Herbert – Australia 2013

LNP 2.2%

Incumbent MP
Ewen Jones, since 2010.

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.

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 very marginal notional Labor seat, but a swing of 2.2% saw Jones retain the seat for the LNP.


  • Gail Hamilton (Greens)
  • Steve Moir (One Nation)
  • Nino Marolla (Rise Up Australia)
  • Bronwyn Walker (Katter’s Australian Party)
  • Ewen Jones (Liberal National)
  • Cathy O’Toole (Labor)
  • Michael Punshon (Family First)
  • Costa George (Sex Party)
  • Margaret Bell (Australian Voice)
  • Martin Brewster (Palmer United Party)

Herbert is a very marginal LNP seat, and will be a seat Labor is hoping to win if there is a swing to Labor. It seems most likely that the LNP will hold on.

2010 result

Ewen JonesLNP36,08645.67+2.14
Tony MooneyALP31,72940.15-3.12
Mike RubenachGRN6,9958.85+3.81
Michael PunshonFF4,2085.33+3.67

2010 two-candidate-preferred result

Ewen JonesLNP41,22152.17+2.20
Tony MooneyALP37,79747.83-2.20
Polling places in Herbert at the 2010 federal election. Islands in green, Mundingburra in orange, Rural in green, Thuringowa-Douglas in red, Townsville in blue. Click to enlarge.
Polling places in Herbert at the 2010 federal election. Islands in green, Mundingburra in orange, Rural in green, Thuringowa-Douglas in red, Townsville in blue. Click to enlarge.

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 divideed between those in the rural hinterland to the west of Townsville, and those on islands off the coast.

The LNP won a 55.5% majority in the rural part of the seat, and 54.4% in Thuringowa-Douglas. The ALP won a slim majority in Mundingburra and Townsville, and a larger majority on the islands.

Voter groupGRN %LNP 2PP %Total votes% of votes
Other votes8.9453.3914,82418.76
Two-party-preferred votes in Herbert at the 2010 federal election.
Two-party-preferred votes in Herbert at the 2010 federal election.
Two-party-preferred votes in the Mundingburra part of Herbert at the 2010 federal election.
Two-party-preferred votes in the Mundingburra part of Herbert at the 2010 federal election.


  1. This seat is vulnerable if you look at the Katter Party vote in State seats within Herbert. The State seat of Thuringowa had Katter second on first preferences. The LNP got a shade under 10,000 votes. Katter just over 8,000 and Labor 7,000. Townsville had 10,000 to the LNP, 7,500 to Labor and 5,000 plus to Katter. Mundingburra had 11,000 to the LNP, 6,500 to Labor and 5,800 to Katter.

    On those numbers Labor should stay ahead of Katter. This means Katter preference flow to Labor (especially if Palmer splits a little more off the LNP) will be crucial here. If Katter preferences Labor it would be interesting and the leakage of preferences that go against the ticket would be decisive to who wins. If Katter doesn’t preference Labor or splits the ticket the LNP would still hold.

    Mind you, I believe there is a chance that Katter beats Labor either on first preference or overtakes Labor when Palmer preferences are distributed. If this happens then I believe Katter will win the seat as all Labor preferences would go to the Katter party.

    Mark this one down as the Katter Party’s best chance in the lower house.

  2. I agree with you there Observer, but I think one thing that needs to be taken into account is the quality of the candidates. Ewen Jones should get a sophomore surge and in 2010, the ALP ran with the very popular former mayor, Tony Mooney. I would say expect to see the ALP vote collapse, which could definitely help KAP be competitive here.

    The other thing to consider is the impact of compulsory preferential voting. KAP probably would have won Thuringowa had ALP preferences not been exhausted due to OPV. With all of these considerations, KAP is definitely competitive, but I think the LNP may still hold.

  3. Observer, internal party samples are small and generally combined with a nearby seat or two, but I estimate at the moment, the Coalition will gain 13 in NSW, 6 in VIC, 2-4 in SA, 2 in TAS, 4 in QLD. Some are saying that in WA Labor will lose all 3 seats, however I don’t think they will lose any, but the Senate result there will be worse for Labor/Greens, which means a WA National should win the 4th seat.

    There has been a distinct move away from the Government in the last 2-3 weeks particuarly in VIC and SA. Assuming Gillard leads into the election, VIC may recover a little for the ALP. I think SA will be possibly worse. Even on the best case for the Coalition, I’d be surprised if they got to 100.

    The Senate is more interesting and on current polling, the Coalition would have control with the minor rights and not even need Xenophon. The Greens may be down to as little as 2 Senate spots. Obviously, the Senate is more guesswork than the HoR, but some of the States are showing clear and consistent trends now.

    If Rudd leads, I wouldn’t put it past Labor winning it. All bets are off if he assumes control. He’d be well within his rights to tell them to stuff it though.

  4. DB what do u think the key seats will be (not including seats gone like lindsay and banks) and what will be the surprise seats that may shift TO the labor party or might not even fall despite the margin

  5. At best Labor may pick up a seat or two in QLD (depending on KAP preferences) and WA. I really can’t see them picking up anything else because the swings are too large everywhere else.

    I think McMahon and Werriwa with both fall and I think Newcastle and Richmond will be the big surprises. VIC will be worse for Labor than may expect but I think Dreyfus will hold on and Burke will lose. If I were to be very bold, Eden-Monaro might not fall or may just (has been won by every government of the day since 1975?).

  6. I recon labor can pick up Brisbane and depending on the local campaign perhaps longman as Roy will be under pressure if he acts immaturely like Pyne.
    I’d say Hasluck is also in play.
    I think McMahon will fall, Weriwa on a knife edge along with newcastle but Richmond should hold by 2%.
    SA i think the collapse will be in the greens as opposed to labor and will put adelaide at risk.
    NT Snowden will hold and Solomon maybe in place as polling has been bad in palmerston which is liberal heartland in the seat.
    Vic I think will be interesting. La Trobe to stay but corangamite and deakin will fall. Agree Dreyfus will hold but the independent role of speaker will favour Burke. McEwen will be close aswell.
    Tasmania will be bad but Adams i think has a solid personal vote now and Collins may just edge over but it could go 50/50 and Denison will be closer too i think

  7. You reckon Labor can pick up Brisbane despite around a 60-40 2PP against them and an LNP incumbent? How bizarre. It seems reasonably hackish.

  8. DB what are the two seats in SA you expect Labor to definitely hold in September? Port Adelaide and Wakefield?

  9. Labor will not pick up any seats with the current trends. If anything they seem to have become the party of the walking dead.

  10. I know it seems crazy taht labor could gain longman but what you have to remember is that in most seats lost, the incumbent leads in internal polling until generally a gaffe (John Sullivan made one in longman) or a promise that doen’t sit well (Rail link in Epping was viewed too little too late). The mood of Roy is still critical of his age and therefore if any incumbent makes a gaffe he would suffer the biggest swing because of his age and it would be viewed as immature.
    Secondly the Brisbane call i made because no one can deny Newman could infleunce intentions and he is most negative in the inner brisbane are. A recent mega poll of state intentions predicted a wipe out in the electorates inside the Brisbane federal electorate. That and the lack of a higher profile greens candidate like andrew bartlett will see most progressive vote comeback to labor and therefore not a big leakage of green preferences that caused labor to lose the seat. I’d say that the 60-40 2PP is a result of coalition seats firming up for LNP (this happens in most elections seats like Dickson and Herbert)

  11. I reckon a lot of the SA seats are in play personally. Identifying specifics is rather futile. Wakefield stands out. Makin and Kingston wouldn’t surprise me, nor would Adelaide itself. Forget the margins there. Historically they have been extremely volatile. I’d be looking to the outer metro seats as per the other states. Let’s remember, most of these surrounding Adelaide seats were held by the Libs during the Howard years. Can’t see why it wouldn’t happen now with a Labor State Government that has been there for a long long time as well and a Federal Government on its knees.

    Polling is always volatile in SA. It has ranged between 51/49 to Labor to 64/36 to the Coalition over the past 4 months.

  12. Agree brisbane could fall to labor, unlikely tho. Disagree with longman. Roy has worked the electorate well, is high profile, has good staff and hasnt made a gaffe in 3 years. Even if he makes one the electoral is with him unlike sullivan

  13. i recon there are a handful of seats that can’t be determined until the campaign where the local factor will be its determination and i’m saying that longman will be a strong local campaign as will solomon and if Roy doesn’t perform well or makes a gaffe it could suprisingly be in play

  14. Back to Herbert, The Australian has named it as an ALP target seat. I think the Rudd factor will keep Labor ahead of KAP. So it comes down to KAP preferences.

  15. QO
    Agree. It was always going to be about KAP, either the primary, or the prefs. Unfortunately i fear you are correct about Rudd hurting the KAP vote.

  16. Surge for Rudd Labor in this electorate.

    This afternoon, Sports Bet odds in Herbert show that support for Labor strengthens from $3.20 to $2.60 whilst support for the LNP drifts from $1.25 to $1.45. This momentum is also reflected in the latest Centrebet odds in this seat with support for Labor firming from $3.20 to $2.55 whilst support for the LNP easing from $1.30 to $1.45.

  17. Gap between the major parties continues to close in this seat.

    This evening, Centrebet odds in Herbert shows support for Labor tightening from $2.55 to $2.30 whilst support for the LNP easing from $1.45 to $1.55.

  18. Gap is still closing between the major parties in this electorate according to Sports Bet.

    This afternoon, Sports Bet odds in Herbert show that support for Labor strengthening from $2.60 to $2.20 whilst support fir the LNP drifting from $1.45 to $1.60.

  19. Internal polling I’ve seen places this at 51/49 to Labor assuming a 50/50 split of KAP and PUP (22% of the vote). It will come down to how these parties preference I suggest. PUP will most likely preference the LNP on their how to votes. KAP I am not so sure on, but the word is, notwithstanding Rudd, Katter says he is more likely to support the Coalition overall but I don’t know his views in this seat.

    A very close call. Hard to call. Probably one the LNP can retain with a 60/40 preference split.

  20. Observer, it may have fallen to KAP on Labor preferences before the change to Rudd but realistically, I think that was probably unlikely and possibly it’s a bigger chance now. The primary polling for both major parties in this seat in extremely low which makes it too hard to call as preferences will determine the outcome in this seat. I think Labor would need KAP to place Labor in front of the LNP on how to vote cards to win this as non-preferenced HTV cards from KAP voters tend to slightly favour the LNP. I expect most PUP votes to go to the LNP and they are also polling quite high here too. I don’t think it’s possible to go down to KAP and ALP even if PUP preferences KAP before the Liberals. But it’s outside possibility I suppose. PUP will probably preference KAP then LNP, in that order.

    For QLD generally, I think it is very hard to gain confidence in any internal polls where the outcome should be close or the major parties are polling at less than 40% primary, because we simply don’t have the history to assess how the minor party preferences will split and the minor party votes in QLD will be larger than ever.

    If Labor are to do well in QLD, I think they need to secure a preference swap with KAP, but I don’t think that is going to happen somehow from what I am hearing.

  21. I think the key question is “who are KAP voters”?

    At the QLD state election, people who wanted to give state Labor a kick, but didn’t want to vote LNP, parked their vote with Katter. Did they do it because they were disgruntled ex-nationals, or because they would usually have voted Labor?

    This time there’s no OPV, so they’re going to be forced to choose. Will they follow the how to vote card?

  22. I think, if the internal polling DB refers to are accurate, this could be an interesting seat to watch.

    Why? Consider the poll numbers from 2010. Libs 46%, Labor 40%, Greens 9%, FF 5%. Now, it’s likely that PUP and KAP voters will come from the Liberals in vast majority of cases, so at 22%, that brings the Libs down to 24%. Of course, then there’s Family First, which doesn’t currently have a candidate. I can’t see strong shifting of FF voters to PUP or KAP, so I’ll assume their votes follow preferences from 2010 – 45.5% to Libs, 20.5% to Labor, and 34% to Greens…

    So after distributing and letting KAP/PUP get votes from Libs, we’d expect to see something like this:

    Labor: 41.24%
    Libs: 26.1%
    Greens: 10.66%
    KAP/PUP: 22%

    Now, it depends on which of KAP or PUP get ahead, but either way, Greens aren’t going to get ahead of the leading one after the other one’s preferences are distributed. But it definitely puts KAP/PUP in striking distance of second place. And Greens preferences in 2010 split about 2:1 to Labor and Libs, which would only push Labor up to about 48%. Libs preferences will almost certainly flow almost entirely to KAP/PUP over Labor, so KAP/PUP could pull ahead of Labor in this situation.

    In other words, we might see KAP or PUP manage to win from third place, based on those numbers. And my instinct is that KAP would outpoll PUP, which makes it more likely, because I think Greens voters are more likely to preference KAP over PUP or Libs, and those who vote Greens first because they don’t like the Major parties will put KAP over Labor, too. If PUP votes mostly flow to KAP (irrespective of how-to-vote cards, I think most PUP voters would be anti-major-party, so KAP probably comes out well ahead on that), it could push KAP into the seat.

    If they do get there, it’ll be a slim margin, though – within about 2%, I’d guess.

  23. I’m not sure about KAP’s vote coming mostly from the Libs. A whitewash like 2012 isn’t the best comparison, but in most of the local-ish seats KAP didn’t win (Thuringowa, Townsville, Burdekin, Mulgrave, Cairns and Barron River), there was a big swing away from Labor and to KAP, while the LNP didn’t move much (+2.3, -0.7, -2.5, -1.5, +2.8, +1.9). The odd one out was Hinchinbrook, where both Labor and the LNP lost 13% and 14% respectively. (That could be a disguised correction for the big swing there in 2009 – it had previously been a marginal seat until an abysmal campaign then.)

    So, re-correcting for the probable lack of enormous swing to the LNP this time, it’s obvious there’ll be some votes going from LNP to KAP, but there’ll be a fair amount coming from Labor, too. It could end up looking a lot like Hinchinbrook (which, like Burdekin and Thuringowa, ended up with a LNP vs KAP margin).

  24. Bird of Paradox – I agree that that’s also a possibility. It’s hard to entirely predict where votes will go in this seat. We have no real way to determine how KAP/PUP voters would have voted otherwise, as both are new parties. KAP voting in the state election can’t really be compared, because there was a massive swing against the ALP in the state election, which isn’t evident in this federal context.

    If Observer’s source is accurate, I’m assuming that a lot of the typically-Labor voters that were going to vote for KAP in this seat have shifted back to the ALP, hence the “before KRudd won, it was likely to fall to KAP”. Also keep in mind that I used 2010 numbers because it’s the most solid figures we have, but polls, including DB’s internal polling, suggest Labor being ahead on 2PP, which implies a strengthened ALP vote. Indeed, the numbers suggest that, with a 50/50 split ALP/Lib voters going to KAP/PUP, then each one loses 11%… and then Libs lose another 3% to Labor in order to accommodate the 2PP swing.

    So Labor loses 7% and Libs lose 11% (after adding FF preferences to them), rather than Labor gaining 1% and Libs losing 19%.

    But then, I find it hard to believe that PUP will get many voters from ALP (while I’d imagine KAP would get about half from each). Factoring that in (and its effect on 2PP), assuming KAP/PUP are 11% each, you’re looking at Libs being perhaps 15-16% down and Labor being a couple of percentage points down. So I stand by my suggestion that KAP, in particular, are still capable of winning the seat.

  25. Another thing to keep in mind is that smaller parties, especially newer ones, tend not to do as well as their polling suggests, especially this far out.

  26. However RichR, the KAP do have a precedence of being under-represented in polls, as the Queensland election demonstrated.

  27. “I’m not sure about KAP’s vote coming mostly from the Libs”.

    Agreed. It didn’t seem to happen in the State election.

    In essence, Labor and Libs are neck and neck on primary with Labor very slightly ahead. A very low Green vote and large KAP and PUP votes. They will determine the outcome. If KAP preferences ALP, I’d expect the ALP to probably win, but I’d expect PUP to preference the LNP with probably 80% going to the LNP from PUP. It’s interesting and I reckon there will be a number of seats in QLD like this, so it is a lottery.

    When KAP announced standing in the Federal election as a party, Katter did mention preferencing on a seat-by-seat basis and that more likely than not, the LNP would get the overwhelming majority of KAP preferences. He didn’t eloborate on that. Now Rudd is leader, it may have changed in the HoR seats, but my sources say KAP will preference the LNP ahead of Labor in the Senate and will receive the same from the LNP in the hope they can get a Senate seat up in QLD. Perhaps Rudd can do something to change this and it would depend on the expectation of carryover from expected quotas to be received.

  28. Gap between the major parties continues to tighten according to Centrebet.

    This morning, Centrebet odds in Herbert shows support for Labor firms from $2.30 to $2.20 whilst support for the LNP eases from $1.55 to $1.60.

  29. Queensland observer – KAP isn’t listed separately by Centrebet (they have ALP, LNP, Greens, Independent, and “Any Other Party”). “Any Other Party” is at $26.00. But then, the only seat in which KAP odds are listed explicitly, as far as I can see, is Kennedy, where Bob Katter’s odds are $1.04.

    I’d mention Sportsbet numbers, but they seem to be incomplete at the moment – seats like Herbert, Moreton, and Forde are all missing from the Sportsbet site right now. Sportsbet does, however, at least list PUP and KAP odds where those parties have any chance of decent polling numbers (such as Moncrieff, Wright and Hinkler). So once those seats are back up on the site, I’ll post them here, if Lurch doesn’t beat me to it.

  30. Glen – thanks for that.

    I will be away for a short break and will not have access to Internet until this Friday. Feel free to post amended Sports Bet and Centrebet odds in the key Queensland seats until I return later this week.

  31. More support for Rudd Labor according to the betting sites.

    This morning, Centrebet odds in Herbert shows that support for Labor tightens from $2.20 to $2.15 whilst support for the LNP eases from $1.60 to $1.65. Currently, Sports Bet odds in this seat shows support for Labor firms from $2.20 to $2.10 whilst support for the LNP drifts from $1.60 to $1.67.

  32. Encouragement for the LNP according to Centrebet.

    This evening, Centrebet odds in Herbert shows support for Labor eases from $2.15 to $2.25 whilst support for the LNP tightens from $1.65 to $1.60.

  33. More encouragement for the LNP according to the betting sites.

    This evening, Sports Bet odds in Herbert shows support for Labor drifts from $2.10 to $3.20 whilst support for the LNP firms from $1.67 to $1.30. Currently, Centrebet odds in this electorate shows support for Labor eases from $2.25 to $2.70 whilst support for the LNP tightens from $1.60 to $1.40.

  34. Momentum for the LNP according to Centrebet.

    Currently, Centrebet odds in Herbert shows support for Labor drifts from $2.70 to $3.20 whilst support for the LNP firms from $1.40 to $1.30.

  35. Observer – strong word? I heard that Labor’s internal polling (as at today) showed Labor ahead in only two QLD seats – Brisbane and Forde. Mind you, the LNP would argue Forde.

    The fact that Beattie had to go for the second most marginal LNP held seat (~1%) indicates that Labor’s polling shows them to be in trouble of not gaining seats in QLD and probably losing seats in other states. The Beattie candidature is arguably desperate and is remarkably different to Campbell Newman who stood for a seat requiring a swing of 7%.

    Your continuous posts are pretty much saying that in most or every marginal seat in the country that the ALP are ahead or will win. The average of all mainstream polls suggest the Coalition are around 52/48 ahead. It is therefore virtually impossible that Labor can win the election on 48% of the 2PP vote. At best, it would be a hung parliament again, but my info is that the Coalition are doing much better than Labor in the marginal seats and that VIC and SA especially should surprise. There is a way to go here and a lot can happen, but momentum is most definitely with the Coalition at this point. If election day is 52/48 to the Coalition they will win at least 80 seats.

    Regarding Herbert, I don’t think you can say anyone is ahead, because there is a such a high other vote and trying to exactly determine how that will preference out is virtually impossible. My info for a long time in this seat is that the primary vote of the Coalition will fall, but Labor’s primary vote will fall more. It is thereefore theoretically possible for the ALP to win this seat if there is a preference deal with the KAP. But if not, I don’t think they will win even with a split ticket.

  36. This seat can’t be declared based on polling until we know what the Katter and ALP preference situation is.

  37. Observer – I am certainly NOT saying that ‘my’ polling is ‘right’. Small samples. Large margins of error. Regular fluctuations. My only point is that your information seems to fly in the face of Labor’s own polling from recent reports in the Australian and the Courier Mail.

    I will say there is a clear trend to the Coalition in the marginal seats of about 2-3% over the last two weeks on average and I’d expect they’d win 85 seats at the moment, but it is a long campaign. I expect the Coalition might do rather better in VIC than many predict and I can see a net gain of 5 in NSW.

    Some are saying Rudd can win with 49% of the 2PP. I can’t see it on the results I’m seeing.

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