Queensland election focus: Lockyer, Ipswich West and Nanango
IT'S ON. Queensland Premier Campbell Newman is off to see the acting Governor today to announce the date of the next state election, likely to be either Saturday, January 31 or Saturday, February 7.
Mr Newman is defending a large majority from 2012 but with polls around 50-50, most experts are predicting a much tighter outcome this time round.
Many LNP seats are up for grabs including three in the Gatton Star readership area.
We analyse these seats and predict the likely outcome.
The seat of Lockyer which covers Lockyer Valley Regional Council and parts of the Scenic Rim has been held by Ian Rickuss since 2004, and he easily retained his seat in 2012 with a 65-35 two party preferred result over the Katter Party's David Neuendorf.
Mr Rickuss would have been expected to win easily again this time despite Mr Neuendorf coming back to contest the election again for the KAP.
However the waters have been substantially muddied by the candidacy of Pauline Hanson, who has resumed leadership of the One Nation party she founded 18 years ago.
Ms Hanson continues to have a high media profile and will be hoping to repeat the successes of previous elections when One Nation won the seat firstly under Dr Peter Prenzler in 1998 and then Bill Flynn in 2004.
Labor is pinning its hopes on local teacher Steve Leese but may struggle in this four-cornered contest.
Ian Rickuss to hold on with greatly reduced margin though Pauline Hanson could surprise if she taps into local resentment on economic issues.
Over the border in Ipswich West, there is another intriguing battle between an LNP incumbent and a well-credentialled challenger.
In 2012 the likeable Sean Choat won the seat for the LNP from two-term Labor member Wayne Wendt with a convincing swing of 16 per cent.
That leaves Mr Choat with a two-party preferred margin of 7.2 per cent, which while steep could be overcome given the tightness of the poll and the likely statewide swing back to Labor.
Mr Choat's opponent will be Lowood-based lawyer and Somerset Regional councillor Jim Madden.
Mr Madden has good name recognition in the rural parts of the electorate while he should also do well in the traditional Labor heartlands of the outer Ipswich suburbs.
Very tight, could be decided on a handful of votes. If the swing is on, Jim Madden will win on preferences.
The third seat in our area is Nanango, founded by Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen. Held by widely-respected independent Dolly Pratt for 12 years, the ambitious Deb Frecklington has made that seat her own since the last election.
Ms Frecklington has done well as an assistant minister and is a popular local member.
Her big opponent this time is Katter Party MP Ray Hopper, who quit the LNP after the 2012 election after winning the seat of Condamine.
Mr Hopper is a former shadow minister widely recognised across southern Queensland, but moving across to Nanango may be a bridge too far.
Labor will be represented at the election by Liz-Hollens Riley.
Deb Frecklington to retain the seat and get a senior ministry if the LNP retains power.