Labor wants Antoniolli in Parliament
COUNCILLOR Andrew Antoniolli is being headhunted by the Labor Party to contest the next state election in the seat of Ipswich.
Cr Antoniolli, who represents division 7 on Ipswich City Council, is considered an ideal candidate by the party to take on sitting LNP member Ian Berry.
He was elected to council in March, 2000 at the age of 29 and was the second youngest councillor elected in the city's history.
With Labor pre-selections looming for the 2015 election, Labor's newly returned federal member for Blair Shayne Neumann said Cr Antoniolli would be "a formidable candidate and a very effective member if he put his hand up".
Cr Antoniolli confirmed to The QT that he had been approached to run.
"I've been approached by a number of people who I respect, both inside and outside of the party, to consider it," Cr Antoniolli said.
"Over the last couple of weeks those approaches have become more frequent. When people come to you expressing confidence in your ability to take on a role like that, it is very heart-warming.
"I am going to give it a lot of consideration and I won't make any decision without consulting with my family.
"I am born and bred here and my heart is in Ipswich. I have always been passionate and positive about the city and I have been very proud to have been part of an effective council team for 14 years...so there is a lot to consider."
Mr Berry said he would welcome Cr Antoniolli as an opponent rather than a "blow-in" candidate.
"I would much prefer a local candidate than what I call 'a fifo'....as in fly in and fly out," Mr Berry said.
"Peter Beattie was a fifo. He had no connection with the seat of Forde other than having his brother's house or something down there.
"Ipswich deserves more than that. I would certainly welcome anybody who is prepared to talk about policy rather than people...somebody who is prepared to play the ball and not the man."
Mr Berry took the Ipswich seat from sitting Labor MP Rachel Nolan in the 2012 state election. He took 36% of the vote, with Ms Nolan trailing well behind on 31%.
Mr Neumann said Cr Antoniolli had "a proven track record of being successful electorally in Ipswich".
"His whole council division is entirely inside the state seat of Ipswich," he said.
"Andrew has higher name recognition than the member for Ipswich and he has been far more effective as a representative of the people than the current member of Ipswich."
Mr Neumann said pre-selections in the seats of Ipswich and Ipswich West were "imminent" and he said he believed Premier Campbell Newman would call an early election.
"There are a number of people who have expressed their interest and the people who have put their hands up are an impressive selection of candidates," he said.
"The branch members in Ipswich and Ipswich West will have about 50% of the votes and 50% will be from the Electoral College which is made up of officials and union representatives.
"I think it is possible that Campbell Newman will want to go to the polls in the first half of next year because I am expecting a very tough mini-budget from the incoming Federal Coalition government with cuts to funding, services and jobs in the mini-budget in May of next year."
Councillor Paul Tully said Cr Antoniolli would make a "very dynamic and energetic member for the seat of Ipswich".
"He is quick thinking, he is across his portfolio and he has a good understanding of community needs," Cr Tully said
"He is regarded as a popular local member."