Victorious Labor candidate Anthony Lynham with jubilant Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk celebrating victory in the Stafford by-election. Photo: Michelle Smith
And then there were nine.
Queensland’s Labor Opposition has received a boost with its representation in Parliament increasing by one, while the Newman government was left licking its wounds after a staggering loss in the Stafford by-election.
Maxillofacial surgeon Anthony Lynham romped to victory on Saturday night with a massive swing to Labor that will have wide ramifications for the Liberal National Party government.
With all booths reporting back on Saturday night, Labor had achieved a swing of 18.6 per cent – more than the 17.2 per cent it achieved in the Scott Driscoll-dominated Redcliffe by-election in February.
LNP candidate Bob Andersen and Premier Campbell Newman remained upbeat as they addressed the party faithful at Wilston Grange Australian Football Club.
The Premier laid the blame for the LNP’s defeat firmly at the feet of his former assistant health minister Chris Davis, whose resignation triggered the by-election.
Dr Davis resigned after a public falling out with the Newman government over doctors’ contracts and changes to electoral donation laws.
“Clearly, the attacks on the government by the former member were a factor in this election as well – it did us no favours and did Bob’s campaign no favours,” Mr Newman said.
“But I do absolutely understand there are people unhappy with this government – our government – and I just say this evening we know they’re unhappy because we’ve had to make many unpopular and strong decisions.
“So this evening I say to those people we’ve heard you, we understand how you feel and I pledge this evening to continue to work hard – in fact, we will redouble our efforts – to improve this state and to take it forward to a bright future.”
Jubilant Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk told supporters at the Brothers Leagues Club – just a few hundred metres from the LNP function – that while the "Driscoll factor" had won the Redcliffe by-election for Labor, the “Campbell Newman factor” had seen it win Stafford.
“This is about Campbell Newman not listening to Stafford,” she said.
Dr Lynham said he was proud, humble and thankful to be elected to Parliament.
“Today, we have sent Campbell Newman a very strong message,” he said.
“It’s a clear message that our community deserves to be heard, a clear message that it’s not OK to cut services and sack workers that we rely on every day.”
The defeated LNP candidate put on a brave face, despite the massive swing his party had just suffered.
“There’s no gilding the lily,” Mr Andersen said.
“We have had a huge swing against us tonight, but nevertheless we should reflect on what we have achieved.
“In a very short time, we put together a credible campaign and we’ve done so fighting against not just the Labor Party, but union third-party campaigns and also the damage that was done to us by the former member.”
The Greens’ vote was also up 0.6 per cent to 11.9 per cent, but with Labor candidate attracting 50.4 per cent of the primary vote, their preferences would not be needed to see the ALP increase its representation in Parliament from eight to nine.
The two-party preferred swing to Labor was 18.6 per cent, with Dr Lynham leading Mr Andersen 61.5 per cent to 38.5 per cent on a two-party preferred basis.
If such a swing was replicated across Queensland at next year’s state election, the LNP would lose 46 seats – and government.
The LNP also suffered a significant swing in February’s Redcliffe by-election, which saw former federal MP Yvette D’Ath swept into office with a 17.2 swing away from the Newman government.
While the stench of disgraced former LNP MP Scott Driscoll aided that result, the Driscoll factor could not be blamed for the party’s poor showing in Stafford.