Queensland Election Newsletter – Issue 4

27 January 2015

Just over a week out from election day, Campbell Newman and Annastacia Palaszczuk faced off in a peoples’ forum, answering questions from 100 undecided voters. The party leaders took questions on gay marriage, the economy, election promises and accountability, with the Premier ultimately prevailing, securing 48 votes to Palaszczuk’s 26, with 26 remaining undecided. On the economy, Palaszczuk stressed the state’s high unemployment rate, while Newman highlighted his ‘strong’ plan to pay down debt through asset privatisations. In recent days, both sides have sought to focus on privatisation as the key distinction between them – for the LNP it is core to their economic plan; for Labor it is a matter of principle to save ‘our assets’. Elsewhere in the debate, Labor said that it would continue to declare every political donation over $1000, while Newman sought to link Labor with donations from bikie gangs. And in a rare show of unity, both leaders ruled out introducing daylight saving in Queensland.

In final week argy bargy, Premier Newman came under fire for his comments that he cannot guarantee LNP spending promises in specific seats if those seats are not retained by the government. Independent MP Peter Wellington has referred the comments to the Queensland Electoral Commission for what he says is tantamount to ‘blackmail’.  Newman has defended the statements, and the $18 million in promised spending for his own electorate of Ashgrove, a contest against Labor’s Kate Jones that remains too close to call.

Meanwhile for the ALP, Opposition Leader Palaszczuk confirmed that Labor will use Building Queensland, a proposed new independent assessment body, to produce an infrastructure plan in the first twelve months of office, opening her up to LNP criticism that Labor is heading to the election without an infrastructure plan.

In the final days of the campaign the Palmer United Party has been largely absent on the campaign trail with party leader John Bjelke-Petersen making limited appearances and founder Clive Palmer absent from the campaign. Their absence, and the low profile of Katter’s Australian Party, which had a major impact on the 2012 poll, leaves voters with maximum exposure to the major parties.

As Saturday approaches, a decision remains between Newman’s ‘Strong Choices’ and Palaszczuk’s ‘A Better Way’.

If the recent Victorian election taught us anything it is that the electorate is becoming more and more volatile.  While the sheer numbers make a change of government appear unlikely (the Government holds 72 out of 89 seats), historically the Queensland electorate has shown a propensity to swing wildly from one election to the next.  A Newspoll of regional seats, published at the weekend, indicated that perhaps as much as 26 per cent of voters were yet to make a final decision about their vote, leaving much room for uncertainty in the final days of the campaign.

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