Queenslanders will vote in a state election on 31 October. In the midst of a global pandemic, it will be a campaign like never before.
University of Queensland experts say issues likely to influence voters will range from the usual economics arguments to the psychological impact of COVID-19.
Image: Getty images
Image: Getty images
Dr Chris Salisbury, School of Political Science and International Studies, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences:
“I’ll be keeping a close eye on the campaigning style of the major parties in what is Australia’s first state election to feature two female leaders vying to win government,” Dr Salisbury said.
“I expect preferencing arrangements between the major and minor parties or independent candidates to again be a major issue, particularly in critical marginal and regional electorates.
“Another issue to consider is potential negotiations to form government in the event of a hung parliament, with the possibility that several minor party and independent crossbenchers will be elected.”
Expertise: Dr Salisbury is an expert in Queensland’s political and electoral history. He is Queensland-born and (mainly) bred, and has keenly observed electoral politics in the Sunshine State since the 1980s.
Dr Glenn Kefford, School of Political Science and International Studies, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences:
"Online campaigning will be a big focus of the campaigns due to coronavirus," Dr Kefford said. "I will be interested to see who the parties are targeting, how much they’re spending and what this says about campaigning during a pandemic.
“The influence of the minor parties like KAP, UAP and One Nation – in outer metropolitan and regional areas – but also the Greens will be a major issue for the major parties this election. "This gets to the issue of declining trust and satisfaction with democracy," he said.
“I expect the major parties to focus their messaging largely on leadership and who will be the best managers of the economy.”
Expertise: Dr Glenn Kefford is an expert on political parties, elections and campaigning.
Professor Graeme Orr, School of Law, Faculty of Business, Economics and Law:
“The pandemic means there is a possibility the election may have to be delayed, or switch to all postal voting," Professor Orr said.
"But the Constitution limits any delay to a month. "More likely is that polling may be disrupted if the virus spreads in particular regions.
“We also just had a major revamp to election law," he said. "New expenditure limits and party funding rules apply. "Will the campaign be fairer and more modest?
"Or will limits on gatherings and physical distancing disrupt traditional meetings and door-knocking, leading to more spending on TV and online content?
“Finally, who will form government if there is a hung parliament? "The polls have been very close for a couple of years now, and it is likely that several minor party MPs and independents will be elected.”
Expertise: Professor Orr is an expert in the rules and norms that govern elections, political parties and parliaments. Besides an international reputation in those fields, he is Queensland-born and has followed electoral politics in the State since the late 1970s.
Professor John Quiggin, School of Economics, Faculty of Business, Economics and Law:
"Claims about the supposed risks of growing state debt have played an important role in recent Queensland elections," Professor Quiggin said.
"The adoption of a massive, unfunded stimulus package by the Morrison government and the fact that long-run interest rates have fallen close to zero should mean that this issue won’t be of much concern to voters in this election."
Expertise: Professor John Quiggin is prominent both as a research economist and as a commentator on Australian economic policy. He can comment on all areas of economic policy, climate change and the impact of the pandemic.
Professor Alex Haslam, School of Psychology, Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences:
"The pandemic and the response to it has placed the spotlight firmly on leadership," Professor Haslam said.
"Leadership is more effective if leaders treat groups as the solution not the problem, and if they implement policies that are sensitive to the circumstances of group members.
"Leaders secure followship by building and drawing on a sense of shared social identity, or 'us-ness'.
"Effective crisis management flows from the power that leaders achieve through followers, not the power they have over them."
Expertise: Professor Haslam is an expert in leadership and group processes. How do group processes affect responses to trauma, stress? How will COVID-19 affect voting trends?
Image: Markus Spiske from Pexels
Professor Stephen Birch, Director of CBEH and Professor of Health Economics, Faculty of Business, Economics and Law:
"We should be looking at the lessons we can learn from the last 6-9 months and how those lessons can be used for positive change," Professor Birch said.
"We have had repeated warnings about the prospects of pandemics occurring with SARS and MERS but as in other countries these were largely ignored so we were not prepared for the challenges that emerged.
"System sustainability is key and will depend on a greater level of integration of planning, management and evaluation across the different parts of the health care system and the different functions within the system.
"Current approaches to delivering aged care have been found to be unfit for purpose from the perspectives of both those seeking or receiving care and those delivering care.
"We need to reorient planning for aged care services around the needs of the older population not the numbers of them."
Expertise: Professor Birch is an expert in the economics of health and health care. His particular interests are in healthcare planning, the health workforce, healthcare system sustainability in times of demographic and epidemiological change, and ageing populations.
Dr Jake Whitehead, School of Civil Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology:
"A safe, efficient and sustainable transport system is essential to our future economic prosperity," Dr Whitehead said.
"With the impacts of COVID changing our daily travel patterns, and how we choose to travel from A to B, now more than ever we need strategic transport policy.
"While Queensland is a leader in e-mobility technologies, there is always more that can be done to further support the uptake and investment in this technology." he said.
"We must start rethinking our transport options and ensure we continue to reduce congestion, emissions and costs."
Expertise: transport energy, transport policy, road pricing, electric vehicles, autonomous vehicles.
Dr David Smerdon, School of Economics, Faculty of Business, Economics and Law:
"A number of behavioural economic theories will play a role in determining how people vote in this election,” Dr Smerdon said.
“It’s really hard for humans to appreciate hypothetical counterfactual scenarios to work out whether our politicians have done a good job at dealing with unexpected events, like the virus.
"This may mean that Queenslanders at the polling booths compare our way of life now to how it was before the lockdowns, when we really should be comparing it to what would have happened if there had been no lockdowns at all.
"Some other difficult considerations for deciding how to vote are the trade-offs in values between quality of life and number of lives, which is a debate which has become quite heated among economists, and the ‘look after our own first’ mentality created from the state border restrictions.”
Expertise: Dr Smerdon is an expert in behavioural economics and development economics, and broadly at the intersection of psychological biases and economic models. Particular topics of expertise include social norms (especially harmful behaviours), refugee integration, behavioural policy ‘nudges’ (i.e. policies that use psychology to encourage people to change their behaviour for their own good), trust, income inequality, discrimination and gender stereotypes.
Professor John Mangan, Director of the Australian Institute for Business and Economics (AIBE):
"The current situation with States acting in an arbitrary way has shown the weaknesses and flaws in the way the Federation is working - a coordinated health and economic response was needed and has failed to materialise," Professor Mangan said.
"The tensions now occurring may resurface in the ongoing debate about the distribution of GST and grants from the Grants Commission, with NSW and Victoria more likely to argue against subsidising the States that arbitrarily closed borders.
"To me, border closure and the arbitrary closing of Australia into five or six independent kingdoms was both highly harmful to the economy and the population long term but it is also was self- defeating until a vaccine or cure is found.
"In terms of sport, even when given the all clear, crowds will be reluctant to gather in the numbers seen pre-COVID.
Currently, in the NRL, crowds are about half the numbers permitted to attend – I suspect this is an indication of what to expect in the future."
Expertise: Professor Mangan is an expert in labour markets, economic modelling and sports economics, with particular interest in the Queensland and regional Queensland economies.
Associate Professor Gabby Walters, UQ Business School, Faculty of Business, Economics and Law:
“The border closures caused by the COVID-19 outbreak have had a significant impact on the tourism industry, which is of course a major driver of Queensland’s economy," Dr Walters said.
"While Queenslanders have proven they’re ready to travel locally, particularly in coastal and regional areas, it will still be some time before its back to business as usual.
"Coronavirus has meant a ‘new normal’ for the industry.”
Expertise: Associate Professor Gabby Walters has a substantial background in tourism marketing with an emphasis on consumer psychology. She's focused much of her research on image and reputation management and in particular tourism market recovery following crises and disastrous events.
Image: City of Gold Coast on Unsplash