It’s been two weeks since the independent Queensland Redistribution Committee put the proverbial cat among the pigeons. The draft recommendations it handed down were seen as the biggest shake-up of Queensland state electoral boundaries.
Not since Wayne Goss’ government passed the Electoral Act 1992 — consigning Joh Bjelke-Petersen’s long-running and infamous gerrymander to the dustbin of history — has there been such a drastic redrawing of the political landscape in the sunshine state.
The Palaszczuk government has indicated it will accept the draft recommendations. It has Queensland Labor officials, MPs, political aspirant and activists alike scrambling to understand the ramifications for their ability to secure preselection and, more importantly, secure a parliamentary majority next state election. After a few days of confusion, all 42 sitting Queensland Labor MPs have been allocated a seat in which to run.
First hurdle overcome.
ABC election guru Antony Green has realigned the Queensland electoral pendulum. Over coming weeks, I want to draw your attention to the battlegrounds where Queensland Labor needs to dominate in order to secure another term.
After redistribution, no area will be more critical for the Palaszczuk government than the Gold Coast. But the Liberal National Party like to think they have a lock on the region that can’t be touched. LNP-held seats on the Gold Coast swung, on average, 8% to Queensland Labor candidates. Despite this, Queensland Labor picked up no seats on the Gold Coast, and that had a major impact on the Palaszczuk government not securing a majority government (the seats of Albert, Gaven and Southport were painfully close).
In the next election campaign, the seats of Bonney, Burleigh, Coomera, Currumbin, Gaven, Southport and Theodore will be seen as the opportunities. Theodore and Gaven are now both notionally Labor-held seats.
I’m led to believe that One Nation will not play a major factor on the Gold Coast, with the party’s resources and poisonous politics targeted at voters further north.
The Palmer United Party polled relatively strongly in 2015 and won’t next time. Since 2009, some Gold Coast Labor voters have bounced from Katter’s Australia Party (KAP) to Palmer United Party (PUP). The question is: will these voters return to Queensland Labor at the next poll with neither KAP or PUP expected to field candidates? The votes and preferences of these voters will be critical. I haven’t accounted for where these votes and preferences will go next election.
My analysis will take into account the introduction of compulsory preferential voting since the 2015 poll and the commensurate increase in Queensland Greens flows to Queensland Labor (something Antony Green hasn’t considered in his analysis).
The Queensland Left are understood to be well positioned to secure candidates in a majority of these seats, if not all of them.
Here’s my analysis of the Gold Coast seats critical to the Palaszczuk government winning the next election, accompanied by insider gossip from each seat.
Northern Gold Coast — as predicted — has been allocated a new seat: Bonney.
This newly created seat takes in the Labor-friendly suburbs Parkwood, Labrador, Arundel, Biggera Waters and part of Southport. It consists of areas from the old seats of Broadwater, Coomera, Gaven and Southport. Taking into account increased Queensland Greens flows, I have it down as notionally Labor with a margin of 0.9%.
Several previous candidates who, before the redistribution, might have been eyeing other seats such as Broadwater, Gaven and Southport would be expected to be considering seeking preselection for Bonney.
The Northern Gold Coast seat that was only just lost by Labor candidate Michael Riordan remains mostly unchanged. It transfers small areas to Bonney, Southport, Theodore and Mudgeeraba and gains part of Carrara.
Taking into account increased Queensland Greens flows I have it down as notionally Labor with a margin of 0.2%. Based on the information I have, Michael Riordan would be almost guaranteed to be seeking preselection in Gaven yet again, having come so close last time.
The dramatic shake-up of Albert and Coomera has been the most surprising outcome of the redistribution. These two old seats that exist within one of the fastest-growing corridors in Australia have been merged with the old Albert region.
The renamed Albert has been stunted south and has been carved out from areas of the electorates of Coomera and Gaven — such as Coomera, Helensvale and Wongawallan.
Taking into account increased Queensland Greens flows, I have it down as notionally Labor with a margin of 0.2%.
Previous Labor candidate Melissa McMahon who also just missed out last election is believed to be considering either Coomera or Theodore.
The coastal southern Gold Coast seat of Burleigh is one of the most southern in Queensland. It gains a small part of Varsity Lakes from Mermaid Beach and the balance of Palm Beach up to Currumbin Creek.
Taking into account increased Queensland Greens flows, I have it down as held by LNP with a margin of 1.5%.
For Labor, it’s one of the seats that will most benefit from compulsory preferential voting.
Several prominent and previous Labor candidates are believed to be considering commencing the preselection process for Burleigh to run against sitting LNP MP Michael Hart who is considered very weak and vulnerable by party insiders.
The new seat of Coomera swallows entirely the area the old seat of Albert used to contain. It goes from bursting at the seams with over 43,000 electors to 10% under average at 30,000 electors. It transfers part of Coomera and Helensvale to Theodore.
Taking into account increased Queensland Greens flows I have it down as held by LNP with a margin of 3.4%.
Rather quiet when it comes to this seat, but I’ve heard of one activist who has put their hand up.
Previous Labor candidate Rowan Holzberger fell painfully short of taking Southport in 2015. The new boundaries make Queensland Labor’s job a little more difficult next election gaining the Surfers Paradise parts of Ashmore, Benowa, Bundall and Southport. It transfers areas to Bonney, Gaven and Mudgeeraba.
Taking into account increased Queensland Greens flows, I have it down as held by LNP with a margin of 4.9%. It’s Rowan Holzberger’s if he wants it. No other contenders.
The inland Southern Gold Coast seat of Currumbin has merely lost the Palm Beach section of its boundaries.
Not much action.
It’s considered on the outside of possibility as a Labor pick-up with a strong candidate and campaign.
Taking into account increased Queensland Greens flows, I have it down as held by LNP with a margin of 4.9%.
I’ve not heard anything regarding preselection in Currumbin.