Queenslanders took a wrecking ball to Bill Shorten’s aspirations for Australia’s top job at the last federal election and now the country is watching to see if the Sunshine State will do it again.
Queensland turned its back on the Australian Labor Party in 2019 and helped Prime Minister Scott Morrison to victory with a 4 per cent swing.
Not even seasoned LNP operatives were predicting the wave of blue to sweep the state so decisively and Mr Morrison even took a moment to thank Queensland in his victory speech.
“How good’s Queensland?” he said, as chants of “Queensland! Queensland! Queensland!” rang out from the party faithful.
The ABC’s election analyst Antony Green predicts Queensland will again be critical to the government’s hopes of holding on to office.
So, with the budget handed down this week and stacked full of treats – including one-off cash payments and cuts to the fuel excise – will Queenslanders give Morrison another miracle win or will they opt for change?
The ABC spoke with residents living in the heart of battlefields of Flynn, Leichhardt, Herbert, Dawson, Hinkler and Longman to see how they were feeling.
Flynn – Central Queensland
Gabby Dargel and Nathaniel Spreadborough, Emerald
Gabby Dargel, 28, and Nathaniel Spreadborough, 26, live in Emerald in the key seat of Flynn, held by the Coalition by 8.4 per cent.
With local member Ken O’Dowd retiring, Flynn is being targeted by the ALP.
The Emerald couple said they were pleased with this year’s budget.
While Mr Spreadborough, who works as an electrician at a local mine, won’t be eligible for any of the tax cuts, Ms Dargel, a full-time administration officer, will pocket some savings.
Both were pleased the 5 per cent deposit for a home loan scheme was expanded, even though they recently bought their own home and missed out on the scheme.
Ms Dargel said she would have liked to see more money to make fertility treatment more affordable, as well as a rise in apprentice wages.
“It’d be good for the apprentice wage to go up a couple of bucks here and there,” she said.
Mr Spreadborough said he would have liked to see tax cuts for higher incomes, as well as funding for more skills training programs in the regions.
Who will win?
Mr Spreadborough said he believed the Liberals would win the election, while Ms Dargel said she thought Labor would win.
“I think [Morrison’s] been a bit blind to some big issues and I think that’s been his downfall this term,” she said.
Leichhardt – Far North Queensland
Dale Mundraby, Cairns
Cairns-based tourism operator Dale Mundraby, 46, is an Indigenous man who lives in the bellwether seat of Leichhardt, a vast electorate that stretches from the south of Cairns to the Torres Strait.
It is one of the most marginal government-held seats in Queensland at 4.2 per cent.
Mr Mundraby, who runs Mandingalbay Ancient Indigenous Tours, said the budget would not influence his vote.
“I’ve always been the voter of a party from the get-go and I will continue to do that regardless of how big the bucket is,” Mr Mundraby said.
But he said he was pleased to see a $636 million commitment in the budget to expand the Indigenous ranger program.
“Up here there’s a high dependency on welfare and the ranger programs are helping to break that cycle,” he said.
Mr Mundraby said he was also supportive of a $60m tourism investment to market Australia and the Far North overseas following international border closures.
“Putting the reef and the rainforest and Indigenous tourism back on the international stage is very important,” he said.
Who will win?
Herbert – North Queensland
Jacky Ndayisaba, Townsville
Jacky Ndayisaba arrived in Australia seven years ago from a refugee camp in Kenya.
The university student lives in the Townsville seat of Herbert, held by the LNP by a margin of 8.4 per cent and will vote federally for the first time since becoming an Australian citizen.
She said the increasing cost of living was a major concern.
“It’s tough — it’s not easy when you have to support yourself and not getting any other support, you have to use whatever little money you’ve saved to get through your life and that’s what I’m doing at the moment,” she said.
Ms Ndayisaba said it was pleasing to see the government doing something to help address the problem in the budget this week but more long-term solutions were needed.
Ms Ndayisaba, who is in her 20s, is studying a Bachelor of Medical Laboratory Science with honours and is in her final semester.
She said she was disappointed there weren’t more commitments for jobs in this week’s budget.
“There’s a lot of casual jobs, part-time jobs — it doesn’t really give you security,” she said.
As for who has got her vote?
“I haven’t made my mind up yet,” she said.
Who will win?
Dawson – Central Queensland
David Conway, Mackay
Mackay resident David Conway lives in the electorate of Dawson, currently held by the Coalition by 14.6 per cent and where controversial local Member George Christensen is on the cusp of retiring.
Mr Conway, who is in his 30s, said a there was a community of voices missing in the budget because meaningful information was largely inaccessible for them.
A sporting accident 18 years ago left him paraplegic, legally blind and living with chronic pain.
He said it was very difficult for visually impaired people to access contextual and relevant information about the budget.
“People with more intellectual disabilities, or who are multicultural or have English as a second language background, some of the wording can be very hard to understand,” he said.
Health and disability support, as well as housing and water security are among the top issues for Mr Conway.
The government budgeted $33.9m for the NDIS, up from $29.3 million last financial year.
Mr Conway said adequate support for these issues would win his vote at this election.
As for whether this week’s budget did that, he didn’t think so, but said he was still trying to sift through the information.
Who will win?
Hinkler – Wide Bay region
Max Francis, Bundaberg
Max Francis is a 57-year-old retired Navy veteran living in Bundaberg, in the key seat of Hinkler.
Hinkler is held by the Coalition with a margin of 14.5 per cent.
Mr Francis is pleased about the $250 cash payment announced in the budget and said that would pay for his fuel for a month.
He was not convinced the cut to the fuel excise would be passed on to retailers, despite the ACCC being tasked with monitoring bowsers.
He was also happy about the $22m for the Department of Veteran Affairs to employ staff to deal with a backlog of claims and said he knew of some people waiting up to 20 months.
“I am particularly pleased that the government is spending money on infrastructure,” he said.
“[And] I’m very impressed, being a father of two daughters, with the research into women’s health issues and women’s sports.”
Mr Francis said one of his biggest concerns was the rising cost of living.
He said the government just did not seem to be able to do enough to satisfy people.
“How selfish are we? We want more and more and more,” Mr Francis said.
Who will win?
“I’m hoping the LNP coalition get back in. All things considered, fires, flood and pandemic … it’s been a harrowing time for Australia and we need stability in defence.”
Longman – South East Queensland
Chelsea Brookfield, Ningi
Chelsea Brookfield is a 36-year-old married mother of two who lives in Ningi, in the electorate of Longman.
With a margin of 3.3 per cent, Longman is the most marginal government-held seat in Queensland.
She said she had no fixed view on who she would vote for and was prepared to support whichever party she felt was best for her and her family.
“I’d really like to see more employment opportunities for people like myself with school-aged children, trying to work around school hours,” she said.
“There are little to no jobs [like that], and if there is anything that suits those hours, there are so many people applying for them, it’s near impossible to get a job.”
Ms Brookfield said the federal budget did factor into how she voted.
“I don’t have anyone in particular that I’m voting for,” she said.
Who will win?