Joe Hockey
Joe Hockey

Capricornia LNP dumps Turnbull

LEADING Rockhampton LNP members yesterday afternoon backed Joe Hockey ahead of today’s Liberal leadership D-Day.

A spokesman for the LNP’s Capricornia branch said Mr Hockey, the shadow treasurer, was a colourful politician who enjoyed a good rapport with conservative voters in the Rockhampton region.

Mr Hockey, who made an impression when he visited Rockhampton in November, 2007, during the campaign for the last election, is tipped by many to emerge today as the new Liberal leader.

Scott Kilpatrick represented the Liberals at the last election and is the spokesman for LNP Capricornia chair Lance Rundle.

He says Mr Hockey would bring much-needed party unity.

Capricornia’s conservative voters are strongly opposed to the Government’s emissions trading scheme, believing it will cost thousands of jobs in mining and agriculture.

Mr Kilpatrick said he was confident Mr Hockey, who reportedly supports the need for an ETS, would put the party first and be open to discuss the ramifications of a climate-change scheme.

He also backed fellow contender Tony Abbott, though made no reference to current leader Malcolm Turnbull.

When asked if Mr Turnbull was backed locally, he said: “I think the party has been trying for some time to give him a message that party unity is far more important than any one person.”

Meanwhile, Mr Kilpatrick said the party was planning for an early election, tipping Prime Minister Kevin Rudd would go to the polls by March.

The Capricornia branch will wait to see how this week unfolds before choosing a candidate to oppose Labor’s Member for Capricornia, Kirsten Livermore.

“If the election is fought on an ETS I think there could be a big swing against (Ms Livermore),” Mr Kilpatrick said.

“The miners are probably her biggest supporter base.”

He said the region’s LNP branch was the most stable in Queensland with about 230 members.

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