Electoral Form Guide: Bonner
Margin: Labor 4.5%
Location: Eastern Brisbane, Queensland
In a nutshell: This inner Brisbane electorate was expected to provide a new home to Labor veteran Con Sciacca when it was created at the 2004 election, but Liberal candidate Ross Vasta pulled off a surprise narrow victory. It inevitably fell to Labor’s Kerry Rea in 2007, but the relatively mild nature of the swing left it in the marginal zone. The Liberal National Party has set up a rematch of 2007 by again preselecting Vasta.
Two-party vote map
Swing % map
Electorate analysis: Extending from the bayside Wynnum-Manly area in Brisbane’s north-east to Mount Gravatt in the south-west, Bonner was created at the 2004 election and is the only Queensland seat to has remarkably been left unchanged by the two redistributions conducted since. Labor’s unsuccessful candidate in Bonner at the 2004 election was Con Sciacca, a Keating government minister who held Bowman from 1987 to 1996 and again from 1998 to 2004. With a notional Labor margin of 1.9 per cent, Bonner was a greatly more attractive option for Sciacca than the redrawn Bowman, where the loss of Wynnum-Manly and the gain of the Redland Bay area from Fadden produced a notional Liberal margin of 3.1 per cent. Nonetheless, Sciacca was unable to hold the new seat, suffering a 2.4 per cent swing and losing by 795 votes.
The successful Liberal candidate was Ross Vasta, a former restaurant owner and staffer to Senator Brett Mason who ran unsuccessfully against Kevin Rudd in Griffith in 2001. Vasta’s main source of publicity in his one term in parliament was his involvement in the scandal surrounding misuse of electoral printing allowances, for which he was cleared by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions in September 2007. Holding the most marginal Coalition seat in a state deemed certain to swing heavily to Labor, Vasta was universally written off going into the 2007 election, and he was indeed comfortably defeated despite a swing of 5.2 per cent that was well below a statewide result of 7.5 per cent. The Liberal National Party is now giving Vasta a chance to recover his old seat. Since losing his seat he has returned to his old job with Brett Mason and unsuccessfully contested Wynnum-Manly ward for the Liberals at the 2008 Brisbane City Council election.
Labor’s victorious candidate in 2007 was Kerry Rea, who had been on Brisbane City Council since 1991 representing a ward that included the area around Mount Gravatt. A member of the Left faction, Rea reportedly won preselection “comfortably” ahead of school teacher Chris Forrester. Forrester was Labor’s unsuccessful candidate at the by-election for the state seat of Chatsworth in August 2005, and was set to run again for the seat at the subsequent state election in September 2006. He was persuaded to withdraw in favour of Channel Nine sports commentator Chris Bombolas as part of a deal that gave him factional backing in Bonner, but this reportedly unravelled after local party ranks rebelled in support of Rea.
Bonner has produced interesting variations in booth results at the two elections since its creation. Labor suffered a mass exodus in 2004 from voters who had previously been in Griffith, perhaps because they had lost the opportunity to vote for Rudd. By contrast, Con Sciacca was able to pick up a small swing from his existing constituents in the Wynnum-Manly area that had been in Bowman. The loss of Sciacca’s personal vote in 2007 saw the Liberals achieve rare (albeit slight) swings in two Wynnum-Manly booths, and notably small swings in the surrounding area. Considerably larger swings were recorded around Mount Gravatt, where Labor also performed relatively strongly in 2004.
Late in the final week of the campaign, Dennis Atkins of the Courier-Mail reported the Coalition believed the seat was “within reach”, but “still defendable for Labor”. However, the JWS Research-Telereach poll conducted on the final weekend of the campaign, covering 400 respondents with a margin of error of about 5 per cent, had the LNP with an emphatic 51-49 lead in Bonner.
Analysis written by William Bowe. Read Bowe’s blog, The Poll Bludger.