LNP leader Tim Ni­cholls re­fuses to con­cede Queens­land elec­tion

The Guardian Australia - - Headlines - Amy Re­meikis

The Lib­eral National party has re­fused to con­cede the Queens­land elec­tion, with its leader, Tim Ni­cholls, all but de­mand­ing An­nasta­cia Palaszczuk stand aside and let him at­tempt to form gov­ern­ment.

Count­ing con­tin­ues in at least a dozen seats, where pref­er­ence al­lo­ca­tions have proved im­pos­si­ble to pre­dict. La­bor re­mains in front on at least 44 seats, three short of the num­ber it needs to form ma­jor­ity gov­ern­ment. The LNP has 39 seats and, at this stage, would need sup­port from the cross­bench to be able to form gov­ern­ment.

But speak­ing for the first time since Satur­day’s poll, Ni­cholls said the chang­ing seat re­sults meant the LNP was still in with a shot at gov­ern­ment and said Palaszczuk, who vowed to make no deals to form gov­ern­ment, needed to honour her com­mit­ment.

“The real ques­tion for An­nasta­cia Palaszczuk to­day is if she does not get to that 47-seat num­ber, will she keep her word?” he said at a me­dia con­fer­ence just north of Brisbane. “Will she do the right thing and will she go into op­po­si­tion and in­vite the LNP to at­tempt form gov­ern­ment?

“On the 20th of Novem­ber she made it abun­dantly clear ... that nei­ther she, or any mem­ber of her team, would coun­te­nance gov­ern­ing in a mi­nor­ity gov­ern­ment.

“She said there was no other way. She ef­fec­tively put a gun to the head of Queens­lan­ders and the real ques­tion for An­nasta­cia Palaszczuk is will she keep her word? Will she do the right thing? Will she go into op­po­si­tion if she does not reach the num­ber 47?”

Palaszczuk re­fused to an­swer that ques­tion on Sun­day, in­stead just say­ing she re­mained con­fi­dent La­bor would reach a ma­jor­ity gov­ern­ment.

But Ni­cholls, bouyed by shift­ing seat re­sults in re­gional Queens­land as postal and pref­er­ence votes con­tinue to be al­lo­cated, said he was still a chance for pre­mier.

“I don’t ac­cept your propo­si­tion that this cam­paign is over,” he said. “This elec­tion is not over yet, there hasn’t been a de­ci­sion made.

“There are still 300,000 votes yet to be counted. We don’t know the out­come of this elec­tion and, in­creas­ingly, this elec­tion is hang­ing in the bal­ance.

“There are seats which are yet to be de­ter­mined. There are seats where the no­tional al­lo­ca­tion has been in­cor­rect and the real ques­tion as we head into the next few days and wait for those votes to be counted is what is An­nasta­cia Palaszczuk’s po­si­tion.

“Is she back­track­ing?”

La­bor, which has not held a me­dia con­fer­ence since Sun­day, said it was on track to take ma­jor­ity gov­ern­ment but the out­come would de­pend on seats such as Rockhampton, Townsville, Gaven and Mai­war, where La­bor re­tains a strong chance but not ab­so­lute cer­tainty. One Na­tion looks like tak­ing the ru­ral seat of Mi­rani from La­bor, al­though the count there has also con­tin­ued to switch.

As­p­ley, an in­ner-city seat, had been thought to be lost by the LNP to La­bor but more re­cent counts have re­vealed a closer con­test.

Mean­while Rob­bie Kat­ter, the Queens­land leader of Kat­ter’s Aus­tralian party – which held on to both seats KAP won in the 2015 elec­tion and is a pos­si­bil­ity in a third – has be­gun mak­ing noises about what he would want in ex­change for guar­an­tee­ing sup­ply, which in­cludes scrap­ping the in­ner-city multi­bil­lion-dol­lar cross-river rail project and a re­lax­ation of gun laws.

Kat­ter’s brother-in-law Robert Noia is an im­porter of the Adler shot­gun banned by Coag’s re­cent re­fusal to change its clas­si­fi­ca­tion of the weapon.

Palaszczuk has so far re­fused to com­ment on who she would work with, if any­one, if La­bor fell short of the 47 seats needed for ma­jor­ity gov­ern­ment.

On Mon­day she staged a photo op­por­tu­nity in the so-called “tower of power” executive build­ing with lo­cal may­ors, to demon­strate she was “get­ting on with the job”, al­though La­bor re­mains in caretaker mode.

The Queens­land op­po­si­tion leader, Tim Ni­cholls, ‘ef­fec­tively put a gun to the head of Queens­lan­ders’ in the state elec­tion. Pho­to­graph: Bradley Kanaris/AAP

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