Electorate analysis: Keppel covers about 100 kilometres of coast around Yeppoon and extends 30 kilometres inland to take in the outer eastern Rockhampton suburbs of Norman Gardens and Koongal. It thus consists of two electorally distinct parts: its share of Labor-voting Rockhampton, and the Nationals-voting rural areas and small towns further east. The electorate has existed in one form or another since 1888, being largely equivalent to the seat of Rockhampton North which existed from 1888 to 1912 and again from 1960 to 1992. It was mostly in Labor hands barring a few Country Party interruptions, but was won by the Nationals in 1992 when a redistribution pitted Peak Downs MP Vince Lester against the Labor member for Rockhampton North, Rob Schwarten (later to return as member for Rockhampton in 1995). Lester’s personal vote probably made the difference when One Nation and Labor respectively made strong challenges in 1998 and 2001, and it was the only seat Labor gained at the 2004 election when Lester retired.
Labor’s winning candidate was Paul Hoolihan, the narrowly unsuccessful candidate in 2001, who went on to further strong performances in 2006 when he was returned with a 3.4 per cent swing and in 2006 when he suffered a swing of just 0.5 per cent. Hoolihan came to parliament at the age of 56 after running a Rockhampton law practice for 25 years, and has come to be associated with the Labor Unity faction after entering parliament as an independent. He was named as a possible replacement for Kate Jones in the ministry when she quit in June 2011 to tend to her electorate of Ashgrove, but was overlooked in favour of Vicky Darling. LNP candidate Bruce Young has been described in the local press as a 49-year-old businessman, although his page on the party website offers few career details.
Analysis written by William Bowe. Please direct corrections or comments to pollbludger-AT-crikey.com.au. Read William’s blog, The Poll Bludger.