What can you do for North, New­man?

Townsville Bulletin - - Voice Of The North -

POL­I­TICS can be bru­tal. Just ask John-Paul Lang­broek, who re­signed yes­ter­day as Op­po­si­tion Leader af­ter a coup by Bris­bane Lord Mayor Camp­bell New­man and the party’s or­gan­i­sa­tional arm. Just be­fore Christ­mas, Mr Lang­broek was rid­ing high in the polls, with an ap­proval rat­ing as pre­ferred premier twice that of the in­cum­bent, La­bor’s Anna Bligh. De­spite the buoy­ant opin­ion polls, Mr Lang­broek was con­sis­tently plagued by fes­ter­ing in­ter­nal squab­bles, re­quir­ing tough de­ci­sions, which alien­ated sev­eral pow­er­ful cau­cus fig­ures, as well as the party’s pres­i­dent, Bruce McIver. Along came the Bris­bane floods and Cy­clone Yasi and Ms Bligh’s stel­lar per­for­mance re­versed those ter­ri­ble polling fig­ures. Lurk­ing in the back­ground was the pop­u­lar Mr New­man who ex­celled dur­ing the floods cri­sis, im­prov­ing an al­ready-high ap­proval rat­ing dur­ing one of the south-east’s dark­est hours. Now, Mr New­man is the great white hope for the LNP as it tries to put 15 years of po­lit­i­cal wilder­ness aside and re­gain gov­ern­ment. Yes­ter­day’s ex­tra­or­di­nary po­lit­i­cal de­vel­op­ments mean Mr New­man, nick­named the ‘‘ Can Do’’ lord mayor, will lead the con­ser­va­tives into the next elec­tion, even though he isn’t ac­tu­ally a mem­ber of State Par­lia­ment. As the pro-New­man back­ers so adeptly put it, it’s a risky plan to wrest power from La­bor and the LNP has cer­tainly put all its eggs into one bas­ket. For Queens­lan­ders, and in par­tic­u­lar North Queens­lan­ders, Mr Camp­bell’s as­cen­sion leaves more ques­tions unan­swered than an­swered. Mr Lang­broek was a fierce ad­vo­cate for North Queens­land. He had vis­ited Townsville three times dur­ing the past five weeks, anoint­ing Hinch­in­brook MP Andrew Cripps as the min­is­ter for North Queens­land if he won gov­ern­ment. On the other side of pol­i­tics, Ms Bligh has a swag of re­cent ticks be­side her name with North Queens­lan­ders, in­clud­ing a new Townsville Hos­pi­tal emer­gency depart­ment and a new city mall. She played a key role in chang­ing City Hall’s think­ing on its dra­co­nian wa­ter rates pol­icy. Add to that her lead­er­ship and calm­ness dur­ing Cy­clone Yasi and it’s log­i­cal to sug­gest she will be far from a pushover for any new leader of the LNP. The chal­lenge for Mr New­man is to en­sure that he dis­plays the same type of com­mit­ment and drive that he has as Bris­bane lord mayor for the whole of Queens­land. If his elec­tion bus stalls at Ca­bool­ture, the peo­ple of North Queens­land will pun­ish him. The first thing he should do is com­mit to fix­ing the Bruce High­way be­tween Mackay and Cairns and en­sure our re­gion has strong rep­re­sen­ta­tion within an LNP cabi­net.

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