Thursday, August 8, 2013

Kevin Rudd confirms Peter Beattie will run as Labor candidate for Queensland ... - ABC Local

Updated August 08, 2013 16:37:39

Labor's new star candidate, former Queensland premier Peter Beattie, says he is standing in the federal seat of Forde to "keep the bastards honest" and has declared himself the "underdog" in the race. 

Mr Beattie was one of Queensland's most popular premiers and retired in 2007 after nine years in the job. 

The seat of Forde, covering parts of Logan, south of Brisbane, has regularly switched between the two major parties and is currently held by the Liberal National Party on a margin of 1.6 per cent.

"I'm not taking anything for granted," he said in a press conference, flanked by his wife Heather and the Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

"This'll be the toughest fight that I've ever been in in my political career. 

"I'm not the favourite in this seat. I am the underdog in this seat. I have a battle ahead of me."

Mr Rudd phoned his new recruit a couple of nights ago to offer him the seat. 

Brushing aside questions about whether he had disregarded his own pledge to give rank and file members more say, the Prime Minister declared Mr Beattie was "rolled gold Queensland" and one of the state's "great sons". 

"I don't think it's any great mystery that we have here an enormous asset to the Labor Party and Peter has made it known to many of us over the years he was interested also in a possible career in federal politics," Mr Rudd said.

Pre-selected candidate Des Hardman stands aside

Labor's former candidate Des Hardman released a statement earlier today saying he was standing aside "in the interest of ensuring a Labor victory" - a decision that earned him praise from the Prime Minister.

"Standing down to make room for Peter Beattie has been a hard decision for him and demonstration of his true Labor values," Mr Rudd said.

Mr Beattie said he is making his comeback to politics because he wanted to "see Queensland get a fair go".

"The Labor Party has seven seats in the State Parliament. We have eight seats in the Federal Parliament. That's simply not fair," he said.

"And everybody knows that if you don't have balance in politics, there's no-one to keep the bastards honest. And that's the concern.

"If Tony Abbott wins this federal election, we'll have wall-to-wall LNP from one end of Queensland to the other. That's just not fair and it's just not good for Queensland."

Mr Beattie has been a frequent commentator on the leadership wranglings of federal Labor, often criticising Mr Rudd for a "lack of political judgement".

The Prime Minister acknowledged the two have had "the odd stoush in the past".

"Guess what? For me it's water off a duck's back. It doesn't really matter," Mr Rudd said.

"What unites us as a team are our core and continuing values - a strong economy and a fair go for all."

Mr Rudd has pointed to the former state leader's record on lowering unemployment.

"This is a premier who knows that jobs are absolutely central to economic management," Mr Rudd said.

"He has a proud record of investment in our schools and in our hospitals. 

"Peter Beattie stands in stark contrast to the bloke who's currently running Queensland who has had one core agenda which is simply to slash and burn basic services." 

The move to recruit Mr Beattie to federal Labor is seen as a direct challenge to current Premier Campbell Newman, who has been criticised for cutting public service jobs.

Campbell Newman ridicules Peter Beattie's return

In State Parliament Mr Newman ridiculed the move, colourfully likening Peter Beattie's return to one movie about a dead person who is propped up as if he is still alive, and another - the Back to the Future.

"They've dusted him off, they've dragged him out of the cupboard, they've propped him up in a corner, it's sort of like Weekend at Bernie's," he said.

"Charge up the flux capacitor, he's back, it's back to the future with Peter Beattie, charge it up."

In his first act as the new candidate for Forde, Mr Beattie moved into his brother's house in the electorate with his wife Heather this morning.

"If I am fortunate enough to be elected as the member for Forde, I will be buying and moving into the electorate immediately," he said.

He says he will happily sit as a "humble" backbencher if he wins the seat.

"As all of you know I've been humble all my life and that humility will continue," he said, prompting laughter.

Federal Labor is confident his entrance to the race will boost the party's chances, not only in Forde, but across the state.

The Coalition has argued that Mr Beattie's presence in Parliament will create new Labor leadership tensions.

"We've already got one narcissistic egomaniac from Queensland in the federal parliament we hardly need two," Opposition education spokesman Christopher Pyne said on Sky TV earlier today.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has described him as a "flim flam" man.

"The Australian public are not fools. They're not going to buy Kevin Rudd's tricks twice, and they're not going to buy Peter Beattie's tricks twice because let's face it he was a flim flam man," he said.

Queensland seats key to Labor's election strategy

Mr Beattie's return will intensify the focus on Queensland, where Labor is hoping to win seats to counter expected Coalition wins, including the seats held by former independents Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott.

Mr Beattie, 60, served as Queensland premier for nine years, and led the Labor Party in the state for 11.5 years.

He was one of the state's most popular premiers, and his leadership largely withstood controversies over electoral fraud and the health system.

The self-confessed media "tart" was never far from the spotlight; he once swam in a shark tank in the lead up to a state election campaign.

After quitting as premier six years ago, Mr Beattie's successor Anna Bligh appointed him to the post of Queensland's Trade and Investment Commissioner in Los Angeles.

Mr Beattie, who follows Bob Carr as a former state premier entering federal politics, has previously said he did not aspire to federal politics as he loves Queensland and Canberra is "too cold".

The seat of Forde has regularly switched between the major parties since it was created in 1984.

Labor last won the seat in 2007, with candidate Brett Raguse. But he lost to the Liberal National Party in 2010.

Topics: alp, political-parties, government-and-politics, federal-government, federal-elections, qld, logan-central-4114, beenleigh-4207, australia

First posted August 08, 2013 14:54:45
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