Seat of the week: Forde

The outer southern Brisbane seat of Forde has stayed beyond Labor’s reach for all but one term since it was radically redistributed in 1996, their most recent failed candidate being former Premier Peter Beattie.

Forde covers developing suburban territory at the southern edge of Brisbane, including the Logan City suburbs of Loganlea, Shailer Park and Beenleigh in the north, together with City of Gold Coast territory along the Pacific Motorway from Ormeau south to Upper Coomera. It has recently exhibited an electoral volatility characteristic of electorates dominated by mortgage-paying young families, capped by a 14.4% swing that delivered the seat to Labor for a single term when Kevin Rudd came to office in 2007. It was notable at the 2013 election in being contested for Labor by former Premier Peter Beattie, who fell well short in his bid to unseat Bert van Manan, the Liberal National Party member since 2010.




The electorate was created in name with the expansion of parliament in 1984, but at that time it was located entirely further to the north, in areas of suburban Brisbane now accommodated by Oxley and Moreton. It has since undergone two transformations: in 1996, when large territory swaps with Rankin left it with only a toehold on metropolitan Brisbane around Loganholme, from which it extended south thrown Beaudesert and Boonah to the New South Wales border; and in 2010, when the rural territory was lost to the new seat of Wright, and it was compensated with Shailer Park at the northern end and Upper Coomera in the south. David Watson won Forde for the Liberals at the 1984 election by 43 votes, a margin he was unable to defend against Labor’s Mary Crawford in 1987. He would later return to politics in state parliament, eventually leading the Liberal Party to a disastrous election result in 2001.

Crawford meanwhile built up a handy margin on the back of swings in 1990 and 1993, but was poleaxed by the 1996 redistribution and the party’s refusal to allow her to move to Rankin, partly in consequence of its determination to accommodate Kevin Rudd in Griffith. Kay Elson picked up a 9.6% swing in gaining the seat for the Liberals at the 1996 election, and she retained the seat by comfortable margins in 1998 and 2001 before consolidating with a further 5.9% swing in 2004. Her retirement at the 2007 election was presumably a factor in the ensuing 14.4% swing, making the seat one of nine in Queensland gained by Labor. It was then held for a term by Brett Raguse, a former teacher and local newspaper publisher who had more recently worked as an adviser to state ministers associated with the AWU/Labor Forum sub-faction of the Right. Raguse was unseated at the 2010 election in what by Queensland standards was a fairly typical swing of 5.0%, and would later make an unsuccessful preselection bid to succeed Craig Emerson in Rankin at the 2013 election.

The seat has since been held by Bert van Manen, a financial planner from Slacks Creek who had run as the Family First candidate for Rankin in 2007. Despite suffering negative publicity during the campaign over the collapse of the firm in which he was a director and half-owner, van Manen went untroubled in the face of Peter Beattie’s challenge, adding a further 2.8% to his existing margin of 1.6%. His Labor candidate at the next election will be Des Hardman, a Logan Hospital radiographer who was initially preselected as Labor’s candidate in 2013, but was obliged to make way when the Peter Beattie plot was hatched at the start of the election campaign.

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.

4 comments on “Seat of the week: Forde”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *