What by-election means for hung parliament in Queensland

Former Toowoomba City Council Mayor Di Thorley confirms she will stand as an Independent at the Toowoomba South by-election.
Former Toowoomba City Council Mayor Di Thorley confirms she will stand as an Independent at the Toowoomba South by-election. Kevin Farmer

ONE of Toowoomba South candidate Di Thorley's main election platforms is that as an independent she will wield more power than if the seat is retained by the LNP.

Ms Thorley said there would be no effect on the balance of power if LNP candidate David Janetzki won the seat but said as an independent she would wield huge power.

"If they (LNP) get voted in, it doesn't change anything," Ms Thorley said.

"The LNP will still be in opposition and Labor will still be in power.

"If I get voted in, Toowoomba South will be in a position that it has never been in."

The Chronicle spoke to a professor in government and economics at the University of Southern Queensland to find out if her claims are right, but it's complicated.

Currently there are 42 Labor and 42 LNP members of parliament making it a hung parliament.

There are five kingmakers - three independents and two Katter's Australia Party members - who the government must bargain with to pass laws.

USQ Prof Geoff Cockfield said a newly-elected independent would join a group of cross-benchers the government needed to negotiate with regarding new legislation.

Their power on a particular issue depends on the views of other independents.

 So if they agree on an issue then their power grows.

What impact would Ms Thorley's election as an independent have on passing of new laws?

According to Prof Cockfield it could be useful or make it worse.

"It isn't as simple as saying 'I'm an independent in a hung Parliament therefore I have power'; it's a bargaining game.

"You (the government) have several people you could bargain with for something you want.

"For example the KAP could say they want more money spent up north.

"But the independents and minor parties only have power in situations where the major parties disagree.

"People may say our system is failing, but you could better argue our system is creaky because major parties take oppositional approaches to issues."

Pauline Hanson is a rising force in Queensland politics.
Pauline Hanson is a rising force in Queensland politics. David Nielsen

Rise of the independents

Following the Brexit vote in the United Kingdom, the rise of outsider Republican candidate Donald Trump and the success of minor parties in the federal election, some pundits claim minority parties are on the rise.

And while that is true in some cases, Prof Cockfield said major parties were still big players.

"At a national level there has been an increasing trend towards minor parties and independents, but at a state level it's quite patchy.

"You get bursts of non-major party voting, particularly when there is an alternative like the Palmer United Party or the KAP.

"This is particularly strong where there is disenchantment with major parties.

"You can expect a resurgence of One Nation at the next election.

"But 70% of people still vote for major parties, I wouldn't say the two-party system is breaking down."

Topics:  by-election toowoomba toowoomba south

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