Seat of the week: Rankin

Recent polling may have steadied his nerves a little, but senior minister Craig Emerson remains no certainty for re-election in a seat that has stayed with Labor since its creation in 1984.

Craig Emerson’s seat of Rankin has been held by Labor without interruption since its creation, but like all the party’s Queensland seats has looked precarious during the worst of its polling during the current term. The seat came into being with the enlargement of parliament in 1984, at which time it extended far beyond the bounds of the metropolitan area to the south-west, encompassing Warwick and a stretch of the New South Wales border. It is now located wholly in the outer south of suburban Brisbane, covering the northern part of Logan City from Woodridge and Kingston north to Priestdale and west to Hillcrest. The redistribution before the 2010 election drew it further into the metropolitan area, adding Algester, Calamvale and Drewvale north of the Logan-Brisbane municipal boundary. This territory accounts for much of Brisbane’s mortgage belt, and furnishes the seat with the equal lowest median age of any electorate in Australia. The Logan area is the source of Labor’s strength, but it is balanced by naturally marginal territory around Calamvale to the west and Springwood to the east.

Prior to the 1996 election, the seat was a highly marginal combination of Labor-voting outer suburbia and conservative rural areas, which Labor held by margins of between 0.6% and 5.5%. It was then transformed with the transfer of the rural areas to Forde and the compensating gain of low-income Brisbane suburbs, which boosted the margin by 9.8%. In the event Labor needed every bit of it to survive the Queensland backlash of 1996, which in Rankin manifested in an 11.1% swing. An unfavourable redistribution ahead of the 2004 election cut the margin by 5.3%, but there followed a 0.8% swing against the statewide trend at that election, followed by a 8.8% swing when the Rudd government came to power. The backlash of 2010 produced a swing to the LNP of 6.3%, cutting the margin to 5.4%.

Rankin has had only two members since its creation: Craig Emerson since 1998, and David Beddall beforehand. Emerson emerged through the Labor Forum/Australian Workers Union sub-faction of the Queensland Right, working over the years as an adviser to Hawke government ministers and then to Hawke himself, before taking on senior state public service positions in Queensland under the Goss government. After one term in parliament he rose to the shadow ministry, serving in the workplace relations portfolio in the lead-up to the 2004 election. He was then contentiously dropped after losing the support of his faction, a legacy of his defiance of powerbroker Bill Ludwig in supporting Mark Latham’s successful leadership bid in December 2003 (which by no stretch of the imagination spared him the lash of The Latham Diaries).

Emerson’s career returned to the ascendant after Labor came to power in 2007. spent the first term in the junior small business portfolio and further acquired competition policy and consumer affairs in June 2009, before winning promotion to cabinet as Trade Minister after the 2010 election. On the morning of the July 2010 leadership coup he announced he would support Kevin Rudd if it came to a ballot, but he took a very different tack during Rudd’s February 2012 challenge, accusing him of having undermined the government ever since the election campaign. Emerson achieved, for better or worse, considerable penetration of the soft media in July 2012, with his semi-musical critique of the Coalition’s campaign against the carbon tax.

An LNP preselection in July 2012 attracted six candidates and was won by David Lin, a 39-year-old Taiwanese-born solicitor who founded the Sushi Station restaurant chain at the age of 22.

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.

1,969 comments on “Seat of the week: Rankin”

  1. Kevin I object to the use of the term gender wars. It is a MSM construct in order to paint the PM’s speech in a negative light

  2. Another thing which piqued my interest whilst I was out and about in the car, was a story on The World Today about Domestic Violence being the highest in the world in The Solomon Islands.


    The explanation was given that the population are highly religious and that the men there misconstrue a particular passage of the Bible by Paul to justify their violent treatment of their wives. Something to do with ‘women must submit to men’.

    Also, it was pointed out by Reverend Tim Costello, that the devoutly religious, the sort that let religion rule their lives and thoughts, will always believe that God created Man and that Woman was created from Man’s Rib, thus Women will never, and should never, be the equal of Men in their eyes.

    Explains a lot about Tony Abbott’s attitudes to women who are in positions of superiority to him if you ask me.

  3. Thanks Mr O’Farrell for reminding voters that the odius Mr Abbott could actually be PM. That should help Labor’s improvement along

  4. “@chrismurphys: YouTube worldwide:2 main videos: 5.5m viewed Obama&Romney Presidential debate. An extraordinary 1.7m viewed GillardPM on sexism #auspol”

  5. victoria@1952,
    NSW Liberal Premier Barry O’Farrell says voters have made up their minds about the next federal election and Tony Abbott will become prime minister.

    Just as the vote for the Coalition is going South.

    Yeah, right, Barry! 😀

    Anyway, I thought ‘a day was a long time in politics’, so what’s he doing predicting the election result this far out?

    Answer: Trying to shore up his man against justified attack.

  6. [“@chrismurphys: YouTube worldwide:2 main videos: 5.5m viewed Obama&Romney Presidential debate. An extraordinary 1.7m viewed GillardPM on sexism #auspol”]

    Given the difference in population/influence between America and Australia (not to mention the debate being available for longer), that’s a pretty stunning statistic.

  7. victoria
    Posted Monday, October 15, 2012 at 2:59 pm | PERMALINK
    NSW Liberal Premier Barry O’Farrell says voters have made up their minds about the next federal election and Tony Abbott will become prime minister.
    Which of course Lartika dutifully tweeted

  8. guytaur
    So far 8 retweets , 2 favorited and 2 new followers out of that tweet, better watch out Lartika might block me like she did one of my followers this morning

  9. C@tmomma 1930
    I reckon the whole interest rate thing’s one of the best examples of how the coalition are allowed to get away with anything in the artificial construction of the Perpetual Present. Lower now than at any time under Howard?. Doesn’t count. Were they high in relation to the rest of the world then? Doesn’t count. Cutting into the income of self funded retirees & the like, a supposedly stalwart group of coalition voters? Collateral damage. Don’t talk about them, they’re sufficiently rusted on & anyway they’ll buy our general “Labor doom & gloom” product. What would the liberals do about it? Don’t ever, ever ask that.
    But I agree entirely with your general theme, the coalition’s just so good at it & gets so much media help that the government can only play catchup. And who listens to that? There’s no time, did you hear what Mr Abbott said today?…

  10. I think it’s worth taking a hit in the polls to expose Tony Abbott’s character, the focus has been on the PM since last election.

    The spotlight is on Tony and his opinions, Labor may get some blowback from the older conservative voter and people will feel some sympathy towards him.

    This will fade and voters will know and remember the darker side of Tony Abbott’s personality come the next election.

    The focus should now turn to policy, a good start tonight on QANDA, should any questions come up a blunt refusal to talk about anything other than policy and the economy.

  11. Well the press doubled up, full front page advertisements for the lovely wife, the full bottle. And still the polls move to Labor. Unhinging progressing nicely.

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