Unspoken reason Lamb won Longman
A FACTOR that played heavily in Susan Lamb's emphatic victory on Saturday, and has escaped commentary, is penalty rates.
The Fair Work Commission decision to change weekend and holiday penalty rates for hospitality, retail, pharmacy and fast food workers - which came into effect on July 1, in the middle of the Longman and other by-elections - has become a flashpoint for voters.
Malcolm Turnbull's Coalition said it was all up to the "independent umpire" and they would do nothing to intervene to overturn the Commission's ruling.
Labor has campaigned against the cut in pay rates and promised to overturn the Fair Work ruling if they win the next election.
The ACTU has penalty rates as a central plank in its energetic Change the Rules campaign spearheaded by new secretary Sally McManus.
Just as they did in 2007 when John Howard's WorkChoices was a key factor in Labor winning Longman, this time the union movement and Labor volunteers flooded the electorate with election materials, ground troops and booth staff.
The marquee messages were money for health and education not tax cuts for the big banks and overturn the penalty rate cuts.
Just as happened in 2007, it worked. The question now is whether what happened at one by-election will follow the outcome 11 years ago when Australia goes to the polls in April or May next year.
It's almost certain to happen and it's hard to see what Turnbull and his team can do to turn things around.
The Turnbull Government is going to dig on its plan to roll out its $85 billion worth of corporate tax cuts in full, taking the last tranche back to the Senate when the Parliament resume later this month.
This is the politically toxic end of the tax cuts, with its multi-billion dollar payday for the largest companies in Australia including the big banks.
No matter what Turnbull does after a further rejection of these tax cuts by the Senate - and there is absolutely no hope of crossbench support after the weekend's by-elections - Labor will maintain its campaign against him on the issue, saying if he's re-elected, Turnbull will try again to enact the final aspects of his tax plans for companies and high net worth individuals.
Meanwhile, workplace issues will dog the government as well, especially the cuts to penalty rates. Bill Shorten will tell all of those hospitality, retail, pharmacy and fast food workers who have taken home less money for a month now they will get a pay rise if Labor wins the next election.
Wages continue to tread water with no relief in sight, more and more households are suffering mortgage stress, young people are unable to get close to having a deposit for their first home and in many regions youth unemployment is rising at an alarming rate.
The youth unemployment rate in Longman sits at 18 per cent having increased from 12 per cent a year ago while about four in five families in the electorate live on wages that are below the national median level.
These are the issues that caused just about every booth in Longman to record a swing to the ALP last Saturday, including polling places on Bribie Island where older voters have traditionally backed the LNP.
Labor even won the rural booth in Woodford for the first time in living memory.
During the Longman campaign, LNP strategists kept saying Shorten was the "best thing going for us" and remained convinced if he stayed the leader at the next election, Turnbull had a "better than fighting chance".
There's no doubt Shorten rates poorly with many voters but persistent poll records and the real world field evidence from these by-elections - especially Longman - force the conclusion it's having no impact on the Labor vote.
The "Kill Bill" strategy has been a colossal failure. The government spent $80 on a royal commission into trade unions with a primary aim to pin something on Shorten and his time as an Australian Workers Union official but came up with nothing.
Turnbull and senior ministers have thrown everything at Shorten - calling him a two-faced liar, a hypocrite, untrustworthy, a left wing socialist and a risk to the national economy.
While this has done nothing for Shorten's approval ratings, there has been no commensurate impact on Labor's standing in the electorate.
At booth after booth in Longman at the weekend, Labor recorded swings which were mostly around 4 to 8 per cent but reached 10 per cent in places.
Queensland will be a vital battleground in the next federal election but it's going to be one which the Coalition will find almost impossible to win.
Dennis Atkins is The Courier-Mail's national affairs editor