Kevin Rudd has picked an interesting fight on the first day of his “listening tour” in Queensland. Announcing that Labor needs to win a minimum of twelve seats in Qld to win the next election, he started by antagonising Australia’s most successful premier when he announced a “thorough investigation into the Traveston Dam”?

The unpopular Dam was put forward by the Beattie government in an attempt to drought-proof a very dry south east corner of Queensland. The minister currently in charge of this project is premier in waiting, Anna Bligh.

Having taken the dam to the September election Beattie and Bligh will be feeling more than a little aggrieved at Rudd for sticking his nose in. Queensland epitomises the challenge that Labor has faced over the last ten years when constituents vote strongly for Labor in state elections and then turn around and vote for the Coalition in federal elections.

The Mary Valley that is to be flooded to form the dam is in the safe Nationals seat of Wide Bay held for the last 16 years by Warren Truss. Only just up the road in Bundeberg however is Hinkler, held by the Nats Paul Neville by a much smaller margin. To the north is the Labor seat of Capricornia.

This part of Queensland is expanding rapidly with southern immigrants. South of Wide Bay is changing even more quickly with Sunshine Coast electorates of Fairfax, Fisher and Blair, currently all safe Lib seats.

With the environment a much bigger issue than last election, Rudd seems to have few qualms about taking on his state mates if he thinks it’ll give him an edge.

Peter Fray

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