Local Government elections were held in Queensland on Saturday 19 March, together with a referendum on four-year fixed terms for State parliament. It is expected that 29 new mayors will be elected, predominantly in smaller rural councils and areas where incumbent mayors retired.
The majority of Queensland’s high-profile mayors have been re-elected, including Tom Tate (Gold Coast), Mark Jamieson (Sunshine Coast), Paul Pisasale (Ipswich), Paul Antonio (Toowoomba), Jenny Hill (Townsville) and Bob Manning (Cairns). Former Queensland Police Minister Jack Dempsey has also been elected Mayor of Bundaberg following the loss of his state seat of Bundaberg at the January 2015 Queensland Election.
Other notable successes include Greg Williamson (Mackay) who defeated incumbent Deirdre Comerford after receiving 56 per cent of the vote, and Deputy Mayor Matt Burnett who was elected Mayor of Gladstone with 59 per cent of the vote against incumbent Gail Sellers.
Four-year fixed term referendum
A referendum on four-year fixed Parliamentary terms appears to have received support from a majority of 3 million Queenslanders. The “yes” case has received over 53% of the vote, paving the way for Queensland’s electoral system to come into line with the other large States.
The results for a number of key Queensland council areas are detailed below.
Brisbane City Council
In the Brisbane City Council election, incumbent Lord Mayor Graham Quirk received strong support after securing more than half the primary vote and 58 per cent after preferences, limiting the swing to Labor to 10 points. This came as a surprise to both the ALP and Liberal National Party after public and private polling had indicated a much closer result. The Electoral Commission of Queensland (ECQ) continues to count the votes but the result is clear in most wards.
The LNP is expected to hold 18 wards in Brisbane, and the ALP five. The ALP lost the Northgate Ward to LNP candidate Adam Allan, while Independent Councillor Nicole Johnston received 59 per cent of the vote in Tennyson. The ward of Gabba, south of Brisbane, remains tightly contested with a final result yet to be announced in a three way race between the LNP, ALP and the Greens, all above 30%.
Following the election, Lord Mayor Graham Quirk has quickly turned his focus to implementing the delivery of the $1.54 billion Brisbane Metro by establishing the technical team to develop the business case for the project and seeking a meeting with Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk. Construction is expected to start in two years.
Cairns Regional Council
In Cairns, Mayor Bob Manning from the Cairns Unity Team has been re-elected with 66 per cent of the vote. The majority of councillors are also expected to hold their divisions, including four from the Unity Team, however, the results remain close in divisions 8 and 9.
Townsville City Council
Townsville Mayor Jenny Hill has been comfortably re-elected after receiving 60 per cent of the vote.
The results are close in division 6. Verena Coombe from Team Jenny Hill has received 52 per cent of the vote, while Trevor Roberts from Jayne Arlett’s Team sits on 48 per cent. In division 8, Ray Gartrell from Jayne Arlett’s team and Maurie Soars from Team Jenny Hill each have 46 per cent of the vote.
Bundaberg Regional Council
Former State MP and Queensland Police Minister Jack Dempsey is set to be elected mayor of Bundaberg. Dempsey has secured 70 per cent of the vote after counting was completed for 57 of the 135 polling booths. Results are close in division 1, with Jason Bartels and Alan Bush both securing 34 per cent of the vote, and Greg Messenger sitting on 32 per cent.
Logan City Council
Long-serving councillor Luke Smith was elected mayor of Logan City Council following the retirement of outgoing popular Mayor Pam Parker, who recently endorsed Smith. In divisions 3, 6 and 7 the vote count is still too close to call.
Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisasale was easily re-elected after receiving 82 per cent of the vote, with Wayne Wendt, Kyle Stoneman and Kerry Silver anticipated to replace retiring councillors.
Incumbent mayor Tom Tate was re-elected with 64 per cent of the vote. In his victory speech, Tate reaffirmed his plans to pursue development of a cruise ship terminal offshore. All sitting councillors have held their divisions apart from division 12.
Sunshine Coast Regional Council
Mayor Mark Jamieson was returned for another term as Mayor of the Sunshine Coast Regional Council, receiving 61 per cent of the vote. Jamieson used his speech on election night to highlight his mandate to continue with delivering key projects, growing employment and expanding the Sunshine Coast Airport. All sitting councillors are expected to be re-elected despite early speculation of a swing against current councillors.
Western Downs Regional Council
In the Westerns Downs Regional Council, Paul McVeigh was elected Mayor after securing 45 per cent of the vote. Incumbent Mayor Ray Brown did not re-contest the mayoral election, deciding instead to run for one of eight councillor positions. Counting is still underway for the eight councillor positions.
Live updates of all Queensland local government areas are available on the ECQ website.