Labor and the LNP are battling it out in the health sector heartland of Stafford in Brisbane’s north, ahead of next weekend’s bellwether by-election.
Job cuts in Queensland Health could sound the death knell for the Liberal National Party in the Stafford by-election next weekend.
Labor launched its campaign on Sunday in the northern Brisbane suburb that it hopes to snatch back from the LNP.
Its candidate, maxillofacial surgeon Dr Anthony Lynham, says the community has been the hardest hit by the government’s 4000-plus job losses.
The electorate is home to the highest concentration of health professionals in Queensland.
The Royal Brisbane Hospital lies on one side of Stafford and the Prince Charles hospital on the other. Together they have suffered 670 job losses under the Newman government, Dr Lynham says.
“I never thought I’d run for politics, but I couldn’t sit back any more,” he said.
“I want to join you in a fight that you all know too well – cuts to health, education and inaction against violence in our community.
“[Premier] Campbell Newman and the LNP are not listening to this community.”
Labor lost Stafford to the LNP in 2012.
Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk says the party needs to overcome the 7.1 per cent margin but hopes voters will punish the LNP for its arrogance.
“The Stafford by-election is a test of Campbell Newman’s leadership,” she said.
The LNP is also fielding a health professional candidate, psychologist Bob Andersen.
Mr Newman doorknocked with Dr Andersen on Sunday afternoon and told locals the LNP had cut crime levels, created jobs and improved hospital waiting times.
“We’ve had a very positive response,” Mr Newman said.
“Bob is very much the underdog, it’s really an uphill battle.
“By-elections have that history for the government.”
There have been 16 Queensland state by-elections since 1992, seven of which have led to the defeat of the defending party.
The last by-election, held in Redcliffe in February 2014, produced a 17.3 per cent swing against the Newman government, the largest swing against a government in 22 years.