Facebook Google Menu Linkedin lock Pinterest Search Twitter

Advertisement

Federal Election 2013

Jan 19, 2013

Seat of the week: Fisher

Despite an avalanche of controversy, polling indicates Mal Brough will have little trouble winning the Sunshine Coast seat of Fisher from its equally contentious incumbent, Peter Slipper.

User login status :

Share

Fisher covers the southern part of the Sunshine Coast, from Caloundra north to Mooloolaba on the coast and inland to Maleny and the Glass House Mountains. It originally extended inland to Gympie and Kingaroy when it was created in 1949, but assumed a progressively more coastal orientation as a result of the area’s rapid development. The seat was a fiefdom of the Adermann family for the first 35 years of its existence, being held for the Country Party first by Sir Charles until 1972 and thereafter by his son Evan. Evan Adermann moved to the new seat of Fairfax in 1984, and Fisher was retained for the Nationals by Peter Slipper.

The seat was one of a number of gains for Labor in Queensland amid the debacle of the 1987 Joh-for-PM push, which had found an ardent proponent in Slipper. For the next two terms it was held for Labor by Michael Lavarch, in which time the eclipse of the Nationals progressed. A redistribution in 1993 made the seat notionally Liberal, prompting Lavarch to move to the new seat of Dickson. Slipper then made an improbable return to the seat as a Liberal, and enjoyed double-digit margins between a 14.0% swing in 1996 and the statewide crunch in 2007, when there was a 7.9% swing to Labor.

Slipper managed to win promotion to parliamentary secretary for finance and administration after the 1998 election, despite lingering memories John Howard may have had of 1987, but he was pushed aside to make way for Peter Dutton after the 2004 election. He became increasingly marginalised thereafter, copping an avalanche of bad press in the local Sunshine Coast Daily newspaper and receiving the smallest swing of any Queensland LNP candidate at the 2010 election, when his margin went from 53.5% to 54.1%. It was reported during the campaign that Howard government minister Mal Brough, who had lost his seat of Longman in 2007, had sought to have Slipper disendorsed in his favour, but that Slipper’s position was secured by the terms of the Liberal National Party merger which guaranteed endorsement to all sitting members.

With a clear expectation that he would not again win preselection, Labor identified Slipper as a weak link in the Coalition after losing its majority at the 2010 election, and bolstered its position slighty by successfully nominating him for the deputy speakership at the expense of Coalition nominee Bruce Scott. Shortly afterwards, Brough confirmed that he would contest preselection in the seat. In November 2011 the government went one better in persuading Slipper to take on the Speaker’s position at the expense of incumbent Harry Jenkins, resulting in his expulsion from the LNP and a fierce campaign against him from elements of the media, most notably Sydney’s News Limited tabloid the Daily Telegraph.

In April 2012, a staffer to Slipper, James Ashby, launched legal action claiming he had been sexually harassed by Slipper, and presented evidence purportedly showing Slipper had misused Cabcharge vouchers. The matter soon embroiled Mal Brough, who initially dismissed suggestions he knew of Ashby’s actions in advance before conceding he had met him on multiple occasions and sought legal advice on his behalf. In December 2012, a Federal Court judge dismissed Ashby’s sexual harassment charge on the grounds that it was an abuse of process in which Brough had been directly involved.

None of this prevented Brough from winning a strongly contested LNP preselection in July, after spearheading a vigorous local recruitment drive which reportedly doubled the local party membership. The preselection contest played out against a backdrop of conflict going back to Brough’s tenure as president of the Queensland Liberal Party before the Liberal National Party merger was effected, which saw Brough stand down from the position over dissatisfaction with the terms of the merger.

A surprise late entrant in the preselection race was James McGrath, who had been the director of the LNP’s hugely successful 2012 state election campaign and was thought to be set to secure preselection for the neighbouring seat of Fairfax. McGrath’s backers included Malcolm Turnbull, Joe Hockey and Julie Bishop. Brough was nonetheless able to win the support of more than half the 350 preselectors in the first round, and McGrath has since been accommodated with Senate preselection. Also in the field were Peta Simpson, director of a local recruitment agency, who had backing from Brough foe Barnaby Joyce; Richard Bruinsma, a former adviser to Slipper; and Andrew Wallace, a barrister.

Labor’s call for Brough to be disendorsed after the Federal Court ruling on the Ashby matter met short shrift from Tony Abbott, who contented that Brough had been “quite transparent and upfront about his involvement”. The following month, Slipper received a Federal Police summons concerning the allegations he had misused Cabcharge vouchers.

In the immediate aftermath of the Ashby ruling, a ReachTel automated phone poll of 661 respondents suggested Brough was unlikely to suffer electoral damage, putting him at 48.4% on the primary vote against a derisory for 2.7% for Peter Slipper (who remained publicly committed to seeking re-election as an independent), 21.2% for Labor, 11.7% for the Greens and 7.4% for Katter’s Australian Party. Brough was viewed favourably by 41.8% of respondents against 34.0% unfavourably, while the respective figures for Slipper were 6.9% and 75.5%. Brough’s involvement in the Ashby matter made 37.3% of respondents less likely to vote for him, against 39.8% for no difference and 22.6% going so far as to say it had made them more likely to vote for him.

William Bowe — Editor of The Poll Bludger

William Bowe

Editor of The Poll Bludger

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, is one of the most heavily trafficked forums for online discussion of Australian politics, and joined the Crikey stable in 2008.

Get a free trial to post comments
More from William Bowe

Advertisement

We recommend

From around the web

Powered by Taboola

852 comments

852 thoughts on “Seat of the week: Fisher

  1. Regarding the ReachTel survey in Fisher,the survey was conducted before the full impact of the Rares judgment was felt. Also,since then, it was announced Mal Brough is being investigated by the AFP for allegedly attempting to induce Fairfax incumbent Alex Somlyay to retire early and allow an early transfer. The ALP is running an extremely strong local candidate, Bill Gissane, who is well supported and has the essential credentials of being a cleanskin and a successful business operator. The result in this seat may well be a surprise.

  2. Dorrie Evans
    Posted Saturday, January 26, 2013 at 2:31 am | Permalink

    What has been will be again,
    what has been done will be done again;
    there is nothing new under the sun.

    I see the pretty knitters are still letting what’s left of their lives ebb into the ether.
    Some of you are bright enough to know it even if the messenger is a little shit.
    All perspective is lost if you fixate and less is more simply because it has more punch. All this handbag at twenty paces stuff is nonsense, puerile and very unbecoming.

    I apologise for being a jerk at times but I am very frustrated. I looked at posts from 2011 and even though there were psychos even then, there was humor and playfulness and far less bickering.

    There are a number of problems going on here. We have a hard core group of posters who’s positions from the Middle East to free speech and everything in between are entrenched and even if JC descended and said otherwise people on any side of any debate would not be convinced (those convinced against their will are of the same opinion still as Mother would say).

    The other hurdle is that many of them are very intelligent, have very long memories and have all day, every day to argue their case.
    Unfortunately for the rest of us who are just trying to find a bit of truth amongst all the sparkling propaganda (let’s face it, most of it is), it becomes difficult to discern what is truth and what is opinion parading as fact.

    The other glaring thing about some of the regulars is the hypocrisy inherent in the way they conduct themselves. They rail against the tactics used by the MSM but they have not only absorbed the tactics but ape them at every turn.
    They refuse to see that they themselves are a clique and a claque that flatter each other and studiously bolster the ramparts that hold them afloat from day to day.
    Interlopers are viewed as Icarus types who will be sent to Coventry if they dare challenge the prevailing orthodoxy.
    Personally, I think I understand what is going on here. There are a lot of people on here who are lonely and bored who would be devastated if this blog were taken away from them.
    Hence the ferocious border protection policies that go something like this- “Hi Dorie, welcome aboard. Gee Dorrie, don’t know if I agree with that. How long before Dorrie falls underneath the PB bus lol”. It has become their lifeline and they will defend it with every bit of gumption they possess.
    This is problematic on so many levels I don’t know where to start.
    Frankly there are about 20 regulars who should take a very long holiday.
    Imagine being invited to William’s house for a party and being sat next to one of them. They talk and talk and talk and manage to say nothing (except of course about how wonderfully intelligent they are), talk over the top of each other and eventually hurl the simplest and most embarrassingly unoriginal insults at each other at the top of their voices for the entire evening.

    The other more temperate guests (lurkers all),try to lighten the evening with a joke but it is immediately wrung though the post modern and entirely humorless mincer of Medusa’s molars.
    The club consists of a group of people who are lamentably puffed up by being the first to report a tweet or an ‘update’ or god knows what from the 24 hr news cycle.
    Some of them are so desperate for praise that they will stay glued to 79 news feeds just to be cyber patted and and clucked over by all the other headless PB chooks.

    I think the blog deserves better than this. There are many people who lurk and occasionally post astonishingly beautiful things but they are drowned out by the loud mouthed and excruciatingly boring bullies who don’t know that they are bullies and refuse to shut up.