Saturday, 18 February 2012

Is Anna Bligh on the ropes?

Campbell Newman ready to rout Anna Bligh as Newspoll shows big lead
Campbell Newman has extended the Liberal National Party's commanding lead over Labor in Queensland, and enters the state election campaign on track to inflict a savage defeat on the Bligh government.

With Premier Anna Bligh set to see the state Governor tomorrow to dissolve parliament ahead of the March 24 poll, The Weekend Australian's exclusive Newspoll kicks the LNP 16 points clear of the ALP, which faces an electoral bloodbath.

Labor's base vote is pegged at 30 per cent and, when preferences are factored in, it trails the LNP 42 per cent to 58 per cent. On those numbers, Labor would lose more than half of its 51 seats, including ministers touted as future leaders, in the 89-seat parliament.

The Newspoll shows the pre-Christmas momentum Ms Bligh generated has stalled and the LNP is close to regaining the 20-point lead it opened up on Labor after Mr Newman became leader 11 months ago.

A special analysis by Newspoll shows Bob Katter's fledgling party has only 4.8 per cent of the primary vote across the state. This leaves Katter's Australian Party well behind the 23 per cent secured by Pauline Hanson's One Nation in 1998 when it won 11 seats - a feat the federal independent MP has claimed his party could repeat.

KAP picked up a third of those who said they would not vote for the major parties or the Greens. Despite Ms Bligh telling The Weekend Australian this week that she could win back support and regaining the trust of voters who had turned against Labor after 19 of the past 21 years in power, the LNP base appears largely rock-solid.

Newspoll found two-thirds of LNP supporters had locked in their vote, and would not consider an alternative on polling day, while less than half of Labor's supporters said they would remain loyal to Ms Bligh.

The Bligh government could face a drubbing on March 24, with a further 40 per cent of Labor supporters conceding there was a slight chance they might take their support elsewhere. The Newspoll results will deliver a blow to Labor morale after its rebound in support late last year, and following a heated few days in parliament this week.

Ms Bligh turned up the attack on Mr Newman using the cover of parliament to predict the LNP leader would "end up" in jail over his family's business interests.

In an interview with The Weekend Australian, Ms Bligh was unapologetic about the attack and expressed the belief she could deliver Labor its sixth consecutive election victory in Queensland. "I think this will be a very tight, very hard-fought election, and it will be an election where I will certainly be talking about a big vision for a big moment in Queensland's history," the Premier said.

Ms Bligh promised a refreshed frontbench - with the elevation to cabinet of younger, energised backbenchers - and a plan to harness the resources boom, with heavy emphasis on jobs, education and training.

Mr Newman, who has set a 4 per cent unemployment target for the state over the next six years, told The Weekend Australian that, if elected, he would reform the public service, return ministerial accountability and revive struggling sectors of the economy. "We are promising to get the state back on track after the whole ethos of Queensland has been diminished and dragged down," the LNP leader said.

Mr Newman dismissed the Labor attacks on him as the actions of a "desperate" government. But they continue to take some political skin off Mr Newman's personal standing among voters, with dissatisfaction over his performance increasing to 37 per cent from 33 per cent in the October-December Newspoll. In the last Newspoll, his satisfaction level fell five percentage points to 45 per cent, where it remains.

Ms Bligh's satisfaction levels have increased to 41 per cent, up by two percentage points.
Labor last night turned to former prime minister Paul Keating for a fundraiser in the Brisbane north electorate of Ashgrove, where Mr Newman is trying to take the seat from incumbent Labor MP Kate Jones.

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