Leichhardt – Election 2010

ALP 4.1%

Incumbent MP
Jim Turnour, since 2007.

Far North Queensland. Leichhardt covers the Cape York Peninsula and the east coast of Australia as far south as Cairns.

The redistribution saw two parts of territory near Cairns transferred from Leichhardt to Kennedy. The ALP’s margin was increased from 4.0% to 4.1%.

Leichhardt was first created at the 1949 election. The seat has been won by a party of government at every election since 1972, which makes it one of Australia’s longest-standing bellwether seats, along with Eden-Monaro.

The seat was first won in 1949 by Tom Gilmore of the Country Party, who was defeated by the ALP’s Henry Bruce in 1951. Bruce held the seat until his death shortly before the 1958 election, when he was succeeded by Bill Fulton.

Fulton held the seat until his retirement at the 1975 election. David Thomson won the seat for the National Country Party in 1975, and served as a minister in the Fraser government from 1979 until his defeat at the 1983 election, when John Gayler (ALP) won the seat.

Gaylor held the seat until his retirement in 1993, and the ALP’s Peter Dodd held the seat for one term before he was defeated by Warren Entsch (LIB) in 1996.

Entsch held the seat for eleven years before retiring in 2007, when a swing of over 14% gave the seat to the ALP’s Jim Turnour.


  • Jen Sackley (Independent)
  • Yodie Batzke (Independent)
  • Warren Entsch (Liberal National) – Member for Leichhardt 1996-2007.
  • Shannon McSweeney (Family First)
  • Neville St John-Wood (Greens)
  • Jim Turnour (Labor) – Member for Leichhardt since 2007.
  • Steve Lane (Independent)

Political situation
The Liberals suffered a massive swing in 2007 after a problematic campaign. Part of that swing would probably have been the result of the retirement of the sitting member, and this seat would be a high priority for the Coalition to win back with the return of Warren Entsch.

Leichhardt has also been home to the controversial Wild Rivers legislation, under which the Queensland government has protected rivers in Far North Queensland from development. This has come under attack from indigenous groups who support development which would not fit within the legislation. One of Tony Abbott’s first acts as leader was to visit the area and promise legislation to overturn the Queensland laws.

2007 result

Jim TurnourALP35,76243.12+12.08
Charlie McKillopLIB32,18738.81-14.80
Sue CoryGRN6,2197.50+0.99
Ian CrosslandNAT3,3033.98+3.98
Selwyn JohnstonIND1,4481.75+1.75
Norman MillerIND1,0901.31+1.31
Ben JacobsenFF1,0871.31-1.38
Damian BynesIND9171.11+1.11
Bridgette LennoxDEM4720.57-0.69
Tony HudsonIND3200.39+0.39
Rata Hami PughIND1390.17+0.17

2007 two-candidate-preferred result


Jim TurnourALP44,80054.01+14.27
Charlie McKillopLIB38,14445.99-14.27

Booth breakdown
Despite the vast area covered by Leichhardt, most of the population lives in the area immediately around Cairns. I have grouped all booths outside of Cairns Region into ‘Cape York’. I have then divided booths in Cairns Region into three areas. Those in the former Shire of Douglas are listed under ‘Douglas’. Booths in the former City of Cairns have been split between those north of Barron River, which are grouped as ‘Kuranda’, and the rest included in ‘Cairns’.

The ALP won over 70% on Cape York and smaller margins in the southern areas, while the Liberals won a slim majority in Douglas. The Greens performed most strongly in Kuranda and Douglas.

Polling booths in Leichhardt. Douglas in green, Kuranda in red, Cairns in yellow. Cape York not shown.
Voter group GRN % ALP 2CP % Total votes % of ordinary votes 
Cape York3.5970.028,23512.75
Other votes8.1749.8714,140
Polling booths in Leichhardt, showing results of the 2007 election.
Polling booths in Leichhardt, showing results of the 2007 election in the Cairns region, showing Port Douglas to the north.
Polling booths in Leichhardt, showing results of the 2007 election in Cairns and Kuranda.


  1. The ALP probably exhausted their popularity in this area in the 2007 election. Abbott’s first order of business as Liberal leader was to visit Leichhardt and he’s subsequently played the Wild Rivers card.

    Add in a popular candidate and this is one of very few seats that could fall to the Coalition/LNP.

  2. This is a Cairns electorate mainly, but personalities do count for something, Turnour will have had 3 years to entrench himself. Over time it has shifted against the ALP however as Cairns has ceased to be a blue-collar town. Labor’s 1949 loss was due to the sitting Kennedy MP not contesting Leichardt.

  3. Wild Rivers is an issue where the Queensland government has legislated to protect some northern rivers in ways that local indigenous communities believe impinges on their ability to develop. Tony Abbott weighed in opposing the legislation.

    Thanks for reminding me, I’ll add it to the profile.

  4. Given that the majority of voters live in Cairns, how relevant would the wild rivers issue actually be to most voters in this seat? Perhaps some assume they can get indigenous voters to swing to them, but getting indigenous voters to switch from Labor always proves more difficult than some hope.

    Perhaps Abbott’s interest in the wild rivers issue is more values-based, since it represents a classic conservative-progressive values clash, and a wedge issue for progressives. It may be targeted at a more general audience than voters in Leichhardt.

  5. Well presuming that the indigenous communities up there hate Noel Pearson, it probably won’t be a huge vote winner.

    Still indicates that the Libs are targetting this seat.

  6. Another super contest on the so called sun belt. I read a newspoll saying the coalition had a 51-49 lead over the ALP in queensland (a 1.5 point swing since the last election which had ALP 50.5 – coalition 49.5). Combined with Entsch and his colourful ties making a comeback and the fact that the ALP surely hit the high water mark in 2007, I think it will be down to the wire.

  7. Don’t underestimate the local knowledge of Yodie Batzke. She displays understanding and in-depth grasp of Leichhardt issues of public housing, wild rivers and the sale of the Cairns airport. This is no longer a two party race.

  8. The proposal to make the Coral Sea a marine park could have an adverse effect on the greens vote and their associates in the ALP as the conservation movement is now associated with PEW.
    PEW was founded and is funded by Sun Oil, a multi billion dollar corporation – check their website.
    The cat’s out of the bag!
    The question is, who will pick up these lost votes?

  9. Did you know jim turnour was asked not to stand again .
    Earlier this year he was asked to stand down and he refused.

    He is seen as a rudd puppet and the region believe he is useless as a voice for them.

  10. A Rudd puppet? What an odd term. Rudd is the leader of his party after all. Young Lib much?

  11. The Newspoll showed Qld following the national trend which seems to refute argument RSPT a big issue (unlike WA). Turnour has three years to build a profile, as for Wild Rivers its an argument mainly directed to The Oz opinion page.

  12. David, from June is correct, he was asked to step aside. Minister Garrett tried to put the Coaral Seas issues to one side, however it will depend wether The Greens can increse their vote as to the approval or not on the Coral Sea Marine Park. Garrett will only give his approval if there is a stonger Green vote (my guess up1.5 to 9%) however if the Greens get to 10% or better (not on the cards) The Marine Park will be gazetted.

    Expect a slew of Independents/ Fishing Party and FF Candidates to hop on board Monday Morning.

    On Turnour, he has kept a lot of tradies jobs for them and the electorate is clever at distinguishing from State politics and Anna Bligh’s unpopular policies. Expect a Labor ‘retain’ with a slight majority, maybe even getting across the line with Green preferences. However

    Entsch is a good politician, the National campaign against Abbott will be his biggest problem with swing voters, expect him to win some of the booths in the Southern suburbs and up North where The Greens brand is on the nose due to Wild Rivers and preferences will flow his way.

    Close, but Labor to retain.

  13. With no Nationals candidate to take votes away from the Liberals this seat is a walk up start to go back ‘home’.

  14. Yes, my info is that the ALP have ceased spending resources in this seat. This will go to the Liberals on quite a safe margin I believe.

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