Political donations, bikies, debt and jobs dominate debate
IT took political donations linked to motorbike gangs to fire up tonight's leadership debate.
Opposition leader Annastacia Palaszczuk and Queensland Premier Campbell Newman went head to head at a televised people's forum in Brisbane, hoping to sway undecided voters in the last week of the election campaign.
It was a tale of two very different performers - a polished debater with media savvy in one corner and a less experienced - occasionally passionate - party leader in the other.
While Ms Palaszczuk had moments of fire, she stumbled over all questions relating to policy.
She was unable to give financial detail backing up her party's election commitments on no asset scales, writing down debt and creating more jobs.
Mr Newman, on the other hand, delivered his party's platform with aplomb as he fielded questions - some of them emotive - on everything from gay marriage to the health system.
But one audience member's questions about the Fitzgerald inquiry into Queensland political corruption took the premier off guard.
After promising to sign up to Fitzgerald's proposed political accountability principles, he accused Labor of taking back-door donations from motorbike gangs via the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union.
"There are very well-known links between the unions and the Labor party," Mr Newman said.
"So we know the criminal motorcycle gangs are backing you (Labor).
"How do you know they have made no donations to the CFMEU and that's (not) coming through to you?
'Have you got clean money?"
Ms Palaszczuk blasted Mr Newman's claims, saying they were "ridiculous" and political parties needed to raise money.
She said there was nothing wrong with donations as long as they were open and accountable.
"Ours (donations) are declared," she countered.
"One thousand dollars and over is declared.
"Yours are not declared."
The debate was held before 100 undecided voters.
The end result - 48% backed Mr Newman, 26% supported Ms Palaszczuk and 26% were undecided
Here are the highlights of tonight's debate. You can join the conversation on Twitter using #APNdebate
WILL it be riveting TV or a snore-fest?
Tonight's leadership debate on Sky News will be a battle of wills between a polished media performer and an opposition leader finding her feet in the world of television.
Premier Campbell Newman and Labor Party head Annastacia Palaszczuk go head-to-head in what will hopefully be a no holds barred face-off on the big Queensland election issues.
The one-hour live debate, billed as a people's forum in front of 100 undecided voters, kicks off at 7pm.
The event will follow a 30-minute political panellist discussion and a post-show determining whether or not the audience was influenced by the messages from the leaders and how they would vote.
Moderated by Sky political editor David Speers, the broadcast will feature questions from the audience, which was chosen by Galaxy Research.
The complete two-hour broadcast will not feature the usual TV election gimmicks such as worms.
Worms, common in televised election events since 2007, is an analytical line-graph tool that shows audience reactions.
Central Queensland University Professional Communications lecturer Celeste Lawson said she expected the debate to be anything but dull.
"Because it is shaping up to be quite a tight election it will be something that viewers will be quite interested in," Dr Lawson said.
"People will want to see the strong leadership.
"They want to see who is going to the person who will be able to lead the state.
"There hasn't been a lot of evidence from Annastacia Palaszczuk - because her party's been so small - to show whether or not she's got the capability of leading the state - people will be interested to see that and it is her opportunity to show that she is able to lead."
Dr Lawson said Mr Newman's extensive media experience would stand him in good stead this evening.
"Campbell Newman has had more experience because he has been a leader of such a dominant party," she said.
"And Annastacia Palaszczuk has not yet had the opportunity yet to be that polished performer."
Speers, tonight's host, said the debate would give undecided voters a way forward when they hit the polls on January 31.
"It's completely unscripted and the questions unfiltered," Speers said.
"I believe it's an important way of helping voters decide who is best for the job."
Viewers can expect Mr Newman too push his strong choices agenda.
While this media team was reluctant to discuss how the debate would go, one of his spokesman offered this glimpse of what viewers could expect: "The Premier is looking forward to discussing the LNP's long-term economic plan for Queensland and our commitment to create 209,000 new jobs and 12,000 new apprenticeships."
Labor's insiders said the oppostition leader would focus on jobs.
"Tonight's debate will be another opportunity to speak with Queenslanders about Labor's plans to address the rising unemployment rate under the LNP that now sits at 6.6% and a youth unemployment rate of over 20% in some parts of Queensland," a spokesman said.
- APN NEWSDESK