Division 9 candidate Maria Suarez is leading the race to replace Steve Robinson.
Division 9 candidate Maria Suarez is leading the race to replace Steve Robinson. john mccutcheon

ELECTION DAY THREE: Suarez leads, but no corks popping yet




FIRST-TIME campaigner Maria Suarez remains in poll position in the Division 9 battle to replace retiring councillor Steve Robinson.

After 45.02 per cent of the primary votes had been counted Ms Suarez was ahead with 32.99 per cent of first preferences, ahead of senior detective Daren Edwards (24.08 per cent) and Bruce Dunne (21.48 per cent).

The latter pair had exchanged preferences, hence Ms Suarez's hesitations to get too excited.

She said it was too early to call anything, and expected it would take the counting of preferences and postal votes to determine the winner.

She'd heard there had been "very little" preferencing, given the lack of access to how-to-vote materials, but couldn't be certain.

"I am surprised," she said.

"I'm in a better position than I expected."

Daren Edwards.
Daren Edwards. Iain Curry

Mr Edwards wasn't too worried with the outcome, and said he'd "had a fair crack".

"I've still got a good job to go back to (as officer in charge of the Sunshine Coast Criminal Investigation Branch)," he said.

"I had a go, if I got up, I got up, I'm not too perplexed."

He said he'd be taking the next week off to get his car serviced, and himself, with a trip to the chiropractor booked in, after a tough campaign, as he awaited the final results.


Division 7 incumbent Ted Hungerford was breathing a little easier, after early polling had him in a three-way battle with Cam Young and Steve Dickson, whose preferences would assist each other, depending on the flow given the coronavirus restrictions.  

He'd pushed out to holding 39.85 per cent of the vote, after almost 35 per cent of votes counted, but it could be some time before a result was known, with preferences still possibly playing an important role in the final outcome.


DIVISION 6 incumbent Christian Dickson is growing more and more optimistic as counting continues.

It was understood counting had progressed to about 32 per cent of the vote, and of the 6800-odd votes tallied, Cr Dickson had secured just under 60 per cent.

Cr Christian Dickson says councils need to look a street parking.
Cr Christian Dickson says councils need to look a street parking. Warren Lynam

When asked by the Daily he said he wasn't prepared to declare victory until the Electoral Commission Queensland confirmed figures, but he said he was "really optimistic about it all".

He said he hoped to stay above 55 per cent of the primary vote in what had been a "very, very unique election".

Cr Dickson said the prospect of a "recalibration" of council, in the form of fresh faces, was exciting, given the challenging times in the past term, which he described as a "bit of a rough time with council".

"That's not a bad thing, it's not a bad time to reset," he said.

He spoke of the need for the new council to get back to basics, and said it must lead with compassion.

"That's (parking officers near Centrelink offices last Monday) the kind of stuff that needs to change," Cr Dickson said.

"People have asked (council) to get back to basics and to consider people in all its decisions."

He said the new council would be able to revisit and have fresh debate over issues like paid parking, verge parking, CCTV and resources needed to combat homelessness.

"I'm looking forward to having that debate," he said.

"i think it's great timing."

Elsewhere Division 1 councillor Rick Baberowski was preparing for another term in council, confident the voting trend would not shift, and he would not be caught by challengers.


A MASSIVE upset is brewing in the blue-chip coastal seat of Division 4, with incumbent councillor John Connolly understood to be trailing Joe Natoli by a few hundred votes with one booth to count before postal, phone and absentee votes were tallied.

The Daily understands Cr Connolly won the Aerodrome Rd pre-poll booth by only a handful of votes.

Sunshine Coast councillor John Connolly.
Sunshine Coast councillor John Connolly.

He said he was shocked at the way the results were reportedly panning out, and underestimated the cut through of Mr Natoli's lifestyle ticket, which was strongly opposed to paid parking and the rate of development.

It's understood the Birtinya booth is still to be counted, which could contain up to 2000 votes, while postal and other absentee votes could top as many as 2500.

It meant Cr Connolly could still turn the result around, with postal votes traditionally favouring incumbents, if he can be within striking distance after the Birtinya booth count.

But Mr Natoli campaigned strongly in the south of the division.

The Electoral Commission Queensland's live tally room results were trailing those filtering out on the ground, and it was understood more than 9000 votes had been counted so far, with Mr Natoli picking up about 2900, and Cr Connolly about 2600.

It was expected preferences would play little role in the race now, with it shaping as a two-man shootout for the seat.

Cr Connolly said he believed it was a matter of time before party politics came into councils, and he was waiting anxiously for official results to come from the remaining count.

SUNDAY 6.50PM: COUNCILLOR Peter Cox said he looks forward to serving his community for the next four years as he reached an "unbeatable" position with more than 60 per cent of the Division 3 vote.

Latest Electoral Commission Queensland figures had the incumbent nearly 4000 votes ahead of runner-up, Animal Justice Party candidate Pamela Marika on 1077 with 38.34 per cent of counting done.

Cr Cox said the unofficial figures from scrutineers had him with well over 60 per cent of the vote, excluding postal and phone votes.

"It's obviously quite exciting to be given the opportunity of a third term to represent the community, so I am delighted with that and extremely privileged," Cr Cox said.

"I would certainly like to thank the Division 3 community for their vote of confidence, and I look forward to representing them for the next four years as best I can.

"They're a bit stressful these election periods, so it is good to finally get some news."

Though Cr Cox is the first to officially declare victory, based on the latest figures he said he said he looked forward to working with Division 1 councillor Rick Baberowski and Division 6 councillor Christian Dickson.

Cr Dickson said he would wait until the Electoral Commission Queensland had counted the pre-poll and postal votes before he would call the division.

Latest figures have him with more than 4000 votes (more than 60 per cent).

 "I certainly look forward to working with them again and providing the stability that's certainly going to be required in the next six months with dealing with this pandemic… and the massive consequence it will have on our community," Cr Cox said.

"Especially the business community, a lot of people are hurting with job losses."

He said the incoming council would also need to consider rates subsidies in response to the pandemic.


THE DAILY understands Division 8 Councillor Jason O'Pray has rallied in the Maroochydore pre-poll count, and now leads by about 400 votes over challenger Kathryn Hyman, after losing the Coolum booth count.

It's also understood in Division 2 Terry Landsberg may have put some distance between himself and Brady Sullivan, in the order of a few hundred votes, as counting continues.

In the mayoral race, incumbent Mark Jamieson has 49.15 per cent of first preferences, ahead of former Deputy Chris Thompson (31.82 per cent) after 40.76 per cent of the vote was counted.

The race to replace Division 10 Councillor Greg Rogerson is also heating up, with David Law peeling away with 21.24 per cent of first preferences, ahead of Greens hopeful Sue Etheridge (16.19 per cent), Cortney Claridge (16.47 per cent) and Hilary Wallace (15.43 per cent), after 55.27 per cent of the votes were counted.


DIVISION 4 Councillor John Connolly is banking on a pre-poll bounce, as he trails former Maroochy Shire Mayor Joe Natoli, in the race for the blue-chip seat.

He questioned the effect of preferences, given the restrictions on voting material this year, and said it wasn't "panic stations" yet, as he waited for further results to come in.

Mr Natoli was encouraged by the initial count, which had him with just over 35 per cent of first preferences.

He said he'd given up on the ECQ and went to bed last night, but was woken to his children running in screaming with excitement when they saw the results.

Mr Natoli said his lifestyle campaign had struck a chord during doorknocking, and he'd had a real sense people wanted solutions to the issues the region had, being driven by the accelerated process of development, and lag in infrastructure.

"It had resonated and not only in my division," he said.

Mayoral and Division 4 candidates at a Sunshine Coast Daily election forum in Maroochydore.
Mayoral and Division 4 candidates at a Sunshine Coast Daily election forum in Maroochydore. Stuart Cumming

With a number of Greens candidates well and truly in the race elsewhere, he said if he and a few other fresh faces were successful, it would be a very different council to the previous.

He said he thought it would be a council with "a lot more accountability", and they wouldn't be "rubber-stamp councillors" that voted in blocs.


DIVISION 5 frontrunner Winston Johnston said if elected he would fight for fair treatment of the hinterland, and take no issue working with either leading mayoral candidates - the incumbent Mark Jamieson or Chris Thompson, currently in second position.

Mr Johnston has secured 21.27 per cent of the 23.18 per cent of the vote counted as of 11am, a fraction ahead of Greens candidate Tracy Burton who holds 21.13 per cent.

Mr Johnston believed both he and Ms Burton had run good campaigns and expected while it could come down to preference voting, the majority likely only voted one as candidates could not distribute how to vote cards.

Mr Johnston said he expected a much clearer indication of which way the vote would go once the pre-poll count began this afternoon.

Mark Jamieson currently holds 50.25 per cent of the vote ahead of second-runner, mayoral candidate Chris Thompson on 30.56 per cent with 36.27 per cent of the vote counted.

"If the people decide to elect someone as mayor and the voters in your division decide to elect you as the councillor you are duty bound to work with that person, it's as simple as that," Mr Johnston said.

"I don't have problem working with either Mark Jamieson or Chris Thompson if elected, they are both capable men.

Tracy Burton.
Tracy Burton. Contributed

"There's going to be some major decisions that have to be made and they need to be common sense practical decisions that look after our community both economically and health wise."

He said this needed to include looking after council employees who worked in services which would not be operational during the coronavirus crisis.

He identified the upcoming budget and the employment of the new CEO in an environment where applications would waver as immediate issues which needed addressing.

So far as representing the hinterland, Mr Johnston said he would put forward a very strong case for fair treatment.

"It's very hard to say at the present moment because you don't know what the financial situation of the council is until you get there," he said.

"If you put forward a strong case… and a well-reasoned argument, then your fellow councillors have a responsibility legally to act in the best interest of the entire local authority, not just their division."

He said it was time for people to put their egos aside.

Mr Johnston said he knew the fight for Division 5 would be hotly-contested with ten candidates distributing votes "all over the place".

"I am confident that I will do well in the pre-poll counting and the postal votes," he said.

"Whilst I am not saying I am going to win I think I probably do reasonably well because a lot of the people who pre-polled are older people, and business people, and many of the people who voted yesterday were young people and some of the disengaged."

Mr Johnston said he hoped for a speedy result, but realised it may be more than a week before all votes are counted.

Mr Johnston expressed disappointment with the Electoral Commission Queensland website, which crashed for hours last night before an update was published about midnight.

He said he had also been contacted by a number of voters who had tried but were unable to cast phone votes, and received their postal votes too late.

He said those who lived along the rail corridor, such as Mooloolah, Woombye and Palmwoods, also had less access to pre-polling stations as they were located in suburbs such as Nambour, Buderim, Maroochydore Caloundra or Birtinya.


DIVISION 10 candidate Sue Etheridge spent election night confined to her home, hitting the refresh button until a midnight surprise on the Electoral Commission Queensland website confirmed she had taken a narrow lead.

The Greens candidate said she was encouraged by the early show of support with 19.02 per cent of the 18.22 per cent of the vote counted, but said it was too early to call.

Sue Etheridge
Sue Etheridge Contributed

The battle to replace retiring councillor Greg Rogerson is neck-and-neck this morning, with David Law securing 18.7 per cent, Cortney Claridge third at 18.09 per cent and Hilary Wallace on 17.7 per cent.

"It will definitely come down to all those postal votes, of which we had unprecedented numbers, and telephone votes 40,000 of them," Ms Etheridge said.

"And a lot of people have voted out of their division which still needs to be counted.

"It's too soon to tell but I am very encouraged."

Division 10 candidate David Law speaks at a Sunshine Coast Daily election forum.
Division 10 candidate David Law speaks at a Sunshine Coast Daily election forum. Stuart Cumming

Ms Etheridge said she was also encouraged to see Mr Law in second as she felt he was most aligned to Green values and her initiatives.

She said despite the uncertain times ahead, she was eager to get on with the job if the preferences fell her way and was excited at the possibility of four women being elected into the new Sunshine Coast Council.

"That can only benefit council to get a female voice to decision making," she said.

Ms Etheridge expected it could take a week before they knew the final result, and said she would spend the coming days hitting the refresh button on the results page and getting her business in order to be ready should she take out division 10.


THE official count will get underway this morning, after major technical issues plagued last night's preliminary count.

Results came through late, which showed several Coast seats hanging in the balance, while the race for Noosa Council was wide open, as two mayoral candidates went head to head.

Stay tuned as we update with results, as they come, and fingers crossed for no repeat of last night's disaster with the Electoral Commission Queensland's live tally room.


NOOSA Mayor Tony Wellington retains a solid lead over challenger Clare Stewart in early counting on the northern Sunshine Coast.

Cr Wellington has 52.31 per cent of the 14.46 per cent of the vote counted to date, ahead of Ms Stewart on 47.69 per cent.

There were 5504 formal votes cast of which Cr Wellington secured 2879 to Ms Stewart's 2625.

A massive field of 20 chasing six available councillor positions in the one division shire has left none able to achieve eight per cent in their own right.

Councillor Jess Glasgow
Councillor Jess Glasgow

Only results for 14.99% of the vote had been released by midnight.

Cr Jess Glasgow's ill-considered appearance on a reality television show may have cost him his seat but he still polled a surprising 1563 votes or 4.4 per cent of the total.

With former councillor Ingrid Jackson stepping down after one term and former councillor Frank Pardon in jail, if re-elected Cr Wellington will lead a much-changed team.

His last term deputy Frank Wilkie has 7.06 per cent of the vote, fellow councillor Brian Stockwell 7.14 per cent with Yanni Van Zul (6.45%), Amelia Lorentson (6.21%), Tom Wegener (6.4%), Karen Finzel (6.48%), Phil Moran (5.92%) and Karen Cook-Langdon (5.85%) the most likely to battle for a place on the council.

Andrew Squires(4.51%) and David Fletcher (4.98%) who were part of the controversy-plagued Future Noosa group appear to be struggling in the early count although their colleague Ms Finzell is very much in the mix.

Cr Joe Jurisevic with 5.47% may struggle to retain a place on the council.

Division 4 candidate Joe Natoli speaks at a Sunshine Coast Daily election forum in Maroochydore.
Division 4 candidate Joe Natoli speaks at a Sunshine Coast Daily election forum in Maroochydore. Stuart Cumming


FORMER Maroochy Shire Mayor Joe Natoli has shot to the lead in Division 4 tonight.

With 13.6 per cent of first preference votes counted in the blue-chip coastal seat, the former Mayor and businessman had picked up 35.67 per cent of votes.

He led incumbent Cr John Connolly (24.98 per cent), Buddina local Todd Forrest (19.72 per cent) and community lawyer Julian Porter (11.64 per cent), with Faith Hambrecht and Mark Wadeson in single digits.

Elsewhere, in Division 6, Cr Christian Dickson looked set to cruise home again, with 62.7 per cent of votes after 18.63 per cent of first preferences counted.

Youngster Siobhan Gosper was next best with 24.27 per cent, ahead of Wayne Holly on 13.03 per cent.

Cr Christian Dickson
Cr Christian Dickson Contributed

Returning Councillor Rick Baberowski was in the box seat to secure another term in Division 1 based on early counting in Sunshine Coast Council election.

Last night with 15.66 per cent of the votes counted, Cr Baberowski had received 1479 (48.78%) led Jenny Broderick with 785 (25.89%), Mark Davis 391 (12.43%) and Raelene Ellis 377 (12.43%).

In the hotly-contested Div 7, Cr Ted Hungerford appears in big trouble early with just 8.29 per cent of the vote counted.

He leads on 561 votes (31.93%) but is only just ahead of Cam Young on 509 (28.97%) and Steve Dickson 476 (27.09%).

Mr Young and Mr Dickson, the former state member for Buderim, preferenced each other in How to Vote cards distributed early in the campaign.

If the rest of the votes trend on the early count, the distribution of preferences may see the end to Cr Hungerford's long service to local government.

Division 7 Councillor Ted Hungerford.
Division 7 Councillor Ted Hungerford.

Local restaurateur Chris White has not featured as prominently as was first thought with just 211 votes (12.01%).

Early counting also has Cr Jason O'Pray in trouble in Division 8 where he trails Kathryn Hyman in the only head to heat contest in the Sunshine Coast Council elections.

With 18.97 per cent of the vote counted Ms Hyman has 2138 (51.99%) to Cr O'Pray on 1974 (48.01%).

Of the 4520 votes counted to date 408 have been declared informal and 4112 as formal.

The Electoral Commission Queensland has apologised for delays in getting early results to the public.

Incumbent Division 8 Councillor Jason O'Pray and his challenger, Kathryn Hyman, have gone head-to-heat at a You Decide forum tonight.
Incumbent Division 8 Councillor Jason O'Pray and his challenger, Kathryn Hyman, have gone head-to-heat at a You Decide forum tonight.

"The preliminary count proceeded as scheduled tonight," an ECQ spokesman said.

"ECQ experienced a data feed issue from polling booths to its website, which delayed the publication of the results. 

"Most of the results of the preliminary count have now been published and the remainder of the count to date will be published later this evening.

"ECQ is working through the technical issues to ensure the results from the official count are published as scheduled from Sunday."


DIVISION 3 incumbent Councillor Peter Cox will be sleeping easy tonight, enjoying a comfortable lead with almost 16 per cent of first preference votes counted.

Cr Cox had 57.09 per cent of the 3223 formal votes counted so far, ahead of Animal Justice Party candidate Pamela Mariko (15.67 per cent), Mike Jessop (14.24 per cent), Michael McDonald (8.66 per cent) and Stan Nawrocki (4.34 per cent).

It meant Cr Cox was likely to be returned, and he'd indicated previously he would be willing to step up into a Deputy Mayor role, with current Deputy Tim Dwyer retiring.

Cr Peter Cox with new street trees along Buderim Street, Currimundi.
Cr Peter Cox with new street trees along Buderim Street, Currimundi. Contributed


WITH 23.37 per cent of the vote counted, Mayor Mark Jamieson appeared on track to be returned to head Sunshine Coast Council for another four years.

But in a sign of deepening dissatisfaction with his administration he has secured under 50 percent of the vote in an election which to date has informal votes running at 10.99 per cent.

At the close of a disjointed night of counting which saw the Electoral Commission Queensland website fail to provide results for more than five hours after the polls closed due to a systems' failure.

Sunshine Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson with athletes Brad Hore and Kaylee McKeown. Photo: John McCutcheon / Sunshine Coast Daily
Sunshine Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson with athletes Brad Hore and Kaylee McKeown. Photo: John McCutcheon / Sunshine Coast Daily john mccutcheon

Cr Jamieson has secured 48.73 per cent of the vote counted ahead of Chris Thompson with 30.68 per cent and Michael Burgess on 12.77 per cent. Don Innes trailed with 7.83 per cent.

Of the 53,838 votes counted to date, 5918 were declared informal leaving 47,920 that counted.

Of those 23,350 were cast for Cr Jamieson, 14,703 for Mr Thompson, 6117 for Mr Burgess and 3750 for Mr Innes.

Counting would continue throughout Sunday.

Postal votes which needed to be in the mail by Saturday to qualify, have until April 7 to reach the Electoral Commission Queensland.

It has been a frustrating day for candidates many of whom went to bed not having first heard the latest results.


THE FIRST significant results of the preliminary count are starting to come in, after major technical issues with the Electoral Commission Queensland's online tally room tonight.

In the four divisions where incumbents are retiring, Divisions 2, 5, 9 and 10, the races are well and truly on.

After just more than 15 per cent of the count, Terry Landsberg (29.99 per cent) leads the Division 2 race, ahead of Brady Sullivan (28.42 per cent), with Peter Tramacchi (15.46 per cent), Tim Hamilton (14.18 per cent) and Shane Scriggins (11.95 per cent) trailing.

Greens candidate Tracy Burton (21.13 per cent) and LNP life member Winston Johnston (21.27 per cent) are going head to head to replace Division 5 councillor Jenny McKay.

The rest of the field were in single digits, after just over 23 per cent of votes counted.

Maria Suarez (28.9 per cent) leads the race in Division 9, after almost 18 per cent of votes counted, ahead of Bruce Dunne (24.06 per cent) and Daren Edwards (20.87 per cent).

Greens candidate Daniel Bryar (15.89 per cent) and Angela Dunbavan (10.28 per cent) were trailing.

The battle to replace Greg Rogerson in Division 10 is wide open, with Greens candidate Sue Etheridge (19.02 per cent) leading David Law (18.7 per cent), Cortney Claridge (18.09 per cent) and Hilary Wallace (17.7 per cent).

Matthew Filippi (12.24 per cent), Keith Campbell (8.11 per cent) and Paul Monaghan (6.15 per cent) rounded out that field.


AN ELECTORAL Commission Queensland spokeswoman said counting in booths across the state was going ahead and the raw data was coming in.

"The last step of the system has failed and results aren't getting online," she said.

Work on a technical resolution was ongoing and would continue until the system was fixed.

"A Plan 'B' is being explored," the spokeswoman said.

The Sunshine Coast Daily understands Electoral Commission Queensland has had system management issues for some time.

On the Sunshine Coast Ted Hungerford (Division 7) may be in trouble in what would see the loss of a councillor who had been a strong advocate for the Planning Scheme.

He faced a tough field that included former State member for Buderim Steve Dickson whose shift from the LNP to One Nation cost him the seat.

But it may be restaurateur Chris White who causes the upset.   


SUNSHINE Coast mayoral candidate Chris Thompson has questioned why vote scrutineers for candidates couldn't have watched votes being counted via a smart phone link at all polling stations.

Candidates and scrutineers, who would normally be overseeing the count as a check, have been locked out of the room because of physical distancing requirements and other COVID-19 considerations.

With the failure of the Electoral Commission Queensland's virtual tally room, it has meant there has been no visibility.

Votes have been counted, those who counted them know the results, but the rest of us remain in the dark for now at least.

Mayoral candidate Chris Thompson speaks at a Sunshine Coast Daily election forum.
Mayoral candidate Chris Thompson speaks at a Sunshine Coast Daily election forum. Stuart Cumming


WHAT'S going on? That's the question journalists and councillors are asking as they wait for the numbers to drop.

No one has much of a clue.

Voting closed at 6pm, and candidates and journalists were told total results would start dropping from 7pm but two hours and 44 minutes after voting stopped there's only 0.28 per cent of the mayoral count showing on the Electoral Commission Queensland website.

Frustrated candidates are as clueless as the media.

Questions put to the ECQ have still to be answered as the clock ticks closer to the 10pm close for the night.

Meanwhile Local Government Association of Queensland CEO Greg Hallam weighed in.

He said the Covid-19 pandemic would favour incumbents.

But he also said based on extensive polling it conducted late last year, the LGAQ had not seen any signs of major changes in most councils.

Mr Hallam said the qualitative polling, done by phone, was expensive but generally the most accurate.

The mayoralty of 15 of the state's 77 local governments were uncontested, while another 10 would change due to retirements.

Across the state the 2020 election attracted 200 fewer candidates than in 2016 and less again than 2012.


REPORTS coming in from the Pacific Paradise polling station have Mayor Mark Jamieson leading contender Chris Thompson by 594 votes to 354.

Official numbers have not been updated for the past 30 minutes and have only 0.28 per cent of the mayoral vote counted.

In Division 8 challenger Kathryn Hyman and Cr Jason O'Pray were reported to be neck and neck.


Sunshine Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson.
Sunshine Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson. Patrick Woods

MAYOR Mark Jamieson has skipped to an early lead as the count kicks off tonight.

Early voting in Sunshine Coast Council elections had Mayor Mark Jamieson in a strong position after the first 641 votes had been counted.

Cr Jamieson held 55.52 per cent of the early count to Chris Thompson on 24.77 per cent and Michael Burgess on 12.3 per cent, after just 0.28 per cent of the total votes had been counted.


THE day has arrived for the 2020 Local Government elections, with voters across the Sunshine Coast and Noosa yet to cast their ballots to hit polling booths around the region.

It looms as a crucial day for the region, with the coronavirus pandemic hitting hard.

Stay tuned as we bring you rolling coverage throughout the day, of an election day like no other, and later on, we'll keep you up to the minute as counting begins and results start to flow.

Click here for rolling coverage

Smell of democracy sausage a distant memory: The updates you didn't know you needed, click here

For information on where to vote, click here.

We've broken down the key issues in every division too, click here for those.

For a full list of candidates vying for your vote, click here.

And for a breakdown of the key battles, and the issues this election will be fought over, click here for our analysis.



THE global mood might be bleak, but it didn't stop Mike McKinnon from doing his bit to deliver some comic relief.

The Mooloolaba-based Scuba World co-owner donned a full scuba diving kit and cast his vote at the Mooloolaba State School on Saturday afternoon.  

Part coronavirus-protection, but mostly for the effect, Mr McKinnon said he hoped it might put a few smiles on faces.

"Obviously no-one's having much fun at the moment," he said.  

"Everyone's doing the right thing and locked up indoors.  

"I thought it might be a bit of humour for people."

PROTECTION: Shara Smith and Mike McKinnon out in safety mode in full scuba diving gear for their vote at Mooloolaba State School. Photo Patrick Woods / Sunshine Coast Daily.
PROTECTION: Shara Smith and Mike McKinnon out in safety mode in full scuba diving gear for their vote at Mooloolaba State School. Photo Patrick Woods / Sunshine Coast Daily.

Mr McKinnon said like many, their business had suffered at the moment.  

"Diving's something people do to get away from everyday lives," he said.  

"It's just a good chance to get underwater and get away from it all."  

He said they'd stopped all dive charters at present, until the situation improved.  

Mr McKinnon said once it all passed, he thought people would have a new appreciation for living life, and expected a rebound in business.  

"The winner out of all of this is obviously the environment," he said.  

"It'll (break from tourism and pollution) be a good relief for all the marine life."


MORE than 600,000 voters have had their say across Queensland already today ahead of the closure of polling booths at 6pm.

Electoral Commissioner Mr Pat Vidgen has praised Queenslanders for their participation.

"Early voting levels were also extraordinarily high, with 55 per cent of eligible voters choosing to pre-poll, or apply for a postal vote," he said.

"The vast majority of our community understands that local government is important, now more than ever. We have seen great cooperation from voters in helping today's election run smoothly."

Preliminary counting will take place following the close of polls, with results appearing on the ECQ website from around 7pm

YOUNG: Jack Barker voted for the youngest candidate when he cast his vote.
YOUNG: Jack Barker voted for the youngest candidate when he cast his vote.


Many voters at Mountain Creek Primary School have called the government's decision to open polling booths today "pathetic" with some saying people had stayed home and "rather cop the fine".

The Mountain Creek-based polling station was significantly quieter than in previous years with candidates prohibited from handing out flyers at the front and voters dropping in sporadically.

Lines were marked on the ground in a bid to space people waiting in queues out and election commission workers offered hand sanitiser to residents who turned up to vote.

But ratepayers, such as Michael Bradley, said the efforts were "pathetic".

"No one is wearing face masks and everyone is still touching the same box. It's pathetic," he said.

"This (the polling booth) should've been closed. Every international person entering this country should've been quarantined."

TURN OUT: Voters rock up at Mountain Creek State School to have their say.
TURN OUT: Voters rock up at Mountain Creek State School to have their say.

Covid-19 didn't stop 37-year-old Alexandra Headland resident Kim Harvey from voting today.

But he said he still took precautions while others had refused to vote today.

"I had a lot of friends saying they're not going to vote at all," he said. "They'd just cop the fine.

"I held the pencil with my shirt," he said.

The school is located in Division 6, which takes in Mountain Creek, Sippy Downs and Buderim.

The Division is being contested by incumbent Christian Dickson, university student Siobhan Gosper and Sippy Downs resident Wayne Holly.

Construction worker Jack Barker, 21, of Mountain Creek, said his vote went to a candidate he thought best represented his values.

"I heard there was a young girl going, so I just voted for her," he said.

"She probably knows a bit more what's going on. The others are getting too old."

Voters queue at the Maroochydore Neighbourhood Centre for the Sunshine Coast Council election.
Voters queue at the Maroochydore Neighbourhood Centre for the Sunshine Coast Council election. Stuart Cumming


BREAKING two weeks of self-isolation didn't seem like the best idea to lifelong Sunshine Coast resident Dureyce Moore but he went along with it anyway.

The 21-year-old concrete labourer lined up in a patient and well-spaced queue at Maroochydore Neighbourhood Centre on Saturday afternoon to cast his vote.

He was undecided on his preferred Division 4 and mayoral candidates and was going to make up his mind once inside the polling booth.

"I don't know who the people are," Mr Moore said.

He was more worried about the potential spread of coronavirus.

"It (the election) is stupid.

"I'm not worried for myself but other people who have autoimmune diseases."

Maroochydore resident Dureyce Moore queues at the Maroochydore Neighbourhood Centre to cast his vote in the Sunshine Coast Council election.
Maroochydore resident Dureyce Moore queues at the Maroochydore Neighbourhood Centre to cast his vote in the Sunshine Coast Council election. Stuart Cumming

Meanwhile, Alexandra Headland resident Michael Skinner said he thought it was important for the election to go ahead.

"I don't think it (postponement) is necessary provided people follow protocols," Mr Skinner said.

"I see people waiting in line and keeping their distance.

"I think it shows people are taking the situation seriously."

He had "pretty much" made up his mind on which Division 4 candidate he would be backing but was not willing to reveal his choice.

"For mayor I'm a little bit undecided.

"I'd like to see to see a little more focus on the basics of council."

QUIET MORNING: Voters trickled in at Buderim booths today.
QUIET MORNING: Voters trickled in at Buderim booths today. Nadja Fleet

Alexandra Headland couple Jackson Bowley, 27 and Rene Hill, 22, were united in their disapointment the election went ahead despite the risk of coronavirus spreading.

They said they had done their best to self-isolate, only going out for food and work.

The were also united in their lack of candidate knowledge.

"I don't know who the mayor is," Ms Hill said.

"I don't know anything about any of them," Mr Bowley said.


IF MUDJIMBA was the Sleepy Hollow of polling places this morning, near neighbour Pacific Paradise was Brisvegas lite.

The car park at the state school was as busy as its going to be for quite some time, although Electoral Commission Queensland's attempts to keep the economy running probably accounted for many of those.

"It's quiet," carpenter and joiner Keith Lindsay said of the scene inside the polling place.

"We need to get some common sense instead of being in panic mode. The world's gone mad.

"I know it's a crisis."

Keith declined to share who he had voted for in Division 8 or for the mayoralty but did let us in on his biggest concern.

His mobile phone with all his family photos in it was on the blink with the battery no longer charging and he remained unsure if he could find someone to fix it.

At Coolum State School Chris Platzer of Mount Coolum was delighted with the way the ECQ had organised for an expected mass turnout that has not eventuated.

She said no-one was in the polling place when she went into vote other than election workers.

"It made it very easy, I brought my own pen," she said. "I really did want to vote today to stop Sekisui. The Electoral Commission has done a fantastic job."

A massive postal and pre-poll vote explains to an extent the low numbers today, but there's an element of "lock-it-down, how dare they" out there that clearly has not resonated with the home handy man that resides in all of us.

The economy may be shutting down but cars still lined up from Cricks to the entrance on Dalton Drive to get into Bunnings.


There were no queues at Buderim Mountain State School this morning. 

Voters, some wearing face masks and gloves and even bringing their own ball pens, seemed conscious to keep the distance from each other. 

Others used the opportunity to walk their dogs and get out of the house. 

"It's just nice to get out," Buderim resident Keith Bell said. 

Friendly workers in purple information aprons offered hand sanitiser to visitors entering the voting hall and made sure people were being spaced out at the booths. 

QUIET MORNING: Voters trickled in at Buderim booths today.
QUIET MORNING: Voters trickled in at Buderim booths today. Nadja Fleet

Most voters the Sunshine Coast Daily spoke to weren't deterred by the coronavirus crisis which has thrown the world into turmoil. 

"We had some tribulations for the obvious reasons," Mr Bell said. 

"But we've been reassured that it would be safe," his partner Cherry Bell said. 

Fellow Buderim couple Peter and Jenny Wark cut short their interstate holiday after the virus hit. 

The pair decided to vote today because they knew people would be offered hand sanitiser and would be spread out. 

They said they noticed a difference to previous voting years. 

"It's quieter and more spread out," Mr Wark said. 

Health worker Belinda, who wished to be only known by her first name, said she felt comfortable to vote today but said it was a "crazy situation". 

"It is strange to keep the distance," she said. 

 But she said: "The government has done everything they can."

SIGN: One voter made their feelings known about Division 7 incumbent Ted Hungerford.
SIGN: One voter made their feelings known about Division 7 incumbent Ted Hungerford. Nadja Fleet

Candidates were prohibited from handing out how-to-vote cards and attempting any last minute pitches to voters at entrances of polling booths today. 

But one campaigner got around the ban by setting up a silver Toyota Landcruiser outside the Buderim school with a handwritten sign on its roof saying: "Leave Ted's (Hungerford) box blank".

Mr Wark had this prediction for the election result:

"The mayor is going to get back in," he said. "He's done a reasonable job and has a track record."


THE legwork appears to have paid off for Brady Sullivan, at least with one Pelican Waters couple wanting him to represent Division 2 in the next Sunshine Coast Council.

Retirees Michael and Lynne Burke were at Caloundra City Private School on Saturday to cast their vote.

Mr Burke said he was impressed when a man, who he assumed was Mr Sullivan's father, came to his door.

"He had a chat with me as he was delivering his (Brady's) literature," Mr Burke said.

Doorknocking has been at core of Mr Sullivan's campaign, which he launched 12 months ago and before any of his fellow contenders.

Mrs Burke said she liked Mr Sullivan's "freshness".

"He's fresh looking," Mrs Burke said.

It brought a laugh from her husband.

"You can tell she has been married for 46 years," he said.

Michael and Lynne Burke have backed incumbent Mayor Mark Jamieson.
Michael and Lynne Burke have backed incumbent Mayor Mark Jamieson. Sunshine Coast Council

From a mayoral perspective the couple, who have lived on the Coast for 24 years, backed the same candidate.

"That (Mark) Jamieson has done a wonderful job," Mrs Burke said.

Mr Burke said he wanted "more of the same" when it came to the council.

"I think the guys who have been running it for a while now have been doing a good job," Mr Burke said.

He noted the changes he had seen on the Coast in his time and how new projects kept being announced.

"They (residents) need to realise these guys put in a lot of work to achieve these things for the community."

Meanwhile, Caloundra resident Nick James, 22, said he wrote a friend's name on the ballot paper and ticked a box he drew beside it.

"They're just going to throw my vote out," Mr James said.

He said he didn't care about local, state or federal politics and guessed most of his friends took a similar view.

"They probably voted for me," he said.

"Later in life I might take it seriously."

He said the election should have been postponed due to the risk of coronavirus transmission.

"I brought my own pencil from home. I didn't want to touch anything," Mr James said. 

Polling at Woombye State School. ECQ volunteer Deanne Dow administers hand sanitiser. Photo: John McCutcheon / Sunshine Coast Daily
Polling at Woombye State School. ECQ volunteer Deanne Dow administers hand sanitiser. Photo: John McCutcheon / Sunshine Coast Daily john mccutcheon


HINTERLAND voters are receiving a mandatory pump of hand sanitiser as those left to vote descend on polling booths.

Voters in Woombye had lined up from the hall to the driveway at Woombye State School early this morning, and Electoral Commission Queensland volunteer Deaane Dow said voters had been quiet and well-mannered.

The focus on hygiene has been a common theme across the region today, with face masks appearing at booths and many bringing their own pencils to mark the boxes.


COOLUM roundabout and outcry over the Sekisui House Yaroomba Beach development standout as major focus points among voters in the Sunshine Coast Council Division 9 electorate.

Voter numbers were down at Coolum State School this morning with people coming in dribs and drabs, clearly a result of pre-polling success and the coronavirus pandemic.

Hand sanitisers were out in force, handrails continuously wiped down with everyone maintaining the recommended 1.5 metre distances.

For Division 9, there will be a new community representative with five candidates to take over from the retiring Steve Robinson.

Vying for the position are Daniel Bryar (Greens), Angela Dunbavan, Bruce Dunne, Daren Edwards and Maria Suarez.

Coolum resident and local banker Mark Gielis said the "chaotic" Coolum roundabout was the biggest issue for the electorate and overall, he wanted to attract more visitors.

"In the morning especially, you can't get out with battling school traffic, no one can," Mr Gielis said.

"Around 8am it's a nightmare and dangerous for the students.

"I know Ninderry MP Dan Purdie is passionate about it. It just needs to be fixed.

INCENSED: Polling booth at Hungerford Hall in Nambour. Joy Willis. Photo: John McCutcheon / Sunshine Coast Daily
INCENSED: Polling booth at Hungerford Hall in Nambour. Joy Willis. Photo: John McCutcheon / Sunshine Coast Daily john mccutcheon

"I'd also like to see more events in Coolum, the kite festival was good, we just need more visitors spending money in town."

Mr Gielis said he had planned to vote for Mr Edwards but following the Sunshine Coast Daily's  You Decide forum, he changed to Mr Bryar.

Fellow resident Sue Tendyke called for a slip lane at the roundabout to solve the "insane" congestion problems.

Her friend Willy Hendriks said she loved Coolum but said it was "ridiculous" they had to vote in the current climate. Neither would disclose their vote.

Coolum Beach resident Derek Story would only disclose Chris Thompson as his mayor preference but said the Sekisui decision was a "massive" disappointment.

"How can you have a council going so strongly against a community and ratepayers like that, it was ugly," Mr Story said.

"I want to see more transparency too."

Mitch Story said it was his wish that the Sunshine Coast remained as is and stopped becoming more like the Gold Coast.

The environment was at the forefront of his vote.


GOLDEN Beach State School has not been its usual election day self.

The steady stream of voters expected by Electoral Commission Queensland workers was barely a trickle.

One worker at the school, which was a polling booth for Division 1 and Division 2, told the Daily voter turnout had been far lower than usual.

VOTERS RAGE: Fury at booths over health versus hip pocket choice

Golden Beach mum Christine Sheed, 43, and her son Andrew, 23, were among those who did turn out.

Mrs Sheed said she was not surprised by the lack of voters.

"I've looked at the numbers who have voted online and done postal votes and it's a huge number of people," Mrs Sheed said.

Her son said the election should have been postponed to minimise the risk of coronavirus being spread at polling booths.

Mrs Sheed agreed but said she thought workers had done everything they could to cut down the risk.

She appreciated that, especially considering her role as a nurse at a Sunshine Coast hospital.

"It's quite stressful to see everything that is going on.

"I hope everyone does everything they need to do today to keep safe."

They both said they felt they didn't have enough information to make an informed vote.

"I went in there and shrugged and went 'I know this name'," Mrs Sheed said.

She said when it came to her mayoral choice, it was a case of "better the devil you know".

An electoral commission worker takes a seat while waiting for election day voters to arrive at Golden Beach State School.
An electoral commission worker takes a seat while waiting for election day voters to arrive at Golden Beach State School. Stuart Cumming

She said she was generally happy with the way the Sunshine Coast was going.

"Also… a bit of stability is not a bad thing."

Meanwhile, new Golden Beach resident Stacey Morris said she was surprised by the low voter turnout.

"I thought I was going to be lining up 2m apart," Mrs Morris said.

But she instead walked straight in.

She and her family arrived on the Sunshine Coast only a few months ago and are moving again, to Buderim, today.

She said she cast a blank vote because she hadn't yet had the time to get a full understanding of election issues and candidates.

"I'm not going to do a vote for someone I don't know.

"I like to put a lot more thought into it."

She said she always did a lot of research before state and federal elections and between full time work, moving house and family commitments she hadn't had time to do that.


YOU could argue Mudjimba has been in self-isolation for years, a situation only in recent times disrupted at the beach by south-of-the-river weekend overflow and the herds of dog walkers.

With High Tide weekend sessions and the boardwalk deck declared no-go zones and the townies staying at home the place has pivoted seamlessly back in time to the early 2000s or late 90s.

No one's complaining.

SIGNS: Kathryn Hyman's signs in prominent position in Division 8.
SIGNS: Kathryn Hyman's signs in prominent position in Division 8. Bill Hoffman

The long-mourned closure of the bar at the Mudjimba RSL though had left polling days at the community hall just up the street as an irregular gathering place.

No so today. At 9am despite ECQ officers claiming there had been a steady stream of voters through already, there was no sign of more than a trickle at best.

Election day workers outnumbered voters by b a factor of about 10 to one, the process was sterile, devoid of the usual chitchat and done in a blink.

Perhaps understandable given around two thirds of those eligible to do so had caste their vote for Sunshine Coast elections before polling day.

Division 8 challenger Kathryn Hyman outnumbered and out positioned incumbent Jason O'Pray in the election sign stakes but, that aside, there was no mood to read or vibe to pick up on polling day in Sleepy Hollow. 


CALOUNDRA MP Mark McArdle is at CCSA Hall in Nutley St, Caloundra, this morning turning away would be election day voters.

He said the hall had been closed as a part of the Federal Government's efforts to contain the spread of coronavirus.

CCSA Hall in Caloundra is closed this morning.
CCSA Hall in Caloundra is closed this morning. Stuart Cumming

"On Tuesday night the National Cabinet ordered that all community halls had to be closed and no exemptions were given for that," Mr McArdle said.

"Despite trying to ascertain whether this particular hall did qualify for an exemption under a different category, that could not be established therefore the hall can not be used as a polling booth this Saturday."

He said he had been at the hall since about 7am breaking the news to people as they turned up to vote.

It was unclear whether the Caloundra Community Centre in Queen St remained open, but it was understood voters could still cast their ballots at the Golden Beach State School in Gregory St, Golden Beach.

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