IT CAME down to the wire, but Whitsunday MP Jason Costigan has retained his seat in the Queensland election.
The battle for Whitsunday in the 2015 state election was one that surprised many, with few expecting it would take 12 days to finalise the count. More than a week and a half after polling day on January 31, the figures for Mr Costigan (LNP) and Bronwyn Taha (ALP), were incredibly close on a two-party preferred basis. Mr Costigan was just 218 votes ahead when the seat was declared at 10am last Thursday (February 12).
Ms Taha said due to the close nature of the ballot, Labor requested a re-count from the Electoral Commission Queensland (ECQ).
“Those requests were declined and Labor accepts this decision,” she said. Nonetheless, Ms Taha said to have come from a margin of 5,200 votes at the last election, to a mere 218 votes behind at this election was “a fantastic result in itself”.
“I respect the decision of the people of Whitsunday and am humbled by the support I received,” she said.
“I hope the member [now] listens to the strong message he has received from our community [and] I will be ensuring that Mr Costigan honours his commitments to the people of Whitsunday.”
While Mr Costigan described himself as relieved to have a result and pleased with his own performance when compared to some of his colleagues, he is now in opposition. Labor’s Annastacia Palaszczuk is the new Queensland Premier, with the ALP just managing to form government after Independent Peter Wellington gave them the crucial 45th seat.
Now, Mr Costigan says he’ll be holding the new government to account.
“They made promises in this election campaign [and] we will be holding [them] to account every day of the week,” he said.
Mr Costigan also promised he’d be “working even harder to re-engage people who felt alienated, left out, forgotten, and whatever else, because we can do better and we will do better”.
Finally, he took the opportunity for one last shot at his opponent.
“It’s all well and good to have a crack at us about [not returning] phone calls and [being] in the office, but I don’t sit in the office on my backside, because that’s not where the people are. They’re at the football, they’re at the schools, they’re at the races, they’re at the markets, they’re at the shops, they’re on the farms. They’re not in the office,” he said.
“It’s a challenging electorate and not everyone gets it – and I think the Labor opponent didn’t get it and that’s why on polling day, of all days, on election day, from my observation she just parked up in Mackay and waited for the people to come to her.
“At political risk to me, I made sure I spread myself around, calling in at Jubilee Pocket, Cannonvale, Proserpine, as well as the northern suburbs across the city of Mackay, which I also represent. And from my observations she was nowhere to be seen here. We didn’t even see cardboard cut-outs of her.”