Queensland election 2015

Southern Downs

Margin: Liberal National 29.8% versus KAP
Region: Rural Southern
Federal: Maranoa

Candidates in ballot paper order



Family First

Labor (bottom)


Liberal National (top)




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

Held for the Liberal National Party by former Nationals leader Lawrence Springborg, the electorate of Southern Downs extends westwards from Warwick, 100 kilometres south-west to Brisbane, along the Cunningham and Barwon highways through Inglewood, Goondiwindi and beyond. It was created in 2001 in an area previously accommodated by Carnarvon until 1992 and Warwick thereafter. Carnarvon, Warwick and Southern Downs were held in turn by Springborg, who was elected as the Nationals member for Carnarvon in 1989 at the age of 21. The area covered by the electorate has been secure National/Country Party territory since the 1957 Labor split, such that not even a dive in the Nationals vote in Warwick from 66.8% to 45.9% could put Springborg in real danger from One Nation in 1998.

Springborg has served as Health Minister since the election of the Newman government in early 2012, returning him to a ministerial rank he last held for four months in the twilight of the Borbidge government. He rose to the Nationals deputy leadership in February 1999, and reportedly lost a leadership vote to Mike Horan by one vote when Rob Borbidge quit after the 2001 election disaster. After a further two dismal years in the polls, Horan sought to head off mounting leadership speculation by calling a party room spill, which ended with Springborg winning a party room vote with “at least” eight votes out of 12. Springborg did well by modern standards to remain at the helm through both the 2004 and 2006 elections, but was only able to make a slight dent in Labor’s massive majority.

Following the second defeat in September 2006, Springborg relinquished the leadership and was widely tipped to enter federal politics. However, an opportunity failed to emerge, and as the Nationals’ polling went backwards under the leadership of his successor Jeff Seeney, a view developed that he should be re-enlisted to put the party on a better footing ahead of looming merger negotiations. After initially expressing reluctance, Springborg launched a challenge against Seeney in January 2008, reportedly winning the party room vote ten to six. Springborg then became a crucial figure in the merger negotiations which bore fruit in August 2008, but he was unable to lead the newly established Liberal National Party to victory at his third election as Opposition Leader in March 2009, despite a much stronger performance than on his two previous attempts.

Springborg relinquished the leadership for a second time after the election to become deputy leader. He moved to the back bench when the plan for Campbell Newman to lead the party from outside parliament was unveiled in March 2011, complaining that the party organisation had undermined the parliamentary wing, but was prevailed upon to return after the 2012 election victory with the job of Health Minister.

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

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