Seat of the week: Lilley

Wayne Swan’s electorate of Lilley covers the Brisbane bayside north-east of the city centre, between the Brisbane and Pine rivers – an area accounting for industrial Eagle Farm in the south and residential Brighton in the north – along with suburbs nearer the city from McDowall, Stafford Heights and Everton Park eastwards through Kedron, Chermside and Zillmere to Nundah, Nudgee and Taigum. The redistribution before the 2010 election had a substantial impact on the electorate, adding 26,000 in Chermside West and Stafford Heights at the northern end (from Petrie) and removing a similar number of voters in an area from Clayfield and Hendra south to Hamilton on the river (to Brisbane), but the margin was little affected.

Lilley was created in 1913, originally extending from its current base of Nudgee, Aspley, Kedron, Eagle Farm and Brisbane Airport all the way north to Gympie. It did not become entirely urban until the enlargement of parliament in 1949, when Petrie was created to accommodate what were then Brisbane’s semi-rural outskirts. Labor won Lilley in 1943, 1946, 1961 and 1972 (by a margin of 35 votes on the latter occasion), but otherwise it was usually safe for the prevailing conservative forces of the day. A decisive shift came with the elections of 1980 and 1983, when Labor’s Elaine Darling won and then consolidated the seat with respective swings of 5.2% and 8.4%.

Wayne Swan succeeded Darling as the Labor member in 1993, but like all but two of his Queensland Labor colleagues he lost his seat in 1996. Swan stood again in 1998 and accounted for the 0.4% post-redistribution margin with a swing of 3.5%. He added further fat to his margin at the each of the next three elections, although in keeping with the inner urban trend his swing in 2007 was well below the statewide average (3.2% compared with 7.5%). The 2010 election delivered the LNP a swing of 4.8% that compared with a statewide result of 5.5%, bringing the seat well into the marginal zone at 3.2%.

Swan’s path into politics began as an adviser to Bill Hayden during his tenure as Opposition Leader and later to Hawke government ministers Mick Young and Kim Beazley, before he took on the position of Queensland party secretary in 1991. He was elevated to the shadow ministry after recovering his seat in 1998, taking on the family and community services portfolio, and remained close to former boss Beazley. Mark Latham famously described Swan and his associates as “roosters” when Beazley conspired to recover the leadership in 2003, but nonetheless retained him in his existing position during his own tenure in the leadership. Swan was further promoted to the Treasury portfolio after the 2004 election defeat, which he retained in government despite suggestions Rudd had been promised the position to Lindsay Tanner in return for his support when he toppled Kim Beazley as leader in December 2006.

Although he went to high school with him in Nambour and shared a party background during the Wayne Goss years, Swan has long been a bitter rival of Kevin Rudd, the former emerging as part of the AWU grouping of the Right and the latter with the Right’s “old guard”. He was in the camp opposing Rudd at successive leadership challenges, including Rudd’s successful challenge against Beazley, his toppling by Julia Gillard in June 2010, and most recently when he sought to recover the leadership in February 2012, when Swan accused Rudd of “sabotaging policy announcements and undermining our substantial economic successes”. Swan succeeded Gillard as deputy upon her ascension to the prime ministership.

Swan’s LNP opponent for the second consecutive election will be Rod McGarvie, a former soldier and United Nations peacekeeper. McGarvie won a July preselection vote from a field which included John Cotter, GasFields commissioner and former head of agriculture lobby group AgForce, and Bill Gollan, owner of a Deagon car dealership.

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.

2,173 comments on “Seat of the week: Lilley”

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  1. Spur

    Maybe people haven’t bothered writing books about JG cause she has only been there on sufferance, and was going to be defeated at an early election, or rolled by Rudd. So why bother?

    Maybe in her second term she might get some books?

  2. Barbara Ramjan’s version, from David Marr’s article. I know who I believe.

    [….he went into the university election season and lost – to a woman – his campaign for the presidency of the SRC.

    Barbara Ramjan beat him hands down. She was of the left but her work as the SRC’s welfare officer made her a popular figure on the campus. The night her victory was declared, the SRC offices saw wild scenes of bad-boy behaviour: flashing, mooning, jeering and abuse. Abbott watched all this. His loss was a very public disappointment. He approached Ramjan. She thought he was coming over to congratulate her. “But no, that’s not what he wanted,” she recalls. “He came up to within an inch of my nose and punched the wall on either side of my head.” Thirty-five years later she recalls with cold disdain what he did. “It was done to intimi­date.” Abbott tells me he has no recollection of the incident: “It would be profoundly out of character had it occurred.”

    Abbo and his mates reckoned people just took things the wrong way. Pranks and larks. A bit of sport with humourless people. Just a game. “At times it was all rather childish,” Abbott confessed years later. “At times it was a little bit scary. But it was always bloody good fun.” Ramjan doesn’t let him off so lightly. “He was the most in your face. That’s what set him apart. There were, of course, other Liberal Party and DLP types on campus but they weren’t offensive and they weren’t rude. They were people you could talk to. You could sit down and have a cup of tea with them. I would never do that with Tony Abbott. He’s not that sort of person. I don’t care what your politics are, you can still engage with another person. You don’t have to be threatening. You don’t have to be just that awful person.

    “I have no doubt Tony was a most charming man when he wanted to be. It was a very conscious choice he made.” She called the year that followed – with her as president and Abbott on the SRC executive – the worst of her life. “I doubt there would have been any moment in that year that he would have been charming towards me.”]

  3. Victoria

    Oh yes he did! He was a master at baiting the left intellectually. Foreign policy (esp East Timor) and media bias are examples of this. He frequently talked about the liberal and conservative traditions and Mill, Burke, Deakin etc. and what his definition of Australian values were. It tied straight into the business about asylum seekers, national defence, the Republic referendum, respecting history etc etc etc

  4. [Abbo and his mates reckoned people just took things the wrong way. Pranks and larks. A bit of sport with humourless people. Just a game. “At times it was all rather childish,” Abbott confessed years later. “At times it was a little bit scary]

    Would not enter morons minds, that it is straight out bullying.

    Pranks are different to intimidation.

  5. [BK
    Posted Saturday, September 8, 2012 at 10:31 am | Permalink
    I’d love it for Ms Ramjan came out an call Abbott a liar.]

    It could still happen. You can bet the government are working on it behind the scenes.

    It would be even nicer if the young lady he was accused of sexually assaulting came out just before the election and outed him. With his already appalling dissatisfaction figures that would just about sink him.

  6. Lyne Lady
    I know that Turner was prominent in Besseling’s campaign against Williams but he was also chairman of the “community” board selected to rubber stamp Mayne Health’s criminal behaviour at the Base Hospital. Levido is the manager of the solicitors’ firm that surprisingly went broke after offering investments at 3% above the going rate. I don’t know his political form but I would imagine he and Turner are likely Liberals. Conservative politics in Port Macquarie are as murky as ever.

  7. BK,

    For the life of me why, oh why do the US political parties include religious crap in their conventions, etc?

    This may help to explain it. A quote from a very prominent Moonie in NY, USA:
    “The choice is becoming clear. We have the party of no God and the party of God. America decides”

  8. [The layers are being pulled away bit by bit, revealing what a charming person Abbott is underneath.]

    Exactly. This is why I’m happy to see articles like these continuing to appear in the msm. It has the added benefit of affirming the perception of Abbott as a god-bothering misogynist.

  9. Just returned from one of my favourite activities – voting 😀

    Sydney is not a particularly early morning place, but through the entire time I was in the polling station filling in 27 boxes, the three electoral officials outnumbered voters

  10. “Slush funds” again! The whole article would seem to be fodder for legal action by the PM.

    Equally troubling for Labor is the growing cloud over union slush funds and the misuse of money for non-union activities. This is especially sensitive as Labor continues to reel from the HSU scandals and persistent probing of Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s involvement in the establishment of an AWU slush fund in the mid-1990s.
    In 2009 hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and resources were tipped into a bitter HSU election in Victoria by other unions for ALP factional reasons.

  11. Peter Hartcher is a joke
    [Tony Abbott’s role model in developing his style as Opposition Leader was Barnstorming Barnaby Joyce. But this week something changed between the two men. It was an important moment for Australia.]

    Read more:

    Ridiculous hyperbole. Yep, at the time of the tercentennary of the founding of Sydney, they’ll look back and say, “Well an important moment for Australia was…’

  12. I think it was yesterday that there was an article in the Age that seemed equally as desperate to bootstrap an issue; about the 2nd anniversary of Oakshot’s decision, and how the PM is still having to deal with the leaks during the election – about her discussions in Cabinet.

    I think the MSM have decided that Rabbott has to go, replaced by Talcum – there’s no change in their attitude towards the PM’s tenure.

  13. Boerwar @ 96

    There was a one-legged man at the intersection of Alaya Avenue and Makati Avenue yesterday. He was begging. He might be capable of winning gold in the paralympics but it did not seem to be a front-of-mind issue for him.

    I believe that would be Ayala Avenue which I believe used to be where a runway for the old Manila Airport was.
    Check out the Ayala Museum while in the area.
    Do you have a family connection with the Philippines?

    Yesterday you mentioned the population being 90Million. I believe it is 110 Million.

    This is absolutely shocking as I believe at the end of WWII it was 14Million. And it continues to grow rapidly while the Catholic Church opposes birth control and sex education.

    The amusingly named Cardinal Sin and his cronies have a lot to answer for.

  14. An insightful and, I think, original, quote from a family member, who lives on the boarder of Qld/NSW, on facebook:

    when does daylight savings begin? If it’s eight o’clock in NSW that should make it 1985 in QLD…..

  15. Darn,

    True. We should not forget their support.

    In my own case I have a Maltese Dad. The youngest of five and he hated the life his catholic sisters were confined to. Our family lineage included many, many nuns and priests (lucky they had plenty of kids or I wouldn’t be here!) so there was a lot of pressure to toe the ‘family and religious conventions’.

    He was determined that I be allowed to be whatever I chose to be. And for a Dad, it must have been very hard because I chose to fly planes, race cars, motorbikes and work in male dominated fields. When I started in IT in a technical jobs for women program I was the only female in my field for many, many years.

    I then went on to run one of the country’s motorsport events, regularly having to pull 90 very cheeky, hedonistic blokes into line, some of them world champions and my father, sat silently by, cheering me on the outside, but totally afraid it that being the only woman, it could all go pear-shaped for me.

    It wasn’t until I had my first son, when I told my Dad I was afraid of failing with him, he told me that he had always been afraid that I’d fail because I “refused convention, refused to be afraid and refused to embrace anything except the possibilities.” He said it scared him shitless. He said it was like watching me walk the high wire without a net.

    He also told me that he knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that any kids I had were in safe hands.

    Thanks Dad, there really was always a safety net – you!

  16. bemused

    Cf the runways, yep. The old terminal building (a rather attractive art deco style and tiny in comparison to the surrounding finance industry towers round about) is still there and is used as a cultural centre.

    The RH Bill (RH=Reproductive Health) Bill is up for debate at the moment. There is strong opposition from the bishops and it is the subject of compromise. It is an attempt at government funding for family planning services for poor people. Nearly all the Filipinos with whom I have contact are regular mass goers – with many going to mass on Wednesdays as well as Sundays.

    Just checked and saw a number of 95 million for the Philippines. The demographic pyramid look young, so I imagine that the population total would be moving north very rapidly.

    Family connections? My son, his wife and a grandson live in Manila.

  17. Exactly who is likeable in federal politics these days?

    I mean, people like Julia Gillard, Wayne Swan and Nicola Roxon have got a lot done – and Kevin Rudd did wonders to beat the other mob – but you couldn’t really love any of them.

    Back in the old days you could love Jim Cairns for his almost naive idealism and Gough Whitlam for his self-deprecating wit. Mick Young and Fred Daly and Jim Killen were humorists of high order, Bob Hawke was the archetypal Aussie, Paul Keating exuded Irish charm, Kym Beazley was the bluff good bloke.

    Who is there today?

    I liked Lindsay Tanner, but he’s gone. I also liked John Faulkner, but he’s slipped into the background. Bob Brown has retired and Harry Jenkins is now a backbencher.

    Only Malcolm Turnbull shows a bit of humanity among the hacks and hags of the Opposition.

    Steve Smith comes across as a decent human being. Others who impress with their sincerity are Martin Ferguson and Greg Combet (although he can be a trifle grim).

    But for me, one parliamentarian stands out head and shoulders above the rest for likeability and trustworthiness, and that’s the independent member for New England, Tony Windsor.

  18. There are two problems with throwing dirt at Abbott:

    1. Most of it is known

    2. He has low expectations to begin with

    In short, it doesn’t matter how much you sledge hammer him, it doesn’t make a bit of difference if what you’re offering is uninspiring and distrustful. You have to have a counter narrative to knock the ideology out. That’s exactly what Keating did to Hewson in 1993. It’s not going to work this time as the ALP are focused on “Labor Values” and solidifying the base which Abbott has aimed the values gun straight towards.

  19. spur212,

    I reckon coming at this point of time, it might help confirm/solidify some of the doubts people have about him. And whilst to you, me and the other political tragics, it is not news, for many it will be.

    I think this will be another wedge into Tony’s biggest concern – women.

  20. Boerwar @ 119

    Wikipedia has the population at the 2012 census as 103,775,002. I love that ‘2’ on the end. I suspect they don’t really know accurately.

    Unfortunately, Catholicism is the sanest religion there, which doesn’t say much. They have a homegrown Iglesia Ni Christo cult which has impressive churches everywhere and stand out as among the best maintained buildings. In more recent times American Fundamentalist Nutters have been moving in with some success. The common factor in all of them is their parasitic nature.

    My wife of 26 years is from Quezon City originally and I now classify her as a ‘recovering Catholic’. She has 2 intelligent younger brothers who have kicked it but an older brother who is Catholic on steroids.

    We visit the Phil. arm of the family every couple of years.

    It leaves me saddened each time, as unlike other S.E. Asian countries I have visited, I get no sense of things progressing much.

  21. Toorak Toff,
    Tony Windsor certainly does epitomise wisdom, sincerity, trustworthiness and integrity, but I believe you can find those same qualities in so many Labor Representatives and Senators. Their idealism is based on justice, equality and opportunity for all, which is what has driven most of them into politics in the first place. Their wisdom, sincerity, trustworthiness and integrity is writ large in their actions – especially exemplified by those on the front bench. It’s my opinion that we might well be fortunate enough to have the most of those qualities in one period of Government since Federation.

  22. [I mean, people like Julia Gillard, Wayne Swan and Nicola Roxon have got a lot done – and Kevin Rudd did wonders to beat the other mob – but you couldn’t really love any of them.

    Back in the old days you could love Jim Cairns for his almost naive idealism and Gough Whitlam for his self-deprecating wit. Mick Young and Fred Daly and Jim Killen were humorists of high order, Bob Hawke was the archetypal Aussie, Paul Keating exuded Irish charm, Kym Beazley was the bluff good bloke.

    Who is there today?]

    Christ you talk in cliches and group thinkese, Toorak.

  23. TT

    Besides those others mentioned do love Andrew Wilkie for speaking out about the war in Afghanistan. A man who is more qualified to speak than most on the issue.
    You will see quite a bit of Mr Oakshott in coming weeks as his passion for reform and accountability of Parliament is debated.

  24. [Space Kidette

    Posted Saturday, September 8, 2012 at 11:17 am | Permalink


    True. We should not forget their support.etc]
    Thank you for that comment, I also was lucky although in my case it was Mum who only went to 6th class, was determined that her daughters(2 of us) would be well educated, my dad went along with the idea. It was hard as not much money, university was out of the question but went to HSC then studied afterwards for my accounting. Fortunately free in those days by correspondence, finished after marriage , kids plus part time job and a very understanding OH. So think we are both very lucky

  25. SK

    They’re solidified. He’ll never be popular. His first impression was that of a vicious nasty man who women dread and that’s who he’ll always be

  26. Good BBC report about record Artic Ice Melt being replayed on News 24 at moment.
    I think it will scare people more than Mr Abbott’s fear campaign about the needless carbon price.

  27. Have been a good person and been over to vote, all independent here, but a lot of them arn’t!!! Then on to my regular morning coffee at a local cafe with friends, gee it is easy to slip back into this sort of life. Also been for my walk along the beach on a beautiful morning, it is a hard life

  28. You don’t need his time in the SRC to know Abbott’s a mug lair and a bully.

    It’s just part of a pattern.

    As is his time after the SRC election, when he tried his best to wreck the joint through being unpleasant.

  29. [Space Kidette

    Posted Saturday, September 8, 2012 at 11:51 am | Permalink


    It makes a world of difference to have that kind of positive support. I can’t imagine where I’d be without it.]

    You are so right, especially when often all I wanted to do was play sport at school

  30. OC

    Justin Levido was president of the local branch of the Liberal Party. He says he resigned when he decided to run for council so he could run as an independent. His record as the director of the failed Donovan Oates Hannaford Mortgage Corporation doesn’t help his reputation, although it hasn’t been mentioned publically during the election campaign. Why Besso chose him as a running mate is beyond me.

  31. spur212,

    Mmm… with anyone else I would probably agree, but with Tony, women, and don’t rubbish this, get the sense that all is not right with him. Their response to him is often without explanation so many women will hold their opinion in abeyance until they get concrete evidence. I think this will be the evidence by which many women will confirm their opinions.

  32. [hughriminton @hughriminton 2m
    PNG PM Peter O’Neill says “it’s important refugees are processed as quickly as possible” as he signs MOU with Aust over Manus Island. #APEC]

  33. IMOHO

    [Moonie in NY, USA:
    “The choice is becoming clear. We have the party of no God and the party of God. America decides”]
    The party of god eh. In arabic that’s called Hezbollah . 🙂

  34. [Latika Bourke @latikambourke 18s
    PM Gillard says work can now start on Manus Island to establish a detention centre for #asylum seekers who come to Australia by boat.]

    [Latika Bourke @latikambourke 42s
    PM Gillard has signed an agreement with PNG PM to establish an #asylum seeker processing centre on Manus Island.]

    [Latika Bourke @latikambourke 1m
    PM Gillard and Trade Minister Craig Emerson holding joint media conference from Russia. #APEC]

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