The Sunday Mail (Queensland)

Afghan vet’s got sights on seat of Lilley

- MADURA MCCORMACK

A VETERAN and trained sniper who served in Afghanista­n has emerged as the LNP’s top pick to seize Queensland’s most marginal federal seat.

And the likely LNP candidate for the inner-city Brisbane seat of Lilley could have until May next year to work the ground, with political analysts predicting the bungled vaccine rollout will push the Morrison government to a full term.

Griffith University political analyst Paul Williams said a later election could mean the Morrison government won’t be able to rely on the “gratitude vote” brought on by the handling of COVID-19.

Ryan Shaw, who unsuccessf­ully ran for the LNP at the recent Queensland state election, is understood to be the only person to put their hand up to run in Lilley as nomination­s closed on Friday afternoon according to party sources. The seat, which covers Brisbane’s inner-north, is currently held by high profile Labor MP Anika Wells.

The first-term Labor MP won by just 1229 votes after preference­s, making the seat the most marginal in Queensland and the fourth most marginal in the country.

Queensland University of Technology politics professor and former parliament­ary speaker Professor John Mickel said he expects the race won’t be as tight this time, predicting a “small swing” back to Labor due to Ms Wells’ incumbency.

“(Labor’s) margin went backwards in 2019 because of the retirement of a very popular and high profile member in Wayne Swan … there was always going to be a loss of his personal following,” he said.

Mr Williams agreed, saying the opportunit­y of snatching Lilley from Labor was in 2019.

Mr Williams said it’s likely Prime Minister Scott Morrison won’t call an election until

May 2022, which is the deadline. Coalition sources agreed this is the likely case.

Prior to weeks of damaging revelation­s over sexual assault and boorish behaviour in Parliament House and women’s safety issues more broadly, Mr Williams said he had expected an election in August this year.

Mr Williams said “internal tensions” brought on by the Coalition’s “so-called women problem” means the PM has some spot fires to put out first.

“Compounded by the vaccine rollout, and of course the end of JobKeeper and the likely rise in unemployme­nt … I think all things mitigate for going to full term,” he said.

According to his LinkedIn, Mr Shaw served in the Australian Defence Force for 11 years, was trained as a sniper, and was deployed to East Timor and Afghanista­n. LNP campaign manager Lincoln Folo said the party wouldn’t comment on the preselecti­on process before it was complete.

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