Queens­land elec­tion: LNP pref­er­ences likely to give Rock­hamp­ton to La­bor

The Guardian Australia - - Front Page -

La­bor is on course to win the cen­tral Queens­land seat of Rock­hamp­ton, bring­ing Premier An­nasta­cia Palaszczuk’s gov­ern­ment a step closer to the ma­jor­ity it needs to stay in power.

In­de­pen­dent can­di­date Mar­garet Strelow on Wednesday con­ceded de­feat, af­ter Lib­eral Na­tional party pref­er­ences went to One Na­tion and swung the seat to La­bor’s Barry O’Rourke.

It would bring La­bor’s to­tal con­firmed seats to 45, two shy of the 47-seat ma­jor­ity in the new 93-seat par­lia­ment. Ms Palaszczuk does not want to have to again rely on the cross bench, which will be larger and more var­ied af­ter the elec­tion.

“It will be very dif­fi­cult for me to win af­ter the dis­tri­bu­tion of LNP pref­er­ences to­day. I ex­pect the seat will go to La­bor,” Strelow said on Face­book on Wednesday af­ter­noon.

“The LNP swapped pref­er­ences with One Na­tion and about half of LNP vot­ers fol­lowed the card. This will wipe out my lead.”

Strelow had been widely tipped to win the seat on the mi­nor­ity party’s pref­er­ences.

The former Rock­hamp­ton mayor had the sup­port of the state’s premier, An­nasta­cia Palaszczuk, to re­place re­tired agri­cul­ture min­is­ter Bill Byrne.

She ran as an in­de­pen­dent af­ter be­ing over­looked for La­bor pre­s­e­lec­tion fol­low­ing a fac­tional bat­tle that in­stead chose O’Rourke, a pub­lic ser­vant.

O’Rourke’s win would bring the gov­ern­ment’s con­firmed seats to 45, com­pared with the LNP’s 37.

La­bor sources are con­fi­dent they will also claim the Gaven and As­p­ley elec­torates, with Townsville ex­pected to go down to the wire.

Seven seats are still un­de­cided, four days af­ter Queens­lan­ders went to the polls.

LNP leader Tim Ni­cholls on Wednesday re­peated his ear­lier re­marks that the elec­tion wasn’t over yet, but the party won’t be able to form gov­ern­ment. It has 37 seats at the mo­ment, and may get 40.

He again called on Palaszczuk to say whether she will keep her promise to go into op­po­si­tion if La­bor does

not win enough seats to se­cure a ma­jor­ity gov­ern­ment.

“The an­swer that An­nasta­cia Palaszczuk is re­fus­ing to give is whether she will keep her word or whether she will break her promise like she did in 2015,” he told re­porters in Toowoomba. “She said she wouldn’t gov­ern with mi­nor par­ties or in­de­pen­dents and she did.”

Palaszczuk, who has not made a pub­lic ap­pear­ance since Mon­day, said dur­ing the 27-day cam­paign she wouldn’t do any deals and would rather go into op­po­si­tion than form gov­ern­ment with One Na­tion.

She re­mains stead­fast in her con­fi­dence she will win a ma­jor­ity.

The cross­bench will be made up of Rob­bie Kat­ter and Shane Knuth of Kat­ter’s Aus­tralian Party (and pos­si­bly a third KAP MP), Noosa in­de­pen­dent Sandy Bolton and likely One Na­tion mem­ber Stephen Andrew.

A tight race con­tin­ues be­tween La­bor and the Greens in the seat of Mai­war.

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