Margin: Liberal National 12.8%
Region: Sunshine Coast
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Electorate analysis: The electorate of Maroochydore covers a stretch of the Sunshine Coast south of Noosa, from Mooloolaba north to Coolum Beach and inland to the Sunshine Motorway. It was created at the 1992 election mostly from territory in the abolished seat of Cooroora, which the National/Country Party held from the party’s creation in 1922 until it was dumped from office in 1989. The new seat had a small notional Nationals majority going into the 1989 election and was won for them by Fiona Simpson, the 27-year-old daughter of long-serving Cooroora MP Gordon Simpson. Fiona Simpson went on to boost her 4.1 per cent margin to 12.3 per cent in 1995, and retained enough of her primary vote in 1998 to stay safe from One Nation. She was very nearly dumped in the Labor tidal wave of 2001, but One Nation preferences helped her survive by 0.8 per cent. The local anti-government backlash over water issues secured her hold on the seat in 2006, when she picked up a swing of 6.6 per cent, and she further improved her position by 4.4 per cent in 2009.
Simpson has won headlines over the years for proclaiming her virginity in her maiden speech, calling for castration and public floggings for rapists and violent criminals, and describing the Goss government as a toad to the radical homosexual lobby. She was overlooked for the ministry during the short life of the Borbidge government, but has covered a bewildering range of shadow portfolios since: health, tourism, urban affairs, state development, small business, information technology, innovation, industrial relations, planning, employment, women’s policy, infrastructure, main roads and transport. After the 2009 election she lost infrastructure and information communications and technology while retaining main roads, and she was further demoted in the reshuffle which followed Campbell Newman’s assumption of the leadership in April 2011 to waste watch, community services, housing and women portfolios.
Simpson counted the numbers for the leadership after both the 2006 and 2009 elections, withdrawing on both occasions when it became apparent she would respectively be unable to defeat Jeff Seeney and John-Paul Langbroek. During the 2009 election campaign she caused headaches for Springborg by announcing in her capacity as Shadow Transport Minister that $785 million would be spent building a rail line from Caloundra to Maroochydore by 2015, which Springborg was forced to admit this was merely an an aspiration, and that a $640 million rail line would be built from Petrie to Kippa-Ring, later revealed to be subject to financial constraints and GFC. When the plan to enlist Campbell Newman as extra-parliamentary leader was hatched in April 2011 she nominated for the parliamentary leadership position, in rebellion against an arrangement which had secured it for Jeff Seeney, and it was seen as a sign of discontent with the plan that she was reportedly able to score 13 votes.
Labor’s candidate is Ray Barber, who was the member for Cooroora from 1989 to 1992.
Analysis written by William Bowe. Please direct corrections or comments to pollbludger-AT-crikey.com.au. Read William’s blog, The Poll Bludger.