August 29, 2013 – 3:56PM
brisbanetimes.com.au senior reporter
Steve Cole from Alderley. Photo: Tony Moore
If there is any lingering resentment over Queensland Premier Campbell Newman’s decision to cut 14,000 public sector jobs, it could be thrown into sharp relief in a particular Brisbane seat on September 7.
Liberal National Party MP Jane Prentice holds the federal seat of Ryan with a healthy margin of 7.2 per cent. Mr Newman’s state seat of Ashgrove falls within Ryan.
Could his cuts to the state public service cost Ms Prentice votes? Perhaps, if a handful of voters’ views on the issue is any guide.
Mitch Hammet from The Gap. Photo: Tony Moore
The state public sector cuts were raised – unprompted – by several Ryan voters on Wednesday.
Labor is seeking to capitalise on a potential backlash. The Coalition says 12,000 federal bureaucrats will go, while Labor contends its opponents will axe 20,000 public servants.
A large Labor sign at the intersection of Wardell Street and Samford Road at Alderley features the slogan “Newman’s cuts went deep, Abbott’s will go to the bone”. On the other side of the same sign is an election poster for Ms Prentice. All for motorists.
John Melloy from The Gap. Photo: Tony Moore
ReachTel polls in March 2013 showed a downturn in LNP support in Ashgrove, with Mr Newman’s vote dropping 8.7 points from 55.5 per cent after the March 2012 state election.
However, the seat of Ryan stretches well beyond Ashgrove and other issues, including the ALP’s economic performance and its decision to change prime ministers, were frequently raised.
Ryan stretches from Indoooroopilly and St Lucia in the south-east to Ferny Grove in the north, west to the Brisbane Forest Park and south to Moggill and Bellbowrie.
Allie Patterson from Indooroopilly. Photo: Tony Moore
While journalists usually refer to it as “leafy Ryan”, the seat is now crammed with busy inner-city traffic around Indooroopilly, Kenmore, Ashgrove, Alderley, The Gap and Ferny Grove. Today, Ryan is one of the Brisbane electorates where it is hard to get a car park.
Here are the views of 11 voters in the electorate on Wednesday.
“Debt, government debt,” is the most important thing for contractor Steve Cole, of Alderley. “And the general mismanagement. I’ll be voting for the Coalition.
“I’ve got eight blokes working for me and I just need some stability.”
Brooke Marien, of Ferny Grove, said he was dissatisfied with the way mental health was being treated by every political party.
“I think mental health needs to be addressed, no matter what,” he said.
The public transport services in Ferny Grove did not link up, he also said, suggesting that one form – either bus or rail – run longer on weekends, possibly 24 hours a day.
Marien is yet to make up his mind on how he will vote.
Alex Head, an engineer from Ferny Grove, said he was concerned at plans to remove carbon pricing, but healthcare and environmental issues were most important to him.
“Both of the major parties, I see them as much of a muchness,” he said.
“In theory I support the idea of taxing carbon and emissions, because we are in the 21st century and we really do need to start cleaning up our act.
“I believe that is one of the most important issues that this society faces in this day and age.”
Andrea Nicholls, of The Gap, said she was concerned about possible cuts to teachers for special needs programs and extended learning programs.
“Education is probably my main thing, environmental issues and releasing land for development,” she said.
“But I want to see the Gonski education package introduced. That is the strongest influence on my vote.”
Mitch Hammet, of The Gap, said maintaining jobs in the public service would decide his vote.
“Maintaining the jobs. Queensland has already axed a lot from the hospitals; they want to close down state schools,” he said.
Hammet said several of his friends had lost jobs in the Queensland public service revamp.
“My word. I think if we vote the same way at the federal level, I think it will give our state MPs a mandate to continue doing what they are now doing.”
John (Tony) Melloy, of The Gap, said economic management was the key for him.
“Generally, the correctness or otherwise of the claims that have been made [was important],” he said.
“I have no faith in the Labor Party with their past record and failure to deliver. I sort of lean towards the Liberals. I trust the economic management more from the Liberals.”
He said the turmoil that surrounds Labor’s Papua New Guinea asylum seeker policy also worried him because he served in PNG.
“I think there will be internal resistance to it in Papua New Guinea,” he said.
Melloy also said he had no doubt that people would find their way to North Queensland. “People regularly come across by small boat to the mainland and back again.”
Ros Marshall, of The Gap, said she was embarrassed by the fuss over refugees.
She said the two main parties were almost identical and education would decide her vote.
“I think it is a minor issue [immigration], but they are making it a major issue because we take so few [refugees],” she said.
“I think the people coming by boats is really a minor thing and I think we should be more generous and more helpful.”
She said the Greens had the best asylum seeker policy, but she would not vote for them. “I don’t think my vote will count if I vote for The Greens, so I will vote Labor but preference the Greens.”
At Bellbowrie, Tanja Ryan said the impact of Queensland government cutbacks would influence voters.
“There are a lot of ladies out here who work for the government and I know a lot of them have lost hours,” she said. “And some of them have been working them for years.
“What do they do when they turn 50? Who is going to give them a job when they have been doing the same job for 25 years? It is not easy being a 50-year-old lady and going for a job. Even young people are finding it hard.”
Mary Fisher, of Chapel Hill, said Prime Minister Kevin Rudd spoke like a statesman, which was important in an international setting.
“He knows how to speak, he thinks about everything that comes out of his mouth,” she said.
“I don’t not get that impression from Mr Abbott.”
However, she said the most important thing was job security “because so many people are losing their jobs; in Brisbane City Council, in our hospitals”.
Ms Fisher said she would not support the LNP because of the Queensland government’s public service job cuts.
“I am not going to support that party at all. It is not only my family, it is all around you. You just have to look around you.”
At Indooroopilly and St Lucia, the electorate has many young students. Environmental science student Daniel Jonas, 20, of Indooroopilly, said few of the announcements during the campaign had interested him.
He said carbon pricing was in place in many parts of the world. “I have actually studied this and, in theory, it looks all right,” he said.
“If they can pull it off and do it right, it is going to be good. I think it is the right way to go, but they just have to be careful the way they go about it.”
First-time voter Allie Patterson, 18, of Indooroopilly, said she was looking at the Greens policy on asylum seekers because she thought processing people in Australia was a better policy.
“I have not really decided my vote,” she said. “Everything just seems to be about Tony Abbott and Kevin Rudd and not about the parties at all.”
- Population 148,092
- Median age: 31
- Median rent: $375 a week
- Median mortgage: $2167 a month
- Families: 37,786
- Jane Prentice won the seat of Ryan for the LNP at the 2010 election. Before that she was Brisbane City Council’s chairwoman of Public and Active Transport, elected as a Brisbane City councillor in 2000, 2004 and 2008.
- Labor’s candidate against Jane Prentice is public servant Damien Hamwood, who has resigned from the Education Department where he worked in the information technology area.
- The Greens are standing health researcher Charles Worringham, who investigates Parkinson’s disease.
- The man who runs Clive Palmer’s car museum on the Sunshine Coast, Craig Gunnis, is the Palmer United Party’s candidate.
- Peter Walker, an aircraft maintenance engineer working at Brisbane Airport, is running for Katter’s Australian Party.
- Michael Sweedman is studying chemistry at the University of Queensland and is running for the Secular Party, which believes party policies should not be influenced by religion.
- Lisa Demedio is the candidate for Family First.
In the last federal election (two-party preferred):
(LNP) Jane Prentice: 50,896 votes; 57.2 per cent, up six per cent.
(ALP) Steven Miles: 38,138 votes; 42.8 per cent, down six per cent.
(Australian Electoral Commission)