Nine things to know about Campbell Newman

The man who toppled Anna Bligh will have to call on all his ambition and self-belief to deal with hefty problems of his own, including the expectations of Clive Palmer.

The Power Index

Queensland's next premier is a very brave man who's not short of answers to the state's key problems. But Campbell Newman's got problems of his own: ranging from Labor MP Kate Jones to the LNP's key party donor, Clive Palmer.

He's brave

That's for sure. Newman gave up a plum job as Lord Mayor of Brisbane last year to be LNP leader and now, Queensland premier. That's ambition, or a passion to serve the public, writ large.

He's not short

Well, he is. We lied about that one. He's smaller than current premier Anna Bligh. But he's not short of answers to Queensland's problems, the main one being that Labor has been running the state for nearly 14 years and everyone is sick of them. His answer, of course, is Campbell Can Do.

He's wasn't certain to get elected

Winning the Brisbane seat of Ashgrove was a tough task given he needed a massive swing of 7.1 per cent and had to beat popular Labor MP, Kate Jones, who resigned from her ministerial job in June 2001 and has been working full-time since then to retain the seat. As late as last week, Jones was in the lead. 

He's got problems

Newman has been the target of a concerted Labor smear campaign, and some of the mud has stuck. The latest allegation is that Newman's election fund received $72,000 from a Brisbane property developer, Philip Usher, before Usher's company won approval for a city high-rise project. 

Previously, it was revealed that two of Newman's aides made money out of a separate Brisbane property development approved by council. Last week, Newman was cleared on all counts by Queensland's Crime and Misconduct Commission. 

He's got big problems

Clive Palmer is the LNP's biggest backer, and that's a problem for any leader. The mining tycoon has given the LNP and its coalition partners close to $1 million a year for the last three years. So Newman will need to listen. But, asked last week about Clive's theories on the CIA killing our coal industry, Newman told the ABC, "You know what, I really don't know. I'm just ... I've really got nothing to add. I've never heard it before ... It's got nothing to do with myself and this campaign, I can tell you that." Watch out, Campbell, you may be hearing from him soon.

He's a fighter

Newman graduated from the Royal Military College at Duntroon, where he was mates with fellow officer cadet, Andrew Wilkie, of pokie reform and Iraq War fame. His old friend describes Newman as "very driven, very intelligent and very, very conservative". And they now disagree on almost everything.

He's got political pedigree

Campbell is the son of two Liberal politicians, Kevin and Jocelyn Newman, who were friends with John Howard. And he has no love for Labor. "I hate what they've done to Queensland," he told journalist Frank Robson last year. "And I hate their lies and deception." 

He's got nicknames

At Duntroon they called him Noddy. His 2004 electoral slogan was Can Do. Others call him the Energiser Bunny because he never stops moving.

He likes to get his way

"Campbell's self-belief is so strong it permits no dissent," says Brisbane Labor councillor David Hinchliffe. "He just can't believe anyone could disagree with him." An ex-LNP councillor who was forced out of the party by Newman in 2009 puts it more bluntly. "If you disagree with his views, he isn't a democrat but a dictator," Nicole Johnston told Robson.

This is an edited version of an article that first appeared on The Power Index on March 23. Republished with permission.

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