Margin: Labor 1.1%
Location: Southern Brisbane, Queensland
In a nutshell: Changing boundaries over the years have transformed a once conservative seat into a bellwether that has gone the way of the winning party at every election since 1990. A favourable redistribution helped Labor’s Graham Perrett narrowly survive the Queensland backlash of 2010.
The candidates (ballot paper order)
GRAHAM DOUGLAS PERRETT
WAYNE J M GRUNERT
CHRIS ALLAN MALLCOTT
JEREMY PETER DAVEY
BRUCE MAYBURN FRY
Moreton extends from the southern Brisbane riverside suburbs of Oxley, Sherwood and Yeronga out to Runcorn and Acacia Ridge, the latter area being the more favourable for Labor. It was one of nine Queensland seats gained by Labor at the 2007 election, and one of only three of the nine which stayed with them in 2010. The seat has existed in name since federation, but was based on the Gold Coast and Brisbane’s southern outskirts until McPherson was created to accommodate the Gold Coast when parliament expanded in 1949. Moreton then began a long drift north into the inner suburbs, transforming the seat from safely conservative to marginal. The first near-miss came with Jim Killen’s famous 130-vote win in 1961, achieved with help from Communist Party preference leakage, which allowed the Menzies government to survive with a one-seat majority. Labor would not get over the line until 1990, when Liberal veteran Don Cameron was unseated by Garrie Gibson.
Gibson suffered a small adverse swing in 1993 before succumbing to a further 4.9% swing amid the Queensland tidal wave of 1996. The new Liberal member was Gary Hardgrave, a former children’s television host and media adviser to Senator David MacGibbon. Hardgrave held junior ministry positions from 2001 to 2005 while maintaining a tenuous grip on his seat, surviving a 4.2% swing in 1998 and an unfavourable redistribution in 2004. Redistribution further chipped away at his margin before the 2007 election, and he was unseated by a 7.5% swing to Labor in 2007. He has since kept in the public eye as the drive presenter on Fairfax Radio’s Brisbane station 4BC.
Moreton has since been held for Labor by Graham Perrett, previously an adviser to the Queensland Resources Council and earlier a state ministerial staffer and official with the Queensland Independent Education Union. Perrett enjoyed what proved to be a decisive 1.4% boost at the redistribution before the 2010 election, after which a 4.9% swing cut his margin to 1.1%. He made the news in his first term with the publication of his “erotic novel”, The Twelfth Fish, and in his second when he threatened to quit parliament if Labor changed leaders again, a position he backed away from when Kevin Rudd was marshalling his unsuccessful leadership challenge in February 2012.
The Liberal National Party has again preselected its candidate from 2010, Malcolm Cole, a former Courier-Mail journalist and late Howard-era staffer to Alexander Downer and Santo Santoro.
Analysis written by William Bowe. Read William’s blog, The Poll Bludger.