State election tipped to be declared on the Fraser Coast
POLITICIANS have drawn early battle lines amid widespread talks of a 2017 state election with speculation the big announcement could take place here.
The Chronicle understands parliamentary insiders suspect Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk's planned week-long trip to the Wide Bay next month could double as an election launch.
The Wide Bay has long been tipped as a key battle ground in the major parties' fight to stop One Nation from winning over regional Queensland.
Maryborough, where Labor MP Bruce Saunders' popularity has soared since he defeated Anne Maddern and the LNP has yet to announce a new contender, is believed to be the likely location, should an announcement take place in the region.
It would also be a chance to woo voters in the neighbouring electorate of Hervey Bay where the party's candidate Adrian Tantari will face the LNP's three-term MP Ted Sorensen and One Nation's Damian Huxham.
The Premier's office would not be drawn yesterday on whether an election announcement could be ruled out during the Wide Bay visit.
Instead, the Premier said in a statement that the visit, which begins on September 10, "will be an opportunity for my Ministers and I to travel throughout the region and meet with residents, stakeholders and council and business leaders".
"We are focussed on restoring the front line services cut by Mr Sorensen and the LNP in the Wide Bay region," she said.
"I am proud of what my Government has delivered and continue to deliver for the Wide Bay region.
"In our recent State Budget, my government invested $649 million for infrastructure projects that will support 1800 jobs in the region."
Mr Sorensen remained confident he could withstand Labor's advance and the added pressure of a popular One Nation candidate.
"I have been working hard for the Hervey Bay community for the last eight years and will continue to do so," he said.
"Labor's jobs crisis has hit especially hard in Wide Bay, where we have seen 800 young people lose their jobs in the last year."
Mr Huxham also remained on his party's message of "putting people before politics".
"The two old parties have governed this state for decades and they have provided us with soaring electricity prices, policies based on political ideology instead of the needs of Queenslanders, corruption and incompetence," he said.
"Nothing changes if nothing changes."