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.

Become a Patron!


  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.

  13. Travelling through Griffith yesterday I (Gateway to Camp Hill) saw no evidence of campaigning by any candidate) Trade Union Billboard on Gateway North of River at
    Deagon probably Lilley but probably aimed at commuters from Dickson, Longman and Petrie. Definitely an outer suburbs election. Shorten’s speech yesterday definitely aimed at this region and protesters aiming to disrupt ALP strategy.

    Andrew Jackson

  14. @Charlie

    Charlie are you trolling? Where’s your facts and rationale the LNP will win in a landslide when pundits are saying the opposite? Actually LNP on sportsbet have blown out to $10.00 in Griffith thats higher then their odds in Blair which Labor has a bigger margin. I’m thinking the margin will blow out big time and the LNP will be given a severe spanking in this seat.

  15. Charlie seems to be saying things that don’t make sense in the current climate……… suspect he is just joking or has been allocated by the libs to post here ……. and still joking

  16. Yeah Likely a Liberal party worker, Nobody cares about High tax shorten, We care about Medicare/Education/Climate change and what not, This seat will easily go back to Labour for another term

  17. You people are missing my point… We (Coalition) would have won a landslide victory again in 2016 is Tony had still been our PM, Australia is one of the most Conservative nations in the west and people will continue to vote for it again and again. Ignore the polls because only the coalition delivers strong government for Lower taxes, Faster internet for businesses, Cheaper electricity, Tougher security, And most importantly we stopped the boats! You are all the same people saying Hillary would win 2016! Did not happen.

  18. Charlie in six months time we will know if all of the polls are wrong and you are right. My reccomendation is do not bet your super on result
    My prediction is LNP losing

    The only seat where ALP may lose is Herbert

    My methodology Liberal vote 2016 – 4.5%
    Dawson could substantially change if Christiansen defects from LNP. But this would still be a LNP loss.
    Griffith will remain ALP.

  19. Charlie
    Only election that has been decided on basis of NBN was 2016 Longman result and Liberals Failure to deliver what they promised resulted in Wyatt Roy losing his seat. Note I am not saying ALP will do any better. Liberals delivery of NBN has been as effective as ALP was at job creation or Greens at delivery of morality or Neo-fascist rights desire for racial and religious tolerance.

  20. Sportsbet have this one wrong . i am putting a greenie on this one If Butler goes down so will my magnum of 96 Louis Roederer Cristal. One will pay for the other !!. @ $3. 75 For Herbert Cathy O’ Toole, & a few Pineapples should cover all the Bollinger Grand Annee, & Dom Perignon.

    i thought this election night would be a dismal Affair, with just the odd bottle of sparkling, & the sombre but still excellent reds !! Thankyou sportsbet, & the CFMMEU !!.
    Cheers WD

  21. Sportsbet appear to agree with you winediamond. They’ve now got the Greens at 8.50 for Griffith (from about 24 previously). Huge “grassroots” Greens campaign in Griffith – focused less on the ethereal stuff and more on community, denticare, transport etc.

  22. Chlorophyll
    Interesting. The greens did really well, or Butler did atrociously. (no prizes for my opinion!). However it will be absorbing to see here the Greens can take their vote.
    Unfortunately it’s the “etherial” stuff that holds them back. I never heard it put so delicately !. You ought to be in politics (lad? lady?). The greens particularly, need your gifts, & talents !!

  23. It is fascinating that in an election where the LNP need to gain seats that they haven’t put resources here.

    The candidate kept working full time until the election was called. They are also lacking in funding to cover campaign costs.

    It is strange and a missed opportunity as the candidate seems great and the demographics suggests they should target this long term

  24. This seat swung to the libs in 2016 probably due to the Turnbull factor, as seen in nearby Brisbane. I think the swing to labor will be accentuated here due to Turnbull’s sacking and is probs why neither side has talked about it

  25. Boaty 1025
    Sorry i have trouble with the Malcolm theory. QLDer’s don’t really warm to many from down South. I’d be more inclined to putt down to demographic drift.
    This one is closer since UAP started getting traction.

  26. Guess we’ll see on the night who’s right. The 17% Greens vote to me shows this is quite a progressive seat, and Malcolm did well in these kind of inner city seats in 2016.

    I don’t think UAP will poll well here at all. Somewhat easy Labor retain

  27. The voting pattern in Griffith is remarkably similar to Macnamara (and noted above over a year ago). It will be a seat that the Libs come close in but can never quite get to because of pockets of high Green votes. Interesting to note that the closest booths in Moreton – immediately to the south – also have very high Green votes so may become an interesting factor of any future redistribution.

  28. Greens seem pretty confident here – they sent out an email claiming internal polling had them ahead. I’ve never seen that claim before in a fundraising email from the Greens .

    One thing I didn’t notice before Butler’s dismal results last election. The only other Labor incumbent to get a 2PP swing against them was Danby, and her primary vote fell by even more than Feeney and Danby. Reports of her not showing up to community forums.

    Despite being on the left of the ALP, she may not be a very popular local member.

    The ghost of Bob Hawke will save Labor, but I’m going to keep an eye on this seat.

  29. The Greens must be smoking some nice green stuff if their internal polling has them ahead in this seat! I can see them with a chance in Brisbane but it they increase their primary vote to around 20% here they will be doing well in my view.

    Gerrymander and include the West End & Highgate Hill part of this seat in Brisbane and they would be certain there. The strengths in the west part of the seat will always be undermined by the east part.

  30. Labor are concerned about the Greens in Griffith. They flew in Tanya Plibersek to help out at pre-polling today. It might be close.

  31. The last council and state election the Greens here made the same claim, and it wasn’t on the back of polling but on analysing campaign data (doorknocking and phoning voters).

    Turns out they were right in the council election, and wrong in the state election (although the swing was impressively high).

    Personally I would have implored these very enthusiastic Greens south of the river to take a short busride to win the easier target (the division of Brisbane). It’s still possible they could make a QLD gain this election, but I think they certainly would have if they’d concentrated on 1 seat.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here