Queensland election 2015

Brisbane Central

Margin: Liberal National 4.9%
Region: Central Brisbane
Federal: Brisbane

Candidates in ballot paper order




Labor (bottom)


Liberal National (top)




Electorate boundary map outline courtesy of
Ben Raue of The Tally Room.

The Liberal National Party’s win in Brisbane Central at the 2012 election completed a remarkable transformation in a seat that was Labor’s safest after the 2001 election, when it was held for them by Peter Beattie. It covers the northern bank of the Brisbane River, from the city through the Greens-friendly territories of Spring Hill, Fortitude Valley and Kelvin Grove, and also extends eastwards to New Farm and north beyond the Inner City Bypass to Herston and Windsor. Typically for a central business district electorate, its demographic profile is youthful, affluent and multicultural, featuring the state’s highest proportion of workers in the financial sector, the third highest proportion of professionals, the highest number of renters, and the lowest number of families with children.

In a history going back to 1912 (“Central” being added to the name in 1977), Labor’s only defeat prior to 2012 was in the 1974 landslide, after which Harold Lowes held it for the Liberals for a term. Peter Beattie came to the seat in 1989 and blew the margin out to 25.0% at the 2001 election, but this was whittled away subsequently in part due to the loss of Beattie’s personal vote after his retirement in September 2007, but also because of a trend to inner-city apartment living and a weakening of Greens preference flows as voters increasingly exercised the “just vote one” option.

Beattie’s retirement initiated a by-election that was won for Labor by the general secretary of the Queensland Council of Unions, Grace Grace (who acquired her double name through marriage, her maiden name of Grace Farfaglia bespeaking her Italian heritage). Grace’s preselection was reportedly fast-tracked due to factional arrangements that effectively secured the seat for Labor Unity/Old Guard sub-faction of the Right, as distinct from the AWU-dominated Labor Forum.

The 10.9% swing that unseated Grace in 2012 was modest by the standards of the election, but more than enough to account for a Labor margin of 6.0%. The seat has since been held for the LNP by Robert Cavallucci, owner of a family construction business. The electorate was among those local resident Campbell Newman was considering as he cast around for a Labor-held seat to contest in lieu of a sitting LNP member being willing to make way for him, but it was reportedly ruled out because Cavallucci had already been preselected, together with concern that local voters may have been alienated by rates increases when Newman was Lord Mayor.

Out of a crowded field of LNP parliamentarians, Cavallucci won immediate promotion to the outer ministry as Assistant Minister for Multicultural Affairs. He will again be opposed at the election by Grace Grace, who won a hotly contested preselection ballot ahead of Left-backed Travis O’Brien, a senior industrial officer with the CFMEU. O’Brien had majority support from the party’s central electoral college due to a broad-ranging factional deal between the Left and Labor Unity, which secured preselections for the Left in Pine Rivers and Labor Unity in Ferny Grove. However, this was overwhelmed by a clear win for Grace in the local party ballot.

cuPaul Syrvet of the Courier-Mail offered some interesting insight into the electorate’s demographics: “Since 2012 about 42 per cent of the population who were enrolled to vote in the last election have moved out … while the average age of voters has dropped to 42, one of the lowest in the state. In fact, since 2012 there has been a 40 per cent increase in enrolled voters under the age of 30, as thousands of younger Queenslanders move into the medium-high density apartment developments mushrooming in areas such as Bowen Hills, Teneriffe and Kelvin Grove.”

Corrections, complaints and feedback to William Bowe at pollbludger-at-bigpond-dot-com. Read William’s blog, The Poll Bludger.

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