Margin: Liberal National 8.9%
Region: Southern Brisbane, Queensland
In a nutshell: Andrew Laming came within 64 votes of losing Bowman as Kevin Rudd swept Queensland in 2007, but it went dramatically the other way in 2010.
Candidates in ballot paper order
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 accommodate an area of rapid development between the mouths of the Brisbane River in the north and the Logan River in the south, the latter also marking the Bowman’s southern extremity today. 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 the Wynnum-Manly area was transferred to the new electrate of Bonner in 2004, setting Thorneside as Bowman’s northern extremity.
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 Labor’s win in 1961. 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. The Liberal member in the interim was David Jull, who re-emerged as member for Fadden in 1984. Keogh was defeated for preselection in 1987 by Con Sciacca, who lost the seat to Liberal candidate Andrea West as part of Labor’s great Queensland disaster of 1996, then won it back from her in 1998.
Con Sciacca unsuccessfully contested the new seat of Bonner at the 2004 election, as the redrawing of Bowman had left it with a notional Liberal margin of 3.1%. Bowman was then won for the Liberals by Andrew Laming, an ophthalmologist and World Bank health consultant whose margin was boosted by a 5.9% swing. Laming survived an investigation into claims he had misused his printing allowance in the months before the 2007 election, then suffered an 8.9% swing that brought him to within 64 votes of defeat. He had a much easier time of it in 2010, his swing of 10.4% 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 shadow parliamentary secretary for regional health services and indigenous health after the 2010 election, but relegated to the back bench upon the election of the Abbott government.
Analysis by William Bowe. Read William’s blog, The Poll Bludger.