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Newman announces January 31 date for state election

By Mark Beale

UPDATE: QUEENSLAND will be heading to the polls with Premier Campbell Newman announcing online this morning he will be calling an election.

Mr Newman announced just after 11.30am that Queensland would go to the polls on January 31.

The announcement was made via Twitter.

Under Queensland legislation, the minimum campaign length, from the issuing of the writs, is 26 days.

Mr Newman wrote on his Facebook page “ongoing election speculation” was putting the state’s economy at risk.

“Queensland’s economic recovery is too important to be jeopardised by ongoing election speculation,” he wrote.

“I’m heading to Government House this morning to ask the acting Governor (Tim Carmody) to issue writs for a state election.

“There’s no time to waste securing Queensland’s economic future with our strong plan for job creation.”

Just before 10am, Channel 7 tweeted an image of Mr Newman’s car on the way to government house.

Union leaders protesting asset sales and privatisation were among those waiting to greet the Premier.

About 20 minutes, his car was seen leaving Government House after he asked the acting Governor to issue writs for the state election.

The LNP swept to power with a landslide victory in March 2012, winning 78 out of 89 seats.

But the party has since lost five MPs, with three defecting to minor parties and two quitting parliament.

Opposition says Newman’s election call ‘cynical’

Opposition leader  Annastacia Palaszczuk told APN that he Premier’s announcement was “a cynical attempt to catch Queenslanders off guard while they’re enjoying their holidays”.

“Labor is ready. We will be focusing on jobs and job creation.

“Campbell Newman promised a 4% unemployment rate, it’s nearing 7%. In some parts of the state, youth unemployment is around 20%,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

The unemployment rate was 5.5% when the LNP came to power. It is now 6.9%.

“Labor will also be offering a clear choice on asset sales.

State Opposition leader Annastacia Palaszczuk and State MP for Rockhampton Bill Byrne at the launch of a petition to stop the sale of the Gladstone Port. Brenda Strong

“The LNP wants to sell the state’s assets and cut $2 billion a year from the State Budget.

“Labor will keep our assets and the revenue they generate that helps deliver services to Queenslanders.

“Campbell Newman has divided our state, broken key election  promises, and made savage cuts to jobs and services.

“I’m committed to uniting Queenslanders, not dividing them the way Mr Newman has done.

“I will be showing Queenslanders there is a better way.”

Labor MP Jo-Ann Miller yesterday said the opposition was ready for the election, stating Queenslander’s wanted to have their voice heard on the government’s policies.

She said Labor was “ready” for the election and a short campaign would not catch them off-guard.

More to come

Newman faces battle to win own seat in Qld poll

QUEENSLAND Premier Campbell Newman is facing a battle to win his own seat of Ashgrove as the state is expected to head to the polls as early as the end of the month.

Mr Newman, who faces a tight contest to win Ashgrove against Labor’s Kate Jones,  is expected to return from holidays early today to call the election.

The Premier holds Ashgrove by 5.7% with pundits suggesting an earlier poll will help his chances, along with other LNP Ministers and MPs.

One minister suggested the snap election call, which was not expected until after Australia Day, was to catch Labor “on the hop”, Fairfax reported.

“Most of them are on holiday. The state is really still on holiday. So it forces them to react maybe two, three weeks earlier than they were prepared for,” he said.

It is understood the decision to announce the election on Tuesday was made late Monday afternoon, with many senior LNP sources still pointing to a February 14 election as late as 1pm.

But the chatter changed dramatically in the early evening, with the announcement all but confirmed by 9pm.

The LNP appears determined to make its controversial anti-bikie laws one of the key battlegrounds amid reports Labor will be backed by outlawed motorcycle gangs and the wider biking community.

The government on Tuesday called on Opposition leader Annastacia Palaszczuk to rule out accepting donations or support from criminal motorcycle groups.

Acting Treasurer Scott Emerson said the alternative Premier had shown she was weak on crime by embracing the support of criminal organisations and an explanation was needed.

“Instead of addressing the issue yesterday, her silence was deafening,” Mr Emerson said.

“If criminal motorcycle gangs are supporting Labor, then Ms Palaszczuk needs to detail what that level of support means.

The ALP directed comments about donations to its head office but made it clear Labor would not be accepting donations from any organisations or individuals involved with criminal activity.

Mr Emerson said he was concerned by comments from senior police that suggested any changes to the laws would be “foolhardy” and “plunge Queensland back into chaos and lawlessness”.

“These laws have widespread community support because they have played an important part in cleaning up the streets,” he said.

“We are the first state in Australia to effectively deal with the criminal gang problems and that wouldn’t have happened without the current tough legislation.

“This work would be undone if Labor carried through with their threat to replace these laws.

“Our strong stance has been effective in targeting criminal gangs and crime in Queensland with 1706 criminal gang participants arrested on 4,710 charges since laws came in.”

Mr Emerson said the opposition leader backed these laws when they were introduced, but flip-flopped away from them when tough decisions had to be made.

However, Labor MP Jo-Ann Miller said yesterday there had been no convictions from the laws, with convictions coming instead from crimes under existing laws.

“Where there have been convictions it’s been on laws that were previously passed. So there have been no convictions whatsoever under these new laws,” Ms Miller said.

“Now these laws have been in place for some time, the government likes to talk up these laws, but where there’s been zero convictions you really have to wonder.”

Ms Miller said the Opposition would review the laws and take submissions from police, lawyers and any interested Queenslanders and look to replace them with Labor’s 2009 anti-bikie laws.

The LNP is facing its own questions with opponents accusing it of breaching the contracts made at the last election.

While the LNP promised to grow a four pillar economy, the state has seen higher unemployment.

Pledges to cut the cost of living have carried little credence with electricity prices skyrocketing.

The LNP also vowed to revitalise frontline services but there have been massive cuts in the public service.

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