LNP leader Tim Nicholls refuses to concede Queensland election
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