Griffith – Australia 2019

ALP 1.4%

Incumbent MP
Terri Butler, since 2014.

Southern Brisbane. Griffith covers the suburbs of Brisbane on the south side of the Brisbane river across the river from the Brisbane CBD, including South Brisbane itself, as well as Greenslopes, Holland Park, Kangaroo Point, East Brisbane, Coorparoo, Carina, Seven Hills, Morningside, Balmoral and Bulimba.

Griffith lost a small area on its south-western boundary to Moreton. This area covered the remainder of Wellers Hill and Annerley. These changes cut the Labor margin from 1.6% to 1.4%.

Griffith was created for the 1934 election, replacing the original seat of Oxley which was abolished at that election. Both Oxley and Griffith have been marginal seats, with Griffith swinging back and forth regularly between the Liberal Party and the ALP since 1949, although this has not usually coincided with national changes. The seat had become relatively safe for the ALP since it was won by Kevin Rudd in 1998, but has since become more marginal.

The seat was first won in 1934 by Labor MP Francis Baker, who had previously won the seat of Oxley off the United Australia Party, ironically at an election when the UAP swept away the federal Labor government.

Baker was re-elected in 1937, but was killed in a car accident in 1939 at the age of 36. Ironically his father was elected to federal parliament in Maranoa in 1940, after his son’s term in Parliament.

The 1939 Griffith by-election was won by Labor candidate William Conelan. Conelan held the seat until he lost Griffith to Liberal candidate Douglas Berry in 1949.

Berry was re-elected in 1951 but lost to the ALP’s Wilfred Coutts. Coutts held on in 1955 but failed to win re-election in 1958, losing to the Liberal Party’s Arthur Chresby, and winning it back in 1961.

Coutts lost the seat once again in 1966, when the seat was won by Liberal candidate Donald Cameron. Cameron held the seat for eleven years, moving to the new seat of Fadden in 1977. He held Fadden until his defeat in 1983, and returned to Parliament at the 1983 Moreton by-election, which he held until his retirement in 1990.

The ALP regained Griffith in 1977, with Ben Humphreys winning the seat. Humphreys served as a minister in the Hawke/Keating government from 1987 until 1993, and retired at the 1996 election.

The ALP preselected Kevin Rudd, but he lost to Graeme McDougall (LIB). McDougall only held on for one term, losing to Rudd in 1998. Rudd joined the ALP shadow ministry in 2001 as Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs, a role he held for five years.

Rudd’s profile rose as Shadow Foreign Minister, and he was considered a contender for the ALP leadership when Simon Crean resigned in 2003 and when Mark Latham resigned in 2005, but he waited until late 2006 when he challenged Kim Beazley, and was elected leader, and then proceeded to win the 2007 federal election, becoming Prime Minister.

Kevin Rudd was removed as Labor leader and Prime Minister in June 2010, and was re-elected in Griffith as a Labor backbencher. He returned to the ministry as Foreign Minister following the election. He returned to the backbench as part of a failed challenge to Julia Gillard’s leadership in February 2012. Kevin Rudd again challenged for the Labor leadership in June 2013, and returned to the Prime Ministership.

Rudd led Labor to defeat at the 2013 election – he was re-elected in Griffith with a 3% margin, but resigned shortly after. The seat was won at an early 2014 by-election by Labor’s Terri Butler, in the face of a 1.25% swing to the Liberal National Party. Butler was re-elected in 2016.


Griffith is a very marginal seat, although it’s the kind of seat where you could imagine Terri Butler building up more of a personal vote and strengthening her hold over time.

2016 result

Fiona Ward Liberal National 37,71641.0-1.141.2
Terri Butler Labor 30,52433.2-7.233.1
Karen Anderson Greens 15,71017.1+6.817.0
Bronwyn AblettLiberal Democrats1,8802.0+2.02.0
John JiggensDrug Law Reform1,7891.9+1.91.9
Matt DarraghLiberty Alliance1,4771.6+1.61.6
Karel BoeleIndependent1,4631.6+1.61.6
Theresa GrahamFamily First1,4241.5+0.81.5

2016 two-party-preferred result

Terri Butler Labor 47,46451.6-1.551.4
Fiona Ward Liberal National 44,51948.4+1.548.6

Booth breakdown

Booths have been divided into four areas: Bulimba in the north, Greenslopes in the south, South Brisbane in the west and a series of booths along the eastern boundary.

Labor won a majority of the two-party-preferred vote in three out of four areas, ranging from 53.8% in the east to 59.2% in South Brisbane. The LNP polled 51.2% in Bulimba.

The Greens primary vote ranged from 12% in the east to 27.6% in South Brisbane.

Voter groupGRN %ALP 2PP %Total votes% of votes
South Brisbane27.659.212,18313.9
Other votes15.849.217,48720.0

Election results in Griffith at the 2016 federal election
Toggle between two-party-preferred votes and Greens primary votes.

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  1. It will be interesting to see how Butler’s personal vote, offsets the changing demographics of Griffith. Up till now she has lost ground. Personally i find her absolutely loathsome. Another typically useless lawyer, who wouldn’t know reality, or truth if she fell over it. In fact i think she was a union lawyer.

  2. C’mon WD, keep it civil hey?

    From a more objective POV, Butler has certainly raised her profile since 2016 and has been a prominent figure on progressive issues. The Libs have done well to compete in inner city Brisbane seats, but I can’t see them taking ground here this election.

  3. PJ
    I was very civil. A lot of wealthy people are moving into this electorate, eventually the Libs will take it. They may well go backwards in this election, however Labor’s vote is trending down.

  4. In the medium-longer term, Griffith might well end up like Melbourne Ports, with Labor’s vote hollowing out in both directions as the demographics change.

  5. Mark Mulcair
    You could well be right. However i think the northern end, Bulimba, Hawthorne Park etc is becoming very affluent, in ways no part of McNamara is. What will be decisive is how quickly the middle of this electorate changes. It might also continue to drift east.

  6. The Bulimba/Hawthorne area is becoming increasingly more affluent and you would expect the wealthy to be Liberal voters but they seem to still vote Labor.

    You would think that the LNP would have won the Morningside ward (Council) byelection back in January because it seems to be a wealthy area. It may not be as wealthy as it seems yet, but I think these people are more ‘socially conscious’ unlike the ‘environmentally aware’ western suburbs voters. Its a weird area.

  7. BJA
    You might well be right.However there does seem to be a clear trend. If i had to nominate a similar seat, on a similar trend it would be Hughes circa 1996. It had been a solid Labor seat, & then suddenly it wasn’t. Having said that i still believe that we are 2 -3 elections away from that sort of tipping point.
    Thanks for the local perspective

  8. I also seen Griffith as Bne’s Version of Melb Ports.
    Within one or two election cycles the Greens could overtake Labor’s primary vote.
    They already have a stronghold in the West End.

    Amy McMahon did quite well for the Greens against Labor.
    If she gets endorsed for the seat it will make things interesting.

  9. I expect a several point swing back to Labor on 2PP, roughly matching the LNP loss on 3PP.

    The Greens vote here has seen huge variation over the last couple of cycles. The 2016 swing towards them should probably be thought of as about +4% across the electorate and then an increasing percentage on top of that the further west you go. This is in line with the much higher campaign presence in the area covered by the Gabba Ward. The campaign disparity continued in 2017 and I expect we’ll see similar geography this time federally too.

    McMahon failed mostly because the path to victory for the Greens in all Qld seats is to overtake Labor on 3PP and then go on to beat the Liberals. But in South Brisbane last year the Liberals did so poorly it was a Greens vs Labor top two, which naturally Labor won on Liberal prefs.

    All of which is to say that Griffith right now is arguably better positioned than South Brisbane for a Greens victory, because the Liberal vote hasn’t cratered. However, this would require about an 8% net swing from Labor to the Greens on 3PP (and for the Libs to still come top-two), which is rather unlikely in a red-wave year.
    The Greens might well increase their 3PP, but it won’t be enough.

  10. Demographically Melbourne Ports is probably a better comparison than Hughes, which is an outer suburban seat with a lot of recent development, but Melb Ports seems to be more polarised between Lib voting areas and Labor/Green voting areas. I’m not sure thatcher’s as much potential for the Green vote to grow much further though.

  11. Easy guys
    I did emphasise (voting ) trend NOT demographics. Clearly demographics more closely resemble Perth, or Melbourne Ports. Sydney might also change very quickly to this kind of profile

  12. Terri Butler is a rising star in the party.

    Terri Butler should hold this seat comfortably. I did read an article that Labor is targeting this seat with letterbox drops though. So they may need still dig a little bit further to hold. I also read Labor wasn’t exactly thrilled having to put resources in this seat when they would prefer to be targeting other Liberal marginals at the last federal election. However it wasn’t all to do with Butler. Urban Brisbane was a massive fan of Malcolm Turnbull while outer suburbs of Brisbane and regional Queensland were more luke warm.

    The fact Turnbull has been rolled by the hard right should also favour Butler with disgruntled moderate voters in this seat. And the fact the LNP vote will likely go backwards in Queensland at the next election should see Butler returned on an increased margin via the Pendulum.


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