Lord mayor needs to win over the North
‘‘ 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.