Seat of the week: Fisher

Despite an avalanche of controversy, polling indicates Mal Brough will have little trouble winning the Sunshine Coast seat of Fisher from its equally contentious incumbent, Peter Slipper.

Fisher covers the southern part of the Sunshine Coast, from Caloundra north to Mooloolaba on the coast and inland to Maleny and the Glass House Mountains. It originally extended inland to Gympie and Kingaroy when it was created in 1949, but assumed a progressively more coastal orientation as a result of the area’s rapid development. The seat was a fiefdom of the Adermann family for the first 35 years of its existence, being held for the Country Party first by Sir Charles until 1972 and thereafter by his son Evan. Evan Adermann moved to the new seat of Fairfax in 1984, and Fisher was retained for the Nationals by Peter Slipper.

The seat was one of a number of gains for Labor in Queensland amid the debacle of the 1987 Joh-for-PM push, which had found an ardent proponent in Slipper. For the next two terms it was held for Labor by Michael Lavarch, in which time the eclipse of the Nationals progressed. A redistribution in 1993 made the seat notionally Liberal, prompting Lavarch to move to the new seat of Dickson. Slipper then made an improbable return to the seat as a Liberal, and enjoyed double-digit margins between a 14.0% swing in 1996 and the statewide crunch in 2007, when there was a 7.9% swing to Labor.

Slipper managed to win promotion to parliamentary secretary for finance and administration after the 1998 election, despite lingering memories John Howard may have had of 1987, but he was pushed aside to make way for Peter Dutton after the 2004 election. He became increasingly marginalised thereafter, copping an avalanche of bad press in the local Sunshine Coast Daily newspaper and receiving the smallest swing of any Queensland LNP candidate at the 2010 election, when his margin went from 53.5% to 54.1%. It was reported during the campaign that Howard government minister Mal Brough, who had lost his seat of Longman in 2007, had sought to have Slipper disendorsed in his favour, but that Slipper’s position was secured by the terms of the Liberal National Party merger which guaranteed endorsement to all sitting members.

With a clear expectation that he would not again win preselection, Labor identified Slipper as a weak link in the Coalition after losing its majority at the 2010 election, and bolstered its position slighty by successfully nominating him for the deputy speakership at the expense of Coalition nominee Bruce Scott. Shortly afterwards, Brough confirmed that he would contest preselection in the seat. In November 2011 the government went one better in persuading Slipper to take on the Speaker’s position at the expense of incumbent Harry Jenkins, resulting in his expulsion from the LNP and a fierce campaign against him from elements of the media, most notably Sydney’s News Limited tabloid the Daily Telegraph.

In April 2012, a staffer to Slipper, James Ashby, launched legal action claiming he had been sexually harassed by Slipper, and presented evidence purportedly showing Slipper had misused Cabcharge vouchers. The matter soon embroiled Mal Brough, who initially dismissed suggestions he knew of Ashby’s actions in advance before conceding he had met him on multiple occasions and sought legal advice on his behalf. In December 2012, a Federal Court judge dismissed Ashby’s sexual harassment charge on the grounds that it was an abuse of process in which Brough had been directly involved.

None of this prevented Brough from winning a strongly contested LNP preselection in July, after spearheading a vigorous local recruitment drive which reportedly doubled the local party membership. The preselection contest played out against a backdrop of conflict going back to Brough’s tenure as president of the Queensland Liberal Party before the Liberal National Party merger was effected, which saw Brough stand down from the position over dissatisfaction with the terms of the merger.

A surprise late entrant in the preselection race was James McGrath, who had been the director of the LNP’s hugely successful 2012 state election campaign and was thought to be set to secure preselection for the neighbouring seat of Fairfax. McGrath’s backers included Malcolm Turnbull, Joe Hockey and Julie Bishop. Brough was nonetheless able to win the support of more than half the 350 preselectors in the first round, and McGrath has since been accommodated with Senate preselection. Also in the field were Peta Simpson, director of a local recruitment agency, who had backing from Brough foe Barnaby Joyce; Richard Bruinsma, a former adviser to Slipper; and Andrew Wallace, a barrister.

Labor’s call for Brough to be disendorsed after the Federal Court ruling on the Ashby matter met short shrift from Tony Abbott, who contented that Brough had been “quite transparent and upfront about his involvement”. The following month, Slipper received a Federal Police summons concerning the allegations he had misused Cabcharge vouchers.

In the immediate aftermath of the Ashby ruling, a ReachTel automated phone poll of 661 respondents suggested Brough was unlikely to suffer electoral damage, putting him at 48.4% on the primary vote against a derisory for 2.7% for Peter Slipper (who remained publicly committed to seeking re-election as an independent), 21.2% for Labor, 11.7% for the Greens and 7.4% for Katter’s Australian Party. Brough was viewed favourably by 41.8% of respondents against 34.0% unfavourably, while the respective figures for Slipper were 6.9% and 75.5%. Brough’s involvement in the Ashby matter made 37.3% of respondents less likely to vote for him, against 39.8% for no difference and 22.6% going so far as to say it had made them more likely to vote for him.

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.

852 comments on “Seat of the week: Fisher”

  1. RE Kiwi Bank
    In Fisher’s first term as a majority Labor Government 1910-1913,he set up the Commonwealth Bank and every Post Office in Australia was a branch of same
    One could deposit and withdraw with a Bank that office only
    I had once such in the war years and they remained in place for many years afterwards.and many school kids had same too

  2. My 87 year old and much loved Mother died in August last year. I have been trained to be detached from my emotions (ironically from my own parents) and only now snippets of conversations are starting to bite.

    In the last stages of dementia Mum said “You are more like your father than me” which was delivered like we were talking about what was coming up next on TV. It was the sort of thing said that has no power at first light but by sunset I was really stung by.

    Any sort of loss is hard. I am not hard. My old boss used to say ” harden the fuck up princess ” and I had no idea what he meant. The fact that I had no respect for him as a person is neither here nor there.

  3. Dorrie, I think the older we get, the more important our feelings become. Perhaps it is because the facts are not our belongings in the first place, and seem to change at will; while our feelings and understandings never leave us.

    I have been approaching a conclusion the way a boat approaches its berth – which is with some degree of caution, and the motors still idling. I want to moor myself to the idea that it is our ability to learn that makes us human. This being so, we should respect our feelings, because they attach our hull to dry land.

  4. William’s inner turmoil at his ejection of JM reminds me of a cartoon I once saw. It depicted a judge, peering over his glasses from the Bench and solemnly telling a felon “Higginsbotham, this being your first murder, I’m going to let you off with a caution.”

  5. I have not seen the series you mention deblonay but ‘Gosford Park’ and the like, I like. Despite what I mention in passing, I don’t feel uncomfortable with all sorts of culture. From high to low there are benchmarks.
    I am acutely aware of the human propensity for snobbery however. There are wine snobs, food snobs, literary snobs, political history snobs and any number of deluded idiots who think they have the answers to every human problem. These are the biggest bores of all and if you are unfortunate to be trapped by one at a social function I recommend suicide as a viable option.

  6. DE that would be to reward the snob with a reason for the self-contentment.

    But you’re right, of course. People cannot help themselves. Above all, they have to try to appeal to themselves, I suppose – to fancy themselves for this or that. The opposite is to be repelled by oneself, and this would lead to self-dissolution…. but I won’t go there.

  7. Apologies William. You are expected to have the wisdom of Solomon in all things and that is unfair. If comments can be made without an ulterior motive then here is mine. You run a good blog and sometimes I applaud and sometimes I shake my head. If I thought the balance was out of kilter I would post elsewhere.
    If I am not mistaken, you strike me as being a bit of an optimist? I am an avowed pessimist so sadly, we will never get to see eye to eye.

  8. Dorrie re snobs and bores
    Voltaire said it all…”The secret of a
    ________being a complete bor.. is to tell everybody everything ”

    Mt Mother had an old friend…a dear lady really…who wrote just before Christmas each year… a long letter to my Mother listing all the events in her extended family for the year
    It read like “The Forsythe Saga” and My father said Christmas wasn’t here until they recived the annual letter from Kitty

    ..with long chain of deaths and disasters in it..we all read it with great interest

    Dad used to say it had the ,makings of a great film

  9. Given the way he is slashing and burning in Queensland, one may opine that Campbell Newman couldn’t give a stuff about his federal reactionary mates in the 2013 election.

  10. Good morning Dawn Patrollers.
    Nice try, Lance.
    And the US gun sickness continues.
    On this basis wwe can get rid of seat belts, airbags,side intrusion bars and the like.
    We shall see . .
    Cathy Wilcox with a good one on US guns.

    David Rowe unfurls a new US flag.

  11. Laoccon:

    [Independent MP Tony Windsor has labelled the Greens’ support for anti-coal activists as “stupid” and a backwards step for a party that wants its economic policies taken seriously…]

    In other news, the Pope has reportedly affirmed that he is indeed supportive of Catholicism.

    Windsor is a consistent conservative. That’s really all you need to know. I hope I never live to see the day when The Greens accept political advice from conservatives.

  12. “The government calls a judicial inquiry to be conducted in camera with full legal representation for witnesses. It would report after the election, nullifying any political advantage.”

    I’m not keen on Margo Kingston’s proposal. Why should a Labor Government let another devious attempt to bring it down, go to the keeper?

    Tony, if he won, would likely bury the results before opening a wider, open, inquiry into teh evil unions and Julia Gillard’s role in all leftist plots, against him, since her birth.

    Stuff of this kind deserves to be heard now and influence the next election. LNP have again been caught red handed and it beats me why they should be let off the hook for the overall “health” of a political system that has been diseased many times, largely by the underhand tactics of Coal.

  13. (top link)
    [Cyber war, China ‘key to security’, says Julia Gillard
    From: The Australian
    January 21, 2013 12:00AM

    JULIA Gillard will this week identify the rise of China and a massive escalation in cyber attacks against government and industry as two of the key security issues facing the nation in a major address designed to strengthen Labor’s defence credentials.

    The Prime Minister will use her first important speech of the election year – to the Australian National University’s National Security College in Canberra on Wednesday – to outline Australia’s national security objectives, actions and priorities over the next five years.]
    [Government faces probe on Lib meddling
    January 21, 2013
    Royce Millar and Melissa Fyfe

    THE Baillieu government faces the uncomfortable prospect of an official probe of Liberal meddling in local government in Melbourne’s south-east.

    On Sunday, opposition scrutiny in government spokesman Martin Pakula confirmed Labor would ask the Ombudsman to examine the involvement of upper house MP Inga Peulich in the affairs of the Kingston council, especially around last year’s mayoral election.]

  14. Is it wrong of me to say that Paul Peulich looks like he needs all the help mummy can provide?

    [THE Baillieu government faces the uncomfortable prospect of an official probe of Liberal meddling in local government in Melbourne’s south-east.

    On Sunday, opposition scrutiny in government spokesman Martin Pakula confirmed Labor would ask the Ombudsman to examine the involvement of upper house MP Inga Peulich in the affairs of the Kingston council, especially around last year’s mayoral election.]

    [Is the Republican Party Obama’s fault?
    Posted by Ezra Klein on January 18, 2013 at 2:07 pm

    The first day of the House Republicans’ retreat was devoted, in large part, to persuading House Republicans to stop saying offensive things about rape and to stop thinking they can use the debt ceiling to hold the economy hostage after losing the 2012 election.

    To state the obvious, these are not topics that should actually need to be covered at a retreat of House Republicans. We should be able to take it for granted that our legislators won’t petulantly crash the economy or offend rape survivors. That the House GOP leadership had to mount an organized campaign to convince GOP members of those things is evidence that something has gone wrong in the Republican Party.

    No one knows that better than Republicans themselves. But it’s very difficult to be a Republican in a time of GOP dissolution. And so recent weeks have birthed the strangest strain of commentary I can remember: The Republican Party’s crazy opinions are President Obama’s fault.]
    [Political ads: Not as powerful as you (or politicians) think
    Posted by Dan Hopkins on January 20, 2013 at 12:10 pm

    In the weeks before the 2012 election, pundits debated the impact of President Obama’s team’s unorthodox advertising strategy and Mitt Romney’s side’s last-minute “ad bomb.” Now, with the election returns in, we can begin to assess just what the presidential candidates and their allies got for the hundreds of millions of dollars they spent on TV advertising.

    The short answer: surprisingly little. In all likelihood, even major shifts in advertising would have produced only minor shifts toward the candidate benefiting from those shifts.]

  16. Morning All

    The Greens are spot on re the mining tax, if it’s not making money it needs to be rejigged so it does. I honestly thought the miners would be smart enough to pay something this quarter – they deserve whatever they get. Mind you that will be nothing because Labor won’t want to take them on in an election year.

    An interesting article on the single parents issue, I agree with the last line, posted below the link, and to be honest I’m getting a bit sick of the constant bagging of single mothers here – it’s as if they are the only welfare recipients that “play the system”, and that’s just not how it is.

    It is Berry Street’s experience that most sole parents do a good job in raising their children. They deserve our support, not criticism.

  17. This is going to seem like an attack on Dorrie, but it’s more a reflection – using Dorrie as a jump off point – about free speech and what it means.

    [he last few months in particular have seen more lurkers come forth and participate and I think it is because they can see lapses in logic, lapses in manners and most tellingly, lapses in good natured banter.]

    Or that they feel the blog has become a bit less lapsed and thus feel safe to participate.

    You can’t claim to be a scared little bunny one minute and then say you got engaged to take on the bullies.

    [If you are shy or timid or unsure and enter a room full of loud mouthed, intellectually aggressive and ironically challenged bruisers who confuse conversation with competition then you will invariably beat a hasty retreat.]

    Which, as I’ve just pointed out, contradicts your argument above.

    If there’s an increased number of lurkers participating, then the blog isn’t any of those things.

    [A lot of blogs suffer the same sort of problems where you have lots of regulars who think they own the blog and then do the exact opposite of what they purport to believe in. I call them ReVoltarians as they are forever dragging up that quote about defending the right to say something]

    OK, so this paragraph (this is its beginning) is the one that gets my goat.

    Firstly, I can’t think of a time when anyone on this blog dragged up Voltaire’s quote. You certainly can’t argue it’s being forever dragged up, because it hardly ever is.

    I will note, also, that the long term regulars really question whose blog it is. It’s William’s. Some of the newer commentators, however, struggle with that concept.

    [but when it comes to the crunch, the strength of their counter ‘arguments’ are nearly always met with the circling of wagons, suspect and frankly hagiographical lectures about shouting ‘fire’ in a crowded cinema, the closing of ranks and the final gaucheness of back patting once the intruder is ‘sent to Coventry”]

    And this is contradictory to Voltaire’s quote, exactly how?

    Despite my dread of being accused of forever dragging up the quote, here it is — “I might disagree with what you say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.”

    That does not mean – as so many commentators, particularly those from the extremes – that you get to say what you want to, everyone else applauds politely, and then we move on to the next poster.

    Voltaire’s quote implies engagement – and indeed, that’s borne out by Voltaire’s whole life, where he made himself hugely unpopular because he didn’t applaud politely, but took on those he disagreed with.

    OK, you’re describing behaviour where discourse is shut off, but even that doesn’t contradict Voltaire or the notion of free speech.

    The behaviours you describe are also part of free speech.

    The whole point of free speech is that it’s just that – free. The individuals involved have the right to respond in the way they want to. If that involves circling wagons, etc that’s fine. If it involves faulty argument, that’s fine too. If it means applauding politely because someone whom most posters thought were being obnoxious (and here, as I pointed out, you contradicted your own statement that you’re here to correct lapses), that is certainly free speech.

    As your part in the whole free speech thing, you’re allowed to describe behaviours you dislike. But you shouldn’t conflate that with defending free speech, because you’re doing quite the opposite.

    [Today was a good example. Someone was ejected for saying ‘homo’ and yet no-one raised an eyebrow when BB made disparaging remarks about the CEO of QANTAS’s sexuality.]

    Right. And – as I’ve already pointed out – this isn’t a factual account of what happened.

    [I come here crikey whitey to take what’s left of my wits for a turn around the room just like you and all the other contributors.]

    Very good. And you’re most welcome. But expect to be challenged – as I do – and accept that if people do that, they’re not impinging on your right to free speech.

  18. Dear engaged and interested posters —

    I’ve just read this – – which basically concludes that TV advertising has little (and decreasing) impact on voters’ decisions.

    Now, you all (well, most of you) are aware of my political involvement. I’m thus always interested in what does/does not work in shifting votes.

    So — what strategies/techniques etc do YOU think shifts votes (particularly at present)? If YOU had control of a campaign budget, where would you channel your resources, and why?

  19. zoomster

    Good question. My feeling is that candidates have to engage in grass root campaigns more than ever. This is especially important in marginal seats.

  20. fran

    don’t the words ‘conservation’ and ‘conservative’ have the same root? And pretty much the same meaning.

    A true conservative would be a conservationist.

  21. zoomster:

    I just find people like Dorrie boring. They come here just to run a commentary about other commenters instead of talking about politics. There’s no point engaging with such people.

  22. I often challenge branch members with this – “You’re a rusted on Labor voter. What would it take to change your vote?”

    Of course, the answer is almost nothing. They THINK that a well reasonaed argument and a nice shiny set of policies delivered by a Liberal candidate they think is a terrific human being would do it, and so they think that running a Labor campaign based on well reasoned arguments, beautiful policies and with St Theresa as the candidate is what’s neeed to switch Liberals to Labor.

    You really just have to pat them on the head lovingly and move on.

    Advice from rusted on Labor or Liberal voters who don’t realise their rusted on ness is thus almost useless.

    I’m hoping that there are enough waverers here (and enough people who can put their own preferences aside!) to get a real insight into what shifts votes, not what rusted ons think shift votes (which usually involves being incredibly nice and polite to everyone and not raising one’s voice in public).

  23. Windsor is a consistent conservative. That’s really all you need to know. I hope I never live to see the day when The Greens accept political advice from conservatives.

    Not even when it comes to conservation? 🙂

  24. zoomster

    You know the make up of your own electorate. What issues are important for them, and what would sway them to switch their vote?

  25. fess

    true, and I admit to not much interest in anything Dorrie’s posted so far. I’m just tired of people trotting out the Voltaire quote and not understanding it.

  26. victoria

    actually, that’s why I’m asking – do issues really sway votes? We think they do, and it’s the standard question that gets trotted out to each candidate (which issues do you think are important in this election?) but I’m not sure how much individual issues impacted.

    As a local councillor, I used to go out doorknocking. I was always flabbergasted by the distance between what council thought was important (and was clearly important to a few vocal groups) made no impact on all on the average disengaged resident.

    It made me realise that the big issues – the millions of dollars council was spending on infrastructure, the events we’d attracted to the area, the policies we were all so proud of – didn’t impact on residents as much as the fact that there was a crack in the footpath just outside their gate and they kept stubbing their toes on it.

    As I said once to a school group, in answer to the ‘what is the most important issue you’ve ever dealt with?” question – ‘whatever is bugging someone at the time, however trivial it seems to you, is the most important issue in the world to them.’

    I’d suggest polling bears this out. People always answer questions about important issues with a list of what they think these are – Health, Education, Public Safety – but it doesn’t mean those important issues actually decide their vote. If they did, Labor would win almost every election everywhere hands down.

  27. zoomster

    Also do the voters in your electorate, care about the previous conduct of the sitting member? I know that i could never put a tick next to the current Member for Indi. Her conduct has been appalling

  28. victoria

    yes, they do.

    I suppose I’m more asking about how you connect with voters – doorknocking, leaflet drops, radio, TV, streetstalls, newspaper ads, etc.

    I tend to go for doorknocking, good use of free media (radio/TV interviews/letters to the editor) and leaflet drops, but I’m wondering what’s the best way to spend scarce resources e.g. how do you get the message out about the NBN? – TV ad? Leaflet? Radio ad?

  29. I don’t think most people know what the local council does.

    Do we have civics lessons in our schools? I can’t recall ever having one …

  30. Just so Zoomster …

    Conflating the right to speak freely with immunity from negative feedback is simply specious. Negative feedback is every bit as much protected by the free speech rule as the speech to which it is a response.

    If one believes in free speech, one should probably also believe in rational and respectful discourse, since IMO, the purpose of free speech is to underpin the capacity of individuals to make sense of the world, and to help people understand their obligations to others, their scope to improve their position and the constraints on both these things. Rational and respectful discourse makes it much more likely that a meeting of the minds can take place, and a best fit soliution that addresses the legitimate concerns of everyone can be found, and to the extent that the best solution falls short, that the burdens of that shortfall are settled in the fairest and most practicable way.

    I’ve noticed on the internet, and in my experience this tendency is especially common amongst right-of-centre people, a pattern of interpreting hostile commentary as an attempt by the hostile commenter to “tell me how to live my life” or to “appoint yourself dictator of everything”. Clearly, there’s an element of victim-playing in these remarks, and of passive-aggressive bullying, but sometimes I’ve had the impression that some people really believe what they are saying. I’m toying with the idea that the ubiquity of the internet has shrunk the sense many had of personal space and these responses are in part a consequence of some people’s sense that they are less masters of their own domain than once not so long ago they were. Plainly, you “meet” a lot more people these days than you did pre-internet andf social media, and not all people (and certainly not all rightwing parochial types) can cope, with the result that a virtual act (speech) looksd to them like a physical act (the imposition of a cultural constraint).

    Just a hypothesis I can’t imagine how I could go about proving.

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