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Gaven review

By John Black - posted Monday, 10 April 2006

The Gaven result was perfect for Queensland Opposition Leader Lawrence Springborg in three respects.

First, it confirmed the Nationals could win an outer urban seat in southeast Queensland, so long as the Liberals agreed on terms beforehand.

Second, the swing looked small enough for Peter Beattie to hold his job as Labor Premier until the next state election, and remain, according to our on-line polls, as a Coalition electoral asset.


Third, when we allow for the personal vote of former Gaven MP Bob Poole, the swing against Labor in Gaven was worse than Chatsworth last August, meaning Springborg is still on track to be premier and clearly in the lead, but without the pressures associated with being the frontrunner.

Point One

The Labor Party, when in government would normally hold Gaven. It is a fast growing, outer urban, blue-collar seat, typical of the 60 state seats within the southeastern region.

Table 1 shows selected Industry Census figures for the three seats in which by-elections have been held since last August. We can see here that all three seats are essentially urban, in terms of industry, with Gaven containing fewer farmers than either Chatsworth or Redcliffe and well below the state mean.

Table 1. Selected male industry for by-election seats

Table 1 and 2 together show a picture of Gaven as less upper white collar than Chatsworth, with fewer Professional and Para professional males, but similar to the State average. Gaven contains more skilled blue-collar trades workers than either the state average or the blue-collar seat of Redcliffe.

Table 2. Selected male occupations for by-election seats


From the above tables, Gaven would therefore be expected to return a similar Labor vote to that for Queensland as a whole, perhaps a little better. In 2004 Gaven recorded a vote of 55 per cent two-party preferred (2PP) for Labor MP Bob Poole, compared to a mean of some 55 per cent for Labor across all 89 seats.

If strong urban style National candidates like Dr Alex Douglas can win Gaven, with a preferred vote of 53.3 per cent, then similar National Party candidates can beat Labor in the marginal to comfortable Labor seats among the fast-growing outer urban southeastern band of seats surrounding Brisbane.

Despite some speculation, the voter turnout in Gaven of 82.3 per cent was not low for a by-election, when compared to 86.5 per cent for Chatsworth and 87.8 per cent for the stable seat of Redcliffe, in the August 2005 by-elections. Gaven in 2004 had a 3 per cent lower turnout than these two seats.

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John Black and Graham Young produce an online polling survey, What the People Want, fortnightly for ABC radio with Madonna King and carry out regular demographic profiling of Australian election results.

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About the Author

John Black is a former Labor Party senator and chief executive of Australian Development Strategies.

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