Federal Election 2016: Malcolm Turnbull started campaign in Queensland
Malcolm Turnbull has revealed Queensland is where his political heart is, addressing the nation during the first day of the election campaign in the electorate of Petrie.
The Prime Minister, flanked by his MP for Petrie Luke Howarth and a number of unemployed youth at North Lakes, said he was focussed on building the future of the nation’s youth.
Mr Turnbull, looking energised ahead of a gruelling 54-day campaign, accused Opposition Leader Bill Shorten of being a “wrecker” of the economy. Mr Shorten will campaign in Cairns today.
“The critical thing you need to do with young people ... what they need is a chance,’’ Mr Turnbull said.
Addressing criticism that he did not refer to climate change after calling a double dissolution election for July 2, Mr Tunbull said the Coalition had a good plan but Mr Shorten’s proposed emissions trading scheme would be a economic shocker.
He said Australia should not act unilaterally on increasing emissions targets.
Earlier Malcolm Turnbull will reach out to down-and-out youth in Petrie today as he launches his march to The Lodge from battleground Queensland.
The Prime Minister’s battle with Bill Shorten will begin in the critical, swinging electorate of Petrie, which is among six seats the Liberal National Party will fight to protect over the next 54 days.
Tacticians have ensured battleground Queensland will almost always have a senior Coalition Minister campaigning in the state until July 2, as it tries to hold on to, and build on its 22 seats.
Employment and Women’s Minister Michaelia Cash will be in Petrie, the LNP’s state ground zero, on Thursday.
The Prime Minister will not announce a new policy in the seat today but will sell his $751 million youth unemployment PaTH package, which aims to give jobseekers aged under 25 real work experience.
Petrie has a youth unemployment rate of 14 per cent, down from 18 per cent three years ago.
The tactic aims to secure the youth vote and those of their parents, who have told pollsters they are worried about the lack of job opportunities for their children.
Petrie, held by the LNP’s Luke Howarth by a minuscule margin of just 0.6 per cent, includes the battler suburbs of Deception Bay and Bracken Ridge and the more well-off area of Redcliffe. Just 435 votes could deliver Petrie to Labor’s candidate, Jacqui Pedersen. Opposition Leader Bill Shorten recently held a Sky News/Courier-Mail People’s Forum in Redcliffe to win-over undecided voters.
Mr Howarth, who is understood to have favourable polling, stole the seat from Yvette D’Ath in 2013 when Labor was booted out of office.
Ms D’Ath, now Queensland’s Attorney-General, won the seat from Teresa Gambaro when John Howard lost government in 2007.
Mr Turnbull, who will tell the public today that only the Coalition has an economic plan, will also spruik his small business tax cut plan to win over small business owners.
“Bill Shorten has made so many promises but how will he be able to afford them?’’ said one source close to the Prime Minister. “People know the economy is transitioning. They are wondering how Labor will find their money.”
Highly-placed sources have told The Courier-Mail that while tacticians will throw resources and manpower at Queensland’s most marginal seats, including Capricornia (0.8 per cent margin), Bonner (3.7 per cent), Brisbane (4.3 per cent), Forde (4.4 per cent) and Leichhardt (5.7 per cent), it would also be eyeing two independent electorates and the Labor-held seat of Moreton.
Also in the crosshairs is flamboyant, Akubra-wearing Kennedy MP Bob Katter, who holds his seat by just 2.2 per cent.
LNP sources concede while it would be hard to beat Mr Katter, it is possible.
Jonathan Pavetto, an agricultural economist from a five-generation sugar cane farming family, will go head-to-head with Mr Katter.
In 1892, Mr Pavetto’s great- grandfather migrated from Italy to work on sugar cane farms in Ingham.
However, Mr Pavetto is at a disadvantage because he was only preselected in March when popular LNP candidate Noeline Ikin resigned because of health problems.
Enter the other Akubra-wearing, call-a-spade-a-shovel MP, Barnaby Joyce.
While polling shows Mr Turnbull is popular in inner-city seats, where Mr Shorten can struggle, the Coalition’s weapon will be the Deputy Prime Minister.
Mr Joyce polls well in regional Australia and is still considered a Queenslander, notionally.
Mr Shorten is planning to target regional Queensland and will challenge the PM to a Sky New’s People’s Forum in regional Queensland.
The Labor Party’s strategy is to target the regions, where his message of hard hats versus top hats will resonate.
Mr Shorten has an enormous challenge in front of him.
When Kevin Rudd swept to power in 2007, he won 15 Queensland seats.
Labor is aiming to build on the six seats it holds. Queensland has 30 seats up for grabs.