Margin: Liberal National 10.4%
Location: Bundaberg, Queensland
Outgoing member: Paul Neville (Liberal National)
The candidates (ballot paper order)
TROY BRADLY SULLIVAN
ROBERT DESMOND MESSENGER
Hinkler covers a 90 kilometre stretch of the central Queensland coast, encompassing Bundaberg at the northern end and Hervey Bay in the south, and extends inland to accommodate Childers. It was created with the enlargement of parliament in 1984, and for most of its existence extended north to Gladstone. That changed with the creation of Flynn at the 2007 election, which caused Hinkler to be pushed southwards to accommodate Hervey Bay, previously in Wide Bay. Labor held the seat from 1987 to 1993, but it has otherwise been in Nationals and more recently Liberal National Party hands. The member since 1993 has been Paul Neville, who is bowing out at this election.
Neville enjoyed something of a charmed electoral life during his two decades in the seat, surviving by 510 votes in 1998 (when One Nation polled 19.3%, their preferences saving Neville from a substantial primary vote deficit against Labor) and 64 votes in 2001, and benefiting considerably from redistributions in 2004 and 2007. The latter gave him a timely 6.5% boost by detaching Labor-voting Gladstone, and he needed nearly every bit of it to survive a 6.7% swing at the 2007 election that reduced his margin to 1.7%. He may well have been saved from defeat by the performance of Labor candidate Garry Parr, who made headlines when he told the parents of a soldier serving with British forces in Afghanistan they were “English warmongers”. The seat’s former Labor member, Brian Courtice, also emerged in Coalition television commercials to inform the nation that “Kevin Rudd couldn’t go three rounds with Winnie the Pooh, so there’s no way he can stand up to the union bosses”. Neville enjoyed the full force of the statewide reversal in 2010, his swing of 8.9% being the third biggest in the state.
The New Liberal National Party candidate is Keith Pitt, who comes from a cane farming background and is now the managing director of workplace health and safety consultancy the Australian Safety & Training Alliance. Others mentioned as preselection contenders were Cathy Heidrich, a former newspaper proprietor and media and research officer to Paul Neville; Len Fehlhaber, a primary school principal; Cathy Heidrich, a media/research officer; Greg McMahon, a probation and parole officer; and Geoff Redpath, a Hervey Bay accountant; Chris McLoughlin, a staffer for state Bundaberg MP Jack Dempsey; and Bill Trevor, former mayor of Isis. Other candidates at the election are Labor’s Leanne Donaldson, a Bundaberg human relations consultant, and two former state MPs in David Dalgleish, who won Hervey Bay for One Nation in 1998 and is now running for Katter’s Australian Party, and Rob Messenger, Nationals-turned-independent member for Burnett who lost his seat last year and is running for the Palmer United Party.
Hinkler 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.