Queensland election 2015


Margin: Liberal National 3.4%
Region: Cape York
Federal: Kennedy/Leichhardt

Candidates in ballot paper order




Liberal National (top)

Palmer United Party


Katter’s Australian Party

Labor (bottom)




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

The Cape York Peninsula seat of Cook balances strongly conservative centres north of Cairns, including Cooktown, Miallo and Wonga, against overwhelmingly Labor-voting northern communities that contribute to the electorate’s 36% indigenous population. The latter typically outweigh the former, but not to the extent that Labor was able to retain the seat in the context of a result such as 2012. Nonetheless, the seat asserted its distinctiveness by delivering the election’s smallest anti-Labor swing.

Cook has had an uninterrupted existence going back to 1875, being in Labor hands on all but a few occasions since 1915. The most recent prior to 2012 was the landslide of 1974, when National Party candidate Eric Deeral became the first and thus far only Aboriginal member of the Queensland parliament. The seat was subsequently held for Labor by Robert Scott from 1977, Steve Bredhauer from 1989, and Jason O’Brien from 2004.

Cooktown mayor Graham Elmes put in a determined bid for the Nationals when Bredhauer retired at the 2004 election, but O’Brien retained the seat for Labor with a margin of 7.5%, having earlier worked as Bredhauer’s electorate officer. Elmes’s absence assisted a 7.6% swing back to Labor in 2006, despite O’Brien having suffered an accident-prone first term in parliament. He subsequently proved a steady enough hand to be entrusted with the deputy speakership after the 2009 election, but was undone electorally by successive swings of 9.2% in 2009 and 5.7% in 2012.

The seat has since been held by former Cairns lawyer David Kempton, who was the Liberal National Party’s second choice at the 2012 election after its original candidate, Mareeba printing business owner Craig Batchelor, withdrew citing personal reasons. Kempton won immediate promotion on entering parliament to the outer ministry role of Assistant Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs. Labor has dealt with a bone of contention by finally fielding an Aboriginal candidate for the seat in Billy Gordon, an electorate officer to Senator Jan McLucas. Gordon was Labor’s candidate against Warren Entsch in Leichhardt at the September 2013 federal election.

cuIn the second week of the campaign, The Australian reported that internal polling from both sides had the six LNP-held seats in northernmost Queensland “well within the ALP’s grasp”, with the party’s prospects in Cook being rated particularly highly.

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

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