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Seat of the week: Bowman

Covering Brisbane’s coastal outer south, Andrew Laming’s seat of Bowman came within 64 votes of falling to Labor under Kevin Rudd in 2007, before going dramatically the other way as part of the statewide backlash three years later.

Bowman covers Brisbane’s coastal outer south from Thorneside through Capalaba and Sheldon to Redland Bay, and extends across the southern part of Moreton Bay to North Stradbroke Island. It has existed in name since 1949, but did not include any of its current territory until 1969, instead being based in Brisbane’s inner south-east. The 1969 redistribution caused the redrawn electorate to extend from the mouths of the Brisbane River in the north to the Logan River in the south, the latter also marking the Bowman’s southern extremity today. The area now covered by Bowman began to acquire its suburban character at around this time. With the redistribution of 1977, the southern part of the electorate came to be accommodated by the newly created electorate of Fadden. Bowman’s present dimensions were established when its northern neighbour Bonner was created to accommodate the Wynnum-Manly area at the 2004 election, setting Thorneside as the northern extremity of Bowman.

Bowman in its various permutations has been a marginal seat for most of its history, having been held by the Liberals throughout the Menzies and Holt years outside of a win by Labor as part of its near-victory at the 1961 election. It next changed hands with the big swing to Labor under Gough Whitlam’s leadership in 1969, and would henceforth go with the government of the day until 1998. Leonard Keogh held the seat for Labor from 1969 to 1975 and again after 1983, and also contested unsuccessfully in 1977 and 1980. Keogh was defeated for preselection in 1987 by Con Sciacca, who lost the seat to Liberal candidate Andrea West in 1996 before winning it back again in 1998. The Liberal member during the Fraser years was David Jull, who re-emerged as member for Fadden in 1984.

The reorganisation caused by the creation of Bonner in 2004 boosted the Liberal margin in Bowman by 4.4%, prompting Sciacca to unsuccessfully try his hand in Bonner. Bowman meanwhile was won by Liberal candidate Andrew Laming, an ophthalmologist and World Bank health consultant who added a solid 5.9% to the notional Liberal margin of 3.0%. Laming spent much of 2007 under the shadow of the “printgate” affair, in which he was investigated for allegedly claiming $67,000 to print campaign material for state election candidates, before being cleared two months before the election. After rumblings that the affair might cost him his preselection, Laming survived an 8.9% swing to Labor at the 2007 election to hold on by 64 votes. He had a much easier time of it in 2010, his 10.4% swing being strong even by the standards of Queensland at that election. There was a correction in Labor’s favour of 1.5% at the 2013 election, going slightly against the trend of a 1.3% statewide swing to the Liberal National Party.

Laming was promoted to the position of shadow parliamentary secretary for regional health services and indigenous health after the 2010 election, but was dropped after the Abbott government came to power.

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