Groom – Australia 2022

LNP 20.5%

Incumbent MP
Garth Hamilton, since 2020.

Geography
Groom covers the city of Toowoomba and rural areas to the west of the city. The electorate is contained entirely within the Toowoomba Region council area.

History
Groom was created as part of the expansion of the House of Representatives at the 1984 election. The seat has always been held by Coalition MPs.

Groom was first won in 1984 by the National Party’s Tom McVeigh. McVeigh had been Member for Darling Downs since the 1972 election, and was elected Member for Groom in 1984 when Darling Downs was abolished. Darling Downs had previously centred on Toowoomba, which became the centre of the new seat of Groom.

McVeigh retired in 1988, triggering a by-election. The Liberal Party contested the by-election, and their candidate Bill Taylor outpolled the Nationals by 4.5% on primary votes and won a substantial majority on Labor preferences.

Taylor held the seat for a decade, retiring in 1998. The Nationals again challenged for the seat, but fell into fourth place behind Labor and One Nation, with the Liberal Party’s Ian Macfarlane winning the seat.

Macfarlane was made a junior minister in January 2001, and joined the Howard cabinet after the 2001 election as Minister for Industry, Tourism and Resources, a role he held for the remainder of the Howard government. Macfarlane served as a frontbencher while the Coalition was in opposition, and as a cabinet minister during the Abbott government.

Macfarlane was dropped from the ministry when Malcolm Turnbull replaced Tony Abbott as Prime Minister. He attempted to switch from the Liberal party room to the Nationals party room, but the LNP state executive blocked the proposal.

Macfarlane retired at the 2016 election, and was replaced by John McVeigh, who won the seat easily. McVeigh had held the state electorate of Toowoomba South since 2012, but resigned from that state seat to contest the federal election.

McVeigh was re-elected in 2019, but resigned from parliament in September 2020.

The 2020 by-election was won by LNP candidate Garth Hamilton.

Candidates

  • Ryan Otto (Federation)
  • Grant Abraham (One Nation)
  • Mickey Berry (Greens)
  • Melissa Bannister (United Australia)
  • Kirstie Smolenski (Independent)
  • Suzie Holt (Independent)
  • Garth Hamilton (Liberal National)
  • Gen Allpass (Labor)
  • Assessment
    Groom is a safe LNP seat.

    2019 result

    CandidatePartyVotes%Swing
    John McVeigh Liberal National 50,90853.3-0.7
    Troy Kay Labor 17,81118.7-3.5
    David KingOne Nation12,49313.1+13.1
    Alyce Nelligan Greens 7,5988.0+1.8
    Kenneth Ian LawUnited Australia Party3,7844.0+4.0
    Perry AdreliusConservative National Party2,8543.0+3.0
    Informal3,1603.2-0.4

    2019 two-party-preferred result

    CandidatePartyVotes%Swing
    John McVeigh Liberal National 67,27470.5+5.2
    Troy Kay Labor 28,17429.5-5.2

    2020 by-election result

    CandidatePartyVotes%Swing
    Garth Hamilton Liberal National 51,53459.8+6.5
    Chris Meibusch Labor 23,50027.3+8.6
    Sandra JephcottSustainable Australia6,7167.8+7.8
    Craig FarquharsonLiberal Democrats4,3915.1+5.1
    Informal2,5042.8-0.4

    2020 by-election two-party-preferred result

    CandidatePartyVotes%Swing
    Garth Hamilton Liberal National 57,87567.2-3.3
    Chris Meibusch Labor 28,26632.8+3.3

    Booth breakdown

    Booths have been divided into four areas. A majority of the population lives in the Toowoomba, and these booths were split into two halves: north and south. The booths outside of the Toowoomba urban area have also been split into north and south.

    The LNP won a majority of the two-party-preferred vote in all four areas at both the federal election and the by-election. In 2019, the LNP’s two-party-preferred vote ranged from 63.2% in Toowoomba North to 77.1% in the rural south. In 2020, the two-party-preferred vote ranged from 60% in Toowoomba North to 73.6% in the rural south.

    One Nation came third in 2019, with a primary vote ranging from 10.8% in Toowoomba South to 20.6% in the rural south.

    2019 booth breakdown

    Voter groupON prim %LNP 2PP %Total votes% of votes
    Toowoomba North12.963.217,97018.8
    Toowoomba South10.866.016,43617.2
    North16.474.711,19311.7
    South20.677.16,4916.8
    Pre-poll11.571.426,81228.1
    Other votes12.975.916,54617.3

    2020 by-election booth breakdown

    Voter groupLNP 2PP %Total votes% of votes
    Toowoomba North60.013,45615.6
    Toowoomba South62.813,01915.1
    North73.19,23310.7
    South73.65,1966.0
    Pre-poll67.624,87228.9
    Other votes70.020,36523.6

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

    Election results at the 2020 Groom by-election
    Toggle between two-party-preferred votes and primary votes for the Liberal National Party and Labor.

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    26 COMMENTS

    1. Margin will go back over 70% after the election due to the new personal vote of the sitting member. This seat is evidently trending further to the right based on the state election results which swung to the LNP despite Labor getting a swing statewide. Toowoomba North basically is not longer a Labor target. and with the LNP deputy from Toowoomba it should boost their presence in the region.

    2. Actually the state LNP member for Toowoomba South David Janetski recently resigned as deputy for family health reasons.

      This is very safe Liberal seat but Labor Genevieve Allpass, a teacher and former chief executive of a Toowoomba-based refugee advocacy charity was announced the Labor canidate last year in June. Who is giving it a red hot crack.

      A couple independents have put there hand up in this seat as well. But I can’t see them giving Garth Hamilton much trouble. Toowoomba has never been strong hunting grounds for independents.

      LNP retains.

    3. The demographic has changed ALOT since 2019. I was born and bred in Toowoomba, used to be a rusted on LNP supporter till i saw the light. Libs will still probably hang on but im predicting a huge swing to Labor.

    4. While there will likely be a hit to LNP first-preferences here, and a boost to Labor first-preferences, David is right that the challenge from independents and minor parties might escalate here. I would not be surprised to see a non-classic 2CP outcome here, like Maranoa. Other electorates to watch out for in QLD at risk of being non-classic 2CP outcomes – if first-preferences for the major parties continue to shrink, include similar divisions: Wright, Hinkler, Flynn and less likely – Wide Bay. All aforementioned contests, even if non-classic are likely to have LNP remain on top with a decent margin.

      I don’t expect Suzie Holt, one of the only QLD “teal-independents”, making much of an dent in Groom, even with animated activism on the ground. I would still anticipate ON or at least the combination of ON and UAP to have a greater amount of first-preferences.

      The three inner-city divisions: Griffith, Brisbane and Ryan could also be non-classic 2CP outcomes but for different reasons, involving the Greens.

      I wonder what Antony Green thinks about the prospect of a heap of non-classic 2CP outcomes occurring this election. I have grave concerns for his swing/results prediction computer on election night, which relies upon previous 2CP match-ups to determine projected swings.

    5. I watched some of Anthony Green’s coverage on ABC and online, and noticed that when there is an incorrect 2CP pairing, estimates of preference flows are used as a rough guide until actual preference counts are available the next day/week.

      In addition, it also depends on what the AEC determines is the most likely pairing – some state electoral commissions do change the 2CP pairing before polling day depending on the likely finishing order of candidates.

    6. This is my new seat, having moved from Cairns earlier in the year. I expect the LNP to be solidly returned but with a reduced margin. The 2PP vote may even have a 5 in front of it, if the swing is well and truly on throughout QLD.

    7. Apparently the LNP are on track to record their worst primary vote since the seat was established in 1984, according to articles that are stuck behind a News Ltd paywall.

      Out of curiosity, the primary votes for the LNP and Nats/Libs combined since 1984 are as follows:

      1984 – 64.9%
      1987 – 62.2%
      1988 by election – 62.2%
      1990 – 57.2%
      1993 – 55.78%
      1996 – 64.82% (no Nationals candidate)
      1998 – 48.29% (One Nation emergence)
      2001 – 57.83%
      2004 – 60.36% (no Nationals candidate)
      2007 – 52.71% (Kevin 07)
      2010 – 61.25% (first LNP election)
      2013 – 55.64%
      2016 – 54.00%
      2019 – 53.34%
      2020 by election – 59.83%

      For myself, it will be interesting to see whether either of the independents will finish in the final two.

    8. @NQ View went looking for it and as I suspected it appears those numbers are pulled from the YouGov MRP polling. I’ve expressed my skepticism of their results on other pages so need to repeat myself but I personally don’t think they’re very accurate. Have not been to Toowoomba in quite a while now so I can’t say what things are like on the ground but it seems they might be giving the Independents too little share of the vote (6%). The TPP for Groom at 64-36 seems reasonable though as opposed to seats like Mallee and Parkes.

    9. Thanks for that Laine. I’m only new here but my impression is that the locals are looking to send a protest vote. It wouldn’t surprise me if one of the independents snuck ahead of the ALP, in which case the 2PP margin could drop to something like 55-45. The LNP v ALP margin of 64-36 seems right, and would represent a swing away from the government of 6% based on the 2019 result.

    10. Groom goes to preferences, with Hamilton on around 41%. That’s a 18% swing against on primary votes compared with the by-election win. The independents failed to crack 10%, One Nation in third place. Overall the seat looks safe for the LNP, with a 2PP of around 65%, but who knows for 2025?

    11. The loss of government was well and truly on the cards, with the appalling abrogation of responsibility to the states/territories and now businesses over Covid. The other major failure, as I see it, was surrendering to the climate change nutters with the net zero emissions rubbish that was not part of the election platform in 2019. This should have been a 2-3 term government at least, but has failed its core support so dismally it has got what it asked for.

    12. “This should have been a 2-3 term government at least”

      It was a three term government. Sure, there’s also been three prime ministers – but it was absolutely a three term government.

    13. Fossil1, uh, what? It was a three term government and not doing more on climate change was one of the reasons they got kicked out. Why do you think many of their inner city seats fell to the independents and the Greens?

    14. The ALP and PHON have been passed on preferences by the Independent Suzie Holt and an LNP versus Holt 2CP is now underway.

    15. Hamilton’s lead sharply reduced to 53-47 against Holt, turning Groom from one of Australia’s safest seats to a marginal seat to watch in 2025.

    16. Still the worst showing for either the Liberals or Nationals in Groom and its predecessor for 60 years barring 2007. And their combined second worst primary vote ever as well. Maybe Garth Hamilton will think twice before he speaks now knowing he might not be so lucky against a more unified and media-covered independent front in 2025.

    17. It will be below the 2007 result on margin, so set to be the lowest margin ever (or if we include the predecessor seat of Darling Downs, the lowest margin since 1961). It will also be the lowest primary vote ever for the Liberal or National party apart from when both parties were contesting the seat at once.

    18. Groom is one of the most conservative seats in the entire country, far outside the wheelhouse of the teal independents, and neither Holt nor Smolenski’s campaigns were all that incredibly inspired, let alone resourced. A win’s a win I guess but you could just about run a barn animal under the LNP banner and expect a similar result. Having said that I expect this is just about as bad as it’ll ever get for Hamilton, and if I were one of the Climate 200 plutocrats eyeing potential beachheads in Queensland, I’d be far more interested in seats like Fairfax, Moncrieff and McPherson.

    19. Ben, That IS close. Don’t try to put a good spin on a bad result for the LNP, 8% isn’t safe anymore and we have seen that in state and federal elections. This is safe against LABOR, but not a conservative independent. The sitting MP has been put on ”notice”

    20. It is evident to be amongst the most conservative places in Australia given they voted no for Same-sex Marriage in 2017. A factor is that despite having Toowomba as their major centre, Toowomba itself is a very conservative possibly I was told due to a largely conservative Christian base. Comment if there are other reasons

    21. Apparently a city being traditionally conservative invalidates its ability to support a sensible and local independent, present or future. That aside, Cowper and Nicholls both had close races against independents as well and they are just as safe as Groom is for the L/NP.

      It goes to show that there is nowhere the LNP can dismiss the chances of an opposing candidate. Imagine if their campaigns received anywhere near as much attention (or money) as those in Sydney and Melbourne…

      And as we have all seen by now, Labor is not safe from this phenomenon either. It’s just taking a little longer to kick in.

    22. @Marh Toowoomba is pretty unique when you factor in both its size and position relative to the coast so I’m not sure what other city I could or would compare it to. Aside from that Christian base you mentioned (which definitely has a role), being the gateway to such an expansive farming region certainly plays a part too. If you check out Toowoomba’s census data it’ll be considerably below the national average in any multicultural statistic you can think of, and it prides itself more on being a big country town than a regional city, although that’s a bit difficult for even the residents to believe as it continues to grow larger. I’m sure somebody else can tell you the details about its workforce and dwelling stats but that’s the gist of it.

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