The Poll Bludger
Margin: Liberal National 3.7%
Region: Inner Brisbane, Queensland
In a nutshell: Labor would have felt confident about their long-term prospects in Bonner when it was created in 2004, but such as been their weakness in Queensland that it only landed their way in 2007.
Candidates in ballot paper order
JARROD JOHN WIRTH
LAURA FRASER HARDY
The inner southern Brisbane electorate of Bonner was created in 2004 and has been won on narrow margins by Ross Vasta of the Liberal National Party at every election except 2007, when he was unseated for a term by Labor’s Kerry Rea. The electorate encompasses the bayside Wynnum-Manly area at its northern end, extending southwards through Carindale and Belmont to Mount Gravatt. It ranks somewhat above average for educational attainment and median income and in the middle of the range for ethnic diversity, with persons of Chinese, Indian, Italian and Greek background to be found in greater abundance at the south-western end of the electorate than around Wynnum-Manly.
Prior to the creation of Bonner, the area covered by the electorate today had mostly been accomodated by Bowman after 1955, particularly at the northern end. Bowman usually went with the government of the day until 1998, when Con Sciacca recovered the seat he had lost in Labor’s statewide rout of 1996. Sciacca retained Bowman in 2001 and contested newly created Bonner in 2004, which had a notional Labor margin of 1.9% compared with a notional Liberal margin of 3.1% in the heavily redrawn Bowman. However, Sciacca was unable to withstand a 3.1% swing at the 2004 election, and appeared to suffer from the loss to Labor of Kevin Rudd’s personal vote in the areas at the southern end of the electorate that had formerly been in Griffith.
The successful Liberal candidate was Ross Vasta, a former restaurant owner who had lately worked as a staffer to Queensland Liberal Senator Brett Mason, and the son of noted Brisbane barrister and Bjelke-Petersen era Supreme Court justice Angelo Vasta. Vasta was always going to struggle to defend the Coalition’s most marginal seat in Queensland in 2007, and duly fell victim to a 5.2% swing as part of Kevin Rudd’s election-winning nine-seat haul in his home state. Bonner was then held for a term by Kerry Rea, who had previously represented a ward that included the area around Mount Gravatt on Brisbane City Council. Vasta meanwhile returned to his old job with Senator Brett Mason and unsuccessfully contested the Wynnum-Manly ward at the 2008 Brisbane council election, before the newly constituted Liberal National Party preselected him in his old federal seat in 2010.
Bonner did not seem a likely proposition in the political climate that prevailed at the time of Vasta’s preselection, but circumstances had changed dramatically by the time Julia Gillard led Labor into the August 2010 election. An emphatic swing of 7.4% duly delivered Vasta a winning margin of 2.8%, to which he added a further 0.9% in 2013. He has remained on the back bench through the last two terms, and was included on a short list of Liberal members whose loyalties were rated by The Australian as uncertain during Malcolm Turnbull’s September 2013 leadership challenge. For the second election in a row, Vasta’s Labor opponent will be Laura Fraser Hardy, a senior associate with Hall Payne Lawyers.
Analysis by William Bowe. Read William’s blog, The Poll Bludger.