Queensland’s deputy premier says the government is hurting because it has forced too many controversial changes on voters.
But Jeff Seeney is standing by his government’s policies, blamed for a disastrous Newspoll that has the Liberal National Party trailing Labor for the first time since its landslide win in 2012.
Political analysts say the result raises the prospect of a hung parliament at next year’s election – a staggering turnaround from 2012 when observers were talking of the LNP holding power for at least three terms.
“In retrospect, it is arguable that our change agenda was too much, too quick,” Mr Seeney conceded on Monday.
“We now face the challenge of catching up, in terms of explaining to the people of Queensland what we did, why we did (it), and the benefits to them.”
Mr Seeney says Premier Campbell Newman’s leadership is not in jeopardy despite the poll, which has the LNP trailing Labor 49 per cent to 51 per cent on a two-party preferred basis. But he says the result is wake-up call.
“A lot of politicians will tell you they don’t take notice of the polls – of course we do,” Mr Seeney said.
“We’ve got an opportunity now to hear the message that’s in those polls and ensure we make the case for the re-election of our government.”
Mr Seeney also moved on Monday to take the heat out of savage attacks by corruption fighter Tony Fitzgerald, who on the weekend accused the government of flaunting its disdain for democracy and good governance.
The deputy premier is trying to arrange a face-to-face meeting with the man who led the state’s historic corruption inquiry in the 1980s to show the government isn’t out to abuse its power.
“I respectfully think he’s not right when he says we have a disdain for democracy,” Mr Seeney said.
“I want to sit across the table and talk to Tony Fitzgerald about what his concerns are. I think a lot of the (government’s) good news stories never get reported.”
Mr Seeney defended controversial changes to electoral donation laws, the introduction of unpopular anti-bikie legislation and the government’s decision to overhaul the state’s corruption watchdog.
“I think we have given all that legislation very detailed consideration and we have a justifiable argument for every piece of legislation we have introduced,” he said.
Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk said the poll results showed the Newman government was arrogant and “out of touch”.
“This government must grow up,” she said.
“Campbell Newman needs to start listening and start governing and think about the impact that his policies are having on Queenslanders.”