Seven Queensland key seats up for grabs
THE Federal Election battleground has moved to regional areas as seven Queensland seats hang in the balance, an Australian National University political expert said on Friday.
Professor John Wanna's comments came after a week when Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott descended on regional Queensland.
Both Mr Rudd and Mr Abbott headed to Capricornia and Flynn while several other MPs also did the rounds up and down the Queensland coast.
Among the Queensland key seats up for grabs would be the LNP-held Flynn, Longman, Brisbane and Forde and the ALP-held Capricornia, Petrie and Moreton.
But Prof Wanna said both Capricornia and Flynn would also be facing a new "volatile" set of voters - tradesmen and women.
He said many tradies servicing the mining industry who used to be union members were largely now sub-contractors who ran their own small businesses.
"The level of unionisation among tradies is going to be an issue in both Flynn and Capricornia," Prof Wanna said.
"The tradies factor - where they're not rusted LNP or ALP voters - these are the swing voters who will decide on who they think can better manage the economy and investment."
He said blue collar subcontractors and their families were the first to feel the effects of a downturn, would be looking to ensure a more secure financial position.
"In Capricornia, while Livermore has held on to it, Labor's got to hold both the primary and get at least 60% of the preferences just to hold that seat," Prof Wanna said.
"That's going to be very hard, because the ALP can only rely on preferences from the Greens, while the LNP can probably hope for preferences from the Katter's Australia Party, Palmer's United Party and Family First."
While he said Flynn MP Ken O'Dowd was likely to consolidate his position, Prof Wanna said the electorate was also one that the LNP could not rely on.
"In Flynn, particularly, there's a lot of people who are not directly politically connected, so while you'd think O'Dowd would be in line to be returned, he's still sitting on a slim margin," he said.
"But unless we see a lot of opinion polling suggesting Labor's very competitive, then likely he'll be able to rely on those conservative parties for preferences to get him across the line."
While asylum-seeker policies might decide some marginal seats in areas like western Sydney, Prof Wanna said the universal economic issues would decide it in regional Queensland.
"I think the election is really going to be decided on those western regional areas," he said.
"Anywhere from the Queensland hinterland, down through western Sydney and regional Victoria is going to play a big role."
Prof Wanna also said both parties would be looking to secure an outright majority, and depending on who came out best during the election campaign, a late swing to that party was likely.
KEY QLD SEATS IN PLAY:
- LNP: Brisbane, Forde, Longman, Flynn
- ALP: Capricornia, Moreton, Petrie