Photo: The Palaszczuk Government surprised many by terminating a casino resort proposal on the Southport Spit. (ABC News: Josh Bavas)
It looks like a campaign, it sounds like a campaign, but the election date is still a mystery.Despite Queensland Parliament still being in session, it has been two-and-a-half years since the last election and the next 'campaign' has well and truly begun.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk will formally advise the Governor sometime in the next six months of the exact Saturday for the poll.
But after two separate weeks of Labor 'governing in the regions' in Cairns and the Gold Coast, an ALP conference in Townsville and LNP leader Tim Nicholls pre-campaigning throughout the state, voters have at least three clear and significant policy issues to mull over.
Above the daily humdrum of political point scoring, the electorate can consider the following:
- Parochial economy versus trade agreements
- Development versus the environment
- Coal-fired power versus renewable energy.
Buy localMs Palaszczuk has been in classic Queenslander mode since last Saturday when she announced her 'Buy Queensland' government procurement policy, infuriating the Federal Trade Minister and baffling the New Zealand Government.
"I make no apologies, I am the Premier of Queensland and I am doing whatever it takes to ensure that we keep Queensland jobs here in Queensland," she said, naming the state three times in eight seconds.
Does that sort of talk still resonate with state voters in 2017?
Maybe it does ... we have been winning State of Origin since 1980.
Developers versus localsIn the same week, the Palaszczuk Government surprised many by terminating the ASF consortium's integrated casino resort proposal on the Southport Spit, comparing the area to Central Park in New York.
ASF and the Opposition immediately warned Australian and international investors would run screaming away from Queensland, if not because of the specific decision but the process.
Ms Palaszczuk was forced into the awkward contortion that premiers often need to master, between hugging Save Our Spit campaigners and reassuring developers the state was still open for business.
Power prices and renewable energyPerhaps outranking both of these significant policy moves is the perennial hot button issue of energy supply and power prices, which the LNP is making a central plank of the pre-election campaign.
"You can't see the state prosper, you can't see the state grow if you don't have affordable and reliable power supply," Mr Nicholls said this week in Mackay or Rockhampton or every place he went.
A re-elected Labor government would push ahead with a 50-per-cent-by-2030 renewable energy target and build more hydro and solar power generation.
"Responsible and effective," the ALP said.
"Unreliable and expensive," the LNP, which would scrap that target and build a coal-fired power station in the north, said.
Make no mistake if you get an electricity bill at home or at work, you will be a target of the dollars-and-sense energy argument that will.
Jobs, exports, investment, the environment and power bills. The battle lines are drawn, the campaign is underway.
All we need is a date.
Speaking of which, whenever the election is held it will be historic: 93 seats for the first time, full preferential voting and the last poll before fixed date elections.
For great analysis of the potential ramifications of the new boundaries, see Antony Green's Election Blog.