Petrie covers a narrow strip of Brisbane’s northern suburbs from Carseldine north to Burpengary. This includes three distinct areas: at the centre, the Redcliffe Peninsula; further north along the coast, Deception Bay and the developing suburb of North Lakes; and, on the southern side of Pine River which separates the Moreton Bay local government area from Brisbane, the suburbs of Bracken Ridge, Fitzgibbon and Carseldine. The redistribution before the 2010 election added the Deception Bay area (previously in Longman) and transferred coastal suburbs at the southern end to Lilley, which boosted the Labor margin by 2.1%.

The electorate was created with the enlargement of parliament in 1949 and held consistently by the Liberals until 1983, barring a surprise defeat in 1961. It again changed hands from Labor to Liberal in 1984 and back again in 1987. Gary Johns held the seat for Labor for the next three terms, until the Queensland Labor wipeout of 1996 powered a 9.8% swing to Liberal candidate Teresa Gambaro. Gambaro’s margin was reduced to 0.8% when the elastic snapped back to Labor by 7.5% in 1998, but she was strengthened by successive swings of 2.7% in 2001 and 4.4% in 2004. Gambaro had a 7.9% buffer going into the 2007 election, but it was not enough to save her from a 9.5% swing to Labor’s Yvette D’Ath, who had previously been an official with the Right faction Australian Workers Union. Gambaro was back at the 2010 election, when she unseated Labor’s Arch Bevis in Brisbane.

A Liberal National Party preselection last weekend was won by Luke Howarth, managing director of Sandgate Pest Control and a past candidate for the state seat of Sandgate (which is actually located over the boundary in Lilley). Howarth prevailed out of a preselection field of 10, of whom the presumed front-runner had been John Connolly, former Wallabies coach and unsuccessful state candidate for Nicklin, who had the endorsement of John Howard.