Seat of the week: Brisbane

With the change in the state’s political breeze recently, Labor is hungrily eyeing Queensland as a potential source of seats to counterbalance anticipated losses in Sydney. An inner-city seat with the LNP’s lowest margin represents an obvious target.

The electorate of Brisbane has existed without interruption since federation, and presently covers the north shore of the Brisbane River from Milton through the CBD to Eagle Farm, extending northwards to Stafford at its western end and Hendra in the east. It was the most surprising of the Liberal National Party’s eight gains in Queensland at the 2010 election, as Labor had held the seat since 1931 outside of the interruption of 1975 to 1980, holding on even in the face of the 1996 disaster which reduced Labor to two Queensland seats. The defeated Labor member was Arch Bevis, who had held the seat since 1990 when he succeeded Manfred Cross, whose tenure went back to 1961. Peter Johnson held the seat for the Liberals from 1975 until 1980, when Cross recovered his old seat on the second attempt.

Brisbane’s complexion was changed somewhat by redistributions in 2004 and 2010, the more recent of which cut the margin from 6.8% to 3.8% by adding 26,500 voters at the eastern end of the electorate at the expense of territory out to Ferny Grove and Upper Kedron in the west and Stafford in the north. The former area included Clayfield and its highly affluent surrounds, which have contributed to the electorate’s current status as the highest-income electorate in Queensland. This proved doubly damaging for Labor as the swings around Clayfield were especially strong, in keeping with a national trend in which the air went out of the Howard-era “doctors’ wives” balloon. The effect was to counterbalance a relatively static result in the inner city, contributing to a decisive 5.7% swing to the LNP. The result was also notable for the 21.3% vote for the Greens (compared with a Labor primary vote of 30.4%), whose candidate was former Democrats Senator and party leader Andrew Bartlett.

The LNP victory facilitated a return to parliament for Teresa Gambaro, who had held the northern Brisbane seat of Petrie from 1996 until her defeat in 2007. Gambaro is a member of a family famous in Brisbane for its seafood business, its restaurant being located in the electorate at Petrie Terrace. Nonetheless, Brisbane did not seem an especially strong prospect for her at the time of preselection, which occurred at the peak of the Rudd government’s fortunes in the opinion polls. Gambaro held parliamentary secretary and assistant minister positions in the final term of the Howard government, and has served as shadow parliamentary secretary for international development assistance and citizenship and settlement throughout the current term. She made headlines in January 2012 when she called for migrants to be given hygiene lessons, for which she subsequently apologised.

Labor has preselected Fiona McNamara, an organiser with the Queensland Teachers Union, of which Arch Bevis was also an official before entering parliament. The union is not affiliated with the ALP, but is said to wield influence in the Labor Unity faction. McNamara has been twice unsuccessful as candidate for Peter Dutton’s northern Brisbane seat of Dickson, falling short by 0.1% in 2007 and 5.1% in 2010.

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.

2,333 comments on “Seat of the week: Brisbane”

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  1. The blame shifting has started between the management and DJs.

    From the DJs

    [They refused to name – and were not pushed to nominate – individuals or those in management responsible for making the final call to put the prank to air, describing them only as “people above us.”

    Vs the management in a weak as piss interview on The Project saying how the DJs pushed to air the prank.

  2. Mod Lib@2278

    All the aggregators agree that the 2PP has been moving back towards the Coalition over the last month or so. Maybe not by much (a point or so), and probably not because of AWU (since it started before that hotted up) but it’s happened.

    I suspect we are seeing the end of the “Gillard-I-am-woman-hear-me-roar” bounce and we are reverting back to the mean.

    Was there such a bounce? I don’t think there was – the sharp move Labor’s way first appeared before the misogyny speech. Unless that just happened to be an outlier immediately before an event that coincidentally caused a swing in the same direction as the outlier.

  3. rishane:

    Is your brother’s book available in hard copy? I can’t read books online, and in any case don’t have one of those kindle thingies.

  4. Kevin
    [Was there such a bounce? I don’t think there was – the sharp move Labor’s way first appeared before the misogyny speech.]
    Was there a correlation between Rabbott’s wall punching revelations and the move Labor’s way?

  5. Newspoll

    54-46 2PP to the coalition

    Primaries: Coalition 46, ALP 32 , Greens 11

    Better PM: Gillard 43, Abbott 34

    Gillard: Satisfied 36, Dissatisfied 52

    Abbott: Satisfied 28, Dissatisfied 59

    7-9 December . Sample 1173

  6. Clearly a disappointing if expected result. The News Ltd rags & the shockjocks have been working themselves into an absolute fever pitch about boats & this is likely to be a key factor in these numbers.

  7. Dee@2313

    Was there a correlation between Rabbott’s wall punching revelations and the move Labor’s way?

    Looks to me like that does fit the time scale – though the hit was on the Coalition primary and not immediately Abbott’s rating.

  8. Great result.

    1 It ensures Abbott stays.

    2 It’s a snapshot after a smear campaign.

    3 There’s plenty to come to easily get back the last fortnight’s waverers.

    4 It ensures Abbott stays:)

  9. [James J
    Posted Monday, December 10, 2012 at 10:22 pm | PERMALINK
    I can confirm that this is the last newspoll for the year.]


    That means the ALP backbench have an uncomfortable Xmas and New Year period coming up when they will be wondering whether they made the right decision earlier in the year!

  10. [That means the ALP backbench have an uncomfortable Xmas and New Year period coming up when they will be wondering whether they made the right decision earlier in the year!]

    No it doesn’t. If Rudd had been restored in February, he would by now be once again in full Captain Queeg mode and Labor would be back in the disaster zone. Plotting would be well advanced to depose him again in the new year. Whatever Labor’s troubles, the large majority of Caucus will not, under any circumstances, have Rudd back. If Gillard’s polling crashes and Caucus decides she has to go (which I don’t think will happen, but it might), they will turn to Shorten or Combet or Smith or Crean or Dick Adams or Beelzebub and all his hounds from Hell before they turn to Rudd. Rudd is finished. He is an ex-parrot. Can we get that through our heads?

  11. others have pointed out, I am very curious to know who is paying for all this.

    Probably a shelf company whose registered address is a post office box in a tax haven. Hopefully a judicial enquiry or royal commission could find out more.

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