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Federal Election 2016

Jul 5, 2014

Seat of the week: Dickson

Peter Dutton's parliamentary career began when he unseated Cheryl Kernot in 2001, and he was doubtful enough of his capacity to keep his seat out of Labor hands that he sought refuge elsewhere before the 2010 election.

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Located at the western edge of Brisbane’s northern suburban corridor, Dickson is one of six seats which have been created to deal with Queensland’s population boom since the expansion of parliament in 1984. From south to north, it presently encompasses the marginal hills district suburbs of Ferny Hills, Arana Hills and Everton Hills; a strongly conservative area around Pine River including Albany Creek and Eatons Hill; and Labor-leaning suburbs along Gympie Road and the Caboolture rail line including Strathpine, Bray Park, Lawnton and Petrie (that latter being confusingly located outside the electorate that bears its name). It also extends westwards beyond the metropolitan area to Lake Samsonvale and the interior edge of the D’Aguilar Range, including the townships of Dayboro and Samford. The populous part of the electorate had hitherto been accommodate mostly by Fisher after 1984, Petrie after 1949, and Lilley beforehand.

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

Dickson was won for Labor on its creation in 1993 by Michael Lavarch, who had previously been the member for Fisher. Lavarch went on to serve as Attorney-General in the second term of the Keating government, before becoming one of its highest profile casualties of the 1996 election. The Liberal candidate who defeated him was Tony Smith (not to be confused with the current member for Casey in Melbourne), whose career imploded when he was questioned by police after being seen leaving a building that housed a brothel. Smith forestalled preselection defeat by quitting the Liberal Party and declaring his intention to run as an independent, which he did with little success. By this time it had emerged that the Labor candidate for the 1998 election would be defecting Democrats leader Cheryl Kernot, who had announced her determination to win a marginal seat for Labor. At first it appeared that her bid had failed, prompting her to lash out on election night at an ALP network that had deprived her campaign of resources. She would in fact go on to win the seat by a margin of 276 votes, but her career as a Labor MP was limited to a single disastrous term, after which she was unseated by a 6.1% swing at the 2001 election.

The new Liberal member was Peter Dutton, owner of a Brisbane child care centre who had earlier worked for the National Crime Authority, the Queensland Police sex offender squad and the Department of Corrective Services. Dutton consolidated his hold on the seat with a 1.8% swing in 2004 and was subsequently admitted to the outer ministry as Workforce Participation Minister, going on to a minor promotion to Revenue Minister and Assistant Treasurer in January 2006. After surviving the heavy statewide swing to Labor at the 2007 election by a margin of 217 votes, Dutton was promoted to shadow cabinet in the finance, competition policy and deregulation portfolios, and then to health and ageing after he backed Malcolm Turbull’s successful leadership challenge against Brendan Nelson in September 2008.

Dutton’s career hit a speed bump when the redistribution ahead of the 2010 election saw Dickson exchange upper Brisbane River valley territory for suburban areas around Murrumba Downs, making it a notionally Labor seat at a time when few foresaw the problems that would engulf the government at the end of its term. Dutton believed he saw a lifeline in Margaret May’s retirement as member for the safe Gold Coast seat of McPherson, for which he nominated for preselection. However, well-organised locals had long had their eyes on the succession and were not of a mind to accommodate Dutton, being readily able to draw on the argument that he would serve his party better by fighting for his crucial marginal seat. Dutton unwisely sought to raise the stakes by declaring he would not fall back on Dickson if thwarted in McPherson, evidently hoping preselectors would baulk at the prospect of depriving the party of his services. Despite backing from Malcolm Turnbull and John Howard, this proved to be a miscalculation: the local preselection vote was won by local favourite Karen Andrews, with Dutton reportedly meeting opposition in the branches of the newly merged Liberal National Party from those who had formerly been with the Nationals.

After alternative options failed to emerge, Dutton went back on his word and ran again in Dickson. However, such was the statewide backlash against Labor after the dumping of Kevin Rudd that he went untroubled, his 5.9% swing being well in line with the state average and enough to secure him a margin of 5.1%. Dickson again closely matched the state trend in recording a further 1.8% swing to the LNP in 2013, putting Dutton’s present margin at 6.7%. Dutton meanwhile has maintained the health portfolio since September 2008, serving as Minister for Health and Minister for Sport since the election of the Abbott government in September 2013.

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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868 thoughts on “Seat of the week: Dickson

  1. confessions


    No MPs even with parliament sitting this week?

  2. ag0044

    [In the House of Commons some Tories were very unhappy with Eden, one called Anthoiny [sic] Nutting resigned from Cabinet and later wrote a scathing book re Eden’s folly.]

    Very loose connection, but he was my god-mother’s husband. I often went to their house in London. I have a couple of his books (including the above-implied “No End Of A Lesson”), duly signed by him. I was sub-10 at the time, so did not appreciate him, nor his influence.

  3. victoria


    Is only the senate sitting this week?

  4. confessions


    Reps has a day. But even if it were only the Senate it’s still odd.

  5. victoria


    I think the reps are sitting Tuesday. I am actually more inclined to watch it tomorrow cos of Joseph Stiglitz

  6. confessions


    The Japanese PM is addressing parliament sometime during the week. Presumably Tuesday when all of parliament is sitting.

    It’ll be interesting as typhoon Neoguri bears down on that country.

  7. crikey whitey


    Telstra know that a threat may be empty.

    But they won’t risk it.

    Even whatever early in your contract, if you see a better price on offer, threaten away.

    I have done it. As I say, it works.

    I was offered a deal, Adsl, years ago by telephone, Telstra. Dial up at that time. I knew all about Adsl.

    It was a fantastic deal. I asked the contact person if I could refer a friend to her. Yes. I hung up (such were the vagaries and difficulties) phoned my friend saying that I wouldn’t explain but just say yes when Telstra phoned.

    A decade maybe later, my friend is still on the same plan at the original cost. (I have moved house, otherwise I would be too)

    Something like a bundle of about $59 a month. Cheap as chips. And they have increased her data allowance, to huge for what she uses.

  8. confessions


    Yep, Reps sitting Tuesday.

  9. bemused



    I think the reps are sitting Tuesday. I am actually more inclined to watch it tomorrow cos of Joseph Stiglitz

    With the added attraction of watching him expose Sloan for what she is. 👿

  10. stevieboy

    Accidentally posted in the previous thread but the missus got a polling call Friday night. New polls incoming?

  11. peppy7


    Warriors at Suez by Donald Neff is an excellent book. By the way he’s portrait of Menzies is not very flattering. He notes of Menzies “His choice of leader of the committee was the worst possible. It meant the [peace]mission would be an almost certain failure…”

  12. crikey whitey

    With the added attraction of watching him expose Sloan for what she is. 👿

    Delish, Bemused.

  13. zoidlord


    How much is this going to cost the tax payer?

  14. rossmcg

    Watch for Abbott to welcome the Japanese PM with a slagging for the previous government.

    He can’t help himself

  15. victoria


    Latest poll

    The #ReachTEL QLD State poll TPP LNP 51(-2) ALP 49(+2). For more details see.. https://www.reachtel.com.au/blog/7news-sunday-mail-queensland-the-state-were-in-2014-crimeandsafety … via @ReachTEL #qldpol #auspol
    6:39 PM – 6 Jul 2014

  16. victoria

    Night all

  17. crikey whitey


    Another little chapter on Telstra.

    The offer to which I referred was contracted with me over the phone.

    But nothing happened. Except for my friend, who in a different suburb was up and running. So I spoke to Telstra, and they said (once I understood what the hell that was about) that there were no more Adsl slots available on my local exchange.

    I said, being a pretty smart cookie sometimes, we have a contract, Telstra.

    There is a cable running past my property. You will do this.

    On cable.

    There is no cable in your street. They said. Bullshit, I said. I can see it as I speak. We have a contract. Deliver!

    They folded. Same price, better speed. Great!

    Organised the same thing for yet another person.

    ADSL to Cable. Same price. Cool.

  18. crikey whitey

    Zoidlord @ 832

    About 14000 DSP lifetimes.

  19. crikey whitey

    Probably missed a few noughts.

  20. Roger Miller

    I believe Fraudband trials are happening but have run into technical problems. Copper and power. Just the things everyone who knew anything said would be problems.

  21. crikey whitey

    Roger Miller.

    My BOI is with Telstra.

    Still. After a zillion years.

    He told me in March that he was supervising, I guess, delivery of FTTP to the premise in a particular SA area. I won’t specify.

    I asked about fraudband and copper. Yep, he had been asked about that. Know all about it. Old hand. Can be done though. Snorts with laughter.

    Pay me, he says. Fine with me. Whatever.

  22. TaxiLurker

    The first computer I bought was from a company named EISA. It came with a 300mg celeron processor. It had no graphic possessor and it ran Windows 95. It was a was a quantum leap from the DOS base we all thought was pretty good at that time. Having said that I had to learn DOS (Disk operating system) backwards and forwards because that was what 95 was based on.

  23. stevieboy

    I’m guessing the one my missus was called about will be released soon. We’re Victorians.

  24. psyclaw


    The Fraser tweet about Jews and Nazis you misquoted …….. your quote is incomplete.

    You left out the final 2 words of Malcolm’s phrase and they make a huge difference to the meaning viz “in 1930” ie before the Nazis were on the record (by their actions) as genocidists.

  25. TaxiLurker

    The first computer I bought was from a company named EISA.
    One of the directors was Malcolm Turnbull.

  26. crikey whitey

    Damn, Psyclaw.

    I took it straight from Fran Kelly’s mouth on Insiders. I don’t think she said in quoting Fraser ‘in 1930’. May be wrong.

    But does that nuance matter? In terms of impact?

    Just deleted the program.

  27. deblonay

    Peppy 7 re Suez
    I have a memory …I can’t recall from where…that Nasser disapproved of Menzies blustering and rather over-bearing,imperialist manner.

    Menzies clearly saw Nasser as a upstart arab,defying Mother England(as would Tony Abbott BTW)
    Nasser wrote scathingly of Menzies I understand…but Menzies was…as one would expect..the UK’s Puppet

  28. zoidlord

    GhostWhoVotes ‏@GhostWhoVotes 3m

    #Newspoll Apr-Jun Quarterly 2 Party Preferred: L/NP 47 (-1) ALP 53 (+1) #auspol

    GhostWhoVotes ‏@GhostWhoVotes 2m

    #Newspoll Apr-Jun Quarterly Primary Votes: L/NP 37 (-3) ALP 36 (0) GRN 12 (0) Others 15 (+3) #auspol

  29. zoidlord

    GhostWhoVotes ‏@GhostWhoVotes 1m

    #Newspoll Apr-Jun Quarterly Abbott: Approve 33 (-5) Disapprove 58 (+9) #auspol

    GhostWhoVotes ‏@GhostWhoVotes 1m

    #Newspoll Apr-Jun Quarterly Shorten: Approve 36 (+1) Disapprove 42 (+3) #auspol

  30. zoidlord

    GhostWhoVotes ‏@GhostWhoVotes 1m

    #Newspoll Apr-Jun Quarterly Preferred PM: Abbott 37 (-4) Shorten 41 (+5) #auspol

    GhostWhoVotes ‏@GhostWhoVotes 40s

    #Newspoll Apr-Jun Quarterly Federal 2PP in NSW: L/NP 46 (-1) ALP 54 (+1) #auspol

  31. zoidlord

    GhostWhoVotes ‏@GhostWhoVotes 1m

    #Newspoll Apr-Jun Quarterly Federal 2PP in VIC: L/NP 42 (-1) ALP 58 (+1) #auspol

    GhostWhoVotes ‏@GhostWhoVotes 54s

    #Newspoll Apr-Jun Quarterly Federal 2PP in QLD: L/NP 50 (-1) ALP 50 (+1) #auspol

  32. zoidlord

    GhostWhoVotes ‏@GhostWhoVotes 39s

    #Newspoll Jan-Mar Quarterly Federal Primaries in QLD: L/NP 37 (-4) ALP 31 (-3) GRN 10 (+2) Others 22 (+5) #auspol

  33. TaxiLurker

    I cant imagine anywhere in my mind where the idea of sending people to there possible death stands.

  34. zoidlord

    GhostWhoVotes ‏@GhostWhoVotes 42s

    #Newspoll Apr-Jun Quarterly Federal 2PP in WA: L/NP 51 (-3) ALP 49 (+3) #auspol

  35. zoidlord

    GhostWhoVotes ‏@GhostWhoVotes 37s

    #Newspoll Apr-Jun Quarterly Federal Primaries in QLD: L/NP 37 (-4) ALP 31 (-3) GRN 10 (+2) Others 22 (+5) #auspol

  36. zoidlord

    GhostWhoVotes ‏@GhostWhoVotes 34s

    #Newspoll Apr-Jun Quarterly Federal Primaries in WA: L/NP 40 (-6) ALP 28 (-1) GRN 17 (+2) Others 15 (+5) #auspol

  37. zoidlord

    GhostWhoVotes ‏@GhostWhoVotes 45s

    #Newspoll Apr-Jun Quarterly Federal 2PP in SA: L/NP 45 (-1) ALP 55 (+1) #auspol

  38. zoidlord

    GhostWhoVotes ‏@GhostWhoVotes 45s

    The #Newspoll Apr-Jun Quarterly tables: http://bit.ly/1qAUwcx #auspol

  39. zoidlord

    According to Newspoll Quarterly, a mixed bag for ALP(relying on preferences from other parties), but overall LNP on a losing streak.

  40. William Bowe

    Newspoll state breakdowns pretty close to BludgerTrack’s, which is always comforting.

  41. teh_drewski

    Not sure the centreleft has much chance of a non-preference win in the near future, that 8-10% green vote looks too solid.

  42. zoidlord


    So if an election were to be held today, Labor would win but rely on Greens+PUP?

  43. crikey whitey


    [I cant imagine anywhere in my mind where the idea of sending people to there possible death stands.]

    All God’s Children. Happy Clapper will see them right.

  44. caf

    That Greens vote in WA is pretty solid.

  45. Bushfire Bill

    Looks like Jason Koutsoukis is back writing at The Age.

    That can only be a good thing.

    He’s the journo who broke the story on Howard’s Dirt Unit, run out of “plush ministerial offices”, back in 2007.

    Today’s offering is on refoulement to Sri Lanka.


  46. Bushfire Bill

    And so much for “on-water” matters.

    Looks like Morrison’s 96 spin doctors are leaing like a sieve to the Daily Telegraph.

    [First boat returned to country of origin
    THE mystery of at least one of two asylum seeker boats at the centre of a week-long controversy has been solved — all 41 passengers have already arrived safely on their home soil. ]

    I like the word “safely”. Did they give them a banana and a cut lunch?

  47. CTar1


    [he looks at the role of Eisenhour in the unfolding crisis of 1956…and Eisenhour emerges as a rather commendable figure,by his honesty and restraint]

    Eisenhower was then a) facing an election; and b) Not well.

    He seems to have realised around then that he’d ’empowered’ US Weapon builders / Govt ‘Intelligence’ agencies somewhat too much.

    The last thing he needed was the British, French and Israelis doing ‘stuff’ together.

    After all ‘the USA was supposed to have conquered the World’ at the end of WW2. (Subsequent events have shown differently – Korea a ‘draw’, Vietnam a loss, and since a lot of shooting at people without much effect.)

    Paid back by the non-participation of the British in V.2 of Vietnam.

    Truman springs to mind – his decisions re’ beating the Russians to Tokyo set the scene for a lot of stuff that lasted for 50 years.