Griffith – Australia 2022

ALP 2.9%

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 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 and 2019.


  • Shari Ware (One Nation)
  • Max Chandler-Mather (Greens)
  • Terri Butler (Labor)
  • Robert McMullan (United Australia)
  • Olivia Roberts (Liberal National)
  • Assessment
    This electorate is a marginal contest between Labor and the LNP, and it is not hard to imagine Labor losing to the LNP, although Labor’s vote is close to a low point in Queensland. Labor also outpolled the Greens by 7% at the key exclusion point in 2019. If the Greens can close that gap, Labor would lose and the Greens would likely win on Labor preferences. That gap is still quite substantial but remains one of the Greens’ most appealing prospects.

    2019 result

    Olivia Roberts Liberal National 40,81641.0-0.2
    Terri Butler Labor 30,83631.0-2.2
    Max Chandler-Mather Greens 23,56223.7+6.7
    Julie DarlingtonOne Nation2,1092.1+2.1
    Christian John JuliusUnited Australia Party1,4441.4+1.5
    Tony MurrayConservative National Party8500.9+0.9

    2019 two-party-preferred result

    Terri Butler Labor 52,65952.9+1.4
    Olivia Roberts Liberal National 46,95847.1-1.4

    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 the two-party-preferred vote in all four areas, ranging from 50.2% in Bulimba to 63.6% in South Brisbane. The LNP managed to narrowly win the pre-poll vote despite a significant deficit on election day.

    But Labor is competing here not just against the LNP but also against the Greens, who are hoping to overtake Labor. If you look at the relative strength of Labor on the primary vote, the pattern is very different.

    The Labor vote is lowest in South Brisbane, where they polled the best on the two-party-preferred vote, and best in the east, where they barely defeated the LNP. The Greens vote varies from 17.8% to 36.1%. The Greens vote is a threat to Labor, but if they fail to overtake Labor their preferences become crucial to Labor’s two-party-preferred majority.

    Voter groupGRN primALP primALP 2PPTotal votes% of votes
    South Brisbane36.129.963.613,58613.6
    Other votes20.631.350.617,05917.1

    Election results in Griffith at the 2019 federal election
    Toggle between two-party-preferred votes and primary votes for Labor, the Liberal Party and the Greens.

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    1. @Glen and @Yoh An, the same thing is true for all the Green target seats. They have a few areas with very high Greens support, which is enough to drive a general sense that the seat is winnable, and get a base of volunteers for a campaign. Greens can actually make decent inroads into country towns (like the non hippie parts of Ballina), middle ring and outer suburbs, but not without the base and the hype.

      I guess the theory now is all of South Brisbane is strong enough for Greens to buoy the campaign elsewhere. Previously it was West End etc. boosting the rest of South Brisbane.

    2. South Brisbane is not a useful comparison this time, because at the state election the incumbent (Jackie Trad) had so much baggage. Various scandals made her a sitting duck. Terri Butler instead has some incumbent advantage. I suspect the key this time around will be how many more “Labor” votes the Greens can swing in the more working class suburbs, with their big ground campaign and how many more “Liberal” votes the Greens can swing in the affluent corridor from Norman Park to Bulimba, with their nimby anti flight noise campaign.

    3. Will there be an exit poll as in 2019 and at what time will it be released? Other than that I see that Albanese was in Ryan yesterday or was it today?

    4. Reports that Labor was putting extra resources into Brisbane, Ryan and Higgins (and presumably away from traditional ALP vs LNP seats), deploying Penny Wong on the trail. Also sandbagging Griffith. Meanwhile they seem off the boil in outer suburbs and regions.

      If this was their strategy from the outset, it’s completely baffling that they moved to the right on issues like Climate Change. I think electability was the excuse, not the reason, for a party that wanted to move right for other reasons.

      I’ll never fully understand why Labor dislike Greens more than Liberals and teals, but it’s clear as day that they do.

    5. Chloprophyl is quite correct about The Fact that Jackie Trad’s candidacy in South Brisbane dammaged the ALP. The decision of the Palaszczuk government to partially Lance the boil was probably the difference between an ALP government and an LNP government in Qureenslamd. However the damaging aspect of Trad was not in South Brisbane but in rest of State. She was a liability to every ALP candidate in Queensland.
      I can not think of any LNP Federal Wueensland membrr who has such a damaging impact by merely remaining a candidate. Dutton is the closest and his negative impact is compensated by a greater positive impact on LNP vote.

    6. The Australian this morning reports that Griffith residents are being inundated with Robo Calls from Kevin Rudd urging support for Australian Labor Party’s Terri Butler.
      Robo Calls are the most annoying advertising technique there is. They are nearly always not wanted and I suspect do more harm than good. Rudd is not going to cut much ice with the infants prone to voting Greens he is ancient history. He may have a bit of an impact in traditional Wotrking class suburban seats like Oxley but in the inner city suburbs like East Brisbane I think him interrupting a tv show will have a negative impact. Public Servants will remember Rudd as the bloke who started the sacking process. There are lots of public servants in Griffith. Best to put him in a room and talk to himself.

    7. The fact that Labour feels a need to campaign so hardly in this seat suggests they fear losing the seat to Greens.

    8. Green man
      the fact that Labour needs to campaign indicates that they fear losing the seat not that the Greens are their main worry.

    9. I wonder what the general tone of the RoboCalls are?

      Are they trying to shore up Labor’s Green credentials or are they campaigning against the Liberals?

      That would give a pretty clear indication of what party they’re worried about.

    10. Resorting to Robo calls in an electorate like Griffith is a sign of real disillusionment by party members.
      I managed Katter campaign in Griffith By election a few years back and with a dozen volunteers we letterboxed whole electorate. Most of the electorate are in units or on small suburban blocks and rest on 32 Perch blocks. The distance from one letter box to next one ranges from 20 cm to 10M. Ie it is the easiest seat in Queensland to campaign in. If Robo calls are being used it indicates no party members willing to do anything. Even Party member Jane Doe ringing and saying Kevin Rudd would like you to know that he thinks TerribButler should be returned to Canberra is better than a Robo call.
      Without any shadow of a doubt the outstanding feature of this election has been the lack of human volunteers.

    11. Ten minutes after writing my 10:26 commeny I rad Greg Sheridan’s comment in this mornings The Australian the elect toon campaign “ indicates a deep crisis in politics, a loss of faith in politics by ordinary Ripley. No one any longer believes in a political cause or grand narrative. The only thing voters accept from politicians is cash”.
      Well I still believe in a grand narrative even if it is out of step with great majority in electorate. That narrative is free society, Social Justice with a government that is not afraid to become involved. It certainly is not the Freedom that Palmer talks about, it involves an acceptance of rules that I do not like when society imposes them. It includes being vaccinated for the common good and accepting that the rule of lake results in more responsibility than rights.

    12. Bye Terri 🙂 That’s what you get for trying to conduct scare campaigns against people who represent the policies and values your party is supposed to. Now hopefully Labor hacks don’t try to parachute her into some other electorate or give her a job she doesn’t deserve.

    13. I’m surprised by the Green swing in metropolitan Brisbane. Terri Butler and Labor probably assumed that they would finish in the top two and:
      1. The LNP would come third and its preferences go to Labor OR
      2. The Greens would come third and its preferences go to Labor.

      This must be the only seat outside of Melbourne with the Greens coming 1st on primary votes.

    14. I disagree Votante, I think she was afraid the whole time. Her campaign was almost as nasty as South Brisbane in 2020, which is usually a good sign- not for the volunteers getting harassed at the booth of course, or vandals coming to their houses etc. At least there wasn’t a repeat of the Mean Girls saga, although I guarantee the ALP dirt units were combing through social media for it anyway. But the ‘Only Labor can defeat Scott Morrison’ flyers that came in the last week, not to mention the ‘no minority government’ bs that Terri personally ran were all signs of a very desperate and flailing campaign.

      But the media doesn’t interrogate any of these discrepancies. They’ve got no interest in surveying voters on the ground beyond a quick vox pop for the camera. They don’t talk to volunteers and organisers, they don’t do enough investigative reporting on the issues that the Greens were campaigning on. I don’t think they even know what the Greens were campaigning on at all beyond ‘climate change’. The media’s idea of covering campaigns is to ask pollsters who have a limited perspective, no offence to Ben, or just ring their buddies at party HQ, like Murray Watts or Terri herself. Well turns out those sorts of people have good reasons to lie, and often do, as Labor did here. After all their entire pitch to progressive voters who’ve watched the party slide to the right is that the Greens aren’t a viable alternative.

      I’d like to hope this might prompt the media to reconsider their coverage of this sort of thing but let’s face it, best case scenario is they just start ringing Douglas instead of Peel and George St. Well, Greens head office at least tends to take more notice of qualitative feedback at least.

    15. Andrew Jackson said the outstanding feature of this election has been the lack of human volunteers. Well, maybe for some parties. This seat didn’t get a huge Greens swing by accident, it was due to Max Chandler-Mather mobilising a huge number of volunteers and having 30 000 conversations with voters in the electorate. As Greens staffer Emerald Moon said on the latest episode of the Serious Danger podcast, “the Greens run campaigns differently because we have to. We don’t just sit there and say ‘we deserve this seat because the demographics have changed’. We don’t sit there and wait, we fight for it”.

    16. Is the reason that Greens are winning in Griffith and Ryan right now because there was a higher swing against the Liberals, presumably to Green, and that therefore the postal votes are higher for Green? I note that Green postal vote totals are tied with Labour at 21.73% in Ryan, whereas in Brisbane the Greens trail Labour 17.6% to 26.97% in postal votes. The swing from Liberal in Griffith and Ryan is currently 11.89% and 10.16%, whereas in Brisbane it is only 9.69%. So are the Greens better organized in Griffith and Ryan or are former Liberal voters more adept at postal voting. I note, for example, that 37.85% of the postal votes in Melbourne are Green, so again is that better organization by the Greens or more a reflection of the origin of Green votes?

    17. I was planning on writing up a whole thing about this but in short, yes, the Ryan and Griffith campaigns were definitely better organized and resourced.

      I know I’ve been harping on it so much but the Brisbane campaign emphasized doorknocking and in person canvassing much less than even Ryan, certainly less than the Griffith people did, to the extent that I think those campaigns beat them in sheer numbers by something like 4-8 times the number of houses doorknocked. I think the results speak for themselves.

      That’s not the full story obviously, there were a million other little things I could nitpick, they did do a lot of phonebanking and Stephen Bates worked incredibly hard for what he achieved, and he did achieve more than any other Greens candidate ever in Brisbane, all while working a day job for much of the campaign. But the Brisbane campaign definitely made mistakes, and it’s looking like it could have cost them the seat.

    18. Just checked in on some chatter and apparently the campaign think they’re on track to win Brisbane anyway based on minor party preference flows and postals not favouring Labor quite enough, but either way it’s going to be an incredibly tight result. If the Brisbane people were running the Ryan campaign they would absolutely have lost imo

    19. So when is the last day to receive postal votes and when will Absent and Pre-Declaration votes start to be counted?

    20. It wasn’t so long ago that Bill Glasson almost won this seat for the LNP after Rudd quit.

    21. The vibe I’ve gotten is that the Brisbane City branch didn’t really want to put in as much effort as the other campaigns which is probably why Bates didn’t get as large a swing as the others, as shown with Kirsten Lovejoy at state level.

    22. Ryan Spencer, I’m not sure it’s as simple as that. Unlike Griffith or Ryan, Brisbane doesn’t have a Greens state MPs office in its boundaries to share resources with, and that lack of a strong Greens voter base might also mean they had fewer volunteers to draw upon. Also, Furtive Lawngnome has commented in the past that the Greens branches in the inner north aren’t as organised or united as the ones south of the river (and presumably the inner west too). And as I’ve commented here before, Bates was taking over as candidate from former Senator Andrew Bartlett, who probably commanded some personal vote.

      I think given those constraints and challenges, Bates did a good job. He was good at marketing himself and capturing media attention (at least the media young people might actually read) with his Grindr ads, and he seemed impressive and assured when speaking at the community forums.

    23. Bringing this back to Griffith, Chandler-Mather seems like a pretty switched on and high-energy fellow. Will he go on to be a long-term player in Australian politics or flame out early like Wyatt Roy, another high-energy youngster?

    24. Furtive Lawnmower

      “Brisbane campaign emphasized doorknocking and in person canvassing much less than even Ryan, certainly less than the Griffith people did”

      Absolutely untrue. It was not a decision by the Brisbane greens campaign to do less doorknocking and in-person canvassing. There’s more reasons than simply intent that go into whether a volunteer campaign kicks off or not.

    25. I remember once Butler was on a panel with Richard Di Natale, and the issue of debates was brought up. She argued that Di Natale should be excluded from the debates because he was “not vying to be Prime Minister” and had “one out of 150 seats in the House of Representatives”. Very fitting that Butler has now lost her seat to the Greens. Good riddance.

    26. Widget, if you feel like sharing those reasons then feel free to.

      FTR I’m not saying they discouraged it or tried to prevent anyone doing it or whatever. But I know which campaigns were constantly rostering canvassing days and training nights, getting word out about them on the web and on facebook, and blowing up my inbox about etc- by and large, it wasn’t Bates’ people. It’s not like they didn’t do those things at all, they did, but it’s also not like they had a quarter of the volunteers to work with (although they *did* have trouble securing a full time campaign manager until late in the campaign. Which would have hurt).

    27. Well ABC has posted alleged AEC data that says Greens are 606 preferences ahead of Labour on three part preferred in Brisbane. That said, which contingent will have the larger parliamentary caucus in the Legislature and Senate, the Greens at 16 or the Nationals?

    28. This isn`t North America and neither the Greens nor Nationals have ever had a King O`Malley equivalent filling the party with American terms, so they have party rooms.

      The Nationals will still be bigger as they kept all their 15 MPs and gained a 5th Senator (because the Fiona Nash section 44 disqualification replaced a long term National Senator with a Liberal Senator, artificially supressing the number of Nationals Senators).

    29. @FL just because the Greens rattle off a list of ‘target seats’ doesn’t mean they’re all resourced the same. I’m reliably told by friends in the party that Griffith received something like ten times the funding support Brisbane did. Before the Brisbane campaign had even launched Griffith had half a dozen organisers on staff already. The Brisbane and Ryan wins were happy accidents as far as the party’s strategy is concerned.

    30. Furtive Lawnmower

      I understand your interest but I think these reasons will be saved for the internal debrief not aired in public. Despite the QLD Greens target seat campaigns being massive successes there are lessons that I hope are learned about potential improvements. The rest of the country’s Green movement will undoubtedly be copying the template of these QLD greens campaigns.

    31. Is there a particular reason why Griffith and Brisbane have the second and third lowest informality voting rate after Canberra: 1.98%, 2.04% versus 1.78%?


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