Queensland election 2015


Margin: Independent 4.9% versus LNP
Region: Sunshine Coast Hinterland
Federal: Fairfax/Wide Bay

Candidates in ballot paper order





Independent (top)

Liberal National (bottom)




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

Held by independent Peter Wellington since 1998, Nicklin covers the hinterland of the Sunshine Coast from Nambour to Cooroy, which are respectively located to the interior of Maroochydore and Noosa Heads. This is traditionally conservative territory, and the seat was in Nationals hands from its creation in 1986 until it fell to Wellington. The inaugural member was Brian Austin, who retired a casualty of the Fitzgerald inquiry in 1989. The initially declared winner in a three-cornered contest at the 1989 election was Bob King of the Liberals, but a successful court appeal over the validity of certain ballot papers pushed Neil Turner of the Nationals ahead of King at the second last exclusion, causing Turner rather than King to emerge the victor over Labor on the back of the other’s preferences.

Turner went on to be counted among the many victims of the backlash against the major parties at the 1998 election, but unlike so many others his seat was lost to an independent rather than One Nation. Maroochy Shire councillor Peter Wellington’s surprise win was achieved on the preferences of Labor and One Nation candidates, after the primary vote divided roughly evenly between the four. Wellington’s win left him as one of two independents holding the balance of power, and he deemed an independent-backed Labor government a better bet than one led by a Coalition that would have required the support of One Nation. Wellington soon had the weight removed from his shoulders when Labor’s win in the December 1998 Mulgrave by-election gave it a one-seat absolute majority.

Wellington’s first term satisfied local voters enough to secure him an easy victory with in 2001, when he scored 46.3% on the primary vote and a margin of 23.4% over the One Nation candidate after preferences (a Federal Parliamentary Library study says this result was possibly unique in the last 50 years of state or federal elections, in that neither major party made it to the final count), and his primary vote increased still further to 59.5% in 2004. In between came a horrific farm accident, his persistence in the face of which presumably engendered considerable sympathy. Wellington again scored absolute majorities on the primary vote in 2006 and 2009, albeit narrowly on the latter occasion.

In 2012 he faced a strong challenge from LNP candidate John Connolly, a former Wallabies coach, but retained the seat despite his primary vote falling from 49.9% to 39.1%, and his final margin shrinking from 16.3% to 4.9%. During the current term, Wellington has positioned himself closely to fellow Sunshine Coast identity Clive Palmer, openly backing him for his successful run for Fairfax at the September 2013 federal election, and refusing to rule out joining his party. His LNP opponent at the coming election is Matt Trace, a local dairy farmer.

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

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