The contest to lead the Liberal National Party in Queensland is on, after Tim Nicholls finally conceded defeat to incumbent premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.
Within 15 minutes of Mr Nicholls’ surrender Deputy LNP leader Deb Frecklington, whose seat lies in the traditional National Party heartland, put herself forward for the job with Tim Mander to serve as her deputy.
Focus then turned to Newman-government minister David Crisafulli but while saying he was “flattered” by the encouragement he’d received, it was time for him to get used to being back in parliament.
For a moment it appeared like Tuesday’s leadership ballot could be a formality for the Frecklington and Mander double ticket.
But then came the rallying tweet from former LNP leader John-Paul Langbroek, the man the party executive effectively rolled in 2011 to make way for Campbell Newman.
“Our party needs someone who knows the rigours of leadership, and with the experience to rebuild the trust with all Queenslanders. I have the measured resolve to take on Labor,” the Surfers Paradise MP wrote.
On Friday afternoon reports emerged about Whitsunday MP Jason Costigan’s intention to run for the party’s deputy leadership.
If Ms Frecklington succeeds and can hang on for a term, her elevation will set up Queensland’s first all-woman premiership contest with Ms Palaszczuk in just under three years’ time.
According to Griffith University political analyst Paul Williams the LNP need a leader with appeal in the city and, critically, in regional Queensland, where the party haemorrhaged votes to One Nation.
“Deb Frecklington’s got a very good balance, wedding urban and rural interests,” he said.
“She’s from the country, a farming background in an old National party seat, but she’s also an agribusiness person with tertiary qualifications so there’s room for appeal in the southeast.”
When asked about the opposition leadership, Ms Palaszczuk said on Friday that if the partyroom doesn’t back Ms Frecklington then the Nationals may break away from the LNP.