Toowoomba Regional Council election 2020 candidates at a forum hosted by Toowoomba Chamber at Burke and Wills Hotel, Thursday, March 12, 2020. Picture: Kevin Farmer
Toowoomba Regional Council election 2020 candidates at a forum hosted by Toowoomba Chamber at Burke and Wills Hotel, Thursday, March 12, 2020. Picture: Kevin Farmer Kevin Farmer

LIVE: Tallying of councillor votes begins

THIS BLOG IS NOW CLOSED. FOR THE LATEST RESULTS CHECK THE GRAPHS BELOW OR CLICK HERE FOR THE LATEST STORY.

We'll update the two graphs below as the election results start rolling in. If you are an app user, click here to see the councillor results and here to see the mayoral results. News updates and analysis below the graphs. 

Councillor results:

Mayoral results:

SUNDAY, 3.30PM: THE tallying of councillor votes in the race for a seat at the Toowoomba Regional Council board table is under way.

So far, voting data is available for booths in Biddeston, Bowenville, Brookstead, Cecil Plains, Cooyar, Crows Nest, Haden, Kulpi, and Millmerran and some others. 

Taking an early lead with 1.44% of the tally counted is Rebecca Vonhoff, with 1039 votes, or 6.35%.

In second is Cr Bill Cahill with 895 votes, followed by Cr Nancy Sommerfield on 880, Cr Carol Taylor on 868, Cr Megan O'Hara Sullivan on 867, Cr Geoff McDonald on 858 and Cr James O'Shea on 857.

In eighth place is Kerry Shine with 796 votes, Melissa Taylor in ninth, and Tim McMahon rounding out the top 10.

Lizzie Adams currently has 498 votes, in 11th spot, and is followed closely by Joy Mingay (486), David Campbell (477), and Michael Flanigan (476).

SUNDAY, 1:15PM: IT'S NOT official on the Electoral Commission of Queensland's website yet - but it might as well be.

With 65.08% of the vote counted, mayor Paul Antonio is continuing to pull ahead of nearest contender Chris Meibusch.

TRC Mayor Paul Antonio on Toowoomba Regional Council local government election day, Saturday, March 28, 2020. Picture: Kevin Farmer
TRC Mayor Paul Antonio on Toowoomba Regional Council local government election day, Saturday, March 28, 2020. Picture: Kevin Farmer Kevin Farmer

Mr Meibusch conceded Cr Antonio would be returned as mayor earlier this morning.

Cr Antonio now has 52097 votes to his name, or 72.46% of the tally thus far.

Mr Meibusch has 13830 votes, or 19.24% of the tally.

Douglas Doelle is in third and last place on 5973 votes - roughly 8.3%.

Almost 75,000 mayoral ballots have been counted since voting closed at 6pm last night.

SUNDAY, 10.15AM: MAYORAL candidate Chris Meibusch has conceded to incumbent Paul Antonio.

With roughly 68,000 ballots counted, Cr Antonio is leading with 72.65 per cent of the vote, a trend that has remained unchanged since counting began last night.

Those 68,000 ballots equate to just shy of 60 per cent of the total votes cast during the election.

Mr Meibusch currently has 19.41 per cent of the vote.

"I'm obviously prepared to concede that Paul will be our next mayor," Mr Meibusch told The Chronicle this morning while out collecting his corflute signs from around the region.

"I just hope he's up to the challenge for the next four years and also that he's taken on board a lot of what the community said about the way the council should operate.

"That said, obviously our focus has got to be on our COVID-19 response and that should be, as it has been through the campaign, our number one focus."

Mr Meibusch had called for a postponement of the election campaign because of the threat of COVID-19.

"I despair that we had to put, in particularly our elderly and our vulnerable, through that process," he said.

Mayoral candidate Chris Meibusch has conceded defeat.
Mayoral candidate Chris Meibusch has conceded defeat. Kevin Farmer

"But it's done now, what we need to do as a community is follow the national response, and keep checking in on our elderly in our neighbourhoods and make sure they're looked after.

"It puts things like elections and the rest of life into perspective."

Mr Meibusch said it was incredible how much the world had changed in the past two weeks.

"I look back at the Chamber of Commerce breakfast - I made a sort of passing reference to (COVID-19) in my speech and it was sort of one of the many issues that were around," he said.

"But yeah, the world's changed."

Reflecting on the campaign, Mr Meibusch said he was glad to be able to highlight the need for the council to look at issues relating to the escarpment - and not solely for Mount Lofty.

"The bushfire issue is a major issue for the council to address how they attend to reduction in fuel loads. That's got to be done now - not think about it in a few months time," he said.

Mr Meibusch also said the campaign had opened up a discussion about the use of the Toowoomba escarpment.

"(We should be) opening our escarpment up for active lifestyles and that's certainly what we're planning with the 25th Battalion Park (in Mount Lofty) is to appreciate that we have pristine habitats to use it and then it gets the attention and it improves."

SUNDAY, 8.45AM: Toowoomba Regional Council mayor Paul Antonio is certain to be returned to office for his third term.

With 59.39 per cent of the vote counted, Cr Antonio has 47,610 votes to his name, well ahead of nearest challenger Chris Meibusch on 12,720.

Those figures give Cr Antonio 72.65 per cent of votes, to Mr Meibusch's 19.41 per cent.

Douglas Doelle is languishing in third place on 7.93 per cent or 5199 ballots. 

Counting will continue today. 

The voting trend has remained essentially the same right throughout the count. 

This morning Cr Antonio was not ready to claim victory, but said the vote was "a very similar outcome to last time". 

"I do anticipate I will be the mayor in the future," he said. 

Today, Cr Antonio said he was going to head out to Millmerran to his farm to spend some time with his cattle and see his family, before heading back to work on Monday. 

The tally for councillor candidates is not yet available on the ECQ's website. 

SATURDAY, 10.20PM: With counting now suspended for the night, we're going to end our live blog of the Toowoomba Regional Council election night results here.

What an underwhelming night it's been in terms of the voting data coming in. The ECQ has blamed technical issues for this.

So far we've received about 21 per cent of the mayoral vote which shows incumbent mayor Paul Antonio in the lead with  70.87 per cent of the vote.

Chris Meibusch has 19.64 per cent and Douglas Doelle has 9.49 per cent.

Unless there is a major upset in the results still to come in, it's almost certain that Cr Antonio has been re-elected for a third term as mayor.

There has been no data released yet on the councillor race.

We'll be back tomorrow with more results as they come in.

Thank you for joining us and have a great evening.

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SATURDAY, 9.45PM: The Electoral Commission of Queensland says technical issues are to blame for the slow release of results tonight.

"Preliminary counts are underway," the ECQ tweeted.

"Results are coming into the ECQ as expected. We're having technical issues displaying results online. We are working on the issue.

"(The) preliminary count continues (until) around 10pm. The official count begins tomorrow." 

SATURDAY, 8.40PM: In front by a significant margin with 21.78 per cent of the vote counted, Paul Antonio is a pretty sure bet to be re-elected mayor of the Toowoomba Regional Council.

Speaking to The Chronicle this evening from his home in Toowoomba, Cr Antonio said he was "pretty happy" with where he was polling.

"So that's a pretty solid trend we've got there," he said.

"I'm feeling pretty good.

"I'm not at the point of claiming victory but I am very thankful that a pretty humble farmer from Millmerran is able to be the mayor of a community like this."

Cr Antonio currently has 70.87 per cent of the tally so far, or 16779 votes, to Chris Meibusch's 4650 and Douglas Doelle's 2248.

SATURDAY, 8.00PM: Two hours after the polls have closed, let our team catch you up with where we're at:

  • Paul Antonio would have to be close to a certainty to serve as Toowoomba's mayor for the next four years, currently sitting on 70 per cent of the vote
  • More than 20,000 votes for the mayor position have been counted - about 19 per cent of the total count
  • Councillor votes have not been reported yet

SATURDAY, 7.10PM: The first results from the mayoral race have started to come in, and one candidate is surging ahead.

Paul Antonio has nearly 70 per cent of the vote with nearly 15 per cent counted, followed by Chris Meibusch on nearly 20 per cent and Douglas Doelle on just above 10 per cent.

SATURDAY, 6.45PM: AFTER one of the strangest local government election campaigns in the state's history, Toowoomba Regional Council candidate Warren Midgley is at home with his family, eagerly awaiting the results of today's ballot.

(front, from left) Toowoomba Regional Council Warren Midgley with his wife Leanne, with (back, left to right) son-in-law Peter Thomson, grandson Logan and daughter Cassie Thomson.
(front, from left) Toowoomba Regional Council Warren Midgley with his wife Leanne, with (back, left to right) son-in-law Peter Thomson, grandson Logan and daughter Cassie Thomson.

"I'm very happy with the campaign," he said. 

"We had a lot of changes along the way, but good leaders need to be able to adapt quickly. My supporters and I made the decision a week ago to stay right away from booths today in order to give voters the best chance to get in and out quickly and safely. 

"Looking forward to the results."

SATURDAY, 6PM: VOTING is closed and the counting of mayoral ballots has kicked off.

But if you didn't get to a polling booth today because you were worried about COVID-19 and live in the Toowoomba South electorate, there is a slight chance you may not have to pay your $133 fine.

Toowoomba South MP David Janetzki said any Toowoomba South constituent who decided not to vote for health reasons and receives a letter from the Electoral Commission of Queensland should get in touch with him.

"I have been inundated with calls and emails all week from Toowoomba residents worried about voting today in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic," he said.

"Many of them are elderly or living with a compromised immune system.

"Many have repeatedly tried to access the phone voting system or are otherwise ineligible to access phone voting.

"If such vulnerable residents are ultimately fined by the ECQ for not voting today, I will be fighting on their behalf to try and avoid any fine being applied.

"I'm very concerned that Premier Palaszczuk is still forcing millions of Queenslanders to vote today (although she cancelled Parliament this week). Judging by the number of phone calls I've had about this issue during the week, I am certainly not alone."

 

SATURDAY, 5.30PM: GOOD evening and welcome to The Chronicle's updating live blog for the Toowoomba Regional Council elections.

Taking you through the night will be The Chronicle's acting editor Will Hunter, digital producer Tobi Loftus and reporter Matthew Newton.

Six incumbent councillors are seeking re-election tonight, while 26 others fight to unseat them and win one of four open spots.

Meanwhile, the mayoral candidacy is a three-way race between current mayor Paul Antonio, Oakey's Douglas Doelle and Toowoomba's Chris Meibusch. 

It's an unprecedented election for the Toowoomba Regional Council, which was formed in 2008, as turnout is expected to be lower than normal because of the COVID-19 crisis.

Residents have today expressed their concerns to The Chronicle about having to vote in the middle of a pandemic.

Mayoral candidate Douglas Doelle on Toowoomba Regional Council local government election day, Saturday, March 28, 2020. Picture: Kevin Farmer
Mayoral candidate Douglas Doelle on Toowoomba Regional Council local government election day, Saturday, March 28, 2020. Picture: Kevin Farmer Kevin Farmer

Reader surveys have shown Paul Antonio was overwhelmingly the most popular mayoral candidate going into today, while Geoff McDonald was the most popular councillor candidate.

We will see in just a few short hours time whether those results were repeated at the ballot box.

Voting is set to close in half an hours time at 6pm.



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