Australia

How Qld border switch could backfire

The Queensland Government’s decision to reopen the state’s border to the ACT will be a huge fillip for the LNP with Prime Minister Scott Morrison now able to go on the hustings at the state election, says a senior political commentator.

Labor on Friday changed its long-held position of only reviewing border closures at the end of each month when Deputy Premier Steven Miles announced the state would welcome visitors from the ACT from next Friday.

However, they can only arrive by plane and must have remained solely within the ACT for 14 consecutive days beforehand.

Griffith University’s political commentator Dr Paul Williams said if federal politicians had not been on the hustings it would have severely hurt LNP leader Deb Frecklington’s chances of toppling Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk at the October 31 election.

He said the PM had a good rapport with country voters, as did Treasurer Josh Frydenberg. He said opposition leader Deb Frecklington had failed to cut through in regional areas.

Mr Morrison showed his appreciation for Queenslanders after his shock election victory in May last year when he trumpeted: “How good’s Queensland?” at his victory speech to the chants of “Queensland! Queensland! Queensland!” from supporters.

“Morrison obviously has pulling power across the country because of his increased esteem from case management of the pandemic, especially in regional Queensland where he is still very popular,” Mr Williams told NCA NewsWire.

“If Morrison, Frydenberg and a couple of other high performers couldn’t campaign in regional Queensland it would be problematic for Deb Frecklington.

“There would be a struggle for traction even in regional Queensland where the party doesn't struggle, but she does.”

He said Labor’s federal opposition leader Anthony Albanese would not have “the same pull” on the hustings for Ms Palaszczuk.

Ms Palaszczuk told reporters that Mr Morrison “can come if he wants, it doesn’t worry me’ to campaign on behalf of the LNP.

Had the borders remain shut and no federal politicians were on the hustings then that would have worked more in Labor’s favour, Mr Williams said.

Even though federal politicians are permitted to travel to Queensland from the ACT, provided they have spent 14 consecutive days in the nation’s ‘capital’, it would not necessarily add a lot colour to the election campaign.

Mr Williams believes the state election will be as vanilla as the March Brisbane City Council election when pre-poll and postal voting was massively high.

Almost four times the number of voters had visited pre-poll stations in the first two days they were opened compared to the first two days of the 2016 local government elections.

Electoral Commission Queensland (ECQ) has already opened applications for postal voting.

“It‘s going to be a very boring campaign, not to dissimilar to the BCC campaign,” Mr Williams said.

“The ECQ is saying up to 60 per cent but I probably wouldn't go that high, maybe 50 per cent pre-poll and postals combined.

“Early voters tend to be engaged voters who are probably rusted on voters, and especially those who have an axe to grind against the Palaszczuk government.”

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