Margin: Labor 1.7%
Location: Outer Northern Brisbane, Queensland
In a nutshell: Perhaps the biggest of the many shocks Queensland had to offer in 2007 was Mal Brough’s defeat in the outer northern Brisbane seat of Longman. As an outer urban seat on a very fine margin located in Queensland, it ticks many of the boxes as a seat the Coalition might hope to win back. But have they shot themselves in the foot by endorsing a candidate just out of high school?
Two-party vote map
Swing % map
Electorate analysis: Longman extends from Bribie Island and the coastal area opposite from Donnybrook south to Beachmere, through the outer Brisbane metropolitan centre of Caboolture and Burpengary immediately to the south, and beyond to the rural townships of D’Aguilar and Woodford. It produced one of the most sensational results of the 2007 election when senior Howard government minister Mal Brough was dumped by a 10.3 per cent swing that obliterated the existing margin of 6.8 per cent. The swings were notably lower in the Bribie Island region than in Caboolture, which interestingly provided One Nation with a strong area of support a decade ago.
Longman was created at the 1996 election, at which point it had a notional Liberal margin of 1.6 per cent. In keeping with the massive statewide swing against the Keating government, Mal Brough was elected as Liberal candidate with a 10.0 per cent swing. The seat has since been repeatedly buffeted by redistributions, which cut the Liberal margin by 1.6 per cent in 1998, 0.2 per cent in 2004 and 1.1 per cent in 2007. On the latter occasion it lost the Glasshouse Mountains and part of Caboolture and moving south into suburban Mango Hill and Kallangur. This time it loses 24,900 voters in Mango Hill and Deception Bay to Petrie plus a small southern area of Kallangur to Dickson, while gaining 17,000 voters over a large area of semi-rural hinterland (including D’Aguilar and Woodford, largely reversing changes from the previous redistribution) from Fisher. The changes have reduced the Labor margin from 3.6 per cent to 1.7 per cent, which would have been 1.3 per cent if part of the Dickson transfer proposed in the draft report had not been reversed following local objections.
Labor member Jon Sullivan’s win in 2007 marked a return to politics after his state career came to an end in 1998, when his seat of Caboolture was one of 11 in the state which fell to One Nation. His wife Carryn Sullivan has held the successor seat of Pumicestone since 2001. The Liberal National Party has raised many an eyebrow by nominating Wyatt Roy, a 19-year-old University of Queensland politics student.
Wyatt Roy secured his contentious preselection win over former Caboolture councillor Peter Flannery and local businessman Steve Attrill after winning a local party vote on the second ballot. According to Madonna King in the Courier-Mail, the 80 or so preselectors were “impressed with his talking ability”, and he indeed showed himself to be extremely articulate in subsequent media appearances. The decision was endorsed by the party’s state council despite murmurings from the likes of Mal Brough, who told The Australian he found it “hard to see how a 19-year-old will connect” with the electorate’s “large component of veterans and seniors”. According to a rumour published in Crikey, Roy’s preselection caused a division between LNP president Bruce McIver and treasurer Barry O’Sullivan, who was said to have indicated he would withhold party funds from the Longman campaign.
A week out from polling day, News Limited obtained footage of a Labor agitator being set upon by a campaigner for Wyatt Roy. As AAP describes the incident, Roy can be seen just metres away on his phone during the altercation, but does not intervene.
There have been mixed signals from the Coalition about Longman. Half way through the campaign, Phillip Coorey of the Sydney Morning Herald reported internal polling had the LNP feeling pessimistic in Longman despite a healthy picture statewide. However, a week out from polling day, Patricia Karvelas of The Australian reported a senior Liberal strategist believed it was as as good as gone to Labor. At around that time the seat was one of eight Queensland marginals covered by a composite Newspoll survey of 1600 respondents, which showed a combine 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 Labor leading 51.4-48.6. Late in the final week, Dennis Atkins of the Courier-Mail reported 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.