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Despite Huge Majority, Beattie Says By-Election Is Wake-Up Call

In an indication of his finely-tuned political instincts, the Queensland Premier, Peter Beattie, has warned the ALP against complacency, following its defeat in the Maryborough by-election.

The by-election was caused by the resignation, due to ill-health, of John Kingston. Kingston won the seat as a One Nation candidate in 1998, resigning a year later to sit as an Independent. He was re-elected in 2001. Maryborough has previously been held by Labor and National party members.

The ALP candidate, Doug Loggie, has polled 37.03% of the primary vote, ahead of the independent candidate, Chris Foley, on 33.31%. The National Party candidate, Peter Andrews, has 17.16% of the primary vote and his preferences will deliver the seat to Mr. Foley.

The Queensland Labor government has 66 seats in the 89-seat Legislative Assembly. The National Party has 11, the Liberals 3, and there are 7 One Nation and independent members. Most observers will regard Beattie’s warning to the ALP as disingenuous.

Text of a media release by the Premier of Queensland, Peter Beattie.

Maryborough Loss Proves Beattie Government Can Be Beaten

BeattieThe fact that Labor has lost the Maryborough by-election proves that the State Labor Government can lose the next State election, Premier Peter Beattie said today (Sunday).

“Latest figures show there has been a swing of more than five per cent against us and we received only 36 per cent of the vote,” said Mr Beattie.

“We can’t retain Government with a primary vote of that size.

“I accept full responsibility for this loss and congratulate Chris Foley for his victory.

“This is a wake-up call for everyone in the Government and the party.

“A lot of people keep forecasting that we are odds-on favourites to win the next State election but the Maryborough figures show that we are vulnerable and can be beaten.

“What everyone should remember is that a majority gained in a single election can be lost in a single election.

“In the 1998 State election we couldn’t win a majority despite more than two years of positive campaigning.

“I believe we have a good record as a Government that has created new jobs and delivered improved services for all Queensland but that doesn’t automatically translate to a win in 2004.

“And when it comes to unbeatable favourites, people should remember Northerly’s shock defeat when he was long odds-on favourite in this year’s Victoria Gold Cup; the Socceroos beating mighty England; and the Sunshine State’s Steven Bradbury beating all the favourites to win Olympic gold as an ice speed skater.

“When I said at the beginning of the by-election campaign that we were underdogs, the experts laughed.

“No one believed me. Today we have the proof. This has happened despite the fact that:

  • I have campaigned hard as Premier, visiting Maryborough seven times in what was effectively a 21-day election period;
  • We have reminded voters of my Government’s achievements in delivering a long list of jobs, capital works and services for Maryborough;
  • We have told voters of future spending in Maryborough.

“So, despite being hot favourites to win Maryborough in the eyes of the media and the experts – and despite putting up a strong fight – we lost.”

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Malcolm Farnsworth
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