Bennett defies swing
THE reality of sitting in Opposition is slowly starting to sink in for Stephen Bennett.
The re-elected Member for Burnett will face starkly different surrounds when he returns to parliament after voter dissatisfaction delivered a likely Labor win.
The biggest question for locals to ponder was the status of promises and commitments made by Mr Bennett and the LNP during the campaign – in particular the $300,000 hydrotherapy pool slated for Isis Memorial Swimming Pool, which was announced by former Health Minister Lawrence Springborg.
“To be frank it wasn’t an election promise but it was a commitment from the health budget,” Mr Bennett said.
“I don’t know what (Labor) will say and do, but this was definitely made through the budget and I am totally committed to hold them to account.
“At this point in time I can’t categorically say either way.”
The LNP suffered a massive swing across the state, with Labor earning a 10% swing in Burnett, according to the ABC.
An analysis of results from the Isis region, however, shows strong support for Mr Bennett, who gained a 7% swing on first preference votes.
With Member for Callide Jeff Seeney stepping down as deputy Premier and a raft of senior LNP figures voted out, Mr Bennett’s popularity in a “very safe” LNP seat could make him a candidate for a leadership position.
However, Mr Bennett said he was focused purely on representing the Burnett and doing a better job in his second term.
“That hasn’t been discussed either with my colleagues or at home but I’m sure others will do a sterling job,” Mr Bennett said.
“I’m happy representing Burnett and doing the best I can for my electorate.”
Meanwhile, Labor candidate Bryan Mustill had a spring in his step after Saturday’s result.
Mr Mustill seemed to struggle at candidate forums in the lead-up to the election, but on Sunday morning he was fuelled by a renewed vigour for the role.
The 62-year-old radiographer said he intended to run again at the next election, and with more preparation could perform even better.
“This is the sort of thing I was told – the people are out there but whether they turned into votes I don’t know,” he said.
“It’s a lot more than I hoped for.”
Mr Mustill attracted more than 30% of first preference votes, prompting him to declare he will run again.
“I was only endorsed a few months before the election and I wasn’t really prepared,” Mr Mustill said.
Mr Bennett encouraged Mr Mustill’s declaration, saying a viable option from Labor who understood community issues was good for democracy.
BITTERSWEET: Cathy Madsen, Ruth Gillespie, Kate Barwick, Flora Barwick and Burnett member Stephen Bennett celebrate Mr Bennett’s re-election at an LNP function at Burnett Club on Saturday, but were stunned by the LNP’s overall result.