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Despite talk of a state divided, Premier is popular where people are

Decision 2020

Labor has built a stronghold in north Queensland after a campaign in which a curfew and even a separate state were raised.

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On the latest count, Labor will secure Townsville and Mundingburra in the north Queensland capital, as well as Cairns and Barron River, all with swings to the government.

While Liberal National Party leader Deb Frecklington had promised to be a premier for all of Queensland, the party could not pick up seats in the regions and remains stuck on the fringes of south-east Queensland.

The LNP’s controversial push for a youth curfew in Townsville, after a long campaign against crime, did not see the city swing away from Labor. Palaszczuk did not even have to speak out strongly against the proposal for it to fail.

Addressing the media this morning, Palaszczuk said the government would continue to support the “strong regional cities” where Labor had done so well. She promised to be a premier for all Queensland and repay the faith shown by first-time Labor voters.

Around Brisbane, the LNP held long-time Liberal seats of Moggill and Clayfield, as well as Everton and possibly the bayside seat of Oodgeroo. But the Greens enjoyed the biggest shift, likely securing small-l liberal voters and disenfranchised Labor voters.

The LNP still holds several seats on the Gold and Sunshine coasts but may lose Caloundra to Labor, although Burleigh MP Michael Hart managed to hold off Labor’s celebrity candidate Wayne “Rabbit” Bartholomew and the party withstood a challenge in Currumbin. Still, it is nothing like the coastal dominance the Liberals enjoyed in years gone by.

The conservative heartland still belongs to the LNP, but with population growth elsewhere the demographic shifts still favour Labor, and the opposition has been unable to recover territory lost to Katter’s Australian Party. Outside of a pandemic and recession, One Nation might once have performed well in disenfranchised electorates, but Pauline Hanson barely hit the hustings and voters tended to back the incumbents anyway.

The poor showing for the LNP may reignite calls for a de-merger that would allow the Liberal Party to target the south-east and the Nationals to campaign more strongly in the regions. It remains to be seen whether Palaszczuk will adopt an old Labor tactic of promoting more regional MPs to Cabinet in an effort to keep the LNP out of the spotlight.

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