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Politics and Public Administration
This Quick Guide provides a brief overview of the 2020 Queensland
Legislative Assembly election results and the new ministry appointed after the
election. It also includes background information on the electoral system in Queensland,
a summary of the 2020 election results, and details of by-elections and changes
in party representation during the 56th Parliament.
The Queensland election, held on 31 October 2020, was the
first state election to be held during the COVID-19 pandemic. It was also the
first Queensland election to have been held on a fixed date and to elect
members for a four-year term. The Australian Labor Party (ALP) had a convincing
win at the election with 52 seats, gaining five more seats than required to
govern as a majority government. This is contrary to some forecasts of a
possible outcome of a either a Labor or Liberal National Party (LNP) minority
The Queensland Legislative Assembly
and electoral system
Queensland is the only Australian state (territories apart)
to have a unicameral legislature. Members of the 93-member Legislative Assembly
are elected under a full preferential voting system to represent single-member
electorates for four-year terms.
Under the Constitution
(Fixed Term Parliament) Amendment Act 2015 (Qld) the Queensland Parliament
has fixed terms, with all elections following the 2017 election to be held
every four years on the last Saturday of October. The Governor may call an
election earlier than scheduled if the government does not maintain the confidence
of the Legislative Assembly, or if the annual appropriation bill fails to pass.
The Queensland election of 31 October 2020 was the first
with a fixed date and a four-year term to follow. The previous
state election was held on 25 November 2017, two months before the government
reached its full three-year term. The 2017 election was the first election to
be conducted as full
preferential voting since 1992. Elections for the Queensland Legislative
Assembly are regulated by the Electoral
Act 1992 (Qld) and administered by the Electoral Commission of Queensland
Result of the 2017 election
Following the November 2017 election Labor held 48 seats in
the Legislative Assembly (51.6 per cent); the LNP 39 seats (41.9 per cent);
Katter’s Australian Party (KAP) three; the Queensland Greens (Greens) one;
Pauline Hanson’s One Nation (PHON) one, and there was one Independent.
Ms Palaszczuk’s ministry of 18 was
sworn in on 11 December 2017. Nine of the ministers were women.
On 12 December 2017 Deb Frecklington was elected
leader of the LNP after Tim Nicholls stood down as leader.
Queensland's 56th Parliament was officially opened on 14
February 2018 and adjourned on 10 September 2020. The Governor made a Proclamation
dissolving the Legislative Assembly of Queensland on 6 October 2020, published
in the Government
Gazette of 9 October 2020.
COVID-19 and the election
The threat of the COVID-19 pandemic loomed over the election,
not least the Palaszczuk Government’s months-long border
restriction measures, with commentators noting popular support
for the restrictions in Queensland. Queensland is the first state to hold
an election during the pandemic, following elections in the Australian
Capital Territory (held on 17 October) and the Northern
Territory (held on 22 August). Queensland had held local
government elections on 28 March 2020.
On 17 June 2020 the Queensland Government issued a Statement
of principles governing the conduct of the COVID-19 Queensland General Election.
The Palaszczuk Government developed the principles to support the ECQ in
providing all eligible Queenslanders with the opportunity to safely participate
in the Queensland General Election. The ECQ developed its own Statement
of Intent to ensure the elections were conducted in a safe and fair manner.
There were a range of voting options for electors including early voting,
postal voting, election day voting on 31 October and telephone voting for
The conduct of the poll proceeded smoothly. The ECQ conducted
the elections based on advice from Queensland’s health authorities and experts
regarding the impact of COVID-19. It put a range of
protection measures in place such as early
voting, postal voting, election day voting and telephone voting for eligible
Electoral law reform
In May 2018, Queensland enacted amendments to its electoral
laws that made it unlawful for property developers to make donations to
political parties that endorse and promote candidates in Queensland State and
In addition, the Electoral
and Other Legislation (Accountability, Integrity and Other Matters) Amendment
Act 2020 (Qld), passed in June 2020, applied expenditure limits
during the final six months of a parliamentary term and in the month-long
election period. The election spending caps, restricting spending by political
parties to $92,000 per seat, applied at the October election and operated
retrospectively to include expenditure incurred from 30 March 2020.
Leadership and other party changes
The first state-level elections to be held during the COVID-19
pandemic were two by-elections for the Queensland electoral districts of Currumbin
held on Saturday 28 March 2020 (the same day as Queensland local government
elections). Both were won by candidates from the same party as the previous
incumbents, with Lance McCallum (ALP) being elected for Bundamba and Laura
Gerber (LNP) for Currumbin.
Deputy Premier and Treasurer Jackie Trad resigned
from her party and ministerial positions in May 2020 following a Crime and
Corruption Commission investigation into claims she interfered in the
appointment of a school principal in her electorate.
In February 2019 Whitsunday member Jason Costigan was expelled
from the LNP over allegations of harassment. In October 2019 he founded the
North Queensland First party.
Three LNP members announced that they would not be
re-contesting the 2020 election: Mark
McArdle (Caloundra), Ted
Sorensen (Hervey Bay) and Simone
In early September 2020 three senior ministers announced their
retirements: Kate Jones (Cooper), Anthony Lynham (Stafford) and Coralee
The October 2020 Queensland election was the first instance of
an Australian state election with both major parties being led by women: Labor’s
Annastacia Palaszczuk and the LNP’s Deb Frecklington. Opposition Leader Deb
Frecklington had survived a leadership
challenge in June 2020.
The Writ for the election of the 93 members of the
Legislative Assembly was issued with the following dates:
- Tuesday 6 October 2020, the day of the issue of the Writ
- Saturday, 10 October 2020, the cut-off for electoral rolls
- Sunday, 11 October 2020, the cut-off for nomination of candidates
- Saturday, 31 October 2020, polling day, and
- Wednesday, 9 December 2020, the return of the Writ to the
The state electoral boundaries that became effective on 29
October 2017 remained in place for the 2020 election. These boundaries will
remain in place until the next state redistribution is finalised. A preview of
the election was prepared by the ABC’s chief election analyst, Antony
A record 597 candidates nominated for the 2020 elections.
The ALP, LNP and the Greens each fielded 93 candidates; PHON 90 candidates; Clive
Palmer’s United Australia Party (UAP) 55 candidates; and KAP 13 candidates. One
of the bigger cohorts was made up of independent or unaffiliated candidates (69).
The remainder were from a variety of minor parties including North Queensland
First with five candidates.
had indicated that Labor had been behind in Queensland polls until early
October, when a YouGov poll gave the ALP a lead of four per cent 52–48 on a two-party-preferred
basis. The swing back to Labor was likely attributable to the state’s handling
of COVID-19, with Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk recording strong personal ratings.
Newspoll (25–30 October) gave Labor 37 per cent of the primary vote, the
LNP 36 per cent, the Greens 11 per cent and One Nation 10 per cent. It also
gave Labor a small two-party-preferred lead over the LNP (51.5 per cent to 48.5
per cent), upending the results of the 31
July Newspoll which gave LNP two-party preferred lead 51–49. A Morgan
SMS poll taken between 12 and 15 October had Labor ahead 51–49 two-party
preferred. None of the polls showed significant two-party changes from the
previous (2017) election.
In late July, Newspoll
had found 81 per cent of those surveyed approved of Palaszczuk’s handling of
the pandemic, with 57 per cent preferring her as premier and 26 per cent
preferring Deb Frecklington. But a late September Newspoll
saw a marked dip in Palaszczuk’s ratings, with 68 per cent of respondents
saying the premier was performing well over COVID-19.
The Labor Party achieved a third term with an increased
majority, winning 52 seats (four more than at the 2017 election) and securing a
4.1 per cent first preference positive swing. Ms Palaszczuk is Australia's
first female Premier to win three consecutive elections; women won 21 of Labor’s
52 seats (40 per cent).
Opposition leader Deb Frecklington announced she was
standing down as leader of the LNP on 2 November 2020. The LNP party room met
on Thursday 12 November and elected
Broadwater MP David Crisafulli as Leader unopposed. Six out of the
Opposition's 34 seats are occupied by women (18 per cent).
Table 1 below provides
a brief summary of the results of the 2020 state election.
Table 1: Summary of first preference votes and seats won
Source: Parliamentary Library
analysis of QEC
See Appendix B for party abbreviations.
Notable developments at the election included:
- The ALP vote in marginal seats such as Townsville (0.38 per cent
margin), Mundingburra (1.13 per cent) and Thuringowa (4.15 per cent) did not
- Labor gained seats in areas such as the Sunshine Coast including
Caloundra and Pumicestone and further north, Hervey Bay. This has been seen, in
part, as the ‘senior
vote’ endorsing the Government’s health and border restriction policies. (All
LNP incumbent members in the three seats had announced their retirements prior
to the election).
Labor also won tight contests following recounts in Bundaberg
and Nicklin, gaining the seat of Bundaberg by nine votes and Nicklin by 84
votes after preferences were distributed.
the One Nation vote decreased markedly (the party received 7.1 per cent of the first
preference vote, a decrease of 6.6 per cent from the 2017 election), but the
party retained its one seat of Mirani.
- Clive Palmer’s UAP reportedly spent more than $4.6
million on its campaign, but did not win a seat, attracting just 0.63
per cent of the vote. Around $4 million was reportedly spent on anti-Labor
advertising, including inaccurate claims such as Labor plans to introduce a
- The Greens have two members
after the Greens retained the seat of Maiwar and won the seat of South Brisbane
from Labor incumbent Jackie Trad. However, the Greens’ overall vote declined slightly
by 0.53 per cent from the 10.0 per cent gained at the 2017 election.
- The LNP retained Whitsunday which had been held by Jason Costigan,
the former LNP member who stood as a candidate in the seat for North Queensland
analysis of the election including preference flows is provided by Antony
Green, who estimates the overall two-party preferred vote as ALP 53.2 to LNP
Early voting, turnout and
Turnout for the election was slightly higher than the 2017
election at 87.9 per cent (up from 87.5 per cent). Early voting was offered over
the period of 19–30 October: the total
pre-poll vote was 1,288,696 (total early votes minus total votes on polling
day, 31 October 2020), or 38.2 per cent of votes. In comparison, at the 2017
State election pre-polls votes made up 26.2 per cent of votes. The high number
of pre-poll votes, while at least partly due to the COVID-19 pandemic, also
continues a broader trend
towards early voting at Australian elections including federal
In addition a total of 905,806 postal
vote votes were dispatched, compared with around 367,000 postal votes for
the 2017 general election—an increase of over 146 per cent. A total of 766,478 votes
(84.6 per cent) of those issued were returned compared to around 85 per cent of
postal votes returned in the 2017 State general election.
The 2020 election saw a decline in informal votes to 98,242
(3.31 per cent) compared to 122, 672 votes (4.34 per cent) at the 2017 election.
The higher incidence of informal votes at the 2017 election may have reflected
the introduction of full preferential voting.
The Palaszczuk ministry was sworn in on 12 November 2020.
Three new faces were included in the ministry: Scott Stewart (Townsville), Meaghan Scanlon (Gaven), who will, at 27, become the youngest minister
in the state’s history, and Leanne Linard (Nudgee). Eight of the 18-member Cabinet
are women (44.4 per cent). The full ministry is listed at Appendix A.
The 57th Parliament was opened and members sworn in on 24 November
2020. The Ceremonial Opening of the 57th Parliament was held on 25 November 2020.
Appendix A: post-election ministry
Annastasia Palaszczuk MP
Minister for Trade
|Stephen Miles MP
Minister for State
Development, Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning
|Cameron Dick MP
Minister for Investment
|Grace Grace MP
||Minister for Education
Minister for Industrial Relations
Minister for Racing
|Yvette D’Ath MP
||Minister for Health and Ambulance Services
|Mark Bailey MP
||Minister for Transport and Main Roads
|Mick De Brenni MP
||Minister for Energy, Renewables and Hydrogen
Minister for Public Works and Procurement
|Shannon Fentiman MP
||Attorney-General and Minister for Justice
Minister for Women
Minister for Prevention of Family and Domestic Violence
|Mark Ryan MP
||Minister for Police and Corrective Services
Minister for Fire and Emergency Services
|Stirling Hinchliffe MP
||Minister for Tourism Industry Development and Innovation
Minister for Sport
|Mark Furner MP
||Minister for Agriculture Industry Development and
Minister for Rural Communities
|Leeanne Enoch MP
||Minister for Communities and Housing
Minister for Digital Economy
Minister for the Arts
|Glenn Butcher MP
||Minister for Regional Development and Manufacturing
Minister for Water
|Di Farmer MP
||Minister for Employment and Small Business
Minister for Training and Skills Development
|Craig Crawford MP
||Minister for Seniors and Disability Services
Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships
|Scott Stewart MP
||Minister for Resources
|Meaghan Scanlon MP
||Minister for the Environment and the Great Barrier Reef
Minister for Science and Youth Affairs
|Leanne Linard MP
||Minister for Children and Youth Justice
Minister for Multicultural Affairs
|Bart Mellish MP
||Assistant Minister to the Premier for Veterans’ Affairs,
Trade and Covid Economic Recovery
|Charis Mullen MP
||Assistant Minister for Treasury
|Julieanne Gilbert MP
||Assistant Minister for Health and Regional Health
|Lance McCallum MP
for Hydrogen Development and the 50% Renewable Energy Target by 2030
|Nikki Boyd MP
||Assistant Minister for Local Government
|Brittany Lauga MP
||Assistant Minister for Education
|Bruce Saunders MP
Train Manufacturing and Regional Roads
|Michael Healy MP
||Assistant Minister for Tourism Industry Development
Appendix B: party abbreviations
||Animal Justice Party (Queensland)
||Australian Labor Party (State of Queensland)
||Katter’s Australian Party
||Liberal National Party of Queensland
||The Queensland Greens
||North Queensland First
||Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Queensland Division
||Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party
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