Seat of the week: Lilley

With the inner northern Brisbane neighbourhood of Stafford fresh in the mind after yesterday’s by-election, a visit to the federal electorate that covers its northern half and areas further to the east, held for Labor by Wayne Swan.

Wayne Swan’s electorate of Lilley covers bayside Brisbane north-east of the city centre, between the Brisbane and Pine rivers – an area accounting for industrial Eagle Farm in the south and residential Brighton in the north – together with suburbs nearer the city from McDowall, Stafford Heights and Everton Park east through Kedron, Chermside and Zillmere to Nundah, Nudgee and Taigum. The redistribution before the 2010 election had a substantial impact on the electorate, adding 26,000 in Chermside West and Stafford Heights at the northern end (from Petrie) and removing a similar number of voters in an area from Clayfield and Hendra south to Hamilton on the river (to Brisbane), although the margin was little affected.

Red and teal numbers respectively indicate size of two-party majorities for Labor and the LNP. Click for larger image. Map boundaries courtesy of Ben Raue at The Tally Room.

Lilley was created in 1913, originally extending from its current base all the way north to Gympie. It did not become entirely urban until the enlargement of parliament in 1949, when Petrie was created to accommodate what were then Brisbane’s semi-rural outskirts. Labor won Lilley in 1943, 1946, 1961 and 1972 (by a margin of 35 votes on the latter occasion), but it was otherwise usually safe for the prevailing conservative forces of the day. A decisive shift came with the elections of 1980 and 1983, when Labor’s Elaine Darling won the seat and then consolidated her hold with respective swings of 5.2% and 8.4%. Wayne Swan succeeded Darling as Labor’s member in 1993, but was unseated together with all but two of his Queensland Labor colleagues at the 1996 election.

Swan returned to parliament at the following election in 1998, when he accounted for a 0.4% post-redistribution margin with a swing of 3.5%. He added further fat to his margin at the each of the next three elections, although his swing in 2007 was well below the statewide average (3.2% compared with 7.5%), consistent with a trend in inner urban seats across the country. The 2010 election delivered the LNP a swing of 4.8% that compared with a statewide result of 5.5%, bringing the seat well into the marginal zone at 3.2%. Labor’s dire polling throughout its second term in government, particularly in Queensland, led to grave fears about his capacity to retain the seat in 2013, but in the event Lilley provided the party with one of its pleasant election night surprises by swinging only 1.9%, enabling Swan to hang on with a margin of 1.3%.

Swan’s path to parliament began with a position as an adviser to Bill Hayden during his tenure as Opposition Leader and later to Hawke government ministers Mick Young and Kim Beazley, before he took on the position of Queensland party secretary in 1991. He was elevated to the shadow ministry after recovering his seat in 1998, taking on the family and community services portfolio, and remained close to his former boss Beazley. Mark Latham famously described Swan and his associates as “roosters” when Beazley conspired to recover the leadership in 2003, but nonetheless retained him in his existing position during his own tenure in the leadership. Swan was further promoted to Treasury after the 2004 election defeat, and retained it in government despite suggestions Rudd had promised the position to Lindsay Tanner in return for his support when he toppled Kim Beazley as leader in December 2006.

Although he went to high school with him in Nambour and shared a party background during the Wayne Goss years, a rivalry developed between Swan and Kevin Rudd with the former emerging as part of the AWU grouping of the Right and the latter forming part of the Right’s “old guard”. Swan was in the camp opposed Rudd at successive leadership challenges, including Rudd’s move against Beazley in December 2009, his toppling by Julia Gillard in June 2010, and the three leadership crises which transpired in 2012 and 2013. As Rudd marshalled forces for his first push in February 2012, Swan spoke of his “dysfunctional decision making and his deeply demeaning attitude towards other people including our caucus colleagues”. When Rudd finally succeeded in toppling Gillard in June 2013, Swan immediately resigned as deputy leader and Treasurer. Unlike many of his colleagues he resolved to continue his career in parliament, which he has continued to do in opposition on the back bench.

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.

629 comments on “Seat of the week: Lilley”

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  1. Good morning.

    Another night, another CF of crazy comments.

    To those who asked why Malaysian Airlines flew that route, here is an infograph showing the flights prior to the crash

    I wonder if ICAO by now have shut that corridor above 32000ft, but I’m sure many commercial airlines have stopped flying there.

    The BUK missiles is from the Soviet-era and I believe fly no faster than mach 3. The SR71 used to evade it by flying faster than it. Of course a commercial airliner has no hope against it. Neither did the pilots have seen it. It was probably fired from the rear of the aircraft, and the radar, meant for ground and weather, is facing the wrong way.

    The BUK launchers on the other hand have the ability to target aircraft by radar so the operators are no ameteurs but identification of target aircraft requires the supplementary support of either visual or radio identification.

    In 1988, the Vincennes shot down an Iranian Airbus 300 due to the misidentification of transponder codes and also miscommunication with the aircraft. Having identified the aircraft as “unindentified Iranian aircraft” flying at 350 knots, the crew of the Iranian aircraft thought the Americans were referring to another Iranian aircraft in the area as they were actually flying at 300 knots.

    This goes to show that even when competent crew was present and procedures followed, accidents happen.

    Nevertheless, this doesn’t make the death of nearly 300 people any less tragic.

  2. Looks like electoral massacre in Stafford last night.

    A few of the news reports have picked up that the seat had similar demography to Newman’s adjacent seat of Ashgrove. I can’t imagine Newman improving his position dramatically to save himself by next year, short of the Queensland Labor party vowing to take the firstborn child of every voter in Ashgrove.

    Perhaps if Newman was to parachute himself into Bleijie’s safe seat of Kawana…..

  3. The GG are over the moon over the by-election result .In small print 1/3 of the way down the online front page their excited headline.

    [Labor wins Qld by-election ]

  4. From old thread:

    Three myths about the Carbon Tax

    Myth #1: It “didn’t actually help the environment”.

    Evidence: It reduced emissions by about 5%.

    Myth #2: It was “a $550 hit to families’ cost of living.”

    Evidence: The average household was better off. The price impact was half that expected; tax cuts and benefit increases were delivered in full.

    Myth #3: It was “the world’s biggest carbon tax”

    Evidence: Australia’s Carbon Tax was one of the lowest carbon prices in the OECD.

  5. Good morning Dawn Patrollers.

    I guess that’s what you’d call a good baseball batting in Stafford yesterday.
    Tax harvesting is the correct term to use.
    The $550 will be hard to see,
    Here’s some work for Brandis as the government and AS contractors argue over responsibility for compensation claims.
    This is a bit like those footy players who like to snipe and king hit behind play wanting to get rid of the multi-camera post game video reviews.
    Peter FitzSimons with some feedback from Paris.
    The best justice money can buy?
    The destruction of Gaza.,6686
    Bob Ellis – the three worst things the Liberals did yesterday.

  6. Martin B

    Hubby and I were in a local coffee shop yesterday and came across The Mordor-graph. The front page was especially lurid, depicting mourners at the graveside of “the carbon tax”. Featured were Shorten looking bemused, Gillard with a lean and hungry look, Wong looking angry, Milne with grey hair and Bob Brown looking like zombie.

    Abbott was a priest administering, presumably, the last rites on the “747 days of misery since the economy-wrecking carbon tax was unleashed” … The “tax” was “beloved of climate alarmists and the loony left” but “unlamented by the public” and so the piece continued. Inside there was the obligatory story by Simon Benson about a member of the public — single mum “Cindy Villena” (an archaic variant of peasant!) — and how she hoped she could use the $550 to pay her kids’ school fees. Apparently the “carbon tax” had been (according to Benson) a $15bn a year to the economy a “kick in the guts to Australian families” that “ripped $78 million a week out of their pockets”.

    Propaganda is a curious thing. Those of us who take ideas seriously know it’s corrosive. I turn up at many of the rallies lefties are expected to attend, and inevitable a half dozen different folk press propaganda into my hands couched in language supposed to appeal to people like me. Out of civility, I accept it but generally just skim it to see if there’s any actual useful information buried under the mountains of high dudgeon and abuse directed at the hate figures du jour. Sometimes I feel like saying “yes yes, I know these people are horrible, and I get why, but can’t we just wind it back a notch or ten and dispassionately argue our claims?”.

    Of course, most of the stuff pressed into my hands is done so by people not pretending these are reports of news. They are marked expressly as the ideas of a specific organisation, unlike the Mordor-graph, which in theory, employs journalists rather than propagandists. At the end of the long rant on how dreadful the “carbon tax” was, Benson, presumably in an effort to tick the balance box concludes with “opponents of the repeal dispute this”. I saw that not as balance but as comedy relief — a kind of linguistic irony and perhaps the most clever part of the article.

    It truly is astonishing.

  7. [@InsidersABC: PM @TonyAbbottMHR says the handling of the #mh17 crash site is outrageous. @frankellyabc’s full interview @ 9am.

    It appears that Abbott interview is prerecorded, so probably no Stafford comment.

    And devastating as the MH17 disaster is, it is firmly rooted in the Ukraine/Russia dispute which has little if any relevance to the ‘security concerns’ Australians have been wound up to fear. If it had been some jihadists, a different story altogether.

    Little traction beyond the gruesome fascination with crime and punishment fed by the MSM.

    And Abbott calling for openness from the Russians after his Operation Soverign Borders closed shop, even when it means 153 held on a ship for 3 weeks, is astounding. Do as we say, not as we do.

  8. Jules – If you’re still around.

    [Would the pilots on the plane have known they had a missile coming towards them from their radar?]

    Nope. Only El Al Israel Airlines have the defensive radar and infra-red (and chaff dispensers) fitted as far as I know.

    (Upgrading their A/C is a problem for them – lots of stuff needs to be done with a standard new A/C before they’ll fly it with passengers).

  9. Morning all. Did Abbott campaign in Stafford? If not, I would think State issues were more than enough to explain the result. Worse thrashing than Brazil v Germany. At least the Brazilians scored something.

    On those numbers more than half of Qld State seats will change sides at the next State election. Campbell Newman may actually be less popular than Tony Abbott. He has not actually promised to change anything either.
    [“I say to those people, we’ve heard you, we understand how you feel and I pledge this evening to continue to work hard, in fact we will redouble our efforts to improve this state and take it forward to a bright future,” he said.]

  10. [Did Abbott campaign in Stafford? ]

    Don’t think so – wouldn’t have thought he’d be welcomed by the LNP. My remark was just tongue in cheek.

  11. Watching PvO agenda on Sky and Greens Party leader Ms Milne ferociously attacking the ALP re carbon pricing.

    I guess now that there is no price on carbon the Greens Party strategy is once again to attack Labor to wrench away their voter base.

    The Govt will be pleased with this.

  12. Martin B, and to BK’s link, my cynical view is that the Govt will simply promote that the Australian people have had $550 returned to them with the axing of the toxic tax. Through the media, the perception becomes reality and we move on. They do not need to find $550 for everyone. Against this is the underlying negativity of the LNP’s approach, the effect of which is, thankfully, reflected in the Qld by-election.

  13. -18% is still a pretty massive swing in a by election, especially in a middle class seat that was not safe Labor. Campbell Newman should be concerned. His own neighbouring seat has similar demographics. Is this a record in Qld by elections?

  14. from previous thread

    Putrid and the admin behind him is no different to other international war lords. They fail to do comprehensive What ifs before embarking on their games. In six months time the world will have moved on to more important money matters.

  15. Mr Palmer is making hay.

    @CliveFPalmer: Resign or your @LNPQLD colleagues will challenge you because they face defeat themselves at the next state election #polqld @PalmerUtdParty

  16. Socrates, I’d go with William’s approach which maps by-election swing against the broader electorate. Sadly, this suggest a smaller swing of 8.7%, which is not enough to unseat the LNP.

  17. I dare say the Qld LNP will now fracture with internal campaigns and destabilisation ramping up.

    It could get very ugly…

  18. morning all

    Whenever Labor got huge swings against it at bi elections during the Gillard tenure, our esteemed msm and the coalition went into overdrive as to how federal Labor had a huge bearing on the result

  19. Confessions, nappin

    Thanks, that answers my question. So Newman is in trouble but the LNP would still be returned.

    I will not hold my breath waiting for Insiders to talk about anything slightly embarrassing for Abbott. Have a good day all.

  20. Kelly keeps trying to interrupt her but she ignores him and ploughs along.

    Impressive performance in terms of someone who is across the policy detail.

  21. victoria

    Damn right. Even if they rarely have federal implications journos always asked if it did have federal implications. Of the articles I’ve read not a whisper.

  22. Tony Windsor ‏@TonyHWindsor 32m
    Perhaps a good time for the religions of the world that essentially preach the same message to practice unity rather than politics-Palestine

    Mr Windsor with a simple but strong message.

  23. When one of the Insiders couch people said that Abbott was the international leader on the plane recovery, I thought they were making a bit of a stretch.

    Now Fran is interviewing Abbott as if he’s an expert on international rescues…

  24. Rex Douglas

    For eg. Christ’s mantra if followed, would ensure a better world.

    love your neighbour
    Turn the other cheek
    Do unto others as you would have them done to you

    And the list goes on.

    Not many practice what is preached.

  25. zoomster:

    Problem is that Abbott sounds far from reassuring. He’s in super script mode and as a result is sounding like he’s just spouting memorised lines rather than speaking from a position of knowledge.

  26. Goodness me. Abbott made a fool of himself on the MH370. He will overreach and do the same thing here. He needs to get a grip

  27. Too much speculating and chest beating from Mr Abbott re MH17.

    Stop politicking.

    Facts are all that’s required.

  28. BK Thanks for the links as always. Much appreciated here. The retort to McCain was just superb.

    [I guess now that there is no price on carbon the Greens Party strategy is once again to attack Labor to wrench away their voter base.

    The Govt will be pleased with this.]

    RexD We just watched Milne blaming JG (in particular) and Labor while Benson and Kelly salivated. Their smiles hinted at what little Milne gems were being filed away for future columns.

    Bigger smiles when Milne declared she would be taking a 40-60% by 2030 policy to the next election. Hell and damnation for the Greens will be breaking out at Murdochia unless the ROW moves unitedly on CC in 2015.

    I had a great deal of anger for the smug Milne this morning.

  29. Good to hear Abbott not respecting people’s grief.

    I have little time for the man but credit where it is due.

  30. Abbott now bringing his family into the MH 17 tragedy as his daughters flew that route a while ago.
    It’s sickening stuff and Fran is obliging by being in full sycophancy mode.

  31. Fran asking the tough questions now….
    As a PM of a country how does a tragedy like this affect you at a personal level?

    Are you angry at the situation that we find ourselves in right this moment?

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