Garth Hamilton elected new Member for Groom for the LNP at by-election


The southern Queensland seat of Groom will stay as Liberal National Party territory, after mining engineer Garth Hamilton won a by-election with a clear lead.

Mr Hamilton replaces John McVeigh, who resigned in September to spend more time caring for his ill wife.

He said he was committed to growing the local economy and building new infrastructure.

“I’ll be fighting hard to get inland rail delivered,” Mr Hamilton said.

“Water security’s a big issue for me and for the local council — we want to make sure we put a good plan together there.

“Then I’ll be fighting for local jobs, making sure we rebuild our economy.”

Mr Hamilton is a former campaign manager for the Member for Toowoomba North, Trevor Watts, and writes for right-wing publication Spectator.

His pre-selection was controversial, as the Prime Minister and mining lobby group had wanted one of two female candidates.

Growing up in south-east Queensland, Mr Hamilton now lives in Toowoomba with his wife Louise and three children.

“This is my home,” he said.

Garth Hamilton with his family after declaring victory in the by-election.(ABC Southern Queensland: Lucy Robinson)

With all 56 polling booths counted on Saturday night, Mr Hamilton had 58.56 per cent of the first preference vote and 66.3 per cent of the two-candidate-preferred vote.

There was a swing of 6.33 per cent towards the LNP on the first preference vote, but 3.06 per cent against the party on the two candidate preferred.

Postal votes are yet to be counted.

LNP retains tight hold

The Toowoomba-based seat, gazetted in 1984, has only ever been held by the Liberals, Nationals or LNP.

Lawyer and environmental campaigner Chris Meibusch ran for Labor in the by-election, pushing aged care reform and infrastructure funding as key issues.

He held 27.87 of the first preference vote, achieving a swing of 8.43 per cent towards the ALP.

Veterinarian and farmer Sandra Jephcott, for Sustainable Australia Party, recorded about 8 per cent of the first preference vote, while Craig Farquharson, for the Liberal Democrats, had about 5 per cent.

ABC election analyst Antony Green said Groom’s large rural and conservative religious voter base made it one of the safest seats in the country.

“A seat like Groom is never going to be won by the Labor party.”



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Annastacia Palaszczuk predicts LNP will split after Qld election loss


Annastacia Palaszczuk has thrown down the gauntlet to her opposition colleagues, saying she wouldn’t be surprised if the LNP split in the coming years.

The Queensland premier made the inflammatory comments from the seat of Nicklin on Monday, which Labor won for the first time in more than 100 years in the October 31 state election.

Ms Palaszczuk said the Sunshine Coast electorate was once the heartland for The Nationals.

“This is a very strong signal to the LNP that the Liberals are consuming the National Party,” she said.

The premier questioned what the party stood for now both Katter’s Australian Party and Labor had made inroads in its traditional strongholds across the state.

“This is a very interesting story for the LNP and it would not surprise me if over the course of these four years that we saw the Liberal National Party in Queensland split for another time,” she said.

“They need to be taking a very close look at what’s been happening around the state.”

Ms Palaszczuk’s predictions came after the sunshine state recorded another day without any new COVID-19 cases, but prepared to slam the door shut on Adelaide because of an outbreak.



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Qld’s LNP leader names new frontbench


The new leader said it “hurt to admit” the election loss, but said it was time the LNP refreshed its policies in preparation for the 2024 poll, while holding the Labor government to account.

“We’ve lost an election and have to understand that. We have to respect the decision of the people, and we have to prepare ourselves to govern in four years’ time,” he said.

Former frontbencher Dan Purdie has been dropped from the LNP’s new line-up.

As well as being Opposition Leader, Mr Crisafulli will take on the tourism portfolio, one he said the industry urged him to create in the wake of COVID-19.

However, former frontbenchers Ninderry MP Dan Purdie and Glass House MP Andrew Powell have been dropped from the line-up, while new Whitsundays MP Amanda Camm, who toppled Jason Costigan, has been put straight to work as the party’s new child protection and domestic violence spokeswoman.

Ms Camm, who has a background in community campaigning for sexual violence reforms, said she planned to “be a voice for many who can’t raise their voice”.

Mr Crisafulli said Mr Powell would sit in shadow cabinet as a secretary, while Mr Purdie would become the assistant secretary for COVID recovery, working with new deputy leader David Janetzki.

Selected by the LNP partyroom to face up to the increasingly secure Palaszczuk Labor government this week, Mr Crisafulli and Mr Janetzki have four years to rebuild the reduced party.

Mr Crisafulli said he was adamant the next election would hinge on economic management.

“I am convinced of that, and I am preparing us for government now,” he said.

The treasury and finance portfolios have been split as part of the overhaul; Mr Janetzki will be shadow treasurer and Jarrod Bleijie will take the role of finance spokesman.

Mr Janetzki said the new team had “strength, experience, and hunger”.

Former LNP leader Deb Frecklington will take on the water and dam construction portfolio.

Former LNP leader Deb Frecklington will take on the water and dam construction portfolio.Credit:Paul Harris

Ms Frecklington will take on the water and dam construction portfolio, after actively campaigning on a New Bradfield scheme during the election.

Her former deputy, Tim Mander, will be the spokesman for housing and public works, and fellow former leader Tim Nicholls will be the LNP’s shadow attorney-general.

Opposition health spokeswoman Ros Bates will retain her portfolio, and Steve Minnikin will retain his transport role.

Fiona Simpson will take up a newly created role of Opposition integrity in government spokeswoman, and will also be the spokeswoman for state development, opposite Deputy Premier Steven Miles.

Two other new additions to the LNP frontbench will be Bonney MP Sam O’Connor in the environment and youth affairs portfolio, and Brent Mickelberg in employment and small business.

Mr O’Connor, 29, is one of two politicians still in their 20s, with Labor’s 27-year-old Meaghan Scanlon also on the cabinet frontbench.

Christian Rowan will be the education and arts spokesman, while John-Paul Langbroek will take on the seniors, communities and disability services portfolio, along with multicultural and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander partnerships.

Ann Leahy will retain her local government portfolio, adding disaster recovery and volunteers, while Dale Last will take on police and emergency services.

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David Crisafulli elected by party room to lead Queensland’s LNP as Labor’s new Cabinet officially sworn in


Gold Coast MP David Crisafulli has been elected unopposed to be the Liberal National Party’s new leader, with Toowoomba South MP David Janetzki to serve as his deputy.

The party room voted for the duo during a meeting at Parliament House today.

Former Opposition leader Deb Frecklington announced her intention to step aside following the party’s election loss on October 31.

Mr Crisafulli, a father of two, began his political career in north Queensland, well before he moved to the state’s south east.

He is a former journalist who grew up in Ingham and worked both there and in Townsville until he became the youngest person elected to Townsville City Council.

He moved into State Parliament as part of Campbell Newman’s landslide victory in 2012, then went on to serve as local government and community recovery minister.

Mr Crisafulli moved to the Gold Coast when he lost his seat in the LNP’s drubbing in 2015.

Ahead of the 2017 election, he trumped former MP Verity Barton for preselection in the seat of Broadwater, and won his second term in the seat in the October 31 poll, picking up a substantial first preference swing.

‘I’m hungry to win’: Crisafulli

Mr Crisafulli walked into the party room, flanked by former LNP leader Deb Frecklington.

He described himself as a “conviction politician” and said he wouldn’t knock government decisions just for opposition’s sake.

“So if I say that something is not right, all of you will know that I believe that in my heart — I won’t do it to get on the nightly news,” he said.

“There’s enough partisanship in politics … if something is good I will be the first one to say we support it and we will back that.

Queensland’s new LNP leader David Crisafulli is a father of two and former journalist who began his career in north Queensland.(AAP: Dan Peled)

“But by the same token, if something is wrong, I will be prepared to call it as such and will do it in a forceful manner.

“I am going to respect the mandate that the Premier sort to keep Queensland safe and strong and I will, in a respectful manner, ensure she is held accountable to that promise.”

Mr Crisafulli said the next four years were going to be a “tough ride” but he was determined to fight.

Mr Crisafulli said he was “humbled” to be elected leader, but was also “hurting” from the election loss.

“I’m hungry to win … because there are a generation of Queenslanders who know no different than Labor governments,” he said.

The Palaszczuk Government has drawn attention to the fact Mr Crisafulli served in the Newman government’s ministry but the newly-elected leader said he would not be fixated on the past.

“If they want to look in the rear vision mirror, good luck to them,” he said.

“My style will be one about holding them to account for their policies today, supporting the ones that Queensland need, and putting forward an alternate vision.”

He said there would be announcements about his shadow cabinet in coming days.

“I don’t owe it to factions, or any backroom support — they will be the best person for the job,” he said.

“There’ll be new faces and there’ll be a great mixture.

David Janetzki
David Janetzki is the LNP’s newly appointed deputy leader.(Facebook: David Janetzki – LNP Candidate for Toowoomba South)

David Janetzki said “Queensland had spoken” and the party would come back “bigger, stronger, faster”.

“We’re going to go back, we will review everything we took to the elections,” Mr Janetzki said.

“We’ve got the heart and we’ve got the people in the room to give this an almighty shake.

“Queensland is looking for economic leadership and we’ll be providing that from Opposition.”

Mr Janetzki fended off a challenge from three other MPs Christian Rowan, Steve Minnikin and Dale Last — for the role of deputy leader

Recounts ordered

The Electoral Commission Queensland (ECQ) agreed this morning to an LNP request to recount votes in two tight-race electorates: Nicklin on the Sunshine Coast and Bundaberg in southern Queensland.

Commissioner Pat Vidgen said while he had full confidence in the integrity of the count, the margins were very close and it was prudent to ensure the veracity of the outcome.

“In Bundaberg there is a difference of 11 votes and in Nicklin 79,” he said.

“Very, very tight.

“A federal automatic recount is triggered by less than 100 votes.

“I don’t have any concerns in what we’ve done but I think [it is important] for confidence and certainly for the candidates.”

Recounting of the tens of thousands of votes will begin today — with observers and scrutineers present — as is the usual practice.

Cabinet sworn in

Meanwhile, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and her Cabinet have been officially sworn in at a ceremony at Government House.

Ms Palaszczuk unveiled her full ministry yesterday with Shannon Fentiman appointed Attorney-General and the state’s youngest minister Meaghan Scanlan taking on environment and science.

A man takes a selfie with a group of people standing in front of a white building.
Deputy Premier Steven Miles takes a selfie at the official swearing in of the Queensland Government’s new Cabinet at Government House.(ABC News: Tim Swanston)

Several new assistant ministers were also sworn in, including, Maryborough MP Bruce Saunders, Aspley MP Bart Mellish, Bundamba MP Lance McCallum and Jordan MP Charis Mullen.

Cairns MP Michael Healy will also be an assistant minister but has not been sworn in as his seat is yet to be officially declared.

It takes the total number of assistant ministers to eight, up from five last term.

Ms Palaszczuk said she was proud of her cabinet.

“We’ve got a big job ahead of us.”

First-time frontbencher and Nudgee MP Leanne Linard said she was eager to start work within her portfolios of youth justice, children and multicultural affairs.

“To represent some of Queensland’s most vulnerable, I feel there is no greater word than it’s an absolute honour,” she said.

New assistant minister Lance McCallum will be working on hydrogen development, while Bruce Saunders will look at train manufacturing.

Member for Gladstone Glen Butcher, who has retained his position as minister for regional development and manufacturing, will be sworn in at a later time.



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Queensland election results show Labor retaining Townsville’s ultra-marginal seats despite big focus from LNP


Labor will likely retain its three marginal Townsville seats with the results surprising some voters, analysts and party insiders.

The seats of Townsville, Mundingburra and Thuringowa were held by Labor on tight margins and were key battlegrounds in this election.

Both party leaders flocked to the north multiple times during the campaign, with Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington casting her vote there early on Saturday morning.

Townsville James Cook University political scientist Maxine Newlands said the areas were expected to be close contests.

“I think people were expecting — and the polling was showing — that it was going to be tight,” Dr Newlands said.

“Possibly a win for LNP in Townsville and Thuringowa, but it hasn’t panned out that way.

LNP Leader Deb Frecklington cast her ballot in the 2020 Queensland election with her husband Jason in Townsville.(ABC News: Tim Swanston)

“Last time in Thuringowa, One Nation were very prominent and took almost 20 per cent of the vote, whereas this time around they haven’t really been as prominent.”

The current count shows swings to Labor between 2.7 per cent and 3.2 per cent in the three seats and the ABC’s election analysis predicts the party will hold onto them.

University of Queensland political analyst Chris Salisbury said he had expected “a mixed bag” of parties to win the Townsville seats.

“[I expected] Labor likely to lose one or two … but they surprised us as they did three years ago,” Dr Salisbury said.

Townsville’s Labor branch and candidates were jubilant with the results last night, though they are waiting for more votes to roll in before claiming victory.

The LNP’s Townsville candidates have also not conceded defeat.

Man smiles with hands on hips.
Labor member for Townsville Scott Stewart says he’s feeling confident he will retain his seat.(ABC News: Chloe Chomicki)

Some local Labor party members were nervous incumbent Scott Stewart would lose the seat of Townsville, given it was the most marginal electorate in Queensland at 0.4 per cent.

“It’s still too tight to call I think but we will continue to be optimistic,” Mr Stewart said last night.

As of Sunday, Mr Stewart had won 53.1 per cent of the vote, with the LNP’s John Hathaway trailing not far behind on 46.9 per cent.

Youth crime plan ‘over the top’

Townsville has seen growing community anger around youth crime in the Palaszczuk Government’s last term, prompting Ms Frecklington to grip onto the hot button issue during the campaign.

The LNP controversially announced it would trial a curfew for young people and fine parents in Cairns and Townsville — a proposal that was widely condemned.

The party also repeated claims Labor was “soft on crime”.

A man in a hat stands in a tent with wind catchers behind him.
Townsville local Clint O’Neill says the LNP’s youth curfew proposal was “over the top”.(ABC News: Sofie Wainwright)

Speaking to voters at the Townsville markets on Sunday, some were surprised the LNP’s “tough on crime” rhetoric did not earn them a local seat.

“In Townsville we have the youth crime problem, I thought Townsville might vote a different way to see if they could try and tackle the problem,” Tyneal Berry said.

Others, including Clint O’Neill, were not as shocked.

Dr Newlands said the LNP recycled its 2017 election crime messages, which “didn’t work then and it hasn’t worked in 2020”.

She said voters were looking for a long-term strategy, particularly as the Government faces a four-year term instead of three years.

“People are looking for solutions more than headlines,” Dr Newlands said.

“There was quite a lot of community members that spoke out and said … they didn’t feel that was the best approach around curfews.”

Dr Salisbury said it was anticipated the LNP’s crime agenda would resonate with voters, particularly because it had been echoed “long and loud” by local press.

“That doesn’t seem to have resonated as much as we thought,” Dr Salisbury said.

“I can only imagine that the issue has in fact been trumped by people’s concern over the pandemic.

“The LNP did try this same curfew plan and crackdown on youth crime at the last election … it just doesn’t seem to have swung enough voters either last time or this time and presumably that’s largely in part to the pandemic being more front of mind.”

Ms Frecklington with Mr Doyle at a press conference in Townsville this morning.
Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington held several press conferences in Townsville throughout the campaign race.(ABC News: Stephanie Zillman)

Mr Stewart said Labor’s economic recovery plan was a sustainable solution.

“When you have low levels of unemployment, you have low levels of crime,” Mr Stewart said last night.

Former state Liberal leader Joan Sheldon told ABC Radio Brisbane the LNP spent too much energy on Townsville.

“Townsville has always been very difficult for the LNP,” Ms Sheldon said.

“I personally thought too much time was being spent up there.

“While the regions are extremely important … the south-east is where the majority of the seats are.”



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Newman says ‘no path to victory’ for LNP as voting begins


It seems the looming spectre of storms may have stirred some out of bed early to do so as well, with more than 140,000 voting in the first hour, the ECQ says.

Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington and her husband Jason vote in north Queensland.Credit:Toby Crockford

The count will include all election day polling booth votes, available early votes, almost 400,000 of the returned postal votes and all those cast at Brisbane City Hall.

An unofficial indicative count will follow and include an allocation of preferences to two candidates selected by the Electoral Commissioner as most likely to receive the highest number of first preferences.

It should be noted that official counts and declarations by the ECQ will only start from tomorrow – it will largely be up to candidates and election watchers to make and calls around seat wins or losses tonight, based on the initial data coming through.

(But here’s hoping we don’t have to wait until the deadline for postal votes to be returned on November 10 to get a final result for too many electorates)



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Queensland LNP Leader Deb Frecklington backs away from NSW Premier’s comments about opening borders


Queensland Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington has sought to distance herself from NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian’s comment that she would “definitely open the border” if elected.

Ms Berejiklian suggested Ms Frecklington would have opened the border “months ago”.

Campaigning on the Gold Coast ahead of Saturday’s election, Ms Frecklington confirmed she spoke to Ms Berejiklian “quite regularly”, but said she had not had those discussions with her.

“That’s for Gladys’s opinion and what I have said is that they shouldn’t be closed for a day longer than they need to be,” Ms Frecklington said.

It comes after Ms Berejiklian told Nine’s Today Show on Wednesday morning that Queensland’s border stance lacked reason, saying the COVID-19 situation in NSW could not be compared to Victoria’s.

Asked if she had spoken to Ms Frecklington about the possibility of her becoming the next Queensland Premier and whether the borders would come down, Ms Berejiklian replied they “have a great working relationship”.

“She feels very strongly about keeping jobs in her state, getting tourism back up and running,” Ms Berejiklian said.

Headshot of NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian talking to the media.
Ms Berejiklian says she has “a great working relationship” with Ms Frecklington.(AAP: Dan Himbrechts)

“I know that if she was elected Premier she would definitely open the border — she would have done it months ago, because that’s the way Deb and the LNP are up there —because they appreciate it’s not only important to control the virus, but important to keep jobs and the economy going.”

Ms Frecklington has repeatedly stated during the campaign that an LNP government would “follow the health advice” in relation to borders.

‘Simply a diversion’

Two new cases of COVID-19 were detected in Queensland overnight, however both were acquired overseas and the patients are in hotel quarantine.

Visiting a local battery manufacturer in an Ipswich suburb — in the safe Labor seat of Jordan — Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said she was still awaiting advice from the state’s Chief Health Officer about reopening the border to NSW on November 1.

Asked when she was expected to receive that advice, Ms Palaszczuk responded: “over the next few days”.

She also hit back at Ms Berejiklian’s criticism over the border, saying she would not be lectured by NSW on what was right for Queensland.

Headshot of Annastacia Palaszczuk speaking to the media, wearing a high-vis shirt in a factory.
Ms Palaszczuk says she is awaiting advice from the state’s Chief Health Officer about reopening the border to NSW on November 1.(AAP: Darren England)

“It’s disappointing to see the NSW Premier try to be political at this time when she has enough of her own issues to deal with,” she said.

With just three days to go until polling day, Labor did not announce any new policies, while the Opposition committed $35 million to upgrade a Gold Coast roundabout, as part of its $1 billion in “congestion busting funding”.



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LNP backing locks in Ballymore upgrade


The final piece has been laid in Ballymore’s long-awaited upgrade puzzle after the Queensland opposition promised to match the $15-million Labor commitment already on the table if they win Saturday’s state election.

The Australian women’s Wallaroos rugby team would join the Queensland Reds at the $30-million National Rugby Training Centre to give the once-proud venue new life after years of decay.

The works, due to begin next year, are the first stage of a vision to turn the beating pulse of Queensland rugby union into a health and high-performance sporting hub.

Ballymore could house multiple sports if Brisbane’s 2032 Olympic bid is successful, bolster Australia’s 2027 Rugby World Cup hosting hopes and act as a training base for the Wallabies or touring Test nations.

The upgrade will feature an integrated stand to replace the existing McLean Stand, which was first built in 1968 and extended in the 1970s, as well as men’s and women’s changerooms and recovery facilities.

In 2007, then Prime Minister John Howard guaranteed a $25 million funding commitment, only for the project to be canned the following year by Kevin Rudd after Labor won the federal election.

Support from both sides came ahead of last year’s federal election, with a Palaszczuk Labor government promise earlier this month ironically nudging the LNP opposition into action on Tuesday.

“Securing a commitment from the LNP guarantees a project which has been more than a decade in the making,” QRU boss Dave Hanham said.

“It is also an important first step for Queensland in developing a 100-hectare community precinct for the Olympics, centred on Ballymore and the Newmarket sports fields to the north.”





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