The chances of the LNP winning enough seats to take the reins of government hinges upon the voters of the North and Far North Queensland, many of whom put minor parties or independents first on the ballot.
Past Speaker of the Queensland Parliament and QUT Adjunct Associate Professor John Mickel says the political terrain in North and Far North Queensland presents a major challenge to the LNP and the party will be hugely reliant on preferences.
“Of the 14 seats, seven are straight contests between the LNP and the Labor Government – Barron River, Cairns, Mulgrave, Mundingburra, Townsville, Burdekin and Mackay; although Pauline Hanson’s One Nation has polled well in Mackay before and held Mulgrave in the 1990s,” said Professor Mickel.
“The LNP runs third in Mirani, where it’s a contest between Labor and Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party.
“Elsewhere, the LNP is behind three-cornered contests in Thuringowa and Cook between Labor, Pauline Hanson’s One Nation and Katter’s Australian Party.
“Robbie Katter has the safest seat in the Queensland Parliament in Traeger, and Shane Knuth has the third safest seat on two-party preferred in Hill.
“Labor runs fourth in the Hinchinbrook and the Hill where the LNP and Pauline Hanson’s One Nation are in a contest with Katter’s Australian Party.”
Professor Mickel said the LNP also faced an added impediment with the seat of Whitsunday.
“Former LNP Member Jason Costigan, leading his new North Queensland First Party, will contest the marginal seat of Whitsunday against the LNP and Labor. His party will also contest a string of other seats in North Queensland, creating another complication to the preference equation for the LNP,” he said.
“And just to add to the challenge, 2 of the 14 members – Hinchinbrook, and Mirani, – are first term members seeking re-election.
“Historically, a first term member facing re-election who has worked hard receives a bounce in their support making them harder to dislodge, especially when they win election under minor party banners.
“Whilst Shane Knuth is not a new member, his electorate was so substantially redrawn in the 2017 redistribution that for much of the electorate, he will be the new member consolidating his support. He also has the advantage that all of Hill is under the Federal seat of Kennedy, held by Bob Katter.
“The LNP must win the historically change of Government seats of Barron River, Whitsunday, and Mundingburra to have a shot of winning Government.
“With the LNP needing to win nine seats to form government, they must navigate a narrow path through the minefield of preference flows from Katter’s Australian Party, Pauline Hanson’s One Nation and North Queensland First in battleground North Queensland seats to win in October.”