As the votes come in, Kayla Chamberlain and Nina Coppola start counting at the ECQ office in Maryborough St in Bundaberg. Picture: Brian Cassidy.
As the votes come in, Kayla Chamberlain and Nina Coppola start counting at the ECQ office in Maryborough St in Bundaberg. Picture: Brian Cassidy.

LIVE: Vote count in the battle of Bundy

12.05am: THIS is the last post of the night, and I mean it this time! There have been few more changes, but Division 10’s incumbent councillor John Learmonth is doing really well against his opponent Tim Sayre.

Cr Learmonth so far has 71.75 per cent of the vote, while Mr Sayre has 13.96 per cent.

We should have more details to write about on www.news-mail.com.au later today. The highlights will be in Monday’s print edition.

Division 10's incumbent Councillor John Learmonth. Picture: Chris Burns.
Division 10's incumbent Councillor John Learmonth. Picture: Chris Burns.

12am: ANOTHER incumbent councillor is also doing well. Cr Wayne Honor in Division 3 remains in the lead after 45 per cent of the preliminary vote was counted.

He is on 51.59 per cent of the vote, David Ferguson is on 33.61 per cent, and Paul Bongioletti has 14.8 per cent.

11.55pm: I’VE satisfied my curiosity by looking at Division 5, and I see that long-running councillor Greg Barnes is in the lead against publican Beau Jansen.

Cr Barnes has often made a stand in the council chambers, particularly when it came to the Jewel high-rise debate in 2018, and as a result often stands alone.

Cr Greg Barnes outside the Bundaberg Regional Council's former Bargara Service Centre.
Cr Greg Barnes outside the Bundaberg Regional Council's former Bargara Service Centre.

Last week a Councillor Conduct Tribunal determined that Cr Barnes had disclosed confidential financial figures regarding plants to upgrade the Kalkie Water Treatment Plant, using Facebook.

Cr Barnes said he is innocent, but was upset that the ruling had been announced a week before the election.

With 60 per cent of the preliminary vote counted, Cr Barnes has almost double the vote of Mr Jansen.

11.45pm: NOW let’s look at Division 4, our most central division and the one that looks after our CBD.

Tracey McPhee is leading the race in the division, on 51.47 per cent. She has 525 votes.

But I would like to keep an eye on Tanya Lee Jones, who is on 36.76 per cent. Depending where the votes were counted from, the result might swing. I believe Ms Jones could potentially have a stronger support base in Bundaberg North.

John Valuch, who is vocal with a climate change mitigation policy, is on 11.76 per cent.

11.39pm: IT’S confirmed what we heard before in regards to who is leading in Division 6.

Tanya McLoughlin has 53 per cent of the votes counted, and is more than 80 votes ahead of Kelly Woods.

But there’s a long way to go with 23 per cent of the votes counted.

11.34pm: INITIAL data for Division 7 is in. Finally we can get some gauge of what is going on between the four candidates.

This was the Division I was least certain about. But Vince Habermann, a former Division 4 councillor who lost to Cr Helen Blackburn in 2016, is in the lead.

Vince Habermann.
Vince Habermann.

There’s a lot of uncertainties at play here. We have four new candidates, no incumbents, and a high rate of prepolls, and undoubtedly absentees.

Mr Habermann so far has 389 votes (39.17 per cent), and there’s a fair margin with Joseph Ellul, with 270 votes (27.19 per cent). Next comes Mitch Pukallus (21.15 per cent), and Ramon Creevey (12.49 per cent).

11.19pm: IN DIVISION 1, Scott Allison has overtaken incumbent Cr Jason Bartels.

31.91 per cent of the vote has been counted, and now updated on the ECQ after technical difficulties.

Mr Allison so far has 1023 votes (48.03%), while Cr Bartels has 897 (42.11%).

Scott Allison.
Scott Allison.

Retiree Peter Wyatt, who ran in the mayoral race against Jack Dempsey in the 2016 election during which he promised to donate a large sum of his renumeration in $20 notes to mothers in shopper centres, has 210 votes (9.86%)

11.09pm: WAIT, don’t go. So a funny thing happened. I was just about to turn off the computer, when the ECQ website finally updated.

Let’s take a look.

28.6 per cent of the mayoral preliminary vote has been counted. Cr Dempsey keeps his lead with 60.76 per cent of the vote.

That’s 11,462 votes so far.

Cr Blackburn has 35.25 per cent, which is 6649 votes.

Mr Anthony has 4.27 per cent, with 841 per cent.

11pm: WE’RE going to leave it there with our live coverage tonight. I need to be rested to chase up more details tomorrow.

But meanwhile, might I suggest several articles that might be worth reading in the meantime?

Good night. If you’re a candidate, I hope you rest well and are able to catch up on sleep.

10.45pm: AHA. Well, the ECQ has just tweeted to acknowledge that it has had technical issues.

“Results will be able on the website as soon as possible,” the tweet said.

10.40pm: THIS is the current percentage of the count for the Bundaberg LGA.

It has not changed for several hours.

The poll status of the Bundaberg LGA according to the ECQ website at 10.35pm.
The poll status of the Bundaberg LGA according to the ECQ website at 10.35pm.

10.17pm: THERE’S plenty of time to stalk the candidates’ social media accounts, because we just aren’t seeing any movement on ECQ. Suspense is killing me. I really want to see what’s happening with the four contenders in Division 7.

Anyway, the latest post we found is from Division 10 candidate Tim Sayre, who runs again after facing his rival, John Learmonth, in the 2018 by-election.

Here’s some trivia about Mr Sayre. He is the current president of the Bundaberg Chamber of Commerce, he is pushing for an inquiry into local drains and sewerage systems if he is elected, and was the first Bundaberg LGA candidate to announce his intentions.

That was back in October.

Cr Peter Heuser won the Division 10 seat in 2016, but he stepped down due to terminal sickness. A by-election was called and four candidates threw their hats in the ring.

Cr Learmonth won with 39.55 per cent, followed by Mr Sayre, 27.57 per cent, Lynne Forgan on 20.20 per cent, and then Crystal Jones, on 12.68 per cent.

Miss Jones is actually a colleague of mine. She won’t like this, but you can read about why she isn’t contending again.

She encouraged everyone to consider nominating for local politics.

“Even if you don’t win, I almost entirely guarantee you’ll find your life enriched by the experience,” she said.

9.56pm: WE HEARD a few rumours that Tanya McLoughlin might be ahead of Kelly Woods in Division 6, even though the data does not yet reflect that in the ECQ data.

Ms Woods is 29 votes ahead of Mrs McLoughlin, according to current figures online.

Tanya McLoughlin might be in the lead for Division 6. However, current ECQ figures show that Kelly Woods is leading with a slim margin.
Tanya McLoughlin might be in the lead for Division 6. However, current ECQ figures show that Kelly Woods is leading with a slim margin.

But Mrs McLoughlin sounded positive, but careful, of the figures which might indicate she is 86 votes ahead at the four polling booths in her division.

“That’s what I take it as,” she said, sounding exhausted when I called her at about 9.45pm.

“From the first counts we obviously don’t know for sure because we weren’t there to witness.

“I don’t think it’s a true reflection … over half prepolled, but I’m hopeful.”

The high rate of prepoll numbers could potentially change the results when considered.

9.40pm: NOT much has been happening with the count so it’s time to be reflective again. Maybe it’s because it’s 9.40pm on a Saturday night, and I’m socially isolated like I’m supposed to be.

One of the concerns expressed to me by some councillors over recent months is the amount of new blood that will be stepping in. They will need to be trained, prepared and ready in time to get their heads around the council budget within three months.

Scott, Jamie, Kieran and Ashton Rowleson.
Scott, Jamie, Kieran and Ashton Rowleson.

This budget and how it will help the local community is going to be a challenge.

Outgoing Division 6 councillor Scott Rowleson, who is leaving his role after a term to spend more time with his young family, has such views.

“Whilst I’ve had many residents contact me and say they’ll miss me and even asking me to reconsider, I know I’ve made the right decision,” Mr Rowleson wrote in a text 10 days ago.

“However, I am slightly anxious about the loss of knowledge after the election, especially in this current climate of uncertainty.

“I wish them all the best and trust they take advice from those who know and just listen and learn.”

9.24pm: OBSERVERSwould see that the count has stopped.

Division 4 candidate Tracey McPhee, the owner of Alowishus Delicious (yes, there are two cafe owners running) posted a message to her social media followers about two hours ago.

“I want to say thank you to everyone who has supported and encouraged me on this journey,” she said.

Tracey McPhee hand out how to vote card outside the early voting centre in Maryborough Street. This photograph was taken before candidates stopped handing out voting material due to coronavirus concerns.
Tracey McPhee hand out how to vote card outside the early voting centre in Maryborough Street. This photograph was taken before candidates stopped handing out voting material due to coronavirus concerns.

“Today and over the past few days I have received countless messages of well wishes, many of them completely unexpected.”

How she remains so composed as a small-business owner right now, while also running a campaign, is beyond me.

9.10pm: Cr STEVE Cooper, uncontested, said the limitations placed on candidates and scrutineers has changed the flow and timeliness of information being passed in the election.

Cr Cooper is what one might describe as a loyalist to the current mayor, and openly advocates Cr Dempsey’s economic direction for the region.

“You haven’t been able to get in there to get a feel for it,” Cr Cooper said, referring to the counting.

“I’m a very big numbers man and I like to keep in touch. I rely on the scrutineers to get my information to me.

“There’s been a little bit getting out but not much.”

Cr Cooper said there has been inconsistency with the numbers published on the ECQ website, particularly with the mayoral race.

“But it’s still giving you the same percentages which is around 65, Dempsey, 34, Blackburn,” he said.

“It’s pretty hard to call when it's all over the shop the way it is, but I think it’s clear the mayor’s been decided from what’s been up earlier, and what’s up now.

“I would suggest anything you see tonight will improve the incumbent and or the one going reasonably well.”

Cr Cooper said prepoll voters were generally more considered in who they voted for.


8.50pm: ONGOING Division 8 councillor Steve Cooper, who sits uncontested, has phoned and noticed an inconsistency with the mayoral vote numbers posted on the ECQ website.

But regardless of the numbers, the percentage between Cr Dempsey and Cr Blackburn are consistent.

Cr Cooper is a numbers man who is confident that Cr Dempsey will continue to be our Bundaberg Mayor.

More to come in regards to this conversation.

Morgan Medcalf, Jo Medcalf and John Kelly count through the ballots. Picture: Brian Cassidy.
Morgan Medcalf, Jo Medcalf and John Kelly count through the ballots. Picture: Brian Cassidy.

8.31pm: LET’S take a brief look at the neighbours to see how they are doing. Fraser Coast’s mayoral vote is being led by incumbent George Seymour, on 71.63 per cent. He runs against Jannean Dean, who so far has 28.37 per cent.

None of the North Burnett mayoral votes have been counted yet.

8.18pm: Yes, it could be a long night for us all, Cr Bartels.

But if you do fall asleep, you can catch up on our election coverage and results tomorrow at www.news-mail.com.au.

Yes, I do know I’m being enterprising.

8.11pm: MAYORAL candidate Helen Blackburn posted a statement about an hour ago on her social media, thanking wellwishers for their support.

When we spoke on the phone earlier today she was in good spirits. Cr Blackburn woke at 4am, put out her posters, and cooked breakfast with her family. Then she completed house chores.

The game changed when the ECQ restricted access to candidates in front of the polling booths. There was nothing more candidates could do to squeeze in that extra vote. But they were all in the same boat. Maybe having that day to rest and spend time with the family is for the better.

8.02pm: A COLLEAGUE has drawn my attention to Division 1, where it looks like incumbent councillor Jason Bartels might be in trouble.

He is ahead of lettuce farmer and former Camera House owner Scott Allison, true, but there is 15 votes between them.

Cr Bartels is an open supporter of incumbent Mayor Jack Dempsey.

Mayoral candidate Jack Dempsey and division 1 candidate Jason Bartels advocate a master plan for Moore Park Beach.
Mayoral candidate Jack Dempsey and division 1 candidate Jason Bartels advocate a master plan for Moore Park Beach.

7.53pm: SO the percentage of the count, particularly with the mayoral one, seems to be less than what we reported before. At 7.10pm we said 1.36 per cent of the unofficial preliminary count was made, but it is now in the ECQ at 0.7 per cent.

Regardless, 480 total mayoral votes are counted. Cr Dempsey is leading on 62.58 per cent.

7.50pm: It’s been a tough few weeks for everyone. I feel like this is an understatement.

But these last few weeks must been draining for our political candidates. In the best of times it is not easy spending long hours under the sun, handing out election material, and convincing people to like you more than those other ones.

Some of our candidates have been up since before 4am, to make sure their signs were in place. Such as with Division 10 incumbent John Learmonth. He’s looking cheerful!

But I wonder if there’s a technique to hammering an election poster.

7.40pm: As a colleague of mine noted on our social media group chat, it’s still too early to draw conclusions. It’s worth a reminder that we know these are preliminary votes, with a fraction counted. It’s still far too early to make any determinations.

7.38pm: A small percentage of preliminary votes (3.8 per cent) have been counted in Division 6.

Cafe owner Kelly Woods is so far ahead on 56.3 per cent, against local Zonta Club president Tanya McLoughlin, who is on 43.6.

Watch this space.

7.32pm: LET us take a break from numbers for a moment. There have been many profile photographs taken during this election. There have been announcements, press conferences, and debates.

But I think the award for the best photograph of the campaign belongs to … Jack ‘Sk8er Boi’ Dempsey!

I’m not sure we can give out a prize, but if we can have more of these types of photographs in the upcoming state election, that would be grand.

Jack Dempsey and skateboarder Craig Atkinson at the Walla St skate bowl.
Jack Dempsey and skateboarder Craig Atkinson at the Walla St skate bowl.

7.26pm: DIVISION 9 could intend be interesting. Council staffer May Mitchell is so far leading in the unofficial preliminary count, on 47.32 per cent. But Geoff Augutis, a local computer businessman shouldn’t be underestimated judging from his measured responses to our questions. Social worker Chris Foley is at 18.87 per cent.

But only five per cent has been counted.

7.19pm: So some of the other divisions appear to be counted.

For starters, about 15 per cent of Division 3’s preliminary votes is counted. Incumbent councillor Wayne Honor seems to be doing quite well there.

He is on 57 per cent so far. But local electrician David Ferguson’s result could be worth watching tonight. He is on almost 30 per cent.

Cr Wayne Honor.
Cr Wayne Honor.

7.15pm: That gap widens slightly with almost 10 per cent of the mayoral preliminary votes counted.

Cr Dempsey leads so far on almost 61 per cent.

7.10pm: Cr Dempsey so far has the lead with 59.36 per cent. Cr Blackburn has 36.74 per cent. Kirt Anthony has 3.91 per cent.

However, only 1.36 per cent of the vote has been counted, but that’s changing faster than it takes to write this.

The mayoral count as of 7.06pm
The mayoral count as of 7.06pm

7.07pm: Okay, the votes for the mayoral candidates have just started coming through.

7.05pm: WE’RE still waiting for the first votes.

This is a perfect time to weigh in on my opinion. Maybe you want that opinion, maybe you don’t, but I’ve interviewed many of these candidates for the better part of six months now, and some of them are probably sick of me trying to ring them again.

There’s much uncertainty at the moment. We don’t know by how much the increased phone votes and prepolling will change things. There could be certain demographics preferring not to vote.

Division 7 will be competitive, as will Division 9, where the longrunning incumbents have resigned.

However, I’m quite interested in seeing how political newcomer Beau Jansen, a 31-year-old pub manager, will go in Division 5, against Bargara’s experienced elected representative Greg Barnes.

6:52pm: THE first of the votes haven’t come in yet so it’s a good time to evaluate who is running.

Mayoral candidates: Jack Dempsey, Helen Blackburn, Kirt Anthony.

Division 1: Jason Bartels (incumbent), Scott Allison, Peter Wyatt.

Division 2: Nobody ran against our deputy mayor, Bill Trevor.

Division 3: Wayne Honor (incumbent), Paul Bongioletti, David Ferguson.

Division 4: Tracey McPhee, Tanya Lee Jones, John Valuch.

Division 5: Greg Barnes (incumbent), Beau Jansen.

Division 6: Kelly Woods, Tanya McLoughlin.

Division 7: Joseph Ellul, Ramon Creevey, Vince Habermann, Mitch Pukallis.

Division 8: Nobody ran against Steve Cooper, who won the seat in the 2018 by-election.

Division 9: George Augutis, May Mitchell, Chris Foley.

Division 10: John Learmonth (incumbent), Tim Sayre.

6.40pm: A COUNCILLOR represents each of the 10 divisions of the Bundaberg local government area, and they are led by the mayor.

But Division 2 and Division 8 have only one candidate each, which means they will sit in the next council meeting.

Eyes of course will be on the mayoral result.

Mayor Jack Dempsey defends his title against candidates Helen Blackburn and Kirt Anthony.

I would have loved to have been the fly on the wall when councillors first learned Cr Dempsey’s council’s governance spokeswoman, Cr Blackburn, revealed her mayoral ambition last November. And yes, I would have told you how it would have gone down.

Candidates Mitch Pukallus, Helen Blackburn, Tim Sayre, Jack Dempsey, Kirt Anthony, May Mitchell, Tracey McPhee, and Tanya Jones discuss the conditions of limiting election material in front of the prepoll booth last week. Picture: Chris Burns.
Candidates Mitch Pukallus, Helen Blackburn, Tim Sayre, Jack Dempsey, Kirt Anthony, May Mitchell, Tracey McPhee, and Tanya Jones discuss the conditions of limiting election material in front of the prepoll booth last week. Picture: Chris Burns.

In the 2016 election Cr Dempsey won with 71 per cent of the first preference, dominating the other four candidates. His most popular division had been Bargara, where he had 78.8 per cent of the vote.

Cr Blackburn is banking on the fact that she offers a strong alternative to Cr Dempsey. Their contrast mostly lies in the use of finances, and the future use of more than $30 million in unallocated funds. Cr Blackburn has wanted a freeze on rates, even before the economic impact of the coronavirus, but supporters of Cr Dempsey say this money is essential for major projects such as water treatment plants.

6.30PM:

OKAY, voting has closed.

It has been a long and tense election campaign for the Bundaberg Region.

Nobody could have predicted the numerous twists that have happened along the way, which most recently includes the health concerns of the coronavirus and the uncertainty it has thrown with the process.

And I am sure many people, including candidates, are relieved the electioneering is over.

Tonight the candidates and their scrutineers will not be able to watch the preliminary counting, but from a distance we will do our best to keep an eye on the results using the Electoral Commission of Queensland’s data.

The ECQ said preliminary counting will begin after polling closes at 6pm.

We are going to try to keep it light and entertaining, so in the absence of a democracy sausage, please order your socially isolated delivered pizza, gather your snacks, and buckle up.



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