Lord mayor needs to win over the North

Townsville Bulletin - - LNP leadership change - by Evan Schwarten of AAP

‘‘ WHAT can you do for the North , New­man ? ’ ’the

Townsville Bul­letin’s editorial asked Ca mp­bell New­man in bold print on Wed­nes­day.

The Bul­letin and its far north­ern coun­ter­part The Cairns Post greeted the Bris­bane lord mayor’s au­da­cious bid to be­come state Op­po­si­tion Leader with typ­i­cal North Queens­land scep­ti­cism.

Mr New­man, the LNP’s ‘‘ leader in wait­ing’’ has been quick to spruik his re­gional cre­den­tials.

Over cof­fee with Op­po­si­tion Leader Jeff Seeney, who is warm­ing the seat for him, Mr New­man yes­ter­day talked up his coun­try cre­den­tials , sharin ganec­dotes about his time work­ing in the grain in­dus­try and in re­gional Queens­land with the army.

He’s also pointed to his links with lo­cal gov­ern­ment through­out the state and be­gun float­ing re­gional poli­cies.

How­ever, North Queens­lan­ders are known for their sus­pi­cion of ‘‘ south­ern­ers’’.

James Cook Univer­sity’s Dr Doug Hunt said that as Bris­bane lord mayor, Mr New­man faced the prospect of be­ing lumped with the stigma.

‘‘ He may be seen in the news and recog­nis­able,’’ he said. ‘‘ But as mayor of Bris­bane he’s likely to at­tract the sus­pi­cion to­wards ‘ south­ern­ers’ that has been an im­por­tant fac­tor in North Queens­land po­lit­i­cal his­tory.’’

Cas­sowary Coast Mayor Bill Shan­non agreed, say­ing that while much of his con­stituency, which cen­tres around In­n­is­fail, would lean to­wards sup­port­ing the LNP, Mr New­man did not have a high pro­file there.

Prior to his dis­posal, axed op­po­si­tion leader John-Paul Lang­broek was count­ing on a north­ern land­slide to help him claim the 13 seats needed for the LNP to form gov­ern­ment in its own right.

The re­gion is so cru­cial to the LNP strat­egy that Mr Lang broekhad­vis­ite d Cairns al­most weekly this year, and had been in Townsville al­most as of­ten.

The Townsville elec­torate, which MP Mandy John­stone holds with less than five per cent, and Mund­ing­burra, where for­mer Bligh gov­ern­ment min­is­ter Lindy Nel­sonCarr is re­tir­ing, are also strong tar­gets for the LNP.

Townsville May or­Les Tyrell be­lieves Mr New­man can win over the North, pro­vided he puts in the hard yards across the re­gion.

‘‘ I think he’s clever enough to know half of the vote is out­side Bris­bane,’’ he said.

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