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Caution: The following account assumes familiarity with Queensland's history and is unlikely to be of interest to persons who lack such a background.
Following the 2004 state election in Queensland, a senior political commentator suggested that with '"With three wins under his belt and the conservative parties in no real position to win in 2007 - baring a miracle, scandal or Act of God - Peter Beattie is the latest in a long list of authoritarian premiers" 
However this conclusion is likely to be wrong because:
A Changed Environment
There is little doubt of the success of 'ignorant authoritarians' in Queensland's political history - and that perceptions of Queensland politicians have often been poor as a result.
However the Queensland environment will no longer allow 'ignorant authoritarians' to prosper given:
Making Life Harder
As a result of these changes, the life of the 'ignorant authoritarian' has become increasingly difficult. In particular:
Bjelke Peterson's Governments got away with the 'authoritarian' game (especially in the 1980s) because:
- Queensland had no institutional ability to question anything (see Queensland's Weak Parliament);
- they relied on a fairly competent Public Service, and had an obsession with building up financial assets rather than with public spending;
- they were able to demonstrate economic 'success' by acting as a local 'puppeteer' for external investors in the state's rich natural resources.
In the early 1990s the Goss Government got away with the 'authoritarian' game (but only for a short time) because:
- a gallery of inexperienced academics said how good its policy was - and Queenslanders still had no institutional capacity to question anything they were told;
- everyone in the Public Service who could prove that the academics and political advisers often didn't know what they were talking about was sacked (see Towards Good Government in Queensland); but eventually
- the 'wheels fell off' the performance of many government functions - and the electorate was not amused (see The Origin and Spread of the 'Queensland Effect').
The Borbidge Government didn't get away with the 'authoritarian' game at all. In fact it hardly even bothered being authoritarian.
Beattie's Governments have gotten away with the 'authoritarian' game, because:
- rhetoric was expressed about supporting a 'Smart State' agenda;
- Queenslanders still had little institutional ability to question anything they were told - and the Public Service remained politically compliant;
- a higher rate of public spending has been maintained - apparently financed in part by 'creative accounting';
- apologies have been proffered whenever the 'wheels have fallen off' public functions to eliminate the perception of political arrogance.
Practical circumstances no longer favour Populist Authoritarianism
However, though Queensland's Government faces no serious political Opposition, it has immense administrative and financial problems to which authoritarianism is not a real solution. Indicators of this are in:
Moreover despite a convincing electoral victory, the Government lacks policies that would withstand serious examination in many areas (see dysfunctions).
Having an administrative mess, a major financing problem and an often bad understanding of how to fix those problems is not a happy position to be in. While profuse apologies may ensure that a political leader is not seen to be arrogant, they can not make government administration any more competent.
In spite of this, such practical problems can be virtually invisible to political commentators and to the electorate because of severe institutional weakness in Queensland.
Immediately prior to the 2004 election an experienced political observer argued that there were 'No clouds on Sunshine Pete's horizon' - because protest votes were now a thing of the past in Queensland.
However while his observation was correct from an electoral viewpoint, once the election was past, dark clouds would have to gather because of the problems identified above.
Practical 'clouds' may not translate into political 'clouds' because Queensland's political system operates in an unrealistic world. There is a general lack of input from independent institutions which are both competent and applied who could help the community understand (a) 'big picture' issues and (b) whether policy is likely to be effective and being competently implemented. This is why Queensland has had a Weak Parliament. It reflects comprehensive failure by: business; associations; unions; and universities, which prevents Queensland from developing much more astute political leadership than a flock of sheep.
Political commentators do not seem to recognize the 'competence' dimension in making a government susceptible to a protest vote. For example, the Goss Government was not susceptible to a 'protest' vote because people were unhappy with the Federal Government  - but because its administration was incompetent in many ways which impacted on them (see The Origin and Spread of the Queensland Effect). Moreover a very significant side of the 1995 protest vote was the electoral influence of the Public Service and (even though their situation remains very bad) the Public Service was unlikely to bother protesting in 2004.
However government is not just about illusion - so Queensland's populist Government (and the electorate) seem unlikely to enjoy its third term unless authoritarian populism is moderated by professional realism.
Thus the authoritarianism that political commentators see as normal in Queensland may no longer be in the interests of Queensland's political establishment.
Another example of authoritarian expectations: Following the 2004 election an experienced political commentator claimed that Commerce Queensland might be 'sent to Coventry' by the State Government for its vocal criticism of government practices and of a senior minister during the election campaign .
However the authoritarian tactic of simply 'shooting messengers' who point out problems is no longer going to work. For example, in the case mentioned above:
- 'shooting the messenger' is not a viable way to defend 'creative accounting'. Commerce Queensland's major concern seemed to be about 'fudging' of figures to balance Queensland's budget . And unfortunately their claims about this seem to have been an understatement rather than partisan politics (see Enron-itis; and About the 2003-04 Budget).
- Commerce Queensland's broader criticism of state policy appeared to be well supported by a comprehensive and professional evaluation of relevant issues (see Smart Business: Smart Queensland). The latter analysis, though it reflected a 'liberal market' viewpoint somewhat different to the Government's, none-the-less linked credible public policy principles with practical business concerns. Though this research base had limitations, it was vastly more solid than Commerce Queensland (and most equivalent organizations) have traditionally produced. Thus Commerce Queensland's assertions during the state election campaign were not necessarily mere 'shameless political partisanship' as had been claimed . Once again their argument seemed deficient because it did not go anywhere near far enough - as many state economic programs are simply NOT a competent way of achieving their desired practical outcomes (eg consider Commentary on Smart State).
Presumably the State Government is itself now only too aware of the practical (public service and financial) problems mentioned above and that it cannot solve them by the authoritarian tactic of 'shooting messengers'.
Thus it is inappropriate to suggest that the Government might be merely vindictive, and that organizations such as Commerce Queensland should not have the 'guts' to question dubious policies and practices that emerge from Queensland's quirky political system.