Electorate analysis: Callide covers rural areas inland of Bundaberg and Rockhampton, its main population centres being Gayndah, Mundubbera, Eidsvold, Monto and Biloela on Burnett Highway, and Taroom and Theodore on Leichhardt Highway. It has been in National/Country Party hands since its creation in 1950, barring the period from 1981 to 1986 when Lindsay Hartwig held it as an independent after being expelled by the party. The One Nation earthquake combined with the retirement of sitting member Di McCauley cut the party’s vote from 74.4 per cent to 37.7 per cent in 1998, and new member Jeff Seeney again needed Labor preferences to secure a narrow win over One Nation in 2001. Normality was restored in 2004, when Seeney polled 60.4 per cent and One Nation finished third behind Labor.
Seeney rose to his first shadow ministerial position in the wake of the 2001 election wipeout, and promptly developed a reputation as a combative performer after frequent ejections from parliament. He rose to the party leadership when Springborg stepped aside after the 2006 election, emerging uncontested after Maroochydore MP Fiona Simpson and Cunningham MP Stuart Copeland recognised they wouldn’t have the numbers. Seeney’s tenure in the position was marked by disputes with the Liberals and poor poll ratings, and a view developed after the 2007 federal election that Springborg should be re-enlisted to put the party on a better footing for the looming merger negotiations. Springborg reportedly won a leadership challenge in Janury 2008 by 10 votes to six, and Seeney assumed the position of Shadow Mines and Energy Minister.
Seeney unsuccessfully contested the deputy leadership when Springborg stood aside after the 2009 election defeat, but was granted the natural resources portfolio in addition to retaining mines and energy. In early 2011 he was one of the main instigators of the agreement in which Campbell Newman would lead the party from outside parliament and contest the seat of Ashgrove at the election, with Seeney taking on the interim role of leader within parliament. Langbroek recognised he did not have the support to resist the arrangement and stood aside, but it was seen as a sign of discontent in the party that Maroochydore MP Fiona Simpson nominated against Seeney for the parliamentary leader position and reportedly received 13 votes. Seeney also assumed the state development, infrastructure, planning and reconstruction portfolios in the ensuing reshuffle.
Analysis written by William Bowe. Please direct corrections or comments to pollbludger-AT-crikey.com.au. Read William’s blog, The Poll Bludger.