The four electorates which encompass the Darling Downs and South West Queensland are among the Liberal National Party’s strongest seats in the state. So strong is the LNP’s foothold to the north and the west of Toowoomba, that a 10 percent swing would be required to topple the party in it’s most at-risk electorate in the region, Warrego. But the year is 2020 and, as we’ve seen, stranger things have happened. Australia is in economic recession, Queensland has as an unemployment rate above 7 percent and the state’s debt has been the worst in the nation since before the pandemic. The fallout of the pandemic has polarised opinion of how Queensland’s economic and social challenges should be managed, and thus the election will inevitably produce some interesting results. Polling opens on Monday, October 19, ahead of election day on Saturday, October 31. To assist in deciding which candidates to vote for in the seats of Callide, Condamine, Southern Downs and Warrego, the Country Caller is publishing an electorate and candidate profile for each seat. Map images have been supplied by the Electoral Commission Queensland. Visit the ECQ website for more information about the election, including polling booth locations.

See the Caller‘s election guide for the seat of Callide here.

See the Caller‘s election guide for the seat of Condamine here.

See the Caller‘s election guide for the seat of Southern Downs here.

Harry Clarke, Editor

WARREGO

Map of the Warrego electorate. IMAGE: ECQ

SITTING MP: Ann Leahy

PARTY: Liberal National Party

MARGIN: 9.5%

BACKGROUND: Established in 1865 and held by the Australian Labor Party for 68 years until 1974, Warrego has been a National and Liberal party stronghold ever since. However at the 2001 election, Chinchilla butcher Wally Gleeson came very close to winning the seat as an independent candidate, winning on first preferences but ultimately being beaten when postal votes were counted. The incumbent LNP candidate is Ann Leahy, a former staffer to her predecessor Howard Hobbs and current Shadow Minister for Local Government. The Katter Australian Party and Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party have been campaigning hard, while strong independent and Labor candidates are also contesting the seat.

2017 ELECTION RESULTS

WARREGO 2020 CANDIDATES:

*Candidates are listed in alphabetical order by surname.

ONP – Joshua Coyne

Born and raised in Texas QLD as the son of a horse breaker and a local hospital nurse, Joshua Coyne is a campdrafting enthusiast whose first tilt at politics was in 2017 when he ran for the One Nation Party in the seat of seat of Southern Downs. Mr Coyne has worked as a ringer in North Queensland, a drover across southern rural Queensland and a coal miner at Narrabri NSW. He describes his political aspiration as being an advocate for jobs in regional and rural Queensland and for deregulation of the agriculture industry.

KAP – Rick Gurnett

A cattle farmer based in south west Queensland, Rick Gurnett ran for the Katter Australia Party in the seat of Maranoa in the 2016 federal election. He says that advocating to repeal the Vegetation Management Act 1999, which regulates land clearing laws for farmers, would be one of his first endeavors if elected. He’s quoted as saying “the green ideology has progressed so far that farmers no longer have rights on how they operate their own farm”. On his Facebook page, Mr Gurnett has campaigned for improvements to quad bike legislation for farmers and improvements to country horse racing facilities.

LNP – Ann Leahy

Ms Leahy is the current Shadow Minister for Local Government and has been the Member for Warrego since 2015. She worked for two decades in the office of her predecessor Howard Hobbs. Ms Leahy grew up on her family’s sheep and wool farm near Stanthorpe. She says her achievements as Warrego MP include the $70 million redevelopment of the Roma Hospital, upgrades to the Charleville Airport, the restoration of the Warra Historical Subway and “transitioning resource industry staff out of camps into local towns”.

GNS – Joshua Sanderson

The ABC reports that Joshua Sanderson is a video game developer who is “passionate about the digital economy and all it can bring to Brisbane and Australia”. Sanderson contested the McDowall ward at the 2016 and 2020 Brisbane City Council elections, and contested Capalaba at the 2017 state election.

IND – Mark Stone

Mark Stone is a solicitor with offices in Tara, Laidley, Dalby and Brisbane. It’s understood he is running his campaign from Tara. Mr Stone ran for the seat of Warrego in the 2017 election, gaining 3% of the primary vote. Campaign material on Mr Stone’s Facebook page says he is appealing to voters who are “sick of all the politicians who can never keep their promises,” and “inner city latte sippers telling you how to run your business or your farm from Brisbane”.

ALP – Mark O’Brien

An accountant by profession, Mark O’Brien is also the ‘rock’n’roll’ candidate who’s favourite hobby is playing and recording music. Mr O’Brien has broad experience in rural government and business. He has lived in Charleville since 1986 and has contested the seat of Warrego as both an independent and a Labor candidate. Mr O’Brien served eight years as Mayor of Murweh Shire. He has experience as a Local Government Grants Commissioner, and he was the inaugural Chair of the Save the Bilby Fund Ltd, Chair of Natural Resource Management companies, Wild Dog Fence Commissioner and Qld Drought Commissioner.

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