Queensland Labor in crisis, says Beattie

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Queensland Labor in crisis, says Beattie

By Paul Osborne, AAP Senior Political Writer, AAPUpdated March 25, 2012, 4:30 pm
Deposed Qld premier Anna Bligh has called on Labor to pay closer attention to the electorate.

AAP © Enlarge photo

Labor stalwart Peter Beattie has declared the 120-year-old party is in “crisis”, as ministers talked down the federal impact of the Queensland election landslide.

Liberal National Party leader Campbell Newman’s juggernaut reduced the 51-strong Labor team in the Queensland parliament to as few as seven MPs at Saturday’s poll, with former premier Anna Bligh taking the blame and quitting her seat.

The historic 16 per cent statewide swing to the conservatives has many in the party concerned about the federal poll in 16 months.

Mr Beattie said rebuilding voter confidence in Queensland, where Labor holds only eight of 30 federal seats, would be critical to Prime Minister Julia Gillard winning the 2013 election.

“The reality is, the Labor Party’s in crisis,” Mr Beattie told ABC television.

“We need to have federal ministers pouring through Queensland, we have to spend time selling our policies, Julia needs to buy a house here … or we will face a similar wipe-out.”

Ms Bligh said Labor nationally needed to heed the message from the election, which followed losses for Labor in NSW, Victoria and Western Australia in the past four years.

“We simply can’t walk away from the fact that we’ve seen results similar to this in other states of Australia,” she told reporters.

“It’s tough times for Labor.

“I do think we have to turn our minds and listen to the electorate and understand that they want us to change.”

Federal Labor frontbencher Bill Shorten talked down the wider implications, saying it was the Queensland ALP that needed to do the soul-searching.

“I’ll leave that to the Queensland Labor Party to do,” he told reporters in Melbourne on Sunday.

“Nationally, I do think it’s important that the government just gets on with the job of governing, that we govern in the interests of all, not just a few.”

Fellow frontbencher Anthony Albanese dismissed suggestions of federal implications as “spin”, saying Labor had governed in Queensland for 20 out of the past 22 years.

“Eventually in our political cycles it catches up with you as it did in NSW after 16 consecutive years of government last year,” Mr Albanese told Network Ten.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said it was clear the Labor brand was “toxic”.

“The only way for the Labor party to recover is to have a good long hard look at itself, to rediscover what it believes in, what it stands for, who it represents and also to regain a bit of political integrity,” Mr Abbott said.

Former Bligh government minister Stephen Robertson sheeted home part of the blame to Kevin Rudd’s unsuccessful leadership tilt against Ms Gillard, which dominated the first week of the state campaign.

“The self-indulgence of what Rudd did, knowing that there was an election campaign going on in his home state, in my mind, is unforgivable,” Mr Robertson told ABC Radio.

Mr Shorten said the federal leadership battle would not have helped Ms Bligh’s chances.

“I don’t think leadership instability is ever a good look, be it a football club or a political party,” he said.

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