Seats to watch

With less than an hour to go before polls close, I am finally withdrawing a few of my predicted Labor victories from my election guide: Clayfield, Barron River and Toowoomba North. I thought long and hard about including Keppel but utlimately decided that Paul Hoolihan would be saved by "sophomore surge". The Labor seats mospt likely to fall would appear to be as follows:

Clayfield (Labor 1.2%):. Writing in the Courier-Mail, ABC Radio presenter Madonna King reports that Liberal insiders believe they will win the seat. The Liberals have been targeting the seat with pamphlets showing a picture of a cemetery with the message: "This is the reality of health care under Peter Beattie". Former Liberal leader Joan Sheldon said on ABC Radio she expected the Liberals to win the seat. The precedent of Currumbin in 2004 is instructive of the potential effects of ministerial controversy, and it has prompted me to change my tip here and give it to the Liberals.

Barron River (Labor 3.1%): My instincts always told me that the retiring incumbent factor should make the difference here, and I have now decided to follow them. Former Liberal leader Joan Sheldon said on ABC Radio she expected the Liberals to win.

Kawana (Labor 1.5%): It is generally thought that the Traveston Dam controversy and the government’s dithering over location of a new hospital will deliver this seat to the Liberals.

Mudgeeraba (Labor 1.9%): A number of reports emerged earlier that Labor had "all but written off " the seat, but it has not been widely discussed late in the campaign. Liberal insiders quoted by Madonna King in the Courier-Mail are "hopeful"; Greg Roberts and Andrew Fraser of The Australian say only that Labor research indicates they “could lose”.

Indooroopilly (Labor 2.1%): Indooroopilly is a natural Liberal seat that must surely return to the fold sooner or later, but there are mixed messages as to whether that time is now. The Poll Bludger hears that this is one seat where Labor’s superior campaign resources has not been apparent, as Liberal candidate Peter Turner has invested heavily in his own campaign. On ABC Radio yesterday morning, Madonna King asked her election panellists why it was more widely anticipated that the Liberals would win Clayfield than Indooroopilly, but failed to extract a response worth relating.

Keppel (Labor 3.8%): Keppel is not natural Labor territory, having been won for them in 2004 upon the retirement of a long-term Nationals member. If there is something in the talk that the Nationals are travelling better in the north than the Liberals in the south, there is a high chance Keppel will return to the fold. Former Labor Treasurer David Hamill was quick to nominate the seat as one that might change hands when speaking on Madonna King’s program.

Aspley (Labor 4.3%): This was specifically nominated by Steven Wardill of the Courier-Mail as a seat that had Labor worried, reportedly due to sagging Labor support in the outer suburbs. Madonna King in the Courier-Mail reported bullish noises from the Liberal camp.

Bundaberg (Labor 5.3%): The balance of opinion is that the Coalition’s botched new hospital promise will save Labor’s bacon in the seat that delivered the Jayant Patel affair. My own hesitant judgement is that the apparent certainty of an overall Labor victory will fortify locals to deliver a protest vote.

Toowoomba North (Labor 7.3%): Toowoomba North is being much more widely discussed than other seats with similar margins. Dennis Atkins of the Courier-Mail says the "local hospital story is shocking and water issues are as hot there as anywhere". The latter are of particular significance given that the Nationals candidate, Toowoomba councillor Lyle Shelton, was the public spearhead of the successful "no" campaign at the referendum on treated sewage water in Toowoomba’s drinking supply.

Pumicestone (Labor 5.4%): Greg Roberts and Andrew Fraser of The Australian report that the seat is "at risk because of the water issue because of the water issue and troubles with Caboolture Hospital"

Going purely on margins, Cairns (3.9 per cent), Hervey Bay (4.0 per cent), Broadwater (4.1 per cent) and Burleigh (5.0 per cent) would look to be well in contention, but they have generated little discussion in the latter half of the campaign. By contrast, interest has been expressed in the following less likely looking seats:

Cleveland (Labor 8.7%): Labor is losing a member of 14 years’ standing in Darryl Briskey. Greg Roberts and Andrew Fraser of The Australian describe the seat as ‘at risk’; Steven Wardill of the Courier-Mail named the seat as one of two in which Labor polling was picking up "significant swings"; Madonna King in the Courier-Mail says Labor believes the seat "could be lost".

Kallangur (Labor 13.5%): Madonna King in the Courier-Mail says many Nationals are optimistic about this unlikely looking prospect; Dennis Atkins in the Courier-Mail also refers to "optimistic talk" in the Nationals camp.

Mulgrave (Labor 7.7%): Dennis Atkins is still hearing "optimistic talk" from the Nationals, whose 20-year-old candidate Krista Dunford has proved a hit with the media.

Mansfield (Labor 8.6%): Steven Wardill’s report that this seat has been "targeted" by the Liberals, but says otherwise troubling Labor polling shows them doing better here than in Aspley and Cleveland.

Everton (Labor 11.6%): This seat is off most observers’ radar, but Greg Roberts and Andrew Fraser of The Australian describe it as "at risk".

Redlands (Labor 8.6%) and Whitsunday (Labor 14.8%): Madonna King in the Courier-Mail includes these in a list of seats that many Nationals are "optimistic about".

Then there are the potential Labor gains, the obvious candidates being the three they lost at mid-term by-elections. I am maintaining my assessment that Chatsworth and Redcliffe, which were narrowly won by the Liberals in the context of a low-turnout by-election, will return to the Labor fold; whereas the more naturally conservative seat of Gaven will stay with the Nationals. The remaining omissions from my list are the independent-held seats of Noosa and Gympie, but there has never been much doubt in my mind that these would be won by the Liberals and Nationals respectively. Final tally: Labor 55, Nationals 19, Liberals 10, independent 4, One Nation 1.

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.

One comment on “Seats to watch”

  1. In a state like QLD we only have the local paper and the 8.30 am onwards local ABC as outlets. To have both in the same bed and to have the Abc announcer lifting her skirt Paris hilton like for one party her hubby paper on the day of the election like a good Daily Tele blow up doll cannot a good democarcy make.
    K Jin

Comments are closed.