Campbell Newman is almost certain to win the seat of Ashgrove and the next Queensland state election for the LNP, says Tim Badrick.
Brisbane Liberal National Party alligned Lord Mayor Campbell Newman threw the ultimate spanner in the state political works yesterday by announcing that he will seek pre-selection for the state seat of Ashgrove – which is presently held by the quite popular Environment Minister Kate Jones – and run against Anna Bligh at the next Queensland state election. Anna Bligh has good reason to fear Campbell Newman, because unlike the just dumped opposition leader John-Paul Langbroek, Newman won much praise for his leadership qualities during the recent flood crisis in Brisbane, just as Bligh herself did.
Brisbane is Labor’s unofficial gerrymander zone. The population influx into the south-east corner of Queensland over the past 20 years, ever since Goss and Labor wrestled power back off the Nationals, made it necessary for old blue ribbon conservative seats to have a re-distribution and for new seats to be formed in metropolitan Brisbane to balance up the population quota on a seat by seat basis. Brisbane’s love affair with state Labor ever since the death knell sounded on the Joh Bjelke-Petersen era is the only thing which has kept the party in power at the last two state elections. A populist like Campbell Newman, who comes from Brisbane – and not the Gold Coast like Langbroek, or Stanthorpe like thrice recycled Lawrence Springborg – is going to be a lot more appealing to urban voters in Brisbane than some out-of-towner.
Anna Bligh is considered by even a lot of Labor voters to be nothing more than a seat warmer in parliament who is going to be walloped at the next state election. Obviously, the LNP executive didn’t feel that John-Paul Langbroek was the man to wrest back power from Labor after two decades in the political wilderness or else they wouldn’t be chancing Newman to beat Bligh, considering that Newman at least has given the LNP power at a local government level, and that`s better than what Springborg and a couple of other former state opposition leaders have achieved for the fledgling party.
However, what Newman has done is not without its PR risks. There will be accusations made against him that he has ratted on the Brisbane voters who voted for him, all in the name of his own political aggrandizement and self-promotion. Weighed against that will be the proven and obvious argument that Anna Bligh is just as arrogant, and her party has been in power far too long, and Campbell Newman had to do what he had to do in the name of keeping the conservative political flame burning in the state of Queensland.
If Newman had demanded a safer than safe blue ribbon Liberal seat like Moggill to be parachuted into, thus guaranteeing him victory without any risk of defeat, I would think less of the man today. I think the main thing that Campbell Newman must not do is keep the door ajar for another tilt at the lord mayoralty in the unlikely event he doesn`t succeed in winning Ashgrove. If he does that then the residents right across Brisbane would have every right to accuse Newman of being an opportunist who jumps from one political spectrum to another to save his political career.
Brisbane has been a bad hunting ground for conservative politics since the dark days of Fitzgerald, the press media in town is definitely pro-left and they will seize any opportunity to grill Newman over any policy detail he puts up between now and the next state election which doesn`t stand up to independent scrutiny. But if Newman doesn’t put a foot out of line, he will likely be the next premier of Queensland, and the urban gerrymander which has kept Labor in power over many years will be a thing of the past, just like the rural gerrymander which Joh used to keep Labor out of power. Brisbane is where the next state election will be won or lost; Campbell Newman will have to snap defeat from the jaws of victory to lose it.
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