Anthony Albanese has resumed his blitz of Queensland electorates, hoping to make up for lost time after the state closed its borders for several months.
As the Sunshine State reopened to virus hotspots from Monday, the opposition leader was back in key seats as Labor seeks to turn around its 2019 electoral woes in Queensland.
Speaking to reporters in Caboolture, north of Brisbane, Mr Albanese said he would be spending a lot more time in Queensland before next year’s poll.
“We are hopeful of picking up additional seats,” Mr Albanese said.
“(How many seats) will be up to the people of Queensland, but we don’t write any seat off.”
The trip to Queensland was brought forward to Monday after the Queensland government reopened the borders to other states four days earlier.
Mr Albanese will return to Queensland on Friday, where he will spend time in the inner-city electorate of Brisbane before heading north to the seat of Hinkler, which takes in Bundaberg and Hervey Bay.
The coalition holds 23 out of 30 seats in the state, compared to Labor’s six, with one seat held by independent Bob Katter.
Queensland won’t be the only area Mr Albanese will campaign in during the week.
After meeting South Korea’s president in Sydney on Tuesday, the opposition leader will spend time in key marginal seats in Victoria and Tasmania before returning to Queensland.
He won’t be the only one spruiking policies in Queensland this week, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison also spending time in the state later this week.
The election is due to be held by May 21 next year.
Attention has also shifted to the role of independents due to the possibility of a hung parliament following the poll.
Tasmanian independent MP Andrew Wilkie said he has ruled out doing a formal governing agreement, as he did in 2010 during the Julia Gillard minority government.
“I am older and wiser,” he told the ABC on Monday.
“I will approach every vote on its merits.”
Mr Wilkie says he will push for stronger action on climate change and a strong federal anti-corruption commission.
More independents could be heading into the lower house, with a growing number targeting key seats held by the government.
Many are campaigning on climate change, backed by fundraising group Climate 200.
However, the number of independents could also swell thanks to SA senator Rex Patrick.
The independent senator said he was considering a tilt at the South Australian seat of Grey, should his political predecessor Nick Xenophon run again in the upper house after a nearly six-year absence from federal politics.
“With a hung parliament and along with (crossbench South Australian MP) Rebekha Sharkie, that would be a very powerful combination for South Australia,” Senator Patrick told Sky News.
“My numbers are competitive. It would be a battle, there’s no question about that, but (Grey) is not out of reach.”