Capricornia – Australia 2019

LNP 0.6%

Incumbent MP
Michelle Landry, since 2013.

Geography
Central Queensland. Capricornia covers the Queensland coast from Rockhampton to just south of Mackay.

Redistribution
Capricornia gained a small area to the south of Mackay from the seat of Dawson. This area covers McEwans Beach, Chelona and Rosella. These changes had no impact on the seat’s margin.

History
Capricornia is an original federation electorate. After changing between a number of parties in early decades, the seat was held by the ALP for most of the last half-century, with the exception of two wins by the Country/National Party at particular low-points for the ALP, before the LNP won in 2013.

The seat was first won in 1901 by independent candidate Alexander Paterson. Paterson didn’t run for re-election in 1903, and was succeeded by the ALP’s David Thompson.

Thomson lost in 1906 to the Anti-Socialist Party’s Edward Archer. Archer too was defeated after one term, losing in 1910 to the ALP’s William Higgs.

Higgs was a former Senator for Queensland, who held Capricornia for the next decade. He served as Treasurer in Billy Hughes’ government from 1915 to 1916, resigning over Hughes’ support for conscription. Ironically he later left the ALP in 1920 and ended up in Hughes’ Nationalist Party. He failed to win re-election as a Nationalist in 1922, losing to the ALP’s Frank Forde.

Forde was the state MP for Rockhampton, and rose quickly in the federal Labor ranks. He served as a junior minister in the Scullin government, being promoted to cabinet in the final days of the government in 1931. Forde became Deputy Leader of the ALP in 1932.

Forde contested the leadership of the party in 1935, losing by one vote to John Curtin, having lost support due to his support for Scullin’s economic policies. He served as Minister for the Army during the Second World War on the election of the Curtin government.

Forde became Prime Minister in July 1945 upon the death of John Curtin, and served eight days before losing a leadership ballot to Ben Chifley. He served as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence in the aftermath of the Second World War, until he lost Capricornia at the 1946 election, despite the ALP winning a comfortable victory.

Capricornia was won in 1946 by the Liberal Party’s Charles Davidson. Davidson moved to the new seat of Dawson in 1949, and went on to serve as a minister in the Menzies government before retiring in 1963.

Davidson was succeeded in Capricornia in 1949 by Henry Pearce, also from the Liberal Party. Pearce held Capricornia for twelve years, losing in 1961 to the ALP’s George Gray.

Gray held the seat until his death in 1967, and the ensuing by-election was won by Doug Everingham. He served as Minister for Health in the Whitlam government, but lost Capricornia in 1975 to Colin Carige of the National Country Party, winning it back in 1977. Everingham then managed to hold the seat until his retirement in 1984.

He was succeeded in 1984 by Keith Wright, who had been the Labor leader in the Queensland parliament since 1982 and member for Rockhampton since 1969. Wright held Capricornia until 1993, when he was charged with rape, leading to him losing his ALP endorsement. He contested Capricornia as an independent, but lost to ALP candidate Marjorie Henzell.

Henzell held the seat for one term, losing to National candidate Paul Marek in 1996. Marek also held the seat for one term, losing to the ALP’s Kirsten Livermore in 1998. Livermore was re-elected in Capricornia in 2001, 2004, 2007 and 2010.

Livermore retired in 2013, and the LNP’s Michelle Landry won the seat with a 4.5% swing.

Landry was re-elected in 2016 by a slim 0.6% margin. This seat was the most marginal Coalition seat in the country, thus giving the government its slim majority.

Candidates

  • Russell Robertson (Labor)

Assessment
Capricornia is an extremely marginal seat and could go to either major party. It will undoubtedly be a focus of the election campaign.

2016 result

CandidatePartyVotes%SwingRedist
Michelle Landry Liberal National 35,31040.1+0.540.1
Leisa Neaton Labor 33,57938.1+1.138.1
Laurel CarterKatter’s Australian Party6,2417.1+1.57.1
Lindsay TempleFamily First4,5475.2+1.35.1
Ken MurrayIndependent4,3124.9+4.94.8
Kate Giamarelos Greens 4,1664.7+1.34.7
Others0.1
Informal3,2423.5

2016 two-party-preferred result

CandidatePartyVotes%SwingRedist
Michelle Landry Liberal National 44,63350.6-0.150.6
Leisa Neaton Labor 43,52249.4+0.149.4

Booth breakdown

Booths have been divided into four areas. Booths in the Isaac Regional Council area have been grouped together. This area has the smallest population but covers the largest areas. A majority of voters live in the Rockhampton council area. Booths in this area have been split between those in the Rockhampton urban areas itself and those outside of it. Booths in the Mackay and Whitsunday areas have been grouped as “North”.

Labor won a large 56.4% majority in Rockhampton, and a smaller 52% majority in Isaacs, but the LNP won majorities in the north and Livingstone, as well as a large majority amongst other votes.

Voter groupLNP 2PP %Total votes% of votes
Rockhampton43.622,23725.0
North53.310,44511.7
Livingstone54.08,3939.4
Isaacs48.03,4153.8
Other votes57.113,53215.2
Pre-poll51.331,04634.9

Two-party-preferred votes in Capricornia at the 2016 federal election

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About the Author

Ben Raue is the founder and author of the Tally Room.If you like this post, please consider donating to support the Tally Room.