Electoral Form Guide: Griffith
Margin: Labor 12.3%
Location: Inner Eastern Brisbane, Queensland
In a nutshell: Ambitious young hopeful Kevin Rudd was spurned by the electors of Griffith on his first attempt in 1996, but had better luck when he ran again in more propitious circumstances in 1998. On June 24, 2010, he was spurned again.
Kevin Rudd’s electorate of Griffith covers inner city Brisbane immediately south of the Brisbane River, from South Brisbane east to Bulimba and Queensport, south to Annerley and south-west to Carina Heights. It has not been affected by the redistribution. The seat was called Oxley until 1934, the modern Ipswich-based seat of that name bearing no relation to the original entity. Highly marginal historically, Griffith changed hands between Liberal and Labor in 1949, 1954, 1958, 1961, 1966, 1977, 1996 and 1998. Kevin Rudd first attempted to win the seat in 1996 upon the retirement of Ben Humphreys, but lost to Liberal candidate Graeme McDougall following a 6.2 per cent swing. Rudd was successful on his second attempt in 1998 and did well to be returned with a 3.3 per cent swing against the trend in 2001. Griffith was dramatically redrawn at the redistribution ahead of the 2004 election, losing half its geographic area to newly created Bonner in the east and moving into the inner city to absorb Labor-friendly East Brisbane, South Brisbane and Dutton Park. The Bonner booths which had previously been in his electorate provided an early portent of Rudd’s electoral appeal by swinging heavily to the Liberals in his absence.
The Liberal National Party initially nominated John Humphreys, who was formerly a big wheel of the libertarian Liberal Democratic Party and ran for the party in the 2004 Australian Capital Territory election. Confusingly, Humphreys was dumped in the wake of Rudd’s loss of the prime ministership as the LNP doubted his determination to re-contest the seat, and believed a higher profile candidate might give them a chance of winning. However, his substitute Rebecca Docherty was said to be installed on the understanding that she too would make way for somebody else if Rudd indeed opted to retire. Possible successors to Rudd as Labor candidate in that event were said to include Brisbane City Council Labor leader Shayne Sutton, lawyer Russell Thirgood and former state party treasurer Damian Power, all colleagues of Rudd in the Old Guard/Labor Unity faction.
Analysis written by William Bowe. Read Bowe’s blog, The Poll Bludger.