22 Mar 2009

Labor wins Queensland election

10:58 am on 22 March 2009

Australia's Labor Party has won a fifth term in office in Queensland.

Premier Anna Bligh also made history in the process, becoming the first woman in Australia to be elected to the position.

Ms Bligh called the election six months early, saying she needed a new mandate with the state facing growing unemployment and rising debt, due to the downturn and falling prices for Queensland's coal and mineral exports.

"You have given me a mandate to protect your jobs and build a stronger Queensland and I am ready for the task," Ms Bligh told a cheering crowd on Saturday night.

She had taken over the role of premier in 2007 after the retirement of Peter Beattie.

A surge in support of almost 4% towards the Liberal National Party was not enough to change the result.

Despite the apparent loss of between five and eight seats for Labor, the election fell well short of the predicted photo finish and a hung parliament.

At the close of counting on election night, Labor appeared to hold between 50 seats and 53 seats in the 89-seat parliament, down from 58.

Ms Bligh will announce her new cabinet line-up this week and is expected to elevate a significant number of new faces to cabinet.

Liberal National Party leader Lawrence Springborg used his concession speech to stand aside and pave the way for a new fresh leader after his third consecutive election loss.

The LNP looks set to take 35 seats, up from 25. Four independents, from a group of six crossbench MPs, are expected to keep their seats.

The final declaration of the election results is expected in two weeks, after all postal votes are counted.

The election was the first vote in Australia since the onset of the global financial crisis, but Treasurer Wayne Swan said the election was fought and won on local issues and had no implications for Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's government.