There’s so much going on in Queensland at the moment that a progressively updated post on developments seems in order, starting with the relevant entries from last night’s general post.

Monday, February 23

• Missed a spot from Steven Wardill’s Courier-Mail report on Chris Bombolas’s departure from Chatsworth: “Frontrunners to replace Mr Bombolas include his electorate officer Margaret Young and Police Minister Judy Spence’s policy adviser Simon Tutt.”

• Chris Pianta, who as of 2005 was Bundaberg secretary of the Australian Federated Union of Locomotive Employees, has been nominated as Labor’s candidate to run against Rob Messenger in Burnett.

• Déjà vu all over again: Pauline Hanson in shock comeback bid, and Greens threats to withhold preferences from Labor.

• Liberal National Party television ads viewable here.

Tony Raggatt of the Townsville Bulletin on Mandy Johnstone’s preselection win in Townsville:

Even in Labor circles, there are questions. Not the least of which is why Mike Reynolds suddenly changed his mind after only days before going to the expense of preparing his advertising material, including video shoots with the other Townsville Labor candidates. Mr Reynolds told the Townsville Bulletin he made the decision during the past week due to health problems and rejected any suggestion he had been pushed …

Another question surrounding the preselection is why Labor’s factional bosses in Brisbane preselected a Left candidate from the Nelson-Carr group which is so openly hostile with Reynolds’ own Left group … There is a split between the Socialist Left factions of Mike Reynolds and Lindy Nelson-Carr (there is also a separate Labor Left faction). The Nelson-Carr faction would appear to have won the day by gaining the Townsville seat with its candidate Mandy Johnstone, apparently a cousin of Ms Nelson-Carr, while the Reynolds’ hopeful, Cathy O’Toole, his sister-in-law, will have to wait her turn.

Sunday, February 22

• The latest from the Courier-Mail:

ON YOUR marks, get set . . . The 2009 election race is almost under way. All that’s required to start the contest proper is for Anna Bligh, above, to take a quick drive up Paddington’s Fernberg Rd to visit Government House. That road trip will almost certainly happen some time in the next 10 days, with some predicting she’ll visit the Governor on Monday for a March 21 poll. Or will she wait a week and pull the trigger on a March 28 election?

They’ll have to be right eventually.

• Madonna King in the Courier-Mail sees things from Anna Bligh’s perspective:

Of course we’re going to lose seats. We’ve been in power for 11 years for goodness sake. But the boys (advisers chief-of-staff Mike Kaiser, Treasurer Andrew Fraser and state secretary Anthony Chisholm) all reckon we can win Gladstone, Mirani and Burdekin … The redistribution should deliver Mirani and Burdekin, and Gladstone should never have gone to an Independent in the first place. And don’t forget Bundaberg. The LNP might have sneaked across the line there, but this was Labor’s heartland for a century … Chris Bombolas just handed Chatsworth to the LNP … And there are other seats looking bad, too. Hervey Bay, where that former mayor Ted Sorensen is in with a good chance; Pumicestone; Aspley; not to mention Indooroopilly … Cleveland, Mansfield, Redlands – they’ll all be hard to hold and that’s not even considering those Gold Coast seats.

• Queensland’s very own Pitt the Younger, Curtis Pitt, is inevitably having to field questions about nepotism after succeeding his father as Labor candidate for Mulgrave. Curtis’s story seems to be that he worked locally as a cinema manager before moving to Brisbane in 2003 to take up a public service position, where he still remains.

• Elsewhere: Larvatus Prodeo, Woolly Days and Leon Bertrand.

Thursday, February 19

Fairfax confirms that Mandy Johnstone and Cameron Dick have won Labor preselection for Townsville and Greenslopes. ABC Radio reports the Mulgrave preselection has gone to Curtis Pitt, the son of outgoing member Warren. What’s more, a new front has opened with the surprise retirement of Chris Bombolas in Chatsworth, saying doctors have advised him to reduce stress due to diabetes. The ABC reports a successor will be chosen on Monday. A former Channel Nine sports reader, Bombolas won the seat in 2006 from Liberal powerbroker Michael Caltabiano in 2006, who in turn won it from Labor at a by-election a year before. Caltabiano’s personal vote as state member and earlier as a Brisbane City councillor would have meant the 0.8 per cent margin (reduced to 0.1 per cent after the redistribution) exaggerated Labor’s vulnerability, so long as Bombolas remained candidate – and assuming Caltabiano’s personal vote doesn’t transfer to his wife Andrea, who is the new Liberal National Party candidate. Now he’s gone, the seat can be ranked among those that will fall to the LNP barring a total disaster. Anna Bligh has intimated there might be more departures to come. Elsewhere: Cate Molloy to run again as an independent in Noosa (UPDATE: Make that “likely to run”).

Wednesday, February 18

• Queensland election speculation has stepped up yet another notch in recent days with three Labor members announcing their retirements (see below). The most excitable stories had it that the election would be called two days ago for March 28. The minimum election period is 26 days, so I gather an election for that date could be called as late as March 2. Darryl Rosin lays out the obstacles for various election dates beyond that in comments at Larvatus Prodeo, which are considerable if the government is of a mind to get in before the budget. The Courier-Mail reports outgoing Labor MP Mike Reynolds has told a radio interviewer the election “could be in late March”, while Tourism Minister Desley Boyle says she “suspects the election is not far away”. While you wait, enjoy Antony Green’s guide to the election, which went live this evening. My own effort remains a work in progress.

• Labor’s retiring Queensland MPs have made three seats available for new passengers on the Anna Bligh express ride to death or glory. Open for preselection are Townsville, where Mike Reynolds is calling it a day after 11 years; the outer Cairns seat of Mulgrave, home to Warren Pitt on-and-off-and-on since 1989; and the inner southern Brisbane seat of Greenslopes, vacated by another class of 1989 graduate in Gary Fenlon. Acting with remarkable haste, Labor set up preselection processes to replace Reynolds and Fenlon within three days of their retirement announcement on Sunday, with Pitt’s successor to be chosen two days after his announcement on Tuesday. In each case the decision will be made by the party’s administrative committee. Yesterday’s Townsville Bulletin reported that “insiders are tipping failed Townsville City Council contender Mandy Johnstone will get the party nod ahead of former mayor Tony Mooney” (who was defeated at the 1996 Mundingburra by-election which spelled the end for the Goss government). The ABC reports that Cameron Dick, brother of Brisbane City councillor Milton Dick, is likely to get the nod in Greenslopes. I gather we will find out in each case very shortly. The Cairns Post rang around trying to find someone who would admit to being interested in the Mulgrave preselection, apparently without success.

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