Queensland's Labor faces a decade-long rebuild

Anna Bligh on her final day of campaigning. Photo / Courier Mail
Anna Bligh on her final day of campaigning. Photo / Courier Mail

Anna Bligh led Queensland through its summer of sorrow, and now she and Labor face a decade of darkness.

The writing was on the wall for the almost 20-year state government long ago, but on Saturday Labor saw the message was scrawled in blood.

ABC election analyst Antony Green recorded a 14.5 per cent swing away from Labor, leaving it with as few as seven seats.

It's historic for Queensland, but is beaten nationally by the 16.5 per cent against NSW Labor almost a year ago to the day.

Former premier Peter Beattie says it could be six, nine - maybe 15 - years before Labor can muster a decent challenge against the dominant government of Liberal National Party (LNP) leader Campbell Newman.

The former premier, Ms Bligh, managed to cling on to her South Brisbane electorate, but even there it was tight.

Her stars - the Labor cabinet - are all but rubbed out.

Former deputy premier Andrew Fraser lost his western Brisbane seat quickly, with a further 10 ministers following suit.

He was made Queensland's second youngest treasurer at age 30, and was considered a future leader.

The best talent left in Labor, and its likely next leader, is former transport minister Annastacia Palaszczuk.

With a week to go in her campaign, Ms Bligh admitted the mood for change was evident.

On the night, it didn't seem to matter if you had longevity, with former attorney-generals Dean Wells booted from Murrumba, a seat he's held since 1986, and Kerry Shine punished by the people he has represented since 2001.

Tradition didn't count either, with Labor losing Cairns, a seat it has held for 100 years.

As LNP deputy leader Tim Nicholls put it, Queenslanders could drive the length and breadth of the vast state - from Currumbin to Cape York and from Brisbane to Boulia - without going through a Labor seat.

Queensland's first woman premier elected in her own right acknowledged the staggering scale of the defeat.

"It's clear tonight that the people of Queensland have spoken with the strongest possible voice and they have voted for a change of government," Ms Bligh said in her concession speech.

The recriminations began almost the moment the polls closed, with retiring Speaker John Mickel saying Ms Bligh must wear the blame for the defeat and stand aside.

"The Labor Party needs to move forward and the only way to move forward is to put Anna Bligh behind them," he told AAP.

Retiring water minister Stephen Robertson said Labor went too far with negative attacks on the propriety of LNP leader Campbell Newman.

He also blamed the federal Labor leadership challenge of Kevin Rudd.

"The self-indulgence of what Rudd did, knowing that there was an election campaign going on in his home state, in my mind, is unforgivable," he told ABC Radio.

Others are more optimistic.

"There are two great institutions left, Australia Post and the Australian Labor Party," he told the Seven Network.

"Every town you go to you can find people from both and I think tomorrow life will go on."

And the woman who carried the most weighty of tasks for Labor, that of keeping Mr Newman out of parliament by winning Ashgrove, promised to help the party rebuild from the ground up.

Kate Jones says Labor stands for a fair go, for standing up, for fighting.

"We may have suffered a loss tonight but I am very proud of what we stand for," she told supporters.

- AAP

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