The Labor party is on the brink of a stunning return to power in Queensland just one term after it was crushed by the Liberal National Party.

Campbell Newman became the first premier in 100 years to lose his own seat, leading his party into an electoral bloodbath with the loss of around 30 MPs.

At the close of counting late on Saturday, Labor was projected to win 43 of the 45 seats it needs to form government in the 89-seat parliament.

At the 2012 election, the LNP decimated Labor, leaving it with just seven MPs before it built its ranks up to nine following two by-election victories.


"It's still too close to call at present but I'm very hopeful that we will be able to form government in the state," Labor leader Annastacia Palaszczuk told her party's supporters.

She refused to repeat her campaign promise not to form government with the support of minor parties, saying: "I'm quite hopeful that it's going to happen in our own right."

If she does need support to govern, she will have only three MPs to horsetrade with - two of the three Katter Party MPs who survived, and independent Peter Wellington.

Few commentators saw the result coming, with most tipping Mr Newman would lose his seat of Ashgrove but the LNP narrowly hang on to power.

Voters, however, vented their fury over asset privatisation and public sector job cuts, among other things, at the ballot box, and delivered a swing (11.4 per cent) against the LNP that's even bigger than the swing that cost Labor office three years ago.

"We have seen the biggest majority in Australian history eroded right back. There is an electoral earthquake happening," former deputy prime minister Wayne Swan told the ABC.

Mr Newman, who announced his political career over, said he felt for his LNP colleagues who'd also lost their seats.

"When the history of this government is written, people should look long and hard at a political team who did the hard yards and didn't bitch and moan, they got on with the job because they knew they were doing the right thing for Queensland," he said.


He acknowledged the tough decisions hurt his government politically.

"I do truly believe they have put Queenslanders in a far better place," Mr Newman said.

Newman government ministers Tim Nicholls, David Crisafulli and Scott Emerson acknowledged they had made mistakes, but argued the tough decisions his government had made were necessary.

"We haven't taken people on the journey. In many ways we've just gone in and fixed problems and then told people why they needed to be fixed after," Mr Crisafulli, who lost his seat of Mundingburra, told the Nine Network.

In worrying signs for the federal government, the Queensland result is an echo of the Victorian election in November where the Napthine coalition government was thrown out after just one term.

Some are laying much of the blame on Prime Minister Tony Abbott - who did not make a single appearance in Queensland during the campaign - for the outcome.

In particular his much-maligned Australia Day announcement to honour Prince Philip with a knighthood.

Federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, on the other hand, spent 11 days in Queensland during the campaign.

"Tony Abbott and his ministers refused to talk to Queenslanders - and the Liberal National Party has paid the price tonight," Shorten said.

Katter's Australia Party held on to two of its three seats, while independent Peter Wellington retained Nicklin. The Palmer United Party and the Greens failed to win a single seat, while Pauline Hanson also failed in her latest bid for election.

A final outcome may not be known for days, with about 328,000 voters casting their ballots before Saturday.

Late on Saturday night, Labor held 43 seats, the LNP 38 while five were still in doubt.