Could Katter win Blair for Labor?
THE DECISION of Katter's Australian Party to run a split ticket on preferences in Blair could see Labor's sitting MP Shayne Neumann retain his seat.
Mr Neumann is neck and neck with the LNP's Teresa Harding in the race for Blair.
Family First and the Greens will direct preferences to Labor in Blair while Palmer's United Party will allocate preferences to the LNP.
The LNP could have been in a winning position had KAP candidate Dale Chorley directed preferences to them in Blair, but his split ticket will likely see a 50/50 share of preferences allocated to the major parties.
Mr Chorley defended his decision, saying it was "the people's choice" to determine who they preferenced.
A split ticket in this instance will see the candidate's how to vote card with the preference allocation for Labor on one side, and the LNP on the other.
Coalition Leader Tony Abbott unloaded on KAP Leader Bob Katter when he spoke to the QT last week.
The KAP has directed preferences to Labor in some seats but Mr Abbott said Mr Katter was letting down his conservative base.
"I think a lot of Mr Katter's supporters are completely flummoxed by his decision to prop up this bad Labor/Green government," Mr Abbott told the QT.
"How can he call himself a conservative and try and prop up the current government?
"But I am not going to talk him out of doing something as silly as this. If he doesn't know it is silly, then he is beyond persuasion."
Election expert Cr Paul Tully, who predicted the exact number of seats Labor would win in the last state election, said the KAP preferences would be critical in determining the outcome in Blair.
"The fact that Greens and Family First are preferencing Shayne Neumann will be extremely significant to the outcome," Cr Tully said.
"Katter will generally take votes away from the LNP, so running a split ticket will mean that perhaps 50% of those will likely flow to the Labor Party.
"So Shayne Neumann will benefit from preferences all round, because I don't expect Palmer will score a particularly strong vote in the Ipswich area.
"I think the Katter party could pick up more than 10% of the vote and their preferences could be critical.
"If Katter had preferenced the LNP that could have made a big difference because it appears the margin has narrowed in Blair and it will come down to preferences."
Cr Tully said Mr Abbott's spray against Mr Katter would not go down well with the party faithful.
"That might take votes away from the conservatives," he said
Mr Chorley said he was making his split-ticket decision on principle.
"I have been torn, but the whole reason I am doing this is because people have lost their say and lost control of government," he said.
"I would be a hypocrite to say, 'I believe you should have a choice but on vote day I believe you should be doing this'.
"It is the people's choice. I am supposed to be a conduit for people's choice. I am not supposed to be a barrier.
"The opinion of the electorate is more important than my opinion."
Mr Chorley also defended Mr Katter's decision to preference Labor in other seats, saying a lopsided parliament was in no-one's interest.
"We've got to have a balanced parliament," he said.
Mr Neumann told the QT he accepted Mr Chorley had made his decision in good faith and Labor did share policy agreement with the KAP on certain issues.
He said Mr Katter and Prime Minister Kevin Rudd had a good working relationship and the two parties shared common ground on industrial relations and support for rural communities.
Ms Harding said there was only one way to achieve a strong and united government and that was to vote for the LNP on election day.