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Beattie Survives By-Elections; Liberals Under Pressure

Queensland Labor Premier Peter Beattie’s hold on government has been strengthened following the ALP’s victories in two by-elections on the weekend.

In Bundamba, held by Labor by 6.5%, there was a swing of nearly 8% to the Labor candidate, Jo-Ann Miller.

In Woodridge, where a 13.5% swing was required to defeat Labor, the former State ALP Secretary, Mike Kaiser has won the seat with over 50% of the primary vote, minimising the swing against the government to around 1%.

The Liberal Party is now under pressure following its dismal showing in the by-elections. The Liberal candidate in Bundamba polled only 8.8% of the vote.

Meanwhile, in Victoria a by-election looms in Benalla, the seat held by former National Party leader, Pat McNamara. According to a report in The Age on the weekend, Dr. Bill Sykes has been drafted by the National Party as its candidate in Benalla. He will most likely be opposed by independent Bill Hill and the ALP’s Denise Allen.


Queensland Government’s Future Hangs In The Balance

The survival of the Queensland Labor Government led by Peter Beattie depends on its ability to retain two usually safe seats in by-elections next weekend.

Following the 1998 State Election, Beattie held 44 seats in the 89-seat parliament. He was able to form government with the support of Independent member, Peter Wellington. At that election Pauline Hanson’s One Nation won 11 seats. Since then One Nation has split and 4 members sit as independents and five more as members of the City-Country Alliance. The ALP won back one seat at a by-election.

The by-elections are being held in Bundamba, vacant following the retirement of former minister Bob Gibbs, and Woodridge, vacant due to the resignation of Bill D’Arcy. D’Arcy has since been charged with a number of sex offences. The controversy over this and the large superannuation payout ($660,000) collected by D’Arcy two days after he resigned threatens to upset the ALP’s chances of victory. Bundamba is not believed to be in danger.

If Beattie loses either by-election next Saturday he will be forced to rely again on the support of Wellington. An independent candidate, Russell Lutton, is polling strongly in Woodridge and if elected has pledged to support Beattie.

Queensland Parliament
Party 1995 1998 Now
ALP
44
44
45
Liberal
15
9
9
National
29
23
23
Independent
1
2
6
One Nation
11
0
City-Country Alliance
5
Total
89
89
89