Australian voters in the general election appear to have defied media reports suggesting the opposition’s left-leaning Labor Party would win several seats in Queensland.
The Australian Electoral Commission confirmed on May 18 at 9:45 p.m. local time the ruling Liberal National Coalition was leading the vote count with 23 coalition candidates compared to just six Labor candidates.
Local media reports had strongly suggested Labor would win marginal seats in what was dubbed the “unloseable” battle of Queensland. A key factor behind this predicted swing was thought to be Labor’s opposition to Adani Australia’s AUD$21 billion ($14.4 billion) Carmichael Coal Project in Central Queensland.
“Labor is struggling to have an impact in the state, where a slew of marginal seats were up for grabs and was the focus of heavy campaigning by both sides,” the Australian Associated Press reported. “The controversial Adani coal mine project—and Labor’s ambivalent response to it—appears to have played a part in central Queenslanders giving their vote to the Liberal National Party.”
— news.com.au (@newscomauHQ) May 18, 2019
As a result, incumbent Coalition Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton is likely to return to his northern Brisbane seat of Dickson with 53 percent of the vote compared to Labor Candidate Ali France’s 47 percent at 10 p.m. local time.
Coalition lawmaker George Christensen, who was criticized for taking 294 days off to visit his fiancee in the Philippine capital of Manila, is expected to comfortably return to his federal seat of Dawson with 65 percent of the vote compared to Labor candidate Belinda Hassan’s 35 percent.
Coalition candidate Phillip Thompson appears to be winning the Townsville seat in Herbert with 57 percent of the vote compared to incumbent Labor lawmaker Cathy O’Toole’s 43 percent.
The coalition has also retained the coastal seats of Flynn, Capricornia, and Leichhardt.
— The Sydney Morning Herald (@smh) May 18, 2019
Coalition senator Arthur Sinodinos said former Greens Leader Bob Brown’s anti-Adani convoy, which traveled through Queensland, had upset voters whose livelihoods rely on the mining industry.
“The Bob Brown caravan, which went up there to talk about stopping Adani, had locals thinking, ‘Hang on, you are not going to tell us how to live,'” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
Nationals deputy leader Bridget McKenzie was not surprised to learn Christensen had safely returned to his seat.
“He has been backing jobs in his electorate, and that is part of the fight,” McKenzie told 9News. “The fact is, this is a seat that relies on mining jobs, and George is at the front of that fight.”
Senior Labor frontbencher Brendan O’Connor believes voting preferences from the United Australia Party and One Nation to the coalition were a factor in these interim results.
Senior Labor senator Penny Wong admitted the election campaign had been “tough.”
“[Clive] Palmer’s relentless advertising, which essentially set a pox on everybody, is much more difficult for a party like ours,” Wong said.
At 11 p.m. the coalition appeared to have won 75 seats compared to Labor’s 67, with five seats still to be decided.
Either party will need 76 seats to form a majority to govern in the House of Representatives.
The crossbench is expected to include Independent candidates Andrew Wilkie and Zali Steggall, Katter’s Australian Party leader Bob Katter, Center Alliance candidate Rebekha Sharkie and the Greens candidate Adam Bandt.
Former Liberal deputy leader Julie Bishop congratulated Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s presidential-style campaign.
“If Scott Morrison pulls this off he will be forever immortalized in the history of the Liberal Party—he will be confirmed enduring fame, if he is able to find that goat track back,” Bishop told the Nine Network. “Actually, it’s a single lane highway now.”
Scott Morrison’s presidential-style campaign led the Coalition to significant gains in Queensland and has given him a realistic chance of a shock outright victory or minority government.https://t.co/wJENv1Twa3
— Brisbane Times (@brisbanetimes) May 18, 2019
Former Prime Minister John Howard believes Morrison deserves the “overwhelming gratitude” of the Liberals across the country.