Capricornia – Australia 2022

LNP 12.4%

Incumbent MP
Michelle Landry, since 2013.

Geography
Central Queensland. Capricornia covers the Queensland coast from Rockhampton to just south of Mackay.

History
Capricornia is an original federation electorate. After changing between a number of parties in early decades, the seat was held by the ALP for most of the last half-century, with the exception of two wins by the Country/National Party at particular low-points for the ALP, before the LNP won in 2013.

The seat was first won in 1901 by independent candidate Alexander Paterson. Paterson didn’t run for re-election in 1903, and was succeeded by the ALP’s David Thompson.

Thomson lost in 1906 to the Anti-Socialist Party’s Edward Archer. Archer too was defeated after one term, losing in 1910 to the ALP’s William Higgs.

Higgs was a former Senator for Queensland, who held Capricornia for the next decade. He served as Treasurer in Billy Hughes’ government from 1915 to 1916, resigning over Hughes’ support for conscription. Ironically he later left the ALP in 1920 and ended up in Hughes’ Nationalist Party. He failed to win re-election as a Nationalist in 1922, losing to the ALP’s Frank Forde.

Forde was the state MP for Rockhampton, and rose quickly in the federal Labor ranks. He served as a junior minister in the Scullin government, being promoted to cabinet in the final days of the government in 1931. Forde became Deputy Leader of the ALP in 1932.

Forde contested the leadership of the party in 1935, losing by one vote to John Curtin, having lost support due to his support for Scullin’s economic policies. He served as Minister for the Army during the Second World War on the election of the Curtin government.

Forde became Prime Minister in July 1945 upon the death of John Curtin, and served eight days before losing a leadership ballot to Ben Chifley. He served as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence in the aftermath of the Second World War, until he lost Capricornia at the 1946 election, despite the ALP winning a comfortable victory.

Capricornia was won in 1946 by the Liberal Party’s Charles Davidson. Davidson moved to the new seat of Dawson in 1949, and went on to serve as a minister in the Menzies government before retiring in 1963.

Davidson was succeeded in Capricornia in 1949 by Henry Pearce, also from the Liberal Party. Pearce held Capricornia for twelve years, losing in 1961 to the ALP’s George Gray.

Gray held the seat until his death in 1967, and the ensuing by-election was won by Doug Everingham. He served as Minister for Health in the Whitlam government, but lost Capricornia in 1975 to Colin Carige of the National Country Party, winning it back in 1977. Everingham then managed to hold the seat until his retirement in 1984.

He was succeeded in 1984 by Keith Wright, who had been the Labor leader in the Queensland parliament since 1982 and member for Rockhampton since 1969. Wright held Capricornia until 1993, when he was charged with rape, leading to him losing his ALP endorsement. He contested Capricornia as an independent, but lost to ALP candidate Marjorie Henzell.

Henzell held the seat for one term, losing to National candidate Paul Marek in 1996. Marek also held the seat for one term, losing to the ALP’s Kirsten Livermore in 1998. Livermore was re-elected in Capricornia in 2001, 2004, 2007 and 2010.

Livermore retired in 2013, and the LNP’s Michelle Landry won the seat with a 4.5% swing.

Landry was re-elected in 2016 by a slim 0.6% margin. This seat was the most marginal Coalition seat in the country, thus giving the government its slim majority. Landry won a third term in 2019 with a massive swing, giving her a margin of over 12%.

Candidates

Assessment
The current LNP margin is by far the strongest position they’ve ever held in Capricornia. The question is whether that is a brief blip and the seat will return to being very marginal, or if it’s a sign of a shift in how people in this area vote. The next election will be critical to answering that question.

2019 result

CandidatePartyVotes%Swing
Michelle Landry Liberal National 36,16340.6+0.6
Russell Robertson Labor 21,12023.7-14.3
Wade RotheryOne Nation15,10517.0+17.0
Paul Bambrick Greens 4,3074.8+0.1
George BirkbeckKatter’s Australian Party3,2693.7-3.4
Lindsay SturgeonUnited Australia Party3,2503.7+3.7
Ken MurrayIndependent2,2112.5-2.4
Grant PrattConservative National Party1,9052.1+2.1
Richard TempleDemocratic Labour Party1,6371.8+1.8
Informal6,0086.3+2.8

2019 two-party-preferred result

CandidatePartyVotes%Swing
Michelle Landry Liberal National 55,47562.4+11.7
Russell Robertson Labor 33,49237.6-11.7

Booth breakdown

Booths have been divided into four areas. Booths in the Isaac Regional Council area have been grouped together. This area has the smallest population but covers the largest areas. A majority of voters live in the Rockhampton council area. Booths in this area have been split between those in the Rockhampton urban areas itself and those outside of it. Booths in the Mackay and Whitsunday areas have been grouped as “North”.

The LNP won a majority of the two-party-preferred vote in all four areas, ranging from 55.5% in Rockhampton to 66% in the north.

One Nation came third, with a primary vote ranging from 15.3% in Rockhampton to 22.3% in Isaacs.

Voter groupON prim %LIB 2PP %Total votes% of votes
Rockhampton15.355.518,07420.3
North20.466.010,04011.3
Livingstone15.762.96,7667.6
Isaacs22.360.63,4583.9
Pre-poll16.663.139,34344.2
Other votes17.067.811,28612.7

Election results in Capricornia at the 2019 federal election
Toggle between two-party-preferred votes and primary votes for the Liberal National Party, Labor and One Nation.

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42 COMMENTS

  1. Has any seat swung larger in a 12 year period (excluding redistributions) than this seat? 25 point improvement from the Coalition from 2007 to 2019.

    Seems to also apply to the state level – Mirani voted ONP twice and Rockhampton’s moved right in recent years too.

  2. I think even if you count all seats, including those that have been significantly altered by redistributions, Capricornia still has the largest 2007-to-2019 swing, with neighbouring Dawson taking second place.

  3. Why is Labor choosing the same candidate who obtained the worst result in decades for the ALP in this seat? He suffered a 12 point swing against him yet he thinks he can win this seat back? Labor is dreaming.

    Labor may never win this seat back ever again which says allot. You could argue it wasn’t the candidates fault but I’m afraid he definitely played a part in the drubbing in this seat. Only Steve Pearce could make this remotely close, Russell is not the man to do it.

  4. Yes sorry that’s who I meant, I got mixed up with names, He may have lost Mirani in 2017 but it wasn’t to the LNP. He was considered one of the only people in 2012 that if Labor would gain a seat it would be him, He lost but he def is a decent country bloke. It’s very rare you will see this on the left now.

    Capricornia along with Dawson joins Moncrieff,Wide Bay,McPherson,Fadden,Groom,Hinkler,Fisher,Fairfax,Wright,Maranoa and Kennedy (ALP vs LNP) as Ultra-Safe seats that will never flip outside of landslide years for Labor.

  5. this is the best np vote here for decades….. this seat is mainly Urban Rockhampton ….. look at the state election figures…. would be alp held easily on those figures…. has usually been labor held since the 60s

  6. You have the ask the question with this seat is where will the One Nation go similar to Dawson. It was 17% that is very unlikely to repeat itself in the next election. WIth Labor putting in miners there is a chance.

  7. Usually, this seat is not held by the Coalition for more than one term. Last election may have been the first time in history where the Coalition result in Capricornia was better than the QLD TPP. The fact that Labor lost in Rockhampton is a disastrous result. Rockhampton is a solid labor town and the state seat was even held in 2012 landslide.

  8. Nimalan
    Looking at the primary votes for Rockhampton in 2012 I’m pretty sure Labor only held it bc most of the KAP vote just exhausted.
    Labor got 1,189 more votes before TPP and the LNP got 1,625, despite there being 7,869 non-Labor/LNP primary votes, meaning an exhaustion rate of 64.24%.

  9. Ryan,
    Good pick up. KAP got over 12% and ALP was less than 40% at that election. At the 2019 election the swing away form ALP was mainly driven by ONP and the LNP vote barely changed. As Ben mentioned the next election would be of interest to see if there a long term move away from Labor. Will the net zero commitment mean at the next election KAP, ONP and UAP will pick up votes and how will the preferences flow.

  10. People are overlooking the results in this seat from the last election. There was a swing of 14% against Labor, and an increase in the One Nation vote of 17%. The question is where will that 17% go. Will it go all to One Nation or to Labor or to the LNP. This seat is not a write off for Labor, however, it will be difficult to gain.

  11. Everyone talks about the Bob Brown convoy but its no more relevant then this seat. Brown’s convoy went right through Rockhampton and literally did everything to seal Labor’s fate in this seat. Even then Greens leader Richard di Natale admitted Brown harmed Labor’s chances.

    It hard to see Labor gaining this seat. The swing is just too great and it’s not one I’m hearing that Labor is bullish about. I do think there should be a significant correction swing to Labor here though.

  12. Capricornia was for many years a traditional Labor seat, but times change. Labor are determined to have a better relationship with the resources industry and miners in Queensland. I agree with the sentiments expressed by Political Watchman. It will be interesting to see who the angry ONP vote is directed against this election as there is a definite ONP presence in this seat. With ONP their voting allegiances in terms of their preferences are very shaky, but Capricornia will be a Coalition hold, but with a reduced margin

  13. Labor have won once without this – in 1946. Impossible to predict since it is unclear who the ON vote will go to but labor will probably win the election.

  14. Russell Robertson is recontesting for Labor. I’ve heard that he bears some personal responsibility for Labor’s poor showing in 2019 (and their 2016 candidate was much stronger). But ALP higher ups probably think coal man in coal seat is a winner.

    I don’t see Labor winning this one back. Labor will campaign here because Labor needs to sell them capitulating on various issues to volunteers, members and Labor/Green swing voters. But they don’t need to win Capricornia, Flynn or Dawson to return to government, and they probably won’t.

  15. The big wild card in Capricornia – as well as Flynn, Dawson and Herbert – is a combined ON/KAP/UAP vote of about 25%. In 2019, they were the big winners. They also have the preference power to turn the Nats out if they wanted to – as shown in previous elections being close run things. Should they manage to combine and Labor come in behind, where will the ALP preferences go?

  16. @redistributed

    I think it’s out of the question that the two party preferred vote won’t be between the LNP vs Labor. I know there is the anti-vax vote that the minor parties will appeal to. I still think that won’t offer enough to bolster them into the two party preferred vote range. Minor parties don’t really thrive during a pandemic and voters tend to look towards major parties for stability. One Nation drop of support during the Queensland election adds evidence to that.

    I also don’t buy the argument from some that Clive Palmer is attacking both major parties. If Palmer think’s it’s a lost cause he will turn both barrels on to Labor like last time during the campaign. The UAP are Liberal party attack dogs in yellow shirts. Preferences may not be that vital this time either. I’m not convinced Labor will get in striking distance in this seat despite improving their primary vote.

  17. All the Palmer messaging in regional Qld and northern NSW is anti Nationals and LNP for selling them out.

  18. Used to own a business in Yeppoon, the last couple of terms has seen popular MPS of Michelle Landry for Capricornia (National) and Brittany Lauga (Keppel).

    No way this swings barring a huge federal government screw-up between now and the election. Landry is seen as effective and is well liked. I never met Robertson during the last election – whereas Landry, Hanson, Shorten and that guy from marketing all made appearances.

    My impression of Russel is that he is disconnected from the main center of Rockhampton and therefore not well known.

  19. As somebody else commented a while back, Labor has only ever won government once without carrying this seat and that was in 1946. I live a bit from Rockhampton and I’m not really in the know regarding the political scene, but I don’t see much enthusiasm for the change needed to swing this seat back to Labor. I suppose we’ll see soon where the One Nation vote goes and if Clive Palmer’s ad attacks got into anyone’s heads.

    Even if Labor’s large lead in the National polls at the moment holds up, I find it difficult to believe that Herbert, Dawson, Capricornia and my seat of Flynn can find the votes needed to bring them back in line.

  20. I have this as LNP Retain. When comparing the 5 Nth QLD Seats on the coast, Leichhardt, Herbert, Dawson, Capricornia, Flynn… Capricornia, like Dawson, has an LNP Primary over 40%, the second weakest ALP vote (23.84%), a GRN vote similar to Dawson (4.51% vs 4.84%) and the second biggest LNP-ALP primary vote gap (16.91%). However, an interesting trend across all these 4 except Leichhardt, is the 30% of vote with the non majors (ie LNP, ALP, GRN). Dawson is highest at 32% with Capricornia next. This just shows ALP is also facing a mountain here, like in Dawson. A key difference in the ‘Others’ category is that this vote is more concentrated in PHON here at 16.98% last election. With no FACON, DLP or KAP running here this time, this advantages PHON.

    For comparison in QLD 2020 (this seat covers entirely Keppel and Mirani, most of Rockhampton except some parts of Gracemere, a slither of Gregory near Tieri and parts of Burdekin) the PHON vote was down in Burdekin (-22%), Keppel (-9.8%), Rockhampton (-9%), Gregory (-10%) and Mirani (-0.38%). PHON holds Mirani at a state level, and still scored in mid-teens % except Burdekin and got 31.66% in Mirani.

    Wade Rothery was a high profile candidate for PHON in 2019, but when running in Keppel in 2020 didn’t do much to stem the swing. George Christensen running for PHON in Senate might help bolster their appeal and vote here, but can’t see them winning, with ALP coming off such a low vote, I expect some correctional swing back.

    Current Prediction: LNP Retain

  21. I’m surprised nobody is talking about the fact that Morrison was campaigning in Capricornia yesterday.

    With a margin of 12.4%, this would, under ordinary circumstances, be considered a “very safe” seat – margin well over 10%, continuing incumbent, and no particular gaffes or other trouble with the incumbent.

    And yet, Morrison campaigned up there. And he has done so 4 times already. And Joyce has been there twice.

    And you can’t even go “it was to bolster the broader region”, because the adjacent seats are Dawson, Flynn, Maranoa, and Kennedy – the narrowest margin among them is 8.7% (Flynn), and Kennedy isn’t going to switch away from Katter. If Capricornia weren’t under threat, it would make more sense to make a visit to Flynn, where the current predicted statewide swing would put it in danger, and the sitting MP, O’Dowd, is retiring.

    So why did he go to Capricornia?

    Perhaps LNP internal polling is indicating an even bigger upset in Queensland than people think?

  22. @ Glen Yikes. I live 40km from Rockhampton and had no idea he was even here. It’s very difficult to gauge the group of seats including Capricornia and Flynn because just predicting how they will swing in a sentence or two doesn’t really paint the full picture of how the people in these divisions vote each election. I suppose that’s true for all electorates but even more so here. One Nation’s presence also adds to this uncertainty.

    I think Labor’s era of dominance in the area is done for, and this will end up being the second election in history that they form government without carrying Capricornia, but I don’t think it suddenly turned into a run of the mill safe Nationals seat either. I know it must sound crazy given the reasons behind the huge swing in 2019 here but I wouldn’t be particularly shocked if Labor improves something like 10% in the TPP, even if they underperform the polls statewide. In the long term there isn’t much hope for Labor in these regions anymore though, so it’s probably more of a last hoorah anyway. They can’t please everybody.

  23. ROCKHAMPTON makes up 50% of this seat.. if Labor got 60 to 70% there then they are in the hunt. Maybe Morrison and co are indeed worried would this explain the multiple visits.. is sitting mp to retire soon after the Election?

  24. Capricornia had a 0.6% margin in 2016. The swing in 2019 was extraordinary. I don’t think anyone can definitively say either that this is now a genuinely very safe LNP seat, or that the 2019 result was just a one-off. It’s understandable that the Coalition might be uneasy.

  25. I have a friend who lives in the seat and he thinks it’s up for grabs. He is related to a former ALP candidate at the state election.

    Sportsbet certainly doesn’t agree as it has it 1.00 – 8.00 odds of an LNP hold. And running the same ALP candidate who got the worst result here in decades was surely a mistake. I don’t agree with my friends assessment that it will be close but I certainly think the margin being cut in half is on the cards so around a 6% swing.

  26. Just my two cents. The rural swings in Qld last federal election were based on Hanson and to a lesser extent Palmer/Katter preference flows.

    As we saw at the last State election, when those votes go off the third party they go back to Labor more and big swings happen (think Hervey Bay, Pumicestone, Caloundra, Nicklin and Bundaberg but also Labor held seats based on regional towns like Townsville and Rocky strengthening).

    Another good example that I once read was about the Blue collar working class vote by former Labor senator John Black after the 2015 State election. That wasn’t a switch from minor parties back to Labor but rather the preference flow changing. In 2012 Katter candidates picked up the third party vote and preferences the LNP, in 2015 One Nation grabbed those votes and preferenced against the Newman Government. Hanson basically replaced the Katter vote in most areas rather than pick up new votes. The obvious example of how significant this was is Bundaberg which delivered a seat with a 19% margin to Labor, but other working class and blue collar areas like Caboolture and Ipswich had similar swings.

    I haven’t looked at the history of the Rocky area at State or Federal areas, but I assume some of the same type of voter base exists.

  27. Hi @LNP Insider, your observations are quite right in that votes to the populist-right are most pronounced in blue-collar communities. Particularly declining blue-collar communities, when their industries collapse or their job prospects become vulnerable. You’re also right that these communities would historically be the base for the Labor party. In the UK context, these voters are referred to as the “Old Labor” vote. This context is perhaps the most analogous to the Australian context. Some casual observers mistakenly assume the votes for the populist right come from traditional “conservatives” or “liberals”

    This realignment or blue-collar communities to the populist-right is a phenomena that is playing out across the West. Some political historians credit the emergence of the contemporary incarnation of this phenomena to QLD and the election of Pauline Hanson in 1996 to Oxley. Some 20 years before we saw Brexit and Trump.

    There have been a few combined forces contributing to the collapse of the blue-collar base that Labor traditionally relied upon.

    The first major force was a decline in union membership and participation. Widespread union membership used to mitigate vulnerabilities of job-security for workers. It was also a pipeline connecting workers in blue-collar industry directly to the Labor party that delivered reliable votes.

    The second was globalisation. This was a market-force that made redundant a lot of industry as it could no longer compete with overseas competition. Workplaces were simultaneously replacing full-time unionised workers with casual contractors or just outsourcing. This saw wages stagnate and job-prospects wane. The untethering from unions compounded these vulnerabilities. Those that were most disadvantaged grew angry and disaffected and turned to figures like Pauline Hanson.

    A more recent emerging force is the disruption of technology and the need to transition industries for greater sustainability.

    Throughout Queensland there are many towns and regions that are dependent upon “blue-collar” industry. Consider Ipswich which was centered around coal-mines and rail construction. Gladstone which was centered around its deep-water port and LNG/Gas industry. Bundaberg which was centered around sugar-cane harvesting and refining. The major capital cities of Australia transitioned to the services economy and were “winners” in the open global economy. Whereas regional industrial centers throughout Queensland were left to fend for themselves in the “free” economy and rough global headwinds.

    Queensland is one of the last places in the country where you still see a Labor vote fed so significantly by their “old” blue-collar unionised base. A good example of this is Gladstone as well as the other more marginal districts you mentioned.

    When Labor are strong, these districts revert to their old Labor vote with lower One Nation first-preferences and a more even preference flow from ONP, close to 50-50 (more like 60 LNP – 40 ALP). And when Labor really let them down, these micro-parties pick up a strong primary-vote and direct much more preferences to the LNP (up to 80 – 20).

  28. SEQ observer, how long do you expect Labor to still be strong in the former industrial towns like Gladstone?
    I have read a lot of analysis about US elections and many former industrial areas there (eg Youngstown, Ohio) pretty much swung hard against Democrats in the 2016 election and haven’t really recovered, even at the 2018 midterm which saw a large Democratic swing.

  29. I wouldn’t consider Gladstone in particular to be in the category of a “formerly” industrial town just yet. It is still very much an active industrial town but is facing the prospect of needing to make some adjustments to declining global-use of fossil fuels. The Labor vote remains strong in industrial regions of Queensland as long as it maintains the brand-image that it is pro-industry and worker.

    This faltered obviously last election when they were perceived to be counter to industries and workers up here. They are clearly making more of a careful and calculated effort this election to appear interested in these Queensland regions. The only problem is the Coalition are trying to do the same thing but louder. So it is going to come down to two things: are the locals even listening to them? Will the locals trust them this time?

    Pursuing this strategy in the regions has diminishing rewards too. The reason why Labor in the last few decades has pivoted towards representing a new progressive base animated by social-issues, health and education is largely because of the decline in regions, industry and unions. Industrial towns represent a narrowing proportion of the population as Australia as declining industries close-up. While Australia as a whole becomes more urbanised and invested in the services economy. Also the only remaining workforces which do remain heavily unionised and thus tightly connected to the Labor party are nurses and teachers. This pivot is perceived by the Old Labor base, particularly in regional QLD and the Hunter as an abandonment and angers them so.

    So as you have rightly mentioned @Yoh An, I suspect the analysis of the US elections will probably be true: industrial-towns won’t swing back. I personally forsee big swings against the Coalition in affluent metropolitan centers, but much softer swings (and even gains) in the industrial-centers, regions and outer-suburban fringes.

  30. “In Capricornia, results from Rockhampton’s pre-poll booth at the James Lawrence Pavilion in Wandal have incumbent LNP member Michelle Landry ahead of the pack on 42 votes, closely followed by Labor’s candidate Russell Robertson on 37 votes. One Nation’s candidate Kylee Stanton is currently polling in third place.”

    – Paywalled Cairns Post article with a small exit poll out of Capricornia. About what I expected come Election Day in terms of Labor knocking down the bloated margin quite a bit but we’ll see how it plays out once we get more than a couple dozen votes. Even if Landry is popular I’m extremely skeptical of her holding close to that huge margin from 2019.

  31. Any exit polling in Queensland showing a noticeable Palmer effect?

    Or is the sound and fury and yellow billboards ultimately going to be worth nothing?

  32. @Expat, going to be no noticeable Palmer effect. The electors of Queensland have tremendous Palmer fatigue. He’s been running elections in Queensland since 2013 – almost 10 years now. Each election, the typical % of primary votes that his party receives in each seat decreases or stagnates. Every year he invests more and more in advertising, occupying outdoor, television and online. But his omnipresence across all mediums has reached a point of ubiquity – it has no effect anymore. His big yellow billboards are a no more interesting part of the landscape as the trees. It’s also difficult for him to compete in Queensland against the adjacent micro-parties. ONP are a more popular and established brand around Southern Queensland and Katter’s Australia Party will dominate above the Tropic of Capricorn.

    Can’t discount he might cut through a bit more in NSW and Victoria where punters might not be as Palmer fatigued and where the Pauline brand isn’t as beloved.

  33. @ Expat. Not official exit polling but if you could call it voting intentions based on HTV card distribution a fairly even split between ALP and LNP so far. Greens seem to be doing OK. Nothing noticeable with PHON and UAP.

    Observations from Chermside, Boondall, Redcliffe and North lakes.

  34. One of the highlights in this seat is despite the margin cut in half. The town of Collinsville actually swung to the LNP.

    51-49 ALP after preferences for a swing over over 1% to the LNP. Why is this? Why is Collinsville moving away from Labor? This was 68-32 in 2016. and the LNP won it at the 2020 state election 54-46. I have a friend who lives here and he couldn’t give me an answer as to why it shifted but they are very pro-coal up there as they have a coal mine.

    The question is, Is the low ALP vote in these parts a fluke or a new norm?

  35. @Daniel, it’s probably the new norm. I’d imagine for as long as the Libs remain on their current direction, the LNP vote will hold up and grow stronger, especially with Dutton as leader. Of course the flip side is the Libs nearly lost all their inner city seats and can possibly lose even more in 2025 in the inner and middle-ring areas of capital cities.

  36. Collinsville is the proposed site of a coal-fired power plant, which if it’s ever built (it probably won’t be) would be the last one ever built in Australia.

    The locals know that the LNP *might* build it, Barnaby tweets about it occasionally etc. They also know Labor never will.

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