Seat in Focus: Indooroopilly

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Indooroopilly is considered one of the Liberal Party’s traditional Brisbane seats, and is the only seat to cross the Brisbane River, lying in Brisbane’s western suburbs. The 2001 Beattie landslide saw the seat fall to the 25-year-old Ronan Lee. He managed to hold on to the seat in 2004 and 2006, with the seat lying on a 2.4% margin after the 2006 election, which rose to 2.7% after the redistribution.

In October 2008, Lee defected from the ALP to become the first Greens MP in Queensland. The move was controversial, with Lee being seen as holding socially conservative out of line with Greens grassroots members and supporters, if not some leadership figures in the Queensland Greens. In particular, Lee has conservative views on abortion and embryonic stem cell research. This follows the defection in 2003 of Kris Hanna from the ALP to the Greens. Hanna is a member of the South Australian House of Assembly, and was re-elected in 2006 as an independent after his Greens membership ended in tears.

Indooroopilly is an interesting mix of inner-city progressivism and wealthy Liberal supporters, and should become the first truly three-cornered urban seat in Australia in a long time. The 2006 election saw the Greens poll 17%, with both the Liberal Party and the Labor Party polling around 40%.

At the 2009 election, the seat will be contested by Scott Emerson of the LNP and Sarah Warner of the ALP, with Lee running for a fourth term as a Green. It’s expected that the Liberal National Party will gain a primary vote swing, which could put them up around 45%. Under Queensland’s optional preferential voting system, it will be difficult for either Lee or Labor candidate Sarah Warner to muster up a majority of the two-candidate-preferred vote. If the LNP gets 45%, and Lee manages to muster 30%, with Warner on 25%, Lee would need at least 60% of Warner’s preferences. While Lee’s ALP heritage should ensure he gains strong preferences from the ALP, it appears unlikely that a preference deal will be struck between the ALP and the Greens, with the Greens refusing to work with the ALP over Traveston Dam and the ALP still stung by Lee’s defection.

On the other hand, the Liberal National Party merger may play into Lee’s hands. If the backlash against Springborg outweighs any anti-Bligh swing, and Emerson manages only 40%, with Lee on 33% and Warner on 27%, Lee could win the seat on 25-30% of ALP preferences, which is eminently achievable.

The seat divides between strong Liberal suburbs on the shore of the Brisbane River, around Chelmer, Graceville and Fig Tree Pocket, while the suburbs on the fringe of the electorate are stronger ALP booths, as well as being stronger Greens booths. I’ve posted a booth map below showing the approximate two-party-preferred figures in each booth.

[geo_mashup_map add_overview_control=”false” zoom=13 add_map_type_control=”true”]

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