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Queensland election race narrows -

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Queensland election race narrows

The World Today - Friday, 27 February , 2009 12:29:00

Reporter: Annie Guest

ASHLEY HALL: A new opinion poll is prompting speculation that the Labor Party in Queensland may
lose the grip on power it's enjoyed for most of the last two decades.

The poll suggests the race with the Liberal National Party is neck and neck. It's given
commentators licence to contemplate a change of government.

Annie Guest reports from Brisbane.

ANNIE GUEST: As the backroom strategists analyse what one expert is calling a 'transformative'
poll, the party leaders on the front line struggle to transform themselves into Wiggles experts on
commercial radio.

ANNOUNCER: What is Captain Feathersword's favourite drink?

(laughter)

LAWRENCE SPRINGBORG: We're bombing out on this big time.

ANNA BLIGH: We'll have to go back to Wiggle school, Lawrence.

LAWRENCE SPRINGBORG: Yeah.

ANNIE GUEST: The Premier Anna Bligh won the quiz but will she win the election?

A poll has the ALP and the merged Liberals and Nationals tied 50-50 on a two-party preferred basis.

The Galaxy Poll records an ongoing trend. In 12 months Labor's primary support has fallen 10 per
cent to 42, while the LNP is on 43 per cent.

The poll has surprised the political experts, including lecturer Bronwyn Stevens from the
University of the Sunshine Coast.

BRONWYN STEVENS: It'll transform the election. I think everybody's been going ho hum Labor's
probably going to win although there'll be a swing away from them. The last poll we were looking at
last week seemed to indicate that Labor was about six points ahead of the LNP so this is quite a
revolutionary poll.

ANNIE GUEST: Labor has held power in Queensland for two decades except for two years in the 1990s.

Key issues in this election include the fading Queensland economy. The credit rating has been
downgraded to AA.

Other major concerns are health and road infrastructure. Traffic congestion can be extreme but
there are now a number of major projects.

Voters in the marginal seat of Indooroopilly have told ABC Local Radio the results are welcome.

VOX POP 1: I think it's great to have some healthy competition out there - Labor's had their time
in Queensland for about 10 years, so yeah, bring it on.

VOX POP 2: I think it'll be a close race also - it'll be good for Anna. A bit of competition is
healthy.

VOX POP 3: I think it's good. a close race is better than a one-sided race, I think.

ANNIE GUEST: The poll has Anna Bligh remaining the preferred Premier, clocking up a 50 per cent
lead over 37 per cent of those polled supporting Lawrence Springborg.

The Premier has maintained throughout recent times that the election will be close but argues
there's a clear choice between the parties.

ANNA BLIGH: This poll just confirms that this is going to be a very tough election. It's going to,
in my view, come right down to the wire.

LAWRENCE SPRINGBORG: We can't do it with 50-50. The way the electorates line up we need at least 52
per cent so we've got a couple of per cent to go.

ANNIE GUEST: The Opposition leader Lawrence Springborg is interpreting the results as a reaction to
the election being called early.

But long time Queensland political watcher Dr Paul Williams from Griffith University takes a
different view and like other analysts he found the results surprising.

PAUL WILLIAMS: It's almost deja vu because we saw a very similar pattern if not an identical
pattern at the beginning of the 2006 Queensland State elections.

ANNIE GUEST: So do you think this is a pattern amongst Queensland voters?

PAUL WILLIAMS: Well not necessarily. I think it reflects where we are in the electoral cycle. It,
obviously in 2006 and even more so now, there is a sense in the community that Labor has had its
fair go. It's been in for a long time. There is clearly an 'it's time' factor at work at least
somewhere in the electorate.

But what happened in 2006 that may well happen again in 2009 is that the campaign tended to wear
down the less experienced and less polished opposition and particularly the less polished and less
experienced Opposition leader Lawrence Springborg.

ANNIE GUEST: Given that, has his poll made you reassess what the outcome of the election could be
at all?

PAUL WILLIAMS: Well indeed, I mean election campaigns are real hot houses and anything can happen
and usually does. So yes, certainly on the day the election was announced I and most observers
operating on the most recent data that we had, thought that the Bligh Government would get back not
unscathed but still relatively easily with just the loss of a few seats.

But it now seems, certainly on these figures, that Lawrence Springborg and the LNP will go close to
snatching government but again logic suggests that they will fall short.

ASHLEY HALL: Dr Paul Williams from Griffith University ending that report by Annie Guest.