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Queensland Election Newsletter
Issue 3, 20 January 2015
 
With the Queensland election just over 10 days away, both major parties have now launched their respective campaigns outlining the key issues they will focus on into the final week.
 
Labor Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk launched the Opposition’s campaign in Ipswich today, notably promising to ‘rescue TAFE’ and spend money in the regions. Palaszczuk committed $240 million over four years to provide jobs training for over 30,000 people and an increase in apprenticeships at government-run corporations. She also re-announced money for the Great Barrier Reef and a new focus on seniors, saying a Labor Government will have a dedicated Cabinet minister to oversee the newly-created portfolio.
 
Shadow Treasurer Curtis Pitt also released the Party’s debt reduction plan, promising to ‘pay down debt without losing the $2 billion income stream the LNP will give away through asset sales’; the LNP says Labor has committed $1.3 billion in new spending without a plan to pay for it.
 
Campbell Newman launched the LNP campaign over the weekend to the party faithful, highlighting his achievements in health, education and transport over the past three years. The Premier announced a new policy to reward safe young drivers, money to reduce water bills and $90 million over three years for a Research to Reality Fund for scientific research grants to boost innovation. Newman was also in Ipswich in recent days to highlight the LNP’s policies on law and order and today, announced money for a Queensland tourism fund to attract major sporting, film and cultural events.
 
Labor continues to bring attention to the lack of Federal Liberal colleagues on the campaign trail in stark contrast to the number of federal ALP frontbenchers, including Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, and Deputy Leader Tanya Plibersek, who have both made appearances in recent days. The LNP however, has firmly focused its messaging on trust and the economy, drawing attention to its wins since coming to government, its plan for debt reduction through the Strong Choices plan and highlighting Labor’s history of privatisation of Queensland assets.  A truck making circuits around the ALP launch today sought to highlight this with a travelling billboard, accusing Labor of hypocrisy.


BATTLEGROUND:  Queensland’s Tropical North
 
Queensland’s Tropical North is centred on the garrison city of Townsville and includes the regional cities of Burdekin, Charters Towers and Mount Isa.  Like Far North Queensland – or ‘Paradise’ as it is known by its elected representatives – the tropical north likes to surprise us come election time.
 
Called after its namesake city, the electorate of Townsville has predominately been Labor-held since 1980 until it was won by the LNP’s John Hathaway with 54% of the vote in 2012.  The ALP is investing heavily in its candidate Scott Stewart in a bid to regain Labor heartland. 
 
Neighbouring Townsville is the seat of Mundingburra. A typical swinging suburban seat, Mundingburra was won by the LNP’s David Crisafulli with a 16% swing in 2012, following the retirement of former Labor Minister Lindy Nelson-Carr.  The LNP is actively campaigning to protect Crisafulli’s seat, whom many also predict will be a future leader. 
 
The Townsville-based electorate of Thuringowa has had mixed representation over the past 2 decades – and is 1 of the seats secured by One Nation in their 1998 debut.  The LNPs Sam Cox narrowly won the seat in 2012 when he defeated Bligh Government Minister Craig Wallace with a 9% swing, putting Labor in third place behind Katter’s Australia Party. 
 
The outer Townsville electorate of Burdekin will be vacated by sitting member, Government Whip Rosemary Menkens, following announcement of her retirement at this election.  The traditionally conservative electorate was won by Menkens with a 17% margin in 2012, and was previously held by both Labor and One Nation for a term each between 1998 and 2004.  The LNP’s new candidate is former Townsville City Councillor and Mayoral Candidate, Dale Last.
 
The sprawling electorate of Mount Isa was won by the KAP’s Robbie Katter in 2012, when he defeated incumbent ALP MP Betty Kieran.  Katter, the son of Federal MP Bob Katter, is widely expected to hold on to the seat, though he has not yet managed to build the profile of his father.  His main opponents will be Richmond Mayor and LNP Candidate Cr John Wharton, and local police officer Simon Taylor.
 

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: The Faces of the Future
 
Elections provide the perfect opportunity for political parties to revitalise their frontbenches by promoting key members of their team.  Despite no member of Cabinet retiring at this election, Campbell Newman is expected to announce a significant reshuffle of his ministerial team to reward his junior ministers and promote re-elected members of the backbench. 
 
One of the first ministerial promotions is expected to be David Crisafulli, the energetic first-term Member for Mundingburra and Minister for Local Government, Community Resilience and Recovery.  The former Deputy Mayor of Townsville is highly regarded by LNP officials and if re-elected in his marginal seat of Mundingburra, is expected to be elevated to a high profile portfolio, with many suggesting he is a future leadership contender.
 
Almost certain of moving into the Cabinet of a second-term Newman Government is Nanango MP Deb Frecklington.  Upon her election in 2012, Frecklington was promoted to the newly-created position of Assistant Minister for Finance, Administration and Regulatory Reform, where she worked closely with Treasurer Tim Nicholls on the Government’s Strong Choices plan as well as red tape reduction initiative. More recently, she was promoted to the position of Assistant Minister to the Premier with responsibility for the G20.  Frecklington features heavily in LNP advertising and is pictured in the Party’s main campaign ad sitting alongside Newman, Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney, Treasurer Tim Nicholls and Speaker Fiona Simpson. 
 
Following Anna Bligh’s resignation after the 2012 election, former ALP Assistant State Secretary Jackie Trad was elected as the new member for South Brisbane, moving straight into Shadow Cabinet with responsibility for the portfolios of Transport, Environment, Small Business, Consumer Affairs and the Arts.  Almost immediately upon being sworn in, Trad quickly became a media favourite with her witty, pointed and sharp barbs at the Government.  A policy wonk and political devotee, Trad has impressed many people in her short time in Parliament and is considered a future leader within her party. 
 
One of Labor’s biggest losses at the 2012 election was the defeat of former Attorney-General Cameron Dick.  Elected as the Member for Greenslopes in 2009, Dick was immediately elevated to Attorney-General and Minister for Justice in the Bligh Cabinet, and later served as Minister for Education and Training. Prior to his election, he worked as an international development volunteer in the South Pacific island nation of Tuvalu from 1993 to 1996, where he also served as acting Attorney-General for one year.  Dick is expected to return to Parliament in a senior leadership role after being endorsed for the safe Labor seat of Woodridge, which is being vacated by long serving MP Desley Scott. 
 
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