Frecklington steps down as LNP leader in ‘deeply personal decision’

As Annastacia Palaszczuk looks to the budget, Liberal National Party leader Deb Frecklington announces she won’t be staying on as opposition leader.

Nov 02, 2020, updated Nov 02, 2020
Deb Freckington has resigned as LNP leader after Saturday's election defeat. (AAP Image/Dan Peled) NO ARCHIVING

Deb Freckington has resigned as LNP leader after Saturday's election defeat. (AAP Image/Dan Peled) NO ARCHIVING

On election night, Frecklington had vowed to stay on as opposition leader and fight for another four years. But this morning, the Member for Nanango announced a change-of-heart, having spent a day with her family and no doubt canvassed LNP colleagues on their prospects.

Frecklington kept her press conference short but still accepted blame for the LNP’s loss and sought the right to resign at a time of her choosing.

“This is a decision that is deeply personal to me,” Frecklington said.

She says as soon as the election results are declared she will call a party-room vote for a new leader.

“I will not be a candidate in the leadership contest. Whoever the new leader of the LNP is will have my full support, and my full loyalty,” Ms Frecklington told reporters on Monday.

“I will assist them in any way possible to help this party move forward. (It) has been the greatest privilege of my life so far to be the leader of the Liberal National Party.”

She said 2020 had been a difficult year for the opposition, which had been in a strong position before the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There is no doubt that COVID has had a huge impact on Queensland politics, just as COVID has had an impact on politics and other elections in both Australia and New Zealand,” the LNP leader said.

She apologised for the party’s loss and thanked the LNP’s candidates and volunteers for their hard work.

“I am sorry that despite all of that support that we have had we were unable to win this election. I am the leader, and I do take responsibility for the election loss,” Ms Frecklington said.

The opposition is set to lose up to four seats with Labor on track to hold 52 seats as counting continues on Monday after Saturday’s poll.

It is understood that Broadwater MP and opposition tourism spokesman David Crisafulli is the leading candidate to take the reins.

Frecklington’s decision came after Palaszczuk honoured a promise she made to supporters and first-time Labor voters on election night when she said “we will roll up our sleeves and we will get back to work as quickly as possible for you”.

As if on cue, Queensland recorded no new cases of COVID-19 overnight, and only three active cases, which Palaszczuk shared on social media having asked voters to trust her handling of the pandemic.

This morning at the ‘Tower of Power’ in Brisbane, opposite the parliament that will see Labor return with a larger majority, Palaszczuk made clear her government had a lot of work to do before Christmas.

The priority will be a budget, delayed for months due to the pandemic and recession, and state-federal complications. Treasurer Cameron Dick first thanked his constituents in Woodridge for their support, before the meeting set to chart the way forward.

Palaszczuk’s show of strength came as Frecklington fronted the media for the first time since Saturday night’s defeat.

Once the election results are declared, Frecklington will call a party room meeting and formally vacate the leadership. Crisafulli, deputy leader Tim Mander and former leaders Tim Nicholls and John-Paul Langbroek are already been spoken of as possible contenders, but Frecklington declined to comment on any succession plan.

Frecklington said she still believed the LNP had been a “strong prospect” for government at the start of the year but the pandemic and recession changed everything.

“I am the leader, and I do take responsibility for the election loss,” Frecklington said, while generally declining to comment on specific factors.

“It was a difficult year for the opposition, it was a difficult election for the opposition.”

After a bruising campaign, in which Labor warned Queensland the LNP could not be trusted and would cut thousands of jobs, the only change that came on election night cemented most Labor incumbents in their seats.

While former deputy premier Jackie Trad lost her seat of South Brisbane to the Greens, that also gives Palaszczuk the opportunity to renew the Cabinet ranks again after the retirement of Kate Jones, Anthony Lynham and Coralee O’Rourke.

Health Minister Steven Miles will remain deputy leader, and Dick will remain treasurer to hand down a budget before Christmas, but key infrastructure and resources portfolios are up for grabs. Palaszczuk will also need to reform the Cabinet Budget Review Committee. The factions may ultimately decide the numbers in Cabinet but after a presidential-style campaign Palaszczuk will have the authority to shape it in her image.

With a surge in votes for the Greens in urban areas, and the collapse in support for One Nation in regional areas not necessarily helping the LNP, Labor has also benefitted the most from any preference flows. However, the majority of postal votes have yet to be returned, meaning close seats may not be decided for days.

-additional reporting AAP

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