The Poll Bludger
Margin: Labor 1.6%
Region: Southern Brisbane, Queensland
In a nutshell: Moreton has a long history as a marginal seat, but it hasn’t always reflected the national trend, as Labor’s Graham Perrett showed when he slightly increased his majority in 2013.
Candidates in ballot paper order
Located in Brisbane’s southern suburbs, Moreton is a marginal electorate of long-standing that the current member, Graham Perrett, did well to retain for Labor amid poor results for the party in Queensland in 2010 and 2013. It extends from the Brisbane riverside suburbs of Oxley, Sherwood and Yeronga out to Runcorn and Acacia Ridge, the latter area being the more favourable for Labor. The seat has existed in name since federation, but was based on the Gold Coast and Brisbane’s southern outskirts until McPherson was created to accommodate the Gold Coast when parliament expanded in 1949. Moreton then began a long drift north into the inner suburbs, transforming the seat from safely conservative to marginal.
The Liberals’ first near-miss came with Jim Killen’s famous 130-vote win in 1961, achieved with help from Communist Party preference leakage, which allowed the Menzies government to survive with a one-seat majority. Killen had come to the seat in 1955 and remained until 1983, serving as Defence Minister from 1975 to 1982. He retired in the aftermath of the Fraser government’s defeat in 1983, when his own margin was reduced to 1.6%, initiating a by-election held the following November. This was won for the Liberals on a margin of 2.8% by Don Cameron, who had served in Griffith from 1969 to 1977, then moved to the seat of Fadden south of Brisbane, where he was unseated at the 1983 election. Cameron was defeated in Moreton at the 1990 election by Labor’s Garrie Gibson, amid a weak performance for the Coalition across Queensland that reflected its low stocks at state level.
Garrie Gibson survived a small swing to the Liberals in 1993 before being hit by the statewide tidal wave of 1996, when he suffered what by Queensland standards was a modest swing of 4.9%. The new Liberal member was Gary Hardgrave, a former children’s television host and media adviser to Senator David MacGibbon. Hardgrave held junior ministry positions from 2001 to 2005 while maintaining a tenuous grip on his seat, surviving a 4.2% swing in 1998 and an unfavourable redistribution in 2004. Redistribution further chipped away at his margin before the 2007 election, and he was unseated by a 7.5% swing to Labor in 2007. He has since kept in the public eye as the drive presenter on Fairfax Radio’s Brisbane station 4BC.
Prior to his success at the 2007 election, Graham Perrett had been an adviser to the Queensland Resources Council, and earlier a state ministerial staffer and official with the Queensland Independent Education Union. Perrett enjoyed what proved to be a decisive 1.4% boost at the redistribution before the 2010 election, after which a 4.9% swing cut his margin to 1.1%. During Labor’s second term in office he threatened to quit parliament if the party changed leaders again, a position he backed away from when Kevin Rudd was marshalling his unsuccessful leadership challenge in February 2012. With Rudd back as leader, Labor had a better result in Queensland than it had long feared, with Perrett actually recording a 0.4% swing in his favour. In July 2014 he was promoted to the position of Shadow Parliamentary Secretary to the Attorney-General.
The Liberal National Party’s candidate is Nic Monsour, managing director of a consultancy and brother-in-law of Campbell Newman.
Analysis by William Bowe. Read William’s blog, The Poll Bludger.