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Poll surprise as One Nation fails to fire: A Queensland election analysis

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By Timothy Mantiri

Queenslanders have voted to re-elect Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and her Government over the weekend with Labor on track to hold a majority in the Queensland Parliament.

While the final vote tally has yet to be finalised, Labor is poised to pick up at least 47 seats in the Legislative Assembly giving the party a majority in Queensland’s single-chambered Parliament. This leaves the Liberal National Party (LNP) with a likely total of 40 seats, one seat less than it had prior to the election.

The election result seems to reflect the exit polling and the final published Newspoll, as counting today had ALP on 36 per cent, the LNP on 33.5 per cent, One Nation on 13.7 per cent and the Greens on 9.7 per cent.

LNP leader Tim Nicholls will doubtlessly be disappointed with the result which saw his party go backwards in terms of primary vote and in the number of seats held. 

Questions will also be raised around his reluctance to rule out doing any potential deals with One Nation after the election as several Shadow Ministers lost their seats in urban south-east Queensland.

It was also a bad night for Pauline Hanson's One Nation who look to have lost its parliamentary leader Steve Dickson, with the LNP’s Brent Mickelberg ahead in the Sunshine Coast seat of Buderim at last count. 

Despite some predictions before polling day suggesting a swath of regional Queensland seats could fall its way, One Nation is likely to only pick up the seat of Mirani in Central Queensland (taking in the area between Mackay and Rockhampton), leaving it with just the single seat in Parliament. 

Former Senator Malcolm Roberts, who was booted out the Federal Parliament (having been exposed as a dual British Citizen), also suffered a resounding defeat after contesting the seat of Ipswich (southwest Brisbane).

While the election campaigns were fought on the state battleground issues of unemployment, electricity prices, and the proposed Adani mine in Central Queensland, Federal Opposition leader Bill Shorten has already looked to link the result to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s leadership and dissatisfaction with the Federal Government.

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Some disaffected Nationals MPs in the Federal Parliament have also linked the result to the Turnbull Government, with North Queensland MP George Christensen taking the unusual step of apologising to people who voted for One Nation.

"I want to provide a sincere apology that, at this stage, no one else has: I'm sorry that we in the LNP have let you down," the Nationals MP wrote on Facebook.

“The party had to listen more, work harder, stand up for conservative values and regional Queensland, and do better to win people's trust and I think a lot of that starts with the Turnbull Government, its leadership and its policy direction," Mr Christensen said. 

Such open dissatisfaction from his own backbench MPs poses a problem for the Prime Minister as the Federal Parliament approaches the final sitting weeks of the year. Maverick government MPs have been threatening to cause mayhem on the floor of parliament on contentious issues such as same sex marriage and a commission of inquiry into the banking sector.

For LNP leader Tim Nicholls the poor election result means his leadership will likely be under threat as a contested party room ballot for the leadership is tipped to take place this week. Contenders in the ballot will likely include Shadow Ministers Tim Mander, John-Paul Langbroek as well as Deputy Leader Deb Frecklington.

Meanwhile, Premier Palaszczuk will look to press ahead with Labor’s agenda and policy commitments which include: a renewable energy target of 50 per cent by 2030; an extension of a $150 million back to work program to give businesses incentives to take on the unemployed; and a series of tax hikes announced late in the campaign which deliver about $491 million to Queensland’s state coffers over three years.

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