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. Those of you who saw the movie “2012: the end of the world” (I watched it on a plane, where really dumb movies serve as a kind of flight-anaesthesia) will know that there is a simple solution to all the world’s problems. We build giant arks and wait for the problems to resolve themselves.

  2. sprocket_

    Brilliant.Let the twitterati spread that forth. Cack myself at the compere’s reaction to “Would you care to tell us about your plans for the economy?” .With half a brain the local press would have the same reaction.

  3. Tweet by Grog

    [So the Libs now onto voter ID laws. Geez, just rename yourselves the Republican Party already – ]

  4. Evening all.

    Today was a fairly eventful day. Spent the morning planting trees for a local community group (part of our orgnisation’s corporate giving). The local TV crew were there to film it, and gave me an opportunity for a soundbite for the news! Unfortunately the local news airs way before I get home, so I had to ask our media people to record it for me.

    Not quite 15mins of fame, but I was stoked nonetheless. 🙂

  5. Driving back to work from tree planting I heard Abbott seriously unhinging about the aid money Australia gives to developing countries to help them with (I think) severe weather emergencies as a result of AGW effects.

    It sounded like the Abbott of old, before he became leader and had to at least pretend he accepted the reality of global warming. But most alarming was it sounded downright uncharitable. Who have they got in their focus groups who are expressing disquiet about our assisting poorer countries rebuild after catastrophic disasters?! It beggars belief that that’s anywhere near a mainstream view after the generosity of Australians post the 2004 tsunami and other events.

  6. [Only the simple like a Mod Lib could think that the tide is swinging back to the monkey ]


    Only the simple ignore all the evidence sitting in front of their eyes and make up stuff to make them feel better.

    Remember Nate Silver vs. Dick Morris recently?

    Who won that little battle again? Do you really want to be the Aussie Dick Morris?


  7. [Centre
    Posted Monday, December 10, 2012 at 8:20 pm | PERMALINK
    My favourite PB Liberals are Davidwh, Rummel and Glen when he is around.

    My most disliked are Spur212, Mod Lib and by far the worst, Evan Thornleigh Wangker.]

    I am not your favourite??????


  8. Thanks vic!

    Grog’s point about the Liberals just re-naming themselves the Rethugs also applies to Abbott’s presser I heard about international aid.

  9. PB,

    You’re like the pig with the wooden leg.

    You wouldn’t want to eat a pig that has provided so much entertainment all at once.

  10. Centre@2207

    Any poll taken at this time of year will be proven to be quite insignificant in my view.

    People when questioned during the silly season will think back over the course of the whole year.

    Who can they recall with the most negative sound bites in that time?

    Labor of course.

    This (Newspoll) should be a good poll for the LNP.

    Only the simple like a Mod Lib could think that the tide is swinging back to the monkey

    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 don’t think people really switch their way of thinking for the last poll of the year either. At a quick look most past December Newspoll results have been normal.

    Much more likely a swing of some size to the Coalition in the Newspoll tomorrow than the other way simply because the last one was under trend.


    Reposting summary from before for evening crew who may have missed link earlier:

    Why Preferred Prime Minister/Premier Scores Are Rubbish

    Many here would probably be well aware of the points made in this piece (which revisits the ancient burial grounds of the Poll Wars) but they may well be useful for educating others. Among other things, I computed the “house advantage” of Preferred Prime Minister down the years – with a 2PP of 50-50 the PM will typically lead by about 16 points, so Gillard’s current “lead” of slightly less than that is really not that interesting.

  11. [Good article on JG’s PR man John McTernan. No wonder the Liberal trolls hate him with a vengeance – he’s very good at his trade.]

    Thanks sprocket. I assume that’s the article Libs on twitter are unhinging about – apparently he’s akin to Ralph Blewitt for heaven’s sake!

    Am surprised however, that Ruddistas haven’t jumped on the anti McTernan bandwagon either.

  12. sprocket_ @ 2265

    Its funny that TLM posted that article earlier, as proof of how vile he supposedly is and why is Gillard associating with him, that shows how bad she is etc etc. Classic case of how some entrenched anti Gillard types eventually take on all Right Wing criticism of the govt as their own and repeat back word for word.

    He really is hated by the Right Wing trolls on the net, which the Coalition have fanned that a little bit (just small comments here and there) in the last few months. I think part of that was a reaction to all the negative comments and jokes about Tony Abbott being given daily orders by Peta Credlin, having way too much input into the whole teams strategy and so on. They’ve tried to make John out to be the same.

  13. confessions – they already have. TLM for one, and a couple of hard line Rudd supporters on twitter. Plenty don’t though, it really is a silly thing to focus on, even if you want a leadership change.

  14. [Am I permitted to turn up and be really rude to small gum trees ?]


    Do that and I shall have to ask mari to lend me her 4X2!

    Actually we didn’t just plant trees, but all kinds of shrubs and native grasses. It was part of a river catchment revitalisation project a local environmental group initiated to address salinity problems in that area.

  15. [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.

    A bad Newspoll for the ALP, bringing it back to the pack in the 54-46 vicinity, would increase the credo to the “Bligh” bounce I have been referring to recently.

    Bligh was doing very badly….then she performed well in the floods and got a bounce …. then it went and the ALP won 7 seats at the election.

  16. If you remove the spin in the article on McTernan, the two key issues which have defined JG’s Prime Ministership this year were:

    1) smoking out Kevin Rudd, at a time of her choosing
    2) crystalising the problem Tony Abbott has with women through “the misogyny speech”

    The first basically gave her at least another 18 months in the top job, and the second has given here an even money chance of another 36 months.

    Would she have done these two things without McTernan? What else does he have up his sleeve?

    The canny Scot know how to keep the powder dry

  17. Leroy:

    I missed TLM’s comments, which I’m assuming were here throughout the day.

    AGree that the coalition spruikers have been attempting to do a reverse Credlin on McTernan though. I think BB mentioned it here a few weeks ago after one of his 2gb tune-ins.

  18. [Bligh was doing very badly….then she performed well in the floods and got a bounce …. then it went and the ALP won 7 seats at the election.]

    Yes the polls have eased out to the opposition lately, but I don’t think you can credibly compare the overall results of Qld state elections, which have OPV, with overall federal elections, which don’t.

  19. Mod Lib

    Bligh was carrying 20 years of ALP govt in her saddle bags. JG is not. So the It’s Time factor is not in play.

    One definite simile however is the Tony Abbott/Campbell Newman comparison. All gentle promises beforehand, vicious and heartless cuts afterwards.

  20. poroti/confesions

    Somewhere in the mix of things Ciara thinks I need to dispose of is one HQ one tonner (my nephews) with HJ guards and a very nice 327ci – and miscellaneous other stuff. Ducati bikes and stuff.

    Is it the ‘pig’.

    Retirement for me is imminent. Unable to comprehend.

  21. [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.

    I suspect that individual polls are Rorschach blots and people read into them what they want to see.

  22. [I suspect that individual polls are Rorschach blots and people read into them what they want to see.]

    Its not individual polls, its dozens (probably hundreds) of polls and trends.

  23. [Chris Kenny ‏@chriskkenny

    Whispers of a Yeti slaying. #cantsaytoomuch ]

    Looks like Kenny has started the crowing from the Holt St Bowling Club.

  24. confessionals

    [Do that and I shall have to ask mari to lend me her 4X2!]

    I like the little buggers so much I was only thinking of being genetically additive.

  25. Newspoll prediction: we will see a trend similar to other polls on the back of the disgraceful campaign against the PM.

    NOt that it’s worth getting excited about polls this far out from an election, but there you go.

  26. sprocket:

    Bernard Keane does similar:

    Bernard Keane ‏@BernardKeane

    @andrew_hedge @sspencer_63 yes, Newspoll is “shit” for Labor, I’m told.

  27. Just watching the British experiments show on the teev….pseudoscientific headtampering of a baroque giant conspiracy prank against some poor bugger who gets accused of bumfeeling, threatened by boyfriend, locked up by cops and couldnt watch any more…of course this in AN EXPERIMENT so its scientific and OK like Japanese whaling…and it kind of explains the prank sensibility…and makes kategate look very pale…last week hypnotised a guy to attempt to assassinate Steven Fry so cant be all bad.

  28. Mod Lib

    [Its not individual polls, its dozens (probably hundreds) of polls and trends.]

    There have been about four polls since the Gillard bounce, if that’s what it was, plateaued.

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