Seat of the week: Blair

Blair has covered a highly variable area around Ipswich since its creation in 1998, having been substantially redrawn at three redistributions since. Originally covering areas inland of Ipswich and the Sunshine Coast, the redistributions of 2004 and 2007 saw it progressively take over central Ipswich from Oxley. Prior to the 2010 election it lost 28,000 voters in territory south of Ipswich to the new seat of Wright, in exchange for 13,200 voters in rural areas around Lake Wivenhoe to the north (previously in Dickson and Fisher) and 5500 in the eastern Ipswich suburbs of Collingwood Park and Springfield Central (from Oxley). As the areas lost were rural and conservative, Labor’s margin was boosted from 4.5% to 7.0%. The seat further recorded what by Queensland standards was a mild swing of 2.7%, the resulting Labor margin of 4.2% making it their fourth safest seat in the state.

Ipswich had been an area of strength for Labor since the early days of the party’s history owing to its now defunct coal mining industry, but it has more recently been prone to rebellion against the party’s efforts to appeal to new middle-class constituencies. The most famous such occasion occurred when Pauline Hanson won Oxley in 1996, scoring 48.6% of the primary vote as an independent after the Liberals disendorsed her for advocating the abolition of government assistance for Aborigines. The creation of Blair in the next redistribution did Hanson a poor turn, dividing her home turf between two electorates. Rather than recontest Oxley or (more sensibly) run for the Senate, Hanson chanced her arm at the new seat, but the major parties’ decision to direct preferences to each other may have sealed her doom. Hanson led the primary vote count with 36.0% against 25.3% for Labor and 21.7% for Liberal, but Liberal candidate Cameron Thompson pulled ahead of Labor on minor party preferences and defeated Hanson by 3.3% on Labor preferences.

Thompson went on to absorb most of the disappearing One Nation vote in 2001, more than doubling his primary vote without improving his two-party margin over Labor. A redistribution ahead of the 2004 election clipped this by 1.8%, but he went on to handsomely consolidate his position with a 4.5% swing. In 2007 the Liberals targeted Blair as part of its “firewall” strategy, a key element of which was a risky decision to fund a $2.3 billion Ipswich Motorway bypass at Goodna in the neighbouring electorate of Ryan. This proved of little use, with Labor picking up a decisive swing of 10.2% which typified the shift of blue-collar voters back to Labor on the back of WorkChoices.

Labor’s winning candidate was Shayne Neumann, a family lawyer and partner in the Brisbane firm Neumann & Turnour and member of the state party’s Labor Unity/Old Guard faction. His LNP opponent at the coming election will be Teresa Harding, who is “director of the F-111 Disposal and Aerial Targets Office” at the RAAF Base Amberley.

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.

2,255 comments on “Seat of the week: Blair”

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  1. A good article by Ross Gittens on employment figures:

    [The trend figures show that, over the first seven months of this year, employment has been growing at an average rate of 10,000 jobs a month.

    Is that a lot or a little? Well, it’s been sufficient to hold the rate of unemployment virtually unchanged at 5.2 per cent. (Remember, since the labour force keeps growing, we have to create jobs just to hold unemployment steady.)]

    [s an unemployment rate of 5.2 per cent good or bad? Well, most economists would tell you it’s about as good as it gets. They regard the rate of full employment as being about 5 per cent or a little lower.]

    He then deals with the age old question of how employment is measured:

    [No government of any colour has changed the way employment and unemployment are measured in the past 30 years.

    The definitions the bureau uses are set by international statistical convention. And the convention hasn’t changed significantly in many decades. No one has changed the rules.]

    So, in other words, we can compare figures for unemployment since 1982 or thereabouts with some degree of confidence.

    He then deals with ‘one hour a week is counted as employed’ whinge:

    [The real trouble with the official figures is that the definition of unemployment has always been unrealistically narrow. It’s true a person is classed as being employed if they work just one hour each week.

    Of course, very few people who do work do so for as little as an hour or three. Nor is it correct to imagine that everyone working part-time would prefer to have a full-time job.

    Some would; many – particularly full-time students, the semi-retired and parents looking after young children – wouldn’t.

    So the real question is: how many part-time workers would prefer to be working more hours than they do? The answer in May was 890,000.

    Note, however, that other figures suggest only a bit over half of those people wanted full-time jobs. The rest (roughly 400,000) were people working part-time who just wanted a few more hours a week.

    The 890,000 ”underemployed” workers account for 7.4 per cent of the labour force. Add to them the 625,000 workers officially defined as unemployed (the ones giving an unemployment rate of 5.2 per cent) and you get a ”labour force underutilisation rate” of 12.6 per cent.]

    So Gittens says he always doubles the official unemployment rate, as he believes that creates a more realistic figure – but warns:

    [But if you’re trying to get at the truth (as opposed to trying to prove the political party you hate is doing a terrible job), remember two points.

    First, if you double today’s unemployment rate you should double all the earlier rates you compare it with.

    Second, remember the trajectory of the higher figure should move pretty much in line with that of the lower figure. So if the official unemployment figure is stable, it’s reasonable to assume the more realistic figure is, too.]

    Read more:

    Nothing most of us didn’t already know; but handy to have it laid out in one article!

  2. One has to laugh… “story telling and creativity” indeed…

    [Inaugural Kennedy Awards honour our quality journalists
    THE Daily Telegraph last night won six major awards at the inaugural Kennedy Awards for Excellence in NSW Journalism, including the top prizes for political and crime reporting.

    The awards, held on the first anniversary of the death of legendary crime reporter Les Kennedy, highlighted the high quality of news breaking, story telling and creativity delivered by reporters from the Daily and Sunday Telegraphs. ]

    Mercifully, the names Steve Lewis and Simon Benson (or indeed Piers Akerman) did not appear.

    Perhaps there should be a NSW Cattleman’s Association award for “Outstanding Bullshit”?

    There wouldn’t be room on the podium.

  3. seeing as we have decamped to here:

    Well hasn’t the wind changed direction.

    Tony Wright’s mea culpa to Swan is about as close to grovelling as you’re going to get from a hack. Very different from Tony’s original smarmy put downs of Swans use of Springsteen. That only happens when said hack cops an almighty return of serve from a large number of his readers.

    All of the other Fairfax scribes have turned their rhetoric down from ‘why does she bother’, to ‘she’s gonna need some luck’. That will feed a slight, but perceptible change in their reporting. Tony’s free ride is coming to an end.

    I still think it will be a long an hard road to Labor’s ultimate victory with a few more setbacks on the way.


    Abbott really is incredibly vulnerable. If NO, NO, NO simply has overstayed it’s welcome he could disappear up his own fundament in puff of bile. One really solid Newspoll (maybe even a 48-52 with an ALP primary around 36) might be enough to do the trick. If the whispers about him start it could all end for him as quickly as it did for Turnbull. He won’t be popular in his caucus if they think he’s lumbered them with nothing more on policy that seeking to repeal a whole bunch of reforms that are either popular or at least accepted. Oh and a new tax on business to fund his PPL joke. His house of cards could crash with surprising speed.

  4. Jaeger, not sure if I have it correct but Channel 7 seemed to rely on the BBC sailing coverage last night. Thus we copped an understandably biased coverage of the gold medal winning sailing event that focused on the English, who won silver and kind of cut out the Australian celebrations.

  5. Tell us what you really think, Mr. Dennis Atkins (hat-tip to GG for the link):

    [On carbon, Gillard will face an unabashed continuation of Tony Abbott’s relentless negative assault on the price impacts of the scheme, especially during its tax phase.

    Abbott proved in recent days he will not shy away from any untruth in his campaign to brand Gillard an untrustworthy liar. It is the most reckless and audacious politicking most observers including this one can remember.

    Whether Abbott makes a lie out of employment numbers by conflating June and July results or blames Gillard for an electricity pricing regime set up by the Howard Cabinet of which he was a member, the Liberal leader is taking the demeaning tactic of not caring what he says to new depths. ]

  6. In anticipation of the Houston report on asylum seekers coming out on Monday 😉
    Dennis Altman – Labor’s next generation
    [None of the parliamentarians I spoke to had very convincing explanations about why Labor’s vote has dropped so precipitously, nor did we have time to fully explore solutions. Following the failure to win any compromise on asylum seekers, some within the Labor machine have turned on the Greens, and are demanding Labor deny them preferences. The rhetoric of the NSW state secretary, Sam Dastyari, suggests – misleadingly – that Christine Milne, not Tony Abbott, is the real threat to Labor’s re-election.

    Labor certainly needs to counter views as distorted as the Australian’s reference to “its partners in minority government.” (Do their editors actually know what a “minority government” is?) But it is hard to believe that intemperate attacks on people who are sympathetic to many Green positions, a significant number of whom are its own supporters, will regain many votes. If more power and independence for individual MPs would take away the power of the hacks and haters who run the party machinery, then this would help restore some credibility to Labor.]

  7. [One really solid Newspoll (maybe even a 48-52 with an ALP primary around 36) might be enough to do the trick. ]

    If Gillard is indeed adept with the stiletto, every extra percentage point that Gillard attains is like two stab wounds for Abbott: one in the front from her and one in the back from his own side.

  8. [… the Liberal leader is taking the demeaning tactic of not caring what he says to new depths. ]

    It’s classic Tea Party, of course: energize the base.

    What Abbott forgets is that we have compulsory voting here. We don’t need to energize the base.

    If mild-mannered Dennis Atkins has had enough, then there must be a few more around thinking along the same lines. Atkins is saying that Abbott is demeaning him, as well as the public.

  9. Article on the Malaysia solution and asylum seekers by Fr Frank Brennan SJ, professor of law at the Public Policy Institute, Australian Catholic University and adjunct professor at the College of Law and the National Centre for Indigenous Studies, Australian National University.

    Last night I attended a joint fundraiser by a Greens local group and the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre.

    No one present doubted that the Greens will continue to be villified for their position on the treatment of asylum seekers which includes onshore processing and real regional cooperation.

    We are resolute 🙂

  10. Channel 7 seemed to rely on the BBC sailing coverage last night. Thus we copped an understandably biased coverage of the gold medal winning sailing event that focused on the English, who won silver and kind of cut out the Australian celebrations.

    Joe 2, yes it was hilariously like looking in a mirror at the usual over emphasis on Australian performance for me (oh look at the plucky Aussie, oh yes by the way a brown or yellow person has just won something etc )

    more positively it was nice to see the crews and their families celebrating together in very good spirit , ïve also liked the way the athletes in things like the pentathlon have all joined hands at the end and bowed to the crowd together

    I’d rather not have hundreds of millions of government money spent on this at all of course …

  11. Boerwar:

    I just wanted to say how much I’ve appreciated your excoriation of Greens policies. You’ve utterly exposed the hollow positioning of the Greens as rigidly remaining firm on moral purity at the expense of actually doing something meaningful.

    I don’t think the Greens vote will get much higher than it is now for that very reason.

  12. Pegasus at 15

    Very heroic of the greens.

    Did the fundraiser decide to go with the camembert and chardannay while refugees in Africa and Malaysia go about their lives in permanent limbo.

    Was it also discussed that it was such a shame 5% of boat people died as this policy of purity is such fun otherwise.

    What a bummer eh?

  13. [I’d rather not have hundreds of millions of government money spent on this at all of course …]

    With you there, but left wondering why, after all the bucks spent on athletes etc, the average punter is fed a crap, incompetent, coverage littered with ads that take precedence over content. Not the best way to see how the public money was spent when the product is handed over to panhandlers.

  14. GG

    I honestly believe it is for Labor to lose. I have long said that the msm and coalition are not the biggest threat to Labor, but The party itself. Will he who must not be named, stfu from now on?

  15. Morning All

    Another gold for the Aussies in the sailing – solid top 10 finish coming up, I hope 🙂

    Will be interesting to see what Houston comes up with – the Greens won’t, and shouldn’t, back off-shore processing. Once people make it here, they should be processed here. Maybe Julia should accept the Turnbull position – 12 months of Nauru and TPV’s – push back on turning boats back – I would rather they look at at better alternatives but it could take the heat out of it politically AND put some leadership pressure on Abbott

  16. [If mild-mannered Dennis Atkins has had enough, then there must be a few more around thinking along the same lines. Atkins is saying that Abbott is demeaning him, as well as the public.]

    I wonder if Atkins is worrying that, if Abbott does become PM, he will just keep on ‘fabricating’. He’s been so successful at getting away with it since Dec 09 he may not know how to tell the truth anymore.

    Tim Dunlop wrote the other day that the ‘journos created Abbott’. It’s now up to them to expose him properly if they want to retain professionalism.

  17. Psephos @ 3608 prev thread

    One of the things John Howard will be remembered for in Australian political history is that he transferred the Liberal Party’s international affiliation from the British Tories (who were in eclipse throughout his PM-ship) to the US Republicans. This has brought into Australian politics the same kind of reactionary stupidity that has dominated the Repubs ever since Nixon brought the white southerners into the Republican party. Liberal climate denialism comes directly from the US, and is in sharp contrast with Cameron’s science-based response. Even if Abbott wins the next election, this trend will have dire consequences for the Libs in the longer term.

    I was unaware of this. Was it well publicised at the time?

    It would make the basis of a good opinion piece in the MSM. I don’t think the Republicans are widely admired in Australia so anything tying the Libs to them would be a good thing.

  18. BH

    The Liberals are getting restless with the direction of the party now. They failed in their quest to seize power before July 1. What are they to do now?

  19. Womble

    The callousness of the greens in even entertaning a Nauru only solution is breathtaking.

    The greens support it because they know it will make no difference to arrivals as the legal framework will be identical to Christmas Island with Australia in fact doing all the processing.

    Effectively they refuse to move one inch to resolve the issue of people dying at sea. Disengenous and callous behaviour which should rightly be condemned.

  20. Hi, long time no see.
    Reading Elder’s pice I followed the links to this which has a lot of good information including this comment on the pink batts scheme.
    [Further, there is good evidence that it was successful in this aim as electricity use in the NEM (the Eastern states and SA) has decreased for the last three years. There were other factors of course, but on the only metric available it seems successful.]
    Maybe now the media is starting to call out Abbot more we may even get some positives about what Labor has achieved.

  21. I see the holier than thou attitude of Labor people towards the Greens continues.
    This despite some self evident truths. One of these self evident truths is News Limited campaigning against the Greens. Current allies of the Labor party in more than one Parliament. So happy to pick up the cudgels for the News Limited campaign anf foment at least the appearance of disunity for the benefit of only News Limited and the Coalition.
    Also on the Asylum Seeker issue remember where Labor has been on the issue.
    Also remember every time you use the drowning line that the Greens have a policy that would have created less refugees in the first place with their past and continuing policy of being at war in occupation of countries.
    -4 For BW’s efforts at fomenting discord and division at a time when Prime Minister Julia Gillard has needed the exact opposite. Of course primarily at fault here is the NSW Right.

  22. BH:

    I thought Dunlop wrote that if Abbott didn’t exist, journos would have to create him.

    But in any case, we are long overdue having our media put any kind of scrutiny on him.

  23. [The greens support it because they know it will make no difference to arrivals as the legal framework will be identical to Christmas Island with Australia in fact doing all the processing.]

    It will not STOP the boats, they will have to get on a boat to GET to Nauru!.

  24. So Guytaur, assuming that the greens were in a position to prevent Australia engaging in Iraq and Afghanistan how would that stop people seeking asylum from those countries.

    If the answer is ‘world peace’ dont bother responding.

  25. Even Grattan has written a fairly descriptive piece about JG’s repertoire of attacks for the Spring session …… relatively factual and only a couple of minor jibes.…/…ntent-20120810-2401f.html

    On Lateline last night Abbott demonstarted the classic power of non-verbal communication.

    Whilst saying that he would certainly consider the Houston report, his head went on a sideways turning spree gesturing “No! No! No!” .

    That body language gave the game away, in addition of course to the fact that his lips were moving.

    A question for the Libs who regularly post here and who seem to be of FAQ (for those not au fait with wheat classifications ….”fair average quality”) intellect. How could you in all honesty possibly write in support of a Coalition led by Abbott the (f)tool let alone vote for it? Really?

  26. I had just been watching Saturday Liberal Agenda. Malcolm Turnbull basically said that Julia Gillard is telling the truth about electricity prices and that Tony Abbott is LYING.

    C’mon, a 52/48 Newspoll could do it. And before xmas.

    Abbott is GONE!

  27. [I see the holier than thou attitude of Labor people towards the Greens continues.]

    Actually guytaur I think you will find it’s a ‘more pragmatic than thou’ attitude.


    [LNP officials smearing Newman: Seeney
    By Annie Guest

    Just five months after a resounding election win, divisions have emerged in the Liberal National Party’s (LNP) parliamentary and organisational wings.

    The LNP is facing disharmony on several fronts. There are concerns over job cuts and changes to health services, not to mention enterprise bargaining negotiations.

    Also at issue are plans to slash government funding of political parties, but LNP officials in Queensland who oppose the move are not speaking publicly.

    Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney says the officials have been smearing Premier Campbell Newman behind closed doors.

    Mr Seeney referred to LNP officials telling The Australian newspaper they were ambushed by legislative plans to slash government funding for the administration of political parties.]
    more in the article

  29. This is why I hate buying anything made in China. Article about Bill Bailey, comedian. Also, he was offered a dish of “live owl”, so he purchsed it and set it free.
    [”We were in Guangdong province, in the south-eastern corner of China, on our way to try to photograph Guilin, a notorious place, one of the biggest recipients of electronic waste in the world.

    The outward story is they’re recycling … but the way they recycle it is to basically just burn off all the plastic in acid baths to try to get all the gold and copper parts … and they wash the printer ribbons in the river – the river’s black and there’s toxic fires, which fill the air with this acrid, gagging smoke.]
    Read more:

  30. Malcolm Turnbull has also badly contradicted himself.

    On one hand he says that a Coalition government will not complete the NBN to save money; and on the other he says that they would complete it for its resale value.

    So, to who are they going to sell the NBN?

    Turnbull said not Telstra. No of course not, they’re going to sell it to Phone Hacker 😡

  31. Guytaur
    Though not a Greens voter, there are very many of their policies that I support.

    But I won’t vote for the Greens because policies are mere words, and the Greens are incapable of doing whatever is necessary to get the rubber on the road.

    Policies that don’t become legislation at some stage are no more valuable than garbage.

    Sadly the Greens are just handwringers, weepers, talkers. Only doers are worth voting for.

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