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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.

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.


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Dorrie Evans
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… Read more »

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.

Andrew Elder

Of course, they couldn’t do this in practice because to have done so would have shattered the unity of the coalition base and nearly as bad, they’d have had to do the hard work of policy specification consulting that disrupted base and all of its sub-factions. The coalition would not have been able to stay united for 2 hours let alone 2 years

Fran’s been reading my blog! Knew I’d get through to you 😉


[So, WWP, after having proof read the above I probably haven’t answered you properly. I’m afraid my propensity to waffle overides most things in my life ….I apologise and hope you don’t find this as stupid a comment as you proffessed Confessions@708 to be.]

No I think confessions enjoys saying silly things about Rudd, that post I largely agree with. Sadly in Labor we have many more Howse and the Catanias they raise up, and very few Gallops and Hawkes.


[Did Newman leave Brissie Council a hero ?]

No. I think he was generally despised as an arrogant turd.


The miners…. knew weakness when they saw it. Rudd was stupid showing it to them.

Murdoch & Abbott knew it too. Fran B has uttered a great truth there.

Greensborough Growler
Greensborough Growler


Possum did a fairly comprehensive study of Poll house bias last year which you may want to check out.

Rex Douglas

I can understand senior Australians reliant solely on their newspapers and nightly FTA ‘news’ being conservative voters but for the life of me I can’t understand how younger Australian fully aware of the unbiased facts, thanks to all the modern day sources of information, can favour the conservatives when choosing a policy direction.
Totally bewildering.


[Turnbull approached Labor many years ago to join the party, but even then they said no thanks.]

Yes, I was aware of that. IMO there’s more similarities between Turnbull and Rudd than there are between Turnbull and Keating.


You can’t say Non-Essential moves at glacial speed because glaciers move a lot faster than that.


On my first day in Crete, summer 1978, I thought I’d try a bottle of the Greek beer I’d heard so much about – retsina :). Worst hangover in my life, but lesson learned.

Leroy Lynch
Article on Essential (paywalled) [Essential: hard-hearted public not convinced on dole boost BERNARD KEANE | JAN 21, 2013 12:52PM Most voters don’t share the view that Newstart benefits are too low and recipients are victims of circumstance, today’s Essential Report finds. Plus: who we trust the least (and it’s not journalists). Australians don’t share the growing view among commentators across the political spectrum that Newstart benefits are too low, according to today’s Essential Report. And power companies and the media are our least trusted industries. A third of voters believe Newstart benefits are not high enough, Essential found, but… Read more »

I just looked out the window there is this “huge” and I mean huge converted bus thing parked outside, guess as I am so close to the beach. Wouldn’t like to be paying the fuel bill for it. It is called “Pine Lodge”


I’m going with Kevin’s Essential 2% bias to the Coalition and Newspoll’s 1% bias to Labor and sticking with 52/48 until we get more information.

Rex Douglas

Essential-ly it’s groundhog day !! so rise and shine everybody…………


Thanks Fran.

WWP@752 To be honest I have no interest in who Kevin Rudd aligned himself with. Over a year ago I had a discussion with Bemused and stated, or wtte, that, like most people, I was excited about the Kev07 juggernaut and what it would do for the country. That Mr Rudd, after a short space of tim, had me screaming at the television, imploring him to forget about wedging the opposition and ,ffs, just govern.Lead. Do some fkn thing except play politics. In short, I just don’t think that Mr Rudd was a good PM, or, as has been proved,… Read more »

The coalition primary vote at 48% in Essential seems a good 4-5% higher than any other poll. Odd that, been like that for a while.

confessions@687 Mumble today is back to St Kevin vs the Earl mournful pining. But this made me blink: A few ALP supporters caricature Turnbull as a filthy-rich greedy capitalist, but many Labor true believers quite like him. He reminds them of the great Paul Keating: republican, economically dry, socially progressive (sort of), a doer, arrogant, massive ego, would not be dictated to by faction chiefs and opinion polls. MT is nothing like Paul Keating. Really, what has happened to Mumble. When Keating and the Earl were young they were described as ‘acolytes’ of Jack Lang. They used to visit him… Read more »