Update: Seats down to the wire in North Queensland

Calls for recount in seat of Burdekin


LNP Burdekin incumbent Dale Last.

LNP Burdekin incumbent Dale Last.

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Labor candidate Mike Brunker has conceded defeat in the fight for the seat of Burdekin.

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UPDATE: 2pm

Labor candidate Mike Brunker has conceded defeat in the fight for the seat of Burdekin.

With preference counting finalised in the seat of Burdekin, Mr Brunker said he will no longer pursue a recount.

Mr Brunker has finished 1250 primary votes ahead of LNP incumbent Dale Last but is 624 behind on preferences.

Yesterday while confusion still reigned over the exact number of preferences separating the front-runners, Mr Brunker called for a recount.

Today with the numbers confirmed he said there would be no grounds for a second tally.

“Being a realist I can concede I’m not going to win the seat,” he said.

“But I’m glad we made it a marginal seat.

“I still believe the LNP take Burdekin for granted.”

EARLIER: BURDEKIN Labor candidate Mike Brunker has blasted the Electoral Commission Queensland while demanding a recount in the hotly contested North Queensland seat.

The final makeup of Queensland’s new parliament will be decided in North Queensland as three key seats remained hanging in the balance today.

Preferences will decide the close seats of Burdekin, Hinchinbrook and Townsville, with the LNP hoping to grasp at least one of those seats. LNP Burdekin incumbent Dale Last this morning said preferences were being counted and he expected a result may be clear late on Tuesday.

But Mr Brunker has thrown a spanner in the works, saying he would be demanding a recount.

With 87.95 per cent of ballots counted, Mr Brunker is ahead of his nearest opponent, Mr Last by 1266 votes.

On primary allocations Mr Brunker has 10,503 votes, while the LNP’s Dale Last has 9237, with One Nation’s Sam Cox on 8556.

On preferences however, Mr Brunker is thought to be about 200 votes behind the incumbent MP, Dale Last.

“But that’s just based on information from my scrutineers,” he said.

“I’m still not sure what the count is.”

Mr Brunker laid the blame for this uncertainty squarely with the electoral commission who he said stopped counting preferences in Burdekin on Tuesday, November 28.

“This could all have been wrapped up by now but where we’ve had 50 or so votes come in at a time and it would have taken 10 minutes to count the preferences, they’ve only counted the number one’s,” he said.

“It’s absolutely ridiculous.”

Mr Brunker said the ECQ needed to have a “long, hard look at how they do things”.

“I’m certainly not being critical of the local guys, because they take orders from Brisbane,” he said.

“Brisbane say, ‘don’t count those’ and they don’t count them.

“But the powers that be in Brisbane need to be accountable.

“They counted the wrong preferences in 23 seats on election night so how can you have faith in the electoral commission?

“And the reporting has been abysmal on the ECQ website.

“People can’t understand how I could be more than 1200 votes in front but still with a chance to lose.”

Mr Brunker was also critical of the compulsory preferential voting system, which allowed for this to occur.

“Normally there’s a trend but because it’s been a tale of two different areas – from the mining communities to the farmers on the coast – that hasn’t been the case.”

Mr Brunker said preferences would be counted this afternoon and he estimated a recount could begin tomorrow.

Mr Last agreed that the contest would come down for preferences.

“We’re all just waiting anxiously for this preference count to be finalised,” Mr Last said.

“I’m not confident at all, certainly I’m not taking anything for granted. It’s going to be very close and it will come down to the wire.”

Mr Last said he was benefiting from One Nation preferences, with most coming his way.

“One Nation are coming my way, without a doubt they will decide the outcome on this election,” he said.

”I’ve been hanging by my fingernails, it’s been an emotional roller coaster like I’ve never experienced, just a waiting game, each day watching postals and absentees come in.”

It is an even tighter race for the seat of Hinchinbrook, with LNP incumbent Andrew Cripps likely to be edged out with One Nation preferences flowing toward Katter’s Australian Party candidate Nick Dametto.

A result was not likely to be declared until late this week.

And in Townsville, the LNP’s Casie Scott was still a contender, nipping at the heels of Labor incumbent Scott Stewart, with 8,685 votes to his 9,413.

“Casie is still in there in Townsville, we would dearly love to retain Hinchinbrook, Burdekin and get Townsville for the best interests of North Queensland,” Mr Last said.

He said the LNP’s disappointing result, particularly in North Queensland, would form part of a postmortem into what went wrong for the party.

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