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QLD ELECTION: Everything you need to know before you vote

THEY do things differently in Queensland. Just like the people of the Sunshine State won't be told when it is and isn't appropriate to wear thongs in a pub or that there are beers other than XXXX, residents don't follow the trends when it comes to politics.

State elections in the deep north are notoriously unpredictable, and the results of Saturday's poll are expected to fall on a knife's edge.

Each of the two major parties go into battle with 41 seats, and with four new seats up for grabs they're both aiming to grab 47 seats to form a majority government rather than struggle with a minority as Labor has been. The race is so tight even seasoned experts and vote watchers are refusing to predict a winner.

However it works out, the Queensland election is bound to shake up the state's parliament, and will likely have an impact felt Australia-wide.

So, get across what's going on before it gets really interesting.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk holds a meerkat during a visit to Australia Zoo in Beerwah, on the Sunshine Coast, Thursday, November 23, 2017. Ms Palaszczuk is on the campaign trail ahead of the November 25 state election. (AAP Image/Dan Peled) NO ARCHIVING
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk holds a meerkat during a visit to Australia Zoo in Beerwah, on the Sunshine Coast, Thursday, November 23, 2017. Ms Palaszczuk is on the campaign trail ahead of the November 25 state election. (AAP Image/Dan Peled) NO ARCHIVING DAN PELED

THE MAIN PLAYERS

Annastacia Palaszczuk, Labor

The reigning Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk was elevated to the top job after an unprecedented protest against her predecessor Campbell Newman and the state's Liberal National Party (LNP).

The 2015 election that delivered the Labor leader the premiership was a huge surprise, even for the most optimistic Labor supporters, and even by Queensland terms. It followed a bloodbath 2012 election that left Labor with only eight MPs, but a huge swing against the LNP allowed Palaszczuk's Labor to claw back to power.

Over almost three years, the Inala MP has led Queensland with a minority government backed by cross bench support.

Ms Palaszczuk is expected to hold on to her southwest Brisbane seat which she holds by a margin of 20 per cent.

Queensland LNP leader Tim Nicholls.
Queensland LNP leader Tim Nicholls. Warren Lynam

Tim Nicholls, Liberal National Party

Tim Nicholls became the leader of the LNP after former premier Mr Newman was slaughtered at the polls and Lawrence Springborg, who took over from Mr Newman, decided he didn't want the job a few months in.

A former treasurer and minister, Mr Nicholls has taken on the challenge of rebuilding and rebranding the LNP after the last wipe-out election, and is a decent chance to lead the party to government.

Labor ads have warned things will be "grim under Tim", recalling the unpopular spending and public service jobs cuts of the last LNP government, but the wannabe premier is trying to get the message across that the team he's leading is very different to Mr Newman's before him.

He holds his northern Brisbane seat of Clayfield with a margin of 6.6 per cent.

One Nation State Leader Steve Dickson. Picture: Lachie Millard
One Nation State Leader Steve Dickson. Picture: Lachie Millard

Steve Dickson, One Nation

One Nation's Queensland leader Steve Dickson has been in the state parliament for more than 11 years, but he's only been in the party for less than one.

The former LNP minister defected from the party in January of this year, announcing he would represent the people of Buderim on the state's Sunshine Coast as a member of One Nation, and that he would become the party's leader in Queensland.

Mr Dickson is an experienced parliamentarian - he held the national parks, recreation, sport and racing portfolio in the Newman Government and prior to that took on a number of shadow ministries.

The minor party rookie expects the election will see his party hold the balance of power, but he's not so confident one of those crucial seats held by One Nation will be his. Recent polling shows Mr Dickson's risky defection to One Nation could cost him his political career, with his LNP opponent Brent Mickelberg tipped to take 67 per cent of the vote on a two-party preferred basis.

Tim Nichols with a cardboard cut out of Premier. As you do. Picture: Shae Beplate
Tim Nichols with a cardboard cut out of Premier. As you do. Picture: Shae Beplate

THE BIG ISSUES

Energy

As is the case across many parts of Australia, you can't turn on the radio or walk past a polling place in Queensland without hearing about the rising cost of energy and panic over whether there's enough of it to go around.

The Premier has committed to a renewable energy target of 50 per cent by 2030. It's been criticised in a report that claims it will force coal-fired power satins to close, costing jobs, and increasing the risk of black outs.

The LNP has promised to cut the value of the state's electricity assets and pass on the savings to consumers.

One Nation has proposed a policy on energy company dividends that it claims will cut power prices by about 20 per cent.

Queensland Opposition Leader Tim Nicholls.
Queensland Opposition Leader Tim Nicholls.

Jobs

Employment is a major focus for all the major players in the Queensland election.

Labor is promising to extend a $150 million back to work program to give businesses incentives to take on the unemployed, wants to invest in attracting events to Queensland to create jobs around them, and plans to put on 100 more firefighters around the state.

The Opposition Leader has been promising jobs left, right and centre, telling Hervey Bay residents on Wednesday he would deliver 600 extra jobs to the Wide Bay region. As he has in other electorates, Mr Nicholls said infrastructure upgrades were the answer to youth unemployment, and committed to a number of development jobs that would create positions.

One Nation campaign material is also quite jobs-heavy, with a particular focus on creating opportunities in the crocodile management sector.

Crocodiles?

The One Nation leader raised eyebrows in the campaign's first leader's debate when he answered a question about addressing indigenous incarceration rates with a rambling spiel on crocodile farms.

Turns out he was deadly serious about crocodile management being a cornerstone of his party's election platforms.

His campaign materials states: "Crocodiles pose a risk to human safety. People come first and human interactions with wild crocodiles need to be managed in such a way that people in urban Queensland are safe from attack."

Mr Dickson says crocodile management is a "major blind spot for the major parties", but claims the LNP is now copying his policy. He also says it'll create jobs.

The orange shirted waited near Maddigan's Seafood, for Pauline Hanson and her candidates, Damian Huxham and James Hansen, in Hervey Bay. Maddigan's owner Jim Bayeh watches her technique.
The orange shirted waited near Maddigan's Seafood, for Pauline Hanson and her candidates, Damian Huxham and James Hansen, in Hervey Bay. Maddigan's owner Jim Bayeh watches her technique. Valerie Horton

CONTROVERSIES

Adani backflip

The Carmichael coal mine and the government loan that's supposed to be granted to its Indian developer Adani has been a source of great controversy for politicians at all levels of government, but it's provided no more embarrassment to any other than Ms Palaszczuk.

A longtime supporter of the project and the $1 billion loan to fund it, Ms Palaszczuk announced only days into the campaign that her Government would have "no role in the future" of an assessment over the loan after it had been discovered her partner, Shaun Drabsch, had worked on the loan application to the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility, acting for Adani while working for PricewaterhouseCoopers.

After withdrawing support, the Premier was accused of sacrificing North Queensland jobs to save her own. The decision lost votes in the north but appears to have won support for the government in the state's south.
 


Bullying claims, sex shop owners and gifts

Alternative title: One Nation.

The minor party's major involvement in the state election has provided endless controversies thanks to its colourful candidates and their interactions with opponents.

The first major embarrassment for the party came when Townsville candidate Mark Thornton was asked in a press conference, accompanied by the party's federal leader Senator Pauline Hanson, about an adult store which he neglected to inform the boss he owned.

Mr Thornton was quizzed about his shop Cupids Cabin and its Facebook page that likened "good sex" to domestic violence, and asked women to "inbox a pic of your titties so I could see if I got your size". Senator Hanson said she'd have a word with him about it.

The party's federal leader has also provided some controversial moments. On Thursday she not only forgot one of her candidates' names, but the fact that she had one running at all.

Earlier in the week, Senator Hanson called for the disendorsement of an ALP candidate. She confronted Labor's candidate for Hervey Bay, Adrian Tantari, accusing him of abusing his One Nation opponent Damian Huxham, and of course published vision of the confrontation on Facebook.

Senator Hanson was also involved in another of the weirder moments of the campaign, when controversial Labor MP, Jo-Ann Miller, greeted the One Nation leader and the arrival on her battler bus with a hug and the presentation of a wrapped pair of booties for her new grandson.

Mr Nicholls leapt on the incident saying it showed the Labor Party was "divided" but the Premier moved swiftly to play it down: "That's called being nice."

 

Deals with One Nation

Whichever of the two major leaders is victorious, it's assumed, they may not gain enough seats to govern in their own right and will therefore need the support of minor parties to form government.

This will likely mean having to win the backing of a minor party MP or two.

Mr Dickson has repeatedly said he and the rest of his One Nation candidates will "work with anyone", but the major party leaders haven't been so forthcoming.

Ms Palaszczuk has continually said her government will not do deals with One Nation, but it's speculated she may be forced to court the party's support.

Mr Nicholls, on the other hand, has been particularly cagey over his intentions, and has so far refused to rule out using One Nation MPs to help put him in power.

 

WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN?

It's a really, really tight race.

The latest polls have Labor just ahead, but suggest either major party may need the support of One Nation members who are expected to pick up seats, and potentially from regional heroes and seasoned kingmakers Katter's Australia Party. These two parties are confident they'll win at least eight seats, which all but guarantees a hung parliament.

If things go as expected, we're unlikely to know who will lead Queensland's 55th parliament.

But then again, this is Queensland. When do things ever go as expected? All that's guaranteed is surprise.

Topics:  editors picks politics qldelection2017 voting



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