Queensland Senator Murray Watt will be based at the Gold Coast.
Queensland Senator Murray Watt will be based at the Gold Coast. Allan Reinikka ROK160816awatt1

Labor senators to be forced beyond south east corner

QUEENSLAND Labor Senators will be forced beyond the boundaries of the south-east corner and into central Queensland after the next election.

With three of the current ALP senators living in the Brisbane region and newly elected Murray Watt planning to set up at the Gold Coast, concern was raised about the party's lack of regional representation during a party meeting at the weekend.

Following a speech by Mackay-based Jane Casey - a former Senate candidate - and Federal Member for Herbert Cathy O'Toole it was decided senators would be based in both central and northern Queensland during the next term of government.

However, Ms Casey said some members had pushed instead for a regional office, so senators could be based at Brisbane but spend time in the regions.

"It is concerning obviously that we don't have a regional Senate office any more," Ms Casey said.

"There was a section of the party who wanted a compromise, but that is not ideal for us (in the regions)."

When asked why the party would wait until the next term of government to introduce the rule, she said that would ensure all candidates knew what was expected when they put their hands up for election.

Rather than moving to the regions following this year's election, Senator Watt said he had decided to set up at the Gold Coast because the ALP currently had no representatives in the city.

He pointed out Townsville was home to a Federal Labor MP -Cathy O'Toole - and many regional areas had state Labor politicians, including Mackay, with Julieanne Gilbert.

"I think it's a very good move. I think it's important Labor geographically spreads, that's why I'm setting up my office on the Gold Coast," he said.

"We felt it was the immediate priority to have a Labor voice on the Gold Coast."

He was not sure which towns in central or northern Queensland the senators would be based at.



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