Queensland referendum: Voters look set to back fixed four-year election terms

Queensland's electoral system is set for a major overhaul, with voters in most parts of the state backing a referendum on fixed four-year parliamentary terms.

Key points:

  • Counting to continue today but "yes" vote has a clear lead
  • Result defies prediction of polls which suggested referendum would struggle
  • New electoral cycle would not apply to current term

Counting will continue today but with 46 per cent already counted, the "yes" vote had a clear lead of 53.3 per cent to 46.7 per cent, paving the way for the biggest change to the structure of Queensland politics in decades.

Voters in 72 of the state's 89 seats were in favour of longer and fixed terms, showing the proposal had widespread support from the south-east to the north-west and along the coast.

The campaign to change the current variable three-year terms appeared to have been boosted by a joint promotional tour in the last week by the Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath and her opposition counterpart Ian Walker, who said the results of the referendum were very encouraging.

"I think people have realised that this is a big reform for Queensland, an important reform," Mr Walker said.

"Queenslanders think big and think positively, and it seems the timidity that opponents were putting forward has been taken in perspective.

"I'll watch the rest of the count come in but I'm certainly very hopeful that Queensland embraces this reform."

Regional seats lean towards 'yes' vote

The ABC's election analyst Antony Green said the referendum was on track to get up.

The result has defied the prediction of polls which suggested the referendum would struggle, especially in regional Queensland.

And it seems voters largely disregarded warnings by opponents of longer terms that fewer elections meant less accountability in the absence of an Upper House of Parliament.

In Mt Isa, the seat of Robbie Katter — whose party lead the "no" campaign — almost 58 per cent of voters have said "yes" in counting so far.

Voters in independent MP Billy Gordon's far northern electorate of Cook were even more supportive, with 59 per cent in favour.

On the other hand, opinion was divided in some Brisbane seats, including Aspley, Everton and Ferny Grove, where the "yes" vote is only marginally ahead.

The referendum has suffered its biggest losses in the northern electorate of Dalrymple — held by Katter Party MP Shane Knuth — where 55 per cent of voters have said "no".

Voters in Opposition Leader Lawrence Springborg's seat of Southern Downs were also cold on the proposition, with 54 per cent having rejected longer terms in counting so far.

The new electoral cycle would not apply to the current term, which ironically could be shortened if the Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk decides to call an early election to end the uncertainty of the hung Parliament.

Elections after that would be held on the last Saturday of October, every four years.

Source: ABC News

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