Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Kevin Rudd presents former premier Peter Beattie as new candidate for Forde - The Australian

Chris Kenny and Troy Bramston dissect the big political stories of the day from the election campaign.

Former Queensland Premier Peter Beattie will stand for the federal seat of Forde in the upcoming election.

Former Queensland premier Peter Beattie receives his Order of Australia at Government House in Canberra last year. Picture: Kym Smith Source: TheAustralian

FORMER Queensland premier Peter Beattie admits he and Kevin Rudd have had their differences but he's standing for federal parliament to try to prevent conservative domination of the state.

The former Labor leader has been preselected to run in the Liberal National Party-held marginal seat of Forde, south of Brisbane, in a move that has energised the ALP camp.

Mr Beattie revealed that the Prime Minister rang him in the United States several days ago and asked him to run. After consulting his wife Heather, who once said she would murder him if he ran for Canberra, he agreed.

Mr Beattie says he faces a tough fight to capture the seat, but he's already moved into his brother's house in Forde and he'll be focusing his campaigning efforts on the electorate, held by the LNP with a margin of 1.6 per cent.

"If elected I will buy and move to the electorate immediately," Mr Beattie, who was premier of Queensland for nine years before retiring in 2007, said when presented by Mr Rudd today as the new, star Labor candidate.

Mr Beattie said one of the reasons he is running is because he wants to see Queensland get a fair go.

"If Tony Abbott wins this election we'll have wall-to-wall LNP from one end of Queensland to the other," he said in Beenleigh.

"That's just not fair and it's just not good for Queensland."

Labor is desperate to make gains in Queensland to offset anticipated losses in NSW, where the Labor brand is at rock bottom.

But Mr Beattie's move came as the Coalition claimed internal polling showed the ALP was not ahead in any of the key seats in Queensland.

The Coalition quickly sought to exploit Mr Beattie's sometimes damning criticism of Mr Rudd after he was removed as prime minister.

Standing alongside the Prime Minister, Mr Beattie admitted the two had had their differences, but he praised Mr Rudd's "guts" to rise above that and invite him to stand.

Earlier, introducing Mr Beattie, Mr Rudd said: "I'm Kevin, I'm from Queensland and I'm here to help," he said. "His name's Peter, he's from Queensland and he's here to help as well."

The Prime Minister also admitted he and Mr Beattie had "had the odd stoush" over their political careers.

"That's life in the Labor party," Mr Rudd said, adding any past criticism was "water off a duck's back".

In the past, Mr Beattie had called for Mr Rudd not to contest the federal Labor leadership against Julia Gillard.

He now says it's probably good Mr Rudd didn't take his advice.

"I am delighted to see this election is a contest," Mr Beattie said.

Mr Beattie said he would serve a full term if Labor lost government and was "happy to be a humble backbencher".

"As all of you know, I have been humble all my life and that humility will continue," he joked.

Mr Beattie said he'd been "terrified" when he broached the subject with his wife, who once threatened to measure him for a coffin if he ever ran again.

But Heather Beattie said: "We had some discussion about it and I agreed with Peter that we needed to put Australia first.

"That's why I'm happy to support him and support the Prime Minister."

Labor strategists are now preparing to ramp up the party's campaign in Queensland, claiming the Campell Newman government, with its surprise public service cuts and post-election commission of audit, will be a template for an Abbott administration.

Tony Abbott today dismissed Mr Beattie's entry into the election campaign, saying the Coalition had nothing to fear from a man with a legendary ego who left Queensland's finances in disarray when he retired from politics in 2007, after winning three state elections.

"(He's) another flim-flam man who hit people with record debt and deficit, who is just going to add to the leadership instability inside the Labor Party," the Opposition Leader said.

"You might say to me `Am I worried about Peter Beattie?', Of course not. But I bet Kevin Rudd is."

Opposition frontbencher Christopher Pyne said: "The truth is Peter Beattie and Kevin Rudd despise each other. It's like the mongoose and the cobra."

But Labor figures were ecstatic at Mr Beattie's entry into the campaign.

"That's very exciting news," Trade Minister Richard Marles told Sky TV.

"Peter Beattie is one of the most formidable politicians that Labor has in this country. He was a great premier in Queensland, he would make an enormous contribution to a federal Labor government.

"He is obviously a very popular figure in Queensland and you've got to think that in a seat like Forde he's going to make a real difference."

Labor strategists are now chalking up Forde, held by the LNP's Bert van Manen, as a likely gain. Mr Beattie will replace already-preselected ALP candidate Des Hardman.

Mr Hardman today said he was disappointed not to have a chance at representing Forde, but his main concern was a Labor election victory.

"I am standing aside as a candidate in the interest of ensuring a Labor victory," he said in a statement.

"While I am personally disappointed that I will not have an opportunity to stand as the Labor candidate in Forde, my primary concern has always been a Labor victory. I wish every success to the Labor campaign for Forde."

Mr Rudd paid tribute to Mr Hardman, saying agreeing to stand aside was a "true demonstration of his Labor values".

The Newman government also went on the attack, with Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney describing Mr Beattie as "the king of bulldust" who bequeathed a legacy of crisis.

"That was at the heart of the financial problems that Queensland suffers to today and will suffer for generations to come," Mr Seeney told parliament.

Queensland Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk said LNP taunts about Mr Beattie showed it was worried.

"He is one of the best campaigners the state has ever seen," she said.

A year ago Mr Palaszczuk said it had never crossed her mind Mr Beattie would make a comeback.

"Anything is possible in Queensland, especially Queensland politics, and especially when Peter Beattie is involved."

In June 2010, Mr Beattie said Mr Rudd's "poor political judgment" was his "fatal flaw".

"(It) was demonstrated in the introduction of the mining tax without proper consultation, the backflip on timing of the emissions trading scheme and the bungled home insulation program. His failure to listen to a broad range of advice particularly on issues in which he had little expertise also demonstrated poor judgment," Mr Beattie said.
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