CLOSE FINISH: LNP candidate Teresa Harding is closing the gap on Labor's Shayne Neumann, according to the bookies.
CLOSE FINISH: LNP candidate Teresa Harding is closing the gap on Labor's Shayne Neumann, according to the bookies. David Nielsen

Election battle for Blair on a knife edge

A FEW weeks ago it was considered safe Labor territory, but the battle for Blair is now emerging as one of the tightest election races in Queensland.

The odds on an LNP victory have shortened significantly as Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's approval ratings have slipped since the campaign began.

Even during the course of yesterday, the bookies lengthened the odds on Labour MP Shayne Neumann holding the seat after polling showed the two major parties in an even 50:50 split after preferences.

Mr Neumann remains the favourite at $1.76 to win the seat, but his LNP challenger Teresa Harding has tightened up to a $2 payout.

The odds are the third closest in the State behind only the north Brisbane seat of Petrie and the deadlocked seat of Lilley, where the former treasurer Wayne Swan is fighting for re-election.

When Kevin Rudd was returned to the prime ministership in July, Mr Neumann was the clear favourite according to the betting agency, with his odds at $1.18 to win the seat while Ms Harding slumped to $4.25.

Mr Neumann said he had always been expecting a hard fight for the seat.

"I don't take anything for granted in Blair," he said.

"It's always a close election in Blair. Every vote counts and I'm working hard 24/7."

Mr Neumann won the 2010 federal election with a two party preferred vote of 54% to the LNP's 46%.

He said he and his team would be continuing to campaign for votes until the election was over.

"We're working hard; we're not taking this region for granted.

"I've got a vision for this region. Labor has said 'yes' to Blair and the Coalition has said 'no'."

Ms Harding said she had been working hard to make herself well-known in the electorate.

"The campaign is going well," she said. "It is a busy time and I am working hard listening to the people of Ipswich and Somerset.

"Over the past year I have been listening to people at shopping centres, sporting fields and community events.

"It's clear people want real change to help families, help the economy and stop the boats."



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