Deb Frecklington pictured at the LNP Election Party at the Emporium Hotel, Brisbane 31st of October 2020. The Queensland State Election was held today. (Image/Josh Woning)
Deb Frecklington pictured at the LNP Election Party at the Emporium Hotel, Brisbane 31st of October 2020. The Queensland State Election was held today. (Image/Josh Woning)

POLITICAL BLOODBATH: Where to from here for Deb and the LNP

THE LNP is an injured beast, licking its wounds.

Just days ago, members and supporters were quietly confident - polls showed them within striking distance of Labor, and analysts were predicting a late night and tight race.

It couldn't have been further from the truth.

Within two hours of the polls closing, it was clear the LNP had no path to victory - not even a minority government was on the cards.

READ MORE: Deb Frecklington steps down as opposition leader

It turned from a tight race to a complete capitulation. The LNP were unable to shift marginal seats in the regions from Labor control, and lost seats in the southeast.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk was returned for a historic third term, and when LNP leader Deb Frecklington arrived at the party's election night function - everyone was waiting for her to fall graciously on her sword.

Deb Frecklington pictured at the LNP Election Party at the Emporium Hotel, Brisbane 31st of October. (Image/Josh Woning)
Deb Frecklington pictured at the LNP Election Party at the Emporium Hotel, Brisbane 31st of October. (Image/Josh Woning)


But she didn't.

In strange scenes, the opposition leader began her concession in the middle of the premier's victory speech, and defiantly declared she would continue to lead the party.

"I promise that the Liberal National Party will continue to play its part in our democracy, and I will continue to play my part in the Liberal National Party and I will continue as the leader of this great," Mrs Frecklington said.

"This was not our time, our time will come and we will get Queensland working again."

READ MORE: 'Polls can be wrong': Volunteers share their election views

From the moment the words left her mouth, it was almost as if a time bomb had been set off.

Names began to be raised as to her successor, questions as to when a challenge would come - her choice to declare her commitment as the leader on election night was like blood in the water for the political sharks who had been circling for months.

Less than 48 hours later - the game was over.

The Nanango MP announced she would step aside as party leader and call a party room vote after changing her mind.

"On Saturday night I said to wanted to remain leader of the Liberal National Party," she told reporters on Monday morning.
"My instinct is always to fight on."

But she said she had thought more on it after spending time with family on Sunday and would call a party room meeting once the vote count was finalised to ask the party to elect a new leader.

But the abrupt turn around raised a simple question - did she really jump, or was she pushed.

Already two names have become clear favourites - Frecklington's deputy Tim Mander and member for Broadwater David Crisafulli.

LNP Opposition leader Deb Frecklington with Member for Lockyer Jim McDonald and executive director Allan Payne at Rock Trade Industries Helidon. PHOTO: ALI KUCHEL
LNP Opposition leader Deb Frecklington with Member for Lockyer Jim McDonald and executive director Allan Payne at Rock Trade Industries Helidon. PHOTO: ALI KUCHEL


Lockyer MP Jim McDonald confirmed to the South Burnett Times members were already "calling around and chasing support" for the pair within the party room.

However, yesterday Tim Mander announced he would not be contesting the leadership ballot.

Mr McDonald - who was one of the few true success stories from the night, increasing his margin significantly - was clear on where he thought the party leadership should be moving, or not moving.

"I come from a rugby league family … you put your best team on the field … when you lose, you don't go changing the team - you change the tactics," Mr McDonald said.

David Crisafulli had been touted as a likely successor to Mrs Frecklington earlier this year when MPs leaked damaging polling data about the opposition leader to the media.

READ MORE: Contenders line up after Frecklington steps down

Reports suggested significant numbers of the LNP party room were beginning to seriously consider dumping Mrs Frecklington as leader just months from the election.

Jim McDonald however said the parliamentary wing had always been supportive of Mrs Frecklington and Deputy Tim Mander - and the destabilising and leaks was "bullshit" coming from one person.

"It was a disgruntled member who was annoyed at not getting their own way," he said.

Member for Lockyer Jim McDonald. Picture: Dominic Elsome
Member for Lockyer Jim McDonald. Picture: Dominic Elsome


Talks of yet another Australian leadership spill wasn't the only destabilising factor, with one LNP source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, pointing the finger squarely at the party's head office as a key factor in the party's election loss.

In June, Deb Frecklington blamed "backroom bullies" for the damaging poll leaks, which heaped pressure on the then LNP president David Hutchinson.

This added to growing discontent after it was revealed then-president David Hutchinson worked as a property consultant for Clive Palmer.

The LNP MP said Mrs Frecklington had dealt with the situation, but the incident was controversial and dragged out for weeks.

"When you're the f--king president of the LNP - don't go contracting for Palmer," a source said.

Mr Hutchinson cut ties with Palmer in June and resigned as party president in late July.

But as the blame game and finger-pointing ramps up, a bigger question remains - if the team changes, will the tactics?

31st October 2020, Queensland State election 2020 David Crisafulli watches the tally count intently as he holds on to his seat of Broadwater Photo: Scott Powick
31st October 2020, Queensland State election 2020 David Crisafulli watches the tally count intently as he holds on to his seat of Broadwater Photo: Scott Powick


Both leadership contenders - Tim Mander and David Crisafulli - are based in Brisbane and the Gold Coast.

A return to a leader based in the state's capital could help the LNP sure up votes in urban centres where they lost ground, but it could also leave regional voters in the cold.

The collapse of the One Nation vote across the state was not a boon for the LNP with a majority of these voters appearing to move to Labor rather than the opposition.

But if rural voters feel like their voices aren't being heard, they could again turn to minor parties - once again leaving the LNP fighting an uphill battle to even retain seats at an election.

READ MORE: Reasons behind the LNP's catastrophic failure in the north

And as for the soon-to-be-former leader of the party, Mrs Frecklington's future is also unclear.

For now she's returned to her home in Kingaroy and told reporters when she announces she was stepping down she intended to head to the Kumbia Races on Melbourne Cup day for "a few wines".

She also left the door open for a return to the ministry under a new leader.

Nanango MP and soon-to-be- former opposition leader Deb Frecklington with her husband Jason at the Kumbia Races Melbourne Cup Day 2020. Photo/Holly Cormack
Nanango MP and soon-to-be- former opposition leader Deb Frecklington with her husband Jason at the Kumbia Races Melbourne Cup Day 2020. Photo/Holly Cormack


Later on the same day she announced she would step down as leader, she released a bittersweet statement thanking the people of her seat of Nanango for electing her to parliament for the fourth time.

The question now is - will there be a fifth?

"It is a great honour and a privilege to be elected for a fourth term as the Member for Nanango," Mrs Frecklington said.

"I am very humbled and sincerely thank the community for putting their faith in me.

"I took on this role to make a difference in our regional areas, and I will continue to fight for our fair share in the Nanango Electorate.

"There is so much opportunity right here, but it needs backing with better roads, better health services and less red and green tape for our primary producers and small business.

"This is what I'll be working to achieve for our Nanango Electorate communities.

"I'll continue to work hard each and every day because I love this area, and the people who call our beautiful part of the world home."

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