Seats of the week: Forde and Herbert

A double feature encompassing two of the LNP-held seats which Labor is eyeing greedily on the back of its Queensland poll resurgence.

UPDATE (Morgan): The weekly Morgan poll is little changed on last time, with Labor down half a point to 41.5%, the Coalition steady on 41%, and the Greens up two points to 9%. There is actually a slight move in Labor’s favour on two-party preferred as measured using preference flows from the previous election, presumably because of rounding, their lead up from 51.5-48.5 to 52-48. On respondent-allocated preferences, the lead is steady at 52.5-47.5. Regrettably, the poll does not come with state breakdowns, which keen observers among us had started to think would be a regular feature (as it surely should be with such a large sample size). We will surely have Newspoll along later this evening, while the regular Essential Research is delayed this week and will be along tomorrow.

Two for the price of one this week as I scramble to catch up with the Queensland seats suddenly deemed in play under Kevin Rudd 2.0 …

Seat of the week #1: Forde

Straddling the southern edge of Brisbane, Forde was one of a number of Queensland seats which fell Labor’s way under Kevin Rudd’s leadership at the 2007 election, only to be lost again in the wake of his demise three years later. The electorate contains the eastern part of the municipality of Logan City around Beenleigh and extends southwards along the Pacific Motorway to accommodate, somewhat awkwardly, the rapidly growing suburb of Upper Coomera at the interior northern edge of the Gold Coast. The latter area was acquired in the redistribution which preceded the 2010 election, when Forde provided the new seat of Wright with about a third of its voters in rural territories extending to the New South Wales border.

Forde was created with the expansion of parliament in 1984, at which time it covered Brisbane’s outer south-west. Liberal candidate David Watson won the seat on its debut by 43 votes, but was unseated after a single term at the 1987 election by Labor’s Mary Crawford. Watson would later return to politics in the state parliament, eventually leading the Liberal Party into a disastrous result at the 2001 election. Crawford meanwhile built up a handy margin on the back of swings in 1990 and 1993, before a punishing redistribution pulled the seat into the rural Beaudesert region on the New South Wales border. Thwarted in a bid to be reassigned to an outer suburban seat, in part as a consequence of the party’s determination to accommodate Kevin Rudd in Griffith, Crawford was left with no buffer to defend herself against the savage swing that hit Labor across Queensland, which struck in Forde to the tune of 9.6%.

Forde was then held for the Liberals throughout the Howard years by Kay Elson, who retained comfortable margins in 1998 and 2001 before enjoying a further 5.9% boost in 2004. Elson’s retirement at the 2007 election was presumably a factor behind the spectacular 14.4% swing to Labor, making the seat one of three in Queensland where Labor was able to overhaul double-digit Coalition margins. It was then held for a term by Brett Raguse, a former teacher, local newspaper publisher and TAFE college director who had more recently worked as an adviser to state ministers associated with the AWU/Labor Forum sub-faction of the Right. The aforementioned redistribution improved Raguse’s margin from 2.9% to 3.4%, but this proved insufficient at the 2010 election in the face of what by Queensland standards was a fairly typical swing of 5.0%.

The seat has since been held for the LNP by Bert van Manen, a financial planner from Slacks Creek who had run as the Family First candidate for Rankin in 2007. Van Manen’s Labor opponent at the coming election is Des Hardman, a radiographer at Logan Hospital. Brett Raguse meanwhile re-emerged as a candidate for the preselection to succeed Craig Emerson in the neighbouring seat of Rankin, in which he was narrowly unsuccessful despite claiming support from Kevin Rudd.

Seat of the week #2: Herbert

The Townsville-based electorate of Herbert has been in conservative hands without interruption since 1996, although it has been highly marginal throughout that time. The seat has existed since federation, at which time it extended north to Cairns and south to Mackay. More recently it has covered central Townsville and a shifting aggregation of surrounding territory, the pre-2010 election redistribution having transferred the southern suburbs of Annandale and Wulguru to Dawson and added Deeragun and its northern coastal surrounds from Kennedy. The strongest booths for Labor are generally around the town centre, while those in the outer suburbs tend to be more volatile as well as more conservative, having moved strongly with the statewide tides toward Labor in 2007 and against it in 2004 and 2010. Lavarack Barracks makes the electorate highly sensitive to defence issues, with the sector accounting for about one in eight jobs in the electorate. Presumably as a consequence, the electorate is unusually youthful, the median age of 32 being four years lower than for any other seat in regional Queensland.

Herbert was a working class and Labor seat for much of its history, being in Labor hands until the 1960s and turning in a 34.2% vote for Communist Party candidate Frederick Paterson in 1943 (Paterson went on to win the state seat of Bowen the following year, the only such success for a Communist candidate in Australian history). A watershed moment came with the victory of Liberal candidate Robert Bonnett in the 1966 landslide, which was followed by further Liberal swings against the trend of the 1969 and 1972 elections. The seat came back on Labor’s radar after the 1980 election, when their candidate Ted Lindsay succeeded in reducing the Liberal margin to below 1%. Lindsay went one better when he ran again in 1983, gaining the seat with a 3.7% swing and retaining it throughout the Hawke-Keating years. Together with most of his Queensland Labor colleagues he was unseated at the 1996 election, when unrelated Liberal candidate Peter Lindsay won off a 9.0% swing. Ted Lindsay came within 160 votes of pulling off a comeback in 1998, before Peter Lindsay consolidated with swings of 1.5% in 2001 and 4.7% in 2004. He survived another close shave by 343 votes in 2007, a swing to Labor of 5.9% being slightly below a statewide 7.5% which cost the Coalition eight seats.

Lindsay bowed out at the 2010 election and was succeeded as candidate for the Liberal National Party by Ewen Jones, an auctioneer for local real estate agency Ferry Property. Jones’s Labor opponent was Tony Mooney, who served for nearly two decades as mayor of Townsville and earned a footnote in Australian political history when his failure to win the 1996 Mundingburra by-election for Labor led to the downfall of the Goss government. Perhaps reflecting the loss of Lindsay’s personal vote, Jones picked up what by Queensland standards was a modest swing of 2.2%, which was nonetheless enough to secure his hold on a seat which the redistribution had made, by the narrowest of margins, notionally Labor. Jones’s Labor opponent this time is Cathy O’Toole, a former chief executive of a disability employment service and member of the Left faction.

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.

2,266 comments on “Seats of the week: Forde and Herbert”

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  1. [We know who they are…]
    [The immigration department’s internal audits show fraud rates touching 50% and reveal that it has struggled to properly identify people who were entering the country, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) said today.

    The ABC report, whose Freedom of Information request to the department took two years to be processed, published the results of its investigation today.

    The report also alleged that passport and visa fraud was happening in large numbers.]

  2. I can’t remember any blog doing “there, there!” to thin-skins; much less to those with no rhyme or reason for taking umbrage.

  3. [Psephos
    Posted Monday, July 22, 2013 at 10:47 pm | PERMALINK
    why do they only apply to boat arrivals?

    Two reasons.

    1. Every person who enters Australia by air does so with papers, ie, with authorisation. We know who they are and where they’ve come from. If they apply for refugee status, we can make an accurate assessment of the merits of their claim. This is not the case with people who arrive by boat, because they have either no papers or unreliable UNHCR papers which can be easily bought in Pakistan.
    2. People arriving by air have left their country legally, with a passport. Therefore, if they apply for refugee status, and we determine they are not genuine refugees, we can send them home. (We in fact send home substantial numbers of Chinese tourists and students who claim refugee status because they want to stay in Australia.) People who come by boat are very difficult to repatriate regardless of what determination we make about them, a. because we often don’t know where they’re actually from, and b. their home countries (notably Iran) won’t take them.
    3. Coming to Australia by boat is inherently dangerous, and over 1000 people have died trying to do so in the past six years. To my knowledge no-one has ever died while coming to Australia by air. And since people coming to Australia by air always have valid reasons for doing so (ie, they have a visa), we have no grounds for trying to deter them.


    Not OK.

    All three of those explanations have nothing to do with there being too many asylum seekers in the world, and therefore we have to be cruel.

    That is the whole point. This “oh dear, there are 45 million displaced people in the world” is just a furphy as has been made abundantly clear by the inability of anyone here to explain why mode of arrival is relevant to the 45 million figure in any way.

    Ease of removal has nothing to do with the magnitude of the asylum seeker problem around the world.
    The presence of a passport has nothing to do with the magnitude of the asylum seeker problem around the world.
    The presence of people smugglers has nothing to do with the magnitude of the asylum seeker problem around the world.

  4. Ok, so now we know that Rudd has not carried the nation by storm, although he has recovered a lot of ground, both in general and on border protection. To win the election he will have to win the campaign convincingly. The arguments for going early and for waiting seem now to be evenly balanced.

  5. [All three of those explanations have nothing to do with there being too many asylum seekers in the world, and therefore we have to be cruel.]

    I never said anything about that. You asked why we draw a distinction between boat and air arrivals, and I told you.

  6. The key issue with air travel is that to board a plane to Australia the Airlines check visas for entry are in place because the Airline is liable for the return flight.

  7. There is a reasonable suspicion at present amongst Australian Intelligence that Australia’s relatively ‘soft’ borders may actually be a pull factor from he aforementioned nations among those intent on terrorist activity. The reason is simple: any action carried out would generate substantial coverage worldwide, Australia also has the densest urbanisation of any English-speaking country and already has extensive and relatively ‘old’ immigrant communities from middle eastern and Sri Lankan origin to establish necessary networks for activity.

    Terrorist risk is not ‘xenophobic’ it is not ‘sensationalist’. The fact that just over a year from 9/11 in the USA that hundreds of Australians died in a more local attack is no accident. Australia is seen as one of the USA’s closest allies and the reputation of Australia as a ‘capital of hedonism’ worldwide makes it a jihadist target.

    The situation from Sri Lanka is quite different and may present a different risk, though they feature highly in riots in Villawood and, from some sketchy reports in Nauru, also there. You can only understand this way of life by speaking at length with Tamils.. it is a complex set of issues but suffice to say that ‘terrorism’ has sadly become a way of life for some to be heard.

    In any case, Australia needs to know who its AS are.That is the primary point. That is why boats arrival is a serious issue.

  8. Personally I wouldn’t give refugee status to anyone who arrived on an Australian border without papers. They all have papers when they arrive in Indonesia, because even in Pakistan you can’t find an international airline which will board passengers with no ID at all. So if they arrive at our borders with no papers, they have destroyed them while in Indonesia. That to me is evidence of bad faith or deception, and should be grounds for rejection.

  9. I don’t agree with Psephos much but #2261 is a sound argument and the main concern of the Intellgence Community in Australia.

    I would present a policy which:

    1. Threw the book at anyone found piloting a boat full of people, any of whom are without identity documents. This criteria would establish ‘reasonable suspicion of intention to illegally immigrate’.
    2. Those without ID would be declared as ineligible for residency and would reintroduce TPVs (or similar) to send them home after a period/not allow family reunion.
    3. Residency granted via sponsorship to remote/regional centres (not capital cities) for 5 years in the first instance, subject to review of the danger of return to home nation.
    4. Sponsors would be required to guarantee employment, accommodation and board with reimbursement of the latter two by the Feds.

    This system would, of course, work better with national smart ID cards, so that settled AS could be checked and dealt with easily if breaches were made (ie working in a capital city/residence in a capital city etc). However it would provide four main advantages:

    1. AS would not be placed in outer suburban centres which are politically most sensitive to the issue.. this de-politicises it and gets it of the election agenda.
    2. Remote regional centres with labor and population issues have a reasonable chance to be supported by the government to support and give meaningful work to AS who are genuinely seeking asylum from persecution.
    3. Economic migrants might try for NZ or Canada instead, if settlement in a city was never an option/was a long-delayed option.
    4. We could handle as many as we needed, sponsors permitting. Currently, our AS have cost $65 000 per person per year. Subsidising Australian farmers, miners, manufacturers, Tourism Employers and so forth for sponsoring AS would be worth considering.

    I think this provides humanitarian support for genuine cases, on shore processing and a reasonable deterrent to economic migrants. Add free plane flights and you also cut out the middle man with leaky boats and people smugglers.

  10. Dear Kevin,

    You returning to guide the political party you once decimated, is like having Edward Scissor-Hands remold a soft, deformed unfixable piece of clay. The fact you are doing it for no reason but your own sociopathic, egotistical, revengeful personal gain is despicable. You were once deposed, because of Labors demise in the polls and fear of obliteration, are you seriously back in office to fix it?

    You stuffed up so many policies in your previous two-year tenancy, that the splintered factions facilitated your removal. Now we have some of those faceless colleagues, like Bill Shorten, removing a bloody dagger from your own back and thrusting it, with no remorse, into Julia’s spine, for his own personal gain. It’s like you have manufactured a culture of psychopathic behavior, all at the expense of Mr. and Mrs. Australia.

    How can you honestly talk about “Labor party reform” when it was you that leaked destructive material in the 2010 campaign, to deliberately sabotage YOUR OWN party with treacherous intent? Who will you recruit alongside Albanese, Bowen and yourself for the new gang of four? And will you ruin their political careers too? Did I hear you say, “Lets all be nice to each other?” I have more faith in those words coming from Mike Tyson’s mouth, just before he steps into the ring for an Evander Holyfield rematch.

    So you have changed your autocratic ways have you? People hate each other more within you own party than they do, the coalition, or the public towards yourself. A result due to your narcissistic, malicious, vindictive demeanor, that cannibalised the party to which you have been reinstated.

    Please don’t reiterate Swannies old boring rhetoric of comparing us to the rest of the developed world, we are our own country, and business is hurting. Our books aren’t balanced; we can’t spend our way out of debt. We’re not naïve enough, for you consider buying more votes with reckless cash splashing. Rumors you could be pushing the election back and keeping business development in doubt, is causing further paralysis in our economy, you are ruining hard working families lives.

    Last week, your own colleagues voted you in to save their own seats, I can’t imagine voting for someone I detest. Now representatives in your team, have to smile and pretend everything is ok, how painful and demoralising. I bet they are physically sick with their decision and the thought of the months ahead, working under you.

    You epitomise the current predicament of the Labor party, so while it’s fitting you are their “new” leader; it provides no hope for the country. You are a dishonest coward, running a government of instability in which you were the architect. If you won the next election, your re-appointment would be the inception of a full revolution of implosion. You represent nothing but dysfunction, division and disaster. You are not a “real choice”, you are a disgrace and an insult; it’s embarrassing to be Australian.

    I have a family. I work for a wholesaler that didn’t turn a profit for the first time in decades. Its tough out there and all you care about is your own scandal, conflict, policy cock-ups, grubby deals, disunity and strategic blunders. We’ve had enough.

    Yours sincerely,

    Dominic Byrne
    (and all the other Aussie punters that can’t stand the thought of you steering a sinking ship. Do yourself a favour, call an election and “zip” off)

  11. Small things count for credibility – in Herbert, the suburbs are Wulguru and Annandale (although Annandala sounds nicer).

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