Electorate analysis: The suburb and business district of Southport covers part of the Gold Coast’s most concentrated area of development immediately north of Surfers Paradise, from which the electorate extends eastwards beyond the Pacific Highway to Molendinar and Arundel. Labor is strongest near the town centre and weakest at Arundel. Southport was won by the Liberals on its creation in 1977 and has since changed hands twice, to the Nationals in 1980 and Labor in 2001. Labor’s 13.9 per cent swing in 2001 followed a series of narrow defeats, giving them an instant safe seat with a margin of 10.8 per cent. The 2004 election produced little change after the Nationals contentiously won the right to contest the seat at the expense of the Liberals. A controversial cruise ship terminal proposal loomed as a dangerous issue for Labor at the 2006 election, but Peter Beattie knocked the project on the head in the first week of the campaign and the swing against Labor was only 0.9 per cent. The seat returned to the marginal zone with a 4.6 per cent swing in 2009.
Former solicitor and Gold Coast councillor Peter Lawlor’s win for Labor in 2001 followed unsuccessful attempts in 1992, 1995 and 1998. He was named by the Courier-Mail as contender for the ministry as far back as 2004, but this was not realised until he was appointed Tourism and Fair Trading Minister after the 2009 election. In February 2011 he was one of three ministers to simultaneously bow out from the ministry, in his case because of a wish to focus on his endangered electorate. His LNP opponent is Rob Molhoek, a former Gold Coast councillor who ran unsuccesfully for mayor in 2008 and won preselection unopposed. As the Gold Coast Bulletin describes it, Molhoek was “a former Young National and later a member of the Liberal Party, (who) rejoined the LNP after leading the Unite GC ticket against the Liberal Party’s Tom Tate and Mayor Ron Clarke at the last council election”.
Analysis written by William Bowe. Please direct corrections or comments to pollbludger-AT-crikey.com.au. Read William’s blog, The Poll Bludger.