Brisbane Central by-election preview

The by-election to fill Peter Beattie’s vacancy in the state seat of Brisbane Central will be held tomorrow. With the Liberals sensibly declining to field a candidate, it is unlikely to be terribly exciting, despite inevitable wild talk about the Greens’ chances. The Nationals were at one point making noises about filling the void with a candidate of their own, apparently convinced that this would add weight to their argument that they should still be considered a going concern in the urban south-east. However, the plan was abandoned when they failed to find a suitable candidate in time. More and better coverage from Mark Bahnisch at Larvatus Prodeo; tune in here tomorrow evening for half-hearted live coverage of the count. The candidates in ballot paper order:

Erik Olaf Eriksen. Beyond the fact that he polled 171 votes as a candidate for Clayfield at the state election last September, Eriksen’s identity is a mystery.

Mark A. White (Family First). Hoping to monopolise the conservative vote, White is described as a “telecommunications manager and father of six”.

Ian Nelson (One Nation). Nelson is also One Nation’s lead Queensland Senate candidate, and is presumably running to boost his profile. More on Nelson’s outlook on life can be ascertained from videos viewable here and here.

Anne Boccabella (Greens). The Greens website describes Boccabella as “a long-time community activist with 28 years experience as a successful small business owner”.

Ronald Davy. The other of the two independents in the field is no less an enigma than Eriksen.

Grace Grace (Labor). So good they named her twice (she in fact acquired the name through marriage, her maiden name of Grace Farfaglia bespeaking her Italian heritage), the Queensland Council of Unions general secretary was immediately mentioned as a possible replacement for Beattie along with Michael Dart, chief-of-staff to Sports Minister Andrew Fraser, and Milton Dick, party state secretary, who both promptly withdrew. Steve Wardill of the Courier-Mail reported that Grace’s nomination was fast-tracked by the party’s administrative committee after Anna Bligh chose a short time-frame for the by-election campaign, prompting familiar sounding grumbling from local party members. Wardill said it was “understood Ms Bligh and Mrs Grace posed together for candidate photographs in New Farm Park … before the by-election date was even announced”. The process was apparently driven by factional arrangements that effectively secured the seat for Unity (also known as the “old guard”), a sub-faction of the Right distinct from the AWU-dominated Labor Forum.

UPDATE: Still more from Mark Bahnisch at Larvatus Prodeo, this time with videos.

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.

28 comments on “Brisbane Central by-election preview”

  1. Funny that the Libs wouldn’t field a candidate and the Nats couldn’t field a candidate. Late last year the Nats were crowing that they were becoming a party of vibrant young party set to take on the Libs in Brisbane but now they have failed there first test of producing one of these members as candidate.

    There will propably be a low turnout due to having no conservative party to vote for and one can only hope the Queensland Electoral Commission cracks down and fines nonvoters. Maybe the Lib and Nat organisational wing will be able to pay the fines for nonvoters as it is hard to see how voters will turn up when the parties can’t be bothered standing a candidate for them to vote for.

  2. One thing Anna Bligh has done here has been to select for Brisbane Central one hell of a candidate.

    No wonder the Libs and Nats didn’t bother to run anyone against Grace Grace. It would have been like just flushing money down the toilet.

    Grace Grace is one very smart lady and has proven over the years to be very capable and competent at whatever task she has undertaken.

    The level of enthusiasm she exhibits for whatever job is at hand leaves the boys lagging behind in her wake trying to keep up.

    Brisbane Central electors, if Grace becomes your representative tomorrow, you can be well pleased with your choice. She will not let you down and will work for your interests to the highest levels possible.

  3. I second that Scorpio.
    I’m a Brisbanite & live in the state seat of Greenslopes & ‘Heavy Kevvie’ is my Federal member.
    Go Grace!

  4. Yeah…another trade union flake. Just what Labor needs to prove its State and federal Parliamentary parties are simply job creation schemes for fifth rate trade union hacks and branch stackers that couldn’t hack it in the real world.

    What a joke.

  5. As much as I don’t like Qld Labor, largely an artefact of a personal dislike for Peter Beattie, Grace Squared is a very good candidate, and a sure-fire minister in Bligh’s first post-election cabinet. She’ll win comfortably and be a good member.

  6. Isabella Said:

    “What a joke”.

    Well I think the joke is with National who can’t find a suitable candidate to take on Grace – that says a lot about that party’s talent pool in Brisbane Central. I suppose it’s the proverbial “couldn’t organise a piss up in a brewery” situation. 😉

  7. I’ll have a post up later in the day with some video of the candidates speaking at the Politics in the Pub event organised by the New Farm Neighbourhood Centre on Tuesday.

    Family First didn’t show, and Eriksen and Davy could both be described as “ecccentric”. One Nation’s Ian Nelson emphasised the danger of “drinking recycled sewage” and the possibility that Labor might kill all blue eyed blond haired children at birth.

    I expect Grace will win quite comfortably.

  8. The State and Federal Parliamentary Labor Parties are simply becoming more and more unrepresentative of the Australian people. I am not being political, simply making the observation that continually preselecting a bunch of numbskulls working in ‘administration’ and ‘policy’ in the ever dwindling and irrelevant trade union movement is not good for the ALP and not good for Australia.

    Labor needs more Mike Kelly/Mia Hanshin types and fewer unemployable trade union drones.

  9. That Ian Nelson sounds like he should be drinking recycled sewerage, because whatever he is drinking now is having some serious side effects.

    “the possibility that Labor might kill all blue eyed blond haired children at birth.”

    That is way out there.

  10. Isabella (6) Your view on unionists is very elitist and sounds ideologically driven. My guess is that you also believe everyone on the dole is a “dole bludger”.

    What evidence do you have that the ex union candidates are unemployable? Has it ever occurred to you that they might think they can make a valuable contribution to Australia by being in politics.

    I would also be interested in your opinion on three of Australia’s ex Prime Ministers, widely admired and respected on both sides of the political divide:

    John Curtain – formerly Secretary of the Timber Workers Union in Victoria,

    Ben Chifley – formerly an enigine who helped found the Australian Federated Union of Locomotive Enginemen, and

    Bob Hawke – formerly leader of the ACTU.

    Do you think between them they made any valuable contribution to this country – and if so. why are you so adamant that all others coming from the same background are just “unemployable trade union drones”?

  11. This is INSANE!!!!!!

    The Nat/Lib Coalition in Queensland could hold a party meeting in a phone booth, and they couldn’t be bothered running a candidate???

    Sure the odd’s are against them, but this is beyond belief they wouldn’t even be bothered to have a shot when they are in such dire straights already.

  12. It is true that if you look at the previous occupational backgrounds of Labor Federal and State MPs you find that they are not a representative sample of the Australian population. But _exactly_ the same is true of Coalition MPs.

  13. Darn has chosen three politically successful trade union officials from the last seventy years in a ridiculous attempt to justify the ALP’s obsession with parachuting as many two-bit trade union woodchuck officials into Parliament as possible.

    Get real. For every Bob Hawke there have been and continue to be a thousand and one George Campbell/Trish Crossin/Steve Hutchins/Gavin Marshall/Ruth Webbers.

    And for what it’s worth, I tend to agree with Paul Keating’s previous assessments of the worth of Darn’s hero ‘John Curtain’ (sic).

  14. Isabella, Ruth Webber was never a union official. Honestly, you could’ve had your pick of other senators just easy.

    Also, if the Liberal Party are so concerned about ensuring that the people of Brisbane Central are not represented by a union official they should be offering an alternative.

  15. Isabella (20)

    There have been far more than three politically successful ex trade union officials over the last seventy years. You don’t have to make it to Prime Minister to be successful.

    But leaving that aside, the ALP grew out of the union movement so it comes as no surprise that there is still a very close link between the two. The bottom line politically is that anyone – including trade union officials – has the right to seek public office – and the voters have the right to accept them or reject them. On the basis of the current opinion polls it appears that a majority of Australians are about to disagree with your views on this matter and vote for the ALP.

  16. Of the present Cabinet of eighteen, eight (Howard, Costello, Coonan, Ruddock, Andrews, McGauran, Bishop, and Ellison) were lawyers as the main job on their pre-parliamentary CVs, and another three (Minchin, Hockey, and Turnbull) have it as one of theirs. (Abbott also has a law degree but doesn’t seem to have practiced.)

    I don’t see any reason to prefer lawyers to trade union officials.

  17. Only people who get elected without preferences that are not in the Coalition/ALP can be said to truly represent who voted for them. That used to include Bob Brown as he was the party, but not everyone votes for him anymore.

  18. Well this should be interesting. Grace Squared will get in and the Greens will get a strong showing despite its state average at around 8% in contested seats in 2006, this particular seat having a sizeable number of youth and students. The Family First vote would be expected to be quite a bit higher than in Victoria recently, with its state average at around 7% of contested seats in 2006.

    Some may view this as a bit of a litmus for the Federal election, though with the absence of coalition, there remains too much speculation about this variable. It seems that many will use this for profile-raising for the ever looming Federal Election.

    I expect primaries to go:

    Grace Grace 60%
    Anne Boccabella 20%
    Mark White 10%
    The rest/informal 10%

    I’m even wondering if the One Nation candidate might be commuting from Gympie, finding a One Nation voter is as rare these days as a public appearance by 10th ranked Australian Idols.

  19. Darn @ 22:

    I’d suggest given what the ALP currently stand for in regards to IR, it’s EXTREMELY surprising they still have strong ties to the union movement.

  20. Captain G, I’m going with:

    ALP 55%
    Greens 25%
    Family First 10%
    Combined others 10%

    Anyone else want to have a last minute guess?

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