Electorate analysis: Mulgrave extends southwards from the outskirts of Cairns along the coast to Innisfail, containing concentrations of voters at either end together with conservative rural territory in between. It was created in 1950 and held by the National/Country Party from 1957 until 1989, when it fell to Labor’s Warren Pitt with the election of the Goss government. It has since changed hands on three occasions: in 1995, when Naomi Wilson of the National Party squeaked ahead by 0.5 per cent; in 1998, when One Nation candidate Charles Rappolt narrowly overtook the Nationals (who had again nominated Naomi Wilson) and coasted home on their preferences; and at the December 1998 by-election that followed Rappolt’s decision to quit after six months in parliament. The latter contest was yet another showdown between Warren Pitt and Naomi Wilson, in which Pitt prevailed by just 0.6 per cent. This delivered a one-seat majority to what had previously been Peter Beattie’s minority government. In 2001, Wilson tried her luck in Cairns and Pitt romped home in Mulgrave with 53.6 per cent of the primary vote, the Nationals again finishing third behind One Nation. The Nationals recovered 14.7 per cent from the decline of One Nation in 2004, but they and the LNP made little inroads into Labor’s two-party margin in 2006 and 2009.
Warren Pitt retired at the 2009 election and was succeeded by his son Curtis Pitt, who worked locally as a cinema manager before taking up a position in Brisbane with the Department of State Development and as leader of the government’s Indigenous Jobs and Enterprises Taskforce. He was promoted to cabinet as Disability Services, Mental Health and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships Minister in the February 2011 reshuffle. His LNP opponent is Robyn Quick, head of English at Trinity Anglican School. Damian Byrnes, who has stood as an independent and worked as a doctor at the Athens Olympic Games, will contest the seat of Mulgrave for Bob Katter’s Australian Party.
The electorate office of Curtis Pitt, Labor’s member for Mulgrave and the Minister for Indigenous Affairs, was graffitied yesterday night with the words “Communist Gay, Communist N…er-loving party”.
Analysis written by William Bowe. Please direct corrections or comments to pollbludger-AT-crikey.com.au. Read William’s blog, The Poll Bludger.