Queensland election 2015

Mount Isa

Margin: Katter’s Australian Party 10.0% versus LNP*
Region: Western Outback
Federal: Kennedy/Maranoa

Candidates in ballot paper order




Katter’s Australian Party (top)


Liberal National (centre)

Labor (bottom)

One Nation




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

Mount Isa was one of two seats won by Katter’s Australian Party at the 2012 election, and the only one which was not already held by the winning candidate. The party’s cause in the seat was clearly helped by the pedigree of its candidate, Rob Katter, the son of Bob Katter and grandson of Bob Katter Sr, who between them have held the federal electorate of Kennedy for all but three of the past 48 years. The electorate encompasses Mount Isa itself and Aboriginal communities in the north, both of which are historically strong for Labor, together with classic Nationals-voting pastoral areas in the state’s south and east. It ranks top in the state for the proportion of the workforce employed in mining, and second for number of indigenous people.

In keeping with the ongoing trend of regional decline, the redistribution before the 2009 election caused the electorate to increase in area, from 367,305 to 570,502 square kilometres, such that it now covers the entirety of Queensland’s border with the Northern Territory. However, the extent of the required gain was limited by the “large district allowance” which preserves an element of rural weighting in large regional electorates, resulting in an enrolment of 19,373 voters compared with a statewide quota of 29,560.

The electorate was created at the 1972 election, prior to which the town of Mount Isa had variously been in the Labor-held electorates of Burke and Carpentaria. Labor easily won the seat upon its creation, but it fell to the Nationals in the 1974 landslide and remained with them until Labor recovered it in 1983. Labor then suffered a particularly disappointing defeat when the Liberals secured the seat in a three-cornered contest in 1986. Tony McGrady then swept to an easy victory for Labor in 1989, and retained the seat on emphatic margins until he retired in 2006, going on to serve as Mount Isa’s mayor.

Mount Isa was held for the two terms after McGrady’s retirement by Betty Kiernan, who had previously been his electorate officer. After retaining the seat by 12.3% in 2006, Kiernan’s margin was garnished at the 2009 election first by the redistribution, which added pastoral territory unfriendly to Labor, and then by a 2.8% swing. A collapse in her primary vote from 44.5% to 26.6% saw her finish third at the 2012 election, with Katter prevailing by a 10.0% margin at the final count ahead of Liberal National Party candidate Mick Pattel, who had built his profile as the instigator of the “Convoy of No Confidence” in August 2011.

Rob Katter had been a mine worker and property valuer before his entry to parliament, and also served as a Mount Isa councillor from 2008. He was at first the nominal leader of the parliamentary Katter’s Australian Party, but relinquished the position to Condamine MP Ray Hopper when he defected from the LNP in November 2012.

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

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