Margin: Labor 2.3%
Location: Northern Brisbane, Queensland
In a nutshell: Petrie has changed hands with the last two changes of government, a 10 per cent swing unseating Liberal member Teresa Gambaro in 2007. While Gambaro is attempting a comeback in the seat of Brisbane, first-term Labor member Yvette D’Ath will be hoping a sophomore surge can help her fend off Liberal candidate Dean Teasdale.
Electorate analysis: Petrie covers a narrow strip of Brisbane’s northern suburbs from Aspley and Bridgeman Downs through Griffin and the Redcliffe Peninsula to Burpengary. The redistribution has shifted the electorate north, transferring its 26,000 in its southernmost suburbs of Chermside West and Stafford Heights to Lilley while adding 18,500 in Deception Bay, North Lakes and Burpengary from Longman, which has increased the Labor margin from 2.1 per cent to 4.2 per cent. The draft boundaries had been even better for Labor, proposing to tidy the electorate’s southern dog-leg by adding the strong Labor coastal area from Shorncliffe north to Brighton immediately to its east and extending the transfer from Petrie to Lilley as far north as Carseldine. However, the redistribution commission concurred with objections that the coastal areas had a stronger community of interest with suburbs to the south to which they were linked by Sandgate Road, producing amendments that cut 3.3 per cent from the Labor margin.
The electorate was created in 1949 and held by the Liberals until 1983, barring a surprise defeat in 1961. The Liberals recovered the seat at the 1984 election, but it returned to Labor with Gary Johns’s win in 1987 and stayed with them until Liberal candidate Teresa Gambaro achieved a 9.8 per cent swing in 1996. The 1998 counter-swing reduced her margin to below 1 per cent, but she consolidated her hold by 2.7 per cent in 2001 and 4.9 per cent in 2004. A 7.9 per cent margin going into the 2007 election proved insufficient against the seismic shift to Labor in Queensland, which saw the seat fall to Labor with a swing of 10.0 per cent. The new Labor member was Yvette D’Ath, previously an official with the Right faction Australian Workers Union. At the coming election she faces Liberal National Party candidate Dean Teasdale, the manager of a property services company.
In the second week of the campaign Labor promised to spend $742 million building a fabled rail line from Petrie to Kippa-Ring, to which the Liberals reacted by bringing forward their own planned announcement that $750 million would be put into the project. This evidently came as news to Dean Teasdale, whose initial reaction to Labor’s announcement was that this was not the time for such an expensive project. Tony Koch of The Australian noted the rail link has been the subject of fruitless election promises for 40 years, and it was first proposed as far back as the 1890s. The state government dropped plans to build the link in 2003 after a study suggested it would be unviable, but last year was pushing to get the project shovel ready to be considered for federal funds. It emerged as an issue in the state election last March when Shadow Transport Minister Fiona Simpson flew solo with a promise it would be built by 2016, causing great embarrassment to her party.
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, in the middle of the final week Dennis Atkins of the Courier-Mail reported the Coalition believed the seat was merely within reach, but still defendable for Labor.
Analysis written by William Bowe. Read Bowe’s blog, The Poll Bludger.