Queensland Premier Campbell Newman and his Labor opponent are wasting no time hitting the campaign trail following Tuesday’s announcement of a January 31 election.
Mr Newman and Labor leader Annastacia Palaszczuk have only 25 days to win over Queensland, and federal issues have already come to the fore.
Coalition MPs have dismissed the potential influence of federal issues on the Queensland state election, while their Labor counterparts were keen to play it up.
Some have speculated that Premier Newman timed the earlier election campaign with Prime Minister Abbott’s overseas trip to the Middle East.
Voter support for the Abbott government has fallen eight percentage points in Queensland since the 2013 federal election.
Acting opposition leader Tony Burke said Tony Abbott remains “box office poison”, a term Victorian Liberal strategists used to describe the prime minister before the state coalition’s loss in late 2014.
Federal Queensland Liberal MP Jane Prentice has played down the influence the unpopular Abbott government would have on her her party’s prospects in the state.
“I really believe that Queenslanders will vote on the issues that affect them in Queensland,” she told ABC radio on Wednesday.
“I don’t see them saying, ‘Oh this is happening federally therefore it must translate to Queensland’.”
Parliamentary secretary Steve Ciobo said the close working relationship between Mr Abbott and Premier Campbell Newman was a positive.
“I think that’s actually what it’s going to be an endorsement of, and not implications any other way.”
Wayne Swan, a key Labor figure in Queensland, described Mr Abbott and Mr Campbell as “two peas in a pod”.
“There’s probably no two conservative politicians in the country who are more alike and their approach is similar,” the former federal treasurer said.
The record of the LNP government was “mindless austerity, talking the economy down, sacking workers, driving industries out of the state”.
“Up here in Queensland what that has meant is higher unemployment than we’ve had in many years.”
Mr Ciobo backed a warning by Mr Campbell that Queenslanders would be voting for chaos, if they elected a minority Labor government supported by minor parties and independents.
“We’ll see the same kind of disquiet that happens in the Senate,” he said, referring to the coalition’s minority status in the federal upper house.
Mr Swan dismissed their concerns, saying Queensland did not have a strong history of electing “bunches of independents” to parliament.
Another Labor MP from Queensland, Shayne Neumann, expected the election campaign to focus mainly on state issues.
But he also expected some federal issues to sway those voters in Labor heartland to return to the party after deserting it in 2012.
The MP nominates voters in seats in around Brisbane, Logan and Ipswich as those most likely to be influenced by rising unemployment and federal and state government funding cuts.
Premier Campbell Newman has kicked off the campaign by hinting at linking the Gold Coast light rail with the heavy rail and the possibility of more funding for police.
Palmer United Party leader Clive Palmer, who said he wants his party to govern Queensland in his own right, has claimed that the Premier called the snap election to thwart an internal party revolt.
“I’m informed by people in the LNP that there were moves afoot to dump him as premier next week, and Newman reacted very quickly,” Mr Palmer told Fairfax Radio on Wednesday morning.
Mr Palmer also said that the early election was an attempt to avoid fresh allegations of corruption to be revealed by the federal senate inquiry.
The Liberal National Party holds a huge majority but has lost public support following controversial measures including leasing assets, slashing the public service and taking a hardline stance on bikies.
Labor leader Ms Palaszczuk, who admitted the poll is a “David and Goliath battle”, will have to convince voters her party has changed its ways since the Bligh government was punished at the polls in 2012.
Former Queensland Premier Peter Beattie has said that the “tactic” of calling the election early would benefit the LNP.
“The reality is calling an election in January is an advantage for the government and that’s what this tactic is all about,” Mr Beattie told the Nine Network from New York on Tuesday.