Hawker Britton Occasional Papers and Media

QLD Election 2004

January 2004

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1. Political and Parliamentary Outline

1.1 Current state of the Parliament

The Labor Government under Peter Beattie was first elected in June 1998, and re-elected in February 2001. Labor has been in power in the state for 12 of the last 14 years.

The Beattie Government’s first election victory was a narrow one, winning 44 of the 89 seats in Queensland’s Parliament, with 38.9 percent of the primary vote. For almost six months, the Beattie Government held power with the support of Independent, Peter Wellington. It governed in its own right, following the ALP by-election victory in the seat of Mulgrave, which was previously held by Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party.

The Beattie Government enjoyed a landslide victory at the 2001 election, winning 66 of 89 seats and 48.9 percent of the primary vote. The victory reduced the National Party to 12 seats, and the Liberal Party to just three (including only one of the 38 seats in greater metropolitan Brisbane). Labor’s return included winning seven of the nine seats in the Gold Coast, a traditionally conservative stronghold, in which Labor had never previously won more than two seats.

The current composition of the Legislative Assembly – the single House in the Queensland Parliament – is shown in the table below.

Party Seats held % of votes
Australian Labor Party 66 48.9
Coalition 15 28.4
National Party 12 14.3
Liberal Party 3 14.1 3 14.1
     
Independents 6  
One Nation 2 8.6



1.2 Background to election

Premier Peter Beattie called an election for 7 February, indicating the need to repair the State’s child protection system. Premier Beattie’s surprise announcement (the election being called a little earlier than generally expected) followed the release of a Crime and Misconduct Commission report into systemic child abuse within the State’s foster care regime.

1.3 Change of government

To win Government in its own right at this election, the Coalition will need to win an additional 30 seats, or a uniform swing of around 9.5 percent across the State. Given the magnitude of the Beattie Government’s majority, the prospect of the Beattie Government being defeated appears unlikely. Nonetheless, the election promises some interesting contests and some intense campaigning, with the Coalition aiming to restore the balance in Parliament and position itself for a more realistic tilt at Government in 2007. Given its overwhelming majority, the Beattie Government is vulnerable to the loss of a number of seats through a potentially significant “protest vote”.

1.4 The Springborg challenge

Opposition Leader Lawrence Springborg assumed his position last year, following a successful challenge against previous leader Mike Horan. Springborg’s elevation followed persistently poor showings in the polls by Horan, evidenced by preferred premier ratings as low as eight percent.

At 35, Springborg is the youngest opposition leader in Queensland’s history (Springborg was also the youngest person elected to Parliament at 21). Springborg has tried to emphasise his relative youth as a means of projecting a young, fresh and energetic image for the Nationals in the state. In the face of the Beattie Government’s huge majority, Springborg faces a tough battle in presenting a credible alternative government.

Although Springborg has helped to rebuild the National Party following its loss of seats at the 2001 election, he nonetheless suffers from relatively poor voter recognition – perhaps understandable given the short time that he has served as Opposition Leader, and the dominance of Peter Beattie. Springborg’s youth also threatens to undermine his challenge by exposing him to comparisons with the steady hand of Premier Beattie. So far, Springborg has failed to make any significant inroads into Beattie’s standing as preferred premier (see Section 4 – Polling).

Springborg does, however, lead a far more united National Party, which suffered from internal division at the last election over the issue of preferences to One Nation. The preference issue does not seem to be an active variable at this election, as it appears that Springborg has received a guarantee from National Party candidates will not preference One Nation ahead of Labor. Springborg has in fact vowed to disendorse any National candidate who does deals with One Nation candidates.

One particular challenge for the Springborg-led Nationals is to reclaim some of its support in the Darling Downs and southeast Queensland, where it currently enjoys a level of support less than half of that it did six years ago. Winning back voters that have deserted the Nationals for One Nation and Independents, in particular, represents a fundamental task for Springborg at this election. The absence of three-cornered contests is likely to assist the Coalition in this respect.
The Liberal Party will also need to perform in metropolitan Brisbane, where it currently holds only three out of 38 seats, as well as on the Gold Coast. To position itself to win Government at this - or even the next - election, the Coalition will need to win back traditional blue-ribbon Liberal seats lost in 2001, such as Indooroopilly and Clayfield. Liberal leader, Bob Quinn, is the only sitting Liberal MP recontesting at this election.

1.5 Government leadership

Peter Beattie has been Premier of Queensland since 1998, and leader of the Labor Party since 1996. With a win at this election, Beattie will be positioned to replace Wayne Goss as the State’s fifth longest Labor serving leader. Beattie is one of the most successful politicians in the country, with consummate media skills, and enormous personal popularity within the Queensland electorate. He imposes on this election a presidentialstyle of campaigning that will ensure a highly centralised media focus on leadership personalities.

The Beattie Government has enjoyed a relatively secure position in the lead-up to this election, with regular strong showings in the polls – percentage primary support for the ALP has hovered around the mid- 40s to mid- 50s during the last 12 months. Premier Beattie enjoys a very high standing within the electorate, as demonstrated by constant approval ratings of over 60 percent. Voters see Beattie as strong, direct,intelligent, and in touch with ordinary Queenslanders’ concerns across the range of policy areas.

Nonetheless, Beattie’s five years as Premier has left him vulnerable to possible charges of “tiredness” by the Opposition. The Government’s large majority in the Parliament also exposes it to a possible protest vote – sentiments that the Beattie Government needs a stronger and larger Opposition threatens to cost the Government a number of marginal seats (if not office, as arguably happened with the Goss Labor Government).

Despite Labor’s strong standing, the Beattie Government has suffered an early setback in its re-election campaign, with the resignation of Tourism Minister, Merri Rose, over claims of bullying. The Government is also on the back foot over claims that Emergency Services Minister, Mike Reynolds, used an intermediary to try to convince a Greens candidate to run a soft campaign. When combined with the foster care crisis in the State, the Beattie Government has found itself under a hail of political fire from a number of directions. It remains to be seen, though, whether this does any serious damage to the Beattie Government, which at the last election, survived a damning inquiry into electoral rorting and went on to win in a landslide. How the Government, in particular Premier Beattie, responds to these challenges will do much to determine the
direction of the political momentum in the coming weeks of the campaign.

1.6 A litmus test for this year’s federal election?

It will be interesting to see what indications (if any) the State election will provide with respect to possible voting trends in the Federal election to be held later this year. Both Labor and the Coalition will be utilising their federal colleagues during their respective campaigns. Already, Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson has become involved in the campaign, attacking the Beattie Government over its handling of the foster care crisis. Federal Opposition Leader Mark Latham has also visited Queensland, lending support to the Beattie Government. Labor will be particularly keen to make an impression within Queensland federally through the election campaign – it currently holds only seven of the 28 federal seats in the State. It is noteworthy that Premier Beattie has already signalled to the Queensland electorate that a vote for his Government would be
a way of sending a protest vote to the Federal Government on the issue of bulk billing.

Whether the state election will in fact yield any federal electoral lessons, however, is questionable, given the peculiar nature of the Queensland state politics. For example, the political dynamic of rural protest parties, which in recent years have played such an important role in Queensland politics is not likely to translate into any meaningful extrapolation at the federal level. In addition, the voting system of optional preferences which operates in Queensland – which gives voters the option to allocate just one preference – will make it difficult to superimpose state voting patterns onto the federal arena. Nonetheless, the election will be closely scrutinised for any signals as to this year’s Federal campaign.

1.7 One Nation

With Pauline Hanson now out of gaol, and indicating that she will maintain a low profile during the course of the election campaign, it is considered likely by most pundits that One Nation will have only a small overall electoral impact. Polls show that support across the State for One Nation at no higher than three percent, compared to 8.7 percent and 22.7 percent at the 2001 and 1998 elections respectively. The Party has suffered from its public internal conflicts, which emerged shortly after the election of 13 One Nation MPs in 1998, and then re-emerged following the deregistration of the party in Queensland. However, given pockets of support in regional Queensland, One Nation is considered likely to win some seats (possibly two or more)
at this election.

1.8 The Greens

Another significant minor party is set to be the Greens, which is running candidates in about 70 seats. Green preferences may be crucial in determining the outcome in a number of marginal seats, particularly in metropolitan Brisbane, where its electoral support is strongest. The Greens recently announced that at least 16 of its candidates will not support Labor through preferences. Arguably, though, this is unlikely to divert a significant number of votes away from Labor in some marginal seats, given that the preferences of Greens supporters are more likely than not to flow to Labor, as opposed to the Coalition (not following the Green how-to-vote card for their electorate). A recent Roy Morgan poll showed that 80 percent of Greens supporters would allocate their preferences in favour of Labor. However, the operation of an optional preference system in Queensland may mean that the choice by the Greens not to preference Labor may
undermine some Labor campaigns, where Greens supporters exhaust their preferences.

The issue of preferences notwithstanding, the State election may provide an interesting indication of the level of Green electoral support in Queensland that may eventuate at the upcoming federal election.

1.9 Independents

There are currently six independents in the Queensland Parliament.

  1. Liz Cunningham is the Member for Gladstone, an electorate which encompasses the industrial city of Gladstone and the surrounding Calliope Shire. Cunningham won this traditionally safe Labor seat in 1995, retaining it in 1998 and 2001. Cunningham has been a popular local member, who is seen by her electorate as focused on attending to local issues. Gladstone will be a tightly contested seat at this election, although Cunningham will be difficult to dislodge.
  2. Elisa Roberts is the Member for Gympie, an electorate which takes in the city of Gympie,
    surrounding rural areas and part of the Sunshine Coast. Roberts won Gympie on behalf of One Nation in 2001, but resigned from the party and became an Independent in April 2002. Before running for Parliament, Roberts had been part of the work for the dole scheme. Roberts faces a tough task in holding her seat in the face of both National Party and Labor Party challenges.
  3. Chris Foley has been the Member for Maryborough since the April 2003 by-election for that seat. Foley successfully contested the by-election, which was prompted by the ill health of sitting member,
  4. John Kingston, a One Nation and later Independent MP. A financial planner and church pastor, Kingston is a former National Party member, who had unsuccessfully sought pre-selection in the Party prior to running as an Independent.
  5. Dorothy Pratt, the Member for Nanango, is another of the 1998 One Nation parliamentary brigade, who later resigned from the beleaguered Party. Pratt has held the seat, in rural southeast Queensland, since 1998, and now enjoys a comfortable 17 percent margin which the Nationals and Labor will find challenging to bridge.
  6. Peter Wellington is the Member for Nicklin, a rural electorate in the Sunshine Coast hinterland. Wellington entered parliament with a surprise win in the seat in 1998, where he defeated the then Speaker of the Parliament, Neil Turner. The locally popular Wellington has since consolidated a strong primary support base in the seat, which he is expected to retain comfortably.
  7. Lex Bell was elected as the Member for Surfers Paradise at a by-election in 2001, instigated by former Premier Rob Borbidge’s resignation from Parliament, following the Nationals’ decimation at the general election. A former Gold Coast mayor, Bell faces a challenge in retaining his seat.

2. Key Issues in the 2004 Election Campaign

2.1 Child protection

Given Premier Beattie’s call for an election to provide the Government with a mandate to reform the State’s foster care system, the issue of child protection is likely to be a fundamental one in this election campaign. The issue has troubled the Beattie Government during the last six months. The release of a report on 6 January by Queensland’s Crime and Misconduct Commissioner, which criticised the Government (and previous Queensland Governments, both Coalition and Labor) for an overburdened State foster care system, has served to place the extent of such problems in the public mind.

The issue certainly has the potential to cloud Labor’s campaign, but Premier Beattie has ridden election campaign storms in the past turning potentially devastating issues into positives – as seen with the Shepardson Inquiry into electoral rorting which threatened Labor’s campaign at the last election. Premier Beattie is doing the same this time by using the issue as an opportunity to request mandate from the people of Queensland to fix the problems.

Additionally, the issue of children in care seems to have been neutralised to some extent, given that both the Coalition and the Beattie Government have pledged to implement all 110 recommendations of the Crime and Misconduct Commissioner’s Report. The recommendations include the appointment of an additional family service officers and the appointment of a child guardian for the State.

2.2 Alleged ministerial misconduct

Ministerial behaviour has become an active issue in this campaign, with allegations of ministerial conduct against Merri Rose and Mike Reynolds, two ministers in the Beattie Government. Allegations that Rose, the Minister for Tourism, Racing and Fair Trading, bullied her ministerial staff and misused her taxpayer funded ministerial car, prompted her resignation from Cabinet. Meanwhile, Reynolds, the Minister for Emergency Services, has been accused of enticing Greens candidate, Theresa Millard, to ‘run dead’ against him in the electorate of Townsville, in return for backing to win a local council seat. The matter has since been referred by Reynolds and Premier Beattie to the Crime and Misconduct Commission (CMC). The CMC has released a statement saying it had previously investigated the complaint and found that no further action needed to be
taken.

The extent of the electoral impact of these episodes of alleged ministerial misconduct remains difficult to gauge. Although they have no doubt caused some degree of embarrassment for the Beattie Government and have provided some early ammunition for the Coalition in this election campaign, they are arguably unlikely to be pivotal election issues. The firm handling of these matters by Premier Beattie may in fact serve to highlight some of the strengths of his leadership style, which seems to resonate with the Queensland electorate.

2.3 The “protest vote” factor

With the Beattie Government currently enjoying a very large majority in the Queensland Parliament (with 66 of its 89 seats), a significant “protest vote” is not unlikely. Certainly, Opposition Leader Springborg has sought to play up the ‘need for accountability’ and the need for a restoration of the parliamentary balance. The Coalition is bound to pick up seats simply as a correction to the 2001 landslide, Springborg is expected to play the ‘need for accountability’ card throughout the campaign and request a protest vote.

The Queenslanders have a history of knocking governments with comfortable majorities from office, as seen in the case of the Goss Government. Premier Beattie is playing up the expectation of a large protest vote in an attempt to stem the problem, noting that if it is possible to win all those seats in one election, it is possible to lose them all in one to. His conscious efforts to downplay Labor’s position, and to not appear complacent may help stem the tide of (a seemingly almost inevitable) protest vote.

2.4 Health

As with all State elections, the management of the public health system provides a policy battleground for Queensland political parties. However, Labor is generally reported to have managed this portfolio very well.

Health appears to be a strength for the Beattie Government, with the recent Queensland Health Report detailing significant increases in the number of elective surgery operations taking place in public hospitals up by 7000 since 1997, and a waiting list that is 2,232 cases shorter. These figures, combined with Premier Beattie’s pledge of an independent audit on waiting list figures, and of more than $100 million in new health initiatives demonstrate the Government’s commitment to health. Certainly, this report has defused the issue of hospital waiting lists – a perennial electoral challenge for incumbent Governments.

Premier Beattie’s argument that a vote for Labor represents a way for voters to send a message to the Federal Government on Medicare has also underpinned Labor’s position on health, as well as rob the Coalition of some of the leeway it needs to sell its health policies to the electorate. The Coalition has promised $225 million to cut hospital waiting lists, including $66 million for emergency departments, and $15 million for a trial of mobile surgery units in rural areas in a bid to address the disparity between rural and urban health areas.

2.5 Economic management and employment

The issue of economic management seems to have been effectively neutralised by the Beattie Government, in light of continuing strong economic growth in the Queensland and buoyant State finances. Economic growth in the State is again forecast to exceed that of Australia, at 4.25 percent. Most recent Treasury figures also indicate a revised budget surplus of $400 million.

In addition, Queensland is enjoying strong employment growth. Growth of over three percent is expected to result in a reduction in the State’s unemployment rate to around six percent -- trends which have bolstered the Beattie Government’s economic management credentials. At the 2001 election the Beattie Government undertook to lower unemployment rate to five percent and has again raised the issue for 2004, pledging to create a further 34,000 jobs over the next three years under a $275 million jobs plan. As part of the plan, the Oakey Abattoir will receive $450,000 to assist in training an extra 500 workers. Labor’s existing programs will remain and a new program to assist regional Queenslanders will be introduced. This latter policy forms part of the suite of policies that Labor hopes will be able to win it some support in regional areas, where it faces some difficulties in holding off the National Party.

On the economic policy front, the Coalition has promised $30 million a year to regional industry, designed to foster economic investment in regional Queensland, part of its decentralisation focus. The proposal to establish ‘Enterprise Zones’ involves concessions on payroll tax, stamp duty and freight charges to entice industry away from the State’s south-eastern corner and create jobs for regional Queensland. Whether the policy will provide the Coalition with any electoral traction is uncertain, given that the Government has already taken steps in the same direction.

2.6 Sugar farmers

A recent bank foreclosure on one of Queensland’s largest sugar farmers, with more expected, is considered a sign that banks are no longer willing to support struggling cane farmers. Without a commitment of financial assistance, the emergence of so-call ‘Sugar Independents’ in Northern Queensland may very well win some support. This may cause Labor some difficulty in sugar growing regions.

2.7 Tree clearing

After waiting for the Federal Government to meet its commitment to fund half of a proposed compensation package for farmers, Premier Beattie has committed to end broad scale clearing of remnant vegetation and tree clearing in three years. He has undertaken to pay the Commonwealth’s half of the package if the Federal Government is not forthcoming.

The Beattie Government pledge to implement legislation to ban broad scale land clearing by the end of 2006 is being hailed by conservationists as the most significant environmental decision in Queensland history.\

The decision has angered farmers, and is said to damage the interests of rural Queensland – an area the ALP will struggle to hold if farmers weld their voting power in these seats. The Deputy Prime Minister has said regional communities will pay the price. Conversely, the decision is seen as a significant factor in attracting support from voters with environmental concerns.

2.8 Transport

Premier Beattie has outlined a $3.75 Billion pledge for transport services in the southeast, including $3 million of new funding. The measures included in the Premier’s plan include continued support for integrated public transport ticketing (due to be implemented in July) and a $400 million upgrade of the City’s train network. $3 million has been promised for improvements in the bus service on the Gold and Sunshine Coasts. This funding is in addition to the $120 million allocated for the proposed Tugan Bypass, although delays in the project due to continuing community consultation and withdrawal of NSW Government support for the road, could be yet another issue for Merri Rose in her seat of Currumbin.

The Coalition has not yet provided an outline for its proposed transport budget, but has made it clear that its decentralisation policy will continue to be a focus, and will affect the type of infrastructure promises they make, with special emphasis on rail developments in regional Queensland.

The Coalition is also backing calls to widen the Ipswich Motorway to six lanes, but will need Commonwealth funding. Federal Transport Minister, John Anderson, has previously requested the Queensland Transport Department to draw up alternative plans for a duplication of the highway, hampering efforts of the current State Transport Minister to deliver the $600 million need to widen the highway, indicating that Federal Government may be reluctant to provide the necessary funds.

2.9 Ambulance levy

The controversial Ambulance Levy implemented by the Beattie Government will continue if re-elected, with ambulance officers reported as seeing the levy as a lifeline to operations and the best thing the Beattie Government has done to assist the service. The Coalition is proposing to abolish the levy, instead redirecting funding from the Premier’s Department to meet funding needs.

3. Key Seats and Areas

3.1 Overview

The three areas to watch at this election include:

  1. Seats in and around the State’s regional centres, where Labor is considered likely to relinquish some of its 2001 gains;
  2. The Gold and Sunshine coasts, where Labor, may find it difficult to repeat its 2001 victories in these traditionally conservative regions; and
  3. Greater Brisbane, where Labor currently holds 37 of 38 seats, and where the Liberal Party needs to rebuilt its metropolitan base.

3.2 Regional Queensland (Central, North and Far North)

Labor made impressive gains in regional Queensland at the 2001 election, reducing the National Party to just 12 seats. Labor will find it difficult to repeat this performance.

3.2.1 Burnett

With an 11 percent swing at the 2001 election, Trevor Strong was the first ALP Member for Burnett since 1909. His attempt to sustain this gain and win re-election might be hampered by the sugar farmers’ financial crisis. His new National Party opponent is Rob Messenger has a high public as a local ABC radio identity.

3.2.2 Charters Towers

The National Party will be keen to gain Charters Towers from Labor. With Labor’s tree clearing policy causing some frisson in rural and regional Queensland and the Greens decision to direct preferences to Independent candidates, sitting MP Christine Scott faces a tough task in consolidating the five percent swing to Labor at the last election and retain her seat. Scott’s National Party opponent is Shane Knuth, brother of a former One Nation MP.

3.2.2 Keppel

With sitting National Party member, Vince Lester, retiring, the seat of Keppel promises to be an open contest. Labor will be seeking to capitalise on the vacuum created by Lester’s departure. Labor’s candidate, local lawyer Paul Hoolihan, will be contesting the seat against the Nationals’ Neil Fisher, a Rockhampton City Councillor.

3.2.3 Gympie

The seat of Gympie is known for its right wing politics, especially due to its opposition to tightened gun laws. One Nation’s Elisa Roberts claimed this seat in 2001 on preferences, before resigning to become an Independent member in 2002. Roberts will be opposed by the Nationals’ Christian Rowan, a young local doctor, and Labor’s Rae Gâté, who finished first on primary votes in 2001 before being beaten by Roberts on preferences.

3.2.4 Gladstone

Since winning Gladstone in 1995, Independent Liz Cunningham has since maintained a narrow hold on this seat. Cunningham has been effective addressing local problems on behalf of her electorate and is locally popular. However in such an industrial electorate, Labor is considered likely to poll well. Her Labor opponent this time will be Julieanne Grice, whom local observers assess as having some chance of upsetting Cunningham.

3.2.5 Burdekin

This rural electorate has been traditionally conservative. The 2001 election saw Labor win it for the first time, with the aid of optional preferential voting. Labor will find it challenging to retain this seat, and it will be interesting to observe the support that so-called “Sugar Independents” will receive.

The recent announcement by the Greens to direct preferences to Independent candidates will affect this seat, as will the announcement by Premier Beattie of the ALP’s policy on Tree Clearing.

Regional Queensland Summary

Seat Held Held By Member 2001 Margin Notes
Burnett ALP Trevor Strong 1.7%  
Charters Towers ALP Christine Scott 2.2%  
Kepple NAT Vince Lester 2.3% Retiring MP
Gympie IND Elisa Roberts 3.3%  
Gladstone IND Liz Cunningham 3.5  
Burdekin ALP Steve Rodgers 5.1%  
Thuringowa ALP Anita Phillips 9.0% MP retiring to run federally

 

3.3. The Sunshine and Gold Coasts

3.3.1 Sunshine Coast

A traditional conservative stronghold, this area saw substantial Labor gains at the last election. Key issues in this region include the future of cane fields, essential services and traffic congestion around Noosa and the Sunshine Motorway – all fuelled by the rapid increase in the population of this area.

3.3.1.1 Maroochydore

Labor was ahead on the primary count in 2001, however a large number of One Nation preferences allowed Fiona Simpson a narrow victory. Whether Labor can replicate its primary result will be interesting to watch.

3.3.1.2 Noosa

The 2001 State election saw Labor hold win the seat of Noosa for the first time since the seat was created. Labor first-timer MP, Cate Molly, faces some challenges holding on to the seat, including the Greens decision to direct preference to the Independent candidate. Molly, a former nurse, will be opposed by the Liberals’ Glen Elmes, general manager of two local radio stations.

3.3.1.3 Kawana

Like Noosa, Kawana was one of the unlikely gains that Labor made at the 2001 election, aided by optional preferences. Labor’s sitting member Chris Cummins, a former Caloundra City Councillor, will be opposed by the Liberal Party’s Harry Burnett, a self-employed chartered accountant and former president of the Maroochydore Chamber of Commerce.

3.3.1.4 Glass House

Labor’s Carolyn Male won this seat in 2001, polling 40 percent of the primary vote. Male will be opposed by the National Party's John Longhurst, the 38 year-old founder and Managing Director of Halley Homes Pty Ltd, a significant local building company. While on paper the margin of 9.6 percent suggests a safe Labor seat, it will be more marginal without competing conservative candidates.

Sunshine Coast Summary

Seat Held By Memeber Margin Notes
Maroochydore NAT Fiona Simpson 0.8%  
Noosa ALP Cate Molly 0.9%  
Kawana ALP Chris Cummins 2.6%  
Glass House ALP Carolyn Male 9.6%  


3.3.2 Gold Coast

Labor swept through South Brisbane and the Gold Coast at the last election, in areas, which would traditionally be considered as Coalition heartland. Labor will be vulnerable in this region at this election. Key issues in south Brisbane and the Gold Coast include local tourist development, beach environment, and reducing local traffic congestion.

3.3.2.1 Burleigh

One of the six seats picked up by Labor on the Gold Coast at the last election, Burleigh is a seat that the Coalition is targeting to regain. Labor’s sitting member, former Centrelink administrative officer Christine Smith, faces a tough fight, against National Party candidate, Max Duncan, a former Defence Force prosecutor. With only a 1.7 percent swing needed for the seat to change hands, Smith will need to run a strong campaign.

3.3.2.2 Broadwater

First contested at the 1992 election, this seat was first won for the National Party by former racing car driver Alan Grice. Grice was defeated in a 13.1 percent swing in 2001, by Labor's Peta-Kaye Croft. Situated within the traditionally conservative Gold and Sunshine Coast, this seat promises a close result and a challenge for Labor.

3.3.2.3 Robina

A southern Gold Coast and blue-ribbon Liberal electorate, Robina saw a double-digit swing to Labor in 2001. Yet, unlike other Gold Coast seats, Robina was retained by the Liberals’ Bob Quinn, who was then elected Liberal Party leader. Local solicitor Bruce Simmonds will be contesting Robina as Labor’s candidate.

3.3.2.4 Currumbin

Though nominally a comfortable Labor seat with a margin of 14.5 percent, observers will be watching Currumbin with keen interest, following the recent chain of events linked to sitting member, and former Tourism Minister, Merri Rose. Rose’s resignation from the cabinet, following allegations of fraud and bullying, may damage Labor’s prospects in this seat, and may have ramifications on surrounding seats in the Gold Coast area. The Tugan bypass issue (see 2.8 above) may also present a challenge to Rose given her support for the project at the 2001 election.

Gold Coast Summary

Seat Held By Memeber Margin Notes
Burleigh ALP Christine Smith 1.7%  
Broadwater ALP Peta-Kaye Croft 2.4%  
Robina LIB Bob Quinn 4.0%  
Currumbin ALP Merri Rose 14.5% Former Tourism Minister - recently resigned


3.4 Brisbane

An area which Labor dominated at the 2001 election (the Liberals winning only one of the 38 seats in greater Brisbane), Brisbane provides the electoral stronghold for the Beattie Government. Nevertheless, there are a number of tight contests in seats including Clayfield, Indooroopilly and Aspley, which will be targeted by the Liberals. Important issues in central Brisbane include traffic problems, and the future of the Eagle Farm and Doomben racecourses along with the broader issues outlined in Section 2.

3.4.1 Moggill

Situated in Brisbane’s semi-rural western suburbs, Moggill stands as the last remaining Liberal seat in greater Brisbane. What should be considered to be constitutive of the Liberals’ heartland in Brisbane, Moggill sits on a very tight margin – a legacy of the Liberals’ poor performance in 2001. How the Liberals fare in this seat will provide some indication of the extent to which they have managed to rebuild since the last election. GP and company director, Bruce Flegg, will be replacing retiring member and former Liberal Leader David Watson as the Liberal candidate.

3.4.2 Clayfield

A traditional Liberal Party stronghold, Clayfield fell to Labor at the 2001 election via a 6.5 percent swing. Labor’s sitting member, Liddy Clark, has worked hard to insulate the electorate from the hardship of a proposed racing industry restructure, as well as the threat of a busway being built through the northern suburbs. With only a two percent buffer, however, Clark will face a tough fight, but the outcome should be close.

3.4.3 Indooroopilly

Similar to Clayfield, Indooroopilly is a Liberal Party heartland seat that changed hands from Liberal to Labor in 2001. This seat was left on small margin following the 1998 election, with a substantial swing against Liberal sitting member, Denver Beanland, who directed preferences to One Nation; and was subsequently won by Labor in 2001 by Ronan Lee. Lee’s Liberal opponent in Indooroopilly is Allan Pidgeon, a former ministerial staffer.

3.4.4 Aspley

Labor won this seat for the first time in 2001, with a 6.7 percent swing. In what should be considered a traditional conservative seat, the Liberals are expecting to make inroads in Aspley. Trevor Nelson-Jones will be opposing Labor’s sitting member, Bonny Barry, a former nurse and union official.

Brisbane Summary

Seat Held By Memeber Margin Notes
Moggill LIB Dr David Watson 0.9% Sitting Mp retiring
Clayfield ALP Liddy Clark 2.0%  
Indooroopilly ALP Ronan Lee 2.9%  
Aspley ALP Bonny Barry 4.7%  
Chatsworth ALP Terry Mackenroth 15.1% Deputy Premier
Mount Coot-tha ALP Wendy Endmon 16.1% Minister for Health, retiring MP
South Brisbane ALP Anna Bligh 24.9% Minister for Education
Brisbane Central ALP Peter Beattie 25.0% Premier
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