Labor lost at least two of its Queensland seats to the Coalition, leaving it with five seats amid a 4.31 per cent statewide swing against the party as of Saturday night, while the ALP was left with no representation north of Brisbane.
Senior Labor frontbencher Brendan O’Connor has blamed the party’s misfortunes on heavy spending by Clive Palmer, and One Nation – which received a swing of 3.18 per cent statewide – directing preferences to the LNP.
However, the result will raise questions in Queensland Labor party headquarters about what this means for the Palaszczuk government and its handling of the Adani Carmichael coal mine, and an examination of strategies leading into the next state election in less than 18 months.
The Palaszczuk government will also need to consider what a Coalition victory means for next month’s state budget, including missing out on $2.2 billion pledged by federal Labor for Cross River Rail.
As counting closed on Saturday night, the LNP had 23 seats in Queensland, Bob Katter retained Kennedy and Labor looked set to claim five. Lilley, previously held by former Labor treasurer Wayne Swan, was too close to call.
Seats in central Queensland closest to the Galilee Basin and the proposed Adani mine swung towards the Coalition on a two-party preferred basis, boosted by minor party preferences.
The LNP’s Michelle Landry retained her seat with a two-party preferred swing of 11.91 per cent in Capricornia, while LNP incumbent David Littleproud had a favourable swing of 6.95 per cent in Maranoa and the LNP’s Ken O’Dowd was returned in Flynn with a swing of 8.35 per cent.
At the same time, Labor incumbent Cathy O’Toole, who held the Townsville division of Herbert on tiny margin of 0.02 per cent, lost to the LNP’s Phillip Thompson with a 7.47 per cent swing, two-party preferred.
LNP MP George Christensen, dubbed the «member for Manila», seemed to suffer no repercussions from revelations about his frequent travel to the Philippines, winning Dawson with a 11.96 per cent two-party preferred swing.
Former prime minister John Howard said Queenslanders were «commonsense» and worried about job security.
«And when they saw a Labor Party prepared to destroy jobs in the name of climate ideology in relation to the Adani mine, they said, ‘That’s not for Queensland’,» he told the ABC.
Liberal Senator Arthur Sinodinos said Bob Brown’s anti-Adani convoy, which drove through Queensland half-way through the campaign, annoyed Queenslanders.
In south-east Queensland, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton fended off a strong challenge from Labor’s Ali France, retaining the marginal seat of Dickson with 53.61 per cent, two-party preferred.
Mr Dutton said the people of Dickson had rejected GetUp’s «negative campaign».
On Saturday night, Labor’s immigration spokesman Shayne Neumann was struggling to hold onto his Ipswich seat of Blair amid a 10.08 per cent first preference swing against him, but was sitting slightly ahead of the LNP’s Robert Shearman at 50.78 per cent to 49.22 per cent, two-party preferred.
Labor incumbent Susan Lamb, who held the outer-suburban seat of Longman on a margin of 0.8 per cent after a by-election last year triggered over the dual citizenship debacle, lost to LNP candidate Terry Young.
Former treasurer Wayne Swan’s previously safe seat of Lilley looked set to go down to the wire and was still too close to call, with a swing of 5.41 per cent towards the LNP’s Brad Carswell, but Labor’s Anika Wells was ahead by less than 1 per cent on two-party preferred.
Former LNP Brisbane councillor Julian Simmonds, who quit City Hall to contest the federal seat of Ryan after wining preselection against sitting MP Jane Prentice, will be heading to Canberra, after securing 56 per cent of the two-party preferred vote on Saturday night.
The LNP’s Angela Owen will be returning to her job as a Brisbane councillor after failing to topple Labor’s Graham Perrett in Moreton.
The Greens had hoped to win the lower house Brisbane seats of Griffith, Ryan and Brisbane but looked set to get none in Queensland.
LNP incumbent Trevor Evans retained his seat of Brisbane, despite a small swing against him, and said he looked forward to «all the hard work ahead» after a sleep-in.
«I always told everybody that you never want to be overconfident but you’ve got to be cautiously optimistic and you’ve got to work hard right up to the last moment,» he said.
Labor’s Terri Butler retained the inner-Brisbane seat of Griffith, despite a close race with the LNP and a 6.98 per cent swing towards the Greens.
One Nation received 8.74 per cent of the House of Representatives vote across Queensland, Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party received 3.45 per cent despite a massive campaign advertising spend, and Fraser Anning’s Conservative National Party received a measly 1.75 per cent.
None of the three minor parties looked likely to win a lower house seat in Queensland.
According to preliminary results from the Senate, the LNP will secure two or three of Queensland’s six seats and Labor one or two, while the Greens (Larissa Waters) and One Nation (Malcolm Roberts) could each get one seat.
Mr Palmer was unlikely to return to politics with a seat in the Senate, while Fraser Anning’s Conservative National Party was nowhere near close to reaching the quota required.
— with Lucy Stone, Tony Moore, Stuart Layt and AAP
Felicity Caldwell is state political reporter at the Brisbane Times