WHY I’M BACK­ING MAYOR MAR­GARET

Qld Premier throws her sup­port be­hind Mar­garet Strelow as La­bor’s bat­tle to re­place Rocky MP Bill Byrne heats up

The Morning Bulletin - - FRONT PAGE - Michelle Gately michelle.gately@cap­news.com.au

❝to­day I have only come out in re­la­tion to who I be­lieve is the best per­son (for the job) — Premier An­nasta­cia Palaszczuk

ON THE back of a glow­ing en­dorse­ment from the Queens­land premier, Rock­hamp­ton Re­gion Mayor Mar­garet Strelow yes­ter­day con­firmed she would lodge doc­u­ments for her La­bor pre­s­e­lec­tion nom­i­na­tion.

Cr Strelow said she was tak­ing each step in the process as it came and would not spec­u­late on the out­come of ei­ther the pre­s­e­lec­tion or even­tual elec­tion.

“There is still a process,” she said.

“Should I be suc­cess­ful it’s on to the elec­tion.

“I do not take ei­ther the pre­s­e­lec­tion or the elec­tion for granted.

“For now I am heartily and com­pletely com­mit­ted to my role as mayor.”

The state elec­tion must be called be­fore May 2018, but Premier An­nasta­cia Palaszczuk yes­ter­day said the date had still not been de­cided.

It’s un­der­stood the Rock­hamp­ton pre­s­e­lec­tion process could take some weeks to be com­pleted.

Ms Palaszczuk had ear­lier given a glow­ing en­dorse­ment of Cr Strelow, say­ing she would be “an out­stand­ing can­di­date” in the up­com­ing state elec­tion.

Speak­ing to me­dia in Bris­bane, the Premier in­di­cated her sup­port for the mayor, who has yet to for­mally nom­i­nate for La­bor pre­s­e­lec­tion.

“She has been a strong voice for Rock­hamp­ton,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

“She has been an ex­cel­lent mayor and if she chooses to step up and run for that seat, she would have my bless­ing.”

On Thurs­day, for­mer long-serv­ing Rock­hamp­ton MP and state min­is­ter Robert Schwarten said he would nom­i­nate if his pre­ferred can­di­date, Queens­land Teach­ers’ Union or­gan­iser Dan Coxen, was ruled in­el­i­gi­ble.

Ms Palaszczuk said no one could dis­pute the “great con­tri­bu­tion” of Mr Schwarten to Rock­hamp­ton.

In re­sponse to a ques­tion about what this meant for the party, Ms Palaszczuk said she had not pre­vi­ously pub­licly backed any par­tic­u­lar can­di­date.

“I have only come out to­day in re­la­tion to who I be­lieve is the best per­son, if she chooses to put her hand up,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

“I have worked ex­ten­sively with Mar­garet through both trop­i­cal

cy­clone Marcia and the floods that were the af­ter­math of trop­i­cal cy­clone Deb­bie.

“She has been fight­ing for jobs in that re­gion and she is a strong voice for Rock­hamp­ton.”

Ms Palaszczuk re­fused to

say she was pub­licly back­ing Cr Strelow, say­ing she would “have my bless­ing”.

She said she was “not at all” con­cerned Rock­hamp­ton’s pre­s­e­lec­tion bat­tle was an out­break of fac­tional dis­con­tent within the party.

One jour­nal­ist posed the ques­tion, “if you guys can’t pull to­gether a cou­ple of months out from the elec­tion, what hope have you got?”.

“This is just nor­mal, it hap­pens in all par­ties,” Ms Palaszczuk replied.

“Peo­ple in­di­cate their

pref­er­ences one way or an­other.”

Ms Palaszczuk said it was “not re­ally” un­usual for a for­mer min­is­ter to threaten to nom­i­nate if their pre­ferred can­di­date was not en­dorsed.

PHOTO: AL­LAN REINIKKA ROK300117AWILLIAM

SUP­PORT: Premier An­nasta­cia Palaszczuk with Rock­hamp­ton Re­gion Mayor Mar­garet Strelow.

PHOTO: AM­BER HOOKER

PREMIER’S PICK: Rock­hamp­ton mayor Mar­garet Strelow looks over the Fitzroy River with Queens­land Premier An­nasta­cia PalaszczuK dur­ing April’s flood.

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