Margin: Liberal 3.6%
Location: Sunshine Coast, Queensland
In a nutshell: Peter Slipper has had a long and interesting, albeit increasingly marginal, career in politics which began with the National Party, appeared to end with his involvement in the Joh-for-PM insanity in 1987, and resumed when he won Fisher as a Liberal candidate in 1993. His ordinarily safe seat fell into marginal territory with the statewide tidal wave to Labor in 2007.
Electorate analysis: Fisher covers the southern part of the Sunshine Coast, from Caloundra north to Mooloolaba on the coast and inland to Maleny and the Glass House Mountains. Knock-on effects from the creation of Flynn at the 2007 election pushed the electorate south to Upper Caboolture and west to Kilcoy, but these changes have been largely reversed by the current redistribution, which reverts these areas to Longman and Blair while returning an area around Eudlo containing 12,700 voters from its northern neighbour Fairfax. The collective impact of the changes is to add 0.5 per cent to the Coalition margin.
When created in 1949 Fisher extended inland to Gympie and Kingaroy, assuming a progressively more coastal orientation as a result of the area’s rapid urban development. The seat was a fiefdom of the Adermann family for the first 35 years of its existence, being held for the Country Party first by Sir Charles until 1972 and thereafter by his son Evan. Evan Adermann moved to the new seat of Fairfax in 1984, and Fisher was retained for the Nationals by Peter Slipper. The seat was one of a number of gains for Labor in Queensland amid the debacle of the 1987 Joh-for-PM push, which had found an ardent proponent in Slipper. For the next two terms it was held for Labor by Michael Lavarch, in which time the eclipse of the Nationals continued.
A redistribution in 1993 made the seat notionally Liberal, prompting Lavarch to move to the new seat of Dickson. Slipper then made an improbable return to the seat as a Liberal, and enjoyed double-digit margins between a 14.0 per cent swing in 1996 and the statewide crunch in 2007, when there was a 7.9 per cent swing to Labor. He managed to win promotion to parliamentary secretary for finance and administration after the 1998 election, despite any lingering memories John Howard might have had of 1987, but he was pushed aside to make way for up-and-coming Peter Dutton after the 2004 election. Labor’s candidate is Chris Cummins, who held the local state seat of Kawana following the Labor landslides of 2001 and 2004 before his defeat in 2006.
Analysis written by William Bowe. Read Bowe’s blog, The Poll Bludger.