Hold the front page (late edition)

In today’s Courier-Mail, Jamie Walker and Steven Wardill provide the first intelligence to emerge about the parties’ marginal seat strategies. Labor is reportedly pouring resources into Hinchinbrook and Burdekin, two north Queensland seats held by the Nationals. Despite the retirement of sitting member Marc Rowell, the former seems very hard to credit – the margin last time was 10.9 per cent, and this time the Nationals are unburdened by competition from One Nation (12.6 per cent in 2004) and high-profile independent Andrew Lancini (21.4 per cent). Burdekin is being contested for Labor by Steve Rodgers, who was the member from 2001 to 2004, when it was won by Rosemary Menkens of the Nationals by 4.4 per cent. Here too there is less scope for conservative vote-splitting than last time, despite the presence of Family First: in 2004, Menkens faced former One Nation member Jeff Knuth attempting to win his old seat back as an independent, as well as an official One Nation candidate. Collectively they accounted for nearly a quarter of the vote. The article quotes Coalition campaign director Geoff Greene mocking Labor’s optimism, and concedes that Labor sources "with access to the party’s internal research" believe the Nationals are "likely to retain them on preferences". But that can’t be right in the case of Hinchinbrook, because the preferences could only come from the Greens.

The Courier-Mail headline "Confidence grows" is clever, because it doesn’t say whose. Labor’s confidence gets top billing (they are also "increasingly confident of retaining the tight Brisbane marginals of Clayfield and Indooroopilly"), but further on in the article we learn that "the Coalition has its eye on seats that were previously not even on its list of possibilities". These are Mulgrave and Kallangur, respectively held by 7.7 per cent and 13.7 per cent. Kallangur is being discussed because "residents in the area are outraged over factories they believe are toxic and a chemical fire they claim has affected the health of locals"; Mulgrave because newspapers like running photos of the Nationals’ 20-year-old candidate, Krista Dunford.

Author: William Bowe

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.

3 comments on “Hold the front page (late edition)”

  1. Really! Labor has a swarm of marginals, including several held by ministers, three by-election losses it could regain, and they are supposedly pouring resources into Burdekin and Hichinbrook. Why can’t some journalists think about the third-hand disinformation that they hear? Hinchinbrook (and Mirani) might have been won by Labor in 2001 without sitting-member support for the Nats but they are out of reach.

  2. Um..yes I see what you mean Dave. It seems the Kate Ellis effect is catching on…First we had Peta Kaye-Croft and now Krista. Might also be worth keeping an eye on Jessica Weber in Townsville. Someone will do their thesis on this.

    Its not a joke though – I think all three seats could be a lot closer than might be expected. Also working in Peta’s favour in holding Broadwater is that she was an accidental politician, not one of the the ALP’s usual professional class of staffers & climbers.

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