Seat of the week: McPherson

The Gold Coast seat of McPherson has been in conservative hands since its creation in 1949, and has been served by a succession of low-key members since 1980.

Teal numbers indicate booths with two-party majorities for the Liberal National Party. Red numbers would indicate booths with two-party majorities for Labor, if there were any. Click for larger image. Map boundaries courtesy of Ben Raue at The Tally Room.

McPherson is the southernmost coastal electorate in Queensland, covering the Gold Coast from Coolangatta at the New South Wales border north through Tugun and Palm Beach to Burleigh Heads, and extending inland to Robina and Merrimac in the north and the semi-rural Tallebudgera and Currumbin river valleys further south. An area of intensive and ongoing population growth, the most recent redistribution before the 2010 election saw it lose 5600 voters at the inland end of the electorate to the newly created seat of Wright without it needing to receive any new territory in return. The regional is demographically unremarkable on most measures, excepting a lack of ethnic diversity and a slightly above-average median age.

The electorate was created with the expansion of parliament in 1949, prior to which the Gold Coast had been accommodated by Moreton, which was pushed over time into its present position in southern Brisbane. McPherson has since been anchored in the state’s south-eastern corner, at first extending much further inland to include Beaudesert and Warwick. Its inaugural member was Arthur Fadden, a leader of the Country Party who briefly served as Prime Minister after Robert Menzies’ resignation in August 1941. After six weeks in the role he was defeated in parliament when he lost the support of two key independents, although the beleagured United Australia Party continued to support him as Opposition Leader until the 1943 election defeat. Fadden moved to the newly created seat in 1949 after previously serving as member for Darling Downs, which has since been re-named as Groom. He held the seat until his retirement in 1958, at which point he was succeeded by another Country Party member, Charles Barnes.

The rapid development of the Gold Coast changed the electorate’s complexion in the decades following the war, drawing it away from its rural base and towards the coast and weakening its identity as a Country Party stronghold. When Charles Barnes retired in 1972, Liberal candidate Eric Robinson won the seat after narrowly edging out the Country Party candidate in the preference count. The electorate was at the centre of a political controversy in 1978 when it was alleged that Robinson, then a minister in Malcolm Fraser’s government, had sought to influence the electoral redistribution commissioners after they determined to change the electorate’s name to Gold Coast, which under the terms of the coalition agreement would have entitled the National Country Party to contest the “new” seat. A royal commission into the matter cleared Robinson of wrongdoing but found another minister, Reg Withers (who had won fame as the Opposition’s Senate leader during the 1975 crisis), to have acted improperly. This resulted in Withers’ dismissal by Fraser, to the chagrin of many in the Liberal Party. Robinson went on to resign from the ministry the following year over an unrelated falling-out with Fraser.

Robinson died in January 1981 and was succeeded at the ensuing by-election by Liberal candidate Peter White. White won an easy victory with help from Labor preferences over National Country Party candidate Glenister Sheil, who had resigned from the Senate to run at the by-election and would later return to it in 1984. Sheil had won a position in the ministry in 1977 only to lose it before being sworn in for expressing support for South Africa’s apartheid system. Peter White held the seat until his retirement at the 1990 election, by which time the National Party was no longer competitive in the area at the federal level. He was succeeded by John Bradford, who went on to quit the Liberal Party in 1998 to join Fred Nile’s Christian Democratic Party, standing unsuccessfully as its Queensland Senate candidate at the election later that year. The seat then passed on to Margaret May, who won Liberal preselection from a field that included former Brisbane lord mayor Sallyanne Atkinson.

When May announced her retirement ahead of the 2010 election, Liberal front-bencher Peter Dutton sought to move to the seat in preference to his ultra-marginal existing seat of Dickson in Brisbane’s outer north. However, it quickly became apparent that local party operatives who had been jockeying for the succession were not going to be deterred, despite Dutton’s move having the backing of John Howard and then-Liberal leader Malcolm Turnbull. The result was a rebuff for Dutton, who was said to have come within a handful of votes of victory on the first round of the local preselection ballot but was ultimately defeated by Karen Andrews, a Gold Coast businesswoman and chair of the party’s local federal electorate council. The prospect of the party’s state executive intervening by refusing to ratify the result was promptly ruled out amid talk of a potential rebellion in the local party. Dutton was accordingly compelled to remain in Dickson, which he had no trouble retaining amid the much-changed political circumstances which prevailed by the time the election was held. Andrews meanwhile picked up successive swings of 1.6% and 2.7% to hold the seat by a margin of 13.0% after the 2013 election.

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.

2,218 comments on “Seat of the week: McPherson”

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  1. CTar1
    Posted Saturday, October 5, 2013 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

    Harry is a legend.

    Harry is a rich bald pommie.


    … who has never quite survived from the “james Hewitt” controversy

    and :

    But the positive publicity was put in severe jeopardy after it was reported in December last year that during his second tour of Afghanistan he had killed a Taliban commander. Whatever the truth of the matter, the stories put the lives of Harry and his comrades at even greater risk.
    Harry went on to let himself down when, during an interview he gave for transmission after his return, he made some ill-advised comments about killing Taliban fighters.
    He likened pressing the buttons which released his Apache’s Hellfire missiles and 30mm cannon to playing computer games off-duty, saying it was ‘a joy … because I’m one of those people who loves playing PlayStation and Xbox, so with my thumbs I like to think that I’m probably quite useful’.
    His boast — and that’s how it was perceived by many — raised further fears for his safety and brought about an upgrade in his security.
    Harry further incensed his critics when he complained that life in the Army was ‘as normal as it was going to get. For me it’s not that normal because I go into the cookhouse and everyone has a good old gawp, and that’s one thing I dislike about being here.’
    A senior officer who refused to give his name observed that Captain Wales had adopted the language of a ‘spoiled, truculent teenager’.
    A Palace source confirms that Prince Charles simply shook his head and said: ‘This should never have happened. Harry needs some lessons in PR.’
    And one of the young soldier’s close circle said the day after his comments about killing Taliban were broadcast: ‘Oh dear, there’s Harry going over the top again.
    ‘He has only himself to blame, though. Someone should have been there to guide him when he gave that interview. It gave a totally wrong impression of the Harry I know. It’s such a shame, because he did a brilliant job out there.

    Read more:

  2. Compact Crank…: “CTar1 @3163 – he’s also one brave SOB – puts paid to the rich making the poor fight their wars meme.”

    You know…it humbles one to witness just how endearing a servant can be to worship from a distance, vicariously, his master’s glory!….moto ; “Better to be a small servant than master of your own destiny!”

  3. BW (from last thread)

    [IMHO war makes for bad choices but it does not entirely absolve individuals for making bad choices such as murdering children in cold blood because their parents are collaborators.]

    Of course it doesn’t. Acts that are unwarranted by the need to foreclose a greater harm to the legitimate interests of others remain as ethically indefensible during war as during peacetime.

    On the other hand, the lack of timely, accurate and salient information and the absence of the options avialble in peacetime to deal with potential harms that attends the disappearance of lawful authority makes judgements about what is warranted by the knowable facts at any given moment far less precise, and therefore admits as plausible acts from which one would normally shrink.

    That’s not a blank cheque to act os aone pleases, but it does enlarge somewhat the margine for error.

    That of course is precisely why each of us must prefer every credible alternative to war and/or the breakdown of lawful authority. One can only open that door in the most extraordinary and compelling of circumstances, because almost any compromise that averts it will generally leave the population — and especially the marginalised sections of the population — in better condition than war.

    Sometimes of course there are no alternatives. War and the dissolution of the civil power and lawful authority cannot be averted and then those who fought against this must do what they reasonably can to resist the efforts of those who have engineered this catastrophe and protect as much of civilised life and its usages as one can, precisely because that will be critical on the day when the civil power and lawful authority is established/returns.

    That will probably not be easy, because the basis for the kinds of collaboration that attend functioning community has been torn asunder, and resistance may involve acts outside one’s experience and skillsets in circumstances where the very question of legitimate authority is a matter of controversy.

    Yet one must try, without putting at risk the struggle to establish authentic community.

  4. “…it takes courage, fortitude,
    and all that manly stuff..
    And I might suggest knee-pads!
    (In case the floor is rough!).”

  5. badcat @2

    While the chattering classes might think this was some sort of faux pas – most normal people don’t have a problem with it.

    Good on Harry – I’m sure he sleeps well at night.

  6. What have Margaret May and Karen Andrews ever done? Never heard of ’em.

    The only thing going for them is they live in a state that doesn’t crucify its citizens with daylight saving for six damn months of the year.

  7. Repeat from old thread:


    puts paid to the rich making the poor fight their wars meme.

    “I’ll admit that sometimes they do OK.

    Even Prince Edward did fairly well in the Falklands. They tried to sideline him but he and his crew locked the doors on their helicopter and wouldn’t get out.

    It was refueled and went back out to do picket duty when it was known that the Super Entendard’s were in the air.”

    But well paid for it.

  8. [The only thing going for them is they live in a state that doesn’t crucify its citizens with daylight saving for six damn months of the year.]

    Its fine if you like it being daylight at 4.30 in the morning. I like it, most don’t.

  9. I wish we had Daylight Saving here in WA – both for the lifestyle benfits and keeping the 2 hour time difference to the East – that extra hour is a right bugger when you are dealing with the other side.

  10. CTar1 – you don’t get to fly a helicopter in the UK Defence Forces if you are dumb as dogshit – even if you are a Royal – and certainly not off the back of HM RN Ships at sea on Combat Operations.

  11. CC – It was Andrew rather than Edward, my mistake.

    He did manage to move his helicopter off Atlantic Conveyor just in time.

    He was very experienced, like his nephew, at flying to Sandringham.

    An Exocet was probably put in the same class as a Grouse for him.

  12. CC

    Dunno if Harry is a good sort but he sure likes romancin good sorts all around the world.

    And he gets paid for it.

    Oh Sorry! ……… “Regal duties”.

  13. Thank you to those who call it Daylight Saving, even if you don’t like it. Hate “daylight savings” sounds like a bank account. On a par with “Safeways”.

  14. The fact that Prince Edward did not complete Commando selection is evidence that the Royals aren’t cut any slack in their training.

    A mate of mine was an Instructor at Sandhurst when Harry was there – no favours asked or given.

  15. Its funny how people bag Harry yet love to visit England and lap up the history.

    Sure the idea if an all powerful monarch is a thing for the history books but the royals are simply a figure head.

    Harry has at least had a job unlike many other so called celebs

  16. William

    [People who hate the royal family for being in the royal family are precisely as dumb as royalists themselves, and for the same reasons.]

    They’re just a different ‘celebrity’ set and just as meaningless.

  17. mexicanbeemer @30

    One argument in support of the UK Royals is their value to the UK Tourism industry.

    A lot of so called “celebrities” work amazingly hard at being celebrities – while giving the impression of a carefree party lifestyle – not really a lifestyle I aspire to or respect.

  18. [Do you not find English history interesting.]

    Yes I studied it a lot, my History Master at School wrote the definitive text of the English Civil War. The School was founded in 1554.

  19. Scottish Independence – it’d be Greece all over again for the Euro.

    Looks like the polling is indicating a No vote atm.

  20. [Yes I studied it a lot, my History Master at School wrote the definitive text of the English Civil War. ]

    That would mean your teacher was Christopher Hill or C V Wedgwood?

  21. “…And when we cut out and the steamer came down-
    With the hawkers and spielers-to take us to town,
    And we all got aboard, ’twas Jim Duggan, good Lord!
    Who yelled for three cheers for the boss-of-the-board.
    ‘Twas a bit off, no doubt-
    And with Freedom about-
    But a lot is forgot when a shed is cut out!”

    The Boss Over the Board. Henry Lawson.

    Never forgotten, never forgiven.

  22. SNIP: Joe, you’re going to get banned in pretty short order if you keep this up. I’m not going to be sentimental about dispatching you, as you contribute nothing of value here.

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