Queensland election 2015


Margin: Liberal National 1.4% versus KAP
Region: Western Townsville
Federal: Herbert/Kennedy

Candidates in ballot paper order



One Nation

Family First

Liberal National (top)



Palmer United Party

Labor (bottom)




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

The Townsville region seat of Thuringowa delivered Labor a particularly ignominious defeat at the 2012 election, which their member Craig Wallace went into with an 8.5% margin and came out of in third place. The seat produced the state’s fourth highest vote for Katter’s Australian Party, whose candidate Steve Todeschini polled 30.1%. However, Liberal National Party Sam Cox polled 36.1% and Todeschini was unable to close the gap on preferences, with Cox prevailing at the final count by 1.4%.

Thuringowa covers Townsville’s western outskirts, from Thuringowa itself south through the suburbs of Condon, Rasmussen and Kelso on the bank of the Ross River, along with rural territory west to Alice River and Black River. It was created at the 1986 election as the successor to Townsville West, which Perc Tucker lost as he led Labor to its disastrous defeat in 1974. Labor recovered the seat in 1980, and held Thuringowa for all but one term from 1986 to 2012.

The exception came when Ken Turner emerged as one of 11 successful One Nation candidates at the 1998 election, recording 34.9% of the primary vote against Labor member Ken McElligott’s 35.1% and prevailing by 6.6% after preferences. McElligott had originally planned to retire at the election, having held Townsville from 1983 to 1986 and Thuringowa thereafter, but went back on the decision after his nominated successor, Karen Ehrmann, was forced to withdraw after being charged with electoral fraud. The episode led directly to the Shepherdson inquiry in late 2000 and early 2001, and ultimately to Ehrmann’s imprisonment.

Ken Turner quit One Nation in February 1999 and went into the 2001 election as an independent, doing well to score 25.8% of the vote but nonetheless losing to Labor’s Anita Phillips by 3.6% after preferences. Phillips stood aside at the 2004 election to make an unsuccessful bid for Herbert at the federal election the following October, and was succeeded in Thuringowa by Craig Wallace, a former executive officer to Townsville mayor Tony Mooney. That Wallace had himself come to the attention of the Shepherdson inquiry did not seem to bother the voters, who added 3.8% to Labor’s primary vote. Wallace was returned with big majorities in 2006 and 2009, and served in cabinet from November 2006 until the 2012 election defeat.

Thuringowa has since been held for the LNP by Sam Cox, who was variously identified as a former real estate agent, small business owner and operator of Brookehaven Holiday Units on Magnetic Island. His Labor opponent at the coming election will be Aaron Harper, a CareFlight paramedic. Another notable candidate is Jeff Knuth, won won Burdekin for One Nation and contested Hinchinbrook for Katter’s Australian Party in 2012, and is now back with One Nation. Knuth is the brother of Shane Knuth, who holds Dalrymple for Katter’s Australian Party.

cuIn the second week of the campaign, a Galaxy automated phone poll of 696 respondents in the electorate had Labor with a two-party lead of 52-48, from primary votes of 42% for Labor, 38% for the LNP, 5% each for Palmer United and the Greens. The results of the poll sat will with a report in the second week of the campaign in The Australian, which said internal polling from both sides had the six LNP-held seats in northernmost Queensland “well within the ALP’s grasp”. But of the Townsville seats, it appeared that Thuringowa and Townsville were stronger prospects for Labor than Mundingburra. Galaxy polls conducted simultaneously with the one in Thuringowa had Labor with leads of 58-42 in Townsville and 51-49 in Mundingburra.

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

Back to Crikey’s Queensland election guide

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