Electoral Form Guide: Forde
Margin: Labor 2.9%
Location: Southern Brisbane Fringe, Queensland
In a nutshell: Forde delivered the Coalition one of its rudest shocks of the 2007 election, when a double-digit margin was demolished by a stunning 14.4 per cent swing to Labor candidate Brett Raguse. The redistribution has substantially redrawn the electorate without having much impact on the margin.
Two-party vote map
Swing % map
Electorate analysis: Forde provided Labor with one of its three sensational victories in Queensland at the 2007 election, in which apparently safe Coalition margins were obliterated by swings well into the double digits (the others being Leichhardt and Dawson in northern Queensland). The electorate covers the eastern part of the southern Brisbane municipality of Logan City, including the suburbs around the outer urban centre of Beenleigh, extending southwards along the Pacific Motorway to take in the rapidly growing northern Gold Coast suburb of Upper Coomera. The redistribution has substantially redrawn the electorate to accommodate the creation of the new neighbouring seat of Wright, which absorbs 37,700 voters in rural areas extending to the New South Wales border. Compensating gains have been made at Upper Coomera, where 9300 voters have been gained from Fadden (expected to boom to 18,700 between 2009 and 2012, in what might loom as a problem for Labor); at Park Ridge in the electorate’s west, where 6200 have been gained from Rankin; around Shailer Park in the north, adding 11,500 voters also from Rankin; and Carbrook in the north-east, adding 860 voters from Bowman and adjusting that part of the electorate to conform with the Logan municipal boundary. The Coalition parties are strong in both the areas lost and gained, such that the extensive changes have had only a slight impact on the Labor margin, which is down from 2.9 per cent to 2.4 per cent. Labor’s strength is in the Logan City areas which remain at the heart of the electorate, providing 51,700 of its 79,600 voters.
Forde was created with the expansion of parliament in 1984, originally having an urban orientation in Brisbane’s outer south-western suburbs. Liberal candidate David Watson won the seat on its debut by 43 votes, before a statewide swing to Labor in 1987 delivered the seat to Mary Crawford. Watson would later return as the state Liberal leader who led his party to the 2001 election massacre, from which it emerged with three seats. Crawford built up a handy margin over 1990 and 1993, before a cruel redistribution pulled the seat into the rural Beaudesert region on the New South Wales border, leaving a toehold at Logan City as its only urban territory. She thus went into the 1996 election with no buffer against the savage swing that hit Labor across Queensland, which struck Forde to the tune of 9.6 per cent. The new Liberal member was Kay Elson, who retained comfortable margins in 1998 and 2001 before sealing the deal with a 5.9 per cent swing in 2004.
Elson’s retirement at the 2007 election clearly had some bearing on the ferocious 14.4 per cent swing, with swings in the neighbouring booths which have since been added to the electorate generally having been about 4 per cent lower. Reports emerged in the final week of the campaign to the effect that the Liberals had become so alarmed about the seat they had abandoned their candidate Wendy Creighton and told the local party to get behind Nationals candidate Hajnal Ban, who was said to have “won traction with voters” (although Creighton in fact outpolled her 34.0 per cent to 12.2 per cent). Nonetheless, the story of the night was the 12.2 per cent increase in the vote for Labor candidate Brett Raguse, a former teacher, local newspaper publisher and TAFE college director who had more recently worked as an adviser to Labor Forum faction state ministers Desley Boyle and John Mickel. His Liberal National Party opponent at the coming election will be Bert van Manen, a financial planner from Slacks Creek who ran as the Family First candidate for Rankin in 2007, and reportedly won a “tight preselection battle” in Forde against two other candidates.
Forde was one of eight Queensland marginals covered by a composite Newspoll survey of 1600 respondents a week out from polling day, which showed a combined swing against Labor of 3.4 per cent. The JWS Research-Telereach poll conducted during the final weekend of the campaign, covering 400 respondents in the electorate with a margin of error of about 5 per cent, had the LNP leading 56-44. However, Dennis Atkins of the Courier-Mail reported late in the final week that the Coalition believed the seat was “within reach”, but “still defendable for Labor”.
Analysis written by William Bowe. Read Bowe’s blog, The Poll Bludger.