ELECTION: Whitsunday seat remains on a knife's edge

 

WELCOME to our rolling coverage of the Queensland Election 2020.

The Daily Mercury and Whitsunday Times team of reporters will be out and about across the Mackay, Whitsunday and Mirani electorates in our commitment to bringing you the best coverage in this important election.

Check back throughout the day for the latest updates from the booths.

Sunday 4pm: THE seat of Whitsunday remains a stalemate as votes continue to be counted today.

The latest update from Electoral Commission Queensland shows LNP's Amanda Camm with 32 per cent of the preliminary count, while ALP's Angie Kelly is slightly ahead on 33 per cent.  

But Ms Camm is considered the favourite to win the seat once preferences are distributed. 

She told the Daily Mercury last night she was not prepared to make any statements about the result until postal votes were counted.

More than 18,000 votes, or 51 per cent, have already been counted for Whitsunday.

Mackay MP Julieanne Gilbert, Mirani MP Stephen Andrew and Burdekin MP Dale Last have fought off challengers to retain their seats.  

ECQ update on voting for Whitsunday
ECQ update on voting for Whitsunday

9pm: Whitsunday MP Jason Costigan has conceded defeat in a Facebook post and on Channel 7.

"Well we did our very best. More to come but a big shout out to Ange Nixon & the North Queensland First team who did whatever they could in our first political test," he wrote.

"It was always going to be very difficult after the smear campaign by people within the LNP.

"Also thinking of my NQ First colleagues elsewhere."

During his live cross from Eimeo Pacific Hotel, he had a go at the LNP and leader Deb Frecklington who has now lost the state. 

"Sometimes you have to step on toes even if they rissole you," he said.

"Ding dong the witch is dead. She (Frecklington) is gone after tonight.

"She shot me and she needs to be called out."

8.30pm: ONE Nation is set to keep its sole Queensland, with Stephen Andrew leading in the two-party preferred count in Mirani.

Mr Andrews has secured 56.61 per cent of the preferences, significantly beating his ALP rival Shane Hamilton who was on 43.39 per cent.

The majority of booths have tallied the first preferences votes, with 11,965 ballots counted.

Mr Andrews is trailing slightly in the first preferences tally, on 31.49 per cent compared to Mr Hamilton's 33.07 per cent.

LNP's Tracie Newitt has secured 26.86 per cent of the vote, and her preferences are likely to flow to Mr Andrews.

NQ First, The Greens, Civil Liberties and Motorists Party, and Clive Palmer's United Australia Party are polling at less than 4 per cent. 

 

Mackay, 31 Oct 2020, Qld State Election. Member for Mirani, Stephen Andrew with voters Peter McNeill and Alan Crowley at CQ University Polling Booth. Photo : Daryl Wright
Mackay, 31 Oct 2020, Qld State Election. Member for Mirani, Stephen Andrew with voters Peter McNeill and Alan Crowley at CQ University Polling Booth. Photo : Daryl Wright

8.15pm: INCUMBENT Whitsunday MP Jason Costigan appears likely to lose his ultra marginal seat.

LNP's Amanda Camm and ALP's Angie Kelly are neck-and-neck with 31 per cent of the preliminary vote, though Camm looks likely to take the lead.

Mr Costigan is trailing behind on 9 per cent with more than 7500, or 21 per cent of votes, already counted.

Preferences will be crucial to the final result for this seat.

There are 34,824 people enrolled to vote in Whitsunday. 

8pm: MACKAY is likely to remain a safe Labor electorate with incumbent Julieanne Gilbert far out in front her seat.

Early polling has her at 45 per cent of the primary vote, with 22 per cent of the vote counted.

LNP candidate Chris Bonanno, a well-known community advocate around town, was sitting at 30 per cent of the vote.

Mrs Gilbert said she remained nervous because the pre-poll vote was so huge this year.

She said she understood about 27,000 of about 38,000 people in the Mackay electorate had already voted before booths opened.

Mackay, 31 Oct 2020, Qld State Election. Member for Mackay, Julieanne Gilbert with voters Matthew and Alicia Cashen and children Nate, Kirra, Lyric and Wyatt at Pioneer High School Polling Booth. Photo : Daryl Wright
Mackay, 31 Oct 2020, Qld State Election. Member for Mackay, Julieanne Gilbert with voters Matthew and Alicia Cashen and children Nate, Kirra, Lyric and Wyatt at Pioneer High School Polling Booth. Photo : Daryl Wright

"I still feel a bit nervous ... I would feel more comfortable getting more results from pre-poll," she said.

"I do feel happy that I have done okay in the booths but ... there is still a long way to go yet.

"If I do retain the seat of Mackay, I want to get straight into ensuring our engineering hubs are up and running and continue on building the industries of the future of Mackay.

"We are a very dynamic community and we have the resources and skills in our region to diversify our sugar industry into a cane industry where we build a lot of different products from our cane crops.

"We have a lot potential to value-adss to all our agriculture crops.

 

7.50: PREFERENCE flows will decide the leader of Burdekin, as the ALP and LNP are neck and neck in the two-party preferred tallies.

The ALP's Michael Brunker has taken a narrow lead, on 50.33 per cent of the two-party prefered tally.

But Mr Last leads the first preferences tally, securing 39.7 per cent of the votes.

He has taken the lead with 7766 votes counted or 22.24 per cent of the electorate.

Mr Brunker is second on 29.04 per cent of the first preference votes.

Katter's Australian Party's Sam Cox is trailing in third place, on 13.91 per cent of the first preferences tally.

Pauline Hanson's One Nation  candidate Clive Remmer is polling at 8.67 per cent

NQ First, The Greens and Clive Palmer's United Australia Party are all polling at less than 4 per cent. 

6.50pm: MIRANI MP Stephen Andrew is trailing in the polls in the battle for his own seat as the first booths roll in. 

ALP candidate Shane Hamiliton has taken an early lead with 389 votes counted. 

Mr Hamilton had secured 37.5 per cent of the preliminary vote as results come in from Mount Morgan and Shinfield. 

Mr Andrew lagged slightly behind on 33.4 per cent, followed by the LNP's Tracie Newitt on 18.76 per cent. 

Civil Liberties and Motorists Party, The Greens, NQ First and Clive Palmer's United Australia Party were all polling at below 4 per cent. 

6.45pm: THE first round of results are in as two Burdekin booths submit their results to the Queensland Electoral Commission barely half an hour after polls closed. 

With 253 votes counted, or 0.72 per cent, incumbent Dale Last has taken an early lead. 

Mr Last won 51.23 per cent of the vote at the Collinsville and Clare booths. 

Katter's Australia Party candidate Sam Cox trailed on 19.26 per cent, followed by ALP's Michael Brunker on 18.03 per cent. 

One Nation's Clive Remmer polled at 6.15 per cent. 

The Greens, Animal Justice Party, Clive Palmer's United Australia Party and NQ First candidates were all polling at less than 3 per cent.  

6.30pm: WITH booths now closed, Habana resident and Mackay councillor Laurence Bonaventura has reflected on a busy polling day at the local community shed.

Mr Bonaventura said Habana residents had historically opted to vote on election day, and that continued this year despite the COVID pandemic.

Volunteers at the Habana Community Shed booth estimated more than 400 casted their vote today.

"All of us in Habana are looking forward to seeing what happens tonight," Mr Bonaventura said.  

The community is one of the outer regions within the Whitsunday electorate.

"We believe the Whitsunday electorate will be very close, that's the general feeling I've got from everyone that I have spoken to," he said.

Election analysis:

PREDICTION: Possible Mackay election winner emerges

ANALYSIS: Two frontrunners emerge in Whitsunday

Mackay exit polling offers insight into the minds of voters

5.45pm: LABOR candidate for Burdekin Mike Brunker has taken to social media to thank his supporters as election day draws to a close.

As polls close, the fate of the Burdekin electorate will soon be sealed.

Mr Brunker thanked the booth workers, supporters and voters who had backed his bid for the Burdekin seat.

"Hopefully we'll bring home the bacon tonight," he said.

Mr Brunker is up against incumbent Burdekin MP and LNP candidate Dale Last, Clive Palmer's United Australia Party's Benjamin Wood, NQ First's Carolyn Moriarty, Katter's Australian Party's Sam Cox, One Nation's Clive Remmer, Animal Justice Party's Dominique Thiriet and The Greens' Jack Smith.

Mr Last was out and about around the Burdekin electorate today and visited Collinsville, Bowen, Clermont and Moranbah in the lead-up to polls closing at 6pm.

Mr Last said he had been heartened by the support he'd received.

Voters were pleased by the infrastructure and job-creating projects he had promised to deliver for the region, he said.

"There's been a good reception at all the places and I'm so lucky to have so many supporters and volunteers on election day," Mr Last said.

"I know that I've done as much as I possibly could, I've given it 110 per cent and now it's a matter of seeing how the votes roll out."

4.10pm: VOTERS have skipped the election queues to vote early, resulting in an eerily quiet Halloween election.

But with stellar early voting turnout, the big loser in this election may be the schools, charities and P&Cs that rely on the election fundraisers.

Marian State School P&C president Emily Hayes said they had sold 264 sausages and plenty of softdrinks to raise almost $700.

"It's been steady all day," he said.

"But it's not as big as you want it to be."

Ms Hayes said this was the first external fundraiser the P&C had been able to hold this year because of COVID.

Clancy Hayes, 5, top left, Emily Hayes, Ellie-May Hayes with Heath Faulkner, 5, and Paige Faulkner, 7, at the Marian State School voting booth. Picture: Zizi Averill
Clancy Hayes, 5, top left, Emily Hayes, Ellie-May Hayes with Heath Faulkner, 5, and Paige Faulkner, 7, at the Marian State School voting booth. Picture: Zizi Averill


She said the State government had lifted restrictions specifically to allow for the democracy sausages.

"It's been a bit of a learning curve," she said.

While she was happy to start raising money for the children again, she said election crowds were not what she was expecting.

3.55pm: VOTERS in Cannonvale are heading to Whitsunday Christian College to fill in their ballots and they have some firm ideas on how our future leaders could help develop the Whitsundays.

Airlie Beach resident Wendy Slaven said she would like a leader who didn't only take care of southeast Queensland.

Haven Mulville, 5, and Harla Mulville, 6, got into the Halloween spirit on election day 2020.
Haven Mulville, 5, and Harla Mulville, 6, got into the Halloween spirit on election day 2020.

"Somebody that will look after the reef, which is tourism for here, and a leader should think about what's best for the state as a whole," she said.

"Overall we have to look at how we sell ourselves in tourism.

"It was predominantly backpacking and now it's families - that's going to be changing all over."

Gillene and David Turner also headed to Whitsunday Christian College to cast their votes, however David was unable to fill in his vote due to administrative difficulties.

Cannonvale residents Gillene and David Turner would like to see more shops such as Aldi and Spotlight, as well as more arts events, in the Whitsundays.
Cannonvale residents Gillene and David Turner would like to see more shops such as Aldi and Spotlight, as well as more arts events, in the Whitsundays.

However, Mrs Turner said she would like to see different businesses open in town such as Aldi, Spotlight and Kmart, whereas Mr Turner would like to see better restaurants and more arts events.

"We like musicals, we like stage shows, it's part of our culture and we miss out on things here," he said.

Mrs Turner also said better access to doctors and possibly even a new hospital in Airlie Beach could help boost the area.

 

Wilson Beach resident Bruce Robjohns said he leant towards the LNP, however he was concerned about a potential lack of experience.

He believed we needed a change in overall state government and would like to see Queensland divided into two states.

"People say we don't need more government but we need a government that's applicable to our area," he said.

"Money will stay in this area, a fair proportion will stay in this area." 

Andrew Palmero votes at Northview State School in Andergrove. State Election 2020. Picture: Melanie Whiting
Andrew Palmero votes at Northview State School in Andergrove. State Election 2020. Picture: Melanie Whiting

3.35pm: An Andergrove voter said young people were fed up with politicians who weren't truthful and wanted to see more young candidates in the mix next election.

It was 20-year-old Andrew Palmero's second time voting this year. He voted at Northview State School at Mount Pleasant. 

"A lot of politicians aren't truthful, which young people don't like," Mr Palmero said.

"Young people would prefer to vote for another young person."

Although he admitted he didn't know much about politics, he did some research on the parties and their policies before voting.

"Jobs for the regions - that's what I based my vote on," Mr Palmero said 

3.20pm: WHEN Walkerston resident Alan Boyd cast his ballot he was thinking about a stretch of water 270km away.

Mr Boyd said his vote was influenced by the candidates positions on the proposed Urannah Dam.

"We need infrastructure in North Queensland," Mr Boyd said.

"It has been so long since we've spent money on North Queensland.

Walkerston residents Alan Boyd and Loren Boyd At the Walkerston Mirani electorate booth for State Election 2020. Picture: Zizi Averill
Walkerston residents Alan Boyd and Loren Boyd At the Walkerston Mirani electorate booth for State Election 2020. Picture: Zizi Averill

Mr Boyd said he was inspired by the dam proposal and its potential to unlock a food bowl in the region.

"It's the first time they've talked about something like that," he said,

"We could start growing food for the world."

Mr Boyd said the dam would create jobs both in its construction and in future agricultural work.

Greenmount resident Paula Lock said she was more focused on the current health crisis.

"The way COVID has been handled in Queensland...it hasn't impacted us and I'm happy with that," Ms Lock said.

"If it got out of hand it will affect our day to day lives, our homes, our towns and our economy."

3.05pm: LABOR candidate Angie Kelly has labelled herself "the underdog" in the race for the Whitsundays saying regardless of the outcome in her electorate, she hoped the Palaszczuk Government would secure a majority.

Ms Kelly stopped at the Bloomsbury polling booth on her election day tour through the Whitsundays.

When asked how she was feeling about the vote, Ms Kelly said her focus was on keeping a majority government.

"I just feel it's so crucial to return to a majority Palaszczuk Labor government," she said.

"That's it for me, that's my first and foremost priority and if I win, that's amazing, I would be overwhelmed by that.

"I am the underdog, so I'm very cognisant of that, but for me I've done the very, very best that I can and that's all I can ask of myself.

"However it works out, it's okay."

Labor candidate for Whitsunday Angie Kelly said she was
Labor candidate for Whitsunday Angie Kelly said she was "the underdog" in today's election. Picture: Laura Thomas

Exit polling data compiled by the Daily Mercury and Whitsunday Times across the region revealed that Angie Kelly was a close contender for the seat behind LNP candidate Amanda Camm.

As a first-time candidate, Ms Kelly said running a campaign had been a big learning curve and thanked her all her volunteers for their support.

"As a schoolteacher and as someone who's got an education background, I think I'd be pretty good at running someone else's campaign," she said.

"But having said that, it's one of those things you simply have to go through and then you just learn an enormous amount.

"It's so extraordinary to me that people step up and do these sorts of things. .

"And they do it because they understand the importance of government and what it actually does."

Balnagowan mother or two Marianne Knox with her 12-year-old boy, Sam Knox and his sister Maddie Knox, 8. State Election 2020
Balnagowan mother or two Marianne Knox with her 12-year-old boy, Sam Knox and his sister Maddie Knox, 8. State Election 2020 Melanie Whiting

3pm: A WHITSUNDAY voter said her ballot was decided on behalf of her children.

Balnagowan mother or two Marianne Knox said she chose the party she thought would best support her 12-year-old boy, Sam Knox and his sister Maddie Knox, 8.

"I looked at what the current government is doing, what they're promising and not promising," Ms Knox said.

"Education would be the biggest one, because of the kids."

She said was looking for parties that would increase school funding, particularly in rural areas.

"Because I've got young kids it's their future I'm thinking of," Ms Knox said.

Despite being so critical to his mother's democratic decision making, Sam said he found politics "boring". 

2.40pm: AS THE centigrade rose, crowds at the Bloomsbury polling booth remained thin.

Voters trickled in during the early afternoon after what volunteers said was a busy morning.

For Bloomsbury resident Basil Plemenuk, a four-lane highway was top of the election wishlist.

Mr Plemenuk said the road between Bloomsbury and Proserpine was often congested and hoped whoever was elected would make it a priority.

Crowds were thin at the Bloomsbury polling booth as many voters opted to come early in a bid to avoid the heat. Picture: Laura Thomas
Crowds were thin at the Bloomsbury polling booth as many voters opted to come early in a bid to avoid the heat. Picture: Laura Thomas

"We're in 2020 and there's more cars on the road," he said.

Mr Plemenuk also hoped the Bradfield Scheme would be pushed forward regardless of the result.

"The population is getting bigger and you can't do anything without water," he said.

Another Bloomsbury voter also had the highway high on his priority list.

With children who go to Proserpine for school, he said it was important the highway was floodproofed and fixed. 

2.15pm: VOTING is under way at Airlie Beach for the state election and residents heading to the booths have some clear ideas about what they would like to see our future leaders implement.

Jubilee Pocket resident Desi Phelps said she believed the Whitsundays was not getting enough funding and was concerned about the impact the cessation of cruise ships would have on the region.

In particular, she would like to see funding directed into more activities for young people.

"I feel our youths are missing out," she said.

"I'd like to see more skating rinks and more for our teenagers to keep them out of crime."

For Whitsunday voter Jessica Szalinski, the top priority is job security, particularly in the industry she works in - mining.

"So we can plan for our futures," she said.

"I've got a mortgage and so it would mean keeping the house."

A Whitsunday resident who requested to be known as Eddie, said he was an avid supporter of One Nation, however voted LNP this year.

He believes the Whitsundays requires economic reform, which he said the LNP was in a stronger position to deliver.

After economic reform, he would like to see social reform.

"If there's business development then the jobs flow on," he said.

Representatives from different political parties are stationed outside PCYC Whitsunday to hand out how-to-vote cards to residents.

Labor representatives (from left) Sarah Voigt, Sonia Zadebernyj and Nadine Hofman hand out how-to-vote cards at Whitsunday PCYC. State Election 2020. Picture: Elyse Wurm
Labor representatives (from left) Sarah Voigt, Sonia Zadebernyj and Nadine Hofman hand out how-to-vote cards at Whitsunday PCYC. State Election 2020. Picture: Elyse Wurm

Zoe Hurst is stationed at the booth supporting Katter's Australian Party, but it's not her first time helping out during an election.

She lent a hand during the Federal Election as well.

"It's important to get involved in politics because the younger generation needs to  know what's going on," she said.

"If the younger generation doesn't know what's going on, then where are we heading?"

She said she was previously a Labor supporter but switched camps because she was disappointed about the treatment of previous Whitsunday Labor candidate Tracey Cameron earlier this year

2pm: One of Mackay's typically busiest booths was missing the big crowds and traditional democracy sausage sizzle today.

Voters trickled in at Victoria Park State School in East Mackay throughout the early afternoon.

South Mackay resident Brendan Hoban opted to vote on Election Day because he was too busy at work to vote during pre-poll.

Jubilee Community Centre in Mackay for State Election 2020. Picture: Melanie Whiting
Jubilee Community Centre in Mackay for State Election 2020. Picture: Melanie Whiting

He also expressed his frustration over being bombarded with text messages from political parties and the Electoral Commission of Queensland in the days leading up to the poll.

"I just wanted to get it over and done with so I stop getting the texts," Mr Hoban said.

"I wasn't even sure where to vote today." 

 

1.45pm: IT WAS a family affair behind the barbecue at the Proserpine polling booth today.

Shaun, Charlie and Lisa Atkinson were among the Lions volunteers serving up the democracy sausages in what was one of the first fundraisers they had been able to hold since the COVID lockdown.

It was Shaun's first time at an election barbecue and he said so far it had "been pretty chill".

However, Mrs Atkinson had served up sausages at several elections before and said it was important the community saw the Lions out and about.

"Anything that's to do with the community we try to support," she said.

Charlie, Shaun and Lisa Atkinson were manning the barbecue at the Proserpine polling booth. Picture: Laura Thomas
Charlie, Shaun and Lisa Atkinson were manning the barbecue at the Proserpine polling booth. Picture: Laura Thomas

"Especially now with COVID, I think it's good to see  the local people are out (and trying) to help the community.

"It's comforting for people to know there is a group like this."

While campaign volunteers described the polling booth traffic as "steady", Shaun hoped the smell of snags would draw more people to the polls.

"If you cook sausages, they will come," he said. 

1.30PM: MIRANI voters put their number one votes behind jobs and roads at the Sarina polling booth.

"Jobs, getting the roads fixed and getting those jobs up," Samantha Hoppe said.

"There's not enough money being spent getting people into jobs."

Ms Hoppe said she had to drive from Sarina to Mackay every day and she was appalled at the state of the highway.

"It needs a total fix up," Ms Hoppe said.

"And the trucks don't help."

Bryan Bloom said he was voting for the candidate making the best roads promise, but was not convince anything would change.

Bryan Bloomvotes at Sarina in State Election 2020. Picture: Zizi Averill
Bryan Bloomvotes at Sarina in State Election 2020. Picture: Zizi Averill

"I didn't think of a lot (in the voting booth) because they all lie," Mr Bloom said.

"They make promises every time... (but) … the Bruce Highway is rubbish."

As a mine worker, Mr Bloom said the state of the roads was an everyday issue but he knew the problems could be fatal if things went wrong.

While jobs were an issue, he said the pandemic and economic climate were an uncontrollable factor.

"The way the climate is you can't control that," Mr Bloom said.

Sonja Solli votes at Sarina in the State Election 2020. Picture: Zizi Averill
Sonja Solli votes at Sarina in the State Election 2020. Picture: Zizi Averill

But Sarina resident Sonja Solli said the economy was her top priority.

"I don't think we're doing as well as we could be," Ms Solli said.

"Look at our unemployment for a start.

"I'd like to see more money be put into health, education and the police - a lot more money for the police."

Mirani voter Marie Gela said she cast her vote to secure a better future for Sarina.

"I want to keep our region running I suppose," Ms Gela said.

Marie Gela votes at Sarina in State Election 2020. Picture: Zizi Averill
Marie Gela votes at Sarina in State Election 2020. Picture: Zizi Averill

"We need more things for the kids, like apprenticeships.

"You have to go into Mackay for apprenticeships here."

Ms Gela said Sarina's significant population was missing out on indoor sports centres, waterparks and bike lanes needed for its active youth.

But it was the parties' political past, not its promises, that influenced Jonathan Ormond's vote.

"I voted for the party because I don't really know the candidates," he said.

"I guess the previous record of the parties we've had.

"Since 1989 we've only had an LNP government once and I didn't like their decisions."

Mr Ormond said the most important election issues for him were the environment, public sector jobs and industrial relations.

Jonathan Ormond votes at Sarina in the State Election 2020. Picture: Zizi Averill
Jonathan Ormond votes at Sarina in the State Election 2020. Picture: Zizi Averill

1.15pm: VOLUNTEERS outnumbered voters as the polls opened in Proserpine this morning.

Residents slowly trickled into the booth at St Catherine's Catholic College to have their say in today's vote.

One Proserpine voter said LNP candidate Amanda Camm took out her number one spot on the ballot because she was a "local face" who put the needs of the community first.

Ms Camm was also popular with another voter who said she understood the needs of the region, especially in the agricultural sector.

Angie Kelly scored the vote of several other residents at the Proserpine booth with one voter saying he did not like any of the other candidates.

A long-time Labor voter also gave Ms Kelly his top spot but said he would have voted for the Labor party regardless of the candidate.

However, one Proserpine man hoped there would be a move away from the two major parties and gave KAP candidate Ciaron Paterson his vote, saying the region needed a member in power who would do something for North Queensland.  

1PM: Voting is well under way across Mackay and Whitsunday with candidates doing the rounds of booths.

One Nation's Deb Lawson set herself up at Mackay Northern Beaches State High School earlier this morning, telling the Daily Mercury it had been a steady start to the day.

Noticeably absent at the usually busy booth, though, was the traditional democracy sausage.

Ms Lawson said she had received a lot of positive feedback from punters but felt most had made up their minds before entering the booths.

 

People also appeared confused about preferences, with the topic dominating most conversations she had with voters.

But, she said, she was hopeful.

"It is what it is," she told the Daily Mercury.

"I wouldn't say I'm confident but I am hopeful."

KAP's Ciaron Paterson said he had been confident the five months he had campaigned for the electorate, notching up 14,800km in his ute "on back roads, dirt roads and highways".

Having taken long service leave to campaign over the past five months, Mr Paterson said as an "extrovert" he was comfortable on the campaign trail.

He gave a last-minute pitch to voters when the Daily Mercury chatted with him at Mackay Northern Beaches State High this morning.

"A lot of the issues people are mentioning to me in the Northern Beaches is there is not much out here for young people," he said.

He doubled down on his support for the Northern Beaches Community Hub as well as a waterpark or something similar, and plans for a police beat.

     


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