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Asset leases played role in massive swing

CANDIDATE FORUM: Former member for Hinkler Paul Neville at the meet the candidates forum hosted by the NewsMail and the Bundaberg and District Chamber of Commerce at CQUniversity. Photo: Max Fleet / NewsMail
CANDIDATE FORUM: Former member for Hinkler Paul Neville at the meet the candidates forum hosted by the NewsMail and the Bundaberg and District Chamber of Commerce at CQUniversity. Photo: Max Fleet / NewsMail Max Fleet

FORMER British prime minister Harold Wilson once said "a week is a long time in politics" and this week Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Premier Campbell Newman have proven just that.

With the State Election result in the balance and a leadership spill to take place in Canberra next Tuesday, the political landscape has shifted like quicksand.

In Bundaberg, Labor's Leanne Donaldson holds a slender lead (51.31%) against Bundaberg MP Jack Dempsey (48.69%), after preferences, with neither party yet willing to claim or concede the seat.

Former member for Hinkler Brian Courtice said he predicted a hung parliament three months ago for the simple reason that despite a majority government, Mr Newman was "toxic".

"He just didn't resonate with people," he said.

Mr Courtice said it was a pity Bundaberg had lost a "decent bloke" in Mr Dempsey.

"I'm apolitical myself but I make the prediction that whichever side finally forms government, it will be impossible to maintain continuity with independents for three years," he said.

"I think there will be another election in about 18 months."

University of Queensland political analyst Dr Chris Salisbury said the asset leasing plan was the key policy issue that concentrated the minds of Queensland voters.

"That's not to say that everyone was against that plan, but most of the government's commitments going forward were based on the proceeds of asset leases," he said.

"So when enough voters were convinced by Labor's negative portrayal of this approach, the LNP seemed to have little in the way of an alternative strategy for managing the state's economy and finances."

In Bundaberg, the Not4Sale campaign heavily targeted Mr Dempsey and Dr Salisbury said the campaign played a significant role, especially at the grassroots level, and fitted neatly with the campaign messages of the opposition and minor parties.

"It would seem to have been particularly effective outside the southeast corner, where the planned leasing of assets was portrayed as hurting local communities in terms of workforces and costs of services," he said.

"I'd suspect that he's been swept into the larger Not4Sale campaign 'hit list' as a reasonably high-profile member of the Newman government, and yes, judging by the extent of the swing in Bundaberg it appears to have worked.

"Bundaberg stands out as I think the biggest swing away from government in a seat that's been lost, so it's interesting from that regard and that might say something about how strongly the locals feel about privatisation."

Topics:  campbell newman jack dempsey leanne donaldson state election 2015



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