Electorate analysis: The electorate of Surfers Paradise extends along the coast from Broadbeach north to the Broadwater Spit, and inland through the southern part of Southport to Ashmore. The Nationals held the seat from its creation in 1972 until 1977, when a change in the direction of Labor preferences delivered it to the Liberals for a term. It was recovered for the Nationals in 1980 by future Premier Rob Borbidge, who held the seat until his retirement immediately after the 2001 election disaster. Borbidge puzzlingly conceded he had lost his seat on the night of that election, but went on to win by 5.3 per cent.
The ensuing by-election on May 5, 2001 was a further disaster for the Nationals, whose candidate vanished among a field of 12 which included the Liberal Party’s John-Paul Langbroek, who achieved more than double the Nationals candidate’s vote. The clear winner with 35.9 per cent of the vote was independent candidate and former Gold Coast mayor Lex Bell. Bell entered the 2004 election encumbered by his involvement in the financial collapse of private college St Stephen’s, whose backers were bailed out by a party benefactor in what looked to many like a quid pro quo for a council rezoning decision. Bell’s vote fell to 22.9 per cent and John-Paul Langbroek won the day in his second tilt as Liberal candidate, winning 44.7 per cent of the primary vote and a 13.9 per cent two-party margin over Labor.
Initially most widely noted as the brother of Melbourne television and radio personality Kate Langbroek, John-Paul Langbroek became Shadow Public Works and Housing Minister when a coalition agreement was reached in September 2005, and was progressively promoted until taking on the health portfolio after the 2006 election. In late November 2007 he was enlisted by Clayfield MP Tim Nicholls as his candidate for deputy when he challenged the leadership of Bruce Flegg, but the emergence of Caloundra MP Mark McArdle as a compromise leadership candidate prevented this from coming to fruition. Langbroek moved from health to education when the LNP merger was concluded in August 2008.
Langbroek emerged as the leader of the LNP after Lawrence Springborg stepped aside in the wake of yet another election defeat, prevailing over erstwhile ally Tim Nicholls and Maroochydore MP Fiona Simpson. His distinctly unaggressive leadership style and preference for a “small target” strategy aroused criticism within the party, which was exacerbated when he contentiously made a public announcement of a planned reshuffle in September 2010, causing Shadow Planning and Infrastructure Minister David Gibson to resign. When the plan for Campbell Newman to contest the election from outside parliament while running in the seat of Ashgrove was unveiled in March 2011, Langbroek accepted he did not have the numbers to retain his position and resigned, with the ensuing vote for the position of Newman’s parliamentary seat-warmer being won by Jeff Seeney. In the ensuing reshuffle Langbroek became Shadow Minister for Police, Corrective Services and Emergency Services.
Analysis written by William Bowe. Please direct corrections or comments to pollbludger-AT-crikey.com.au. Read William’s blog, The Poll Bludger.