Bill Shorten will attend Labor candidate Kristina Keneally’s Sydney byelection launch, not Qld Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s election campaign launch.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has defended attending the campaign launch of Labor’s star candidate Kristina Keneally in Sydney ahead of the Bennelong by-election, over the Labor Party’s official state election launch on the Gold Coast.

A spokesman for Mr Shorten told AAP the Labor leader had already campaigned on the ground in Queensland, talking to people about why Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk is the best choice ahead of Saturday’s election.

“Unlike Turnbull, Bill doesn’t hide from voters. He’s already campaigned on the ground in Queensland,” the spokesman said.

Instead, Mr Shorten on Sunday joins Ms Keneally in Sydney as she bids for the federal seat of Bennelong ahead of the December 16 by-election, following MP John Alexander’s resignation over his citizenship status.

“The contest in Bennelong is no ordinary by-election. This is a chance to send a message to Turnbull and the Liberals in Canberra – stop the cuts to Medicare, stop the cuts to schools, and start tackling out-of-control power prices,” the spokesman added.

Both Labor and the Liberal National Party will launch their respective state election campaigns on Sunday, with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull introducing Opposition Leader Tim Nicholls in Brisbane.

Ms Palaszczuk will speak at the Gold Coast launch, while Mr Shorten addresses Labor supporters in Sydney’s northwest suburb of Ryde.

Ms Palaszczuk told Fairfax Mr Shorten had already made his presence felt during the Queensland campaign, but “we’re yet to see Malcolm Turnbull with Tim Nicholls”, ahead of the November 25 election.

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