Anna Bligh v Campbell Newman
IN A ROOM packed with newspaper editors, Campbell Newman made a surprising, off-the-cuff admission.
"I hate the person I once was,'' the LNP leader said.
He was referring to times where he had been well known to ring up newsrooms to give 'free advice and even free character assessments' after he was unhappy with stories.
Premier Anna Bligh is hoping the intense public spotlight on Mr Newman during the election campaign may just bring out more of the old, explosive Campbell for the public to see.
But at the moment, she says he and the LNP are playing a very 'small target' strategy, with Mr Newman's public appearances and policy releases being more frugal over the past year than some in the media might have expected.
"We have seen whole weeks go by where Campbell Newman does not do a press conference,'' Ms Bligh said.
The Premier and Mr Newman each spent more than an hour with APN regional editors this week outlining their vision for Queensland as well as fielding impromptu questions on everything from coal seam gas mining to the floods inquiry.
Many editors were impressed by Ms Bligh's knowledge of local issues and the detail of response.
Campbell Newman, on the other hand, was keen to paint with a broader brush, while stressing he was a man for the whole state, not just Brisbane and south-east Queensland.
Anna Bligh knows she is facing an uphill battle to win her second term as Premier, sensing the mood for change.
But she is adamant that Queenslanders will not just vote for the sake of change, but will want to see who they are really getting.
"I think it will be much more about Campbell Newman versus Anna Bligh than the LNP versus Labor,'' she says.
Voters will make a decision based on who they think have the 'character, judgment, leadership and capacity' to get the job done.
For her part, Ms Bligh admits her government has made mistakes.
She cites the Queensland Health payroll bungle as her biggest regret in her four years as Queensland's first female leader.
Campbell Newman believes Queenslanders have completely lost faith in the government because it failed to be accountable for such bungles.
"I can tell you now if people blow $220 million on a payroll system a minister is going to go,'' he said of his approach.
Mr Newman argues that the ALP government had become too centralised in Brisbane, too bureaucratic, very inefficient and has wasted an awful lot of money on big ticket projects.
He has pledged to deliver $240 to $330 in savings a year to households by cutting government waste.
Mr Newman has also vowed to give greater power and resources back to local councils, saying the government had tried to make them 'subsidiaries' of the state.
Ms Bligh has warned Campbell Newman will become a 'slash and burn' Premier whose cuts will impact on frontline services such as police, nursing and teaching - as well as the environment.
She said the ALP would put mining royalties into better education and continue delivering the "biggest hospital building program in Australia's history'' to cope with the growth.
"We should be very proud of the fact we now have the lowest elective surgery waiting lists in the country.''
She acknowledges the government has more work to do in making government departments more efficient, but says the focus must be on head offices.
Ms Bligh claimed Mr Newman would have to make huge cuts into police, nurse and teaching numbers to fund the $5 billion worth of 'unfunded promises' he had made.
"If you start to cut at that level they will not be pin pricks they are going to be flesh wounds.''
But Mr Newman rejects this, saying the LNP would be 'restoring' frontline services.
"Unlike Labor, which is racking up $85b in debt and deficit after deficit, as Lord Mayor of Brisbane I delivered seven out of seven balanced budgets in the sixth largest public sector budget in Australia," Mr Newman said.
"You can't believe anything Anna Bligh says. She broke promises on asset sales, the fuel levy and said she wouldn't cut public service jobs, then did.'
If one thing is very clear, in the end Anna Bligh is right on one thing.
Voters will have to decide on which leader they trust.
Personal: Born in Warwick in 1960. Grew up on the Gold Coast. Parents separated when she was 13. Considered becoming a nun. Become Queensland's first female Education Minister and then first Premier in 2007.
Key priorities: Royalties from mining boom to go towards improving education and training to ensure all Queenslanders benefit from the boom, not just those in mining areas.
Create job generating projects through innovation, science and technology. Economy should not be based on four pillars but up to 12 key industries.
Continuation of Australia's biggest hospital building program. Protection of environment to ensure future of the tourism industry.
Personal: Born in Canberra in 1963 and raised in Tasmania, the son of former Senator and Federal Minister Jocelyn Newman and former federal Minister, the late Kevin Newman.
Attended Royal Military College, Duntroon, where he was dubbed Noddy for his appearance and misadventures.
A qualified civil engineer, he spent 13 years in the Army before retiring as a major. Moved to Queensland where he worked for the agricultural storage company Grainco, before deciding to stand for election as Lord Mayor of Brisbane
Key promises: Build a four pillar economy to create jobs through mining, tourism, agriculture and construction.
Lowering cost of living by cutting government waste.
Better planning and delivery of infrastructure. Restore frontline services - nurses, police, etc.
Restore trust in government.