Queensland election 2015


Margin: Liberal National 9.0% versus KAP
Region: Rural South-Eastern
Federal: Blair/Groom/Maranoa

Candidates in ballot paper order




Liberal National (top)

Palmer United Party



Katter’s Australian Party (bottom)




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

Covering semi-rural hinterland to the west of Brisbane, including the towns of Kilcoy, Kingaroy and Esk along with Nanango proper, the electorate of Nanango will be associated for a long time to come with former member Joh Bjelke-Petersen, although it was out of his party’s hands from 1998 to 2012. After finally returning to the Liberal National Party fold at the last election, it now looms as a contest between incumbent Deb Frecklington and Ray Hopper, the LNP turned Katter’s Australian Party member for Condamine.

An electorate bearing the name of Nanango first existed between 1912 and 1950, when it was held by three members from the Country Party and its predecessors, the last of whom was Joh Bjelke-Petersen. Bjelke-Petersen served his first term of parliament as the member for Nanango before assuming the successor seat of Barambah in 1950, which he held until his retirement in December 1987. The ensuing by-election was won by Trevor Perrett, an independent linked to the ideologically unorthodox Citizens Electoral Council. Perrett joined the National Party shortly afterwards, going on to serve as Primary Industries Minister in the Borbidge government.

Perrett was unseated in 1998 by One Nation candidate Dorothy “Dolly” Pratt, who polled 43.5% of the primary vote to Perrett’s 31.0% (down from 67.2% in 1995) to prevail by 5.9% after preferences. Pratt proved far the most durable of her 11 party colleagues, breaking away from the party to serve as an independent in February 1999 and retaining the seat over the next four elections with between 40.1% and 46.2% of the primary vote. The unsuccessful Nationals and LNP candidate in 2006 and 2009 was John Bjelke-Petersen, the son of the legendary former member, whose current political endeavour is as Palmer United’s candidate in Callide.

With Pratt’s retirement in 2012, Nanango was won for the Liberal National Party by Deb Frecklington, who held off a strong challenge from former test cricketer Carl Rackemann, running with Katter’s Australian Party. Frecklington, who had previously been a Kingaroy solicitor, won immediate promotion to the outer ministry after her election, as Assistant Minister for Finance, Administration and Regulatory Reform. She now faces an ambitious challenge from Roy Happer, who has abandoned his existing seat of Condamine with a view to extending the Katter’s Australian Party empire, leaving his 22-year-old son Ben Hopper to defend Condamine.

Hopper entered parliament as the independent member for Darling Downs at the 2001 election, before joining the Nationals later in the year and later transferring to the new seat of Condamine upon the abolition of Darling Downs in 2009. He served in the shadow ministry after 2006 but was dropped in March 2011, amid reports he had opposed Campbell Newman’s move on the leadership and possibly faced a preselection challenge from a candidate backed by party headquarters.

After dismissing pre-election suggestions that he planned to jump ship to the KAP, Hopper went on to do just that in November 2012. His list of complaints included the marginalisation of old Nationals identities by an “arrogant” party leadership, the prospect of coal seam gas exploration on farming land, and public service sackings. This met with an aggressive response from the LNP, with Campbell Newman saying the government would treat the candidate the party would ultimately preselect as the electorate’s legitimate representative.

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

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