Queensland part two: April 28

UPDATE 2 (26/4): Another ReachTel poll, this time of a large sample of 1085, finds the lord mayoralty race set for a repeat of Campbell Newman’s landslide in 2008. Newman’s LNP successor, Graham Quirk, is on 58%, Labor’s Ray Smith on 25% and Andrew Bartlett of the Greens on 14%. Whereas sentiment in the South Brisbane poll (see below) was that the size of the LNP parliamentary majority was reason against voting for them again, nearly as many (31%) lord mayoralty poll respondents said the election result was more reason to vote LNP as less (35.5%).

UPDATE (24/4): ReachTel has published an automated phone poll for South Brisbane, and while the sample is small (300), the result is good news for Labor, putting their primary vote at 44% (up five on the election) with the LNP down three-and-a-half to 34.5% and the Greens up one to 19%. Tellingly, 56.5% say the size of the LNP’s majority makes them less likely to vote for them (against 19.5% more likely), with “size of the LNP’s majority” ranking second on a list of six issues rated as most important (less happily for Labor, cost of living ranks first). A ReachTel poll on the lord mayoralty will follow tomorrow.

Another trip to the polling booth for Queensland voters next week, this time to vote in local government elections and, for the lucky residents of the capital’s inner south, to choose a successor to Anna Bligh in South Brisbane, one of just seven seats in which Labor was spared defeat on March 24. Bligh survived a 10.3% swing to hold on by a margin of 4.7%, her primary vote down from 48.4% to 38.6% with the LNP up from 27.9% to 38.1% and the Greens up from 17.5% to 18.1%.

South Brisbane follows the southern bank of the Brisbane River from East Brisbane through South Bank, Woolloongabba and Dutton Park, also extending southwards to Stones Corner. Electorally speaking, it can be roughly divided into three parts: inner-city West End, where the Greens scored about a quarter of the vote, Labor about 40% and the LNP about 30%; the more conventionally working-class south-east of the electorate, where Labor and the LNP were slightly higher and the Greens vote was in the mid-teens; and East Brisbane, more affluent and less bohemian than West End, where the LNP vote was at around 50% compared with a little over 30% for Labor and a little over 10% for the Greens. It was the Labor heartland area of the south-east that swung most heavily at the election, and since these booths reported earliest, the ABC’s early swing projections made Bligh appear in more trouble than she was. The map below shows two-party preferred results by polling booth, with the size of the numbers varying according to number of votes cast (from below 500 to approaching 3000).

The by-election has attracted eight candidates, in ballot paper order: Jason McKenzie (who says his piece in comments), Penny Panorea (Daylight Saving Party), Penny McCreery (Family First), Jo-Anne Bragg (Greens), Clem Grehan (LNP), Liam Flenady (Independent), Jackie Trad (Labor) and Robert Wardrop (Katter’s Australian Party). Grehan, Bragg, Wardrop and Flenady were all candidates at the state election, respectively polling 39.2%, 18.1%, 3.4% and 1.9% to Bligh’s 38.6%. Jackie Trad is the party’s assistant state secretary and a former staffer to Anna Bligh, who reportedly had long groomed Trad as her successor. Trad won Labor preselection without opposition, after defeated ministers Andrew Fraser and Cameron Dick promptly declared their lack of interest in using the seat to return to parliament. Clem Grehan boasts that his “career has progressed from labourer and chainman to surveyor to lecturer to construction planner to project manager”. Jo-Anne Bragg is “director of a non-profit community legal centre that helps people with advice on planning, pollution, nature conservation, mining and gas”. Antony Green offers details on the other candidates, and much more besides.

Then there are the council elections, which are uniquely interesting in the case of Brisbane City Council owing to the municipality’s size, the extent of its powers and the partisanship of its electoral contests. They are also quite unlike elections at higher tiers of government in that voters separately elect an “executive” (the lord mayoralty) and a “legislature” (the council), as as the American custom, with victory in the former not ensuring control of the latter. Like the South Brisbane by-election, this election will also offer an interesting case study of voter psychology in the aftermath of an unprecedented electoral landslide. It’s worth remembering that Campbell Newman came to the lord mayoralty in a surprise win a few weeks after the Coalition parties were trounced at the 2004 state election (although conversely, the Nationals lost the state seat of Surfers Paradise to an independent at a by-election when Rob Borbidge quit parliament in the wake of the 2001 bloodbath).

The incument in the lord mayoralty is Graham Quirk, the former councillor for Macgregor ward who succeeded Campbell Newman in April 2011. Labor’s candidate is Ray Smith, chief executive of television production company Cutting Edge. Former Democrats Senator Andrew Bartlett is running for the Greens, and the unregistered Australian Sex Party is behind the candidacy of independent Rory Killen. Labor goes into the election off a low base, Campbell Newman having been re-elected in 2008 with 60.1% of the primary vote compared with 29.0% for Labor’s Greg Rowell, following what had been a fairly desultory Labor campaign. At that time, Newman was famously the most senior Coalition politician in the country, with all federal, state and territory governments in Labor hands. The LNP won 16 of the 26 wards with the remaining 10 won by Labor, although one Liberal councillor, Nicole Johnston in Tennyson, has since quit the party to sit as an independent. The most interesting of the ward contests to lay observers is that for Labor’s most marginal ward, Central, which is being contested by Peter Beattie’s wife Heather. As for the others, the indefatigable Antony Green has come good with a ward-by-ward guide.

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.

21 comments on “Queensland part two: April 28”

  1. Thanks for the coverage William; both campaigns barely above a murmur here in Brisbane.

    The US metaphor for Mayor / Council may need tweaking. The BCC executive (Civic Council) consists of Mayor plus the portfolio positions of the chairs of the council committees.

    More a fused/responsible government than in Washington.

    If you excluded the Premier Ministre and the fact that the French Council of Ministers can be drawn from outside the Assembly (though the PM usually isn’t), then there’s also elements of the French system, in that during periods of cohabitation, the President must have a cabinet from the majority party in the Assembly and not a cabinet his partisans (like Bush 2006).

    Who’d have thunk it? The waters of the Potomac, Thames and Seine flow into the mighty Brisbane River. (No wonder it’s muddy…)

  2. Doesn’t appear so, ML. You’d have thought maybe ReachTel would have had a bash. Maybe they will over the coming week.

    I was aware I was pushing the envelope a little with the US comparison, Graeme. In case you missed it, I replied to your comment on my Crikey post the other day.

  3. Great – another mini-election for us.

    What wasteful day next Saturday (this is why I hate goverment-on-goverment’s).

    I could be doing lots of things other than standing in a line for an hour or more.

  4. I heard Curtis Pitt being interviewed on radio earlier in the week – the poor man now has 7 shadow ministry portfolios to handle.
    Labor will be desperately hoping Jackie Trad wins South Brisbane, so that the load can be spread around a little better.

  5. (Off topic but – where else to post?)

    For those interested in polling for the French presidential elections, you can see a summary of the polling at


    The first round voting comes up first, but if you click on “2eme tour” you’ll see the second round polling results.

    In short, in pollig over the last week or so for the first round voting (ten candidates), François Hollande the socialist candidate is averageing about 28 per cent to Sarcozy’s 26 per cent. The extreme right’s Le Pen is third on about 16 per cent, well behind the other two in all the polls and in some not far ahead of the left winger Jean-Luc Mélenchon.

    In the second round close to half of Le Pen’s supporters don’t vote, those who do favour Sarcozy strongly, but most of Mélenchon’s supporters will vote in the 2nd round and strongly favour Hollande. With that and the preferences of the remaining candidates, the second round polling is averaging close to 56-44 for Hollande. None have Sarcozy closer than 53-47.

  6. I’m in Division 12 of Logan (for my sins) and although there are numerous posters around the place for the candidates, none of them seem to carry any party affiliation (or I’m not looking closely enough). I’ve even looked at the official ECQ website and none of the candidates in any division seem to have their affiliation listed, even although there is a space for “Party”.

    Funnily the vast majority of posters are for the current mayor, whose position is not being contested so that seems to be a bit of a waste of resources, not to mention the visual pollution.

    As a relative newcomer to Qld and having voted only once before in Council elections, I can’t recall if this is normal or not. I see William has been able to list parties in Brisbane. Doesn’t the rest of the State matter? Or am I not looking in the right place?

    Also is it the law that the State elections and the Council elections can’t take place on the same day? Surely Qld’ers (even recently arrived ones like me) aren’t so thick that we can’t differentiate between the two ballot papers. After all, it’s not like a Senate election with 98 names on it. 🙂

  7. Party affiliations are only printed on Brisbane City Council ballot papers. It is a hangover from the days when BCC was covered by its own electoral act.

    The reason state and local government elections are held on different days is the extreme difficulty of managing the electoral rolls for elections that are not conducted on the same electoral boundaries. Dealing with the South Brisbane by-election on the same day as BCC is already tough for the electoral office as South Brisbane’s boundaries do not correspond to the Ward boundaries. Multiply that by the entire state and you have polling place melt down.

  8. Allan Moyes , look for the background colour on their placards , if its light blue , its sure to be a slimy Liberal . I am in Div.11 , Whoops now in Div. 7 . I wanted my chance to NOT vote for Hajnal Black or Greg Birkbeck ( LNP ) another staffer from Barnaby Joyce’s Staffer Ian Rickuss ( Lockyer )State and Pucci in the seat of Logan. They are spreading fast through my area(Greenbank ) and all the way to Beaudesert . Dark days ahead .

  9. Antony, I gather there is no absent voting at the by-election? So if a voter turns up to a booth which is in the City of Brisbane but outside the South Brisbane electorate they will be told that they can cast an absent vote there for their ward councillor, but they will have to go to South Brisbane to vote in the by-election?

  10. Thanks, Lord Barry.

    Is that an hereditary title btw, or did you contribute vast sums of the folding stuff to the relevant party in the UK? Should I address you as “my lord”? 🙂

    They are indeed spreading fast. I was surprised to see Waterford go to the LNP in the State election since it seemed safe to me on its, I think, 18+% majority. The new LNP member only has a majority of 1.96% however, so perhaps in three years time……..?

  11. G’day, I’m the Jason MCKENZIE mentioned at the top of the ballot in the South Brisbane by-election.

    I’m running because the LNP is too big and the ALP is a mess. I know I’m an outside contender, but if I can raise some issues and make the candidates work harder to earn votes then I think my campaign would have been successful. I also believe that the ALP and LNP are ‘plan-light’ and I challenge them to offer more to the electorate.
    That said, I plan on being in the top 3 or 4 of the 8 on the ballot, so I hope there is a poll on Tuesday night! (And I’ve secured the Green’s 2nd preference.)

    My career started in newsprint, extended to studio design and moved into online marketing and business transformation using new technologies. Crikey is a perfect example of how the industry I started in has changed over the last 20 years and it is why I believe that faster adoption of technologies and design-thinking are key to developing new industries and improving staple industries such as agriculture. I’ve worked in and travelled to different parts of the world and at home I’m on the state boards of AGDA, AIMIA and APSMA. I’m also on the global customer advisory board for Akamai, a NASDAQ listed company that serves over 20% of the entire internet.

    I’ve outlined my position on a number of social issues and outlined specific local initiatives that I will push to implement. I think in this Parliament an independent has a better chance of talking to the government while also working to make them work harder.

    I’m the same age as Anna was when she entered Parliament. I’d be the first independent for South Brisbane in over 100 years. And I’d be bringing a unique perspective from a designer, a strategist and a technologist who has worked in a trade, run a small business and worked in one of the world’s largest professional services firms.

    If you’re interested in talking to me, all my contacts are on my web-site:

  12. Labor set to retain Bligh’s seat according to ReachTel poll:

    Based on the flow of preferences at last month’s election, Ms Trad will retain the seat for Labor with 57.9 per cent of the two-party preferred vote, to Mr Grehan’s 42.1 per cent.

    It showed 45.2 per cent of respondents were less likely to vote for the LNP due to the size of its majority in the parliament.

    But 33 per cent said they were more likely to vote for the LNP, and have a local MP who was part of the LNP government.

    Just under 22 per cent said the size of the LNP’s win would not influence their vote.


  13. Question for everyone – do the numbers typically swing away from the party that caused the by-election or away from the government in a by-election? And if away from the government, do you think it will be somewhat neutralised because they’re still in their honeymoon period?

    PS It was a sample of 300 and I got two (0.6%) so hopefully we can improve that! Definitely need to aim for 1233/4% so try and recoup my holiday savings 🙂

  14. Despite the very strong result for Quirk in the Reachtel poll, I think the Brisbane result may surprise for Labor on the upside.
    The Mayoral candidates have not really been in the media till this week and neither has come up all that well. However, Labor has a very “unpolitical” candidate while Quirk is your identikit Liberal. This may have some effect in the last couple of days. Just saw a Ray Smith ad on TV while I was having breakfast and it was a pretty simple and clear message to people just before they go out to vote.
    Also, Labor candidates for Council have been doing heaps of grass roots campaigning over the last year or more. I know the conventional wisdom is that this doesn’t really count for more than a couple of percent but I think it may be more effective in a Council context than state or federal.
    Finally, the general sentiment at the moment seems to be for getting rid of incumbents, so that may work in Labor’s favour.
    Quite possible I’m wrong in all of this but it will be interesting to see what happens – may provide some pointers on how things are likely to move in the future.

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