Federal Election 2016 : State By State key Issues - Queensland

Queensland : Infrastructure, climate change to dominate Queensland campaigning

Queensland is a key battleground state in the upcoming federal election, where 12 of the state's 30 seats sit on margins of under 5 per cent.

The Coalition currently holds 22 of them, the ALP has 6, independent Bob Katter holds one and Clive Palmer has another.

The ABC spoke to Griffith University political experts Dr Paul Williams and Professor Anne Tiernan about the issues likely to dominate the campaign in the Sunshine State.

Infrastructure funding

Dr Williams believes infrastructure is the key issue for Queenslanders and both major parties will be highlighting their track records and future plans.

"We've still got huge infrastructure gaps in Queensland, there's talk of resurrected cross-river rail and also a whole range of infrastructure for trade and export up and down the coast," Dr Williams said.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has made Brisbane's cross-river rail the party's number one infrastructure commitment for Queensland and has also committed to upgrading the M1 at Logan.

The Coalition has spent billions of dollars upgrading the Bruce Highway, Toowoomba Second Range Crossing, Moreton Bay Rail Link and Gold Coast Light Rail.

Professor Tiernan believes the 2016 budget was light on infrastructure detail for Queensland but there is likely to be some sweeteners during the campaign.

"On the face of it Queensland hasn't done very well out of those infrastructure investments ... we'll have to see what's in the balance of the $1.6 billion of unannounced commitments," Professor Tiernan said.

Queenslanders will also be watching closely for investments in education and health infrastructure.

Northern Queensland

Such is the importance of the northern part of the state, Malcolm Turnbull created a Minister for Northern Australia.

With a downturn in the mining sector and the collapse of Queensland Nickel, Professor Tiernan said it was a region in need of jobs and an economic transition strategy.

"The whole question of how the transition from the peak of the mining boom to a more diversified economy is going to be managed, there's some very difficult issues," she said.

"People are left with property investments and they can't really sell houses and relocate easily in some of those regional cities, it's a real dilemma."

While it might seem like a trivial topic in comparison, there is also a premiership winning rugby league team that wants a new home.

Mr Shorten has committed to matching the State Government's $100 million contribution for a new North Queensland Cowboys stadium, but as yet the Coalition has not.

"It's obviously an important cultural issue for people in North Queensland, particularly around Townsville, because it's an idea that's been kicked around for a very long time and there's been votes won and lost on it before," Dr Williams said.

The Cowboys' home ground in Townsville   Many voters in Townsville want a new stadium for the Cowboys. (ABC News: Isobel Roe)

Climate change and the Reef

In his recent documentary Sir David Attenborough declared the Great Barrier Reef was in "grave danger" because of climate change.

The Reef has undergone its worst coral bleaching event ever.

"I would expect that perhaps unusually for an election that the Great Barrier Reef specifically will be right at the top of the environmental agenda," Dr Williams said.

"All Australians will be worried about the Great Barrier Reef so it's inevitable I think that the major parties are going to have to answer this, certainly the Greens will be pushing this that the major parties haven't done enough to save the Great Barrier reef."

The Federal Government has its long-term plan for the Reef and has injected $210 million into its Reef Trust to try and restore the Reef's health and improve water quality.

"If tourism and service industries are where we're heading those natural assets become really important so that's a real site of conflict or battle," Professor Tiernan said.

Labor released its policy to tackle climate change in April.

Coral bleaching on Lizard Island   Reef bleaching will be right at the top of the campaign environmental agenda. (Supplied: WWF)

Marginal seats

One of the unknowns come polling day will be the direction voters take in the state's marginal seats.

Professor Tiernan said changing demographics would come into play as well as how effectively the major parties read Queensland voters.

"It's the state that both parties have kind of struggled to understand," she said.

"The real unknown in the campaign is the independents and Greens, we're only just starting to see who some of the candidates in the key seats are."

Mr Palmer's decision not to recontest the seat of Fairfax will more than likely mean the Sunshine Coast seat will go back to one of the major parties.

Dr Williams said Labor strategists know they need to win more seats in Queensland to have any hope of winning government.

"We know Labor is targeting, it thinks it can win up to 11 seats in Queensland, I wouldn't be at all surprised if Labor actually ends up with only about four or five extra seats and the LNP still holds more than half the seats," he said.

Source: ABC News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *