Electorate: Toowoomba North
Margin: Labor 3.2%
Region: Regional City
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NEIL LESLIE RIETHMULLER
Electorate analysis: Located on the crest of the Great Dividing Range 130 kilometres west of Brisbane, the city of Toowoomba formed as a single electorate until it was divided into Toowoomba East and Toowoomba West in 1960, before being reconfigured into Toowoomba North and Toowoomba South in 1972. Toowoomba North was won by Labor on its debut and then lost to the Liberals in the 1974 landslide, in turn falling to the Nationals as part of the drubbing the Liberals copped in 1983. It returned to Labor when Wayne Goss came to power in 1989, but Graham Healy recovered it for the Nationals in 1992 and consolidated his hold with a 9.1 per cent swing in 1995. It took the full force of an 11.9 per cent swing to dislodge Healy in 2001, when Labor’s Kerry Shine prevailed by 1.9 per cent. Shine performed outstandingly well at the 2004 and 2006 elections, increasing both his primary vote (8.1 per cent and 1.0 per cent) and two-party preferred vote (5.4 per cent and 3.1 per cent) against the statewide trend, before suffering a 6.3 per cent swing in 2009. The impact of candidate factors is demonstrated by comparing results from booths that were split between the two electorates in 2009, which produced a two-party Labor margin of 7 per cent in Toowoomba North and an LNP margin of 3 per cent in Toowoomba South.
A Labor Forum/AWU faction member and partner in the Toowoomba law firm Shine Roche McGowan before entering parliament, Shine was appointed to a parliamentary secretary position in July 2005 and to cabinet as Natural Resources and Water Minister after the 2006 election. He was further promoted less than two months later to Attorney-General and Justice Minister following the resignation of Linda Lavarch, before surprisingly opting to drop out of cabinet after the 2009 election. His LNP opponent for the second election running is Trevor Watts, local nightclub licensee and chair of the Toowoomba Liquor Industry Action Group. Katter’s Australian Party has secured the services of Peter Pyke, a police whistleblower who held the Brisbane seat of Mount Ommaney for Labor from 1992 to 1995. Pyke polled 4.5 per cent as an independent candidate for Toowoomba South in 2009, and also ran as an independent Senate candidate in 2010.
Analysis written by William Bowe. Please direct corrections or comments to pollbludger-AT-crikey.com.au. Read William’s blog, The Poll Bludger.