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You're on your own, Deb: Morrison set to pull the plug on Queensland campaign

Decision 2020

Prime Minister Scott Morrison is set to pull the plug on his election campaign for the Liberal National Party in Queensland.

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Morrison will return to Sydney, an area classified as a COVID-19 hotspot by Queensland health authorities, for national cabinet on Friday.

The prime minister will have to spend 14 days in the ACT if he wants to return to the Sunshine State, meaning he can only come back one day before the state election on October 31.

“We’ll go a bit further north before the end of the week,” Morrison told Rockhampton radio 4RO on Wednesday.

“We’ve got national cabinet on later in the week so I’ll have to return to Sydney for that at the end of the week.”

“It’s been great to move through the area, and it’s particularly good to be here with (federal MP) Michelle Landry. She really is an amazing local member.”

The prime minister did not join state LNP leader Deb Frecklington, who is on the campaign trail in Whitsunday, on Wednesday morning.

It’s Mr Morrison’s fourth day in the state and the third day that he hasn’t hit the hustings with Frecklington.

Federal Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese has so far avoided going to Queensland to campaign alongside Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.

Frecklington will be keen to change the focus of her campaign after spending Tuesday answering questions about her attendances at fundraising dinners involving property developers.

She had to repeatedly deny receiving donations from developers, which is illegal in Queensland.

The prime minister also revived his criticism of Queensland’s border closure, claiming there was “double standard” over exemptions.

He also spoke of the toll the border closure has taken on the state’s tourism sector.

Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show only 600 short-term visitors arrived in the state in August, down 99.7 per cent from August 2019.

Most visitors to Queensland are from New Zealand, making the travel bubble involving NZ, NSW and the Northern Territory tantalising for tourism businesses.

“Protecting health does come at a cost and the cost has been very severe for the tourism industry and they should only be there as long as they absolutely have to – that will always be my view,” Morrison said.

“And that’s a judgement for the (state) government and they’ve got to weigh all that up, and get that right, and apply it without having double standards.”

Palaszczuk will start the day campaigning in Gladstone.

She’s hitting the hustings in the safe Labor seat held by Glenn Butcher on a margin of 20.7 per cent.

Frecklington is in Whitsunday on Wednesday, where she is trying to wrest the marginal seat back from Jason Costigan. He holds Whitsunday by a margin of 0.7 per cent for his own party after being expelled from LNP in 2019.

Griffith University political scientist Paul Williams advised the LNP leader to own the developer donations problem.

He said that was the way former premier Peter Beattie successfully dealt with crises.

“You can own up to it, and you’ve gotta say, ‘We’re fixing it.’ It’s the Beattie model, a bit of mea culpa,” Williams told AAP.

“Backflip if necessary, tell the people what they need to hear, reassure them.”

He advised the LNP to come clean with the electorate if members thought their leader had done something wrong.

Williams said owning the problem would allow them to get back selling their own positives and talking about Labor’s negatives.

-AAP

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