The size of Labor's drubbing in the Queensland election has surprised Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who insists the result was very much decided on local issues.
Speaking publicly on the Queensland result for the first time yesterday, Ms Gillard admitted that the massive voter backlash against Labor in that state was not what she expected.
In South Korea attending the global nuclear summit, Ms Gillard expressed ''deep, deep disappointment'' at the outcome, and conceded that both state and federal Labor had a lot of work to do in the Sunshine State. ''The dimensions of this defeat took me by a bit of [a] surprise on Saturday night,'' she said.
''Labor in Queensland, state Labor, has got a lot of rebuilding to do. We've got a lot of hard work to do and I'll get on and do it.''
Should Queenslanders vote at next year's federal election the way they did in their state election on the weekend, it would be enough to turf Labor out office.
Ms Gillard said there would be different issues at stake when voters go to the polls to elect a federal government next year. She said the Queensland election was fought ''overwhelmingly on state issues''.
''There was clearly a major 'it's time' factor after Labor having been in government for so long,'' Ms Gillard said.
''Ultimately, the 2013 election will be decided on its own issues. People will make their decisions then. For us it's about doing what I believe I've done as Prime Minister, and I'm certainly going to continue to do, which is knuckling down, getting on with the job on behalf of working people.''
Ms Gillard said she had never underestimated the challenge Labor faced at next year's federal poll, but that Opposition Leader Tony Abbott was already acting like he had won it.
''Tony Abbott has basically been conducting himself as if he's got the next election in the bag,'' she said.
''His attitude is he doesn't have to say anything except no to everything to get there.''
But Mr Abbott says the Prime Minister can't blame the Queensland result solely on local issues.
Describing the Queensland result as cataclysmic for the Labor Party, he said Ms Gillard's broken promise over the introduction of a carbon tax had an impact on the state election.
''I think the Prime Minister should be taking a long, hard look at herself, her government and her party as a result of the verdict of the people of Queensland,'' Mr Abbott said.
''If the Prime Minister's got wax in her ears, well, she'll pay the consequences.''
Labor backbenchers are urging Ms Gillard to spend much more time in Queensland before the federal election in a bid to convince voters there of her government's vision and plans. Ministers from Queensland are also joining in, saying the government must sell its policies in Queensland.
Trade Minister Craig Emerson said details of the carbon tax and the new mining tax had to be better explained in the Queensland community. ''Queenslanders in particular really appreciate ministers getting around, holding community forums, meeting them face to face,'' he said.
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