Newman banks on unpopular policy to win

Labor has just nine MPs in Queensland's 89-member parliament, but the Premier's plan to privatise assets – including electricity generators and retailer Ergon Energy – is opposed by up to the three-quarters of voters.

AAP

Queensland's premier is determined to stake his political future on an unpopular cause.

Three-quarters of the state's voters, in a Galaxy poll, have indicated they are opposed to the government's plan to privatise ports, power generators and an electricity retailer.

But Campbell Newman has given another hint the Liberal National Party will go to the 2015 election promising privatisation.

Asset sales were the best way to fund roads, schools and hospitals, he told reporters this week.

"We're not doing it for fun. We're doing it because it's the right thing to take Queensland forward," Newman declared as he announced a series of Sunshine Coast road projects.

Sticking to script, the premier also recited the government's "strong choices" slogan to describe the art of making an unpopular decision.

This slogan has featured on controversial $6 million government ads, which argue asset sales are better than cuts to services as a way of paying down public debt.

"I've never been happy with the idea of some of these very important and strong decisions," he said.

"I'm duty-bound to say that if we want great infrastructure in this state, if we want the roads and hospitals, schools, community facilities that this state deserves, then we do have to make some of these strong choices."

A day after that media conference, the Queensland Council of Unions said it would target 17 key seats, including the premier's inner-Brisbane electorate of Ashgrove, in a bid to punish it over privatisation.

"We will be asking Queenslanders to put the LNP last, which is exactly where Campbell Newman is putting them," council president John Battams said.

As prime minister in 1998, John Howard campaigned to introduce an unpopular 10 per cent GST.

His coalition lost 14 seats when standing for re-election, and retained power with a minority of the popular vote only two years after a landslide win.

But polls still showed Howard retained a double-digit lead over his Labor opponent, Kim Beazley, in the preferred PM stakes.

Newman isn't nearly as popular. The LNP leader was preferred by 42 per cent of voters in the latest Galaxy poll, compared with 41 per cent who wanted Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk to be premier.

Labor has just nine MPs in the 89-member parliament, but the poll of 800 voters showed it could claw back support next year.

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