by James Graham
WHITSUNDAY MP Jason Costigan is confident he is the firebrand his party needs to reignite the Liberal National Party's flagging fortunes in the regions.
Although Opposition Leader Tim Nicholls was yet to concede defeat yesterday, Mr Costigan has already put his name in the hat as a contender for the deputy role when the party meets next week for a leadership ballot.
"We need a Barnaby of the North,” he said, referencing Barnaby Joyce, the popular federal National Party leader.
"I believe North Queensland is crying out for this and we've got to get fair dinkum about North Queensland if we want to form government.”
After surviving a concerted Labor effort to topple him in the hotly contested Whitsunday seat, Mr Costigan believes he's more than qualified to step up to a higher rank in the party.
"I believe I have the ability to work my magic in the tropics, and I think the people of Central, North and Far North Queensland are crying out for someone they can relate to.
"There is no one in the party room who has that knowledge and that special connection with the people in these communities, whether it's our provincial cities, or country towns, or Indigenous communities, and I'm up for it.”
Considering there are six federal LNP parliamentarians between Gladstone and Cairns, Mr Costigan said it was "utterly embarrassing” that the LNP won just two seats north of Bundaberg in the state election . The other being Dale Last in Burdekin who was confirmed yesterday in a nail-bitting battle with Labor's Mike Brunker.
"Why are they so successful and we are so ordinary?” Mr Costigan said.
"Clearly we had people come in from the south, all with the noblest intentions, but they can't put the bat on the ball.”
Mr Last told ABC radio this week he expected a shake-up at the top.
"For me, it's about making sure we strike the right balance between city and country.”