Margin: Independent 6.1% versus Labor
Region: Central Coast
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Electorate analysis: Gladstone includes the coastal industrial city 500 kilometres north of Brisbane which bears its name, and extends about 80 kilometres westwards to Ambrose and southwards to Builyan. Prior to the 1992 election the city formed the basis of the electorate of Port Curtis, which had existed since Queensland’s foundation in 1858 and was held by Labor for all but two terms after 1915. Calliope Shire mayor Liz Cunningham came within 4.2 per cent of winning the new seat as an independent in 1992, and went one better in 1995 to defeat Labor member Neil Bennett by 3.1 per cent. Labor’s defeat at the Mundingburra by-election the following February left Cunningham with the balance of power, which she used to depose Wayne Goss’s Labor government and install National Party leader Rob Borbidge as Premier.
Despite the unpopularity of this move in her electorate, where the Nationals vote has ranged from 2.3 per cent to 7.4 per cent since 1998, Cunningham was narrowly re-elected in 1998 and 2001. Her position was not truly consolidated until she picked up a 7.7 per cent two-candidate swing in 2004. Labor’s candidate in 2006, Gladstone councillor and local solicitor Chris Trevor, succeeded in bringing the margin down from 11.2 per cent to 2.0 per cent, and he went on to hold the federal seat of Flynn for a term from 2007 until his defeat in 2010. The LNP did not field a candidate against Cunningham in 2009, helping her to a clear majority on the primary vote.
Analysis written by William Bowe. Please direct corrections or comments to pollbludger-AT-crikey.com.au. Read William’s blog, The Poll Bludger.