Seat of the week: Groom

Located in the Darling Downs and dominated by Toowoomba, the seat of Groom has provided a secure electoral base for Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane through a parliamentary career going back to 1998.

Located in the Darling Downs region of Queensland, Groom is dominated by the city of Toowoomba about 100 kilometres west of Brisbane, which accounts for slightly less than 80% of its population. Toowoomba is near the electorate’s eastern boundary, from which it extends westwards to Jondaryan and Pittsworth and northwards to Goombungee, along with sparsely populared rural areas further afield. The electorate was created with the expansion of parliament in 1984 as the successor to Darling Downs, which had existed since federation. Neither Darling Downs nor Groom has ever been held by Labor.

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.

Darling Downs was held by the major conservative movement of the time from 1901 until 1936, when Arthur Fadden gained it for the Country Party at a by-election held after the death of United Australia Party member Sir Littleton Groom, who gives the modern electorate its name. When parliament expanded in 1949, Fadden moved to the new seat of McPherson, and an agreement between the coalition parties reserved Darling Downs for the Liberals. It was accordingly won with little difficulty by Liberal candidate Reginald Swartz, who retained it until his retirement in 1972. A three-cornered contest ensued at the 1972 election, in which Country Party candidate Tom McVeigh secured a comfortable victory after outpolling the Liberal candidate by 32.3% to 22.5%. McVeigh carried on as member for Groom after 1984 and retired in February 1988, leading to another three-cornered contest at the ensuing by-election. This time the seat fell to the Liberals, whose candidate Bill Taylor outpolled the Nationals candidate by 33.3% to 28.8%. With Taylor’s retirement in 1998 the seat was bequeathed to its current member, Ian Macfarlane, who polled 33.1% on debut against 18.0% for One Nation and 15.2% for the Nationals. The Nationals again fielded a candidate against Macfarlane in 2001, but gave him little trouble.

Recognisable for a distinctive voice resulting from damage sustained to his larynx following a cancer operation in 2004, Macfarlane served as a minister in the Howard government from January 2001, first in the junior portfolio of small business, then attaining cabinet rank as Industry, Tourism and Resources Minister after the October 2001 election. He attained further seniority in opposition, holding the trade portfolio under Brendan Nelson and energy and resources under Malcolm Turnbull. When Tony Abbott became leader in December 2009 he was moved to infrastructure to make way for Nick Minchin, but he recovered energy and resources when Minchin retired from the front-bench the following March. With the election of the Abbott government he was allocated to an expanded industry portfolio that incorporated responsibility for mining and science, the lack of a dedicated portfolio for the latter inspiring some controversy.

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.

1,381 comments on “Seat of the week: Groom”

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  1. Well, being in Germany allows me to be first. Thanks for the analysis, William. As a scientist I am worried by the lack of science minister, and also by recent statements from Macfarlane that he is considering using patents as a measure of success rather than peer-reviewed publications.

    Does he know how many “junk” patents are out there? And how easy the patent system is to “game”.

    Also I have scientist friends in Toowoomba. I hope they are trying to get Macfarlane’s ear to explain how science turned Australia into a strong first-word economy during the 20th century.

  2. D & M

    I am worried by the lack of science minister, and also by recent statements from Macfarlane that he is considering using patents as a measure of success rather than peer-reviewed publications.

    I agree – another example of how little this government understands about anything.

    Patents, when they come from science at all, come from applied science, and applied science comes from fundamental science. In addition to this many so called breakthroughs are the result of incidental observations or unexpected outcomes of experiments. So if you simply chase patents, and don’t do the basic research, you end up with very little true innovation and fail to gain a competitive advantage.

    Another thought.

    And then there is the issue of ‘open source’ technologies, which in a sense have been around for a hundred years in the form of collaboration between scientists, but which could be extended to more formal structures in the same way certain software projects are managed today. I guess software is not really science, but the open source model (which doesn’t involve patents) has been the dominant model behind the development of the Internet.

    All types of technologies are now developing exponentially and a lot of this growth is due to recombination of existing technologies e.g. the replacement organ (medical solution) that involves a plastic scaffold (materials science) printed in 3D (computer science) and impregnated with stem cells (biological science). To my thinking, this type of project would tend to evolve more as an open source project and could be difficult to patent.

  3. Off to get the Saturday papers ready for the mainly older members of the community. As a business owner who realises the strong connection between wages/pensions/newstart and what the customers can afford to spend in my shop I see the Abbott government wrecking the economy as quickly as they can.

    Even BIG business should understand that same connection. The attempts to reduce wages and to lower living standards for 90% of the population will eventually impact on even those rich & greedy Australians.

    The biggest beneficiaries of the Abbott governments policies are, of course, the overseas owners of capital, mines etc. as they don’t care about Aussie living standards. They want to get as much out of Australia as they can and pay as little tax/wages/royalties as they can.

    That Abbott and his cronies are mostly working for these pillagers of Australia is about as un-Australian as we’ve had from a government since Federation.

    Have a good day everyone.

  4. [The biggest beneficiaries of the Abbott governments policies are, of course, the overseas owners of capital, mines etc. as they don’t care about Aussie living standards. They want to get as much out of Australia as they can and pay as little tax/wages/royalties as they can.

    That Abbott and his cronies are mostly working for these pillagers of Australia is about as un-Australian as we’ve had from a government since Federation.]

    I don’t quite understand. But many many of your small business colleagues support the liberals it seems not matter how much it is obvious that state and federal liberals couldn’t careless about small business … well other than property developers.

  5. Some ideas from the Tory party tweaked UK welfare system that will appeal to Kevin Andrews.

    [The 11 most senseless benefit sanction decisions known to man

    A man with heart problems who was on Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) had a heart attack during a work capability assessment. He was then sanctioned for failing to complete the assessment.„

    Via Debbie Abrahams MP.]–x1dmkd2_Me

  6. For people wondering where fossil Maurice Newman got his “The Ice Age is Coming” lunacy. Ah remember the good old days when skeptics said don’t listen to climate scientists because they predicted an ice age ? Oh and they didn’t by the way.

    Maurice got it from a book by David Archibald called “‘The Twilight of Abundance’ – Warns of Global Cooling – ‘Why Life in the 21st Century Will Be Nasty, Brutish, and Short’ . His particular obsession is solar cycles. Who is he ?

    [David Archibald, Geology BA ……… Associated with Australia’s Lavoisier Group, which was established specifically to be skeptical of climate change. The group receives funding from the coal and oil industry]

    [David Archibald Exaggerates the Solar Influence on Future Climate Change

    David Archibald is a climate “skeptic” who has been CEO of multiple oil and mineral exploration companies operating in Australia, and currently is part of the scientific advisory panel for the Australian Climate Science Coalition (ACSC) – a group of Australian fake skeptics which also includes Bob Carter, John McLean, David Evans, and Ian Plimer. Archibald is a major proponent of the “it’s the sun” myth, and from time to time will publish a paper in Energy&Environment (the controversial journal which publishes “skeptic” research which is too erroneous to meet the standards in standard peer-reviewed journals), claiming that a decline in solar activity will lead to substantial cooling over the next few decades
    In this post we’ll examine one such paper]
    Archibald is so good he even scored a post called….
    [The worst climate science paper ever of all time anywhere ]

  7. Good morning Dawn Patrollers. Lots of weekend reading for you.

    Swanny unloads on Rudd. Make you wonder why they ever went back to him.
    MUST READ! Mark Latham channels the Road Runner to heap scorn on News Corp and everyone’s favourite Chris Kenny.
    Ridicule is starting. That’s not good for the Libs.
    Lenore Taylor – Hockey may have apologised but he still doesn’t get it.
    The nasty reality of what Cormann and Co. have done to us with regard to financial planning protections.
    Well there’s $170. Now where’s the rest of the $550 Abbott promised us?
    Scientists respond to Abbott’s coterie of hand-picked CC denialists.
    Fact Check – hoe Newman is a dangerous misrepresenter.
    Paul Bongiorno on base politics. This is in the MUST READ category.
    The three worst things the Liberals did yesterday.

  8. Section 2 . . .

    Here’s an opportunity for our politicians to prostrate themselves in front of an Israeli government representative.
    The horrors of “ice”.
    Abbott named in Fair Work Australia case.
    And now Brandis’s head of department will leave the scene.
    ICAC and the corridors of corruption.
    Jack Waterford on corruption in general. Look at the last sentence.
    Mike Seccombe – Hunter now the Hunted at ICAC.
    Here we go! Hockey’s key fundraiser is called to front ICAC. he North Sydney Forum is about to come out of the shadows one would think.
    Hockey’s car crash and the grovelling apology.
    One of politics’ biggest clangers says James Massola.

  9. Section 3 . . .

    Michelle Grattan pulls Hockey’s “apology” apart. And then carries on with some advice for Abbott. The last sentence is a cracker!
    How ignorance is killing Australia. Read it and weep!,6777
    Abbott’s piss and wind power on the RET.
    Hm. Did the police publicise the conduct of the searh warrant on Cliff Richard’s home in order to get people to come forward?
    Sexist rants from the Young Liberals reveal a blind eye to misogynist culture.
    Resident nutters Cory Bernardi and Bob Day (as a South Australian I apologise for their presence) are set to defy Abbott by introducing legislation for Bolt laws.
    Senator X likens Abbott’s “signature policy” to Monty Python’s dead parrot.
    Kathy Jackson’s lawyers play a last desperate card.

  10. Section 4 . . .

    Alan Moir deservedly pours scorn on Abbott’s hand-picked advisors.

    David Pope takes the budget for a winter’s break.
    And something similar from John Spooner.
    Ron Tandberg can be cruel at times. Good luck to him!

  11. I sort of realise that I’m going to get myself into trouble for posting this, but free speech…

    Why is saying “I don’t think you’ll achieve that outcome at the next election” Green bashing?

    People here – including one eyed Labor supporters – often question whether Labor will do as well at the next election as Bludgertrack suggests.

    No one spends their day attacking them for this. No one accuses them of “Labor bashing”.

    People here question whether the Liberals will poll over 50% at the next election.

    No one spends their day attacking them for this. No one calls it “Liberal bashing”.

    Similarly, there are continual suggestions here from all sides that both majors aren’t perfect – that their policies need review, their membership is declining, they don’t appeal to a wide enough section of the populace, their leaders aren’t appropriate, their MPs aren’t performing…etc etc.

    Again, such claims aren’t met by a chorus of outrage.

    Try saying just one of those things about the Greens, and see what happens.

  12. Apparently this is the only example of ‘working for the disadvantaged’ – something Joe says he’s been doing all his life – that Joe can come up with —

    [I told the story of when I was a young kid about, you know, working with my parents in the Lions Club to help raise money for a local orphanage…]

    Not very hands on, is it?

    As for why he made the apology, this sounds a bit contradictory —

    [Fordham…You attend today your community awards, I understand in North Sydney, which is an annual event you hold to recognise people in the community who do amazing things and there was something that washed over you while you were attending those awards today, you felt like you needed to say something.

    HOCKEY: … someone came up to me afterwards said “why don’t you…why do we think you’re different now?” And I said “well, I can’t control what’s said about me” and she said “just show what’s in your heart.” ]

    So Hockey says he apologised because a woman approached him after a community event and told him to show what was in his heart.

    However, later in the interview —

    [FORDHAM: You’ve had the chance to think about it yesterday but on your mind was, “Well, no, what I was saying was this and the figures show that.” You could have cleared it up yesterday but the extra 24 hours has given you more time, has it not, to really consider what you were thinking.

    HOCKEY: And it was the chance to, you know…I mean, a lady at the lights at Cammeray had a chat to me when I was crossing the road.

    FORDHAM: What did she say?

    HOCKEY: Well, she just said you’ve got to be yourself. You have got to be true to yourself and I thought about it and thought a bit more and anyway, you know…]

    So now we have a woman at the lights approaching Joe Hockey (he was walking somewhere?? or did she yell from another car?) and saying exactly the same thing the woman at the community group said on exactly the same day.

    Some interesting questions —

    — did two woman approach Hockey on the same day and say exactly the same things to him?

    — did one woman approach him and he’s got the circumstances confused?

    — did no woman at all approach him and he’s made up a folksy story to explain his backflip with a pike and get across how he’s just a big bowl of mushy love?

    This is very reminiscent of the woman who he claimed he spent hours on the phone to whilst drawing up the Budget. I don’t think anyone was ever able to track her down, despite numerous pleas in the media.

    It would appear that Joe might have a thing about mysterious women who materialise out of nowhere and offer him sage words of wisdom.

    Read more:

  13. Morning all. BK thanks for the link to the Paul Bongiorno column at The Saturday Paper – well written, and clear political logic as always from Bongiorno. It is becoming striking how many top line journalists are departing the MSM for online publications.

  14. The damage Maurice Newman is doing to this country exceeds any dumb jihadist from Syria. We are suffering real economic damage NOW to the energy industries owing to uncertainty generated by his dog whistling.

  15. zoomster:

    Those examples sound confected to me for the sole purpose of Hockey attempting to portray himself as just another ordinary Joe.

  16. Climate change WILL kill and affect the health of a lot of people – let alone the economic consequences.

    If a fucking jihadist could rub his or her two brain cells together for long enough to create a spark they MIGHT kill a few people.

    Abbott and Newman are the real threat NOW in their denial ofd sensible risk management and damage to the economy.

  17. Trog

    Agreed. The damage any Aussie jihadist is doing now is caused by Immigration under Scott Morrison letting them fly out on a jumbo jet with fake passports. He is too obsessed with boat arrivals to focus on the failures in his own department. Meanwhile the people who gave them the passports have not been charged.

    Deterrent effect on real terrorists of all our border security theatre? Zero. Have a good day all.

  18. Good Morning

    Some breaking news from the Land of the Free not to do with Ferguson

    “@AP: BREAKING: Texas Gov. Rick Perry indicted for abuse of power over threat to veto prosecutors’ funding.”

  19. After going ‘khaki” I think we can look forward to plenty of Hi=Vis action from Stuntman this summer.

    [Queensland fire crews gear up for busiest season since 1994

    Queensland Fire and Emergency Services station officer Paul Womersley said crews were predicting conditions could be as bad as in 1994.

    “Because of the lack of rain…we’re about 60 per cent deficient in our normal rainfall and this is the time of year we normally get fires starting,” Mr Womersley said on Friday.

  20. Abbott really cares about Australia.

    “@AequoEtBono: If Tone thinks Scottish independence is a “freedom” issue, presumably Operation Here’s Tim Wilson in a Kilt will be announced shortly, yes?”

  21. In a fabulous intervention, Abbott opposes Scottish Independence. Apparently it’s a threat to freedom, and he has advised Cameron to make his slogan ‘Stop the Votes’.

    Apparently he’s at one with Putin on this, since Putin also prefers ‘strong states’. Who knew?

    Apparently though, the enemies of freedom, people you wouldn’t want as friends, are champing at the bit to break up the UK. Also, those Scottish windfarms are really ugly, according to Joe.

  22. zoomster

    [This is very reminiscent of the woman who he claimed he spent hours on the phone to whilst drawing up the Budget. I don’t think anyone was ever able to track her down, despite numerous pleas in the media.]

    Strange women at traffic lights distributing wisdom is no basis for a system of government. 😉

  23. zoom @ 14
    I scanned the last few pages of last night’s thread and all I found – perhaps I missed others? – was one reference to Greens bashing that came after other comments were made about the Greens, by other people, subsequent to you. There’s nothing to indicate whether or not it was specifically in response to your comments.

  24. fran

    my thoughts exactly!

    Although I think Hockey sees himself as something more truly Arthurian – a wandering knight, spurned by the world, dedicating his life to fighting for justice and rescuing damsels in distress…

  25. DN

    If I recall correctly the green bashing remarks were from the afternoon.

    Zoomster clearly has an agenda, but her observations on our likely vote trajectory don’t constitute abuse of us, IMO.

    As to remarks about what we need to do, in the opinion of ALP loyalists here, that’s just the standard back and firth one expects in a place like this. I sharply disagree with Zoomster and others on politics, but that’s no biggy.

  26. Morning bludgers

    Appreciate all the reading material this morning.

    My favourite, Mark Latham. The meep meep at the end of his piece, had me in stitches!

  27. Bongiorno’s article is good too.

    [The penny seems to have dropped for the government that the hard right’s agenda is not the winner it thought. Indeed, it is politically toxic. Maybe if Abbott were riding higher, he could carry the commitment to the IPA’s broader wish list. A list that had expression in the budget with university fee deregulation and a clampdown on family tax benefits. Earlier, it saw an end to car industry subsidies and the abolition of the Australian National Preventive Health Agency.

    The Liberal backbench is despairing of the quagmire the government is now in. It’s been trailing Labor since last December in the opinion polls. Remarkable for a first-term government so soon after a decisive election win. The budget is the worst received in 20 years and has robbed the Liberals of their dominance as economic managers, according to the Essential poll.

    No wonder the prime minister has flicked the switch to khaki. National security is traditionally a huge Liberal plus. ]

  28. fran

    and I exempt you from the charge. Our exchanges do focus on the issues, not the personalities, and we probably agree more than we disagree (although we don’t get into long arguments about agreements!)

  29. zoom
    Ok, so I found an earlier one. You should ask the person directly what they mean.

    Also, I was thinking about the following:
    [No one spends their day attacking them for this. No one accuses them of “Labor bashing”.

    People here question whether the Liberals will poll over 50% at the next election.

    No one spends their day attacking them for this. No one calls it “Liberal bashing”.]

    Is it actually the case that people don’t cop this? Perhaps they don’t, exactly, but I’ve seen gloomy Labor predictions labelled concern trolling, for example. I’ve also seen gloomy Liberal predictions labelled a product of Labor rusted-on-ness. They seem to me a similar kind of commentary as labels of bashing.

  30. Grattan, Waterford, Bongiorno and another whose name escapes me, have made reference to the politics Abbott is playing with National security.
    Would be nice if more of them called him out on this

  31. Speaking of Paul Bongiorno, this tweet from him last night was a beauty

    [Is it only me or is@TonyAbbottMHR looking like a general in search of a war?]

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