Queensland redistributed

The Electoral Commission of Queensland has unveiled proposed new boundaries for a state electoral redistribution. Eight seats have been abolished: Labor-held Fitzroy, Kurwongbah and Mount Gravatt, the Nationals seats of Charters Towers, Darling Downs and Cunningham, the Liberal seat of Robina, and the last remaining One Nation seat, Tablelands. The new seats are Buderim, Coomera, Dalby, Macrossan, Mermaid Beach, Morayfield, Samsonvale and Sunnybank. I don’t think I’ll have time to dissect the implications myself, but hopefully the Poll Bludger readership can shed some light on matters in comments (indeed, they have already done so in the previous federal thread). We will hopefully also be hearing from Antony Green later today.

UPDATE: Antony Green in comments offers the following notional margins for seats outside the south-east:

4.5 5.9
1.0 1.0
Barron River
5.1 4.6
NEW 9.0
2.4 0.9
7.6 7.4
8.1 7.9
22.3 19.8
4.4 2.2
15.1 10.9
NEW 18.6
Glass House
7.7 0.2
18.0 12.6
Hervey Bay
1.8 2.1
3.7 2.0
5.7 2.6
7.2 7.1
1.7 3.4
17.6 17.0
NEW 7.4
10.7 8.4
6.5 1.3
Mt Isa
12.3 8.5
9.9 9.7
10.5 11.2
5.4 5.4
20.5 19.8
Southern Downs
20.3 20.4
17.0 16.8
Toowoomba North
10.4 7.6
Toowoomba South
9.6 11.3
9.1 9.4
23.3 22.7
4.4 0.4

Some quick notes on various seats derived from reading of various sources, including a very good contribution from reader Northern Oracle in comments.

New electorates:

Buderim. A new seat to accommodate the population explosion on the Sunshine Coast, likely to prove a gift to the Liberals.

Coomera. New Gold Coast electorate formed largely from Albert, along with part of Broadwater. Minus a sitting Labor member, likely to be won by the Liberals.

Dalby. Formed in large part from two abolished Nationals seats, Cunningham and Darling Downs. The latter was originally won by Ray Hopper as an independent in 2001, but he later joined the Nationals. Cunningham MP Stuart Copeland is spoken of as a future leadership contender, and could conceivably end up with Hopper running against him as an independent (further update: the Courier-Mail reports Hopper might be marshalled against independent Dolly Pratt in Nanango.

Macrossan. Formed in equal part from abolished Charters Towers and Tablelands, which could put their respective sitting members – Shane Knuth of the Nationals and Rosa Lee Long of One Nation – head to head at the next election.

Mermaid Beach. Formed largely from the remains of Robina, this new seat seems likely to be the new home of the Liberal member, Ray Stevens.

Morayfield. A new electorate created in the northern Brisbane growth corridor mostly out of Kallangur, which shifts southwards. Should have a solid notional Labor margin.

Samsonvale. This is essentially a successor to abolished Kurwongbah, so its member Linda Lavarch (who has already confirmed she will seek the seat) can presumably rest easy unless there is an unrelated threat to her preselection.

Sunnybank. Largely constituted of abolished Mount Gravatt, held for Labor by Judy Spence with a margin of 12.9 per cent. Anna Bligh confirms Spence will be offered the nomination for Sunnybank.

Significantly changed Labor electorates:

Mudgeeraba. Labor member Dianne Reilly, who won by 2.9 per cent in 2006, faces the unwelcome addition of large Liberal-voting areas from abolished Robina.

Glass House. Won by Labor’s Carolyn Male by 7.7 per cent in 2006, Antony Green reckons this seat might have become marginal Nationals.

Pumicestone. Northern Oracle in comments says this seat, which Labor’s Carryn Sullivan holds by 5.4 per cent, has been made stronger for the Liberals by absorbing parts of abolished Kallangur.

Whitsunday. The loss of the one-time Communist stronghold of Bowen will take a bite out of Labor’s uncomfortable 4.4 per cent margin.

Greenslopes. Absorption of parts of abolished Mount Gravatt will produce a potentially significant cut in the 10.1 per cent Labor margin.

Mt Isa. Held for Labor by Betty Kiernan by 12.3 per cent in 2006, population decline has required the addition of pastoral areas to the east and south, which by my reckoning have cut the margin to around 8 per cent (no doubt explaining the fuss Labor is making over the geographic size of the electorate, which might make the ECQ consider amendments). Given the lead contamination issue in Mt Isa itself, that’s clearly enough to bring the seat into play.

Inala. A shift southwards for this southern Brisbane seat should dent the 26.3 per cent Labor margin, but not by enough to make life interesting.

Other Labor-held seats that have credibly been said to have become more difficult: Aspley, Indooroopilly and Chatsworth.

Significantly changed non-Labor electorates:

Burdekin. Antony Green says Labor now has a slight advantage in this Nationals-held marginal, which Rosemary Menkens won in 2006 by 2.4 per cent.

Clayfield. Labor has been strengthened in this Liberal-held Brisbane marginal, which Tim Nicholls gained for the Liberals from former minister Liddy Clark in 2006 by a margin of 1.7 per cent.

Mirani. Essentially merged with Labor-held Fitzroy, thereby cutting deep into Nationals member Ted Malone’s 6.5 per cent margin. The abolition of Fitzroy had been anticipated in advance, prompting member Jim Pearce to announce his retirement. However, the loss of the maverick Pearce’s high personal vote means any notional margin would probably flatter Labor.

Nanango. Addition of unfamiliar territory could undermine One Nation-turned-independent member Dolly Pratt, who held off a Nationals challenge from Joh-Bjelke Petersen’s son John in 2006 by 4.2 per cent. The Courier-Mail reports Pratt might face Ray Hopper, whose seat of Darling Downs has been abolished.

UPDATE (26/5/08): Full details and adjusted margins from Antony Green.

UPDATE (27/5/08): More from David Fraser at Graham Young’s Ambit Gambit.

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.

106 comments on “Queensland redistributed”

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  1. One thing that that multi-member seats might do with Queensland would be give them a Liberal oposition leader (an increase in Liberal rewpresentation and a possible decrease in National representation).

    I had also thought of 3-member electorates with the federal boundaries.

    Would the Queensland Liberals support multi-member electorates.

    If only the Libs who had crossed the floor in 1983 had formed a teporary coalition with Labor to bring about electoral refoerm including one vote one value and multi-member electorates.

  2. The abolition of Cunningham and Darling Downs has been discussed previously at length. Whilst some talk has focused on Ray Hopper maybe challenging independent Dorothy Pratt in Nanango and Stuart Copeland contesting the new seat of Dalby. One better solution would be if Former National Party leader Mike Horan opted to retire and as parts of Cunningham have been absorbed in the new Toowoomba South Copeland could contest that seat with Ray Hopper better suited for Dalby and a strong south burnett identity contesting Nanango for the Nationals. Mirani will be held by Ted Malone as Jim Pearce personal following as been lost by labor with or without new boundaries. Likewise in Burdekin will be held by Rosemary Menkins regardless of its notional Labor margin as she is a hardworking member and has increased her margin at every election. Bundaberg to me looks better for the Nationals also with semi rural areas of Burnett now included. As for the changes on the Gold and Sunshine Coasts I agree with Antony Green without a mergered united Conservative Party damaging arguments over which party will contest the labor and newly created seats will ensure and hand victory to labor.

  3. 54 [Likewise in Burdekin will be held by Rosemary Menkins regardless of its notional Labor margin as she is a hardworking member and has increased her margin at every election.]

    Paul, interesting comments, Menkins impressed me when she first started in the parliament but her recent speeches have been full of rhetorical nonsense and almost unreadable. It is unbelievable that there could be such a marked deterioration through the Hansard record over such a relatively short timeframe. Don’t know what the problem is but it is a very annoying ordeal to read her speeches lately.

    My initial thinking was for the Nats to get Hobbs from Warrego replaced by Stuart copeland but Mike Horan must have just about had enough by now too. Either way would work for them. The courier Mail suggestion of risking one or the other against Nango’s Dolly Pratt is a risky ploy.

    I never realised that Bundaberg had become more rural, my reading was of minor change.

  4. Ted Malone will not hold Mirani on the new boundaries. If Jim Pearce ran for the ALP in Mirani, the ALP would be certainties. Take a look at the results from the last federal election in Sarina and the Pioneer valley, the ALP recorded swings of up 29%. Ted lives in a small community south of Sarina, the ALP won that booth at the last federal poll with a swing of around 20%. Ted Malone is on the nose locally.

  5. Well I have just reread a large selection of the speeches of Rosemary Menkens Member for Burdekin and as a cure for sleeplessness they are without peer. If anyone ever compains of being unable to sleep in the future my suggestion will be to read twenty or thirty Menkens’ speeches and sleep will suddenly become an appealing alternative.

  6. On the topic of election prognostications, surely Labor’s lopsided majority is overdue for correction.

    I shouldn’t think the Coalition will have much trouble winning back Mirani, Burdekin and Clayfield.

  7. The big news in Brisbane this morning is that there has been a total backflip by the Federal Nats and Libs who have announced that they are now supporting the creation of the Pineapple Party. It would be the influence of Clive Palmer’s cash, free helicopter and plane flights that have led to this unlikely turnaround.

    The Liberals have been strapped for cash during campaigning in the past but the Pineapple Party will be awash with funds and this in itself will mean a higher number of campaigns being run in more electorates.

    Bligh must be tempted to go to the electorate before they have time to organise themselves.


  8. Paul Nash, I think you’ve misread the changes to Bundaberg. It gets a total of an extra 472 voters, and most of those are in a new housing estate on the southern side of Elliott Heads Road. They’re not rural voters.

  9. The Queensland budget is bought down next Tuesday. Estimates should be finished late July and after that a fledgling Pineapple Party with huge funds but no policy against a strong government would be a great contest.

  10. Another interesting thing that happened last week was that the Queensland Opposition chose to oppose an offer of four year fixed terms which Bligh has offered them twice this year.

  11. Surely the new electorate of Dalby would more correctly be named “Darling Downs”. I can’t imagine the residents of Clifton or Felton feeling any connection with the town of Dalby but they certainly live on the “Darling Downs” as does the current member for Darling Downs, Ray Hopper. His strong rapport with constituents would ensure his return regardless of which party he ran with.

  12. Steve, Stuart Copeland is an articulate and well-presented member who I believe could capably represent the electorate of Beaudesert, following Kevin Lingard’s retirement.

  13. Tablelands is an interesting area and there is a story behind why it became One Nation’s last redoubt. Marjorie Gilmore of the Gilmore family who dominated Country/National politics in the region was inspired to do a PhD on the politics of rural restructuring on the Tablelands in response to Hanson.

  14. Maryjane I can’t remember a political candidate having such a wide range of preselections open to them as Stuart Copeland has here.

  15. So with the Glasshouse electorate now on a knife edge does anyone know who the likely “pineapple party” candidate will be? Probably a more fiercely fought preselection than last time around?

  16. 70 John, knowing the seat of Glasshouse it would be difficult for the Pineapple Party to go past a pineapple farmer as their preferred candidate especially since the electorate has become more rural in nature.

  17. One thing that the conservative parties have not been trumpeting too loudly are the three major flaws in the formation of the Pineapple Party.

    1. Will Queenslanders vote for a rabble just because the two former conservative parties have been effectively bought by a Western Australian billionaire? It is the same rabble under new ownership.

    2. What is to stop the current sitting candidates stealing a march by writing to new voters, holding meetings in the towns where the new voters live and generally welcoming the new voters into their electorates while the Pineapple Party candidates are still deciding whether they want to be a part of the process?

    3. Obviously the Pineapple preselections will be decided much later than for the other political parties.

    Usually before an election is called the Government of the day slams the accelerator to the floor in full election mode to see if the opposition is capable of going the pace then backs off and goes at a time of its own choosing.

    If this government were to test the current opposition like this at the moment the Pineapple Party would not be capable of keeping up.

  18. “This thread has so far been a bit of a disappointment unfortunately – we normally do better than this out of redistributions.”

    Four days and nothing from Queenslander or Sascha or The Speaker? I was hoping for a more on-topic discussion of the ‘pro-Labor Gerrymander’ that we started here: http://blogs.crikey.com.au/pollbludger/446?cp=1


  19. I take Antony Greens point in relation to Bundaberg but I did say semi-rural not rural as people who live on these estates have larger blocks than those in town. I believe in time that the seat of Bundaberg will like Maryborough spread out more and thus become more National in outlook than Labor. As for Steve constantly referring to the new Liberal National Party of Queensland as the Pineapple Party I can only say that it will envitably suit National Party voters.

  20. Surely the Pineapple Party could have found a sponsor who had not been turfed out of the Liberal Party for branch stacking.

  21. Paul Nash, your point is still wrong if you are referring to semi-rural. I can list the streets if you like. 285 voters in Pecton Place, Allawah Rd and Porras Ct in Bundaberg’s south-east, and another 187 north of the river just off Hanbury St, Whittington St and Lakeview Drive. I’m relying on google earth here, they are just standard suburban housing blocks of new houses.

  22. Cool reception for the new constitution of the Pineapple Party from Brough and Flegg.

    [Former Howard government minister Mal Brough says the Liberal and National parties need to start again with their plans to merge in Queensland.

    Mr Brough, who is running for the Queensland Liberal Party presidency this weekend, said today he did not agree with the draft constitution for the new Liberal National Party of Queensland.

    The former indigenous affairs minister told the Queensland Media Club in Brisbane the document failed to appeal to 21st century Australians, and said he had no intention to sit in opposition “year after year”.]


  23. Steve I’ve read the constitution of the new party and the inclusion of ten regional chairman(five from regional queensland and five from the GoldCoast-Brisbane-Sunshine Coast conurbation to sit on the state council is fair and balanced. Mal Broughs criticism has more to do with his number seeking for the Liberal Party presidency and sucking up to southern Liberals like Joe Hockey. The withdrawal of pro-merger candidate Cameron Thompson should assist current President Gary Spence. This so called Pineapple Party will happen as the Liberals haven’t performed well in a Queensland State Election since 1980.

  24. Ok Antony Green I grew up in a regional city of Queensland and although in size the suburban blocks may be similar to outer suburbs of System(Sydney) we had neighbours with chicken pens and vegetable gardens. It maybe just a Queenslanders gut instinct but i feel that Bundaberg as turned the corner like the seats in Western Queensland did after 1957.

  25. Well I suppose that if 5 regional chairman represent the areas containing about one third of the population and the other five represent SEQ, containing the other two thirds of the population, it would seem very fair indeed under National Party interpretation of fair representation. Yes, very reasonable indeed.

    I can not understand any reluctance from any Liberals to join this fantastic organisation.

    I also wait with baited breath to hear who the “other like minded conservatives” are, although as far as I know, they have not been mentioned again of late by ‘The Borg’.

    I can also hardly wait for Senator Brandis to start singing its praises, along with senator Boyce.

  26. I think that Bundaberg will be very difficult for the Pineapple Party to hold next time around especially with all the money being spent on infrastructure throughout the city by the State Government and especially with the ring roads under construction there. Last time the Nationals were in power their main claim to fame was an infrastructure freeze.

    We will find out next week when the budget is handed down just how much attention has been Paid to Bundaberg by the State Government. I must say I was very disappointed that Sonja Cleary just missed out on winning last time but with a one percent nominal margin now, the ALP deserves to be confident in snatching this seat back.


  27. Geoffrey, heard Senator Brandis on local ABC radio today saying he believed in amalgamation but not the Pineapple Party of Springborg. This after he has been given the number one senate spot as a carrot.

  28. If the merger goes through then I wonder how strong any split of anti-merger libs would be and where their preferences would go.

  29. TTFAB, I think that if the Libs vote for the Palmer franchise then it will be a very weak isolated rump left behind. The problem of course is that if the merger goes ahead what happens when they lose the next election? Where is their next big avoidance of doing any policy work going to take them?

    On the Courious Snail website recently there was this unreal expectation in comments that by becoming a franchise of Palmer automatically means the Pineapple Party will win the next election. This is a fantasy. The electors will judge them on their capacity to govern Queensland.

  30. Steve, thanks for that, I had not heard it. It is certainly a different tune to the one that he was singing just a couple of weeks ago, which was in a nutshell- no merger.

    The QLD news today has had the Liberal parliamentary leader stateing that the merger proposal only needs very minor tweaking, whereas Senator Brandis has said basically that it needs to be an entirely different model.

    The current QLD Liberal president basically claimed that Mal Brough is telling some people that he will work to ditch the proposal while telling others that he supports it, and meanwhile the Liberal party is seeking to recover ‘campaign debts’ from past candidates…


  31. Geoffrey, yes I was gobsmacked when I first heard about the Liberal’s calling in failed candidates after the last state election and telling them to bring their cheque books with them. Some were hit up for $50 000 I heard at the time.

    Wonder if they made Mal Brough repay them after his failed outing in Longman at the last Federal election. When I read the Pineapple Party constitution it seemed to make some sort of provision for the candidate spending that was over and above what the Party allowed for that electorate. An odd way to treat candidates, I think.

  32. Just had a look for the provision about candidates repaying money to party without success. What I did find though was provision U.7 which gets candidates to pay a $1 000 non refundable nomination fee to the Pineapple Party.

  33. Ross Fitzgerald weighs in with his version of why the Pineapple Party is necessary.

    REFORMIST and modernising are not words usually associated with the Queensland Nationals, an organisation often still associated with the excesses of the Joh Bjelke-Petersen era.

    Yet in guiding the push to merge the state Nationals and the Liberal Party, Queensland Nationals leader Lawrence Springborg is proving to be a reformer and moderniser of non-Labor politics at a state and, possibly, a national level.

    Unlike the rest of Australia, in Queensland the Nationals remain the dominant partner in the Coalition by a ratio of two to one, with the Liberals holding a mere eight seats in Queensland’s 89-member one-house parliament.

    Yet against all the evidence, some Queensland Liberals claim they can gain more state seats than the Nationals.

    This is nonsense. Since Federation, the Queensland Liberals have never come close to ousting the Country-National Party. Indeed, Springborg enjoys more support in metropolitan areas than any state Liberal member.


  34. Steve, thanks again for a link, an intersting article,but, I think with a fault…

    Re Sir Robert Menzie’s statement that “We were determined to be a progressive party, willing to make experiments, in no sense reactionary.”… I think that this is the ‘rub’ for the merger proposal… I can not see in what possible sense the National Party, who must supply most members, finance, and presumably policy direction to the new structure, can be regarded as progressive, or even middle ground, as opposed to reactionary.

    The ‘new party’ still has to gain significant support in the Gold Coast, Brisbane and Sunshine Coast areas (the south east corner) to be competitive electorally, and this fact will only become more acute with continued demographic change. I find it difficult to see how “National party type” policies will achieve this, despite some obvious discontent viz (non) service delivery from the current government.

    Anyway, I havn’t actually had a chance to read ‘the agreement’ yet, so I will make that my task for tomorrow.

    It will certainly be interesting to see whom the Liberals elect as QLD party president this weekend.

    Meanwhile, to get back on topic, despite some quite big changes, I have heard very little public complaint about the proposed redistribution proposals.

    I had also hoped to be able to read some insights from The Speaker and other contributers.

  35. @Paul Nash “…i feel that Bundaberg as turned the corner like the seats in Western Queensland did after 1957.”

    1957 wasn’t a corner being turned, it was the creation of a new party that took almost half the ALP vote with it. It was a state-wide political earthquake and when the dust settled a lot of rural people decided they were more comfortable with the Country Party. You might be right about Bundaberg but you need a different analogy.

    @Steve/Ross Fitzgerald “Since Federation, the Queensland Liberals have never come close to ousting the Country-National Party.”

    True up to a point, not least of which is that the Liberal Party was only formed in the 1940s. :^) That being said, the Liberals beat the Country Party on primary votes at every election from 1950 to 1974. The Country Party’s state average primary over this period was a whopping 20%. In 77 and 80 they only beat the Libs by under 2%, they don’t dominate the vote until the split in 83 and the Libs drop from 27% to 15%.

    Seats won is a different matter and that’s where the malapportionment comes into play. The Libs were satisfied with a system where they beat the CP on votes but got 6 or 7 fewer seats and a few ministries. The Nats stretched out their lead at the 74 and 80 redistributions then realised they could dispense with the empty husk that was and is the Qld Liberals.

    The Qld Libs are rightly damned by their history and show no sign at all of shaking it off. Maybe my kids and their friends will have a go at fixing it.


  36. Darryl, just a thought. If the Liberals stick with with the Spence-Santoro faction for party President and the Pineapple Party is formed, won’t there be a big temptation for the leftover rump of the Liberals to try to make some form of takeover bid for the Greens to professionalise it or some such terminology.

    I can see the possibility of Liberals for trees, Liberals for forests, Doctors wives and the wets factions with assets, cash and bright ideas looking for a grassroots membership to manipulate. There really is nowhere else for the disgruntled to go.

    Speaking of the disgruntled:


  37. I can just imagine a reversal of gun laws and treeclearing laws, the scrapping of purified recycle water treatment plants and rabid opposition to daylight saving being the main credentials of the Pineapple Party. All these issues are on the record in Hansard of the Queensland Parliament as is the opposition opposed the building of the water grid. It will be interesting the day they come out and explain just what they do believe in.

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