9 May 2024

‘Pedigree, passion’ as LNP looks to past for Cook election battle

| Lyndon Keane
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Newly-announced LNP candidate for Cook David Kempton and opposition leader David Crisafulli outline the party’s vision for the vast electorate to media on 8 May. Photo: Supplied.

The Liberal National Party has looked to the past as it attempts to secure the future of government in Queensland after announcing a former MP will contest the seat of Cook at the state election on 26 October.

Former MP and Assistant Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs David Kempton was unveiled by the party as its pick for the electorate on 7 May, with the lawyer set to make a Lazurus-like comeback to regain the seat he lost to Labor’s Billy Gordon in 2015.

Mr Kempton claimed the pre-selection postal ballot in a shock win over former Douglas and Mareeba mayors Michael Kerr and Kevin Davies.

“And, really, the entire region has had 10 years of neglect.” – David Kempton, LNP candidate for Cook

Opposition leader David Crisafulli made the formal announcement of Mr Kempton’s candidacy in Cairns on Wednesday morning, and said he believed challenges facing the state were “magnified” in Cook.

“David is no stranger to this region,” Mr Crisafulli said.

“When I look at the challenges that face Queensland, I see them magnified in the electorate of Cook.

“[It’s] a big electorate with big opportunities and big challenges.”

Mr Kempton, who was also most recently the chair of Regional Development Australia Tropical North, wasted no time in slamming Labor for “10 years of neglect” in the mammoth electorate, highlighting the condition of Cooktown’s hospital as proof a change of leadership was needed.

READ ALSO Return of Kempton? Former MP puts hand up for LNP, along with council leaders

“I hear from people who are worried,” he said.

“In Cooktown, the hospital is in tatters and needs to be repaired; in the Aboriginal communities I visit, there’s issues around economic development with the delivery of health services.

“And, really, the entire region has had 10 years of neglect.

“There’s some big challenges now as a result of Jasper and some economic downturn … and they need leadership; I think I’m in a position, with my experience, to provide that leadership to the people as they’ve asked for it.”

“It’s a tough ask, and we remain the underdog, but we’ve got to win seats.” – Opposition leader David Crisafulli

The battle for Cook is currently a four-horse contest, with Ms Lui seeking a third term, Peter Campion lining up to represent One Nation, and Katter’s Australian Party scheduled to announce its candidate on 10 May.

Mr Crisafulli readily claimed the underdog status in the electoral fight, but said the selection of Mr Kempton showed the LNP thought it was a genuine chance of wrangling Cook from Labor’s grasp.

“I know his pedigree, and I know his passion for the area,” he said of Mr Kempton.

“To have someone of David’s pedigree shows how seriously we are taking this seat.

“It’s a tough ask, and we remain the underdog, but we’ve got to win seats, and we have to win them in places like Far North Queensland to change government.”

Lawyer and former Member for Cook David Kempton has been announced as the LNP’s candidate who will attempt to dethrone incumbent MP Cynthia Lui at October’s state election. Photo: Supplied.

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