastructure and encouraging private sector investment is important.

"If people think governments have stopped listening, they turf them out."

While he believed governments have got to get more serious about innovation and the long term, they cannot ignore the concerns for the jobs of the present.

"It's not an either-or situation," he said.

"You can have jobs of the future but alongside the jobs of the present."

Polling methods in need of an update

PROFESSOR John Cole got word a couple of days out from the election from an LNP source that Peter Dutton would be safe in the hotly contested seat of Dickson.

Mr Dutton overcame a tough battle against Labor's Ali France with several polls predicting he would be ousted after 18 years in the seat.

Labor was tipped to win but fell short in a result that not many people around the country saw coming.

Professor Cole believes this will force polling companies to go "back to basics" and question their methodologies.

"The party polling is obviously showing something a bit different to what Newspoll and other public polls are showing," he said.

He pointed to the success of Griffith University data scientist Professor Bela Stantic, who called the Coalition's triumph, as well as Brexit and Donald Trump's 2016 victory, through the use of social media data as where it could be heading.

"Social media seems to be a more honest indication of what people are really thinking than possibly outdated robopolling and White Pages sourced telephone polling," Professor Cole said.

"In social sciences and universities we don't tend to use any one methodology. If you've got a particular method you're using you also have a method you use to check and validate the result so you've got something that is statistically accurate."

"A national level poll, it doesn't give you the local colour and variation as clearly as you might expect. The national polls were not indicating a swing to the Coalition.

"For people like myself that are relying on public polling to offer comment, you almost have to say you offer it with a caveat that it's based on what I'm reading and seeing (rather than what may be accurate)."

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