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.


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.

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  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.

  25. if the liberal party stays with the paris agreement and agrees to the exorbitant funds the un wants it will loose the election and many liberal voters including me and many of my friends as this is a sellout to the many business holders an ordinary people due to the high (ridiculous pricing of renewables) when the large countries like china,india and japan are building more clean coal station to allow cheap energy prices to their customer resulting in growth and wealth to their people. liberals beware of this very important decision.

  26. @Daniel I’m not on any pills, just a fan of politics like yourself. I know this electorate well. As I said, I vote Labor, always have but this electorate does not always go with national trends, often runs on its own issues, similar to Leichhardt. If the LNP had of brought Ewen back Labor would definitely hold it, he’s seen as one of the “rats” who helped stab Abbott, him and Wyatt Roy. Abbott was liked in this electorate, Turnbull not liked at all. I will also refer you to the recent Hebert poll that had LNP leading Labor 55-45 in Herbert, that’s outside the margin of error. There is a big campaign to oust O’Toole, the papers, and local media there are very against her. Now in saying all that, can Labor hold this? Sure, it’s not impossible but they will have to have a very good night. There will also be a lot of vote for minor right wing parties here too.

  27. I’ve read in the Courier Mail Labor sources have said they are fearful of losing Herbert because the LNP candidate is impressive who will likely gain support from the military barracks. So much so that Labor are drawing up plans to shore up support with preference deals with Katter Australia Party and United Australia Party. KAP and One Nation are expected to do well in this seat.

    However on Sportsbet its a different story with Labor odds further shoring up.

    Labor: $1.22

    Liberal: $4.25

    I’ve seen odds like this in favor of the LNP in safe LNP seats in Wright and Hinkler. So it’s hard to believe everything you read considering the media got the Longman polls so wrong. I’m still tipping Labor retains.

  28. Sorry but you don’t live up there, they are not racist, Then explain this, If they like leaders like Abbott and Dutton then why was Labor up 56-44 back in Late 2014 (When Abbott was deeply unpopular) there was a poll done by Bludger i think it was and Labor was ahead 56-44, So you cannot possibly say Turnbull is disliked here, Far right is disliked here, Have you been to townsville? They do not like Conservative’s Im sorry, Your mistaken. Maybe Kennedy. But not here

  29. With Palmer standing himself in Herbert he may have a chance IF he can convince the workers that the Nickel Refinery closure was not his fault.

    MY feeling is that he will be a major disruptive force in Herbert and a fizzer elsewhere.

    HIs votes will come mainly from disaffected Liberals and a consequence will be a diminution of LNP vote.

    Townsville has always had an independent streak. Remember NQLP Townsville South member Tommy Aitkens. Katter’s Party Office is in Townsville and party is strong there. It is generally assumed that Ashby-Hanson will do well in the city.

    With an overall swing to ALP of 4.5%, increased number of candidates, early endorsement by Katter and I would expect an AUstralian Conservatives candidate, Anning’s group will probably find a candidate.
    Herbert will be a key seat.

    EWen JOnes disendorsement and a LIberal Prty cndiodate with an understandable history must lose Libs some votes and with 37 votes to play with every vote counts. This will be a seat where the number of chickens that could not be found before the trip into town will determine the outcome. MY prediction ALP ( with outside chances for KAP or Palmer)

    Daniel What are Sports bet odds on ALP Palmer, Katter and ALP. I will bet all worse for punter than an alp win. I m not too good with sports lingo ALP more likely to lose than any of these. IN this case punters may decide the outcome. A good argument for banning betting on elections.

    ANdrew JAckson


  30. “With Palmer standing himself in Herbert he may have a chance IF he can convince the workers that the Nickel Refinery closure was not his fault.”

    Palmer has no chance. None. Palmer has burnt too many voters from his implosion of his party the first time let alone the unrest he has caused with the collapse of the Nickel refinery in the region. Andrew I know you have a passion for these micro/minor parties but you really shouldn’t cloud your judgement by exaggerating how much a factor they will be at the next election. Prefernces Katter or Palmer where they will be a factor in Herbert but winning the seat their no chance.

  31. wow a mention of Tom Atkins …… what a character! he went from a left wing break away from Labor to Tory Tom.. he voted for Pat Field …… so proved himself to be anti democratic……. He was eventually defeated. by the alp candidate…….. in 1977 or 1980………..An excellent book ……. Ian Moles(?) a majority of one

  32. I have quote from Hansard which would get me barred from Tally Room and probably prosecuted. Tom could give as good as well as take.

  33. there is a story about campaigning in South townsville in 1960s ….. a labor political from Brisbane was speaking at a rally in favour of the Labor Candidate…….. now being a good Christian I am going to pick up old Tom out of the gutter…… any one care to help me?

    A chap duly put up his hand……… thank you sir you are truly kind…… Can you tell me your name sir?

    the man replied Tom Atkins

  34. I wonder how many of Greens or others get around their electorates on an old Butchers bike so they can stay close to their constituents. My point was that Townsville has a history of high minor party voting.

  35. Newspoll today Divisional poll shows a result that has ALP winning by a whisker. It shows ALP and Libs on 32% , Katter and Ashby-Hanson on 9% each , Palmer on 8 and Greens on 7.
    As no one knows how minors will distribute preferences or how well they will man their booths the prediction of an ALP win is a bit of a stab in dark. However what is clear is that Palmers Preferences will have more impact on who comes third than who comes first.
    This means he has paid about $999 dollars per vote not counting the cost of opening Nickel Refinery which probably will come later.
    When I stood for DLP in 1972 I spent about $0.10 per vote. There was then a limit of about $1 or $ 10 K this appears to be because of limits being removed from Electoral Act. In 1972 Parties did not exist legally and there was no limit on spending. It is time to re impose a limit on candidate expenditure and impose a similar limit on party expenditure. Maybe $10 K per candidate and $100 K per party. Let us now hear howls from Main Street Media and Bill board owners.

  36. Newspoll today has Labor ahead by a fraction in Herbert 51-49 Labor 32%, LNP 32%, KAP 9%, ON 9%, UAP 8%, and Greens 7%. Its one big scrambled egg. The article predominately focuses on Clive Palmer failing to get any major traction in the seat. However the article does note that Palmer is now calving into One Nations support which explains why Pauline Hanson has become more hostile about Palmer recently in the media. Can Palmer’s party do what he did into 2010 and make a late surge and take the last senate seat right under from One Nation as he did to KAP?

    The other thing is I still haven’t forgiven individual seat polling after they so badly botched the Longman by-election result. Newspoll ran an 11th hour poll suggesting Labor would win to save some face, but LNP insiders said they were never ahead in their internal polling from the get go. Which is why I won’t be taking this poll as gospel.

  37. Political Nightwatchman
    I agree that individual seats are not very reliable. However they are more reliable than gut feeling.

    This is why we need people on the ground reporting on what is happening. Someone made the statement that Clive is too scared to show up in Herbert. What is evidence for this?
    Clive Palmer for all his success in business has not been very successful in preference negotiations. His attitude is don’t bother me just join my party. Clive did manage to do a deal with Green’s in 2012 Qld State election but this was at the expense of upsetting nearly all other minor parties.
    Andrew Jackson

  38. @Andrew Jackson

    “His attitude is don’t bother me just join my party. Clive did manage to do a deal with Green’s in 2012 Qld State election but this was at the expense of upsetting nearly all other minor parties.”

    Clive Palmer was still in the LNP in 2012. I presume you meant the 2015 QLD state election.

  39. Political Nightwatchman you are correct with respect to date. 2012 was when Newman got elected it must have been 2015 election I am thinking of.

  40. Charlie, How so? Read the polls, The Coalition has no chance at winning this election. They have lost 45 newspolls

  41. The Phelps Bill /Medivac Bill, Might just flip this seat BARELY. Immigration is definitely a hot issue in Nth QLD, If LNP gain it will be as a result of Labour’s Failed Border protection policies, And it will be gained barely despite the Poor LNP candidate, TBH Ewen jones would have won it back as well.

  42. labor already holds this seat why would they lose this seat against the flow… especially when the vote in QLD will be roughly 50/50 a big swing…..also labor is competitive in the 2 adjoining seats which they don’t currently hold

  43. Mick
    ALP will not lose to LNP. However the big question mark are Palmer? Katter? And Hanson? The really big question is will these three just chew into each other or chew into majors. If they chew into majors they may knock of ALP especially if Libs do very badly. I have no knowledge of preference deals occurring or that will occur. My prediction is as follows
    ALP plus Greens 33%
    LNP 33%
    Others 33%

    My gut feeling is that Katter will do better than Ashby-Hanson and that Palmer will be lower than both of them. This will mean Palmers preferences will be decisive. Palmer himself will have little say in where his voters place their preferences this probably means a 3 way split on basis of 33% to ALP 33% to LNP and 33% split between Hanson and Katter this will then leave remaining candidates on abou
    ALP 33 + 3= 36
    Libs 33 + 3 = 36
    PHON 12 + 2 = 14
    Katter 12 + 2 = 14
    Therefore to retain the seat ALP need drop in lLNP vote not to be too great

    As a Katter voter I will preference Clive ahead of both majors but will place Hanson below both majors no matter what HTV statesI will not assist Hanson to be elected and would rather see Libs or ALP with clear majority than have Hanson have any influence. Events in Canberra this week reinforce the unsuitability of Ashby-Hanson to have any say in government.
    Andrew jackson

  44. I know, I know i said i wouldn’t (say anymore) but i can’t help myself !!. This woman must be a complete moron. How stupid can someone be ??. The CFMMEU demanded a pledge to support Adani, & she REFUSED !!. wHAT A COMPLETE IMBECILE !! Not only does she appear to have no common sense, but she MUST be IQ challenged to boot!!.
    Still perhaps she may be sufficiently influential to depress Labor’s vote enough for KAP to get up ?


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