14 May 2024

Race for Cook takes shape as LNP, KAP unveil runners

| Lyndon Keane
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Cook MP Cynthia Lui (centre), pictured with Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships Leeanne Enoch and Bundamba MP Lance McCallum, is seeking a third term representing Cape York and Torres Strait at the October state election. Photo: Facebook.

The race to claim the Cook political crown is heating up following candidate announcements by the Liberal National Party (LNP) and Katter’s Australian Party (KAP) last week.

In a case of new and old faces, KAP has endorsed police officer Duane Amos to contest the vast 197,000-square kilometre electorate, while the LNP has opted to recycle former Cook MP and lawyer David Kempton.

Cape York Weekly understands the preselection of Mr Kempton has caused a rift within the local branch, with former Douglas Shire Council mayor Michael Kerr openly tipped internally as the preferred nominee prior to the 7 May postal ballot count.

Mr Kerr is also believed to have been Federal Member for Leichhardt and party stalwart Warren Entsch’s pick to fly the LNP flag in the battle to topple incumbent Cook MP Cynthia Lui, however, Mr Entsch would not confirm this when asked for comment.

The last time Cook voters went to the polls, eight names appeared on the ballot paper, but it is unlikely the number will be mirrored on 26 October.

With the LNP and KAP announcements of Mr Kempton and Mr Amos respectively, four candidates are now confirmed starters in the election campaign, including Ms Lui and Peter Campion, who was chosen in February to represent One Nation.

READ ALSO PDR remains key issue as incumbent MP commits to working hard for Cape York if re-elected

In the 2020 election, Ms Lui commanded a strong first preference vote of 40.02 per cent, well ahead of the LNP (24.10 per cent) and KAP (17.22) candidates, and held a margin of more than 12.5 per cent after the distribution of preferences.

While Cook has been a historically safe Labor seat, it is one party insiders admitted they were worried about following significant swings in the recent Inala and Ipswich West by-elections.

One senior Labor ministerial staffer, who asked not to be named, told Cape York Weekly it was a case of “restrained panic stations” about Cook five months out from election day.

“It’s honestly mixed views if we can win it,” they said.

“You’d normally say it was a shoo-in, but when you’re getting big swings of 15-30 per cent in other safe red seats (Inala and West Ipswich), anything could happen in Cook.

“It’s restrained panic stations in terms of how the seat factors in our overall campaign strategy.”

Ms Lui said she believed voters would have “clear choice” on election day, and wasted no time going on the offensive against Mr Kempton.

“As the Labor candidate for Cook at the election, I will continue to fight for more cost of living relief, better health and education services and good, secure jobs for the communities I represent,” she said.

“LNP candidate David Kempton still hasn’t apologised for the Campbell Newman government sacking 402 frontline health workers in our community when he was an assistant minister, or when he gave false hope to 150 Skytrans staff who had lost their jobs.

“Our community will have clear choice about who they want representing them.”

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