Margin: Liberal National 3.6%
Location: Gladstone/Central Coastal, Queensland
The candidates (ballot paper order)
DUNCAN GEORGE SCOTT
STEVEN PHILIP ENSBY
RICHARD LAING LOVE
One of four new seats wrought by Queensland’s ongoing population explosion since 1998, Flynn was created at the 2007 election and was won the first time by Labor and the second time by the Liberal National Party. Central to the electorate is Gladstone, which had previously been accommodated by Hinkler since its creation in 1984 and Capricornia previously. It also encompasses the Capricornia Highway towns out to Emerald in the west, and the Burnett Highway through Monto to Gayndah in the south. The seat was substantially reduced in geographic size by the redistribution before the 2010 election, which transferred the interior Barcaldine, Blackall Tambo, Longreach and Winton shires to Maranoa and compensated it with the more densely populated Mount Morgan area south of Rockhampton.
With a Nationals margin of 7.9% on its creation, Flynn emerged as a key seat at the 2007 election, at which expectations of a dramatic swing in Queensland featured heavily in Labor’s calculations. Labor nominated solicitor and former Gladstone councillor Chris Trevor, who as candidate for the state seat of Gladstone a year earlier had done very well to reduce independent MP Liz Cunningham’s margin from 11.2% to 2.0%. Trevor picked up a swing of 7.9% that was slightly higher than the statewide result of 7.5%, and proved enough to give him a slender 253 vote victory. The shift to Labor was especially pronounced in its traditionally strongest areas: double-digit swings were recorded in Gladstone and surrounding areas nearer the coast, such that Labor won the latter booths en masse after losing them all in 2004.
Trevor reportedly had his path to preselection in 2007 smoothed by Kevin Rudd, and he publicly contemplated quitting politics when Rudd was dumped as leader. The 2010 redistribution appeared to do Trevor a good turn by substituting Nationals heartland for the declining mining area around Mount Morgan, which boosted his margin by 2.1%. However, that did not avail him against a swing that was roughly in line with the state average at 5.8%, and was particularly forceful in the area newly added by the redistribution. The victorious Liberal National Party candidate was Ken O’Dowd, owner of Busteed Building Supplies in Gladstone and further noted in the local press as a “racing identity”. Chris Trevor will again contest Flynn for Labor, having resumed his Gladstone legal practice since his electoral defeat.
Flynn is one of six Queensland seats where Katter’s Australian Party is directing preferences to Labor, as part of a preference deal that sees the KAP get the second preference on Labor’s Queensland Senate ticket.
Analysis written by William Bowe. Read William’s blog, The Poll Bludger.