Seat of the week: Curtin

Despite bearing the name of one of Labor’s greatest heroes, and covering his old home turf of Cottesloe, the Perth seat of Curtin is blue in tooth and claw. Julie Bishop has held the seat since she unseated a conservative independent in 1998.

Blue and red numbers respectively indicate booths with two-party majorities for the Liberal and Labor parties. Click for larger image. Map boundaries courtesy of Ben Raue at The Tally Room.

Julie Bishop’s seat of Curtin covers Perth’s most affluent and Liberal-friendly areas, from Mosman Park and Cottesloe north along the coast to the southern part of Scarborough, and along the northern shore of the Swan River through the prestige suburbs of Peppermint Grove and Dalkeith. An area of relative Labor strength is provided by the area immediately west of the city. The electorate was created with the expansion of parliament in 1949, prior to which the Perth metropolitan area had been divided in highly variable fashion between Perth and Fremantle, with each consistently accounting for some of the area of modern Curtin. Curtin was originally limited to Perth’s inner west, with Fremantle continuing to extend up the coast as far as City Beach, before acquiring its coastal orientation with the redistribution of 1955. Fremantle was thereafter concentrated more to the south of the river, although its present northern limit at the suburban boundary of North Fremantle and Mosman Park was not established until 1984.

Despite bearing the name of a Labor Party legend, Curtin has been a blue-ribbon Liberal seat since its creation, being held first by prime ministerial contender and future Governor-General Paul Hasluck, and then by Victor Garland, a minister in the McMahon and Fraser governments. Garland’s resignation in early 1981 led to a preselection brawl in which the then Premier, Sir Charles Court, marshaled forces behind Allan Rocher to thwart Fred Chaney’s ambition to move from the Senate to the House, which he would eventually realise when he became member for Pearce in 1990. Rocher was defeated for preselection ahead of the 1996 election by Ken Court, son of the aforementioned Charles and brother of Richard, who was then Premier. This greatly displeased the newly reinstalled federal Liberal leader, John Howard, who did little to assist Court’s election campaign or to dispel the conception that he owed his preselection to controversial party powerbroker Noel Crichton-Browne. Rocher was thus easily able to retain his seat as an independent on Labor preferences, while a similar story played out in the northern suburbs seat of Moore.

Curtin returned to the Liberal fold in 1998 when Rocher was defeated by a new Liberal candidate, Julie Bishop, who had previously been a managing partner at law firm Clayton Utz. Bishop’s early career progress within the Howard government was reckoned to have been constrained by her ties to Peter Costello, and in the wake of the Coalition’s 2001 state election defeat she signed on to an abortive scheme to move into state politics to succeed Richard Court as Liberal leader. She eventually won promotion to Ageing Minister in 2003, and attained cabinet rank as Education, Science and Training Minister in January 2006. Reflecting the continuing strong performance of the party’s Western Australian branch, she was elevated to the deputy leadership in the wake of the 2007 election defeat. Her success in maintaining that position under three leaders reportedly led internal critics to dub her “the cockroach”, although dissatisfaction with her performance as Shadow Treasurer caused her to be reassigned to foreign affairs in January 2009. She retained the portfolio throughout the remaining years in opposition, further serving in the shadow portfolio of trade after the 2010 election, and was confirmed as Foreign Minister with the election of the Abbott government in September 2013.

UPDATE: Channel Seven has reported the ReachTEL poll conducted on Thursday night found only 28% believe the government’s new policies to stop boat arrivals were working versus 49% who don’t, while 56% say the government should announce boat arrivals when they happen. Last night it was reported that 53% think the Prime Minister should deliver the explanation for spying activities demanded by Indonesia, while 34% say he shouldn’t; and that 38% support Australia’s bugging activities with 39% opposed. It appears Channel Seven are sitting on voting intention numbers.

Seat of the week: Wannon

Malcolm Fraser’s old seat in the western districts of Victoria was highly marginal for the first half of the twentieth century, but it’s been a long time since it was last a source of interest on election night.

Blue and red numbers respectively indicate booths with two-party majorities for the Liberal and Labor parties. Click for larger image. Map boundaries courtesy of Ben Raue at The Tally Room.

Wannon has existed without interruption since federation, presently extending along the Victorian coast from the Twelve Apostles and Port Campbell through Warrnambool and Portland to the South Australian border, and northwards through rural territory to Hamilton, Ararat and Maryborough. The electorate has always accommodated the state’s south-western corner but was initially oriented further to the north and less to the east, encompassing Horsham until 1949 and only then acquiring Warrnambool, which had previously been in Corangamite. Relative population decline has lately caused the electorate to expand in a north-easterly direction, gaining Ararat in 1996 and Maryborough in 2010. Electoral support is generally evenly divided in the towns, but the rural balance keeps the seat safely conservative.

Wannon was a marginal seat prior to 1955, having previously changed hands on a number of occasions between Labor and the prevailing conservative party of the day, without ever being held by the Country Party. The turning point came with the retirement of Labor member Donald McLeod in 1955, at which point it was gained by its highest profile former member, Malcolm Fraser. Fraser was 25 years old at the time, and had fallen 17 votes short of winning the seat on his first attempt at the election held a year previously. After sweeping to victory on the back of an 8.5% swing, Fraser increased his margin at the next four elections and held the seat securely thereafter, going on to serve as Australia’s twenty-second Prime Minister from 1975 to 1983.

Fraser retired from parliament in the immediate aftermath of the 1983 election defeat and was succeeded at a by-election by David Hawker, who held the seat for the next 27 years. Hawker’s profile was rather lower than his predecessor’s, the high points of his career being a junior shadow ministry from 1990 to 1993 and the Speakership in the final term of the Howard government. On retiring at the 2010 election he was succeeded by Daniel Tehan, deputy director of the Victorian Liberal Party and son of the late Kennett government minister Marie Tehan, who won preselection ahead of Stephen Mitchell, founder of natural gas explorer Molopo Australia.

Seat of the week: Scullin

After more than four decades in the hands of the Jenkins dynasty, the outer northern Melbourne seat of Scullin has passed on to Andrew Giles with the former Speaker’s retirement at the September election.

Scullin covers suburbs at the northern edge of Melbourne including Thomastown, Epping and Mill Park, from which it extends eastwards beyond the Plenty River to semi-rural outskirts and further suburban territory around Diamond Creek, a somewhat stronger area for the Liberals. The electorate traces its origins back to the seat of Darebin, which was created in 1949 to accommodate the area from Reservoir south to Preston. A seat bearing the name of Scullin existed in Melbourne’s inner north from 1955 until 1969, at which point it was abolished and the name reassigned. The newly renamed electorate of Scullin continued to cover the area immediately south of its present location, which was accommodated by Burke in the west and Diamond Valley in the east. Epping and Thomastown were absorbed by Scullin when Diamond Valley was abolished with the expansion of parliament in 1984, at which time Scullin continued to cover suburban territory around Hadfield further to the west, while the Diamond Valley area remained in McEwen. The electorate assumed its present character when the former area was exchanged for the latter with the redistribution that took effect at the 1996 election. Scullin as it has existed since 1969 has been held at all times by Labor, by margins ranging from 7.0% in 1977 to 27.6% in 1984. The current margin is 14.3%, following a 6.2% swing against Labor at the election in September.

Despite the dramatic changes in the territory it has covered, Scullin maintained continuity of representation in being held firstly by Harry Jenkins Senior from 1969 to 1986, and then by his son Harry Jenkins Junior up until the recent election. The elder Jenkins had been the state member for Reservoir from 1961 to 1969, and served as Speaker of the House of Representatives from the election of the Hawke government in 1983 until his appointment as ambassador to Spain in December 1985. His son then emerged as a compromise preselection winner after a tussle within the locally dominant Socialist Left faction, which took place against the backdrop of the events which led to its controversial figurehead Bill Hartley being expelled from the party. Jenkins faced a preselection challenge ahead of the 2007 election after the Right and hard Left reached a deal in which the latter was to back Bill Shorten’s move against factional independent Bob Sercombe in Maribyrnong, with the former to support youthful party operative Nathan Murphy in Scullin. This fell through after Sercombe agreed to go quietly, relieving pressure on Right members to fall in behind the contentious deal in support of Murphy, who has since entered state politics as a member for the upper house region of Northern Metropolitan.

Jenkins followed his father’s footsteps still further when he took on the position of Speaker after the election of the Rudd government in 2007. The Labor leadership hoped to improve their precarious position on the floor of parliament after the 2010 election by having Jenkins make way for an independent or Coalition defector, but this could not be effected until Liberal member Peter Slipper agreed to take on the position in November 2011, which proved to be a poisoned chalice for all concerned. Jenkins insisted he had abandoned the position of his own accord as he wished to resume participating in policy debate. He announced his intention to bow out of politics after serving out his term the following July. With the seat remaining a prize of the Socialist Left, there was no reported opposition to the preselection of the state faction’s secretary Andrew Giles, a Slater & Gordon lawyer and former adviser to state MPs Gavin Jennings and Lily D’Ambrosio.

Seat of the week: Bowman

Covering Brisbane’s coastal outer south, Andrew Laming’s seat of Bowman came within 64 votes of falling to Labor under Kevin Rudd in 2007, before going dramatically the other way as part of the statewide backlash three years later.

Bowman covers Brisbane’s coastal outer south from Thorneside through Capalaba and Sheldon to Redland Bay, and extends across the southern part of Moreton Bay to North Stradbroke Island. It has existed in name since 1949, but did not include any of its current territory until 1969, instead being based in Brisbane’s inner south-east. The 1969 redistribution caused the redrawn electorate to extend from the mouths of the Brisbane River in the north to the Logan River in the south, the latter also marking the Bowman’s southern extremity today. The area now covered by Bowman began to acquire its suburban character at around this time. With the redistribution of 1977, the southern part of the electorate came to be accommodated by the newly created electorate of Fadden. Bowman’s present dimensions were established when its northern neighbour Bonner was created to accommodate the Wynnum-Manly area at the 2004 election, setting Thorneside as the northern extremity of Bowman.

Bowman in its various permutations has been a marginal seat for most of its history, having been held by the Liberals throughout the Menzies and Holt years outside of a win by Labor as part of its near-victory at the 1961 election. It next changed hands with the big swing to Labor under Gough Whitlam’s leadership in 1969, and would henceforth go with the government of the day until 1998. Leonard Keogh held the seat for Labor from 1969 to 1975 and again after 1983, and also contested unsuccessfully in 1977 and 1980. Keogh was defeated for preselection in 1987 by Con Sciacca, who lost the seat to Liberal candidate Andrea West in 1996 before winning it back again in 1998. The Liberal member during the Fraser years was David Jull, who re-emerged as member for Fadden in 1984.

The reorganisation caused by the creation of Bonner in 2004 boosted the Liberal margin in Bowman by 4.4%, prompting Sciacca to unsuccessfully try his hand in Bonner. Bowman meanwhile was won by Liberal candidate Andrew Laming, an ophthalmologist and World Bank health consultant who added a solid 5.9% to the notional Liberal margin of 3.0%. Laming spent much of 2007 under the shadow of the “printgate” affair, in which he was investigated for allegedly claiming $67,000 to print campaign material for state election candidates, before being cleared two months before the election. After rumblings that the affair might cost him his preselection, Laming survived an 8.9% swing to Labor at the 2007 election to hold on by 64 votes. He had a much easier time of it in 2010, his 10.4% swing being strong even by the standards of Queensland at that election. There was a correction in Labor’s favour of 1.5% at the 2013 election, going slightly against the trend of a 1.3% statewide swing to the Liberal National Party.

Laming was promoted to the position of shadow parliamentary secretary for regional health services and indigenous health after the 2010 election, but was dropped after the Abbott government came to power.

Seat of the week: Wills

Located in Melbourne’s middle north, Wills was once home to Bob Hawke, is now home to Kelvin Thomson, and was home in the interim to independent Phil Cleary. It has never been home to the Liberals.

Red and green numbers respectively indicate booths with two-party majorities for Labor and the Greens. Click for larger image. Map boundaries courtesy of Ben Raue at The Tally Room.

Wills covers an area of Melbourne’s middle north, from long-established Brunswick in the south and Coburg in the centre to post-war suburbs further north. Like its eastern neighbour Batman, it straddles the divide between the Greens stronghold of the inner city and the expansive Labor heartland of Melbourne’s northern suburbs. However, the former area carries lesser weight in Wills than in Batman, being confined to the area around Brunswick, which makes the seat substantially more secure for Labor. The electorate was created with the expansion of parliament in 1949, though at that time its southern end was covered by the since-abolished electorate of Burke (an unrelated electorate of the same name covered Melbourne’s outer north from 1969 to 2004). Prior to 1949, an electorate called Bourke had boundaries similar to those Wills has had since Burke was abolished in 1955. Labor’s strength in the area was established early, with Bourke being held by either Labor or socialist independents from 1910 until it was abolished.

The inaugural member for Wills was Bill Bryson, who had won Bourke for Labor in 1943 before losing to an independent in 1946. Bryson was among seven Victorian “groupers” who were expelled from the party during the split of 1955, and he contested that year’s election as the candidate of the Australian Labor Party (Anti-Communist), which would shortly evolve into the Democratic Labor Party. However, Bryson was defeated by Labor candidate Gordon Bryant, who went on to serve as Aboriginal Affairs Minister in the Whitlam government. When Bryant retired in 1980, the seat was used to accommodate Bob Hawke’s long-anticipated entry to parliament, enabling him to assume the prime ministership three years later.

Hawke resigned from parliament immediately after losing the leadership in December 1991, providing Paul Keating with an early electoral test in the form of a by-election for a seat the party had never lost before. The test was failed disastrously: in a record field of 22 candidates, local football identity Phil Cleary outpolled the Labor candidate 33.5% to 29.4%, prevailing by 15.7% after preferences. The result was declared void the following November when the High Court ruled Cleary had not been qualified to nominate as his job as a teacher constituted “an office of profit under the Crown”. The imminence of the 1993 election meant no new by-election was held, but Cleary won the seat at the ensuing election by a margin of 2.4%. Cleary’s position was subsequently weakened when redistribution pushed the seat westwards, and Labor candidate Kelvin Thomson provided his party with a rare highlight at the 1996 election when he polled 50.0% of the primary vote to prevail over Cleary by 5.8% after preferences.

A member of the Labor Unity (Right) faction, Thomson entered politics as the state member for Pascoe Vale in 1988, and served in the shadow ministry following the Kirner government’s defeat in 1992. He was elevated to the federal shadow ministry in 1997, serving in portfolios including environment and regional development. However, he resigned from the front bench in March 2007 when it emerged he had given a reference to colourful Melbourne identity Tony Mokbel. From February 2013 until the government’s defeat he served as a parliamentary secretary, first in the trade portfolio and then in schools after Kevin Rudd resumed the leadership in June, after which he returned to the back bench. Thomson supported Julia Gillard in the February 2012 leadership ballot, but was among those who defected to the Rudd camp in June 2013. Together with the rest of his faction, he supported Bill Shorten in the post-election leadership contest. While Thomson’s electoral position has at all times remained secure, the Greens achieved a minor milestone at the 2013 election when they finished ahead of the Liberals to secure second place, ending up 15.2% arrears after the distribution of preferences.

Seat of the week: Cook

To mark today’s Miranda state by-election, a tour of the corresponding federal electorate of Cook, held safely for the Liberals by Scott Morrison.

UPDATE (Morgan poll): The latest Morgan multi-mode poll, which will be reporting fortnightly for the rest of the year at least, is a better result for the Coalition than the last, having their primary vote up 1.5% to 43.5%, Labor’s down 2.5% to 34.5%, the Greens up a point to 10%, and the Palmer United Party steady on 4.5%. As was the case in the previous poll, there is an implausibly huge disparity between the respondent-allocated two-party result (51.5-48.5 to the Coalition) and that using 2013 election preferences (55-45), and as was the case last time, I can only conclude that something is going awry with the latter calculation. My own modelling of preference flows from the recent election produces a result of 51.5-48.5 from these results, exactly the same as the Morgan respondent-allocated preference figure.

Blue and red numbers (if any) respectively indicate booths with two-party majorities for the Liberal and Labor parties. Click for larger image. Map boundaries courtesy of Ben Raue at The Tally Room.

Cook covers southern Sydney suburbs to the south of the Georges River, including Kurnell, Cronulla, Miranda and Sylvania. The electorate was created in 1969 to accommodate post-war suburban development, the area having previously been accommodated by Hughes from its creation in 1955 and Werriwa beforehand (an unrelated seat called Cook covered inner southern Sydney from 1906 to 1955). There has been little geographical change to the electorate since its creation, its boundaries being set by Botany Bay and Georges River in the north and Port Hacking in the south, but its character has transformed from marginal mortgage belt to affluent and safe Liberal. The seat’s inaugural member was Donald Dobie, who had won the hitherto Labor-held seat of Hughes for the Liberals with the 1966 landslide, but he was unseated in 1972 by Labor’s Ray Thornburn. Dobie again contested the seat in 1974 and 1975, suffering a second narrow defeat on the first occasion and winning easily on the second. Thornburn followed Dobie’s example in twice recontesting the seat in 1977 and 1980, but like all future Labor candidates he was unsuccessful. Dobie prevailed by 148 votes when the Fraser government was defeated in 1983, and the closest margin since has been 3.5% in 1993.

Dobie was succeeded upon his retirement at the 1996 election by Stephen Mutch, who had been a member of the state upper house since 1988. Mutch fell victim after one term to an exercise of power by the party’s moderate faction, which at first backed local barrister Mark Speakman, who had been best man at Mutch’s wedding nine years earlier. The resulting dispute ended with the installation of another noted moderate, Bruce Baird, who had been a senior minister through the Greiner-Fahey NSW government from 1988 to 1995. Mutch’s demise greatly displeased John Howard, who pointedly failed to promote Baird at any point in his nine years in Canberra. It also did not help that Baird was close to Peter Costello, and was spoken of as his potential deputy when fanciful leadership speculation emerged in early 2001. After reports that growing Right control of local branches was putting his preselection in jeopardy, the 65-year-old Baird announced he would bow out at the 2007 election.

Even before Baird’s retirement announcement there was talk of him being succeeded by Scott Morrison, former state party director and managing director of Tourism Australia. According to Steve Lewis in The Australian, Morrison boasted “glowing references from a who’s who of Liberal luminaries, including Defence Minister Brendan Nelson, Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull, former Liberal president Shane Stone, Howard’s long-time chief of staff Arthur Sinodinos, and Nick Minchin, the Finance Minister and another close ally of Howard”. However, it quickly became clear that such support would not avail him without the backing of the Right, which had been successfully courted by local numbers man Michael Towke. Imre Salusinsky of The Australian reported that Morrison was further starved of support when moderates resolved to resist Towke by digging in behind their own candidate, Optus executive Paul Fletcher, later to emerge as member for Bradfield.

The ensuing preselection ballot saw Towke defeat Fletcher in the final round by 82 votes to 70, with Morrison finishing well back in a field that included several other well-credentialled candidates. However, Towke’s preselection success met powerful resistance from elements of the party hierarchy, whom conservative Sydney Morning Herald columnist Paul Sheahan credited with a series of damaging reports in the Daily Telegraph. The reports accused Towke of branch-stacking and embellishing his CV, culminating in the headline, “party split as Liberal candidate faces jail” (a defamation action brought by Towke against the paper was eventually settled in his favour). It was further reported that Towke had been the victim of a whispering campaign relating to how his Lebanese heritage would play in the electorate that played host to the 2005 Cronulla riots (Towke’s surname being a recently adopted Anglicisiation of Taouk). The party’s state executive narrowly passed a resolution to remove Towke as candidate, and a new preselection involving representatives of local branches and the state executive duly delivered victory to Scott Morrison.

Morrison was quickly established as a senior figure in a Liberal Party newly consigned to opposition, winning promotion to the front bench as Shadow Housing and Local Government Minister when Malcolm Turnbull became leader in September 2008 and securing the high-profile immigration and citizenship portfolio when Turnbull was deposed by Tony Abbott in December 2009. He further gained productivity and population after the 2010 election, before having his political role sharpened with the title of Immigration and Border Protection Minister following the 2013 election victory.

Seat of the week: Casey

Held since 2001 by Tony Smith, the outer eastern Melbourne seat of Casey flowed with the electoral tide from its creation in 1969 until 1984, but has strengthened for the Liberals.

Blue and red numbers respectively indicate booths with two-party majorities for the Liberal and Labor parties. Click for larger image. Map boundaries courtesy of Ben Raue at The Tally Room.

Held by the Liberals without interruption since 1984, Casey covers Melbourne’s eastern suburban fringe at Lilydale, Kilsyth and Monbulk, together with the Yarra Valley townships of Yarra Glen, Healesville and Warburton and unpopulated Yarra Ranges areas further afield. The suburban areas are Liberal-leaning, middle-income and culturally homogenous, with an above-average number of mortgage payers. Outcrops of Labor support further afield coincide with lower incomes at Healesville, a “tree-changer” tendency around Monbulk, and a combination of the two at Warburton (the Greens outpolled Labor at the 2013 election at the Warburton booth and The Patch just south of Monbulk). Healesville and Warburton were added with the redistribution before the 2013 election, which further cut the Liberal margin through the transfer of Croydon and Ringwood to Menzies and Deakin.

Casey was oriented further westwards when it was created in 1969, extending northwards from Ringwood to Kinglake. The bulk of the modern electorate remained in La Trobe, the area having previously been divided between it and Deakin. Casey assumed approximately its current dimensions when the expansion of parliament in 1984 pushed it further east into the Yarra Valley, and the 1990 redistribution added some of its present outer suburbs territory. The seat has been in Liberal hands outside of two interruptions, from 1972 to 1975 and 1983 to 1984. The inaugural member was Peter Howson, who had previously held the abolished inner urban electorate of Fawkner since 1951. Race Mathews won the seat for Labor with the election of the Whitlam government, and after being unseated in 1975 entered state politics as member for Oakleigh in 1979. Peter Falcolner held the seat for the Liberals through the Fraser years, before being unseated by Labor’s Peter Steedman when the Hawke government came to power in 1983.

Steedman was in turn unseated after a single term by Robert Halverson in 1984, with some assistance from redistribution, and the seat has been in Liberal hands ever since. Halverson’s retirement in 1998 made the seat available as a safe haven for Howard government Health Minister Michael Wooldridge, whose position in Chisholm had been weakened by redistribution in 1996. However, Wooldridge only served a single term before quitting politics at the 2001 election, at which time he was succeeded by Tony Smith. During Smith’s tenure the Liberal margin broke double digits for only the second time at the 2004 election, but he went into the 2013 election with a margin of only 1.9% following successive swings and an unfavourable redistribution. He nonetheless retained the seat easily on the back of a statewide Liberal swing that pushed his margin out to 7.2%.

Smith’s entry to politics came via a staff position with Peter Costello, with whom he remained closely associated. After the 2007 election defeat he won promotion to the shadow cabinet in the education portfolio, but Malcolm Turnbull demoted him to Assistant Treasurer when he became leader in September 2008. Smith formed part of the front-bench exodus in the final days of Turnbull’s leadership, together with Tony Abbott and Nick Minchin, in protest against Turnbull’s support for an emissions trading scheme. He duly emerged a strong backer of Abbott in the ensuing leadership contest, and returned to shadow cabinet in broadband and communications. However, Smith was widely thought to have struggled during the 2010 campaign and was demoted after the election for a second time, this time down to parliamentary secretary level. With the election of the Abbott government he was dropped altogether, making way for the promotion of fellow Victorians Josh Frydenberg and Alan Tudge.

Seat of the week: McPherson

The Gold Coast seat of McPherson has been in conservative hands since its creation in 1949, and has been served by a succession of low-key members since 1980.

Teal numbers indicate booths with two-party majorities for the Liberal National Party. Red numbers would indicate booths with two-party majorities for Labor, if there were any. Click for larger image. Map boundaries courtesy of Ben Raue at The Tally Room.

McPherson is the southernmost coastal electorate in Queensland, covering the Gold Coast from Coolangatta at the New South Wales border north through Tugun and Palm Beach to Burleigh Heads, and extending inland to Robina and Merrimac in the north and the semi-rural Tallebudgera and Currumbin river valleys further south. An area of intensive and ongoing population growth, the most recent redistribution before the 2010 election saw it lose 5600 voters at the inland end of the electorate to the newly created seat of Wright without it needing to receive any new territory in return. The regional is demographically unremarkable on most measures, excepting a lack of ethnic diversity and a slightly above-average median age.

The electorate was created with the expansion of parliament in 1949, prior to which the Gold Coast had been accommodated by Moreton, which was pushed over time into its present position in southern Brisbane. McPherson has since been anchored in the state’s south-eastern corner, at first extending much further inland to include Beaudesert and Warwick. Its inaugural member was Arthur Fadden, a leader of the Country Party who briefly served as Prime Minister after Robert Menzies’ resignation in August 1941. After six weeks in the role he was defeated in parliament when he lost the support of two key independents, although the beleagured United Australia Party continued to support him as Opposition Leader until the 1943 election defeat. Fadden moved to the newly created seat in 1949 after previously serving as member for Darling Downs, which has since been re-named as Groom. He held the seat until his retirement in 1958, at which point he was succeeded by another Country Party member, Charles Barnes.

The rapid development of the Gold Coast changed the electorate’s complexion in the decades following the war, drawing it away from its rural base and towards the coast and weakening its identity as a Country Party stronghold. When Charles Barnes retired in 1972, Liberal candidate Eric Robinson won the seat after narrowly edging out the Country Party candidate in the preference count. The electorate was at the centre of a political controversy in 1978 when it was alleged that Robinson, then a minister in Malcolm Fraser’s government, had sought to influence the electoral redistribution commissioners after they determined to change the electorate’s name to Gold Coast, which under the terms of the coalition agreement would have entitled the National Country Party to contest the “new” seat. A royal commission into the matter cleared Robinson of wrongdoing but found another minister, Reg Withers (who had won fame as the Opposition’s Senate leader during the 1975 crisis), to have acted improperly. This resulted in Withers’ dismissal by Fraser, to the chagrin of many in the Liberal Party. Robinson went on to resign from the ministry the following year over an unrelated falling-out with Fraser.

Robinson died in January 1981 and was succeeded at the ensuing by-election by Liberal candidate Peter White. White won an easy victory with help from Labor preferences over National Country Party candidate Glenister Sheil, who had resigned from the Senate to run at the by-election and would later return to it in 1984. Sheil had won a position in the ministry in 1977 only to lose it before being sworn in for expressing support for South Africa’s apartheid system. Peter White held the seat until his retirement at the 1990 election, by which time the National Party was no longer competitive in the area at the federal level. He was succeeded by John Bradford, who went on to quit the Liberal Party in 1998 to join Fred Nile’s Christian Democratic Party, standing unsuccessfully as its Queensland Senate candidate at the election later that year. The seat then passed on to Margaret May, who won Liberal preselection from a field that included former Brisbane lord mayor Sallyanne Atkinson.

When May announced her retirement ahead of the 2010 election, Liberal front-bencher Peter Dutton sought to move to the seat in preference to his ultra-marginal existing seat of Dickson in Brisbane’s outer north. However, it quickly became apparent that local party operatives who had been jockeying for the succession were not going to be deterred, despite Dutton’s move having the backing of John Howard and then-Liberal leader Malcolm Turnbull. The result was a rebuff for Dutton, who was said to have come within a handful of votes of victory on the first round of the local preselection ballot but was ultimately defeated by Karen Andrews, a Gold Coast businesswoman and chair of the party’s local federal electorate council. The prospect of the party’s state executive intervening by refusing to ratify the result was promptly ruled out amid talk of a potential rebellion in the local party. Dutton was accordingly compelled to remain in Dickson, which he had no trouble retaining amid the much-changed political circumstances which prevailed by the time the election was held. Andrews meanwhile picked up successive swings of 1.6% and 2.7% to hold the seat by a margin of 13.0% after the 2013 election.