Margin: Labor 8.5%
Location: Northern Brisbane, Queensland
In a nutshell: For much of the current term it seemed as if Kevin Rudd’s inner urban seat might be the last one left standing for Labor in Queensland, but his return to the prime ministership appears to have transformed the situation.
The candidates (ballot paper order)
KARIN MARGARET HUNTER
Kevin Rudd’s electorate of Griffith covers inner Brisbane immediately south of the Brisbane River, from South Brisbane east to Bulimba and Queensport, south to Annerley and south-west to Carina Heights. Until 1934 it was called Oxley, that name later being revived for an unrelated new Ipswich-based seat in 1949. Highly marginal historically, Griffith changed hands between Liberal and Labor in 1949, 1954, 1958, 1961, 1966, 1977, 1996 and 1998. Don Cameron won the seat for the Liberals with the 1966 landslide and then had his position strengthened by redistribution, helping him to retain the seat in opposition from 1972 to 1975. A redistribution at the 1977 election moved the seat heavily in Labor’s favour, resulting in Cameron switching to the new Gold Coast seat of Fadden and Griffith being won for Labor by Ben Humphreys.
When Humphreys retired at the 1996 election the Labor preselection was won by Kevin Rudd, a former diplomat who wielded great influence as chief-of-staff to Wayne Goss during his tenure as Queensland Premier from 1989 to 1996. In doing so he established a factional association with the locally dominant AWU sub-faction of the Right, which secured his preselection despite grumblings that the state branch was failing to meet affirmative action standards. However, the statewide rout that Labor suffered in 1996 saw Rudd fall it his first electoral hurdle, with Graeme McDougall gaining Griffith for the Liberals off a 6.2% swing. Rudd returned for a second attempt amid the far more favourable circumstances of 1998, picking up a 3.9% swing to prevail over McDougall by a margin of 2.4%.
Rudd established a formidable electoral record in Griffith, picking up 3.3% and 2.4% swings against the trend of the 2001 and 2004 elections. The electorate was substantially reshaped by redistribution at the 2004 election, absorbing inner city areas at East Brisbane, South Brisbane and Dutton Park while its eastern parts were hived off to the new seat of Bonner. In what may have been an early portent of Rudd’s electoral impact, the booths which were transferred out of the electorate contributed to a surprise defeat for Labor in Bonner by swinging heavily to the Liberals in his absence. Rudd enjoyed a further 3.8% swing as his party’s candidate for the prime ministership in 2007, and as its recently spurned ex-leader in 2010 he suffered what by Queensland standards was a relatively mild swing of 3.9%.
The Liberal National Party candidate for the coming election is Bill Glasson, former president of the Australian Medical Association. Glasson’s father, Bill Glasson Sr, was a state National Party MP and minister in the Bjelke-Petersen, Ahern and Cooper governments.
A ReachTEL automated phone poll of 702 respondents in Griffith conducted the evening after the election was announced pointed to a 4% swing to the Liberal National Party enough to pare back Kevin Rudd’s margin to 4.5%. Later polling offered even ruder shocks for Labor, a Lonergan automated poll of 958 respondents on August 18 showing Bill Glasson leading 52-48 from primary votes of 38% for Rudd (down six on 2010) and 47% for Glasson (up 11% on the LNP vote in 2013). This suddenly looked less fanciful when a Newspoll survey of 500 respondents, conducted two-and-a-half weeks out from polling day, precisely corroborated the results on both the primary vote and two-party preferred. However, a week later JWS Research conducted an automated phone poll of 550 respondents which showed Rudd easily ahead, 57.2-42.8.
Analysis written by William Bowe. Read William’s blog, The Poll Bludger.