Electorate analysis: Dalrymple is one of two electorates that will go into the election in the hands of Katter’s Australian Party, following former LNP member Shane Knuth’s mid-term defection. The electorate was created at the 2009 election, merging the declining north Queensland electorates of Tablelands, from which it took 16,400 voters around Atherton in the north, and Charters Towers, which provided 11,700 voters in lightly populated territory inland of Townsville. The former seat was held by independent Rosa Lee Long, the last survivor of One Nation, and the latter was held by Knuth, who recovered the seat for the Nationals in 2004 following an aberrant win by Labor in 2001. Knuth’s brother Jeff held the seat of Burdekin for One Nation from 1998 to 2001, and will contest Hinchinbrook for Katter’s Australian Party at the coming election.
A pastoralist and former railway welder for Queensland Rail, Knuth was made Shadow Communities and Disabilities Minister immediately after his election, but was reduced to a parliamentary secretary position when the September 2005 coalition agreement forced him to make way for others. He returned as Shadow Mines and Energy Minister after the 2006 election, but was again demoted when Lawrence Springborg replaced Jeff Seeney as Nationals leader in January 2008, despite having supported Springborg in his leadership challenge. He quit the LNP in November 2011, complaining the merger had been a disaster for regional representation, which now has been a virtual take over by the Liberals. According to Steven Wardill of the Courier-Mail, polling showed Knuth was a highly formidable prospect whichever party he ran for, being more popular than Campbell Newman in his electorate.
The LNP has endorsed Liz Schmidt, who has a high profile locally as a livestock transport operator.
In late January, the Tablelands Advertiser reported that Rosa Lee Long said the LNP approached her to stand as its candidate. The Australian reported at around the same time that the LNP was insisting it was on track to win the seat, but the paper’s reporter Sarah Elks related in the final week of the campaign that an LNP source said its polling showed Knuth had a chance of winning.
Analysis written by William Bowe. Please direct corrections or comments to pollbludger-AT-crikey.com.au. Read William’s blog, The Poll Bludger.