Margin: Liberal 0.0%
Location: South-Eastern Brisbane, Queensland
In a nutshell: Liberal member Andrew Laming was very lucky his seat wasn’t a tenth Labor gain in Queensland at the 2007 election, when he secured victory by just 64 votes. The seat had previously changed hands along with the previous three changes of government in 1975, 1983 and 1996.
Two-party vote map
Swing % map
Electorate analysis: Bowman extends from Brisbane’s outer coastal south, from Thorneside through Capalaba and Sheldon to Redland Bay. The redistribution tiny effect of the redistribution, transferring around 860 voters in Cornbubia and Carbrook in the south of the electorate. This has left Antony Green having to calculate the margin to the third decimal place to determine that it still belongs on the Labor side of the pendulum. The seat has been marginal seat since it was created with the expansion of parliament in 1949. The Liberals held it from then until the Menzies government’s brush with death in 1961, before recovering it in 1963. The swing achieved by Gough Whitlam in 1969 delivered the seat to Labor, and it changed hands along with government in 1975, 1983 and 1996. Leonard Keogh held the seat for Labor from 1969 to 1975 and again after 1983, also contesting unsuccessfully in 1977 and 1980. He was defeated for preselection in 1987 by Con Sciacca, who lost the seat in 1996 and won it back in 1998. The Liberal member in the Fraser government period was David Jull, who re-emerged in Fadden in 1984; the one-term member from 1996 was Andrea West.
Bowman was dramatically affected by the redistribution at the 2004 election, when it gained its current coastal area and lost Wynnum-Manly to the new seat of Bonner. This produced a 4.4 per cent shift to the Liberals, prompting Sciacca to unsuccessfully try his luck in Bonner. Bowman subsequently fell to Liberal candidate Andrew Laming, an ophthalmologist and World Bank health consultant who boosted the notional 3.0 per cent Liberal margin with an impressive 5.9 per cent swing. Laming spent much of 2007 under the shadow of the “printgate” affair, in which he was investigated for allegedly claiming $67,000 in taxpayer funds to print campaign material for state election candidates. He was finally cleared by the Commonwealth Department of Public Prosecutions two months before the election. After rumblings that the issue might cost him his preselection, Laming emerged from the 2007 election with a margin of 64 votes, the second closest result in the country after Fran Bailey’s court-determined 31-vote win in the Victorian seat of McEwen. The swing to Labor was 8.9 per cent, compared with a statewide result of 7.5 per cent.
In May 2009, Laming was included in a list of 14 Liberal MPs whom “major business donors” demanded make way for new blood if the Liberal Party is to get their donations, which was provided to journalist Glenn Milne. At 42, Laming was one of only two on the list under the age of 60, together with 39-year-old Ryan MP Michael Johnson. Liberal sources evidently put it to conservative pundit Andrew Bolt that responsibility for the article ultimately lay with party treasurer and Turnbull ally Michael Yabsley, and formed part of a move by moderates against figures of the Right. However, nothing further was heard of suggestions that Laming’s position was endangered.
Labor has nominated the apparently low-profile figure of Jenny Peters, who has been described as a “local businesswoman and mother of two”.
Jenny Peters was installed by the party’s national executive in March after what The Australian reported as a deal granting Herbert to the AWU sub-faction of the Right, Dawson to its rival Labor Unity sub-faction and Bowman to the Left. The candidate from 2007, Jason Young, reportedly lost Left backing in late 2009 due to his campaigning against the Bligh government’s asset sales in his capacity as an Electrical Trades Union organiser. Young pulled out of contention in February shortly before facing court on three traffic offences, saying he felt he should make way for a “good Left female candidate”.
A week out from polling day, Mark Bahnish of Larvatus Prodeo observed that in Bowman Labor was barely running a campaign, with reports appearing for weeks in the Brisbane Times that their candidate is invisible, and the local papers can’t get hold of her for an interview.
Bowman was one of four Queensland marginals covered by composite Galaxy poll of 800 respondents just over a week before polling day, which showed Labor facing a two-party swing of 5.4 per cent. 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 lead at 60-40.
Analysis written by William Bowe. Read Bowe’s blog, The Poll Bludger.