Electorate analysis: The electorate of Townsville covers the northern part of the city bearing its name, the remainder of which is divided betwen Mundingburra and Thuringowa (also included are Magnetic Island and Palm Island to the north). This includes an area of conservative strength in and around the Townsville business district, although this has lately been outweighed by Labor’s strength in the surrounding suburbs. Townsville has been held by Labor since the 1989 election, which marked a return to the dominance the party had enjoyed here until 1960. In that year the electorate was divided into Townsville North, held by Labor’s Percy Tucker (later to lead his party to the slaughter at the 1974 election), and Townsville South, held by independent veteran Tom Aikens. The city was rearranged into Townsville and Townsville West in 1972, the former being won for the Liberals by Norman Scott-Young and the latter going to Tucker. Townsville changed hands at three successive elections in the 1980s: when Scott-Young was defeated by Labor’s Ken McElligott in 1983; when McElligott moved to the new electorate of Thuringowa in 1986 and Tony Burreket won Townsville for the Nationals; and when Labor candidate Ken Davies won in 1989 before jumping ship to Mundingburra in 1992. It was subsequently held for Labor by Geoffrey Smith until 1998 and thereafter by Mike Reynolds.
Labor performed relatively poorly here in the 2001 and 2004 landslides, which respectively recorded a 1.8 per cent swing to Labor and a 6.0 per cent swing against, before enjoying a susbtantial 3.8 per cent swing in 2006. When Mike Reynolds announced his retirement the week before the 2009 election, Labor’s administrative committee promptly moved to preselect Mandy Johnstone, president of Family Emergency Accommodation Townsville, ahead of perennial local political figure Tony Mooney, whose unsuccessful council ticket at the 2008 elections included Johnstone. According to Tony Raggatt of the Townsville Bulletin, Johnstone’s endorsement marked a win for Mundingburra MP Lindy Nelson-Carr (“apparently a cousin” of Johnstone, according to Raggatt), a rival of Reynolds within the Socialist Left faction.
The LNP’s candidate is Lieutenant Colonel John Hathaway, redevelopment officer at Lavarack Barracks.
Heavy storm damage in the final week of the campaign gave Anna Bligh an opportunity to play to her strengths in Townsville, nicely coinciding with her “blitz” of visiting 50 electorates in five days. This reprised a tactic which appeared to work remarkably well for her at the last election.
Analysis written by William Bowe. Please direct corrections or comments to pollbludger-AT-crikey.com.au. Read William’s blog, The Poll Bludger.