Not quite Wright/In like Flynn

The federal redistribution for Queensland has now been finalised. The most noteworthy amendment following the redistribution committee’s deliberations is that the new division will be called Flynn, in honour of Royal Flying Doctor Service pioneer Rev John Flynn, rather than the original proposal of Wright, in honour of poet Judith Wright (and not former Labor MP and convicted child sex offender Keith Wright, as locals had apparently assumed). There have also been the following amendments to the boundaries as originally proposed:

The augmented Commission acceded to three particular changes affecting the new division, Capricornia, Hinkler and Maranoa. First, the local government area of Mt Morgan was transferred from the Committee’s proposed new division to Capricornia; secondly, the local government area of Biggenden was transferred from the Committee’s proposed new division to Hinkler; and thirdly, the local government area of Wondai was transferred (in order to compensate for loss of enrolment in the new division by the first and second changes) from Maranoa to the new division.

Mount Morgan is a good Labor area just outside Rockhampton, so this amendment benefits Capricornia MP Kirsten Livermore at the expense of Labor’s chances in Flynn. Biggenden and Wondai are Nationals territory, so these amendments should cancel themselves out with respect to Flynn. Maranoa and the redrawn Hinkler are safe enough for the Nationals that the changes to them will not be significant. Based on the original proposal, Malcolm Mackerras calculated the margins at 3.8 per cent for Labor in Capricornia, 7.9 per cent for the Nationals in Wright/Flynn (a good 2 per cent higher than other estimates suggested), 8.8 per cent for the Nationals in Hinkler and 21.0 per cent for the Nationals in Maranoa.

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.

32 comments on “Not quite Wright/In like Flynn”

  1. I love the way the AEC expressed the rationale behind the name change “Were it not for the very unfortunate resonance of the name ‘Wright’ in a political context in this region at the present time…” Poor Judith; she just happens to share the same surname as an unsavory character. Considering how fast the population of Qld is growing, they’ll be another opportunity soon enough to name a new electorate.

    There should be some name changes in the NSW reditribution too, given (for example) that the proposed electoral boundaries of Parramatta now no longer includes Parramatta CBD, which is in Reid. I would suggest calling it McMahon. Even though he was a lousy PM, you gotta give the bloke his dues.

    Will Flynn be a three-cornered contest? (It’s an open seat, so it should be.) I think the Libs have a half-decent chance of winning it, even though ALP preferences go to the Nats. Depends on the candidate, and to what degree the Nats botch the campaign.

  2. If it was Labor’s idea to shift Mt Morgan this was foolish. Flynn is the sort of regional blue-collar seat Labor should try to win. The pro-Labor swing in Gladstone and Fitzroy on saturday might be a pointer.

  3. Odd that there weren’t more significant changes to the proposal.

    It still seems odd to link Gladstone with Winton and Longreach, while pushing the outback seat of Maranoa into the Kingaroy area. I’m amazed they couldn’t find a way to leave the outback shires in Maranoa, leave Gladstone in Hinkler, and create a new seat linking Kingaroy to the Sunshine Coast.

  4. I think the boundaries of Flynn/Wright were partly designed to be a salve to the National Party, after the abolition of Gwydir (NSW). The Nats don’t see it quite that way, though.

    The only problem I can see with an electorate that includes both Bundaberg and Gladstone is that, given the combined populations of the two cities, it might be over quota (or close). Most of the growth prospects in Flynn will be centred on Gladstone, so I expect this electorate will creep eastward in future redistributions. I think the AEC might be thinking ahead in having separate Gladstone- and Bundaberg-based electorates, catering to the high-growth coastal areas.

  5. In three years there’ll probably be another Qld seat – all the non SEQ coastal seats will shrink (eastwards) – and I wouldn’t be surprised if the new seat is centred on Noosa and Cooloola shire. Maranoa will gain the western part of Flynn.

  6. Given the seats have been finalised, a question now is how the redistribution affects the relevant federal MPs, eg Paul Neville, Warren Truss, Peter Slipper, Alex Somlyay and Mal Brough? Which electorate will Paul Neville run for?

  7. Yes, it’s going to be tough keeping Maryborough and Noosa in the same electorate. Wide Bay will have to be cut in two, as part of a broader redistribution of SEQ.

  8. tijawi Says:
    Will Flynn be a three-cornered contest? (It’s an open seat, so it should be.) I think the Libs have a half-decent chance of winning it, even though ALP preferences go to the Nats. Depends on the candidate, and to what degree the Nats botch the campaign.
    Looking at the map, Flynn is sort of territory the Nationals would beat the Liberals and contest would be National vs Labor.

    The newly redrawn electorates of Hinkler and Wide Bay are winnable for the Liberals due to demographic changes, if the MP’s for one or both electorates retire at the 2007 election. If Flynn becomes a coastal electorate with little inland regions. Then Libs would have a good chance of winning.

  9. Neville hails from Bundaberg I think and will probably stay in Hinkler. Nats problem: if he leaves Hinkler it becomes vunerable to the Liberals, but if he stays in Hinkler his personal vote in Gladstone is lost and Flynn becomes better for Labor.

  10. Flynn *should* be safe as houses for the Nats, given the notional margin. So, it should be a classic ALP v NP contest. But the Libs are frighteningly good at grabbing rural seats from right under the Nats’ noses – Murray, Farrer, Hume, Blair, etc. So although Flynn ought to be safe turf for the Nats, the Libs do tend to run better campaigns, and I wouldn’t put it past them to ‘steal’ Flynn. I’m a Labor-ite, so it gives me no pleasure saying that.

    On the other point, as these coastal Qld electorates migrate southward they become less rural and more prone to be lost to the Libs, or even the ALP. It seems the number of coastal/rural electorates decreases with each distribution.

  11. tijawi, the numbers of Qld federal coastal and rural electorates will stay pretty constant over a fair while. In fact, I don’t think a Qld federal rural/coastal electorate has ever been abolished.

    It’s in NSW and possibly SA that they’ll decrease.

  12. Sacha, you’re right that “the numbers of Qld federal coastal and rural electorates will stay pretty constant over a fair while.” What I meant is that there is a decrease in the number of coastal electorates that are also rural. As population growth along the coast increases, coastal electorates become more urbanized, and the rural hinterland of these coastal towns/cities is sloughed off into neighbouring rural-based seats (to make up for a net population loss in these inland areas).

    In other words, the boundaries of the coastal electorates are shrinking as the major population centre(s) they’re based on attract new residents; whereas the inland rural electorates become geographically larger for the opposite reasons. These are the “demographic changes” Tristan Jones alludes to with Hinkler and Wide Bay; both seats are losing their rural roots, and could be picked up the Libs upon the retirement of the incumbents. Sacha’s comments on Flynn and Wide Bay also reflect this: as Flynn becomes more centered upon the Gladstone area, the vast western extension of Flynn will slowly become absorbed into rural Maranoa. And any new Noosa/Cooloola-based coastal seat is certainly beyond the Nats’ reach.

    This trend is happening in NSW too, with seats like Richmond and Lyne. Both are future ALP-Lib contests in the making. The number of ‘safe’ National Party electorates along the eastern seaboard is decreasing with every redistribution. It’s just the march of demographics, which is being especially unkind to the Nats’ prospects along the coast.

  13. Tijawi, the ‘problem’ the AEC faces is that the big rural electorates – Leichhardt, Kennedy and Maranoa – are all over quota and there’s little scope for them to absorb many voters from divisions like Flynn. What’s more likely to happen, in my view, is that Flynn (for instance) will contract north/south along the bruce highway ‘community of interest’ and the east/west capricorn/dawson highway ‘community’ will just have some fiddling at the edges.

  14. I take your point, Darryl. These mega-electorates certainly might not be able to take on more voters with their current boundaries. However, the old Maranoa was projected to show little (if any) growth in enrolment. Whether or not it can absorb voters from Flynn depends on its future boundaries (e.g., whether it keeps its eastern areas, such as the just-added Kingaroy). Although Leichhardt is a rural electorate, a large chunk of its population is bottled up in Cairns. This is the story of many coastal electorates: an expanding coastal population centre surrounded by a large and more rural area, with the latter increasingly squeezed out as the electorate becomes more focused on the coast.

  15. Memo Pollbludger:

    NSW final boundaries are out.
    Some substantial changes from the proposals

    parkes now very compact seat in northern NSW
    Calare takes in the remote NW shires- very hard for Andren now. Maybe contest Macquarie?
    Farrer takes in area around Broken Hill from parkes
    Wentworth moves out of east sydney and south into Clovelly-good for turnball
    Raymond Terrace back in paterson
    Parra CBD back in Parramatta

  16. Actually, Wentworth only loses part of the East Sydney area and gains a section of Randwick. Still marginal but better than the original proposal for Turnball.

  17. Parramatta and Paterson must have improved somewhat for Labor with these adjustments. Hopefully William or others will have some estimates for us.

  18. As usual the Nationals are the losers. Cobb (Parkes) has no base in the new Parkes and will have to contest either Calare (against Andren) or Farrer (against Sussan Ley, Liberal). Andren has said he will contest Calare come what may, and I think his non-party appeal is such he could win it on any boundaries. The Nats will need a local candidate to win Parkes so Cobb may miss out.

  19. Marcus, it also picks up Parkes and large parts of the Independent held state seat of Dubbo. I’m not sure many Nats would relish running against Andren given his high profile.

    If Andren runs in Macquarie, his biggest problem is that he picks up large areas that are in the Sydney radio and television footprint. That means he will get little media coverage in large parts of the new Macquarie, whatever his profile in Bathurst and Lithgow.

    If Andren runs in Calare, he will continue to receive wide media coverage throughout the new seat. There are very few urban Independents in Australia, most are in the country where they receive more media coverage. Andren will receive substantial coverage throughout the new Calare, but not in Macquarie if he choses to contest that seat. I’m sure this will be a very important factor in Andren’s choice of seat.

  20. The changes to Wentworth probably don’t change things greatly from the original proposal. Compared to the original proposal, Wentworth keep half of Randwick, gains the triangle of Darlinghurst between Flinders St, Oxford St and Sth Dowling Rd, and loses the area of East Sydney west of Riley St. Overall, depending on the strength of the vote in East Sydney, it’s a net benefit for Labor.

  21. The new areas in Calare probably have a reasonable Labor vote, there is an indigenous population for example, on first glance not enough National voters to outwheigh Andreen’s margin in the continuing part of Calare.

  22. That’s why the big loser is Cobb. He can’t run in the new Parkes because he has no base there, and would risk defeat by an independent. He can’t run in Calare because Andren would beat him, and he can’t run in Farrer against a sitting Liberal.

  23. I can’t see much change in the Parramatta Boundary adjustment.

    Most of the new area (compared to the proposed one) is Business District, with very limited residential accomodation. Wouldn’t be a major difference.

  24. The proposed Parkes is just basically a redrawn Gwydir, I have a feeling John Cobb might retire, unless his base is in Dubbo which is on the border of the electorate.

  25. I think Cobb’s base is Condobolin – I know when he was elected he had a farm around there. Condobolin is in the new Calare. If Cobb’s still based there, Calare would be the best option for him if Andren jumps to Macquarie.

  26. However I do not think Andren will jump to Macquarie because Orange his base is still Calare. If Andren were to retire Cobb could run in Calare and win.

  27. Wot a laff that Judith Wright is dumped because of Keith; when Flynn will even more likely be associated with Errol.

    Oh well, the locals can now endure dippy slogans such as ‘Win for Flynn’ rather than ‘Right for Wright’.

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