Seat of the week: Wide Bay

Warren Truss’s seat of Wide Bay encompasses Noosa, Gympie and Maryborough, and has been in National/Country Party hands for most of an existence that dates back to federation.

Wide Bay has covered a variable area around Maryborough about 300 kilometres north of Brisbane since its creation at federation. Maryborough is currently at the northern end of an electorate that extends south along the coast to Noosa, which was gained at the redistribution before the 2007 election as its southern neighbour Fairfax was drawn southwards by population growth on the Sunshine Coast (which Wide Bay accommodated in its entirety for most of the period prior to 1949). The electorate also extends inland through Gympie to Murgon and Cherbourg.

Now a secure seat for the Liberal National Party, Wide Bay was one of 15 seats across the country won by Labor at the first election in 1901. Its member from then until 1915 was Andrew Fisher, who served three terms as prime minister and won the party’s first parliamentary majority at the election of 1910. Labor was narrowly defeated at a by-election held after Fisher retired due to ill health, and for the next 13 years the seat was held by Edward Corser, first as a Liberal and then in the Nationalist Party that succeeded it in 1917. The seat passed to the Country Party upon Corser’s death in 1928, when his son Bernard Corser was elected as the party’s candidate without opposition.

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

Brendan Hansen’s election in 1961 gave Labor its first win in Wide Bay in nearly half a century, and he retained the seat until defeated amid a statewide swing against the Whitlam government in 1974. The seat has has since had two National/Country Party members, the present incumbent Warren Truss succeeding Clarrie Millar in 1990. The general trend over this time has been for increasing Nationals margins, with Truss retaining the seat by 8.5% amid Labor’s strong statewide result in 2007 and boosting his margin to 15.6% in 2010, before a narrowing to 13.2% at the 2013 election.

Warren Truss emerged through local Nationals ranks as a councillor for the Shire of Kingaroy from 1976 to 1990, before winning the party’s endorsement to succeed Joh Bjelke-Petersen as member for Barambah at the by-election which followed his retirement in 1988. However, Truss suffered a shock defeat at the hands of Trevor Perrett, a candidate of the eccentric Citizens Electoral Council who joined the Nationals a year later. He was amply compensated with endorsement for Wide Bay at the federal election two years later, and was elected without incident despite a 3.9% swing to Labor.

Truss served as a junior shadow minister in the consumer affairs portfolio after November 1994, but was cut from the front bench when the Nationals’ reduced share of seats within the Coalition reduced its share of the spoils of the 1996 election victory. His opportunity came in October the following year when the travel rorts affair garnered three ministerial scalps including Nationals MP John Sharp, resulting in Truss’s return to the consumer affairs portfolio together with customs. After the 1998 election he was reassigned to community services, and he then attained cabinet rank in July 1999 with his promotion to Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Minister. In July 2005 he secured his party’s deputy leadership and traded his portfolios for transport and regional services, and was again reassigned to trade in September 2006.

Truss was elevated to the leadership of the National Party when Mark Vaile resigned in the wake of the 2007 election defeat, although it has often been noted that his profile is a good deal lower than that of Barnaby Joyce, who moved from a Queensland Senate seat to the New South Wales lower house seat of New England at the 2013 election. As well as being Deputy Prime Minister, Truss has served as Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development since the election of the Abbott government.

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.

1,168 comments on “Seat of the week: Wide Bay”

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  1. Got a good larf from “His Eminence” this morning. Reckons we don’t all love Tony because we do not know the real Abbott . Apparently he needs to change his public persona to let the real Tony “To know him is to love him” Abbott shine through.

  2. [49

    Hmmmm……a few weeks away and I see Abbott is still being underestimated here!]

    I demur. Abbott is proving to be every bit as disgraceful as I expected.

  3. Australians don’t need to like their leaders, they just need to respect the fact that they have a plan and they are sticking to it (even if the voter disagrees with the plan).

    I wouldn’t count your chickens, is all I am saying… this stage it still look very much like an Abbott re-election to me.

  4. lizzie

    The crunch line from your post
    ” Mr Lehmann now works as an adviser to upper house whip Peter Phelps. ”

    Phelps The right wing Christian nutcase that thinks torture is ok & defensible if it purges communists & Chilian dissidents under Generalisimo Pinochet

  5. Morning all. I note Guytaur’s link to the story about Israel continuing the invasion of Gaza until the “mission is accomplished. First it was to stop rockets, then to capture the tunnels, now they will continue beyond that. They have moved the goalposts twice. The mission is clearly now terrorising the Palestinians, and appeasing the Israeli far right. Netanyahu reported on the BBC:
    [“Hamas again mistakenly believes that the people of Israel do not have the will and determination to fight them and Hamas again will learn the hard way that Israel will do whatever it must do to protect its people,” he said.]
    at this point, who are the real terrorists?

  6. Barnaby Joyce seems to be saying PPL won’t be delayed. Farmers’ wives need it, he says.

    Now he’s on to Australia is going broke.

  7. [who are the real terrorists?]

    I am guessing it is the folk randomly firing missiles into cities in the hope that they kill civilians.

  8. Everything

    1600+ Palestinians civilians dead 6000+ wounded …….3, (that’s 3 )Israeli civilians dead.
    Any reasonable person would call that genocide

  9. My own line of work, transport planning, has been getting in the news lately, and for good reason. Quite simply, the whole business of road and rail funding and project selection has become a political football. This applies not only to Abbott funding roads not rail, but how the projects are delivered. The costs are getting scandalous, as this story shows.

    I can assure you that the pay of engineers like Socrates has not magically rocketed up to join those of my peers in mining, so where does the money go? Contractors are profiteering, so are lawyers and financiers on the big toll roads, service authorities (many privatised) and even some trades. I’d like to say that things are better here in SA, except that Jay Weatherall just sacked a career professional engineer from running the transport department and replaced hin with an ex political staffer. Both sides of politics are guilty on this one. We really need decisions on infrastructure funding made by an independent statutory body similar to the RBA.

    Have a good day all. Tony Abbott seems noticeably absent from media. When you haven’t got anything nice/ clever to say, it is better to say nothing?

  10. ET

    You are wrong. Here is Israel telling US what it is doing.

    @wikileaks: Wikileaks cable on #Israel’s “Dahiya Doctrine” – deliberate targeting of civilian areas with excessive force #Gaza

    @wikileaks: Israel told US embassy in Telaviv: policy is to keep #Gaza in brutal but silent economic strangulation:

  11. [@Leroy_Lynch: Hunt for WA Liberal leader to replace Colin Barnett after deputy Kim Hames confirms he won’t contest next election ]

    That article doesn’t even mention Kim Hames, and the minister the article is about isn’t even a Liberal MP!

  12. Everything

    You would get on well with this guy.

    [ Times of Israel published the article “When Genocide is Permissible” by Yochanan Gordon

    Judging by the numbers of casualties on both sides in this almost one-month old war one would be led to the conclusion that Israel has resorted to disproportionate means in fighting a far less- capable enemy….the US and the UN are completely out of touch with the nature of this foe and are therefore not qualified to dictate or enforce the rules of this war]

  13. “@senthorun: Returning refugees to places where their life or liberty is threatened breaches the MOST fundamental principle of refugee law. #insiders”

  14. [56

    Australians don’t need to like their leaders]

    But it helps if their leaders like Australians. What we see from Abbott is hatred: hatred of workers and students, of the young, the old, the unemployed, the ill, the low-paid, the indigenous. With his hate, Abbott also brings fear, malice, division, deceit and denial. He is the very opposite of a leader.

  15. What we see is hatred of Abbott.

    The idea that Abbott hates workers and students and the young and the old and the unemployed and the low-paid and Aboriginal Australians is projection on your part.

  16. “@SamCD01: Morrison denies the government’s policies are bad for children’s wellbeing because there is air-conditioning. #Insiders”

  17. [Gary
    Posted Sunday, August 3, 2014 at 9:20 am | PERMALINK
    I see ML is back to defend Abbott. Surprise. surprise. surprise. Or is it just to stir the pot? Or both?]

    I see Gary is back to attach ML. Surprise. surprise. surprise.

    No attempt to respond to the views I have put, just attack me for putting them.

    Echo chamber much :devil: ?

  18. [genocide is not a matter of numbers, it is a matter of intent.]

    LoL so accidental genocide is a good thing … hilarious start to Sunday.

    You must have had Adam’s coolaid where trying to kill people and failing is the worst evil in the world and killing thousands is good because you don’t really mean too.

    Glad to see people seeing through the mindless dishonest spin.

  19. [The idea that Abbott hates workers and students and the young and the old and the unemployed and the low-paid and Aboriginal Australians is projection on your part.]

    More comedy gold.

  20. [No attempt to respond to the views I have put, just attack me for putting them.]

    Surely your ‘views’ do not require a response.

  21. [What should Israel do?

    Just sit there and allow missiles to be fired into their cities?]

    Well they have been trying extensive murder for decades now, how is that working for them? Oh wait it isn’t.

    So lets step back, they have tried the most evil thing they can do killing 100’s of innocent women and children, of course it was all good and accidental because the UN only told them there were children, civilians and no bombs about 20 times before they bombed it.

    So extensive indiscriminate killing hasn’t worked perhaps they should be looking in a different direction for peace? Oh wait perhaps they don’t really want peace …

  22. You may be surprised to hear that I think Bibi Netanyahu is an unmitigated disaster for Israel and the region. I think he is belligerent and has no compassion whatsoever for the Palestinian people, unlike some of his predecessors.

    I think Israel is cutting off its nose to spite its face with its current actions, however, no country can allow incessant attacks into its cities without any retaliation. Hamas is clearly ramping up the attacks and Israel has no choice but to try to do something about it.

    Hamas has stated it wants to wipe Israel from the face of the Earth after all….not exactly a great place to start a negotiation from!

  23. [Oh wait perhaps they don’t really want peace …]

    Quite ridiculous.

    If Israel wanted to eradicate the Palestinian people they could have done that quite easily in 1967.

    They didn’t, because they don’t.

  24. Hamas is wiping itself off the map.

    Israel has every right to defend itself.

    Every right.

    We would do exactly the same thing (although, I would hope we wouldn’t have done the invading in the first place).

  25. ET

    Israel is not defending itself. Facts are clear. Israel is the aggressor.

    Iron Dome is the defence. Very effective too.

  26. [Quite ridiculous.

    If Israel wanted to eradicate the Palestinian people they could have done that quite easily in 1967.

    They didn’t, because they don’t.

    But yet they keep doing the things that clearly keep conflict going. Given how good they are at lying and disinformation we can assume they aren’t just stupid … so why would they keep doing totally counterproductive things … we would be more intelligent to conclude what they are doing isn’t counterproductive and therefore that they want the current situation to continue. Perhaps killing innocent women and children isn’t what they really want so much as a cool way to keep the situation that lets them steal anything of value from the Palestinians and suppress them indefinitely. Killing them all at once would be quicker but someone might notice what they’ve done.

    The way they are doing it there are some people actually stupid enough to believe their disinformation. Unbelievable as it is there are people that stupid.

  27. I am still yet to see any suggestion for what Israel ought to do while missiles rain down on them.

    Anyone want to address that rather than just the usual anti-Semitic rants?

  28. [Hmmmm……a few weeks away and I see Abbott is still being underestimated here!]
    Only Mad Lib could produce such irony amidst media reports that Abbott has deferred his personal touchstone policy of PPL for read that it would be rejected even by some of his own party.

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