The Poll Bludger
Margin: Liberal National 0.5%
Region: Northern Brisbane, Queensland
In a nutshell: Petrie was one of two Queensland seats lost by Labor in 2013, after holding out grimly against the tide in 2010.
Candidates in ballot paper order
MARK A WHITE
ANDREW CHARLES TYRRELL
The northern Brisbane seat of Petrie was one of two Queensland seats gained by the Liberal National Party at the 2013 election, having been one of the few seats gained as part of Kevin Rudd’s statewide sweep in 2007 that stayed with the party under Julia Gillard in 2010. The electorate covers a narrow strip of Brisbane’s northern coastal suburbs from Carseldine north to Burpengary, which consists of three distinct areas: in the centre, the Redcliffe Peninsula; further north along the coast, Deception Bay and the developing suburb of North Lakes; and, on the southern side of the Pine River which separates the Moreton Bay local government area from Brisbane, the suburbs of Bracken Ridge, Fitzgibbon and Carseldine.
Petrie was created with the enlargement of parliament in 1949 and held consistently by the Liberals until 1983, outside of a surprise defeat in 1961. It again changed hands at three consecutive elections in 1983, 1984 and 1987, and was then held for Labor for the next three terms by Gary Johns. Together with most of his Queensland colleagues, Johns was unseated at the 1996 election, in his case when a 9.8% swing demolished his margin of 2.1%. Johns has more recently associated himself with conservative causes as a senior fellow of the Institute of Public Affairs and columnist for The Australian.
The seat was then held for the Liberals through the Howard years by Teresa Gambaro, member of a family noted in Brisbane for its seafood business and city restaurant. Gambaro’s margin was reduced to 0.8% when the elastic snapped back in 1998, but she was strengthened by successive swings of 2.7% in 2001 and 4.4% in 2004. This left her with a 7.9% buffer going into the 2007 election, but it was not enough to save her from a 9.5% swing to Labor’s Yvette D’Ath, previously been an official with the Right faction Australian Workers Union. D’Ath did well in 2010 to limit the swing against her to 1.7%, well below the statewide result of 5.6%, and sufficient for her to survive with a margin of 2.5%. Teresa Gambaro meanwhile returned to parliament by unseating Labor’s Arch Bevis in the electorate of Brisbane.
D’Ath was unseated by a 3.0% swing at the 2013 election, contrary to Kevin Rudd’s election night claim that he had succeeded in defending all of Labor’s seats in his home state. She returned to politics after winning the state seat of Redcliffe for Labor at a by-election in February 2014, and is now the Attorney-General in Annastacia Palaszczuk’s government. Petrie is now held for the Liberal National Party by Luke Howarth, former managing director of Sandgate Pest Control. Howarth won preselection for 2013 from a field of ten, of whom most presumed the front-runner to be John Connolly, a former Wallabies coach and unsuccessful state candidate for Nicklin, who had the endorsement of John Howard. An accounting of the September 2015 leadership vote in The Australian listed Howarth as among eight members whose loyalties were considered uncertain.
Labor’s candidate is Jacquie Pedersen, a community workers and Australian Services Union delegate.
Four weeks into the campaign Steven Scott of the Courier-Mail reported Labor was falling short in Brisbane seats including Petrie, tempering optimism about potential gains in regional Queensland.
Analysis by William Bowe. Read William’s blog, The Poll Bludger.