Likely to be the battleground State for a drawn out election campaign, Queenslanders could ultimately hold the political destiny of Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten in their hands.
This is the view of Professor Anne Tiernan, Director of the Policy Innovation and Learning Hub at Griffith Business School, as incumbents and challengers make their first official campaign moves of the 2016 Federal Election after Malcolm Turnbull’s visit to Government House today to request a double dissolution election for July 2.
Among the key issues under the spotlight in Queensland are infrastructure, the impacts of negative gearing and higher education policy for young people and the controversy around the transfer of refugees out of Manus Island which could become an inner city issue.
“Our team is also monitoring marginal seats throughout the state and at this early stage it looks Peter Dutton, the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, is at risk in the seat of Dickson.”
Professor Tiernan, also pointed to the lengthy campaign as an unprecedented test for Mr Turnbull and Mr Shorten. “Both are untested in this situation, leading their sides into an election campaign for the first time.”
- READ MORE in THE MACHINERY OF GOVERNMENT: And now for the campaign
The Policy Innovation and Learning Hub has also examined how each side of politics is set up for their respective campaigns in Queensland, with an eye on what worked at the most recent Queensland state election when Anastacia Palaszczuk toppled Campbell Newman.
“Things like the mobilisation of grassroots and social media strategies really mattered here so it could be very interesting to see how they play out in this election,” Professor Tiernan said.
“It is also worth looking at the relative experience of the campaign teams. The Labor team has been in place for quite a long time now and Bill Shorten’s chief of staff is Cameron Milner, former Qld state secretary.
“If you factor in George Wright, national secretary of the Labor Party, who was a key player in the Know Your Rights at Work campaign which helped bring down John Howard, there is a case to suggest they have the better intel.
“It will be very interesting to observe the roles played by Anastacia Palaszczuk and Curtis Pitt during the campaign.”
Professor Tiernan also highlighted regular visits to Queensland by shadow ministers during the past 12 to 18 months.
On the government side, she highlighted Friday’s news that Singaporean troops would be moving to Queensland as part of a $2.25 billion expansion of its military bases in Queensland. “The power of incumbency where the government can make announcements like this about programs which may already exist gives them a great advantage.”
With $1.6 billion funding announced but not allocated by the Treasurer in last week’s budget, Professor Tiernan said the question remains as to whether this money is for projects in Queensland? “What are they going to do to help the economic transition, especially across the mining communities?”