Electorate analysis: Cook covers the Cape York Peninsula and Torres Strait islands, extending south along the coast to just north of Cairns. Population centres at the latter end such as Cooktown, Miallo and Wonga are strongly conservative, but are outweighed electorally by overwhelming support for Labor in the northern communities that contribute to the electorate’s 26 per cent indigenous population. Cook has had an uninterrupted existence going back to 1875, and has been in Labor hands on all but a few occasions since 1915. The last such occasion came with the landslide of 1974, when National Party candidate Eric Deeral became the first and thus far only Aboriginal member of the Queensland parliament. The seat was subsequently held for Labor by Robert Scott from 1977 and Steve Bredhauer from 1989. Nationals candidate and Cooktown mayor Graham Elmes put in a strong bid for the seat upon Bredhauer’s retirement in 2004, but it was retained for Labor by Jason O’Brien, an electorate officer to Bredhauer.
O’Brien had an accident prone debut term in parliament, being involved in electorate car accidents, a run-in with the girlfriend of Burnett MP Rob Messenger and a controversy over the presence of a bottle of wine on board a plane which transported him and a minister to a dry Aboriginal community. He has since proved a steady enough hand to have been entrusted with the deputy speakership after the 2009 election. The LNP’s candidate is Cairns lawyer David Kempton, who was recruited to stand after the party’s initial choice, Mareeba printing business owner Craig Batchelor, withdrew citing personal reasons. Twenty-six year old cattleman Lachlan Benstead will run for Bob Katter’s Australian Party.
Analysis written by William Bowe. Please direct corrections or comments to pollbludger-AT-crikey.com.au. Read William’s blog, The Poll Bludger.