Electorate analysis: The electorate of Currumbin covers the Gold Coast for five kilometres north of the New South Wales border, from Palm Beach south to Coolangatta, and extends about 20 kilometres inland through the Currumbin Valley. It was created in 1986 when it was won for the Nationals by Leo Gately, who was defeated in 1989 by Liberal candidate Trevor Coomber. Coomber abandoned Currumbin in 1992 to challenge future Premier Rob Borbidge in Surfers Paradise, for what Antony Green described as “some strange reason”. As well as failing to defeat Borbidge, Coomber also had to watch his existing seat buck the trend of an otherwise static election result by swinging heavily to Labor, whose candidate Merri Rose won by 5.8 per cent on two-party preferred.
Rose survived the 1995 backlash against the Goss government and looked to be sitting pretty when the 2001 landslide left her with a margin of 14.5 per cent, but her career went sharply downhill immediately thereafter due to controversies over her electorate car and ongoing allegations of bullying against staff members and drivers which cost her her job as a minister during the 2004 election campaign. Her primary vote subsequently fell from 56.4 to 39.6 per cent, which translated into a decisive 17.7 per cent swing to Liberal candidate Jann Stuckey. Rose was imprisoned in May 2007 after being convicted of “demanding a benefit with threats” – the benefit being a position with Tourism Queensland, and the victim being Peter Beattie. Perhaps deprived of the Merri Rose dividend from 2004, Stuckey’s margin at the 2006 election was reduced from 3.2 per cent to 2.2 per cent, but she consolidated her hold with a 4.7 per cent swing in 2009.
Stuckey operated a communications consultancy before entering parliament, and was described by former state party vice-president Graham Young as “definitely non-aligned” in the bipolar Queensland Liberal factional divide. She was promoted to the front bench when the Coalition agreement was finalised in September 2005, and held the child safety and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community development portfolios after the LNP merger in August 2008. She moved to public works and information and communications technology after the 2009 election, with the latter two portfolios exchanged for small business, job creation, fair trading, industrial relations and women in the November 2010 reshuffle. All her existing portfolios except small business were exchanged for manufacturing when Campbell Newman became leader in March 2011.
Analysis written by William Bowe. Please direct corrections or comments to pollbludger-AT-crikey.com.au. Read William’s blog, The Poll Bludger.