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Ask a Reporter: Will the LNP sell electricity assets if elected?

This Queensland election campaign, Brisbane Times is not only reporting on the news of the day, we’re also asking questions on your behalf. Directly.

Is there something you need to know to help you decide how to vote on October 31? Is there an issue you believe has been ignored?

The Queensland election campaign begins today ahead of the October 31 polling day.

The Queensland election campaign begins today ahead of the October 31 polling day.Credit:Brisbane Times

Simply fill in the form to submit your questions and we’ll direct them to who we believe can best give an answer.

We’re going to try to keep the political spin to a minimum in this space, at least as much as it can be avoided in the heat of an election.

Please note that we may not be able to get answers to all of your questions.

A reader (name not supplied) asks: Will the LNP, if elected, sell electricity assets to pay for their promises?

Brisbane Times state political reporter Lydia Lynch answers: Both major parties have ruled out selling government-owned assets to save the state from plunging into further debt.

Deb Frecklington in Mackay this morning.

Deb Frecklington in Mackay this morning.Credit:Lydia Lynch

The LNP went to the 2015 election with a $37 billion asset sales program following a $14 billion program by the former Bligh government.

When asked today if an LNP government would sell assets, Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington replied: “No”.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said: “We have absolutely guaranteed to the people of this state that our electricity assets are not for sale.”

Her Treasurer, Cameron Dick, later clarified that meant all state-owned assets including water and ports.

“Queenslanders have made it very clear they do not want public assets sold or leased. So our government will not be selling public assets,” he said.

Queensland’s total debt, including government-owned businesses, will balloon to $102 billion by June 2021, up from the $83.8 million forecast in December as the government is forced to borrow to fund infrastructure projects.

DK asks: Who is likely to lead Labor should they lose the election?

Brisbane Times PM editor Cameron Atfield answers: This is a question to which there is no clear-cut answer. It should also be answered in the context that Queensland Labor has not had a contested leadership ballot since the Joh era.

Unlike the LNP, which decides its parliamentary leader through a party room vote of elected MPs, Labor has a more complicated process. And it’s a process we have yet to see in action since it became party policy in 2013.

Annastacia Palaszczuk has been Labor leader since 2012. Cameron Dick (in the background) would be a leading contender to replace her should Labor lose.

Annastacia Palaszczuk has been Labor leader since 2012. Cameron Dick (in the background) would be a leading contender to replace her should Labor lose.Credit:Jono Searle/Getty Images

Assuming there is a leadership vacancy (which there automatically would be in the event of an election loss) and it is contested, then those candidates would need to appeal not only to their caucus colleagues, but to affiliated unions and rank-and-file Labor Party members as well.

Each of those three voting blocs will have an equal say in who will be the parliamentary leader of the ALP. So while the Left faction has the biggest voting bloc within caucus, that would not necessarily be played out by other stakeholders’ votes.

All that said, the obvious contenders from the current crop would be, from the Right, Cameron Dick and Stirling Hinchliffe; from the Old Guard faction, Curtis Pitt and Grace Grace; and from the Left, Deputy Premier Steven Miles, Mark Bailey or, if you want a dark horse, someone like Shannon Fentiman.

James asks: I’m confused about the [Full Preferential Voting] system. Can you vote for only one candidate in the Queensland state election and still have your vote counted as a formal vote? There are candidates in my electorate that I do not wish to support under any circumstances and I would prefer not to give them any preference at all in my vote.

Brisbane Times PM editor Cameron Atfield answers: With FPV, all boxes must be numbered for your vote to count. Otherwise, your ballot will be considered an informal vote.

Voters will have to number every box on their ballot paper.

Voters will have to number every box on their ballot paper.Credit:AFR

While not everybody agrees with FPV, I think it’s the most democratic system in the world. In first-past-the-post elections, the candidate with most votes wins. Sounds fair enough, right? Well, it does as long as that candidate received a majority of the vote. If that first-past-the-post winner received less than half the vote, it becomes quite problematic.

Imagine you’re in an electorate where there’s one anti-ice cream candidate and three pro-ice cream candidates. The ice cream vote would effectively be split in three, meaning the anti-ice cream candidate could be elected with, say, 30 per cent of the vote. You can see how easy it becomes for an electorate to be represented by somebody with a diametrically opposed view to the majority of voters. And now you can’t even inhale a tub of choc-chip to commiserate.

Another system used in many countries is the run-off election. If no candidate receives a majority of votes (50 per cent plus one), then another election is held, but this time with just the top two candidates vying off against each other. FPV effectively makes this an automatic process, without the need to go back to the polls to sort it out.

It’s important to remember that your preference flow would never reach the undesirable candidate/s in your electorate if one of the last two candidates standing is numbered ahead of them.

Gabriel Devine asks: How likely is it that the Greens could retain Maiwar this election?

Griffith University political expert Paul Williams answers: Very likely.

Labor will run third and preference Greens over LNP.

Maiwar's Michael Berkman goes into this election as the Greens' sole MP in the Queensland Parliament.

Maiwar’s Michael Berkman goes into this election as the Greens’ sole MP in the Queensland Parliament.

Sven asks: Why are some electorates named after people and not the area? The location of the seat of Caloundra is clear to everybody, but who knows where Oodgeroo or McConnell is located?

An Electoral Commission of Queensland spokeswoman answers: This Brisbane Times article may be helpful.

Acclaimed poet Oodgeroo Noonuccal pictured in 1980 (photograph used with the permission of the Quandamooka people)

Acclaimed poet Oodgeroo Noonuccal pictured in 1980 (photograph used with the permission of the Quandamooka people)Credit:Archives

Naming an electorate after an area can be problematic because if there’s a redistribution, the new electorate boundaries may no longer reflect a single place.

For example, Oodgeroo takes in North Stradbroke Island and parts of Cleveland.

Electorate boundaries can be explored here. Just put in an address in the search box and the map will be opened.

Glenn D Amezdroz asks: Amy MacMahon has a large billboard near the Gabba displaying a slogan that the Greens don’t access funding from large corporations. Can this be fact-checked, please? Where do the Greens get their funding?

Brisbane Times PM editor Cameron Atfield answers: According to Electoral Commission of Queensland disclosures, the biggest single contributor to the Queensland Greens over the past four years has been reclusive mathematician (and professional punter) Duncan Turpie, who has forked out at least $200,000.

Amy MacMahon during the 2017 state election campaign.

Amy MacMahon during the 2017 state election campaign.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

The second-biggest contributor to the Queensland Greens is…. the Australian Greens. They have sent more than $200,000 north in the past four years. So did the national body accept any corporate dollars? Not directly, according to Australian Electoral Commission disclosures, with most money coming from various state branches.

Another notable donor is Wotif founder Graeme Wood, who contributed $40,000 in 2017.

The rest of the party’s donations are relatively small, coming from individuals rather than corporations.

Thomas asks: Will Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s appearance help the LNP or will it remind voters of his frequent attacks on the ALP’s border quarantine policy?

Griffith University political expert Paul Williams answers: It should be a net benefit for the LNP in the regions (far less so in Brisbane), but this is a much-nuanced set of circumstances.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison at the University of Queensland yesterday.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison at the University of Queensland yesterday.Credit:Darren England/AAP (pool)

If Morrison talks up jobs and federal assistance to regional Queensland (note that he’s not come to Franklinton’s $33 billion Bruce Highway party) then yes, it will assist the LNP.

But if the frame turns, as it did yesterday, to closed borders (an unpopular option, it now seems), he will be a net deficit.

Note that the relationship between Morrison and Frecklington appears to be cool and unproductive.

Queensland University of Technology political analyst, former Labor government minister and former Speaker John Mickel answers: It will neither help nor hinder.

He is popular, but it is a state campaign and people can differentiate.

A reader (name not supplied) asks: What are chances of independent candidate Claire Richardson winning the Oodgeroo electorate, given her explicit opposition to the Toondah Harbour development which seems to be supported by the LNP and the ALP? There seems to be very strong community opposition to the proposal to build over 3000 units on land and sea that are listed RAMSAR sites.

Mark Robinson (pictured at a 2017 pro-life rally) is expected to hold his seat.

Mark Robinson (pictured at a 2017 pro-life rally) is expected to hold his seat.Credit:Glenn Hunt

Griffith University political expert Paul Williams answers: Almost zero chance.

Independents almost never win seats in metro areas outside capital cities, unless in the most extraoriodianry circumstances, for example a major celebrity candidate and scandals in both major parties.

Mark Robinson won the seat in 2017 on first preferences alone. He is in no danger.

Pauline Peel asks: Who is the LNP candidate for Miller?

Brisbane Times PM editor Cameron Atfield answers: Paul Darwen.

He is out to unseat Transport Minister Mark Bailey, who holds the seat with a pretty safe 8.2 per cent margin.

Justin Jackson asks: If the LNP loses the election, who would likely become the leaders of the party?

Brisbane Times PM editor Cameron Atfield answers: I want to preface this by saying it’s far too early to be writing Deb Frecklington off.

Deb Frecklington may or may not be Premier in a month's time, but it's almost certain she will not be Opposition Leader.

Deb Frecklington may or may not be Premier in a month’s time, but it’s almost certain she will not be Opposition Leader.Credit:Paul Harris

However, if the LNP is destined to spend a third consecutive term in opposition, recent history suggests it would be unlikely that Frecklington would keep her job.

It’s long been my belief that the LNP needs a south-east Queensland Liberal (as opposed to a country National) to have a real chance winning a state election. It’s a polarised state and a leader who plays well in the city might not do so in the bush (and vice versa).

From the current batch, it’s hard to look past David Crisafulli. He ticks the SEQ Liberal box and he has ministerial experience. Just as importantly, he’s a good media performer.

Deputy leader Tim Mander would be a contender. He’d have the support of the Christian Right of the party and has the name recognition, both through politics and his years as an NRL referee, to be seen as a viable candidate.

Former leaders Tim Nicholls and John-Paul Langbroek may want another tilt and, given the party’s penchant for recycling leaders (see: Lawrence Springborg), they couldn’t be discounted.

This is, of course, highly speculative. All of the names mentioned above could well be serving in the first Frecklington ministry in just a few short weeks.

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