The Pickering Post
Monday, 25th March 2019

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Newman's leadership style 'tanking'


Australian Associated Press is Australia's national news agency. The organisation was established in 1935 by Fairfax and The Herald and Weekly Times.


When Campbell Newman stormed to power in March, there was talk of the Liberal National Party (LNP) ruling Queensland for the next four or five terms.

Five months on, the tide has turned in dramatic fashion and analysts are now warning that without a change in leadership style, he and his government could be one-term wonders.

Political analysts Paul Williams and Scott Prasser agree there was always going to be anger over the loss of thousands of public sector jobs.

But the former Brisbane lord mayor's approach to the state's top job must have LNP strategists worried, says Griffith University's Dr Williams.

Three opinion polls in the past week have shown the premier's popularity has plummeted since the LNP reduced Labor to just seven seats in the 89-seat parliament.

Dr Williams says it's staggering that Mr Newman's approval rating would be in negative territory so soon.

The Galaxy poll puts his personal satisfaction rating at just 44 per cent, down from 64 per cent in May. His dissatisfaction rating is now at 49 per cent, compared to 19 per cent in May.

The LNP's primary vote has also fallen from 54 per cent to 48 per cent.

But the party still has a 60-40 lead over Labor on a two-party preferred basis, despite a seven per cent swing to Labor since May.

Much is being said about the fact Mr Newman's standing has taken a hit well beyond what his party has suffered.

"For a premier, so early on, to be in negative territory ... means his leadership style is going to have to be something he and the strategists work on," Dr Williams says.

"I would be surprised if you don't see a softer, more apologetic, more sensitive premier to ameliorate some of the damage that's been sustained."

He says Mr Newman must understand he can't apply the same leadership style to the premiership as he did when he was Brisbane's lord mayor.

"Newman has come in very strongly with this sense of my government, and it's my parliament and I'm the boss," Dr Williams says.

"In the council chamber, he never really had an opposite number. But in the parliament you do have an opposite number and you have to show that due respect."

In parliament last week, Mr Newman - who promised voters he would govern with humility, dignity and grace - called Labor MP Curtis Pitt "a thug" and "a grub" and told him to "get a real job" during debate on changes to the Public Service Act.

Dr Williams says the recent polls had put beyond doubt a sentiment among voters that Mr Newman had swung the axe "too heavily and had shown little compassion".

"Certainly some of the online chatter is he seems to be taking great joy in it, that he has a personal vendetta against the public sector," he says.

"And that's gone down very badly."

Dr Williams said the polls were likely to get worse for Mr Newman, as the full extent of its job and funding cuts are detailed in next month's budget.

Australian Catholic University political analyst Scott Prasser agrees the Newman government has a communication problem.

"It's not good at articulating what they're trying to achieve other than cuts," he says.

"... it's an inability to develop a vision, or to put it in a structure that people can get.

"They're going to have to take the Queensland people into their confidence otherwise they will soon become a one-term government."