News Queensland ‘Not just a bunch of bushrangers’: How Qld MPs plan to hijack the PM’s purse

‘Not just a bunch of bushrangers’: How Qld MPs plan to hijack the PM’s purse

Prime Minister Scott Morrison at the campaign launch on Sunday.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison can thank Queensland for his top-job retention. Photo: AAP
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The state that effectively handed Scott Morrison the prime ministership is preparing its wish list of demands.

Queensland was instrumental in returning the Coalition to government with a two-party preferred swing of about 4 per cent, transforming marginal seats into safe ones and decimating Labor’s footprint.

The state’s 23 LNP MPs and yet-to-be-finalised senators will meet when Parliament resumes and solidify their ‘Team Queensland’ alliance in a bid to secure riches for the Sunshine State.

The LNP Team Queensland bloc was established to campaign to its own government as one voice to snatch projects and infrastructure for the state.

The group was vocal under Malcolm Turnbull, haranguing ministers and vying against other states to secure the country’s largest-ever defence manufacturing contract worth $5 billion (outplaying Victoria) and more than $10 billion for the Bruce Highway.

But with newly elected members and a prime minister who owes his crown to Queensland voters, the maroon MPs and senators are hoping to have more clout in the contest against other states.

High on their wish list will be roads and rail, including demands for billions of dollars for fast rail in traffic-clogged south-east Queensland, billions more for the state’s national highway and securing water infrastructure.

“We are a bunch of Queenslanders who want to put Queenslanders first,” LNP Team Queensland spokesman Ted O’Brien said, the Member for Fairfax on the Sunshine Coast.

“We want to carve out as much as we possibly can for our state and together, working as a united force, we can get more.”

Mr O’Brien said Queensland was already punching above its weight after scoring 26 per cent of the federal government’s total infrastructure spend in the last budget, despite having only 20 per cent of the population.

He said the outspoken parochial MPs were “not a collection of rogue northerners” but also part of the Scott Morrison team.

“We’re not just a bunch of bushrangers trying to steal from others,” he said.

Queensland MPs and senators dubbed “Team Queensland” fought to secure a $5 billion Land 400 defence contract for the state – defeating Victoria. Photo: AAP

The Coalition currently holds 23 of Queensland’s 30 seats.

It entered this year’s election with nine marginal seats in Queensland but the swing towards the conservatives meant many seats were transformed into safe electorates.

Based on the Australian Electoral Commission’s criteria, there are now only four LNP seats considered marginal – Dickson, Leichhardt, Longman and Brisbane.

The other five seats that were marginal in the previous parliament are now either safe or fairly safe.

Capricornia in the coal belt, held by Michelle Landry with a previous margin of just 0.6 per cent, is now safe after an 11.3 per cent swing.

The electorate of Dawson, which covers the mining town of Mackay and is held by George Christensen, is also safe after an 11.6 per cent swing.

Previously marginal seats of Flynn, Forde, Herbert and Bonner are now considered “fairly safe”.

However, Griffith University political lecturer Dr Paul Williams said Queensland’s support for Mr Morrison may actually work against it and result in less attention.

“Ironically because the seats have been transformed into safe seats, Queensland may not get the rewards but be pushed down the pecking order in the budget when it comes to pork barreling,” Dr Williams said.

“Queensland is already in the bag (for the Coalition) so regional Queensland should not assume it will be benefiting from the Morrison government.”

Scott Morrison drought
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has already returned to Queensland since being re-elected, visiting drought-stricken Cloncurry. Photo: AAP

Dr Williams said he doubted Mr Morrison would continue to lavish the state with attention.

“Now that so many seats are safe, he has to go and work on shoring up votes in Western Sydney and eastern Melbourne,” he said.

“No one should be surprised if Queensland is not represented on the cabinet table.

“What you will find is the Labor Party will promise more things to re-ingratiate itself.”

Dr Williams said Mr Morrison’s success in Queensland was not indicative of his popularity, but more the fact that voters did not want Bill Shorten.

“There’s no love for the LNP. It was a rejection of Shorten. In a few months the Labor opposition will be streets ahead.”

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