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Recriminations flare after Labor wipeout

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Newman takes his seat

The first members of the new Queensland LNP government take their seats in the Executive Building: RAW VISION.

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LABOR has been virtually erased from the Queensland electoral map, causing Anna Bligh to quit politics, severely damaging Julia Gillard's chances of staying in government and fuelling bitter recriminations.

Labor is expected to hold just seven seats in the 89-seat parliament, potentially putting it out of power for a generation.

Anna Bligh has resigned as leader of the Queensland Labor Party and will quit parliament, causing a by-election that will add to the party's dissaray following its huge loss in the state election at the weekend.

Victorious ... Campbell Newman arriving at the Hilton Hotel with his family last night.

Victorious ... Campbell Newman arriving at the Hilton Hotel with his family last night. Photo: Glenn Hunt

Ms Bligh said the size of Labor's defeat had ''closed the book'' on her era.

''It is a heartbreaking day for the Queensland Labor Party today,'' she said.

Premier-elect Campbell Newman is fine-tuning his new ministry after leading the Liberal National Party to  staggering success.

Claiming victory last night, the premier-elect, Campbell Newman, thanked Queenslanders for voting for change.

''You have spoken decisively and emphatically and delivered a strong government so that we can deliver for you and get this great state back on track,'' Mr Newman said.

Queenslanders had made Australian political history, making him the first person to win the premiership from outside parliament.

With close to 70 per cent of the vote counted late last night there was an average swing against Labor of 15.8 per cent. Some sitting ALP candidates experienced swings as high as than 21 per cent. Anna Bligh was facing a fight to hold her electorate of South Brisbane, but was expected to win thanks to Greens preferences.

As many as 10 ministers in the Bligh cabinet, including the Deputy Premier, Andrew Fraser, lost their seats to LNP candidates.

For Labor, who held 51 seats going into the election, the bitter recriminations have begun.Premier Anna Bligh will go down in history as presiding over the worst defeat Labor has ever seen in the state.

Retiring water minister Stephen Robertson has sheeted the blame home to Labor’s personal attack campaign against Mr Newman and his family.

He described it as ‘‘terrible’’ and blamed Labor’s inner sanctum, including Ms Bligh, her ousted deputy Andrew Fraser, attorney-general Paul Lucas and their advisers.

Mr Robertson also took aim at Kevin Rudd over his decision to challenge for the federal Labor leadership so close to the Queensland poll.

‘‘The self-indulgence of what Rudd did, knowing that there was an election campaign going on in his home state, in my mind, is unforgivable,’’ he told ABC Radio.

Retiring parliamentary speaker John Mickel called on Ms Bligh to take responsibility for the scale of the loss, and stand down from the leadership.He also blamed Labor’s negative campaign.

‘‘They (voters) like a positive campaign, but they take a really dim view when you go after someone’s relatives,’’ he told the ABC.

Mr Newman could announce his new ministry as early as this week.

A few spots have already been determined. Jeff Seeney will be appointed deputy premier and the treasurer’s role will go to Tim Nicholls.Lawrence Springborg, Vaughan Johnson and Howard Hobbs are frontrunners for cabinet posts, having being ministers in the Borbidge government.

Mr Newman looked to have won his seat, Ashgrove, with a swing of more than 15 per cent.

If double-digit swings against Labor were seen at the federal election, the party would be left with no seats in Queensland, with ministers losing their seats across the country.

Conceding defeat, Ms Bligh said that days such as yesterday were very tough. Labor had ''defied gravity in its past two election victories''.

''I never shied away from the big policy issues and the tough decisions and I always held your interests in my heart,'' she said.

The Prime Minister congratulated Mr Newman on his victory and said her government would work with him in areas such as health, education, infrastructure and the rollout of the national broadband network. She also praised Ms Bligh for her inspirational efforts during last year's flood and cyclone disasters.

The ABC said Labor's primary vote across the state was looking to be about 26.5 per cent, while the LNP's was 49.8 per cent.

Former Labor premier Peter Beattie said the Australian Labor Party had a crisis on its hands.

''The Labor Party has had its heart ripped out tonight,'' Mr Beattie said.

''Unless we rebuild and retain support [in Queensland] we will not win the next federal election.''

Political experts said if Labor fell below 10 seats, it would be at the discretion of Mr Newman as to whether it kept party status.

The landslide LNP victory does not bode well for Ms Gillard's minority government at the federal poll, due next year. Labor needs to pick up about five seats federally in Queensland if it is to have any chance of retaining power. Of the eight seats it holds now, all but one - former prime minister Kevin Rudd's seat of Griffith - are held with a margin of less than 7 per cent.

Federal Coalition strategists believe they can win at least five of Labor's seats - Moreton, Petrie, Capricornia, Blair and Lilley, the seat held by the Treasurer, Wayne Swan.

This would leave Mr Rudd, the Trade Minister, Craig Emerson, and parliamentary secretary Bernie Ripoll as Labor's only federal Queensland MPs.

The Coalition is also confident it could pick up Mr Rudd's seat if he did not contest it.

Labor factional heavyweight Bill Ludwig blamed the men of Queensland for Ms Bligh's loss and warned Ms Gillard would similarly struggle.

''The blokes here just don't like women, especially women in charge,'' Mr Ludwig said. ''The federal election is a long way off, it's different circumstances, but I don't think the blokes like Julia, either. The men of Queensland are just very negative towards women.''

Senior Queensland conservative figures said the result was a warning to the Prime Minister. ''They stopped listening to Bligh long ago, they've stopped listening to Gillard. It's a lesson for Gillard: when they stop listening to you you've got a problem,'' a senior LNP source said.

The son of maverick federal MP Bob Katter joined his father in politics, winning Mount Isa for the Katter's Australian Party.

With AAP

 

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