ANALYSIS: Ditching Tracey Cameron was about more than coal
TRACEY Cameron's resignation as the Labor Party's state election candidate for the key seat of Whitsunday sent the rumour mill into overdrive.
But to be fair, the writing was on the wall long before that.
As the gossip began swirling, all it took was a statement from Dawson MP George Christensen to cut through the noise.
Mr Christensen claimed Ms Cameron didn't resign, but was unceremoniously "ditched" due to her stance on coal.
Ms Cameron agreed with his comments, but later said her stance on other issues, such as agriculture, could have played a part as well.
But if coal was such a major issue to the party, why would Labor endorse pro-coal Mike Brunker as a candidate for the seat of Burdekin?
It doesn't really add up.
University of Queensland political expert Chris Salisbury doesn't buy the coal story either.
"There was probably a mix of reasons," Dr Salisbury said.
"Perhaps there has been some internal party polling done in Whitsunday and presumably other seats up north that indicated there wasn't a great deal of candidate cut through."
Dr Salisbury believes the crucial nature of the Whitsunday seat was likely the determining factor in the decision to replace Ms Cameron with Cannonvale State School principal Angie Kelly.
"Both the LNP, who had held this seat for some time now, but also Labor, will be gunning for that seat purely because the major parties know they have to hold or gain seats like this to have a chance at winning government," he said.
"This kind of seat, held by a disenfranchised former LNP member, they will both be targeting to win.
"What makes Whitsunday of interest to the major parties is, it's held on a very tight margin, so all players will be pulling out all stops to win this because so many marginal seats are going to be crucial to whoever ends up forming government."
As for "hand-picked" newcomer Ms Kelly, Dr Salisbury said there was a lot riding on her shoulders.
"The Premier will no doubt see this new candidate as critical to Labor's chances," he said.
"Parties make these calls from time to time, but they can fall either way depending on how that plays out with local branch members in the seat."