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Federal Election 2016

Jun 21, 2014

Seat of the week: Leichhardt

Electorally volatile in recent times, the far north Queensland seat of Leichhardt has generally gone the way of the winning party at elections in the modern era, an exception being present incumbent Warren Entsch's win for the Liberal National Party after he returned from retirement in 2010.

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Teal and red numbers respectively indicate booths with two-party majorities for the LNP and Labor. Click for larger image. Map boundaries courtesy of Ben Raue at The Tally Room.

Leichhardt consists of the northernmost part of Queensland, including Cairns at its southern extremity along with Cape York Peninsula and the Torres Strait Islands. Naturally marginal Cairns provides it with about two-thirds of its voters, the remainder coming from conservative-leaning rural areas along the coast immediately to the north, and Labor-voting indigenous communities beyond. The electorate ranks sixth out of the nation’s 150 electorates for the highest proportion of indigenous persons, behind the two Northern Territory electorates, neighbouring Kennedy, Durack in northern Western Australia, and Parkes in interior New South Wales. Another distinguishing features is a large number of voters over 55, reflecting the popularity of Cairns as a retirement haven.

The electorate was created with the expansion of parliament in 1949, prior to which its area was mostly accommodated by Herbert until 1934 and Kennedy thereafter. Herbert and then Kennedy were in Labor hands from 1928 to 1949, but Leichhardt was narrowly won by the Country Party at its inaugural election, which saw the Menzies government come to power. However, Labor won the seat at the subsequent election in 1951, and it remained in the party fold until David Thomson gained it for the National Country Party amid Labor’s statewide debacle of 1975. Warren Entsch became the seat’s first Liberal member when he unseated Labor’s Peter Dodd with the defeat of the Keating government in 1996, polling 31.8% to the Nationals candidate’s 20.4%. Entsch suffered only a 0.5% swing at the 1998 election, compared with a statewide swing of 7.2%, and subsequently built his margin up to double figures with swings of 2.3% in 2001 and 3.6% in 2004.

Entsch’s local popularity was further illustrated when he bowed out temporarily at the 2007 election, Labor gaining the seat in his absence with a towering swing of 14.3%, the second biggest of that election after Forde in Brisbane’s outer south. The result also underscored the local eclipse of the Nationals, whose candidate polled only 4.0%. Incoming Labor member Jim Turnour managed only a single term before falling victim at the 2010 election to the combined impact of a statewide Labor rout, which cost them seven out of their existing 15 Queensland seats, and the return from retirement of Warren Entsch. Labor’s margin of 4.1% was easily accounted for by a swing of 8.6%, to which Entsch added a further 1.2% at the 2013 election.

Warren Entsch came to politics after serving in the Royal Australian Air Force from 1969 to 1978, then working as a maintenance fitter and welder, real estate agent, farmer and grazier and company director. After winning election in 1996 and re-election in 1998, he was promoted to parliamentary secretary but thereafter rose no higher, and went to the back bench upon announcing his retirement citing family reasons in 2006. During his subsequent three-year interregnum he was director of Cairns construction company CEC Group and the Australian Rainforest Foundation, but talk soon emerged of a political comeback, first in relation to the 2009 state election and then for his old seat. With this accomplished he served for a term as the Coalition’s chief whip, before relinquishing the position to Philip Ruddock after the 2013 election victory.

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.

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669 thoughts on “Seat of the week: Leichhardt

  1. Everything


    Haha 🙂

    Indeed I have…..I decided not to go into it given its such a subtle concept and I am not an arahant so I probably wouldn’t do it justice.

    You are right. There is “nothing” that is reborn from one life to another, however, life continues as per the scientific concept of conservation of energy. Its a very subtle argument, the Buddha put forward, and quite elegant. Doesn’t mean it is true, but its completely consistent with the observable universe!

  2. Rex Douglas

    GhostWhoVotes ‏@GhostWhoVotes 3m View translation
    #Nielsen Poll 2 Party Preferred: L/NP 47 (+3) ALP 53 (-3) #auspol

    GhostWhoVotes ‏@GhostWhoVotes 3m View translation
    #Nielsen Poll Primary Votes: L/NP 39 (+4) ALP 37 (-3) GRN 13 (-1) #auspol

  3. zoidlord

    GhostWhoVotes ‏@GhostWhoVotes 5m

    #Nielsen Poll 2 Party Preferred: L/NP 47 (+3) ALP 53 (-3) #auspol

    GhostWhoVotes ‏@GhostWhoVotes 3m

    #Nielsen Poll Primary Votes: L/NP 39 (+4) ALP 37 (-3) GRN 13 (-1) #auspol

  4. sprocket_

    Neilsen out

    GhostWhoVotes ‏@GhostWhoVotes 3m View translation
    #Nielsen Poll Primary Votes: L/NP 39 (+4) ALP 37 (-3) GRN 13 (-1) #auspol

  5. confessions

    [ Laura Jayes @ljayes · 1h
    .@samanthamaiden writes @TonyAbbottMHR to hold formal talks with @CliveFPalmer for the 1st time on Thursday. Jeeze I hope there’s a pic fac]

    I’d settle for a factual, non-spin write up of the discussion points and outcome of their meeting, but then again perhaps a visual is all we should hope for.

  6. Centre



  7. confessions

    So the spin from Neilsen will be Abbott gets a post overseas trip poll bounce, even though nobody can remember what he achieved (if anything) other than having his mug snapped in the company of Obama.

    Ho hum.

  8. zoidlord

    It’s because ALP went soft after the high note of a speech.

  9. absolutetwaddle


    It should also be noted if you replace the word “Buddhist” with “Muslim” in Everything’s post it’s equally forceful. Which is to say, not at all.

  10. Everything

    Posted Sunday, June 22, 2014 at 9:03 pm | PERMALINK

    “Personally, no I don’t believe in it but plenty do.”

    I know. But they believe in it for stupid reasons (makes me feel good!) at best, and no reason (faith) at worst.]

    Not true. Buddhism is the only religion which, if true, conveys ZERO benefit to its “believers”. Indeed, there is no membership because there is no point being a member or not being a member. It is a theory (in the scientific sense, not in the thought bubble sense). A set of arguments about how something works (in this case, the universe). It is internally consistent (which other religions are not), and is consistent with the observable universe.

    It is not “Holy”, so I would dump it in a flash if a better theory comes along. I wouldn’t die for it, let alone kill someone else for it, just as I wouldn’t kill someone because they didn’t believe in calculus.

    I am perfectly happy to concede that Buddhism could be wrong, and that karma may not exist. I am also perfectly happy to know that not a single Buddhist concept has proven to be wrong, and many of them (womens rights, gay rights, environmentalism, how to treat non-believers* etc etc) were well before their times!

    * to my knowledge, Buddhism is the only religion that has no term for “non-believers”, there being no reason for one as we don’t condemn anyone for not believing Buddhism.

  11. confessions



  12. deblonay

    I take the view that all religions are equally silly and quite devoid of any worth or even worthy of consideration

    We might as well debate how many angels can sit on the head of a pin,or the likelihood of there being a Tooth Fairy… all religions have a childish quality to them…might as well believe in Santa .. he more fun than Jesus or Buddha or any of them

  13. jules

    Absolute twaddle, karma isn’t a thing to believe in like jeezus or even buddha, its a thing that happens, like gravity. Clearly you got your definition of karma from Oprah Winfrey or some such source.

    If you’re using a chainsaw day in day out for a year or more but don’t wear kevlar chaps and then cut your leg open that is karma.

    If you burn oil and coal non stop and chop down trees without replacing them then 300 years later when all your descendants are dead cos everything is 10 C hotter that is karma.

    In effect it should be a concept thats used as a way of fusing personal responsibility with the idea of causality, the aim of this is to try and eliminate, or at least minimise human suffering. Simply by getting people to think about the future and the consequences of their actions.

    Its the equivalent of telling your kids “Really – think things through and don’t be an arsehole.”

    Everything on top of that is the usual religious attempts to socially control people.

  14. absolutetwaddle


    How exactly would one go about proving karma wrong? It’s not falsifiable and therefore utterly worthless from a rational or scientific perspective.

  15. It's Time

    [It’s pretty simple really. One of Mohammed’s wives, Aisha, allegedly carried on his divine legacy after his death. The Sunnis believe this, the Shiites don’t.]
    And the schisms within christianity are more substantial or meaningful?

  16. Everything


    If the religion has an all powerful deity who claims to be in direct contact with His (its never “her”) followers, then, yes, its probably a fair criticism.

    In the case of Buddhism, which many have noted is really not a religion, there is no all powerful God, and we are all alone and on our own. So, having access to the manual of operations, a very complex and hard to understand manual, doesn’t mean every single individual follower is going to instantly become perfect just from being able to access the manual of operations!

  17. WeWantPaul

    [As the principle claim of religions is to provide an ethical and moral framework within which their followers can live their lives]

    What do you base this claim on?

    [it does not seem like an unfair criticism of a religion to point out ethical and moral failings of their adherents.]

    That just doesn’t make any sense at all unless the religion in question says something like ‘believe in X and you will never fail in any way ever again.’

    I’m not sure there are too many religions that deal with the nature of man by promising it will instantly change on conversion.

    And if you are not a believer in a religion why would you be judging it at all? You don’t believe in Goddess Y, so what right have you got to judge Her or Her believers?

  18. caf

    confessions: From a political point of view, having his mug snapped with Obama is 90% of the point. Pictures like that are one of the reasons that being in Government tends to confer a certain amount of gravitas, deserved or not.

  19. It's Time

    [There is nothing wrong with believing in karma.]
    There is if decisions and actions are taken based on karma rather than the applicable science.

  20. Steve777

    Buddhism might be one major religion that would have no major problems should evidence of extra-terrestrial intelligent life ever be discovered. Christianity and Islam would have issues.

  21. shellbell

    Hi Confessions

    Any tips on hotel accommodation in Albany?


  22. caf

    Or put another way, there’s a reason other than simple vanity that well-connected businessmen tend to conspiciously display photographs of themselves with the great and good – it’s because people take subconscious cues on trustworthiness and authority from seeing someone associating with a known authority figure.

  23. absolutetwaddle


    I’d say I’m more informed than most non-practitioners about the central tenets of both Mahayana and Theravada Buddhism. I’m aware that from the latter’s perspective that karma is supposedly an impersonal, impartial, non-vindictive universal law. The problem is, there’s no evidence it exists (unlike every other universal law). If Buddha had just said ‘don’t be an asshole’ that would be fine and dandy but instead he couched it in superfluous, mystical, unfalsifiable claptrap.

    It was a good effort for his time though.

  24. caf

    [It is a theory (in the scientific sense, not in the thought bubble sense).]

    It’s not a theory in the scientific sense because it’s not falsifiable – it cannot be used to derive testable predictions about the natural world.

  25. It's Time

    [ There’s nothing scientific about the notion of karma. It’s all about the individual belief.
    That said, I’m enjoying that some of those who bitched the loudest at the Gillard govt (ie seniors) are copping a shit load of karma thanks to the Abbott govt, which many of them voted for.

    Oh yes, as I said, let them eat dog food!

    With apologies to Marie Antoinette.]
    Why cite karma when the perfectly good scientific German schadenfreude will suffice?

  26. Everything

    Posted Sunday, June 22, 2014 at 9:13 pm | PERMALINK

    How exactly would one go about proving karma wrong? ]

    Very interesting question! I guess cause and effect is a scientific theory that could be found to be consistent or inconsistent with the observable universe (although if there was no cause and effect it is highly likely that nothing much sophisticated would exist in its chaotic-ness!). The specific cause and effect of karma can only be proven or disproven when you develop an awareness of birth and rebirth which most of us, including me, don’t have.

  27. absolutetwaddle


    “And if you are not a believer in a religion why would you be judging it at all? You don’t believe in Goddess Y, so what right have you got to judge Her or Her believers?”

    If Goddess Y’s adherents are crashing planes into our buildings or pushing for their chaplains in our schools, you’re damn right we’ve got a right to judge. What a stupid question.

  28. Laocoon

    From Observer on backlash on border security…interesting parallels…
    [The federal border patrol, townsfolk claim, has become a police force operating outside legal authority, which subjects migrants to racial profiling and unlawful searches.

    Flush with a $30bn boost in Washington-authorised spending, the agency is planning to double its number of agents to 39,000 – hypothetically enough to place one every 100 yards along the entire 1,900-mile US-Mexico border. “This is the face of militarisation,” says Peter Ragan of Arivaca group People Helping People, gesturing towards a checkpoint well inside US territory. “Searches are done to intimidate and harass. They can assert control at any time. There’s no accountability, no transparency and no oversight.”

    Protesters say the agency, which gets more funding than the FBI, Secret Service, DEA and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives combined, is now an important customer for contractors previously focused on supplying drones and sensing equipment for use in foreign military deployments.]

  29. Everything

    Posted Sunday, June 22, 2014 at 9:17 pm | PERMALINK
    Buddhism might be one major religion that would have no major problems should evidence of extra-terrestrial intelligent life ever be discovered. Christianity and Islam would have issues.]

    Reinforced if anything! Buddhism has nothing to do with human beings, unlike every other religion which has us at their centres!

  30. confessions


    If you want to book for the ANZAC centennary commemorations then do it quick.

  31. jules

    Reality is the evidence it exists – stuff happens every day.

    That stuff happens because of what appears to be an observable chain of causality.

    If there is evidence of causality there is evidence of karma because they are the same thing. Karma is a sanskrit word that means causality.

    My source for this is my father, who was a Hindu priest as a young man and read sanscritt and several other languages and was an internationally respected translator.

  32. zoomster

    According to this site –


    – there is no verifiable quote on Buddhism which can be traced back to Einstein.

    The closest one gets (according to the site cited) is a quote about Buddha —

    [What humanity owes to personalities like Buddha, Moses, and Jesus ranks for me higher than all the achievements of the enquiring and constructive mind.]

    Wikipedia (I know, but I’m giving it as another source…) says..

    [As a Buddhist and physicist myself, I’d be delighted if this very widely-cited quote really could be attributed to Einstein, but regrettably there is no evidence that it can. It sometimes appears with a reference to Albert Einstein: The Human Side (Princeton University Press, 1954), but there is never a page reference – for the simple reason that the quote does not appear anywhere in that book.]

  33. absolutetwaddle


    If your argument is that karma is simple causality then it reinforces my argument that karma as a religious tenet is superfluous. Why not just be a Causalityist instead of a Buddhist?

  34. briefly

    By taking away a cause, the result will also disappear. From this follows the Buddhist path to end suffering and existence in samsara.


    Herein lies a remedy for easing our present misfortunes…removing the Abbott Government…I may become an adherent the guy with the enigmatic smile and a splendid pot belly…

  35. jules

    Pressed submit too early.

    So in effect saying there is no scientific evidence for karma is just stupid.

    Its like those fundy Christians who say Islam worships a false God called Allah cos they don’t call God God.

    You may as well say there is no evidence for Yīnguǒ guānxì.

  36. Everything

    Well, I said “apparently” because I have heard Einstein said it, but I haven’t read it.

    I heard it was in his “Autobiographical notes”. Whether or not he said it doesn’t really matter all that much so I have never tracked down the book to read it myself!

  37. Everything


    “If there is any religion that would cope with modern scientific needs it would be Buddhism.”

    (no direct quote reference though!)

  38. Everything

    OMG the Young Ones is on Gem!

  39. Jolyon Wagg

    [However, you should understand that the Buddha use almost the identical set of sentences to describe the operations of karma that Newton used to describe the operations of physics (i.e. cause and effect). It is completely consistent with a unified theory of how the Universe operates, but it cannot be proven as such, just observed.]

    What an appalling load of piffle!

    Buddhism has contributed about as much to our understanding of the physical world as the study of physics has contributed to the self delusion that is the concept of Karma.

  40. sprocket_

    Excellent article on US neocons, a must read for anying interetsed in US matters

    [One reason neoconservatism survives is that its members don’t care how wrong they’ve been, or even about right and wrong itself. True to their Trotskyite and Straussian roots, neoconservatives have always been willing to play fast and loose with the truth in order to advance political goals. We know that they were willing to cook the books on intelligence and make outrageously false claims in order to sell the Iraq war, for example, and today they construct equally false narratives that deny their own responsibility for the current mess in Iraq and portray their war as a great success that was squandered by Obama. And the entire movement seems congenitally incapable of admitting error, or apologizing to the thousands of people whose lives they have squandered or damaged irreparably.]


  41. Darren Laver

    Pastafarians also have benevolent bent too, so add them to the ‘exceptions’ list in terms of pleasant non-nasty religions.

  42. Jolyon Wagg

    If Karma is just a synonym for causality then it is a useful concept. But why noy just call it causality and have done with it.

    If Karma is used to attribute suffering and inequality to misdeeds in a past life it is bollocks.

  43. jules

    [Why not just be a Causalityist instead of a Buddhist?]

    Because Buddhists did it first.

    BTW I’m not a Buddhist (well not consciously anyway). I do have some philosophical disagreement with the idea of stepping off the wheel of karma. I’m not a hindu or any particular religion. I’m not particularly atheist either or even that rational. But it seems to me following Buddhism properly has more in common with atheism than any religion.

    If you wanted you could interpret that bit of Theravada briefly posted @ 655 in the last thread as a great reason to wipe out all life on earth tomorrow.

    Anyway science, and scientific knowledge isn’t enough on its own as a basis of how to live life. Its not even the most accurate way to describe reality. Thats what poetry is for.

    Its incredibly useful for building stuff tho.

  44. caf

    [What do you base this claim on?]

    It’s my evaluation of the positioning of religion in human affairs, and I would have thought a rather uncontroversial one. It’s a rare religion indeed that stops at merely describing the construction of the world around us; the point of knowing the nature of things is invariably to use that knowledge to influence that way in which you live life.

    [That just doesn’t make any sense at all unless the religion in question says something like ‘believe in X and you will never fail in any way ever again.’ ]

    I wasn’t suggesting that criticism along the lines of “this one individual is a moral failure, therefore the entire religion is clearly bunk” – clearly not fair. On the other hand pointing to a widespread pattern of failures by individuals does tend to fairly bring into question whether the religion is succeeding in guiding the lives of its adherents in a positive way.

    [And if you are not a believer in a religion why would you be judging it at all?]

    I consider myself an interested stakeholder where any system of philosophy or religion is guiding the ethics and morals of those sharing a planet with me.

  45. jules

    There’a bit missing from my post @ 664. Between Buddhism having stuff in common with atheism and the reference to world destruction was a spiel about context I accidentally deleted.

    I hope I didn’t imply that atheists want to destroy the world or something else just as silly.

  46. deblonay

    post 661…sprocket…re neo-cons

    The worst of the neo-cons,as your post says, have a view that lauds the American Empire ,and the whole military machine
    They have no real views or interests in domestic affairs
    There is also a large zionist component…men like Woolfowitz,and others who in the Bush admin exercised great power and thought they could mould the M East to their wishes.. any lie would do to cause a war .. as with Iraq….and they served the wishes of Israel too..but.all turned to dust now I suspect

  47. jules

    JW @ 663

    Because karma is more than just causality, it is used with the idea, or perhaps in the context that the individual is an agent of causality. That all your actions have consequences, many of which you won’t foresee, some that you won’t ever know about. People often refer to causality as an impersonal thing, but the idea of karma is associated with you as a person. Its your actions that will have consequences for yourself and others in the same way you suffer or benefit from the consequences of other peoples actions, or your own.

    There are all sorts of mystical add ons, and cultural baggage, but thats the bare bones of what the word karma means. Its impossible to translate philosophical concepts word for word, words have subtext and context – saying that karma is just mystical bollocks is a complete misunderstanding of what it actually means. But then so is thinking that sins in a past life are revisited by illness or disability in this one. Karma is not a scientific concept. But it sits well with a scientific understanding of the world.

    If some rationalist wants to develop some practical philosophy of life and how to deal with grief and suffering in the process they’ll develop some idea that recognises our actions have consequences and the choices we make do matter. What they call it is irrelevant but it won’t be mystical bollocks* either.

  48. Fulvio Sammut

    You guys must be bored out of your wits to be philosophising about matters religious ….

    Anyway, this may have been raised before or not. I’ve not been able to visit here much today.

    On AM(WA)today Abbott, speaking about that poor wretch in the Egyptian jail said the most incredibly stupid thing I’ve ever heard from an Australian politician (OK, you may possibly have heard something more stupid, but I doubt it).

    He said words to the effect that he had spoken to the current Egyptian despot, and that he believed it would all turn out all right because he (the despot) had attended university in the UK and the USA and therefore should understand about the Rule Of Law.

    What an insulting thing to say, whether accurate or not. I suspect, anyway, that the despot is twice as intelligent, three times as well educated, and ten times as urbane as our current cretin.

    The implication is that Egyptians are inferior to Westerners, that the Egyptian head of state controls the judiciary, that he would decree that they would act capriciously and vengefully, and, except for our cretin’s intervention,in a manner which would otherwise breach principles of the rule of law.

    All perfectly possible, but why insult someone when you are seeking his mercy? Does he think the Egyptian embassy will not report his idiocies to Cairo?

    Perhaps not …

    Now he will have to crawl over broken glass to achieve something that any back bencher could have accomplished simply by keeping a civil tongue in his head.

    The family of the guy facing seven years of misery must be fuming.