Rocky candidates make their pitches, agree to changed battle terms
THE race for pre-selection for the seat of Rockhampton has gone up a gear with Rockhampton Mayor Margaret Strelow and Barry O'Rourke agreeing to let the locals decide.
With Labor's administrative committee in Brisbane opening online voting for ALP members at 3pm yesterday, both candidates made their pitches directly to the local ALP branch members' inboxes.
The voting window will be open for the next week, closing Friday at 5pm.
Cr Strelow deftly moved in her email to remove Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk's "captain's pick” endorsement and Brisbane electoral college voters from the equation by saying that she would only run if she garnered the majority vote from the local members.
"While I was very grateful to have received the Premier's support to replace Bill (Byrne), I have decided that I will only accept the Labor nomination provided I have the support of a majority of local members,” Cr Strelow said in a statement on Facebook.
"This pre-selection process does allow for the Brisbane Central Electoral College to overturn the local vote.
"Today I am making it clear that I will only accept the Labor nomination with a majority support of local members.
"I think it's only fair that all candidates provide this undertaking to the local membership.”
When the Morning Bulletin approached her pre-selection opponent, Public Housing director Barry O'Rourke with the Mayor's comments, he agreed to her terms saying this selection process should be decided at a local level.
"As I have said before, it is important for local people to have a say and I will abide by the local party members' decision but unlike my opponent, I'm not relying on power brokers in Brisbane for my endorsement,” Mr O'Rourke said.
"My first and foremost loyalty is for the people of Rockhampton.”
The battle for the seat of Rockhampton pits Cr Strelow against the Old Guard faction's pick Mr O'Rourke to replace outgoing former minister Bill Byrne.
Mr O'Rourke was defiantly championed by the Old Guard in a bid to ensure the seat remained in the faction's hands.
The result has the potential to embarrass Ms Palaszczuk if her call for Cr Strelow - currently aligned to the Right faction - to be the candidate was shunned.
Cr Strelow emailed branch members asking for their support and repeating warnings the electorate could fall to One Nation.
"Make no mistake, in this One Nation-fuelled political environment Labor cannot take the seat of Rockhampton for granted,” she said.
"It's going to be a tough fight.
"One we cannot afford to lose.”
She said she believed the collective decision of the local membership would ultimately get it right.
"I will continue to talk and meet with local branch members over the coming days as we work to keep the seat of Rockhampton in Labor hands,” Cr Strelow said.
"Now it's over to you. The power is in your hands to make this ultimate decision about who will represent Labor as the next candidate for Rockhampton.”
Mr O'Rourke responded in kind with his own emailed pitch for votes saying his passion for the region and commitment to our community drives him to serve, and humbly asked for their support.
"It's absolutely critical to me that rank-and-file branch members get a say in who should be their Labor candidate at the next state election,” he said.
"I will always stand up for the rights of branch members.
"I have the experience, people skills, the intelligence, the passion for the region and real understanding of cost of living issues to drive the positive agenda we need for Rockhampton.
"I shoot straight and get results.”