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Queensland LNP’s new leader is Lazarus with a quadruple bypass

He’s back: new Queensland LNP leader Lawrence Springborg acknowledges party members’ applause at the election launch last month. AAP/John Pryke

Who is Lawrence Springborg, who has replaced Campbell Newman as the leader of the Queensland Liberal National Party?

Elected on Saturday afternoon after a marathon two-hour party meeting, Springborg has overcome the infamy of being an opposition leader who took his party to three election defeats. To borrow a line from former prime minister John Howard, Springborg could now be seen as Lazarus with a quadruple bypass.

Springborg’s win is a sign that the LNP has not given up hope of forming a minority government. Two Katter’s Australian Party MPs – who could yet hold the balance of power in the next parliament – have said Springborg is one of the very few senior conservatives figures they would be willing to deal with.

Three years ago, Newman handed Springborg the health portfolio, long considered to be one of the hardest in Queensland politics.

The member for Southern Downs received plaudits for reducing wait times for elective surgery and overseeing the opening of the Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital in Brisbane, even if it was also subject to some criticism.

During Newman’s speech at the LNP’s election launch last month, the only spontaneous applause from party members came when Newman mentioned Springborg.

Throughout the election campaign, Treasurer Tim Nicholls was widely tipped to be Newman’s replacement. Yet only hours after the snap summer election was called, a Seven Network/Reachtel poll of 1583 Queenslanders found that Springborg came second behind Newman as preferred LNP leader.

Springborg was first elected to Queensland parliament in 1989.

The LNP’s Strong Team election advertisement. LNP

Springborg did not feature as prominently in the LNP’s “Strong Team, Strong Plan” election advertisements as some of his colleagues, and was not as closely associated with the controversial asset privatisation plans as some of his senior colleagues.

Springborg’s new deputy is another former leader, John-Paul Langbroek.

Before the 2012 election, Langbroek stood aside for Newman to take the leader’s post.

During the Newman government’s first term, the former Gold Coast dentist largely kept his head down as education minister.

Editor’s note: This article is partly based on a earlier article, Who are Queensland’s unofficial Premiers-in-waiting?, in which the author Todd Winther predicted that Springborg would be the next LNP leader.

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