The Anna Bligh Resurgence
Nobody saw it happening and it took two natural disasters to dislodge the negativity caused by a tough budget and the privatization of Queensland Rail. But it’s happened. The Galaxy poll of 800 Queenslanders published in the Courier Mail yesterday found Premier Bligh’s approval rating had jumped 23 percentage points since November to 58 percent while Labor had increased its primary vote seven points.
As I have previously argued it comes from just being natural, direct,
accountable and ever-present during the crises – by Anna just being herself.
Political leaders are never more effective than when they just do that.
Working with the always-limited talent pool of State politics the Premier has refreshed and reshaped her cabinet, with three retirements and three new faces, thus confirming her enhanced leadership.
She is astute enough to know that the follow-through – of working on a seamless reconstruction effort – is now her hardest challenge. She needs to begin each day with a half hour update meeting with all the relevant agency heads and ministers and to follow up ruthlessly any slackness or administrative tardiness.
If a departmental head is telling his middle managers they better get it right because he will be asked about it at a 9am meeting tomorrow with the Premier and her gimlet-eyed advisers, it will concentrate the minds wonderfully.
A ritual sacking at the first sign of stuff-up would be useful as well. “Execute one, educate a thousand,” as my old buddy Mao Tse Tung was fond of telling me whenever we braved the Yangtze for a healthful swim.
While the Queensland ALP still lags the conservatives 45 to 55 Anna has made her party competitive. If she persuades the ratings agencies to restore the states’s Triple A she will will be beaming at this vindication of the big privatization. Above all, she won’t want to be another George Bush Snr who saw his ratings rocket after the first Gulf War.
And then slump because…well, the failure of follow-through. As Shakespeare put it, “Readiness is all.”