IT'S simply breath-taking that our Prime Minister would make an election announcement during a national crisis affecting thousands of people across Queensland and New South Wales.
What planet is Julia Gillard living on?
This is a time when the nation's focus should be firmly on helping the people of Bundaberg, Logan, the Lockyer Valley, Rockhampton, Maryborough, Gympie, Grafton.
And let's not forget about places like Monto, Gin Gin, and the myriad of towns in the greater northern NSW area.
Instead, our PM is talking about having a policy debate with Tony Abbbott.
Well here are few policies to consider Prime Minister when you visit the people of Bundaberg today.
Put the people of Australia first, not political advantage.
Does she really think we will tolerate eight months of these two droning on about everything?
The smartest thing the national media could do is ignore the pair's party games and start putting the heat on both of them to deliver on ideas to rebuild Queensland and help victims of flood and fires.
In Bundaberg alone, there are an estimated 7500 people isolated by floodwater.
Rockhampton is anxiously awaiting its turn.
Yet today when Ms Gillard turns up to Bundaberg she will no doubt be asked more questions about the election than the flood crisis by the national media.
It's little wonder Queensland MPs are seething about the announcement.
Like many regional journalists in the past week, I have spent day and night on the flood crisis.
Yesterday I finally took a couple of hours out to recharge the batteries.
I returned to find an election had been called.
I thought it was a bad dream.
The end result is that it has kicked the flood crisis off the front page of the national agenda.
Let's hope that Julia Gillard can announce some significant funding help for those affected by floods - and a proper plan to rebuild.
And let's hope journos can concentrate more on what she is saying - and how she will deliver it - than the style of glasses she is wearing.
As for Tony Abbott, if he wants to be Prime Minister, he must start delivering more than constructed TV grabs.
Real policies Mr Abbott - solutions, not one liners - and yes, some costings please.
Talk about a long labour for ordinary Australians.
What do you think? Was the election timing announcement off? Or will it end the speculation and allow the government to get on with it? Have your say below
Do you think the election has been called too early?
This poll ended on 07 February 2013.
Yes - 68%
No - 31%
This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.
Mark Furler is the group digital editor for APN's Australian Regiona Media. He is the former editor in chief of three times PANPA Newspaper of the Year, the Sunshine Coast Daily.
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