Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Qld election issues | Honesty, Integrity and Accountability cuts both ways

Ample ammo for LNP attack

Appearance of former Labor deputy premier Jim Elder on the front page of the newspaper in the middle of this campaign will have prompted genuine smiles on the weary faces in the LNP bunker.

After days of unrelenting negative attention to the family business and lord mayoral donations of Campbell Newman, here was some heat for Labor on the honesty, integrity and accountability (HIA) issues.If nothing else, this underscores the fact HIA cuts both ways, especially with a long-term Labor government, which has seen ministers sacked for vote rorting (Elder), jailed for demanding benefit with threats (Merri Rose) and a conviction for corruptly receiving almost half a million dollars in dirty money (Gordon Nuttall).

The last of these - for which Nuttall is still serving his seven-year sentence - is the poster boy of Bad Labor and we can expect to see plenty of Nuttall in the final two weeks of the campaign.

There was a taste of just that in the LNP's best ad so far - the corroding destruction of the ALP brand as a menacing voice-over recalls the sins of governments past and present. Labor can't try to smother or inoculate the issue - it's hard to disown your own MPs who have been wearing prison garb. They have been stoking the HIA fires with Newman since the middle of last year and this is the first real blow back they've experienced.

Meanwhile, in that LNP bunker, they are wrestling with what to do about Newman's HIA problem. The sense is they are genuinely torn with serious resistance from the leader to suggestions of a "put it all on the table and take every question" response.

Realists in the LNP ranks know they cannot grin and bear it. Sunday's launch had zero impact as far as squashing the HIA issues and there's an acceptance more stories will come. The weight of political experience says this has to be taken head on but Newman's army background says he may just march on through the fires of campaign hell. This campaign might have just got interesting.
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