Ground zero: Queensland’s pivotal election seats
QUEENSLAND will be ground zero for seven of the nation's "must watch" battles of the 2019 federal election.
The most critical will be Dickson in Brisbane's north west where Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton is facing a tough battle after 17 years in politics.
Political commentators believe maverick MP George Christensen could buck the national trend to hold on in Dawson, however, despite having a margin of just 3.4 per cent.
Junior minister Michelle Landry could also defy expectations to reclaim Capricornia against Labor's Russell Robertson despite having a wafer-thin margin of 0.6 per cent.
But after almost two decades in politics and rising to become one of Australia's most powerful men, Mr Dutton faces the biggest battle of his career.
A redistribution in his outer metro seat boosted his margin from 1.7 per cent to 2 per cent but Griffith University political expert Paul Williams told News Corp it's "still too thin for Dutton, who has his strong supporters and strong detractors".
The LNP veteran - who was almost ousted in 2016 but clung on by just 2911 votes - will be open to negative campaigns from Labor, The Greens and GetUp! over his role in the leadership spill to dump Malcolm Turnbull, the so-called au pairs scandal and his tough stance on asylum seekers.
GetUp! is vowing to run an "unprecedented" campaign to topple him.
But Dutton is a strong campaigner and fundraiser, and he remains popular in Queensland.
Labor hopes voters will prefer its candidate Ali France, a complete contrast to Dutton, although her softer stance on border protection could hurt her chances.
Veteran psephologist Malcolm Mackerras, a visiting fellow at the Australian Catholic University, predicted Labor could win Dickson, along with other marginal Queensland seats Capricornia, Forde, Flynn, Petrie, Dawson and Bonner.
"I would not be surprised, however, if one or two of the LNP sitting members held on for local or personal reasons," he said.
Australian National University politics expert Jill Sheppard said Dutton could hold on but added "the fact that this contest will have diverted resources from surrounding marginal seats is of huge consequence to the LNP organisation both in Queensland and federally".
Townsville electorate Herbert, the most marginal seat in the country, will be another "must watch" seat.
Billionaire Clive Palmer initially indicated he would run in the seat but now appears more likely to make a bid for the Senate.
Labor's Cathy O'Toole should win the seat if there's a general swing against the government, but the LNP have selected former soldier and 2018 Queensland Young Australian of the Year Phillip Thompson as their candidate.
Thompson's military career and service in Afghanistan will make him a strong challenger for O'Toole in the seat, which has a massive defence force presence at Lavarack Barracks.
One Nation and other minor part preferences will be wildcards in Ken O'Dowd's seat of Flynn and Bert van Manen's seat of Forde.
LNP MP Luke Howarth has defied expectations twice before to win Petrie - and could hold on a third time - but experts predict it "should fall to Labor".