Queensland election 2015


Margin: Liberal National 8.5% versus Independent
Region: Central Coast
Federal: Flynn/Hinkler

Candidates in ballot paper order



Labor (bottom)


Liberal National (top)

Palmer United Party





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

The central coast electorate of Burnett surrounds but does not include Bundaberg, extending southwards from the city to Childers and northwards along the coast to Agnes Water and Turkey Beach. Its history goes back to the original proclamation of 16 electorates when self-government was established in 1859, although it was abolished in 1931 and re-created in 1960. Two National/Country members held the seat from 1960 until the 2001 election, when Trevor Strong emerged at the high-water mark of Labor’s landslide election win by unseating incumbent Doug Slack with a 1.7% margin. This followed a strong challenge at the 1998 election from One Nation, who polled 36.4% on the primary vote but landed 2.3% short of victory owing to the flow of Labor preferences to the Nationals.

The Nationals recovered the seat at the 2004 election after a 4.3% to their candidate Rob Messenger, who was known locally as an ABC Radio presenter. Messenger lifted his profile considerably as a parliamentarian through his pursuit of the Jayant Patel “Doctor Death” affair in 2005, but after rising to Shadow Police and Corrective Services Minister in 2006 he suffered a series of demotions. This culminated in John Paul-Langbroek dropping him from the front bench when he became leader after the 2009 election defeat. Messenger quit the Liberal National Party in February 2010 together with Beaudesert MP Aidan McLindon, although he did not follow McLindon into the Queensland Party and Katter’s Australian Party. However, he said he might contemplate joining the latter if it met a list of policy demands which included “sending back” asylum seekers, banning sharia law in Australia and increasing the size of the military.

Messenger sought re-election in 2012 as an independent but was soundly defeated by Liberal National candidate Stephen Bennett, a district manager for QBuild, formerly the Department of Public Works. Bennett outpolled Messenger 40.0% to 24.0% on the primary vote, prevailing by 8.5% after preferences. Messenger later returned to the political stage via the Palmer United Party, running as its candidate for Hinkler at the 2013 election and taking on the position of chief-of-staff to Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie. Tensions between Messenger and Palmer culminated in his expulsion from the party in November 2014, prompting Lambie to leave the party and sit as an independent.

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

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