FILE PHOTO: Zac and Tony Beers, AWU officials.
FILE PHOTO: Zac and Tony Beers, AWU officials. Kerry Thomas GLA250511CEME

Union man aged 25 to take on O’Dowd at election

BATTLE lines are being drawn across Flynn as Labor and the LNP prepare to face off in Central Queensland at the Federal election, and it's Labor that has thrown the first punch. 

Union man Zac Beers was today named the Labor Party Candidate for the seat of Flynn and even sitting LNP member Ken O'Dowd has admitted the youngster will be a "formidable opponent".

But Mr Beers' comments weren't as reserved, labelling Mr O'Dowd and the LNP's performance "bitterly disappointing".  

Zac Beers is a Boyne Island local and the Australian Workers' Union organiser for Gladstone, along with his father Tony Beers who was elected to the union's executive branch in 2013.

In 2012 Mr Beers, 25, was elected Young Labor Delegate for Queensland and, following in his father's footsteps, has been heavily involved in the union movement.

Reporter Helen Spelitis explains why we can expect a battle for the seat of Flynn at the Federal election.

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The Flynn electorate will be a hotly contested seat which senior Labor figures have said will be essential to winning the election.

But it will be a challenge as the electorate is large and the regional areas are known to vote conservatively.

Ken O'Dowd said Mr Beers was a strong candidate, likely to run a campaign focused on jobs which will also make up the heart of Mr O'Dowd's platform.

"This election will be all about the economy and jobs," Mr O'Dowd said.

"So Zac already has some runs on the chalk board where that's concerned.

"We're likely to agree on the importance of protecting jobs in our coal mines and making sure the people of Gladstone maintain a high level of salary through the coal, aluminium and gas industries."

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Renewable energy and negative gearing will be the major points of difference, Mr O'Dowd said, if Mr Beers follows the party line and Bill Shorten's commitment to generating 50% of Australia's energy from renewable sources by 2030.

Mr Beers' comments about Ken O'Dowd weren't as kind. 

In a statement issued by the Labor Party Mr Beers said he was "bitterly disappointed" with the LNP, and Ken O'Dowd, saying the region had been let down by funding cuts and minimal investment in infrastructure.

"I've been bitterly disappointed with the Abbott-Turnbull government's failure to address secure employment and the loss of community services in our region - not to mention his ruthless cuts to health and education funding," Mr Beers said.  

Since the Flynn electorate, as it is today, was created it has been a tight contest between the two major parties.

It is considered a marginal seat, or swing seat, unlike the conservative stronghold of neighbouring Maranoa where Bruce Scott has held office since 1990.

In 2007, 95% of the voters turned out to the poll and there were fewer than 253 votes between the Nationals, contested by Glenn Churchill who is now taking a tilt at a spot on Gladstone Regional Council, and Labor's Chris Trevor.

Mr Trevor won the seat with a 7.88% swing, but couldn't hold it in 2010 when a 5.8% swing favoured Mr O'Dowd.

In 2013 voters had a choice of nine candidates including two independents.

Palmer United Party's Steve Ensby made the most traction of the smaller parties, landing 7908 votes, while the LNP surged ahead of Labor in the two-party-preferred vote by almost 10,000.

The Greens, Katter's Australian Party and the Rise Up Australia Party, a socially conservative party against abortion and same-sex marriage, have all confirmed they will run candidates.

However no names have been released.

Follow this reporter on Twitter @helenspelitis



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