Canberra — Australia's non-Labor parties are likely to take on far more conservative policies following the sweeping victory of Queensland Premier Johannes Bjelke-Petersen in state elections Saturday.
Mr. Bjelke-Petersen's campaign was aimed at attacking the ''socialists in Canberra'' - the new federal Labor government of Prime Minister Bob Hawke.
His television advertisements showed a map of mainland Australia colored red (to represent Labor governments) outside of conservative Queensland. He argued that only his National Party could resist the socialist tide and he promised no new taxes or state charges.
The election was a three-way battle between Bjelke-Petersen's National Party, the Liberal Party, and the opposition Labor Party.
The result was a devastating defeat for the Liberals and an overwhelming endorsement for Bjelke-Petersen's policies.
In terms of federal politics, Bjelke-Petersen is probably overstating his ability to turn out Labor. At the moment the Hawke government is riding several percentage points higher in the public opinion polls than it was when it easily won the federal elections in March, and Hawke is enjoying a 70 percent approval rate in the polls.
However, the opposition Liberal Party and its leader Andrew Peacock are under considerable pressure to change.
Peacock is being urged to adopt more conservative policies and provide a far starker choice for the electorate now that Hawke seems to have captured the middle ground and much of the support of those who want liberal policies.