Margin: Independent 14.0% versus Labor
Region: Central Coast
Outgoing member: Liz Cunningham (Independent)
Candidates in ballot paper order
2012 ELECTION RESULTS
Electorate boundary outline courtesy of
Ben Raue of The Tally Room.
To be vacated at the election by Liz Cunningham, who has held the seat as an independent since 1995, Gladstone includes the coastal industrial city 500 kilometres north of Brisbane which bears its name, and extends about 80 kilometres westwards to Ambrose and southwards to Builyan. As the home to numerous mining-related industries and the world’s fourth largest coal export terminal, Gladstone enjoyed strong growth on the back of the mining and resources boom, to the extent of having the state’s eighth highest median family income at the time of the 2012 census. The census also recorded the electorate as having the state’s highest proportion of technicians and trade workers, and the largest proportions of workers in the manufacturing and construction industries.
The area has traditionally been a stronghold for Labor, its predecessor electorate of Port Curtis having been in Labor hands for all but two terms from its creation in 1915 until it was succeeded by Gladstone in 1992. Liz Cunningham, who had previously been the mayor of Calliope Shire, succeeded in unseating Labor member Neil Bennett on her second attempt at the 1995 election by a margin of 3.1%, having fallen 2.0% short in 1992. Her independent status twice placed her in a balance-of-power position, the first being after Labor’s defeat in the Mudingburra by-election in February 1996, when her vote brought down Wayne Goss’s government, and the second being after the 1998 election, when she was marginalised by independent Nicklin MP Peter Wellington’s decision to give Labor the extra number it needed.
Cunningham’s margins over seven successive election victories have mostly been modest, although there has been a generally improving trend over time. An exception was in 2004, when Labor pared the margin back to 2.0% on the back of a particularly strong campaign by Chris Trevor, a Gladstone councillor and future federal member for Flynn. The conservative vote in the electorate has consistently been extremely low, to the extent that the Liberal National Party did not field a candidate in 2002. Even amid the 2012 landslide their candidate could manage only 10.9%, which was nonetheless higher than various Nationals candidates had managed at elections going back to 1995.
Hours after the election date was announced on January 5, Cunningham announced she would not seek another term. Two days later she declared her endorsement of former Gladstone councillor Craig Butler, appearing with him at a press conference as he announced his intention to run as an independent. Labor will again be fielding its candidate from 2012, Glenn Butcher, a maintenance superintendent at Queensland Alumina.
In the second last week of the campaign, Mark Ludlow of the Financial Review last week reported that Liz Cunningham the seat likely to be won by Labor due to local anger over the government’s plan to make the city’s port a key element of its plan to lease public assets to pay down debt.
Corrections, complaints and feedback to William Bowe at pollbludger-at-bigpond-dot-com. Read William’s blog, The Poll Bludger.