THE LNP campaign for the seat of Kennedy in the state’s North West is gaining traction with a strong local candidate and a Coalition focus on developing the region posing a gathering challenge to the traditional stronghold of Bob Katter.
Voters across the Kennedy electorate have express shock this week that Mr Katter would announce a preference deal with Labor, the same government which controversially suspended the live export trade in 2011.
Labor and KAP are also expected to swap preferences in regional Queensland marginal seats including Herbert (held by LNP with a 2.2 per cent margin), Hinkler (LNP by 10.4 per cent), Flynn (LNP by 3.6 per cent) and Capricornia (Labor by 3.7 per cent).
However, on the campaign hustings, Noeline Ikin, who was born and raised in Mareeba and resides in Georgetown, has spent months travelling the length and breadth of the vast electorate espousing the Coalition’s solid plan to capitalise on the economic potential of the north with more jobs, better infrastructure and improved health services.
On the campaign trail for more than three months, Mrs Ikin has proven to possess an obsession with policy detail – she is prone to spending hours with constituents explaining and listening to the details of the northern economic development plan which will see international exports from the region expand to $150 billion annually.
Among the business owners who took an interest in the LNP campaign were Raveshoe butchers Dick and Tracy Jensen.
Mr Jensen comes from a long line of butchers and is passionate about supporting local agriculture. Among the supplies in their shop are milk, eggs and fish from local producers.
“It seems ridiculous that local growers have to send their produce to Brisbane and then it gets freighted back to the North. We prefer to get it directly local because it is fresher and a better quality product for our customers,” Mr Jensen said.
“I once discovered our bread crumbs were coming from England and it took me a week to get over it. I was so angry about it.”
The Jensen family also own two properties less than 20km outside Ravenshoe where they breed and fatten their own Braford, Droughtmaster and Shorthorn composites for slaughter.
Mr Jensen said they supply about four bodies each week for their own store, which are also killed at their own slaughter yards, and carry out about three prime kills each week for properties as far away as Croydon and Georgetown.
“We try to produce the perfect product and we have a very loyal customers,” Mr Jensen said.
“All the station fellas reckon that for the price we charge they are better to bring their cattle down and let us butcher them. Otherwise they spend a day doing it themselves and their wives aren’t happy with their efforts.”
“We’ve had probably three returns in the past 10 years and two of those were from the same bloke. But we took the meat he complained about and had it for dinner and I can tell you there was nothing wrong with it.”
Mrs Jensen said voters were turning away from Bob Katter because he had not delivered for the North West during his two decades in Canberra.
“The Coalition has recognised the huge economic potential for Northern Australia and that’s why it is so important Kennedy voters elect someone who can be part of the Abbott government,” she said.
“I have lived and worked in this region for my entire life and I know what needs to be done to bring real change.”
“I will not take a backwards step in making sure the North West gets the crucial roads, rail, health services and employment it deserves.”