Labor has sights set on regional Queensland
REGIONAL Queensland is set to become a Labor target at the Queensland election.
Labor party leader Annastacia Palaszczuk told the media in Brisbane this afternoon towns in rural and regional Queensland had suffered skyrocketing unemployment under the LNP government.
Ms Palaszczuk said after receiving an electoral hiding in 2012, going from government to just seven seats, Labor had learnt its lesson.
She promised Labor would not privatise assets - which she said had cost them the last election.
Speaking in a Milton park in the central-western Brisbane seat of Mt Coot-tha Ms Palaszcuk today welcomed Premier Campbell Newman's decision to call an early election.
Standing with a group of Labor supporters as well as Bundamba MP Jo-Ann Miller and Mr Coot-tha candidate Steven Miles, Ms Palaszczuk called on Queenslanders to remove the LNP government to "send Campbell Newman a message".
Newman: This could be a very tight election for us
PREMIER Campbell Newman has conceded that the LNP is in for a tight race as it fights for a second term in power.
In his first press conference since announcing the January 31 election date at lunchtime on Tuesday, Mr Newman said Queensland could not risk returning to Labor.
But in a admission of the party's troubled polling in Queensland, and the Premier's own uphill battle to hold his seat in Ashgrove, Mr Newman told reporters there was a "very real possibility" that his government would lose.
"I make the point to Queenslanders that we simply can't have the sort of political chaos that we have seen in other states and sadly at the Federal level in the past few years," he said.
"That's a very real possibility because this is going to be a tight election.
"(Opposition Leader) Annastacia Palaszczuk could be the next Premier of Queensland if people buy some of the nonsense that the Labor Party are spouting."
Premier Newman said he had told Prime Minister Tony Abbott of the election date, and that the PM was "more than welcome" to visit.
"I would see him being here if we have a particular announcement about some sort of federal support.
"It is not about Tony Abbott.
"It's about Campbell Newman, LNP versus Annastacia Palaszczuk and Labor."
Mr Newman said that with Liz Cunningham not intending to run in Gladstone, the LNP "would like" to take her seat, but he would leave it for commentators to discuss.
The Premier said he expected the LNP to have lost government if he was to lose his seat in Ashgrove, refusing to discuss the possibility of an LNP elected without its current leader.
He would not say if he would seek a safer seat if Ashgrove was unwinnable.
Newman won't rule out parachuting into safe seat
Mr Newman would not rule out parachuting into a safe seat if he loses his seat of Ashgrove.
Mr Newman, who approached the media flanked by his wife Lisa, deputy premier Jeff Seeney, treasurer Tim Nicholls and assistant minister to the Premier, Deb Frecklington, said Queenslanders faced a choice at the election.
"I see this as the most important election for many, many years and I want to tell you why, and I want to tell Queenslanders why right now," he said.
"I am convinced we have a bright future. But there is much uncertainty around at the moment, uncertainty in Australia, domestically and obviously world uncertainty. And it's really import we keep Queensland on track to secure that bright future.
"I pledge today if re-elected we will keep working hard on our four pillar economic plan, a long term plan. Tourism, construction, agriculture, and resources. Boosting those to create jobs and services for Queenslanders.
"We cannot afford to go off track right now."
But when asked what would happen if he lost his seat and the LNP won Mr Newman refused to rule out moving to a different seat.
"I won't be winning Ashgrove if we don't win the state and vice-versa," he said.
Labor leader Annastacia Palaszczuk will be holding a press conference in Brisbane this afternoon.
What do you see as the top three election issues in Queensland?
This poll ended on 20 January 2015.
The economy and jobs
The cost of living
Privatisation of assets
Law and order
Qld's outlaw bikie laws
Cuts to the public service
Protecting the environment
This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.
Queensland to vote on January 31
QUEENSLAND will be heading to the polls at the end of the month with Premier Campbell Newman announcing a snap election.
Mr Newman announced just after 11.30am that Queensland would go to the polls on January 31.
The announcement was made via Twitter.
This morning I visited the Acting Governor. Writs have been issued for 31 January 2015. The most important election in many years. #qldpol— Campbell Newman (@theqldpremier) January 6, 2015
Mr Newman is expected to unveil his full pitch to voters about 1pm.
He is expected to urge voters not to risk changing back to Labor, pointing to recent strength in the economy, including in retail sales.
But Labor is expected to hammer the LNP's failure to reduce unemployment in the state.
The unemployment rate was 5.5% when the LNP came to power. It is now 6.9%.
In a statement released just after noon, Mr Newman said the Queensland economy was showing significant signs of recovery.
"In uncertain times - it's vital that we don't risk stagnation caused by election speculation," Mr Newman said.
"It's become obvious to me we can't waste any time implementing our strong plan for economic growth and job creation.
"Both the unions and the Labor opposition have already stated Queensland is ready for an election, showing they are
well and truly in electioneering mode.
"I will not let the State's recovery be damaged by endless electioneering from Labor, the unions and minor parties.
"We are asking for the opportunity to keep working on our economic blueprint; one that will best position Queensland for a strong and prosperous future.
"This is the most important election in many years: it will decide if Queensland reaps the rewards of staying the course through unsettled times, or squanders that opportunity for a future again mired in debt, deceit and reckless economic
"Only a strong and united Government can provide Queensland with a bright economic future, a strong health and education system, and a community that's a safe place in which to live, work and raise a family.
"The other choice is the chaos that will come with Labor flopping over the line with wasted votes to the minor parties and independents. The polls show this is a real risk for Queensland."
Premier Newman said the electoral rolls will close on Saturday, 10 January.
He urged all Queenslanders to ensure their enrolment was up-to-date.
Under Queensland legislation, the minimum campaign length, from the issuing of the writs, is 26 days.
Mr Newman earlier wrote on his Facebook page "ongoing election speculation" was putting the state's economy at risk.
"Queensland's economic recovery is too important to be jeopardised by ongoing election speculation," he wrote.
"I'm heading to Government House this morning to ask the acting Governor (Tim Carmody) to issue writs for a state election.
"There's no time to waste securing Queensland's economic future with our strong plan for job creation."
Just before 10am, Channel 7 tweeted an image of Mr Newman's car on the way to government house.
Union leaders protesting asset sales and privatisation were among those waiting to greet the Premier.
About 20 minutes, his car was seen leaving Government House after he asked the acting Governor to issue writs for the state election.
The LNP swept to power with a landslide victory in March 2012, winning 78 out of 89 seats.
But the party has since lost five MPs, with three defecting to minor parties and two quitting parliament.
Opposition says Newman's election call 'cynical'
Opposition leader Annastacia Palaszczuk told APN that he Premier's announcement was "a cynical attempt to catch Queenslanders off guard while they're enjoying their holidays".
"Labor is ready. We will be focusing on jobs and job creation.
"Campbell Newman promised a 4% unemployment rate, it's nearing 7%. In some parts of the state, youth unemployment is around 20%,'' Ms Palaszczuk said.
"Labor will also be offering a clear choice on asset sales.
"The LNP wants to sell the state's assets and cut $2 billion a year from the State Budget.
"Labor will keep our assets and the revenue they generate that helps deliver services to Queenslanders.
"Campbell Newman has divided our state, broken key election promises, and made savage cuts to jobs and services.
"I'm committed to uniting Queenslanders, not dividing them the way Mr Newman has done.
"I will be showing Queenslanders there is a better way."
Labor MP Jo-Ann Miller yesterday said the opposition was ready for the election, stating Queenslander's wanted to have their voice heard on the government's policies.
She said Labor was "ready" for the election and a short campaign would not catch them off-guard.
Newman faces battle to win own seat in Qld poll
QUEENSLAND Premier Campbell Newman is facing a battle to win his own seat of Ashgrove as the state is expected to head to the polls as early as the end of the month.
Mr Newman, who faces a tight contest to win Ashgrove against Labor's Kate Jones, is expected to return from holidays early today to call the election.
The Premier holds Ashgrove by 5.7% with pundits suggesting an earlier poll will help his chances, along with other LNP Ministers and MPs.
One minister suggested the snap election call, which was not expected until after Australia Day, was to catch Labor "on the hop", Fairfax reported.
"Most of them are on holiday. The state is really still on holiday. So it forces them to react maybe two, three weeks earlier than they were prepared for," he said.
It is understood the decision to announce the election on Tuesday was made late Monday afternoon, with many senior LNP sources still pointing to a February 14 election as late as 1pm.
But the chatter changed dramatically in the early evening, with the announcement all but confirmed by 9pm.
The LNP appears determined to make its controversial anti-bikie laws one of the key battlegrounds amid reports Labor will be backed by outlawed motorcycle gangs and the wider biking community.
The government on Tuesday called on Opposition leader Annastacia Palaszczuk to rule out accepting donations or support from criminal motorcycle groups.
Acting Treasurer Scott Emerson said the alternative Premier had shown she was weak on crime by embracing the support of criminal organisations and an explanation was needed.
"Instead of addressing the issue yesterday, her silence was deafening," Mr Emerson said.
"If criminal motorcycle gangs are supporting Labor, then Ms Palaszczuk needs to detail what that level of support means.
The ALP directed comments about donations to its head office but made it clear Labor would not be accepting donations from any organisations or individuals involved with criminal activity.
Mr Emerson said he was concerned by comments from senior police that suggested any changes to the laws would be "foolhardy" and "plunge Queensland back into chaos and lawlessness".
"These laws have widespread community support because they have played an important part in cleaning up the streets," he said.
"We are the first state in Australia to effectively deal with the criminal gang problems and that wouldn't have happened without the current tough legislation.
"This work would be undone if Labor carried through with their threat to replace these laws.
"Our strong stance has been effective in targeting criminal gangs and crime in Queensland with 1706 criminal gang participants arrested on 4,710 charges since laws came in."
Mr Emerson said the opposition leader backed these laws when they were introduced, but flip-flopped away from them when tough decisions had to be made.
However, Labor MP Jo-Ann Miller said yesterday there had been no convictions from the laws, with convictions coming instead from crimes under existing laws.
"Where there have been convictions it's been on laws that were previously passed. So there have been no convictions whatsoever under these new laws," Ms Miller said.
"Now these laws have been in place for some time, the government likes to talk up these laws, but where there's been zero convictions you really have to wonder."
Ms Miller said the Opposition would review the laws and take submissions from police, lawyers and any interested Queenslanders and look to replace them with Labor's 2009 anti-bikie laws.
The LNP is facing its own questions with opponents accusing it of breaching the contracts made at the last election.
While the LNP promised to grow a four pillar economy, the state has seen higher unemployment.
Pledges to cut the cost of living have carried little credence with electricity prices skyrocketing.
The LNP also vowed to revitalise frontline services but there have been massive cuts in the public service.