Electorate analysis: Brisbane Central covers the northern bank of the Brisbane River, from the city through Spring Hill, Fortitude Valley and Kelvin Grove immediately to the north (an area of strength for the Greens), New Farm to the east and Herston and Windsor in the far north beyond the Inner City Bypass. The electorate has been held by Labor at all times since its creation as a single-member electorate in 1912 (“Central” was added to its name in 1977), except for one term after the 1974 landslide when it was won for the Liberals by Harold Lowes. Labor had a margin of 25.0 per cent after the 2001 election, but this has been whittled away by substantial swings at each of the three subsequent elections – partly as a result of the loss of Peter Beattie’s personal vote, but also because higher income voters have been attracted to the area by the rise of inner-city apartment living, and Greens preference flows have weakened as more voters exercise the “just vote one” option provided by optional preferential voting.
Former ALP state secretary Peter Beattie came to the seat in 1989, going on to become party leader in February 1996 and Premier after the election of June 1998. When Beattie retired in September 2007, the ensuing by-election was won for Labor by Queensland Council of Unions general secretary Grace Grace (who acquired her double name through marriage, her maiden name of Grace Farfaglia bespeaking her Italian heritage). Grace’s preselection was reportedly fast-tracked due to factional arrangements that effectively secured the seat for Labor Unity (the “Old Guard”), a sub-faction of the Right distinct from the AWU-dominated Labor Forum. She was named as a possible replacement for Kate Jones in the ministry when she quit to tend to her electorate of Ashgrove in June 2011, but was overlooked for Sandgate MP Vicky Darling.
The LNP candidate has endorsed Robert Cavallucci, the owner of a construction business. The electorate was among those considered by local resident Campbell Newman as he cast around for a Labor-held set to contest in lieu of the failure of any sitting LNP members to make way for him, but it was reportedly ruled out because Cavallucci had already been preselected, together with concern that residents of inner-city apartments might have been alienated by rates increases during Newman’s tenure as lord mayor.
Analysis written by William Bowe. Please direct corrections or comments to pollbludger-AT-crikey.com.au. Read William’s blog, The Poll Bludger.