Queensland looks like it may have a practice run for its October state election on March 28, in the shape of by-elections for two state seats together with its council elections, which are themselves of unusual interest due to the extent of the City of Brisbane and the partisanship of its council politics. Certainly a contested by-election looms in the southern Gold Coast seat of Currumbin, after Liberal National Party member Jann Stuckey resigned on Wednesday, trumping her announcement last June that she would not seek another term. The other potential by-election is in the seat of Bundamba in eastern Ipswich, a seat safe enough for Labor that it was among the seven retained at the party’s 2012 election wipeout. The situation there arises from suggestions that Jo-Ann Miller, a long-standing thorn in the side of her party’s leadership, is considering jumping ship to run for the mayoralty of Ipswich. The ABC quotes the Electoral Commissioner, Pat Vigden, as saying the cost of a by-election would be cut from $350,000 to $210,000 if it was held on the same day as the council elections.
Jann Stuckey’s announcement on Wednesday that she was retiring due to a battle with depression carried the sting that political life had exposed her to “bullying, personal attacks and insults”. This follows threats to her preselection after she and two other LNP members voted to remove abortion from the criminal code in November 2018 in what was supposedly a conscience vote (the only Labor member who voted against was the aforementioned Jo-Ann Miller), and her publicly voiced displeasure that the party’s candidate vetting committee knocked back the preselection nomination of her favoured successor, Chris Crawford. However, LNP leader Deb Frecklington insisted Stuckey’s comments in her retirement announcement referred to attacks on her by Labor, which Stuckey has endorsed to the extent of telling Seven News she had been “humiliated” by recent government attacks on her in parliament.
Stuckey has held Currumbin for the Liberals and then the LNP since 2004, most recently on a margin of 3.3% at the 2017 election. This followed a 2.4% swing to Labor, reducing the margin to its lowest point since her first two wins in 2004 and 2006. The seat was previously held for Labor from 1992 to 2004 by Merri Rose, a Beattie government minister whose career ended ignominiously. Labor’s candidate will be Kaylee Campradt, a part-time campaign officer for the Queensland Council of Unions who was preselected to run at the state election last October. No word on the LNP preselection that I’m aware of, other than a statement from the party’s administration that it will be “expedited”.
The Brisbane lord mayoralty election will pit LNP incumbent Adrian Schrinner against Labor candidate Patrick Condren, a television news journalist. Labor originally selected its unsuccessful candidate from 2016, Rod Harding, but dumped him in favour of Condren in September. The Liberals (technically the LNP since 2010) have won four successive lord mayoral elections since 2004, the last three by landslide margins. Campbell Newman was the winner in 2004 and 2008, and was succeeded on his entry to state politics in 2012 by Graham Quirk, the winner of 2012 and 2016. Quirk in turn resigned in April last year and was succeeded by Schrinner, the choice of the LNP-dominated council.
The LNP won 19 of the 26 council wards in 2016 to Labor’s five, with the others going to an ex-Liberal independent and the Greens. In the ward of Pullenvale, former federal Ryan MP Jane Prentice suffered another preselection defeat on Wednesday at the hands of Greg Adermann, as both vied to succeed incumbent Kate Richards, who has been disendorsed and referred by her own party to the Crime and Corruption Commission.