Queensland redistributed

The Electoral Commission of Queensland has unveiled proposed new boundaries for a state electoral redistribution. Eight seats have been abolished: Labor-held Fitzroy, Kurwongbah and Mount Gravatt, the Nationals seats of Charters Towers, Darling Downs and Cunningham, the Liberal seat of Robina, and the last remaining One Nation seat, Tablelands. The new seats are Buderim, Coomera, Dalby, Macrossan, Mermaid Beach, Morayfield, Samsonvale and Sunnybank. I don’t think I’ll have time to dissect the implications myself, but hopefully the Poll Bludger readership can shed some light on matters in comments (indeed, they have already done so in the previous federal thread). We will hopefully also be hearing from Antony Green later today.

UPDATE: Antony Green in comments offers the following notional margins for seats outside the south-east:

4.5 5.9
1.0 1.0
Barron River
5.1 4.6
NEW 9.0
2.4 0.9
7.6 7.4
8.1 7.9
22.3 19.8
4.4 2.2
15.1 10.9
NEW 18.6
Glass House
7.7 0.2
18.0 12.6
Hervey Bay
1.8 2.1
3.7 2.0
5.7 2.6
7.2 7.1
1.7 3.4
17.6 17.0
NEW 7.4
10.7 8.4
6.5 1.3
Mt Isa
12.3 8.5
9.9 9.7
10.5 11.2
5.4 5.4
20.5 19.8
Southern Downs
20.3 20.4
17.0 16.8
Toowoomba North
10.4 7.6
Toowoomba South
9.6 11.3
9.1 9.4
23.3 22.7
4.4 0.4

Some quick notes on various seats derived from reading of various sources, including a very good contribution from reader Northern Oracle in comments.

New electorates:

Buderim. A new seat to accommodate the population explosion on the Sunshine Coast, likely to prove a gift to the Liberals.

Coomera. New Gold Coast electorate formed largely from Albert, along with part of Broadwater. Minus a sitting Labor member, likely to be won by the Liberals.

Dalby. Formed in large part from two abolished Nationals seats, Cunningham and Darling Downs. The latter was originally won by Ray Hopper as an independent in 2001, but he later joined the Nationals. Cunningham MP Stuart Copeland is spoken of as a future leadership contender, and could conceivably end up with Hopper running against him as an independent (further update: the Courier-Mail reports Hopper might be marshalled against independent Dolly Pratt in Nanango.

Macrossan. Formed in equal part from abolished Charters Towers and Tablelands, which could put their respective sitting members – Shane Knuth of the Nationals and Rosa Lee Long of One Nation – head to head at the next election.

Mermaid Beach. Formed largely from the remains of Robina, this new seat seems likely to be the new home of the Liberal member, Ray Stevens.

Morayfield. A new electorate created in the northern Brisbane growth corridor mostly out of Kallangur, which shifts southwards. Should have a solid notional Labor margin.

Samsonvale. This is essentially a successor to abolished Kurwongbah, so its member Linda Lavarch (who has already confirmed she will seek the seat) can presumably rest easy unless there is an unrelated threat to her preselection.

Sunnybank. Largely constituted of abolished Mount Gravatt, held for Labor by Judy Spence with a margin of 12.9 per cent. Anna Bligh confirms Spence will be offered the nomination for Sunnybank.

Significantly changed Labor electorates:

Mudgeeraba. Labor member Dianne Reilly, who won by 2.9 per cent in 2006, faces the unwelcome addition of large Liberal-voting areas from abolished Robina.

Glass House. Won by Labor’s Carolyn Male by 7.7 per cent in 2006, Antony Green reckons this seat might have become marginal Nationals.

Pumicestone. Northern Oracle in comments says this seat, which Labor’s Carryn Sullivan holds by 5.4 per cent, has been made stronger for the Liberals by absorbing parts of abolished Kallangur.

Whitsunday. The loss of the one-time Communist stronghold of Bowen will take a bite out of Labor’s uncomfortable 4.4 per cent margin.

Greenslopes. Absorption of parts of abolished Mount Gravatt will produce a potentially significant cut in the 10.1 per cent Labor margin.

Mt Isa. Held for Labor by Betty Kiernan by 12.3 per cent in 2006, population decline has required the addition of pastoral areas to the east and south, which by my reckoning have cut the margin to around 8 per cent (no doubt explaining the fuss Labor is making over the geographic size of the electorate, which might make the ECQ consider amendments). Given the lead contamination issue in Mt Isa itself, that’s clearly enough to bring the seat into play.

Inala. A shift southwards for this southern Brisbane seat should dent the 26.3 per cent Labor margin, but not by enough to make life interesting.

Other Labor-held seats that have credibly been said to have become more difficult: Aspley, Indooroopilly and Chatsworth.

Significantly changed non-Labor electorates:

Burdekin. Antony Green says Labor now has a slight advantage in this Nationals-held marginal, which Rosemary Menkens won in 2006 by 2.4 per cent.

Clayfield. Labor has been strengthened in this Liberal-held Brisbane marginal, which Tim Nicholls gained for the Liberals from former minister Liddy Clark in 2006 by a margin of 1.7 per cent.

Mirani. Essentially merged with Labor-held Fitzroy, thereby cutting deep into Nationals member Ted Malone’s 6.5 per cent margin. The abolition of Fitzroy had been anticipated in advance, prompting member Jim Pearce to announce his retirement. However, the loss of the maverick Pearce’s high personal vote means any notional margin would probably flatter Labor.

Nanango. Addition of unfamiliar territory could undermine One Nation-turned-independent member Dolly Pratt, who held off a Nationals challenge from Joh-Bjelke Petersen’s son John in 2006 by 4.2 per cent. The Courier-Mail reports Pratt might face Ray Hopper, whose seat of Darling Downs has been abolished.

UPDATE (26/5/08): Full details and adjusted margins from Antony Green.

UPDATE (27/5/08): More from David Fraser at Graham Young’s Ambit Gambit.

Newspoll: 60-40 to Labor in Queensland

The Australian reports Newspoll’s quarterly survey of Queensland state voting intention has Labor leading the Coalition 60-40 on two-party preferred, up from 59-41 in the October-December survey. The Liberals are down from 26 per cent to 22 per cent and the Nationals, who switched leaders from Jeff Seeney to Lawrence Springborg on January 21, are up weakly from 9 per cent to 10 per cent. These measures have been erratic: the Liberal vote was up 5 per cent in the previous survey, and the Nationals’ share of the Coalition vote is invariably higher at actual elections than in mid-term opinion polls. The two-party figures however have been rock solid, ranging from 59-41 to 61-39 in the four Newspoll surveys since the September 2006 election. Premier Anna Bligh’s satisfaction rating is up from 59 per cent to 64 per cent, higher than any figure achieved by Peter Beattie after January 2004. The one piece of good news for the Coalition is Lawrence Springborg’s 40 per cent approval rating, 12 per cent higher than any recorded by Seeney and even 6 per cent higher than Springborg achieved in his last poll before the 2006 election. Bligh’s 64-18 lead as preferred premier compares with 66-11 in the only Bligh-versus-Seeney poll, and 58-28 in the last Beattie-versus-Springborg poll in 2006.

Brisbane Central by-election live

Vote Swing 2PP
Grace Grace (Labor) 50.7 0.2 61.1
Anna Boccabella (Greens) 33.2 14.9 38.9
Mark A. White (Family First) 7.9
Ian Nelson (One Nation) 2.1
Erik Olaf Eriksen 3.2
Ronald Davy 2.8 COUNT 76 %

7.54pm. Wilston added. Labor wins. That’s me done for the evening.

7.43pm. Kelvin Grove added, leaving only Wilston.

7.30pm. St Pauls Terrace booth added.

7.29pm. As for turnout: 14,893 formal votes have been counted compared with 15,698 at the same booths last year.

7.26pm. New Farm School added.

7.25pm. Brisbane booth added.

7.22pm. Merthyr booth added. I’m also now using a real-world preference split of 27 per cent Labor, 11 per cent Greens and 62 per cent exhaust. The exhaustion figure I cited earlier was obviously a miscalculation.

7.16pm. Windsor booth added.

7.13pm. I’ve changed the Labor and Greens vote from “raw” to “adjusted”.

7.10pm. New Farm added.

7.09pm. Although there are in fact only 38 per cent exhausting.

7.07pm. Two-party results from four booths at the ECQ suggest Stephen L’s preference guess was pretty much spot on.

7.04pm. Ballymore booth added.

6.59pm. Newmarket, Newmarket South and Swan Hill booths added.

6.57pm. I have installed Stephen L’s suggested preference distribution, and corrected an error that had my 2PP calculation flattering the Greens.

6.51pm. Slightly larger Fortitude Valley has the Labor vote up a little.

6.49pm. Tiny Herston booth indicates a quite strong performance by the Greens, but with Labor still on track for a primary vote over 50 per cent.

6.43pm. Once again, above figures are for test purposes.

6.35pm. I’m just going to split non-Labor and Greens preferences 50/50. Anyone disagree?

6.34pm. Figures above are for test purposes only.

6.22pm. Welcome to my live coverage of the Brisbane Central by-election. Results should start coming in in about 15 minutes or so, time I will need to spend debugging the above table.

Brisbane Central by-election preview

The by-election to fill Peter Beattie’s vacancy in the state seat of Brisbane Central will be held tomorrow. With the Liberals sensibly declining to field a candidate, it is unlikely to be terribly exciting, despite inevitable wild talk about the Greens’ chances. The Nationals were at one point making noises about filling the void with a candidate of their own, apparently convinced that this would add weight to their argument that they should still be considered a going concern in the urban south-east. However, the plan was abandoned when they failed to find a suitable candidate in time. More and better coverage from Mark Bahnisch at Larvatus Prodeo; tune in here tomorrow evening for half-hearted live coverage of the count. The candidates in ballot paper order:

Erik Olaf Eriksen. Beyond the fact that he polled 171 votes as a candidate for Clayfield at the state election last September, Eriksen’s identity is a mystery.

Mark A. White (Family First). Hoping to monopolise the conservative vote, White is described as a “telecommunications manager and father of six”.

Ian Nelson (One Nation). Nelson is also One Nation’s lead Queensland Senate candidate, and is presumably running to boost his profile. More on Nelson’s outlook on life can be ascertained from videos viewable here and here.

Anne Boccabella (Greens). The Greens website describes Boccabella as “a long-time community activist with 28 years experience as a successful small business owner”.

Ronald Davy. The other of the two independents in the field is no less an enigma than Eriksen.

Grace Grace (Labor). So good they named her twice (she in fact acquired the name through marriage, her maiden name of Grace Farfaglia bespeaking her Italian heritage), the Queensland Council of Unions general secretary was immediately mentioned as a possible replacement for Beattie along with Michael Dart, chief-of-staff to Sports Minister Andrew Fraser, and Milton Dick, party state secretary, who both promptly withdrew. Steve Wardill of the Courier-Mail reported that Grace’s nomination was fast-tracked by the party’s administrative committee after Anna Bligh chose a short time-frame for the by-election campaign, prompting familiar sounding grumbling from local party members. Wardill said it was “understood Ms Bligh and Mrs Grace posed together for candidate photographs in New Farm Park … before the by-election date was even announced”. The process was apparently driven by factional arrangements that effectively secured the seat for Unity (also known as the “old guard”), a sub-faction of the Right distinct from the AWU-dominated Labor Forum.

UPDATE: Still more from Mark Bahnisch at Larvatus Prodeo, this time with videos.

Peter out

Queensland Premier Peter Beattie has announced his intention to retire as of Thursday. He will hand the reins to long-established heir presumptive Anna Bligh, who will follow Carmen Lawrence and Joan Kirner to become Australia’s third female premier. This means a by-election looms in Beattie’s seat of Brisbane Central. While this is hard to get excited about (it is all but certain that the Liberals will not field a candidate), it’s interesting to note that Beattie’s margin fell from 25.0 per cent to 19.6 per cent in 2004 and then to 14.8 per cent in 2006. Of greater interest is the symbolism involved in two state premiers recently deciding to quit while at the top of their game, and the contrast presented by the present incumbent of The Lodge.

Gaven by-election live

. Primary Swing 2PP Swing
LABOR 36.8 -10.8 46.6 -8.4
NATIONALS* 42.5 3.7 53.4 8.4
Greens 7.8 -0.1
Others 12.9 7.1 95% COUNTED
* Nationals swings compared with Liberal in 2004

Monday 4.00am. A slightly puzzling article from Jamie Walker and Emma Chalmers in the Courier-Mail (join in the fun and suggest your own alternative title for the paper in comments), which tells us that the swing "is expected to blow out from 7.5 per cent", and that Labor is "bracing" for it to pass 8 per cent. But the ECQ’s two-party figures, which are correctly quoted in the article, already have it at 8.3 per cent. Another eyebrow-raiser is the assertion that there are "3500 postal and pre-polling votes still to be counted", which if literally correct will mean more than 6000 non-polling booth votes have been lodged, compared with 3198 at the Chatsworth by-election and 3455 at Redcliffe. It may be that they know something I don’t, but for the time being I will conclude that the 3500 figure includes the 2692 that have already been counted. The figure of 95 per cent in the table above is based on this assumption.

Sunday 1.30pm. Might as well keep going. Postals and pre-polls are in, leaving only about 200 absent and declared institution votes remaining. Postals accounted for more than 8 per cent of the total and have run badly against Labor, the 13.6 per cent two-party swing being worse than any booth. Pre-polls have gone the other way, swinging only 1.5 per cent, but there were less than a quarter as many. My calculations have done their job, because the 8.3 per cent swing now indicated by the ECQ compares with the 8.1 per cent projected on this site last night and the 7.3 per cent you would have heard about in the media.

8.42m. You don’t get rid of me that easily. Two points worth making: first, a uniform swing of 8 per cent at a general election would cost Labor 20 seats and reduce it to 43 seats out of 89, two short of a majority. Since by-elections are always a free kick for the opposition, it does not seem that the Beattie government’s plight is severe enough to cost it power at the election due early next year. Secondly, the turnout for this by-election has been quite remarkable: 23,217 votes lodged at polling booths compared with 22,418 at the 2004 election. How often does a by-election produce a turnout higher than at the previous general election? By way of comparison, 16,381 votes were lodged at the recent Victoria Park by-election in WA, compared with 22,911 at the state election of barely more than a year ago. No doubt this is testament in large part to the continuing population explosion on the Gold Coast. Beyond that, I wouldn’t care to speculate.

8.11pm. One more thing: great job by the ECQ. Granted that they had fewer booths to keep on top of than at any by-election I have seen, but this is the first time I have seen each booth come in one at a time, and not in unmanageable and suspense-destroying spurts.

8.09pm. The ECQ has “final for election night” in big red writing at the top of the page, so I guess that’s it for the evening. You have as always been a wonderful audience, and I will continue to keep an eye out for comments thread activity for another hour or so.

8.01pm. Not sure if we’ll be seeing any pre-polls or postals this evening (we did for the Victoria Park by-election in WA a few weeks ago). I’ll hang around a bit longer to find out.

7.59pm. Notional preferences now in from Pacific Pines as well, and this time I could be bothered. A further drift of preferences away from Labor has added 0.1 per cent to the swing.

7.55pm. Notional preferences at Nerang PYC have favoured Labor less than average, but not by enough that I can be bothered altering the table at this point.

7.51pm. Still waiting on notional 2PP in Nerang PYC and Pacific Pines, but you get the picture. The Nationals have won the seat with a swing of about 8.0 per cent, similar to that achieved by the Liberals in last year’s Redcliffe by-election (8.3 per cent) but substantially less than that from the Chatsworth by-election (13.9 per cent) held on the same day.

7.49pm. The ECQ seem to have docked the Greens a vote in favour of the Nationals in the Nerang booth. Wonder what happened there.

7.46pm. With notional figures in from all but two booths, preferences have swung back a little in Labor’s favour. They now favour Labor 15.5 per cent to 14.5 per cent, with 70 per cent exhausting (compared with 60 per cent in 2004).

7.41pm. Pacific Pines is now in and has registered a fairly typical 8.6 per cent swing against Labor.

7.4opm. Unless I’m doing something wrong here, further notional 2PP results suggests that preferences are actually favouring the Nationals. The table has been adjusted again and the swing has increased further.

7.33pm. First notional 2PP results are in, and they suggest 17 per cent of preferences are going to Labor, 16 per cent to the Nationals and 66 per cent exhausting. So Labor are doing less well than suggested by my initial figures, which have now been adjusted.

7.28pm. Nerang PYC, worth 8 per cent of the total, has swung 6.6 per cent on 2PP, lower than average but still enough to cost Labor the seat if uniform.

7.26pm. In answer to an earlier question to myself, Greens candidate Glen Ryman has chipped in in comments to say Daren Riley is broadly of the right, so it’s unlikely his preferences would rescue Labor. Both his and the Greens’ vote have faded a little from the 10 per cent ballpark mentioned early, and they’re now on more like 8 per cent.

7.24pm. The only outstanding booths are Nerang PYC (8 per cent) and Pacific Pines (11 per cent).

7.2opm. The biggest booth, Helensvale North, is now in, and if there was any hope left for Labor it’s probably gone now. The swing was 8.5 per cent. The one possible wild card is that preferences will fall very differently this time, although I don’t see why they would.

7.18pm. Bit of a delay in my table update there. Booths just mentioned are now up.

7.15pm. Gaven and Helensvale have also swung against Labor by enough to cost them the seat – 8.1 per cent and 7.4 per cent.

7.12pm. Two fairly large booths may have put it beyond Labor’s reach. Nerang West and Oxenford are both worth about 10 per cent and have swung against Labor by 7.3 per cent and 9.3 per cent respectively.

7.10pm. Glen Ryman of the Greens and independent Daren Riley, of whom I know nothing, are both on about 10 per cent. Preferences of the latter could prove very important. One Nation and independent Phil Connolly (who was once a One Nation candidate) are doing less well, both on 2-3 per cent.

7.07pm. Not so good for Labor in Nerang, although it’s a small booth worth 5 per cent of the vote. Labor down 10.9 per cent and the Coalition up 7.0 per cent for a 10.1 per cent two-party swing, enough to put the Nationals back in the lead.

7.05pm. Bicentennial Hall was in fact the worst booth for Labor in 2004, with a margin of just 0.9 per cent.

7.02pm. Something to chew on: when will the notional 2PP from the Brisbane booth be in? How long can it take to count 29 votes?

6.58pm. The first substantial booth is in and unless my calculations are askew, it’s a very encouraging result for Labor. Bicentennial Hall was worth 7 per cent of the total in 2004 and while Labor are down 9.6 per cent on the primary vote, the Coalition are down 2.5 per cent as well. My two-party calculation is a swing of less than 3.9 per cent, less than the Nationals will need to win the seat.

6.55pm. Another clarification while we wait: until notional two-candidate details are in from the ECQ, calculations in the above table will assume the same preference distribution as 2004 – 22 per cent to Labor, 18 per cent to the Coalition and 60 per cent exhausting.

6.48pm. Teething problem number one now sorted.

6.45pm. The first figures in are actually those lodged in Brisbane, of which there are a mere 29. So it wouldn’t do to read much into the results above just yet.

6.42pm. A caveat to the bit about early results flattering Labor: I am referring to the raw figures you will get at the ECQ. The results in the table above will be adjusted to take booth variations into account.

6.40pm. A quick preview while we wait. There are nine booths in the electorate, the smallest number I have ever encountered. Labor recorded majorities in all of them in 2004, but its majorities were noticeably smaller at the far north end (Helensvale North and Oxenford) and the far south (Bicentennial Hall and the three Nerang booths). The three best booths for Labor were the three in between, at Gaven (15.8 per cent Labor majority), Helensvale (8.3 per cent) and Pacific Pines (10.8 per cent). The two largest booths, Helensvale North (15 per cent of voters) and Nerang West (12 per cent), were also two of the best for the Coalition, with Labor majorities of 2.1 per cent and 2.6 per cent respectively. So it can be presumed that the early results will tend to flatter Labor.

6.10pm. Welcome to the Poll Bludger’s live coverage of the Gaven by-election. First results should be in at around 6.45pm.