Test of Premier’s authority begins

ONLINE voting in Labor's contentious Rockhampton preselection battle opens today, with Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk's "captain's pick" Margaret Strelow vowing to accept the vote of the local branch members.

Labor's administrative committee this morning decided to open the voting today and close it on Friday afternoon.

Cr Strelow is battling against the Old Guard's pick Barry O'Rourke to replace outgoing former Minister Bull Byrne in the central Queensland seat.

Mr O'Rourke was defiantly championed by the Old Guard in a bid to ensure the seat remains in the faction's hands.

The result has the potential to embarrass Ms Palaszczuk if her call for Cr Strelow - currently aligned to the Right faction - to be the candidate is shunned.

Cr Strelow has emailed branch members asking for their support and repeating warnings the electorate could fall to One Nation.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk with Rockhampton Mayor Margaret Strelow
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk with Rockhampton Mayor Margaret Strelow

"Make no mistake, in this One Nation fuelled political environment Labor cannot take the seat of Rockhampton for granted. It's going to be a tough fight. One we cannot afford to lose," she wrote.

"That's why last Friday, with the Premier's public support, I decided to nominate to be your Labor Candidate for Rockhampton.

"Importantly, I have come to the conclusion that I will only accept the nomination with the majority support of the local branch membership. While I am grateful for the support of the Premier, I believe this is the right thing to do.

"Now it's over to you. The power is in your hands to make this ultimate decision about who will represent Labor as the next candidate for Rockhampton.

"I believe the collective decision of the local membership will ultimately get it right.

"I will continue to talk and meet with local branch members over the coming days as we work to keep the seat of Rockhampton in Labor hands."

Both the branch and Labor's electoral college - which includes the Premier and a mix of unions - will cast votes.


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