The forming of North Queensland First
North Queensland First, as a political entity, was first mooted on 2 September 2019 when News Corp papers broke the story about then Independent MP Jason Costigan, Member for Whitsunday, forming a new party
It was on the eve of State Parliament sitting in Townsville for the first time in 17 years and only the second time in the city’s history.
Mr Costigan held a media conference that same day, in Anzac Park on The Strand, outlining his plan to form a new conservative party, based in North Queensland and for the betterment of North Queensland, with the ultimate objective: Statehood for North Queensland. Yes, Australia’s seventh State!
On 31 October 2019, North Queensland First, or NQ First as the ‘brand’ became known, was registered with the Electoral Commission of Queensland and on 24 November 2019, Mr Costigan walked into State Parliament for the first time, to be officially recognised as the NQ First Member for Whitsunday & therefore, Parliamentary Leader of NQ First.
Prior to that, Mr Costigan had already travelled extensively around Central, North and Far North Queensland under the ‘NQ First’ banner, listening to the concerns of locals.
This included a week-long trip to the North West after Parliament had sat in Townsville, taking in Mount Isa, Dajarra, Boulia, Cloncurry, Julia Creek, Kynuna, Richmond and Hughenden.
By the end of 2019, Mr Costigan had also visited other communities on or near the coast including Cairns, Ingham, Townsville, Ayr, Rockhampton and Moranbah, in addition to his own bread-and-butter electorate workaround Mackay and the Whitsundays.
On 9th December 2019, North Queensland First held its inaugural party meeting at Mackay’s iconic Eimeo Pacific Hotel.
The meeting resulted in 26 foundation members from Cairns to Mackay.
Cannonvale retiree Richard Filewood (pictured below), formerly an Officer in the Australian Army, was elected unopposed as inaugural party president.
Mackay-based Ange Nixon was elected unopposed as party secretary and treasurer, with Ms Nixon and Mr Filewood among those 40-odd people between Mackay and Bowen who resigned from the LNP in the wake of Mr Costigan’s shock expulsion from that SEQ-based party on 1 February 2019.
NQ First’s membership continues to grow, with members now on the books from Cairns, Ingham, Townsville, the Burdekin, Bowen, Airlie Beach, Proserpine, Bloomsbury, Calen, Mackay, Sarina, Eungella, the Pioneer Valley and Moranbah.
Plans are afoot to establish branches in various locations and the party is keen to hear from prospective members, as well as prospective candidates for State seats from Gladstone in the south to Cook in the north as the October 31 State Election edges closer.