Herbert – Australia 2019

ALP 0.02%

Incumbent MP
Cathy O’Toole, since 2016.

Herbert covers the vast majority of the urban area in Townsville. It also covers rural areas to the west of Townsville which are contained in Townsville LGAs.

No change.

Herbert is an original federation seat. The seat originally covered most of North Queensland, from Mackay to the Torres Strait, but now is almost entirely based in Townsville. The seat has long been a marginal seat, and only three former MPs have managed to retire on their own terms.

The seat was first held by Fred Bamford, who held the seat for a quarter of a century. He was first elected as a Labor member and was expelled from the ALP over conscription in 1916. He served briefly as a minister under Billy Hughes and represented the Nationalists under his retirement in 1925.

At the 1925 election, Premier of Queensland Ted Theodore resigned from office in order to run for Herbert, but was surprisingly defeated by Lewis Nott of the Nationalists, who held the seat for one term. Nott later emerged as the first member for the Australian Capital Territory as an independent from 1949 to 1951.

George Martens won the seat for the ALP in 1928 and held it until his retirement in 1946. The seat was then held by Labor’s William Edmonds until 1958.

Edmonds was defeated that year by John Murray of the Liberal Party, who was defeated himself by the ALP’s  Ted Harding in 1961. Harding was defeated in 1966 by Robert Bonnett. The seat was then held solidly by the Liberal Party for a long period. Bonnett retired in 1977 and Arthur Dean held on to the seat for the Liberals from 1977 to 1983.

In 1983, Dean was defeated by the ALP’s Ted Lindsay, as part of Bob Hawke’s election win over Malcolm Fraser. Lindsay held the seat for the entirety of the Hawke/Keating government before being defeated in 1996 by Liberal candidate Peter Lindsay (no relation). Lindsay was re-elected four times, and retired in 2010.

The Liberal National Party’s Ewen Jones won the seat in 2010. The redistribution had made Herbert a notional Labor seat, but a swing of 2.2% saw Jones retain the seat for the LNP. He was re-elected in 2013.

Jones lost in 2016 to Labor candidate Cathy O’Toole in an extremely close race. Recounting eventually gave O’Toole the seat with a 37-vote margin.


  • Cathy O’Toole (Labor)
  • Phillip Thompson (Liberal National)
  • Assessment
    Herbert is the most marginal seat in the country and will be a key contest.

    2016 result

    Ewen Jones Liberal National 31,36135.5-7.8
    Cathy O’Toole Labor 26,90030.5+1.1
    Geoff VirgoOne Nation11,95013.5+12.7
    Colin DwyerKatter’s Australian Party6,0706.9-1.2
    Wendy Tubman Greens 5,5336.3+1.0
    Michael PunshonFamily First3,1753.6+2.3
    Aaron RaffinGlenn Lazarus Team1,9372.2+2.2
    David HarrisLiberal Democrats1,0961.2+1.2
    Martin BrewsterPalmer United Party3150.4-8.5

    2016 two-party-preferred result

    Cathy O’Toole Labor 44,18750.0+6.2
    Ewen Jones Liberal National 44,15050.0-6.2

    Booth breakdown

    Booths have been divided into five areas. Most of the seat’s population lies in the Townsville urban area, and these booths are divided into three areas: Townsville, Mundingburra and Thuringowa-Douglas. The remaining booths are divided between those in the rural hinterland to the west of Townsville, and those on islands off the coast.

    Despite the result being a virtual tie, the ALP managed to win a majority of election-day ordinary votes in four out five areas, ranging from 50.3% in Townsville to 60.1% on the islands. The LNP won 50.2% in rural mainland parts of Herbert. The LNP performed most strongly in the pre-poll and other votes, achieving almost 54% of the pre-poll vote and almost 55% of other votes.

    Labor won 2902 more election-day votes than the LNP, while the LNP outpolled Labor by 2865 votes in the special vote.

    Voter groupON prim %ALP 2PP %Total votes% of votes
    Other votes13.945.212,31813.9

    Election results in Herbert at the 2016 federal election
    Toggle between two-party-preferred votes and One Nation primary votes.

    Become a Patron!


    1. This one is fascinating. Large third party vote of 35% roughly. Will it be as high this time? If lower then which party will it return to? How will the preferences flow?Will LNP preselect Jones to recontest?

    2. There would seem to be a number of factors in play here.
      1/ Labor’s equivocation over the Carmichael Basin.
      2/ Whether Ewan Jones contests for the Libs. He seems to have an outstanding campaign record
      3/ Whether Cathy O’Toole’s stance on on shore processing counts against her
      4/ How influential One Nation preferences prove to be

    3. I don’t like it but I’ve been saying for months Turnbull will win the next election (unless Labor changes leader) but it should be close. However I do believe if Labor does win the next election they can still lose this seat. It won’t be a bellwether.

    4. After miraculously winning this seat on a tiny margin, Labor went on to miraculously win all 3 of its component seats in the state election, 2 on tiny margins. They must have incredible ground game in the area, and I predict a Labor hold.

    5. John
      Not a chance. O’Toole will be smashed here. PHON preferences, & North QLD parochialism, & issues. This won’t even be close

    6. Labor primary in the corresponding state seats was very low. If One Nation preference to LNP then this will be hard for Labor to hold.

    7. It was thought that Casie Scott (who reduced the margin in state seat of Townsville) would run here.

    8. I’ll predict a narrow LNP win, ON preferences should flow comfortably to them.

      I think the LNP should focus on close seats in Queensland like Herbert & Longman if they want to win the next election, especially to try and offset the inevitable loss of some seats in WA.

    9. I’d certainly like to see a situation where KAP pushes PHO to 2nd and LNP preferences get them over the line. If the next election is a hung parliament we really need some centrists like One Nation deciding who governs not the communist greens

    10. I wonder why Clive chose a marginal seat, where both major parties will be fighting hard to win? It seems impossible for him to make the top two, even without all the other stuff, in a seat like this.

      His only remote chance of winning would be to contest a safe seat, where the other party might run dead.

    11. Last time Clive won in Fairfax which was 57-43 to the LNP going in. It appears Labor did run close to dead and preferenced PUP to put Clive over the line (extremely narrowly!).

      I doubt Clive would be getting ALP preferences this time, but PHON and LNP preferences over the ALP seem likely. Honestly, if this country is at all sane every candidate in Palmer’s new party has no chance at election at all. He’s pretty clearly a massive narcissistic arsehole, allegedly a crook, and the “herd of cats” characteristic of the MPs he elected in 2013 arguably rivals One Nation, you would really be throwing a dart in the dark by voting for them. And he’s running on “Make Australia Great”? Jog on mate.

    12. I tend to think the Longman by-election result may have people re-writing their predictions on this seat. And one thing that people are not taking in consideration is incumbency and what’s called the ‘sophomore surge’ and Cathy O’Toole primary vote is likely going to be much higher then 30% at the next election. And if the swing is going Labor’s way and with incumbency as a factor I tend to think Labor would be more favored to retain the seat.

      Susan Lamb federal MP for Longman and state MP for Maryborough Bruce Saunders have shown that if the Labor primary increases to certain level then One Nation LNP preference deals won’t necessary be a deciding factor.

    13. With Longman & Palmer now in mind I really have no clue how this seat could go, I doubt Palmer will be the winner but whoever his preferences flow to i’d expect to win.

    14. P Nightwatchman
      I won’t be re -writing anything here O’ Toole is no chance because N QLD is a different country

    15. @winediamond I agree, even if Labor wins the election, I think they lose Hebert based on a very strong, active LNP candidate and O’Toole being quite an ordinary member (and I’m a Labor person saying this) If Labor does hold any optimism here though I wouldn’t be using Longman, I’d be looking at the fact they held their Townsville seats at the last state election despite predictions at least 2 would fall. It shows there’s a Labor movement there as long as they capture it.

    16. The failure to preselect Ewen Jones seems like an own goal to me. Labor starts the favourite here.

    17. saw a post here saying onp centrist and greens communist…. neither correct…… unless yr political position is very far right..if there is a change of govt labour will not lose this seat

    18. After Longman, the ALP are likely to focus on trying to replicate the swing in other parts of Queensland. There are 7 LNP held seats that fall if that happens, so I expect Queensland issues to be central to Labor’s campaign.

      In those circumstances, I don’t see the ALP losing any seats in Queensland.

    19. David Walsh – might seem like an own goal from the outside. Lising the seat though was seen as a very poor result though compared to holding Capricornia and Dawson. For example Jones failed to man one if the booths. So all day no HTV was handed out. LNP members tend to look poorly on that and blame the candidate for not being on top if it.

    20. Queensland Observer Liberals have grossly overmanned booths in the last few elections in fact in 2016 I thought the tactic was to mob voters and prevent anyone get near them. This was reported to ECQ and the briefing that I got from ECQ included a veiled warning that they were looking and considering their options. In other words misbehave and you can go to principals office.
      Two major party voters are the most dependent on HTV. Invariably they have no knowledge beyond TV news. They are unlikely to even read provincial daily TDB let alone read national papers. Therefore not mannning a booth is a disadvantage.

    21. Labor won’t hold this. I’m a Labor man and even if an election were held now I’d stand by this (although I think the gap will close by election time.) As someone who has lived in North Qld, the voters there do not care about national trends, think Warren Entsch up in Cairns. The LNP have selected a very very good candidate (even I have to admit that) he will campaign like a it’s a Herbert local election and he will win. He’s using all the right language and speaking about the right topics. The Herbet electorate is not a do something about climate change electorate, it’s a pro coal, bring down our power bills electorate with a lot of people struggling to find work. It’s also very army centric and one of those we are sick of PC type places. Would be an area Donald Trump would do well in. You heard it here first: I still have Labor winning the election but Herbert the only against the trend win for the Libs.

    22. Refer to my previous post, Townsville Bulletin has a poll out today on Herbert, LNP leads Labor 55-45 on 2PP.

    23. No they will not win it, Im not sure what pills your taking. The Coalition is expected to face a wipeout in QLD (6-8 seats lost) Even sportsbet has Labor holding here, They will not have a swing against them, Labor will do better in all of their seats if there is a swing towards them, This should be a Labor hold 51-49. Phillip Thompsom isn’t a ”Very Very good candidate” They will lose Ewen Jones personal vote, Cathy is the Incumbent she will get the Sophomore affect. She as i hear is a hard working local member, This seat is unlikely to go LNP until 2022

    24. Don’t now about you but while watching cable news recently, last 2 weeks I have been the recipant of multiple 1 second video clips originating from the news sites. The clips illegal by the way are being used to swing the vote away from labor. I wounded who has the money and resources to do this as they are following the business plan partly responsible for Trump’s election. Ie micro targeting of electors to rig the election in their favour.


    Please enter your comment!
    Please enter your name here