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Jones concedes Herbert, urges challenge

AAP logoAAP 31/07/2016 By Elise Scott

Now Ewen Jones has officially lost his Queensland seat of Herbert, he's off to mow his lawn.

"That's the big one for me," he said on Monday.

The outgoing coalition MP conceded his loss after the electoral commission finished a re-count with Labor's Cathy O'Toole ahead by 37 votes at the weekend.

But Mr Jones may not be away from parliament for long, with the former MP urging the Liberal National Party to take the vote count to court.

"(There were) a number of anomalies in the count that we believe would mount a significant challenge," he said.

A court challenge could send Herbert voters back to the polls and Mr Jones wants a decision from the LNP on whether to mount a case "as soon as humanly possible".

"We owe it to the party and people of Townsville to see if we can get a voice in government."

In the meantime, his to-do list reads: clean out the office, mow the lawn and spend quiet time with the family".

"I owe my family a lot," he told reporters in Townsville.

Herbert is the final seat of the federal election to be determined, with the first count putting Labor ahead by eight votes and forcing a recount.

Mr Jones wished his successor all the best.

"I told her it is the best job in Australia, representing this city, and she's looking forward to it."

Ms O'Toole said it was a relief to have 29 days of counting completed.

"For now, the count is done, it's final," she told Sky News.

The LNP will have 40 days from the return of the writs on August 8 to challenge the result in the Court of Disputed Returns.

Senior minister Steve Ciobo says more people than the winning margin could have missed out on the chance to vote.

"It's important that if we're going to compel Australians to turn out to vote that every Australian have the opportunity to do that," he told ABC radio.

It is claimed some soldiers from Lavarack Barracks missed out on voting while they were on Exercise Hamel in South Australia during the election campaign.

As well, a number of Townsville hospital patients are also believed not to have been given the opportunity to vote.

The fall of the northern Queensland electorate to Labor gives the coalition a one-seat majority, with 76 votes in the House of Representatives.

Mr Jones doesn't reckon the slim majority will be a problem for the government.

"The Cowboys won the (NRL) premiership last year by one point. You're still the premiers," he said.

"It is about making sure we are a team."

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said he was heading to Townsville later on Monday to congratulate Ms O'Toole.

He told reporters in Darwin it is up to the Liberal party if it wants to pursue legal and political debates over the Herbert result.

"I and Cathy O'Toole and Labor will work hard to improve the job situation for people in Townsville who are doing it hard," Mr Shorten said.

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