The Poll Bludger
Margin: Liberal National 4.4%
Region: Outer Southern Brisbane, Queensland
In a nutshell: Forde has stayed beyond Labor’s reach for all but one term since it was radically redistributed in 1996, their most recent failed candidate being former Premier Peter Beattie.
Candidates in ballot paper order
BERT VAN MANEN
SHAUN CHARLES SPAIN
Located at the southern edge of Brisbane, Forde was one of nine Queensland seats gained by Labor as part of Kevin Rudd’s victory in 2007, and seven lost as part of Julia Gillard’s near-defeat in 2010. It then developed into one of the most high-profile contests of the 2013 election when it was constested unsuccessfully for Labor by former Premier Peter Beattie. The electorate encompasses the Logan City suburbs of Loganlea, Shailer Park and Beenleigh in the north, together with City of Gold Coast territory along the Pacific Motorway, from Ormeau south to Upper Coomera. It has recently exhibited an electoral volatility characteristic of electorates dominated by mortgage-paying young families, capped by a 14.4% swing when Labor won the seat in 2007.
Forde was created in name with the expansion of parliament in 1984, but was at that time located further to the north, in areas of suburban Brisbane now accommodated by Oxley and Moreton. It has since undergone two transformations: in 1996, when large territory swaps with Rankin left it with only a toehold on metropolitan Brisbane around Loganholme, while extending it southwards through Beaudesert and Boonah to the New South Wales border; and in 2010, when the rural territory was lost to the new seat of Wright, and it was compensated with Shailer Park at the northern end and Upper Coomera in the south.
David Watson won Forde for the Liberals at the 1984 election by 43 votes, a margin he was unable to defend against Labor’s Mary Crawford in 1987. He would later return to politics in state parliament, eventually leading the Liberal Party to a disastrous election result in 2001. Meanwhile, Crawford built up a handy margin on the back of swings in 1990 and 1993, but was poleaxed by the 1996 redistribution and the party’s refusal to allow her to move to the safer seat of Rankin, partly in consequence of its determination to accommodate Kevin Rudd in Griffith. Kay Elson picked up a 9.6% swing in gaining the seat for the Liberals at the 1996 election, and retained the seat by comfortable margins in 1998 and 2001, before consolidating with a further 5.9% swing in 2004.
Elson’s retirement at the 2007 election was presumably a factor in the ensuing 14.4% swing, which resulted in a 2.9% winning margin to Labor candidate Brett Raguse, an adviser to state ministers associated with the AWU/Labor Forum sub-faction of the Right. Raguse was unseated in 2010 by a 5.0% swing, well in line with the statewide result, and later made an unsuccessful preselection bid to succeed Craig Emerson in Rankin at the 2013 election. The seat has since been held for the Liberal National Party by the Liberal-aligned Bert van Manen, a financial planner from Slacks Creek who had run as the Family First candidate for Rankin in 2007.
Van Manen went untroubled in the face of Peter Beattie’s challenge at the 2013 election, when he added 2.8% to his existing 1.6% margin despite negative publicity over the collapse of a firm in which he was a director and half-owner. Notwithstanding his conservative credentials as a former Family First candidate, he reportedly backed Malcolm Turnbull in the September 2015 leadership challenge, together with most of his Queensland colleagues. Van Manen’s Labor candidate at the coming election will be Des Hardman, a Logan Hospital radiographer who was initially preselected in 2013, but was obliged to make way when the Peter Beattie plot was hatched early in the election campaign.
Analysis by William Bowe. Read William’s blog, The Poll Bludger.