The Queensland Liberal National Party has abandoned a possible challenge to the election result in the north Queensland seat of Herbert – which Ewen Jones lost by 37 votes.
After an intense effort to try to get together a case to take to the High Court, sitting as the Court of Disputed Returns, the LNP could not muster sufficient evidence.
The case would have centred on a claim that patients in the Townsville hospital did not have the opportunity to vote.
Jones told The Conversation on Tuesday that the LNP had 30 people who had been in the hospital at the time prepared to sign declarations that they had been disenfranchised. But, given the margin by which he lost, 38 would have been needed.
Herbert was the last lower house seat to be decided at the election and the count oscillated between Labor and Liberal. If it had been held by the government it would have meant the Coalition had 77 seats in the 150-member house rather than the present extremely tight margin, which gives it only a working majority of one.
The time for a challenge to the result runs out on Friday.
Jones said: “I’m disappointed for my parliamentary colleagues and also for myself. We had a good story to tell in Townsville, to lose like this is heartbreaking.” He said he wanted to stand for the seat again but his preselection would be up to the party.
Authors: Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra