I’m no psephologist, but….
The last few months has witnessed a notable tightening in published opinion polls. At my last Branch meeting, a branch member asked Senator Thistlethwaite which seats the ALP could conceivably win, given that Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott are widely expected to lose their seats. (For what it’s worth, I think both independents could surprise).
A few days later, PM Gillard hosted Community Cabinet in Yvette D’Ath’s marginal Queensland seat of Petrie. With almost each question asked, one thing was obvious – namely, more than just a general distaste of Campbell Newman and some of his decisions over the course of the last few months.
As a result, I decided to turn my mind to ten electorates in Queensland that are worthy of some closer attention. With a tightening in opinion polls, I present below ten seats that the government could perhaps have its eye on.
Note: we should also consider that there was a significant swing against the ALP at the 2010 election; which we might call the Rudd factor: Queenslanders were unhappy about their local boy being done over, and they punished the ALP for it. Throw into the equation that then Premier Bligh wasn’t too popular at the time either, and it translated to many Labor voters voting Liberal for the first time; a punishing protest vote.
Now, providing Rudd tows the party line between now and the election, that he campaigns well and importantly as a team player, throw in too the general distaste of Newman in some parts of Queensland, and one could expect many of those votes to come back towards the ALP.
As a result, here’s a list of ten seats that the ALP may very well now have its eye on, and which a year ago, we would’ve been only dreaming about.
1. Bonner: Held by Ross Vasta (LNP), margin 4.53%
This was a seat the ALP lost at the 2010 election, when a 12.73% shift in primary vote away from it cost it dearly. It borders the ALP held seats of Griffith (Rudd) and Lilley (Swan) to the west, and the LNP held seat of Bowman (Andrew Laming) to the east. Vasta held the seat from its creation in 2004 for one term, lost it to the ALP’s Kerry Rea in 2007, then nabbed it back in 2010. [Reach]
2. Bowman: Held by Andrew Laming (LNP)
Held by Andrew Laming, who won in 2007 by literally a handful of votes (the AEC website in fact lists the 2PP at 50/50), but a 10% swing to him in 2010 has made it notionally ‘safe’. Hard to see the ALP winning this, but probably closer than the 10% would suggest. [Tough]
3. Brisbane: Held by Teresa Gambaro (LNP), margin 1.13%
Gambaro beat long time member Arch Bevis, who had held the seat for 20 years, with a 5.7% swing to her. Expect this to slide the other way a touch. One the ALP will definitely have its eye on and should be campaigning strongly in. ALP candidate is Fiona McNamara, who has previously been the candidate for Dickson. [Winnable]
4. Dawson: Held by George Christensen (LNP), margin 2.43%
Dawson is on the Nth Queensland coast, taking in Ayr, Mackay and some south-eastern suburbs of Townsville. Christensen scored this seat on the back of a 5% swing to him (2PP). But for 2007-2010, the last time it was held by the ALP was by Rex Patterson (1966-75). Townsville has been hit hard by Newman’s cuts to services, including 45 nurses at Townsville hospital. [Winnable]
5. Dickson: Held by Peter Dutton (LNP) margin 5.1%
The seat in the north western suburbs of Brisbane was notionally Labor at the 2010 election, but Dutton - who is in my opinion one of the most uninspiring shadow ministers there ever was - managed to score a 6% swing to him. This is of course the seat that Cheryl Kernot once held. Cuts to services by Premier Newman will sting in these outer-suburban electorates. [Reach]
6. Fisher: Held by Peter Slipper (Ind), margin 4.13%
Fair to say that Slipper will probably not recontest in 2013, and if he did, he’d probably lose. The LNP candidate however, ex-Howard minister Mal Brough, hardly comes to the contest with clean hands. The ALP candidate is Bill Gissane, a consultant in workplace safety who settled on the Sunshiine Coast two years ago. A recent online poll in the Sunshine Coast Daily (albeit not the most reliable of polls) had Gissane/Brough on 78/21% respectively. [Interesting]
7. Flynn: Held by Ken O’Dowd (LNP), margin 3.58%
The ALP picked this seat up in 2007, holding it by 2.24%. The Rudd-slide pushed it back to the LNP in 2010, with a 5.82% swing to it. Based around the port city of Gladstone, the city of Gladstone traditionally votes strongly for the ALP, while the outer rural surrounds of the electorate tend to be more conservative. [Reach]
8. Forde: Held by Bert Van Manen (LNP) margin 1.63%
This seat was first created in 2007, and was held by the ALP first, before, like Flynn, it went to the LNP in 2010 with a 5% swing to it. [Winnable]
9. Herbert: Held by Ewen Jones (LNP), margin 2.17%
Was a marginal seat going into the 2010 poll, and Jones secured it with a 2.2% swing to him. Based on AEC figures, 2000 votes need to change for this to go back to the ALP. [Potentially winnable]
10. Longman : Held by Wyatt Roy (LNP), margin 1.92%
Roy surprised everyone (including himself) and won this seat on the back of a 3.79% swing to the LNP. 1500 votes or so in it. Roy seems to have a pseudo-celebrity status attached to him being the youngest federal MP ever. Whether that translates to him being a strong local member, remains to be seen. [Winnable]
Article written by Elliot Giakalis, a long-time ALP member, former political staffer, and current senior communications advisor to a Federal Government Department.
[Article updated: Bill Gissane settled in Sunshine Coast, not Gold Coast. And is a consultant in workplace safety]