Queensland election 2015

Ashgrove

Margin: Liberal National 5.7%
Region: Western Brisbane
Federal: Brisbane/Ryan

Candidates in ballot paper order

ashgrove-lnp

ashgrove-alp

CONNIE CICCHINI
Independent

CAMPBELL NEWMAN
Liberal National (top)

PETER JEREMIJENKO
Independent

ROBERT HOGG
Greens

KATE JONES
Labor (bottom)

ELECTORATE MAP

2012 ELECTION RESULTS

DEMOGRAPHICS

Electorate boundary outline courtesy of
Ben Raue of The Tally Room.

The inner western Brisbane seat of Ashgrove looms as the crucible of a second successive Queensland election, as Premier Campbell Newman battles to retain the seat he won in unprecedented circumstances in 2012. The electorate covers inner western suburbs from Ashgrove north to Enoggera, and extends westwards through The Gap and the Enoggera Military Camp, which separates The Gap from the lower income and more Labor-friendly territory around Gaythorne in the north. The electorate ranks fourth in the state for residents having finished school, fifth for income, and in the top five for persons working in public administration and education.

After a seven year tenure as Lord Mayor of Brisbane, Newman chose Ashgrove as his vehicle through which to crash simultaneously into the parliament and the premiership, after none of the existing Brisbane Liberal National Party members proved willing to make way for him. Ashgrove was settled upon rather than his home electorate of Brisbane Central, where the margin was 6.0% compared with 7.1% in Ashgrove, partly because an LNP candidate had already been preselected there, and partly because it was feared rates increases may have cost him some of his shine as Lord Mayor. The LNP announced in March 2011 an unprecedented arrangement in which he assumed the de facto leadership of the LNP despite not holding a seat in parliament, with the official position of parliamentary Opposition Leader being held in the interim by Callide MP Jeff Seeney.

With opinion polling from the electorate showing an enticingly close race, Labor based much of its electoral strategy on resisting Newman’s bid for Ashgrove to sew concern of an uncertain future under a leaderless new government. In particular, Labor sought to trade on the local popularity of its member Kate Jones by branding its campaign “keep our Kate”. Polls showing Newman and Jones at effectively level pegging a fortnight out from the election, but the backfiring of Labor’s personal attacks on Newman later in the campaign was followed by a surge in his favour in late polling, and in the event he secured an easy win on the back of a 12.8% swing two-party swing.

Newman’s win returned to the conservative fold a seat that had been held by Labor since a landmark result in 1989, prior to which the Liberals had held it for all but one term going back to 1960. Labor’s member from 1989 to 2006 was Demetrios “Jim” Fouras, who had earlier held South Brisbane from 1977 until a preselection defeat in 1986. On Fouras’s retirement the seat passed to Kate Jones, a media adviser to Public Works and Housing Minister Rob Schwarten and member of the Old Guard/Labor Unity faction of the Right. After her re-election in 2009, Jones was promoted to cabinet as Climate Change and Sustainability Minister, making her at 29 the youngest Queensland state minister since 1890. She was further promoted in February 2011 to the environment and resource management portfolio, but stepped down the following June to devote her energies to Ashgrove.

The electorate was polled four times throughout 2014, with Labor in the lead each time: by 53-47 in a Galaxy poll conducted in February, and 53-47, 58-42, 56-44 and 55-45 in ReachTEL polls respectively conducted in July, early September, late September and December. The latter two polls were conducted after Kate Jones announced her intention to run.

cuAs the campaign came to a close, two polls appeared to scotch any hopes Campbell Newman might have had for a repeat of his late surge to victory in 2012. On the Tuesday before polling day, a ReachTEL automated phone poll of 861 respondents found Kate Jones with a lead of 54-46 – in sharp contrast to a poll it conducted at an equivalent time in 2012, and actually a point worse for him than a ReachTEL poll conducted a fortnight previously. Election eve brought even worse news, with Galaxy crediting Jones with a lead of 55-45, or 48% to 42% on the primary vote. Also in the last week of the campaign, Michael McKenna of The Australian offered the interesting observation that Ashgrove was one of the few areas of Queensland which had delivered a yes vote in the 1999 republic referendum, making the Prime Minister’s blunder in granting a knighthood to Prince Philip less than a week out from polling day all the more inopportune.

Corrections, complaints and feedback to William Bowe at pollbludger-at-bigpond-dot-com. Read William’s blog, The Poll Bludger.

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