The central Queensland seat of Flynn was created in 2007, and is one of four electorates that have been created to accommodate the state’s population explosion in 1998. Central to the electorate is Gladstone, which had previously been in Hinkler since that seat’s creation in 1984, and before that was in Capricornia. To this area of Labor strength is added conservative rural territory encompassing the Capricornia Highway towns out to Emerald in the west, and the Burnett Highway through Monto to Gayndah in the south. Labor won the seat as part of Kevin Rudd’s statewide breakthrough in 2007, but it was among the Liberal National Party’s seven gains in Queensland in 2010, and swung further in their favour in 2013.
Flynn had a notional Nationals margin of 7.9% going into the 2007 election, at which it loomed as a key seat due to accurate expectations of a dramatic swing in Queensland. Labor’s candidate was Chris Trevor, a solicitor and former Gladstone councillor who had come close to unseating Liz Cunningham, the independent member for Gladstone, at the state election the previous year. The swing proved to be fractionally above what was required, with Trevor making it over the line by a margin of 253 votes. Trevor performed particularly well in the immediate vicinity of Gladstone, winning a swathe of booths that were lost in 2004 on double-digit swings.
Trevor publicly contemplated quitting politics in June 2010 after the dumping of Kevin Rudd, who had smoothed his path to preselection three years earlier, but did not follow through on the threat. His position in Flynn had been slightly firmed up by a redistribution that saw the seat exchange Nationals-voting territory in the interior for the Mount Morgan area south of Rockhampton, boosting his margin to 2.1%. However, this provied insufficient in the face of a swing that was roughly in line with the state average at 5.8%, and was particularly forceful in the area newly added by the redistribution.
The seat has since been held for the Liberal National Party by the Nationals-aligned Ken O’Dowd, former owner of Busteed Building Supplies in Gladstone, who strengthened his hold in 2013 with a further swing of 3.0%. O’Dowd’s Labor opponent at the coming election will be Zac Beers, a 25-year-old Gladstone-based organiser for the Right faction Australian Workers Union.