Dawson – Election 2010

ALP 2.6%

Incumbent MP
James Bidgood, since 2007.

Central and North Queensland coast. Dawson covers the Queensland coast from Mackay in the south to the outskirts of Townsville in the north. The seat covers the coastal areas, but not the inland areas, of Burdekin and Whitsunday local government areas, as well as parts of Townsville and Mackay LGAs.

Dawson lost rural parts of Townsville and Burdekin council areas to Kennedy, while it gained Annandale and Wulguru in the southern parts of urban Townsville from Herbert. At the southern end of the seat Dawson exchanged with Capricornia one sparsely populated area near Mackay for another sparsely populated area also close to Mackay.

Dawson was created in 1949 when the House of Representatives was expanded. The seat was first won by the Country Party’s Charles Davidson. Davidson had previously won the neighbouring seat of Capricornia in 1946 for the Liberal Party, defeating Frank Forde, who had served as the ALP’s Minister for the Army since 1941, serving as Prime Minister for one week in 1945 following the death of John Curtin.

Davidson served as a federal minister from 1956 until his retirement at the 1963 election. George Shaw succeeded Davidson as Country Party member in 1963, but died in early 1966 without ever facing re-election.

Rex Patterson (ALP) won the seat at the 1966 by-election. Patterson served as a minister in the Whitlam government from 1972 to 1975, and Patterson lost his seat at the election following the dismissal of the Whitlam government in 1975.

The seat was won in 1975 by Ray Braithwaite of the National Country Party. Braithwaite served as a backbencher for 21 years, retiring at the 1996 election.

Braithwaite was succeeded by De-Anne Kelly, also a National. Kelly was made a Parliamentary Secretary in October 2003, and was promoted to the junior ministry following the 2004 election. She was demoted back to a Parliamentary Secretary position in January 2006.

Kelly lost the seat at the 2007 election in a shock upset when a 13% swing to the ALP overturned Kelly’s 10% margin and gave the seat to Mackay City Councillor James Bidgood.


Political situation
This seat has a long history of being held by the Coalition, and the massive swing achieved by the ALP is likely to be a high water-mark for the party. It would not be surprising if the seat were to swing back to the Coalition, although the ALP would still have a strong chance of holding on to the seat.

2007 result

James BidgoodALP38,42348.03+16.44
De-Anne KellyNAT33,94842.48-3.04
Peter BellGRN3,4894.37-0.93
Rena LeeFF2,3983.00-0.09
Chris DoyleDEM1,2161.52+0.64
Andrew HarrisCEC4320.54-1.87

2007 two-candidate-preferred result

James BidgoodALP42,52053.21+13.20
De-Anne KellyNAT37,38646.79-13.20

Results do not take into consideration effects of the redistribution.

Booth breakdown
Dawson is covered by four local government areas. A majority of the population lives in Mackay LGA, not all of Mackay council area lies within Dawson, but the town of Mackay does. The ALP won a large majority in Mackay and a smaller majority in Whitsunday. Townsville and Burdekin both gave a majority to the Nationals.

Polling booths in Dawson. Townsville in green, Burdekin in blue, Whitsunday in yellow, Mackay in red.
Voter groupALP 2CP %Total votes% of ordinary votes
Other votes51.9314,908
Polling booths in Dawson, showing results of the 2007 election.
Polling booths in Dawson, showing results of the 2007 election near Townsville.
Polling booths in Dawson, showing results of the 2007 election around Ayr and Home Hill.
Polling booths in Dawson, showing results of the 2007 election on the Whitsunday coast.
Polling booths in Dawson, showing results of the 2007 election around Mackay.


  1. I think we can pencil this one in for the Nats. (LNP)
    There was some concern initially in the preselection race but it looks like the right man got the nod.

  2. I wouldn’t pencil in any gains for the Tories just yet (except maybe Robertson). Polls show the LibNats on the nose federally in QLD.

  3. That may be the case but not in the mining towns.

    The ALP particlarly will be hit in those areas and the areas that will be adversly affected by the Rail sell-off by the state ALP.

    Even seats like Capricornia may very well yield surprises. The Qld State ALP are meeting this week and pressure is mounting against the Bligh government. No amount of talking will take pressure off those candidates where job losess are inevitable.

    The ETS and the Rail Sell-off combined will hurt the ALP in Queensland particularly in the North. It will depend on how well the government can peform in the SE that may allow them through this election unscaved.

  4. From memory Jonathon Dykyj ran for the state seat of Mackay at the last election – nice bloke. He’ll do better in Dawson, which has some fairly strong green areas around Cannonvale/Airlie Beach. The state seat of Whitsunday voted 10% green for a candidate who lived in Brisbane and didn’t visit the electorate once.

  5. Apologies – Greens polled less than 6% in Whitsunday (although they did approach 10% in Airlie. Point remains that with a candidate on the ground they should do ok

  6. I agree.
    I’m still backing the LNP Candidate though.
    It should be a seat returned to the Nationals in the Federal arena as Geoge has declared his positon in that regards.

    The ALP have been very late in annoucing their canidates and this wont help their cause with a sitting member standing down.

  7. Another reported candidate is a Mackay taxi driver, Robert Jameson, standing as an independent on an anti-population growth platform. Though I doubt describing humans as a a ‘plague’ is a very electorally advantageous choice of words:

    Also a report I found this morning mentioning Whitsunday Mayor Mike Brunker as a possible new Labor candidate.

    And a question for anyone with local knowledge. I guess I don’t know much about Bowen, but it stands out as interesting to me that it has such a strong Labor vote – why is that? Is it a port for some of the inland mining areas?

  8. The ALP have reportedly suspended nominations in the wake of Bidgood’s retirement. The report also names former Whitsunday councillor Louise Mahony as a prospective candidate who is waiting for nominations to reopen before confirming her intentions.

  9. There are three nominees for the ALP preselection, with the national executive to decide on Thursday. In addition to Brunker, and the also before-mentioned Louise Mahony, the third nominee is Julieanne Gilbert from the Queensland Teachers Union.

  10. Pretty dirty stuff. Anyway, my info is that there is a 10% swing on in this seat to the Libs on a pretty sizeable internal poll. How much this sort of rubbish hurts the Liberal candidate, I don’t know.

    A source tells me that the ALP think they might lose 12 seats in QLD based on the new redistribution. I have heard that Swan is in real real trouble in Lilley too based on internal ALP polling. Apparently they don’t like the fact that he did what he did to the Ruddster, which is a primary motivating factor for the loss of support. I am told ALP are at 37% primary in this seat based on a poll of 2000. Don’t be surprised to see Swanny in Lilley over the next 2 weeks in an attempt to sure up enough support. This info was from the weekend. I’m not revealing specifically from where. Keep this one on the radar on election night.

  11. Must be something in the water up there. Wasn’t the Labor MP some oddball Bible-bashing fruit loop too?

  12. DB there is no way the Liberals will win Lilley. Labor may cop a backlash in Queensland but they’d lose just about every other seat in the state before Swanny was under any threat.

  13. MDMConnell – I have just seen this on pollbludger, so my info might be right.

    “On the Channel Ten news last night, Paul Bongiorno said a Liberal insider had offered him the implausible claim that their polling showed “Labor would be lucky to hold on to one seat” in Queensland. More believably, Geoff Kitney of the Financial Review offered that both sides’ polling showed “the Coalition is in front in every marginal seat in the state”, with Labor “battling to prevent the loss of all its Queensland seats with a margin of up to 4.2 per cent”, namely Herbert, Dickson, Longman, Flynn, Dawson, Forde, Brisbane, Leichhardt and Petrie. Mark Ludlow of the Financial Review says seats likely to be targeted by Kevin Rudd are in fact slightly beyond this range: Bonner (4.5 per cent) and Moreton (6.2 per cent).”

    I’d agree that Lilley should not fall, but it has before. And I am informed that there is a stench in QLD which is reminiscent of 1996.

  14. If the polling is that bad in QLd then for the national polls to be right the ALP must have some huge swings on to it elsewhere with only minor swings against in NSW.
    Sounds a bit suss to me.

  15. A good discussion.

    Doug, but what you need to remember is firstly, the great proportion of marginals are in QLD. Secondly, a lot of the general mainstream polling is done right across the country. If you look at the current parliament makeup, you will see that the ALP hold 17 seats on margins of more than 14%. The co-alition hold only 4. Therefore, it stands to reason that, on balance, if the 2PP is 51/49 to the ALP across the country, then it might be much tighter in those marginals. Internal marginal seat polling seems to suggest this. On election day, if the 2PP vote across Australia is 50/50, the Liberals will win for sure because the ALP hold many more seats on higher margins than the co-alition.

    I actually think the ALP will win the election as they will pick up at least a few seats in NSW, VIC and possibly SA, even if they do get trounced in QLD. This will be too much for the co-alition to overcome. It is pretty hard to pick up 17 seats in any one election, but probably not too hard to pick up 8-12, which is what I think might happen unless Abbott implodes.

    My expectation is that whoever wins Hughes in NSW will win the election and at this point, I think the ALP will get that back given the redistribution in that seat. You will probably see the co-alition picking up seats in QLD and for the rest of the states to trade seats evenly.

  16. My prediction: Clearly one of several Qld seats where both parties are doing everything they can to not win it. LNP gain, 4% swing.

  17. From a Dawson resident:

    In 2001, they had the ‘Candidate from Hell’ – we are living in the ‘Electorate from Hell’.

    You would think a electorate who’s main industries are mining, ports, sugar cane & tourism would be the last place a Greens candidate would be elected, but crazier things have happened.

    If this electorates outcome was predicted by ‘candidate failure’ rather than policy, then the Greens would come first, Family First 2nd, then LNP, ALP, and CEC would be a ‘no show’.

    The ALP candidate is also the Mayor for Whitsunday Council – I know a lot of residents in the Airlie Beach / Cannonvale / Jubilee Pocket area have been quite annoyed with his ‘just do it without asking’ style; a good example was the punch up at Bowen racecourse last weekend. It’s not the punch up that’s annoyed people here, but the arrogance of going and doing stuff without asking others and/or for permission.

    George, the LNP candidate, hasn’t done himself any favours with revelations that he was an editor of what looks like a ultra-right wing publication while he was at Uni.

    Jonathon from the Greens probably won the debate between all the candidates (except CEC) yesterday on ABC Tropic Radio (Mackay). He and Damain (Family First) both behaved well and gave answers without ‘having a go’ at the other candidates.

    Another big influence in the outcome of this electorate will be the Bligh factor. Brisbane seems as far away as Canberra from here, so State and Federal politics and matters do get blurred. The feeling is if one party does a bad job in State politics, then that same party will only do the same in Federal and Local politics.

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