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Labor ‘tipped off’ on Stuckey departure

THE State Government gained a five-month headstart on Jann Stuckey's future in Currumbin after it was tipped off in October that the long-serving MP would pull the pin in the new year.

The Bulletin has learned Labor parachuted in respected candidate Kaylee Campradt and now - even in a by-election where governments are traditionally belted at the polling booth - could win the marginal Gold Coast seat.

MP Jann Stuckey visits Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary on the Gold Coast. Photo: Facebook
MP Jann Stuckey visits Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary on the Gold Coast. Photo: Facebook

In a stunning day in politics yesterday, the Bulletin also discovered:

* In a bid to save costs and get as many voters as possible to reduce the protest vote, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk will consider a Currumbin by-election on the day of the Gold Coast City Council poll, March 28.

* The LNP is still weeks away from naming a candidate after Ms Stuckey caught the party by surprise by sending out a statement on Wednesday night announcing she will quit on February 1.

* High-profile candidates such as footballer Ben Hannant or retired top cop Jim Keogh are unlikely to be backed as arguments continue about whether a male or female should stand.

* LNP leader Deb Frecklington accused Labor of targeting Ms Stuckey in a Townsville session of Parliament late last year.

"Jann Stuckey was telling people in the electorate, in the school community, that she would pull the pin in January," a Labor source told the Bulletin. "That's why we've been quite active. Kaylee Campradt has had her truck (with advertising) out and around since December."

An LNP Coast source said party members were warned as early as June last year that Ms Stuckey would not see out her term of office but ignored the information.

Huge banner for Labor candidate Kaylee Campradt in Currumbin.
Huge banner for Labor candidate Kaylee Campradt in Currumbin.

"Probably about June or July they warned she would be going. They had the understanding that they would try to get her over the line. It was foolhardy," the LNP source said.

To win the next election the LNP believes it must defeat Labor's Meaghan Scanlon in the northern Coast seat of Gaven, where the ALP has a margin of 3.5 per cent, winning by 378 votes in 2017.

But Ms Stuckey's statement on Wednesday night that she would retire nine months earlier than expected after battling depression enables Labor to have two seats on the Glitter Strip or at least retain one if Ms Scanlon loses.

"We have a decent candidate," an LNP source said about Currumbin. "It (an announcement) will be in the next week or so. We will be ready when it comes. It will be hard fought and we will get a swing, being a good indicator for a state election in October."

But another party source was less convinced, saying: "There is every possibility that we will lose."

Labor held the seat of Currumbin from 1992 to 2004, but Ms Stuckey has been the MP ever since despite sustaining swings of up to 15 per cent. She won the 2017 election with a 3.3 per cent margin.

Labor holds government with a narrow majority and is facing a battle in regional and northern Queensland to retain power in October.

Griffith University political lecturer Dr Paul Williams believes the challenge for the LNP is less about getting a high-profile candidate but the margin, which will be low enough to "get Labor to want to try".

He said it was extremely rare for a government to steal a seat from an Opposition in a by-election.

Labor candidate for Currumbin, Kaylee Campradt, in her electorate and with her campaign truck. Picture Glenn Hampson
Labor candidate for Currumbin, Kaylee Campradt, in her electorate and with her campaign truck. Picture Glenn Hampson

If the swing against the Government was above 5 per cent it would be a good sign for the LNP but Dr Williams suggested it could be as low as 1 per cent, leaving the government a winner heading into a state poll in October.

"The real political capital is going to be wrapped up in the size of swing, because it's going to be Deb Frecklington's first contest as leader, it will be interesting to see her style," he said.

"Annastacia Palaszczuk is not sweating. Deb Frecklington is sweating. Labor does not need to win that seat to score a big political point. Deb Frecklington needs to win the seat and with a big swing to them, and that is probably unlikely."

At the start of this year, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said Labor's plan was to target the seats held by Ms Stuckey and another high-profile backbencher, Mark McArdle on the Sunshine Coast.

"If the by-election is in March, you haven't time to build a profile. The Labor candidate down there has hit the ground running two months ago," the LNP source said.

"They have been straight out of the starting blocks. They have a big billboard with her on the side of a truck saying 'Creating jobs for Queensland'."


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