Federal election battle begins in flood's aftermath

Senator Barnaby Joyce and LNP candidate for Blair Teresa Harding look at the swollen Bremer River at One Mile.
Senator Barnaby Joyce and LNP candidate for Blair Teresa Harding look at the swollen Bremer River at One Mile. Claudia Baxter

THE LNP's candidate for Blair, Teresa Harding, began yesterday inspecting flood damage in Ipswich and ended it in full campaign mode after the Prime Minister announced a September 14 federal election date.

Ms Harding, who has just given up her full-time job, received the backing of Nationals senator Barnaby Joyce yesterday as they visited the flood-hit One Mile Bridge.

Shayne Neumann held the seat of Blair with a 4.2% margin at the last election. Betting agency Sportsbet had Mr Neumann at $1.50 and Ms Harding at $2.50 yesterday.

Ms Harding, who had previously been a public servant at the RAAF base at Amberley, said "cost of living, job security and veterans' issues" would be among the key issues for Blair voters at the next election.

"I've finished my full-time job and I am campaigning full-time now," she said.

"I have been listening to people while I've been door knocking and they are really worried about how much their electricity prices have increased, how much the groceries have gone up and about their futures...and how they can plan for them.

"Veterans are very upset that their pensions are under the index of CPI. We wish to bring forward the fair indexation bill that makes sure their pensions are indexed the same amount as the aged pension, which is fair.

"The people of Ipswich and Somerset need a real alternative and the opportunity for a better Australia. It is going to be a stimulating campaign and a tough battle."

The people of Ipswich and Somerset need a real alternative and the opportunity for a better Australia.

Senator Joyce said Ms Harding would "give the people of Ipswich, the Lockyer Valley and around Esk the best chance to put themselves on the political map".

"She is intelligent and dynamic and she is going to pursue issues on the people's behalf," Mr Joyce said.

"You are going to have a hardworking local representative."

Mr Neumann, who was on the campaign trail in Jimna, Moore, Kilcoy and Esk yesterday, said he was ready for the battle ahead and stood by his government's record of delivering for Blair.

"We have said yes to the Blair electorate, whether it be the Ipswich Motorway, the Blacksoil Interchange or our record investment in schools, infrastructure and recreational facilities," he said. "But my opponent is running for a political party that has only ever said no to our region."

My opponent is running for a political party that has only ever said no to our region.

"The school kids bonus, tax cuts, pension rises and family tax benefit increases were all opposed by the Liberal Party in federal parliament, and now they say they are worried about cost of living pressures. Give me a break.

"My message to people is quite clear. Campbell Newman and the LNP state government is the curtain-raiser for Tony Abbott. They are both about cutting jobs, cutting services and cutting investment in the region."

Mr Neumann said the election would be about "who can make the economy strong and who can create a fairer society".

Topics:  barnaby joyce, blair, federal election 2013, national party, shayne neumann, sportsbet, teresa harding

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