Hope grows from poll chaos

A glimmer of hope has emerged from the election chaos courtesy of an incredible blunder

THE chaos of the Queensland election is showing few signs of abating with Labor and the LNP continuing to scramble for power.

The success-stunned Labor and battle-damaged LNP camps remain in frantic negotiations with Katter'S Australian Party MPs Rob Katter (Mount Isa) and Shane Knuth (Dalrymple) to gain their support to form a minority government.

Sunshine Coast-based independent Peter Wellington (Nicklin) announced on Thursday morning he would be siding with Labor.

Who Katter and Knuth will side with is unknown.

The pair have already made it very clear they are not impressed by either organisation: Labor, for its destruction of the Queensland economy under Beattie and Bligh, and the LNP not only for its proposed asset sales but also for the pure political bastardry and bullying tactics that senior LNP politicians engaged in during their past three years of power.

LNP leadership aspirant Tim Nicholls has already been sin-binned by KAP for the role he played in the LNP's proposed asset sales and is now almost certain not to emerge in any LNP leadership role.

As it stands today, Labor is likely to win 44 seats and has gained the support of Peter Wellington taking it to a potential 45 seats.

The LNP is likely to win 42 seats and Lawrence Springborg (Southern Downs) negotiating in a desperate bid to secure the support of Katter and Knuth to effectively control 44 seats.

While the support of the pair would still not give the LNP the numbers required to form a minority government, all is not lost for the LNP.

An incredible blunder by the Palmer United Party has delivered a sniff of a chance to the LNP.

PUP's mistake in standing an ineligible candidate - an undischarged bankrupt - may force the north west Brisbane seat of Ferny Grove back to the polls.

Even though Labor will technically win Ferny Grove on preferences, it will be blocked from counting the seat because the result will be sent to the Court of Disputed Returns and the Electoral Commission of Queensland will be forced to announce a by-election for Ferny Grove to be held 26 days from that date.

Campbell Newman will continue in his role as Queensland's Premier in a caretaker role until that time.

While it is still an against-all-odds battle, it is by no means impossible. The LNP won 45 per cent, and lion's share, of the primary vote in Ferny Grove on January 31.

If the LNP can snatch back Ferny Grove and win all of its outstanding seats including Lockyer, both Labor and the LNP would be on 43 seats. Even with Wellington siding with Labor, the fate of who controls Queensland will still come down to who the Katter Party MPs would support as a minority government. Expect to see Peter Wellington possibly emerge as the Speaker.

Regardless of who they choose to back in government, the support of the KAP MPs and the independent will not be unconditional. Their support will extend only to confidence motions and the budget items.

Most certainly the KAP pair will demand massive injections of funding, infrastructure and services into the north as well as the delivery of other KAP policies in return for their support.

Importantly, even if the KAP MPs bow to the certain massive pressure to end the uncertainty and allow Labor to form government, they already have the opportunity to back rural Queensland as a whole by denying Labor the opportunity to repeal common sense reforms to the Vegetation Management Act and by ensuring that Labor does not develop new rules and regulations that disadvantage livestock producers or farmers in the Great Barrier Reef catchments.

What they won't be able secure is a real way forward for Queensland. Neither Labor or the LNP has a plan to rein-in the massive $80 billion in debt racked up under Labor without a new source of revenue that does not involve tax hikes and massively increased fees and charges.

Mark Phelps

Mark Phelps

is editor-in-chief of Queensland Country Life
A matter of opinionA selection of editorials from around the Fairfax Agricultural Media group covering the issues of the week.


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