Seat of the week: Capricornia

It took the landslide defeats of the Whitlam and Keating governments to loosen Labor’s grip on the central Queensland seat of Capricornia. The risk of a repeat has increased with the recently announced retirement of sitting member Kirsten Livermore.

The central Queensland electorate of Capricornia has existed since federation, with Rockhampton as its constant as boundaries shifted over the years. It currently has Rockhampton at its southern coastal end, from which it extends northwards to the southern outskirts of Mackay and westwards through farming and coal mining communities as far as Belyando 250 kilometres inland. Rockhampton has kept the seat strong for Labor for most of its history, the party’s only defeats after 1961 coming with the demise of the Whitlam and Keating governments in 1975 and 1996 (the margin on the former occasion being 136 votes).

The proverbial baseball bat having been wielded in 1996, the seat was recovered for Labor in 1998 by Kirsten Livermore, member of the “soft Left” tendency associated with Martin and Laurie Ferguson. Livermore picked up an 8.8% swing on her debut and retained the seat with reasonably comfortable margins thereafter, until an 8.7% swing in 2007 boosted it to very safe territory. Then came a 0.7% redistribution adjustment followed by an 8.4% swing amid the Queensland backlash of 2010, which reined it back to 3.7%. In December 2012 she announced she would not seek another term, as she wished to spend more time with her family.

A preselection to choose Livermore’s successor was held in February and won by Peter Freeleagus, a Moranbah miner, former Belyando Shire mayor and current Isaac Regional councillor. This was despite the local party ballot being won 65-37 by Paul Hoolihan, who along with most of his Labor colleagues lost his seat of Keppel at the 2012 state election. However, Hoolihan was overwhelmed by a 41-9 to win for Freeleagus in the 50% component of the vote determined by the state party’s electoral college, which consists mostly of union delegates. Michael McKenna of The Australian reported that Freeleagus was backed by the Left faction CFMEU, but also harnessed support from the AWU Right at the behest of Wayne Swan. The implication appeared to be that this was a counter to Kevin Rudd, whose “Old Guard” Right faction included Hoolihan. The deal was also said to require that the Left back AWU Right over Old Guard candidates in future state preselections.

The Liberal National Party has again endorsed its candidate from 2010, Michelle Landry, who owns a small book-keeping business in Yeppoon. Landry won preselection ahead of real estate agent Alan Cornick and anti-council amalgamation campaigner Paul Lancaster.

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.

2,019 comments on “Seat of the week: Capricornia”

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  1. The truth of the matter is the age and sydney morning herald are different papers than they were 12 months ago. They are now down and dirty competing directly with the Murdoch shit sheets.

    Read more:

    Right at the end of the article:

    [He said carrying out reform was always hard, citing the recent American presidential election, where President Barack Obama did not blink with ”all the guns of the vested interests and their cheerleaders in the conservative media” trained on him.]

    It’s all over for news papers, all that is left is a few shit sheets. The competion is now online.

  2. Good morning Dawn Patrollers.


    Cop this Morriscum, you creep!
    Lenore Taylor goes in strong on the creep and Abbott’s support of him.
    Mike Carlton has HAD ENOUGH! This is a MUST READ.
    Alan Moir conflates fiscal policy with the Warramgamba dam.
    David Pope’s “Bushwhackers”.

  3. As each day passes I am getting dismayed by the fact an Abbott led government is likely and the Australian people willing to vote for someone who basically wants to trash the place. I work in a major bank as a business manager (not one of your traditional Tory loving white collar workers) and speak to businesses every day and every single one of these business owners can’t wait until 14th September. It is as if they think all will be rosy and the problems of the world will disappear magically. Deluded fools I think. I always tell them that the Coalition as been known for its economic credentials but I would hasten to add that the majority of world economic disasters have unfortunately occurred when the ALP have been in power – the Economic Depression of 1929 , World War 2, oil crisis of the 70’s, stock market crash of ’87 and the GFC – whilst the ALP is the party of social reform.

    This current government have put in significant reforms for the long term benefit of this country and yet we are on a course to take us back in time (or so people think can happen). One word – delusional!

    Low interest rates, low inflation, low unemployment, one of the best economies in the developed worldI. I am getting toward the end of my working life (only a few yeas to go) and if people want to try and wind back the clock, I will be of the first to say to them – don’t blame me I didn’t vote for those pricks.

    I need to know what am I missing? How do people honestly believe that Abbott will take them to Utopia? As I said – Delusional.

  4. The newsltd /abbott coalition had a bad week

    Coming up to the newspoll week, old rudd chestnut pops back up the only thing the media has got

    How dumb can the Australian public remain

  5. my comments on todays press

    8 mins Judge ‘n Jury rocket ‏@sprocket___
    Not satisfied with $2.7b loss, 14.5% circulation slump, key journalists fleeing #FairfaxCorpse persist with Ruddstoration. Hello! #auspol

    Judge ‘n Jury rocket ‏@sprocket___
    Meanwhile the Daily ToiletPaper touting own self selecting online poll where 88% of MenziesHouse bots say #rootyhill is a stunt #auspol]

  6. @TurnbullMalcolm to @TonyAbbottMHR – if we’re in Govt – You are my puppet, i am the de facto PM – – Wow

    [FORMER Liberal leader Malcolm Turnbull says an Abbott government will operate a Westminster cabinet system, with the prime minister “first among equals”, and shun the presidential model followed by Kevin Rudd in office.]

  7. You don’t have to be a “Gillard supporter” to understand that the PM is being treated unfairly. You just need to take a less prejudiced view.
    [But now there is a new element. The pundits are scoffing and mocking her every action, from her new glasses to every policy or political step she takes, as if to say: why bother, lady, it’s all over anyway.
    They are mocking her plans to spend a week in western Sydney. (No one mocked Tony Abbott when he spent a week in Aurukun with indigenous communities last year.)…]
    [They are mocking her, openly and shamefully, when she tries to communicate with the Australian people. When Gillard and Treasurer Wayne Swan this week tried to talk about the G20 meeting they have secured for Brisbane in November 2014 – a gathering that will bring many millions of dollars of income to the city and state – all the media wanted to know was whether the visit to western Sydney meant she was ”campaigning” rather than ”governing”…]
    [She’s such a loser, this woman, they say. Ergo, everything, every single little thing she does, is wrong, stupid, ill-judged, and thus both the reason she will lose the election and why she deserves to.]

    This recalls to me the posts of Mod Lib, Rummel, Bemused, and several others I refuse to acknowledge.
    Read more:

  8. I would say this is an informative piece about the diversity of Sydney’s western suburbs by Maley. But then, I live in Victoria and have only driven through there once or twice.

  9. 27/2/2-13 – The day that the Liberal Party has died in shame. The day Scott Morrison demonised Asylum Seekers & supported by Abbott & ABetz

  10. Has the Reachtel poll been mentioned?

    It has Labor losing Chifley, McMahon, Werriwa and Blaxland.

    [The poll surveyed a total of 2550 voters. It has a margin of error of 3.9 per cent.
    When those in Blaxland were asked who would get their first preference vote if an election were held today, 34.2 per cent of the 662 residents polled said Mr Clare.
    That compared with 44 per cent for the Liberal Party, giving it the upside of a 54-46 two party-preferred vote. But when asked to reconsider their vote if Mr Rudd were leader, the numbers reversed, giving Labor a 54 per cent share of the vote.
    In Chifley, Mr Husic would have been turfed out after one term with his share of the two party-preferred vote dropping from 62.3 per cent in 2010 to 46 per cent.
    But when the 641 residents were asked to factor in Mr Rudd, the poll suggested Mr Husic would retain the seat easily with a winning share after preferences of 58 per cent.
    In McMahon, the career of the Higher Education Minister, Mr Bowen, hangs in the balance with the poll showing his margin of almost 8 per cent would be obliterated in a massive swing leaving him with just 38 per cent of the two party-preferred vote.
    Again, the poll suggests the backlash would be milder under Mr Rudd’s leadership, although Mr Bowen would still trail with 47 per cent of the vote after preferences.]

  11. I see that Mark Kenny is wearing PM style glasses now. Maybe he thinks it will give him some gravitas but his recent articles belie that.

  12. [Diogenes
    Posted Saturday, March 2, 2013 at 9:11 am | PERMALINK
    Has the Reachtel poll been mentioned?]

    It most certainly has! :devil:

    There did not appear to be much appetite for discussion among the others, as apparently Gillard is a fantastic politician and Swan just drives voters into adulation every time he opens his mouth…

    We will soon see who is right and who is wrong…..just 6 months of the 36 months left!

  13. Kirky

    I work for someone whose views are just as you describe. Somehow believes things will be much better once we get rid of Labor. I suspect most businesspeople with these views would always vote Liberal anyway. It doesn’t matter how much you hate the government, you still only get one vote.

    The problem is the million people out there who voted ALP last time who have changed their mind, plus the other million who changed their mind between 2007 and 2010.

  14. Tony Wright often pens a good piece. He wrote one, must have been over a year ago, about his experience of A & E in a major public hospital – very moving and a strong affirmation of our public health system. I don’t always agree with his views but more often than not I do.

  15. Morning all.

    Thanks for the links today BK. Lenore Taylor’s got me wondering whether Scott and Jason Morrison are related. They have similar, simpleton attitudes.

  16. Great piece by Mia Freedman

    [Yesterday, Coalition spokesperson on immigration, Scott Morrison made some cynical, appalling and patently untrue suggestions about against asylum seekers.

    He was joined almost immediately by Senator Eric Abetz who did some even more distasteful dog whistling, in a revolting attempt to rustle up fear, anxiety and hatred.

    What’s that smell? Oh that’s right. It’s the smell of an election year. And it’s putrid]

  17. Mod Lib
    Posted Saturday, March 2, 2013 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    It most certainly has! :devil:


    4% margin of error is a big error rate for the liberal areas

    shows why polls are farcical

  18. I am deeply suspicious of polls that have “If x was leader instead of y, how would you vote?”, but of course the journos love them since it enables the construction of a narrative re leadership change. Issues not personality will determine the next election.

  19. [One of Australia’s leading climate change scientists believes the record-breaking hot temperatures Perth has endured this summer will be considered “normal” in only a few decades.

    As the Weather Bureau confirmed the country had sweltered through its hottest summer on record, CSIRO senior principal research scientist Penny Whetton said climate change would raise the average temperature by 1C-1.5C in the next decade and could rise by as much as 5C by 2070.

    “The elevated temperatures we’ve seen this summer around Australia would be close to what we might expect as normal 40 years or so from now,” Dr Whetton said.]

    Which likely means more bushfires and extreme weather events like intense cyclones and flooding.

    [Santoro fires back at Sinodinos over Obeid claims
    PUBLISHED: 01 Mar 2013 20:48:00 | UPDATED: 02 Mar 2013 04:52:23

    Neil Chenoweth and Phillip Coorey

    Federal Liberal Party vice-president Santo Santoro has challenged claims by Liberal senator Arthur Sinodinos that the family of Labor powerbroker Eddie Obeid had no control of infrastructure company Australian Water Holdings when Mr Sinodinos was its chairman.

    Mr Santoro, who served for several months last year as a director of AWH subsidiary Australian Water Queensland, claimed Eddie Obeid’s son, Edward Obeid Jr, acted as a director of AWH.

    Mr Santoro told the Weekend Financial Review that when he was with the group “I was aware that Mr Eddie Obeid Jr was a director of Australian Water”.]

  21. The Finnigans @ 20 – I think the Liberal Party died of shame long before – the day that John Howard realised that he could exploit the plight of the Tampa refugees to improve his position in the upcoming 2001 election.

  22. Rossmore

    I take minimal notice of that part of the poll but the anti Labor 2PP swing is in double figures with a very healthy sample of 2500.

  23. [Meguire Bob
    Posted Saturday, March 2, 2013 at 9:31 am | PERMALINK

    4% margin of error is a big error rate for the liberal areas

    shows why polls are farcical]

    You do understand that all 4 of those seats show Lib wins even when MOE is taken into account?

    You do understand that there are 20 seats with margins the same size or smaller in NSW?

    If the whole state swung the way this Reachtel poll is showing there would be a landslide just from NSW, even if no seats changed hands anywhere else in the country.

  24. [my say
    Posted Saturday, March 2, 2013 at 9:32 am | PERMALINK
    myu word mr rummell now shows he is the true liberal
    the same as the others here

    rummell no more fun runs now them eh?]

    Good morning Mysay

  25. [Diogenes
    Posted Saturday, March 2, 2013 at 9:50 am | PERMALINK

    I take minimal notice of that part of the poll but the anti Labor 2PP swing is in double figures with a very healthy sample of 2500.]

    Greater than 15% swings in each of the seats.

    With a sample of 2500 I can see why the ALP are panicking and packing off Gillard to do some damage control.

    A tad late, perhaps?

    Not the right weapon to use, perhaps?

  26. Mod Lib

    The media opinion polling which is done now are rubbish and predictable to help , their man abbott

    If the media reported fairly the coalition are out of the race

  27. the pro coalition is relying on people remianing gullible

    every time the coaliton has a bad week

    , the up coming newspoll weekend

    rudd story’s and and other crap from newsltd

    to take the focus away from the struggling coalition

  28. Dio:

    I thought the MOE was 4%? Blaxland and Chifley are both 54:46 to the Coalition which puts them on a knife edge.

    We are talking about the 19th and 20th most marginal seats for the ALP in NSW here, not the 1st and 2nd most marginal. If the ALP have seats out in this territory under threat things are pretty dire.

    I cant wait to see the polling in an ALP seat held with a margin of 20%!!!!! I bet those would never have been polled before, who knows what joys could be held therein.

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