Outgoing Queensland ALP assistant state secretary Terry Wood has defended himself against claims of incompetence during the March election campaign and suggested state secretary Anthony Chisholm was responsible for the debacle that delayed the party’s postal vote roll-out.

In an email to colleagues last Sunday announcing his departure, Wood blamed the Right for undermining him and says he has stood down in the interests of his own faction. Wood was blunt about Chisholm’s responsibility for the delay in the critical postal vote mailout until the second week of the campaign:

The decision to run an unaddressed mail postal vote campaign was not mine.  My preference as always was for a direct mail strategy.

The Campaign Director was advised that there were going to be problems with Australia Post if an early election was called.  They proceeded anyway.

Australia Post was unable to deliver on a number of commitments because of this, and the campaign suffered.  I acted as liaison to Aust Post and kept the Campaign Director fully briefed as the campaign progressed.

Party sources have also suggested Chisholm, running his first campaign, fell out with Mike Kaiser, Anna Bligh’s chief-of-staff and primary campaign strategist. Both were on the central campaign committee, along with Bligh, Bruce Hawker, former Jim Elder adviser Ken McPherson, consultant and ex-State Secretary Cameron Milner, Deputy Premier Paul Lucas and Treasurer Andrew Fraser.

However, another, senior source says the “falling out” was more to do with the clash of styles between Kaiser and Chisholm, who is more in the young gun style of Kevin Rudd’s chief of staff Alister Jordan; indeed, Rudd is said to have insisted despite the election result that Chisholm remain in place. Tensions were also exacerbated by Kaiser’s insistence on running the campaign himself, as he had done for Morris Iemma in NSW in 2007, although in that case he worked closely with the rather more formidable then-NSW state secretary Mark Arbib.

Now speculation is focusing on Wood’s replacement as assistant state secretary. Former Bligh adviser Jacqui Trad is being prepared for the role by the Premier, according to one source, but senior figures deny this. “The ETU (Electrical Trades Union) is pushing Jacqueline King,” they told Crikey. The ETU was defeated in its efforts to overturn Bligh’s privatization proposals at last month’s party conference and King, a former ACTU official, is said to be hard Left and “real Trades Hall stuff”.

In the seemingly increasingly unlikely event the next Federal election is close, the capacity of Queensland Labor to deliver an better campaign performance than it provided during the state election in March might be the difference in a comfortable election night for Rudd or a nailbiter, given the number of marginals Labor snatched off the Coalition in 2007. But the Coalition has deep problems of its own in the Sunshine State and has yet to work out quite how it will go about running a campaign for two separate parties.