LNP's Deputy Leader Mander is keen to win back trust in CQ
A MEMBER of the LNP's new leadership team swung into Rockhampton yesterday keen to turn over a new leaf.
LNP's abysmal showing in CQ at last year's Queensland election (fourth in Rockhampton and third in Keppel) could partly be attributed to former leader Tim Nicholls' close association with the toxic Campbell Newman government, which was an easy target for Labor's fear campaign reminding voters of the harsh funding cuts that devastated regional areas.
Mr Nicholls' no-show in Rockhampton during the campaign certainly didn't do him any favours with disaffected conservative CQ voters, feeling like they weren't being heard, flocking instead to the One Nation banner.
In an effort to clear the decks and revive the LNP's fortunes, untainted politicians were installed into the leadership roles. Deb Frecklington was voted in as opposition leader and popular retired NRL referee turned politician Tim Mander became deputy opposition leader.
"The party room, after we've come back, has now recognised that we've lost two elections, we've got to acknowledge that and we've got to show publicly that we've acknowledged that and that we need to have a fresh change with regards to our leadership,” Mr Mander said.
"We're clearing the decks, this is our new leadership team and now we've got to come up with viable policies as an alternative government.”
Winner of Queensland Father of the Year and International Referee of the Year awards, Mr Mander's 20-year career as a leading NRL referee earned him a reputation for being fair, even-handed and making accurate decisions under incredible pressure.
He has sought to carry those traits into his political career - to win respect, not necessarily popularity.
Mr Mander admitted that his party had a lot of work to do to win the people of CQ over but he believed that proactive work in opposition combined with visionary policies would restore the LNP as a force to be reckoned with.
"(In the last election campaign) we didn't create enough reason to change,” he said.
"I would hope to think that in two-and-a-half years' time that would be different as we come up with a fresh new team and fresh new policies and the Labor Government, from my perspective, continue to stuff things up.”
Speaking about the perceived LNP neglect of the CQ region, which has tended to be a Labor stronghold, Mr Mander acknowledged the need for his opposition ministers to be more active on the ground.
"It's important that we travel to every part of the state,” he said.
"Whether it's traditionally Labor seats or whether traditionally conservative seats or Katter seats, we've got to win people back, we've got to win Queenslanders' trust back.
"That's Deb's and my number-one priority.”
Mr Mander spoke extensively about the LNP's plans for energy policy and the transition to renewables, supporting the mining, agricultural and tourism sectors and the need for targeted investment in economy-boosting infrastructure.
More of the LNP's energy and infrastructure plans will be outlined in tomorrow's edition of The Morning Bulletin.