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Ladies' first - How to have your say in this landmark state election

Decision 2020

For the first time in Queensland’s political history, two women are vying to be Premier. But that’s far from the only reason this will be an election like no other.

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The writs have been issued, Parliament has been dissolved and the election campaign has now officially begun.

Here are the key things you need to know about this month’s state election.

Who wants to be Premier?

The election duel is being fought between the Australian Labor Party’s (ALP) Annastacia Palaszczuk and the Liberal National Party (LNP) leader Deb Frecklington. Palaszczuk has held the Premier’s role since 2015 and is jockeying for a third term in office.

She has been lauded and attacked for her handling of the coronavirus response, and recently she boldly declared she’d be prepared to “lose the election” before reopening state borders prematurely.

Frecklington is the first female leader of the LNP and proud of her regional roots.

She has previously credited life in her regional electorate of Nanango with her husband and three children, as keeping her grounded.

The seat of Nanango has a long Country Party and National Party history, and was the electoral base for premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen from when he first entered parliament in 1947.

Frecklington has held Nanango since 2012.

In May 2016, she was elected LNP deputy leader when Tim Nicholls took over the party leadership.

Frecklington was elected Opposition Leader weeks after the LNP lost the November 2017 election.

How will the parties win or lose?

Labor has held power in Queensland for 25 of the past 30 years.

There are 93 seats up for grabs in Queensland’s one-chamber Parliament.

Labor currently has 48 seats compared with the LNP’s 38.

The remaining electorates are held by Katter’s Australian Party (three), Queensland Greens (one), One Nation (one), North Queensland First (one) and one independent.

To claim outright victory, each party needs to win 47 seats.

What if it’s a close call?

A net loss of two seats for Labor would cost the party its majority, and a net loss of four or more could spell electoral defeat.

The LNP needs a net gain of nine seats to govern in its own right.

Both parties have already been heavily focused on regional seats to shore up their chances.

They would be wary of the threat posed by minor parties, and their support would prove crucial in a hung Parliament.

What is a writ?

A writ is a document, issued by the Governor, commanding the Electoral Commission of Queensland (ECQ) to hold an election.

It contains a lot of details including the date of the poll, when the electoral rolls close and when candidates have to nominate.

It also effectively dissolves the Parliament and puts the Government into caretaker mode.

What does ‘caretaker mode’ mean?

During caretaker mode, the Government isn’t supposed to make any decisions that would bind any incoming government.

For example, the Government shouldn’t make significant appointments, big policy decisions or enter into any major contracts or undertakings.

It’s meant to put both parties on an even playing field, and not allow the incumbent government to improperly use its position of power.

When is the election and how do I vote?

The election will be held on Saturday October 31, but because of the coronavirus pandemic Queenslanders have been asked to cast their votes over an “election period”, instead of on one day.

Already more than 300,000 Queenslanders have applied to vote via post, and you’ve got until mid-October to register for that option if you’re interested.

The ECQ will also be setting up about 200 early voting centres across the state, starting on October 19.

Pre-polling stations will have extended opening times and be open until 9:00pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

For the first time, voting centres will also be open on the Saturday before the election.

If you still want to turn up on election day itself, the booths will be open between 8:00am and 6:00pm.

A decision on whether sausage sizzles can go ahead at polling places on election day will be made closer to the date.

First-time voters can enrol at the Electoral Commission Queensland website.

What are the major issues?

So far, the pre-election campaign has been dominated by three key themes: coronavirus, crime and construction.

COVID-19 has caused a multibillion-dollar black hole in Queensland’s revenue and left hundreds of thousands of Queenslanders without work.

In response, both major parties are promising big, job-stimulating projects — be prepared to hear the phrase “economic recovery” ad nauseum.

To create jobs, Labor has approved the state’s third-biggest coal mine, as well as promising several new renewable energy projects.

The LNP has promised major road infrastructure, including widening the majority of the Bruce Highway and multiple road upgrades around South-East Queensland.

Both parties have also pledged to duplicate parts, or all, of the M1.

The two major parties are acutely aware of the importance of regional electorates and have zoned in on crime as a key concern.

Labor has committed another 2000 police over the next five years, while the LNP has also promised to bolster the thin blue line with hundreds more officers, and introduce mandatory jail sentences for third convictions.

The Greens, Katter’s Australia Party, One Nation, North Queensland First and independents are all vying to hold, or increase their positions in the Parliament.

– ABC / state political reporter Allyson Horn

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