Margin: Labor 0.5%
Region: Regional City
Outgoing member: Tim Mulherin (Labor)
Candidates in ballot paper order
2012 ELECTION RESULTS
Electorate boundary map outline courtesy of
Ben Raue of The Tally Room.
Encompassing the bulk of the historic sugar-producing town nearly 970 kilometres north of Brisbane that bears its name, Mackay has formed the basis of an electorate without interruption since 1878. It has had just four members since 1915, all of them from Labor: William Forgan Smith (1915 to 1942, Premier from 1932 to 1942), Fred Graham (1943 to 1969), Ed Casey (1969 to 1995, Opposition Leader from 1978 to 1982) and Tim Mulherin (1995 to present). Mulherin announced his intention to bow out at the coming election days after it was called on January 6, saying the decision had been prompted by the death of his father a month earlier.
The current boundaries of Mackay encompass the town outside of the areas north of the Pioneer River along with the western suburb of Mount Pleasant, which are in Whitsunday, and a small area at its southern edge, which is in Mirani. Mulherin came to the seat in 1995 and served as a minister in the Beattie-Bligh government minister from December 2005 until the March 2012 election defeat, and was the party’s deputy leader thereafter. He survived the 2012 debacle by a margin of just 0.5%, after suffering an above-par swing of 16.2%.
The new Labor candidate is Julieanne Gilbert, a Queensland Teachers Union official and former primary school teacher who shares Mulherin’s alignment with the Labor Unity/Old Guard sub-faction of the Right. Gilbert was reportedly chosen directly by Annastacia Palaszczuk, the short time frame allowed by Mulherin’s resignation having mitigated against a local party ballot.
There has been widespread talk that Labor’s hold on the seat is under serious threat from independent candidate Julie Boyd, explaining Annastacia Palaszczuk decision to visit the electorate the Tuesday before polling day. Boyd served as mayor from 1997 to 2008 and made three bids for LNP preselection federally before quitting the party, complaining she had been told she had not made enough tea and bickies to win support. Some insight on the electorate’s demographics were provided to Paul Syrvet of the Courier-Mail by Tim Mulherin, who said the mining boom had produced a massive influx of blue collar workers who I initially thought would be natural Labor voters, but they were also affluent, aspirational and earning huge wages; they were swinging voters. However, most such voters had since left the electorate as the construction phase of the mining boom petered out.
Corrections, complaints and feedback to William Bowe at pollbludger-at-bigpond-dot-com. Read William’s blog, The Poll Bludger.