THE day has finally arrived when CQ voters can get in early to lodge their ballots for the Queensland state election.
Pre-polling is a interesting time during the campaign where the candidates are forced to "show their hands” when it comes where they choose to distribute their preferences and reveal their alliances.
These preference deals are all the more critical given Saturday's release of Galaxy polling which revealed that Rockhampton's normally rock solid Labor seat had slipped into shaky territory where preference deals could see several candidates on verge of wresting power from Labor on a two party preferred basis.
The Morning Bulletin approached each of the Rockhampton candidates to determine their thoughts regarding their recent Galaxy polling results and how they planned to distribute their preferences.
Labor party's candidate Barry O'Rourke is under immense pressure to hold the seat after Saturday's poll result saw Labor's 2015 result of 53 per cent drop by 20 per cent to command only 33 per cent of the vote.
The departure of popular incumbent MP Bill Byrne for health reasons, the rise of the One Nation party and the split of Labor's vote with stood aside Rockhampton Mayor Margaret Strelow have all played a part in Mr O'Rourke's diminished support.
Mr O'Rourke acknowledged that this would be a tough election but wouldn't comment further on the implications of the polling results despite multiple approaches by the Morning Bulletin.
Mr O'Rourke intended to preference the Greens and Ms Strelow ahead of the LNP and One Nation.
"I am disappointed by One Nation for doing a deal with LNP, when Nicholls was Treasurer he cut, sacked and sold out the people of Rockhampton,” he said.
"I do not want Queensland to return to a LNP Government.”
Mr O'Rourke's how to vote card will be numbered: 1. Labor 2. Greens 3. Ms Strelow 4. LNP 5. ONP
After not contesting the last state election, the One Nation party and their candidate Wade Rothery has come from nowhere to secure 21 per cent of Rockhampton's support in the poll.
Mr Rothery cautioned that polling results such as these had a way of being proven wrong.
"We have seen polling tipped on its head across the globe over recent elections,” Mr Rothery said.
"No one predicted Trump being elected. No one predicted the recent New Zealand election outcome with Wilson Peters' New Zealand First holding the balance of power in the parliament.
"Brexit was not predicted to get up and all I can say is we have just under two weeks of the campaign left to go and the support for One Nation builds every day that the two tired old parties open their mouths.”
Mr Rothery said Queensland had performed terribly under the reckless watch of both the Labor and the LNP for at least the last 10 to 20years and his party have made it very clear that we will put all sitting members and their parties on the bottom of the ballot paper.
"Queenslanders have made it clear to us they do not want One Nation doing any deals with the major parties and in Rockhampton's case, the sitting member is retiring, so we have placed the Greens last and Labor second last,” he said.
Mr Rothery's how to vote card will be numbered: 1. ONP 2. LNP 3. Ms Strelow 4. Labor 5. Greens.
LNP candidate Douglas Rodger's polling result of 23 per cent support and was a 7.3 per cent slip from the 30.3 per cent they received in 2015.
The LNP has lost supporters to the One Nation Party and now, with only 2 per cent separating the parties, it will be neck and neck to determine who have the most support to ultimately capture the two party preferred votes.
"I'm not wasting time worrying about polling or preferences,” Mr Rodgers said.
"I'm focused on delivering for CQ and making sure families in Gracemere and Rocky get their fair share from the state representatives.
"I'm looking forward to the next two weeks and meeting more people around the electorate because it is them who will ultimately decide whether I am successful.”
Mr Rodgers' how to vote card will be numbered: 1. LNP 2. ONP 3. Ms Strelow 4. Labor 5. Greens.
The galaxy poll recorded a surprise 3 per cent jump in support for the Greens party's Kate Giamarelos, rising 9 per cent since 2015.
"We are grateful people are coming out in support of us, this is demonstrative of the changes in the political landscape. ” Ms Giamarelos said.
"The public knows that politics is broken and they are looking for the party that will genuinely fight for them.”
Ms Giamarelos said a grass roots decision was made by Greens Party members that they would be preferencing One Nation last and putting the LNP just above them.
"One nation was never going to stand up to the establishment on behalf of the people,” she said.
"This preference deal proves it, this is a back flip on their campaign pledge to put seated members last.”
Ms Giamarelos' how to vote card will be numbered: 1. Greens 2. Labor 3. Ms Strelow 4. LNP 5. ONP.
Former Labor party member and stood aside Rockhampton Mayor Margaret Strelow's run as an Independent is set to shake the election up considerably and although the Galaxy poll only had her at 14 per cent support, it is expected that she'll further split off Labor's voting base as the campaign wears on.
"That poll was taken on Wednesday and Thursday evening, I only announced my candidacy on Monday, so it is early days,” Ms Strelow said.
"The difficulty is that there isn't a lot of time so it will be difficult for me.
"What is interesting is the number of people who don't want to vote for the majors.”
Ms Strelow made it clear she won't be preferencing either of the major parties and has thrown a wild card into the preferencing mix by producing a unique how to vote card that put the onus back on voters.
"I will begin pre-poll with a 'how to vote' card with four blank squares and just a '1' against my name and a clear message that voters will need to remember to put a number in every square,” she said.
"That said I've been advised by very experienced 'old hands' that this will generate many informal votes so I'm in a bit of a quandary - informal votes are not counted at all.
"So if someone just votes 'one' for me and leaves the rest of the squares blank (following the image on my card) then I won't get that vote and they don't get a say in who they would prefer after I am eliminated.”
Ms Strelow's how to vote card will be numbered: 1. Ms Strelow 2. _ 3. _ 4. _ 5. _ .
The recent polling for two party preferred results saw the Labor party drop from 64 per cent in 2015 to 58 per cent and the LNP rise from 36 per cent to 42 per cent.
If Ms Strelow's unknown preferences go a certain way, Labor could potentially lose a significant amount of two party votes with ONP and the LNP gaining more support, putting the election result on a knife edge.
In the Keppel electorate, the candidates have declared their voting preferences will go as follows:
Brittany Lauga: 1. Labor 2. Greens 3. LNP 4. ONP.
Peter Blundell: 1. LNP 2. ONP 3. Labor 4. Greens.
Matt Loth: 1. ONP 2. LNP 3. Labor 4. Greens.
Clancy Mullbrick: 1. Greens 2. Labor 3. LNP 4. ONP.