Electorate analysis: One of two seats going into the election in the hands of Katter’s Australian Party, following the defection of former LNP member Aidan McLindon, Beaudesert is located inland of the Gold Coast seats of Gaven and Mudgeeraba, covering the 80 kilometre distance from Rosevale in the west to Tamborine in the east. Labor is only slightly weaker than the LNP in the semi-urban area around Jimboomba in the north-east, but its support diminishes rapidly deeper into the interior. McLindon came to the seat at the 2009 election after the retirement of Kev Lingard, who was member for the seat’s predecessor Fassifern from 1983 and then for Beaudesert upon its creation in 1992. Lingard hit an electoral rough patch amid the One Nation challenge of 1998 and 2001, when his primary vote slumped from 56.3 per cent to 31.9 per cent, and he was lucky on the latter occasion to finish ahead of both One Nation in the race for second place and Labor in the race for first. The margin blew out again amid the relative tranquility of 2004, but a 2.6 per cent swing to Labor in 2006 perhaps indicated the long-term trend in a seat becoming progressively more semi-urban in outlook.
Aidan McLindon was 28 years old when elected to parliament, and had been elected to Logan City Council as a Liberal candidate five years earlier. It was already apparent he was not from the normal conservative mould: he had earlier been a member of a “punk grindcore” band called KILL TV, whose hits included an apparently unironic tribute to Noam Chomsky, and together with a bandmate intruded on to the stage of Big Brother in 2005 as Gretel Killeen announced the winner, resulting in a $250 fine for creating a public nuisance. His campaign for the seat was complicated when Pauline Hanson announced her candidacy, and took a strange turn when Warwick Capper – a former Sydney Swans AFL star and noted wearer of tight shorts, who like Hanson was a client of high-profile celebrity agent Max Markson – announced through his sponsors at Zoo Magazine that he was throwing his hat into the ring. However, the declaration of candidates on the second Tuesday of the campaign revealed he had neglected to submit his nomination before the deadline, raising serious questions about the political acument of his campaign manager, Mark “Jacko” Jackson. Things got weirder still a week out from polling day when News Limited’s Sunday tabloids, led by Sydney’s ever-reliable Telegraph, infamously published what were purported to be semi-nude photographs of a 19-year-old Hanson, which turned out not to be her.
McLindon had little trouble retaining the seat for the LNP at the election, but his association with the party ended a little over a year later when both he and Burnett MP Rob Messenger quit the party to sit as independents. This came shortly after McLindon had unsuccessfully challenged Lawrence Springborg for the party’s deputy leadership with Messenger’s support. A month later he announced his intention to spearhead a new political party, the Queensland Party, which attracted considerable media attention and a number of prospective election candidates over the following year. In August 2011 however he chose to merge his party with the newly emergent Katter’s Australian Party, over the protests of some candidates who sought to keep the original party going.
The LNP has twice hit road blocks in its efforts to preselect a new candidate for the seat. The original front-runner was Scenic Rim mayor John Brent, but he withdrew his nomination on the grounds that he was facing a Department of Local Government misconduct inquiry, which ended with all charges against him being dismissed. The endorsement instead went to Andrew Macarthur, a former general manager of Stanbroke Pastoral Company, but he withdrew in early April 2011 citing personal reasons. The party eventually settled on Jon Krause, a 30-year-old former solicitor who currently works for the National Australia Bank.
A ReachTEL automated phone poll of 444 respondents, conducted for Katter’s Australian Party a fortnight out from the election, had Jon Krause on 38 per cent of the primary vote, Aidan McLindon on 37 per cent and Labor on 10 per cent. However, an LNP source quoted by Sarah Elks of The Australian in the final week of the campaign said its polling showed it would “safely win”.
Analysis written by William Bowe. Please direct corrections or comments to pollbludger-AT-crikey.com.au. Read William’s blog, The Poll Bludger.