In spite of everything, elections will proceed on Saturday in Queensland’s state by-elections for Currumbin and Bundama, together with its local government elections. It appears pre-poll voting has more than doubled since 2016, and postal voting has doubled almost exactly, though I’m hearing anecdotal evidence of applicants who struggled with a floundering website before the deadline last Monday failing to receive their ballots. By my rough reckoning, the proportions in 2016 were 63% ordinary, 23% pre-poll and 14% postal, but should now be at around 18%, 54% and 28%. I will have live results pages in action for the by-elections, but the radical changes in voter behaviour just noted will make it unusually difficult to get an accurate read on the swing.
The Courier-Mail had polls for Currumbin and Bundamba that paint a bleak picture for the Liberal National Party, showing Labor at level pegging in their bid to snare Currumbin, and the LNP crashing to fourth place in Bundamba, where Labor is credited with a 62-38 lead over One Nation. The polls were conducted by uComms last weekend from samples of 700 in each seat — I’m unclear if they were commissioned by the newspaper. Both Currumbin, which covers the Gold Coast at the New South Wales border and has an LNP margin of 3.3%, and Bundamba, covering eastern Ipswich and with a Labor margin of 21.6%, are straightforward four-cornered contests involving Labor, the LNP, the Greens and One Nation. One Nation are directing preferences to the LNP, the Greens to Labor, and the LNP to One Nation. However, the impact of this will be limited as parties are not allowed to distribute how-to-vote cards at polling booths.
The other big story on Saturday is the election for Brisbane City Council, Australia’s biggest, most powerful and most conventionally partisan local government. There will be a direct election for the lord mayoralty and elections for the 26 single-member wards of the council, conducted with optional preferential voting. The Liberal National Party achieved crushing victories in 2016, when Graham Quirk was re-elected as mayor over Labor’s Rod Harding with 59.3% of the two-candidate preferred vote. Quirk retired in March 2019 and was succeeded by Adrian Schrinner, as chosen by the council from among its own number. He had previously been deputy mayor, a prize of the majority party. His Labor opponent is Patrick Condren, a journalist with a high profile as former state political editor for the Seven Network. Reflecting a general impression that current circumstances will favour incumbency, Ladbrokes has Schrinner a clear favourite at $1.22 to Condren’s $3.
The LNP won 19 of the 26 council seats in 2016, with Labor winning only five and the Greens and an independent scoring one apiece. One of the LNP wards, Pullenvale, will be contested by incumbent Kate Richards as an independent after being referred to the Crime and Corruption Commission and dumped as LNP candidate. Another ward, Doboy, was won by the LNP on a 4.3% margin but now credited with a post-redistribution notional margin of 0.3% by Ben Raue at the Tally Room, although Antony Green gives it a tiny LNP margin of 0.03%.
There are nine wards with margins of under 10%, including two, Coorparoo and Paddington, for which the Greens are at least partly hopeful. These wards respectively neighbour the Greens’ existing seat of The Gabba to the north-west and east, the three collectively covering inner-city territory immediately west and south of the central business district. Jonathan Sri holds a solid 7.0% margin over the LNP in The Gabba, but Labor could threaten him if voters defect to them from the LNP.
Labor’s potential gains are further afield: Northgate (1.7%), The Gap (4.5%), Enoggera (5.6%) and Marchant (7.6%) in the north of Brisbane, and Holland Park (4.1%) and Runcorn (8.7%) in the south. A roughie might be the CBD ward of Central, which the LNP holds with a margin of 8.2% over Labor, but the Greens were within striking distance of second place last time. Former LNP independent Nicole Johnston looks secure in Tennyson, but it’s anyone’s guess how Richard might go in Pullenvale.
The state’s other councils do not have declared party alignments, but they are often present if you know where to look. Outer Brisbane and the coastal sprawl to its north and south are covered by (in descending order of population) the cities of Gold Coast, Moreton Bay (think Dickson, Longman, northern Petrie), Sunshine Coast, Logan (most of Moreton and northern Forde, plus some low-density hinterland from Wright), Ipswich and Redland (which perfectly corresponds with Bowman), with Toowoomba, Townsville and Cairns being the largest municipalities regionally. The first five of these are usefully explained by Ben Raue and guest Alexis Pink at The Tally Room.