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PM back in Queensland but still without candidates in key seats

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After a visit to Gladstone, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said it could be six weeks before voters there have a Liberal National Party candidate to consider.

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Morrison and, separately, Labor leader Anthony Albanese have been visiting Queensland in the wake of the federal budget and amid speculation of an election being called within months.

The LNP has yet to preselect candidates in several key contests, including the central Queensland seats of Flynn and Dawson, being vacated by retiring backbenchers Ken O’Dowd and George Christensen.

On Gladstone radio this morning, Morrison was asked about criticism of the budget from local mayor Matt Burnett and pointed out that Burnett had been preselected as Labor’s candidate in Flynn.

“It’s just all politics,” Morrison said.

“He’s representing Anthony Albanese up there in Gladstone, he’s Anthony Albanese’s candidate.”

But Morrison was unable to say who his candidate would be in Flynn, other than to suggest there had been a number of nominations from people with small business experience.

He said there was a “good field of candidates” for LNP preselection.

“It’s probably about six weeks away, or thereabouts – the LNP sets those timeframes, not me,” Morrison said.

Christensen had given a similar timeframe for preselection in Dawson.

While recent polling shows the budget provided little boost for the LNP, Morrison said his government supported the local resources industry, major projects and had also blocked Queensland Government plans for a quarantine facility in Gladstone.

Albanese used his visit to Queensland to announce four candidates in as many days.

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