Sense of deja-vu for Liz with close election

IT'S been a case of deja-vu for retiring Gladstone MP Liz Cunningham as she watches how the Queensland election has developed.

Twenty years ago, Mrs Cunningham was in the same position Nicklin independent MP Peter Wellington could well be in: he is likely to hold the balance of power in a Labor-led minority government.

When Mrs Cunningham first represented Gladstone in 1995, she held the balance of power in a hung parliament.

After the Mundingburra electorate was forced to go to a by-election, Mrs Cunningham had the power to choose which party would govern the state, by giving it her backing.

However, she said she was careful not to take advantage of that power.

"I feel strongly about never coercing government if you have them over a barrel," she said.

She said the responsibility put her under a lot of pressure in the years 1995 to 1998.

"When you hold the balance of power, you have to understand all new legislation.

"You have additional meetings, motions and a lot of extra work," she said.

"The hung parliament will mean the major parties will have to listen to the community, which is a good thing."

New Gladstone MP Glenn Butcher said although an independent was likely to hold the balance of power, it was important for Gladstone to have someone in government.

"At the end of the day, whoever has the balance of power still has to get their deals over the line with the Labor government," he said.

"I am in a position where I have access to ministers and committees where I can put forward things that will provide a massive benefit for Gladstone."


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