News State QLD News Queensland Labor faces LNP challenge in Stretton
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Queensland Labor faces LNP challenge in Stretton

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Voters are choosing the successor of Queensland Labor MP Duncan Pegg in the south Brisbane electorate of Stretton.

The popular local politician died of cancer just shy of 41st birthday on June 10, ending his six-year parliamentary stint.

The Labor MP enjoyed a 14.8 per cent margin in the multicultural electorate covering Stretton, Calamvale, Eight Mile Plains, Kuraby, Sunnybank Hills and Underwood.

Voters have gone to the polling booths to anoint his successor on Saturday.

Mr Pegg’s former staffer James Martin is vying to succeed him for Labor, while former police officer Jim Bellos is running for the Liberal National Party.

The Greens have nominated Andrea Wildin, Suzanne Clarke is running for the Animal Justice Party and Jasmine Melhop is on the ballot for Informed Medical Opinions.

Mr Martin, who grew up in Stretton, says he will offer voters continuity.

“After the sad passing of our good friend Duncan Pegg MP, I want to continue his legacy of delivering for our community,” he told AAP.

“This will be a tough by-election. That’s why I’ve been working every day to earn locals’ support, to deliver for our community as part of Annastacia Palaszczuk’s Labor team in government.”

The government is campaigning on its pandemic response and securing the 2032 Brisbane Olympics.

Meanwhile, the LNP is on the backfoot, with the government scheduled poll on the same day of the party’s annual state convention.

LNP figures are frustrated many grassroots members won’t be able to man the booths for Mr Bellos.

The former Queenslander of Year has pledged to ease local road congestion, deliver more hospital beds and improve school safety.

“I’m passionate about my community and that’s why I want to serve the people of Stretton,” Mr Bellos told AAP.

“Having been a police officer for more than 30 years, I know the importance of keeping our community safe and secure.

“Everyone should feel safe, whether it be on our roads, at our workplaces, in our schools and in our homes.”

However Mr Bellos’ campaign has already had a number of setbacks.

Last week he issued an apology for abusive social media posts about a female journalist four years ago, while soon after Mr Pegg died, his grieving family said photos of him were being “misused” in a brochure for Mr Bellos.

Griffith University political analyst Dr Paul Williams said the LNP was already facing a battle in a seat where Labor enjoys a 14.8 per cent margin.

“The LNP can’t march around the electorate talking about the former Labor member abandoning you, that sort of thing,” he told AAP.

“And while there may well be a loss of Pegg’s personal vote, because he was well regarded in the electorate, that may be mitigated by a good Labor candidate, and sympathy for Pegg’s circumstance.

“So for all those things being equal, no one should be surprised if the swing against Labor is minuscule.”

University of Queensland analyst Dr Chris Salisbury isn’t expecting Stretton to change hands as it has been almost solidly Labor since its inception.

Labor’s Stephen Robertson held Stretton from 2009 until 2012 and also its predecessor seat of Sunnybank from 1992 until 2009.

“It’s pretty solid Labor territory there and it would be something of a surprise to see it fall to the LNP,” Dr Salisbury said.

-AAP