Electorate analysis: Caloundra includes the Sunshine Coast town which bears its name and the suburbs of Golden Beach and Pelican Waters immediately to the south, further extending through lightly populated territory about 12 kilometres inland to the towns of Landsborough and Beerwah beyond Bruce Highway. However, it does not however include the suburbs of Aroona and the western part of Currimundi immediately to the north of Caloundra, which were transferred to Kawana in the redistribution before the 2009 election in exchange for the Landsborough and Beerwah region, which had previously been in Glass House. These changes cut the margin from 4.2 per cent to 1.7 per cent, but a 4.3 per cent swing at the election kept it secure for the LNP.
The Liberals and then the LNP have held Caloundra at all times since it was created in 1992, the inaugural member being Joan Sheldon, who won the predecessor seat of Landsborough from the Nationals at the 1990 by-election brought on by the resignation of former Premier Mike Ahern. Sheldon led the Liberal Party from November 1991 until she stood aside after the 1998 election defeat, and emerged as one of only three Liberals left standing after the 2001 election when her margin was reduced to 1.0 per cent. Mark McArdle added little to the margin when Sheldon retired in 2004, and might have been in trouble if not for a weak flow of Greens preferences to Labor. He had a slightly more comfortable time of it in 2006, when local discontent over water issues contributed to a 3.3 per cent swing, and further strengthened his position in 2009.
A former director of Boyce Garrick Lawyers, McArdle quickly rose to the position of Shadow Attorney-General when a coalition agreement was reached in September 2005. He rose still further after moving the spill motion against Bob Quinn’s Liberal leadership in August 2006, winning the deputy leadership position vacated by Quinn’s successor Bruce Flegg. In December 2007 he unexpectedly attained the Liberal leadership when Flegg put him forward as a compromise candidate after the party room was locked four-all between him and Clayfield MP Tim Nicholls, with McArdle among those backing Flegg. The LNP merger in July 2008 saw him take on the positions of Deputy Opposition Leader and Shadow Health Minister, but he lost the former position after the 2009 election while remained Shadow Health Minister.
Aged and mental health nurse Christine Anthony will be Labor’s candidate for a third time, having earlier run in 2004 and 2009.
Analysis written by William Bowe. Please direct corrections or comments to pollbludger-AT-crikey.com.au. Read William’s blog, The Poll Bludger.