Margin: Labor 2.5%
Location: Northern Brisbane, Queensland
In a nutshell: Petrie changed hands along with government at the 1996 and 2007 elections, recording near double digit swings on both occasions. It did not however swing much in 2010, allowing Labor’s Yvette D’Ath to retain her seat while all about her were losing theirs.
The candidates (ballot paper order)
THOR LEOPOLD PROHASKA
Petrie covers a narrow strip of Brisbane’s northern coastal suburbs from Carseldine north to Burpengary. This includes three distinct areas: in the centre, the Redcliffe Peninsula; further north along the coast, Deception Bay and the developing suburb of North Lakes; and, on the southern side of the Pine River which separates the Moreton Bay local government area from Brisbane, the suburbs of Bracken Ridge, Fitzgibbon and Carseldine. The redistribution before the 2010 election added the Deception Bay area (previously in Longman) and transferred coastal suburbs at the southern end to Lilley, boosting the Labor margin by 2.1%.
The electorate was created with the enlargement of parliament in 1949 and held consistently by the Liberals until 1983, barring a surprise defeat in 1961. It again changed hands from Labor to Liberal in 1984 and back again in 1987. The seat was held for Labor for the next three terms by Gary Johns, who together with most of his Queensland Labor colleagues was unseated at the 1996 election, in his case when a 9.8% swing demolished his margin of 2.1%. Johns has more recently associated himself with conservative causes as a senior fellow of the Institute of Public Affairs and columnist for The Australian.
Petrie was then held for the Liberals throughout the Howard years by Teresa Gambaro, member of a family noted in Brisbane for its seafood business and city restaurant. Gambaro’s margin was reduced to 0.8% when the elastic snapped back at the 1998 election, but she was strengthened by successive swings of 2.7% in 2001 and 4.4% in 2004. This left her with a 7.9% buffer going into the 2007 election, but it was not enough to save her from a 9.5% swing to Labor’s Yvette D’Ath, previously been an official with the Right faction Australian Workers Union. D’Ath did well in 2010 to limit the swing against her to 1.7%, well below the statewide result of 5.6%, and sufficient for her to survive with a margin of 2.5%. Teresa Gambaro meanwhile returned to parliament by unseating Labor’s Arch Bevis in the electorate of Brisbane.
The Liberal National Party candidate for the coming election is Luke Howarth, managing director of Sandgate Pest Control and a past candidate for the state seat of Sandgate (which is located across the boundary in Wayne Swan’s electorate of Lilley). Howarth prevailed out of a preselection field of 10, of whom most presumed the front-runner to be John Connolly, a former Wallabies coach and unsuccessful state candidate for Nicklin who had the endorsement of John Howard.
Petrie is one of six Queensland seats where Katter’s Australian Party is directing preferences to Labor, as part of a preference deal that sees the KAP get the second preference on Labor’s Queensland Senate ticket.
Analysis written by William Bowe. Read William’s blog, The Poll Bludger.