Blow for Labor as Queenslanders vote in two byelections

Steven Miles with Labor's Inala candidate Margie Nightingale (right) on Saturday night.

Steven Miles with Labor's Inala candidate Margie Nightingale (right) on Saturday night. Photo: AAP

The Liberal Nationals are poised to retain a majority within Australia’s biggest local council as the re-elected Brisbane lord mayor slams the state’s electoral commission.

At the state level, Labor has retained the seat of Inala but appears to have lost Ipswich West following two byelections that give Premier Steven Miles a gauge of his chances in the upcoming state election.

ABC chief elections analyst Antony Green called Labor to hold Inala, the seat previously held by former premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.

Adrian Schrinner declared victory in the Brisbane lord mayor race on Saturday night, having claimed 47.9 per cent of the primary vote with almost 70 per cent counted as of Sunday morning.

Labor’s candidate Tracey Price has garnered 26.4 per cent of first ballots, while Greens hopeful Jonathan Sriranganathan secured just over 20 per cent.

Mr Schrinner said he was humbled by the result but criticised the performance of the Electoral Commission of Queensland.

“While we expect to retain a majority in council, unfortunately many wards remain either too close to call or not enough votes have been counted,” he said in a statement.

‘Disappointed at the slow count’

“Like me, I am sure many residents are disappointed at the slow count as well as the long queues and shortage of staff and ballot papers that occurred at many booths.

“The Electoral Commission of Queensland’s performance will need to be further considered once the counting is finished.”

On projections based on preference counts, Labor’s Margie Nightingale had 57.2 per cent with the Liberal National Party’s Trang Yen on 42.8 per cent, but the swing to the LNP was 22 per cent.

The LNP was projected to have won in Ipswich West where the preference count was 52.9 per cent for the LNP’s Darren Zanow, with Labor’s Wendy Bourne on 47.1 per cent – a swing to the LNP of about 18 per cent.

Ipswich West is a prize Labor seat, being held by the party in 19 of 22 elections since 1960.

The Queensland state election will be held in October, with an opinion poll released on Friday indicating Miles faces defeat.

The LNP led the two-party preferred vote 54 per cent to 46 per cent in the poll published by News Corp.

Miles earlier said he expected swings against the government “in the double digits”.

“It’s usual to expect swings against governments in by-elections,” he said at Ipswich High School on Saturday morning after polling booths opened.

“That’s what we nearly always see and so that’s what we’re expecting here.”

That was echoed by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, who told Nine’s Today program he also expected a swing away from the state Labor government.

queensland elections

LNP leader David Crisafulli and Inala candidate Trang Yen on Saturday. Photo: AAP

Opposition Leader David Crisafulli had warned supporters to be “realistic” because Labor held Ipswich West by 14.3 per cent and Inala by 28.2 per cent.

“If there is a swing towards the LNP of anything north of about 3-4 per cent there will be rumblings in the Labor Party,” he said in Brassall on Saturday.

“We’re under no illusion about how tough the task is. But it is important that we have a strong showing to show the government that the state under their direction is heading in the wrong direction.”

About a third of voters had already made up their minds and submitted their decision before election day across both seats, according to the Queensland Electoral Commission.

The Inala electorate, which was contested for the first time in 1992, was initially represented by Palaszczuk’s father Henry. He went on to become a senior minister before being succeeded by his daughter, who resigned in December.

Inala is considered Queensland’s safest Labor seat but Palaszczuk took no chances on Saturday, stopping by a polling booth in the electorate to show her support in a rare public out.

‘Youth crime is the No.  1 issue’

“I’m going to give her (Nightingale) the same advice that my father gave me, and that is: Whoever comes through your door always comes there for a reason and to treat everyone with respect and to make sure that you really listen because they’ve come to you for help,” Palaszczuk told the ABC.

“If Margie does that, she’ll be a very, very good local member.”

Yen said she was the underdog in Saturday’s vote but “pushing hard”.

“Youth crime is the No. 1 issue at the moment, as well as cost of living,” she said.

“We’re working very hard, and I have a great team behind us.”

The byelection in Ipswich West was triggered by the departure in January of Labor MP Jim Madden. He ran for Ipswich council in Saturday’s Queensland local government elections.

Meanwhile, in local government elections also held on Saturday, LNP candidate and current Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner appears to be ahead in the Brisbane mayoral race,

Schrinner has led Brisbane since 2019.

Counting in the byelections and the council vote will continue on Sunday.

-with AAP

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