Griffith by-election 2014

February 8, 2014

Likely by-election date
With the vacancy arising barely five weeks before Christmas, it is not possible to have a by-election this year. Generally it is considered to be undesirable to hold a by-election during the summer holidays, so the by-election will likely take place in February or March 2014.

Cause of by-election
Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced his resignation from Parliament and retirement from politics on Wednesday 13 November 2013, after losing power at the September 2013 federal election.

Read the profile for the seat of Griffith at the 2013 federal election.

Margin – ALP 3.0%

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 has become relatively safe for the ALP since it was won by Kevin Rudd in 1998.

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 defeated Julia Gillard to regain the Labor leadership in June 2013, and led the ALP to defeat at the 2013 federal election.

The ALP is running Terri Butler. The Liberal National Party is are running former AMA President Bill Glasson, who ran for the seat in 2013. The Greens are again running 2013 candidate Geoff Ebbs. Katter’s Australian Party are running Ray Sawyer.

Governments, even new governments, don’t usually gain seats off an opposition.

Kevin Rudd has always had a strong personal vote, and the loss of that vote could see Glasson gain even more ground in an area where he has a very high profile.

It is quite easy to see a scenario where Labor loses, but the LNP may not perform as strongly in its new position in government.

2013 result

Bill GlassonLNP36,48142.22+6.42
Kevin RuddALP34,87840.36-3.72
Geoff EbbsGRN8,79910.18-5.21
Karin HunterPUP2,9033.36+3.36
Greg SowdenIND7050.82+0.82
Adam KerteszFF6430.74-0.71
Luke MurrayKAP5950.69+0.69
Anne ReidSEC4450.51+0.51
Sherrilyn ChurchRUA4180.48+0.48
Liam FlenadySA3770.44+0.44
Jan McNicolSPP1650.19+0.19

2013 two-candidate-preferred result

Kevin RuddALP45,80553.01-5.45
Bill GlassonLNP40,60446.99+5.45
Polling places in Griffith at the 2013 federal election. Bulimba in green, East in red, Greenslopes in blue, South Brisbane in yellow. Click to enlarge.
Polling places in Griffith at the 2013 federal election. Bulimba in green, East in red, Greenslopes in blue, South Brisbane in yellow. Click to enlarge.

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.

The ALP won a majority in three areas, ranging from 54% in the east to just under 60% in South Brisbane. The LNP won a slim majority in Bulimba. The ALP suffered a swing in all four areas, ranging from 2.6% in South Brisbane to 6.6% in Bulimba.

The Greens vote varies widely, from 6% in the east and 7% in Bulimba up to almost 17% in South Brisbane.

Voter groupGRN %ALP 2PP %ALP swingTotal votes% of votes
South Brisbane16.9359.74-2.6212,68614.68
Other votes10.3550.87-7.4527,95532.35
Two-party-preferred votes in Griffith at the 2013 federal election.
Two-party-preferred votes in Griffith at the 2013 federal election.
Greens primary votes in Griffith at the 2013 federal election.
Greens primary votes in Griffith at the 2013 federal election.


  1. It’s being reported in the twitterverse that Andrew Bartlett will now be the Greens candidate instead of Geoff Ebbs. I also saw a report this week that PUP will not field a candidate, which seems odd, but I guess everything Clive does is odd.

  2. That would make it a more interesting contest. Not enough to leapfrog Labor, but Bartlett would certainly take some left-of-centre votes.

  3. May be Clive is getting bored with throwing money into politics – hard to build long term presence as a party if you don’t run a candidate in a seat in your strongest state

  4. I don’t think Clive is interested in by-elections. He knows that at a general election, he will get more media coverage and therefore will be more successful

  5. Will be interesting to see if this election result is based on local or national issues. If it’s local and only local and no one wants to send any federal message than surely Glasson has gotta be a huge chance since he beat Rudd on primary vote a few months back and there’s been no stronger local campaigner in Griffith in recent times than Rudd….he got votes from people who probably would have voted Liberal if Rudd wasn’t the candidate, Also it may be seen as honorable that Glasson is going to fight again for the seat and not throw the towel in despite campaigning so hard and losing in September. If however national issues come into play here, Labor will romp it in. Abbott is already out of his honeymoon period and the Coalition are trailing in the 2PP polls. If that translates to Griffith, it will remain Labor held with a double digit margin. Also, Glasson is never gonna win booths in Westend or South Brisbane, even more so now that Abbott’s showing his ant-homosexual leaning we all suspected he had, so Glasson needs to hope he gets enough swing voters from the areas like Bulimba and Camp Hill who probably were more voting out an infighting Labor gov in September of which Rudd was a big player in, than actually voting Liberal.

  6. Palmer has said he doesn’t want the byelection to distract from the WA senate, thus why PUP are not running.
    The senate is better for him, but even if they were at the same time, running dead in Griffith would be better then no candidate.

    Unless Palmer wants the party to start off as an almost purely senate based party.

  7. At $3.75, I think the Libs are good value here.

    There are some valid reasons for Liberals being big underdogs here. Governments rarely ever win seats off the opposition in by-elections, and the polls suggest around a 5% swing in Labor’s favour nationally since the last election, which is significant.

    However I think the gradual swing against Rudd in the seat in 2010 and 2013, and the results in the Queensland state election show that the demographs have been gradually changing in the LNP’s favour.

  8. Katter’s Australian Party announced today that their candidate in Griffith will be Ray Sawyer. Ray will be standing to ensure that government builds our country and not actively sells it off.

    Griffith is a part of the world that has been severally damaged by the joint economic policies of the Lib/Lab parties. Kevin Rudd summed up the problems in Griffith in his maiden speech.

    “One of the major employers in my electorate is Queensland Meats, which—together with several associated processing facilities—is responsible for nearly 1,000 jobs. These jobs were thrown into jeopardy by a unilateral decision by the previous Queensland coalition government to have the facility closed down without any effort to make the business viable and without any effort to retrain or redeploy the work force.”

    He was right but in the years he was PM he did nothing to regenerate Cannon Hill or Murarrie spending most of his time in the Bulimba & Balmoral rather than in the wealth generating end of his electorate. Since the rise of Libs as a government they have been just as anti-jobs as Rudd was.

    KAP is more concerned about meatworks and the employment of Australians. Without wealth generating industries like meatworks our economy goes down hill. Hopefully Ray Sawyer will be able to do something to address this situation.

    Griffith is an electorate that has been actively de-industrialised by both Lib/Lab parties. In this election we can send the pair of them a clear message without resulting in an unstable government.

    A vote for Ray Sawyer will be a vote for the future, not a vote for Labor or even a vote for LNP.

    Andrew Jackson

  9. I don’t hold to this belief the area in Griffith is changing so much that the LNP should take this. Labor was decimated and at their lowest and most hated at the last Qld state election yet they still held South Brisbane (a large suburb of Griffith) and then even managed to hold the by-election in South Brisbane a few weeks after. They only just and I mean JUST lost Bulimba, something which will be rectified March 2015. They also comforatbly hold the Morningside and Gabba Council wards in BCC…..all part of Griffith. Holland Park is the only council ward in the area which the Liberals have held for quite a few years now and in state, Greenslopes also is in Griffith but given how hated Labor were, the swing should have been much worse but it wasn’t. I also think the swings against Rudd in 2010 were a result of Labor doing everything possible to turn people off them with th infighting and all and also people getting a bit over Rudd. He still won those elections despite the swings.

  10. Hard to call, this one. Rudd had the strong personal following, but even that took a battering in the past, and now he’s foisted an unnecessary by-election on the voters. But this area is hardly warming to the LNP, and I mean both federally and at state level. Labor will probably hold, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the LNP win, especially with its candidate from last year running again after out-polling Rudd on primary votes (typical).

  11. RuddforPM-“Holland Park is the only council ward in the area which the Liberals have held for quite a few years now and in state, Greenslopes also is in Griffith but given how hated Labor were, the swing should have been much worse but it wasn’t. I also think the swings against Rudd in 2010 were a result of Labor doing everything possible to turn people off them with th infighting and all and also people getting a bit over Rudd. He still won those elections despite the swings.”

    What I don’t understand however is that the swings Kevin Rudd had against him were higher than any of his other colleagues who managed to hang on in South-East Queensland. I hardly believe Wayne Swan or Graham Perrett went into the election holding stronger personal brands than Kevin Rudd, so I can only put that down to changing demographics in Griffith.

  12. @Shazzadude – Rudd suffered the smallest swing in QLD at the 2010 election, perhaps a sympathy vote?

    In 2013, thus, he had more potential for a swing against him, as well as that sympathy vote possibly going sour after three of internal conflict.

  13. Will not be surprised if Liberal win. Australians DO NOT want Islamic immigration! Sorry, I used to be progressive but have seen the horror of the Netherlands under Islamic attack! NO ghettos, English please, respect for secular laws, rights for women and minorities! Hope Bill wins!

  14. Brenton how many Australians do you speak for exactly. You do not speak for me. So that is all ready 22 million minus one.

  15. make that minus 2. Brenton, Griffith is one of the most multicultural parts of the city. and clearly your not progressive because if you were, you wouldn’t go straight to the libs, you’d vote for a minor party. Its also incredibly racist to say that just because there might be an increase in islamic migration or addherence, doesn’t mean Australia will become an Islamic state. All religions have a fault, look at the catholic church at the moment. But if a priest moved in next to me I wouldn’t assume he is like every other priest. I wouldn’t assume that all kids are in danger if there is a rise in christian addherence or that we become like those crazy religious protesters over censoring everything. I hope the best candidate who can promote its multicultural identity wins

  16. Discussion seems to be getting a bit off track with respect to Griffith bye-election.

    Netherlands takeover by Islamic or mass movements of Catholic Priests into streets seems to have little to do with Griffith. Although I believe that the Dutch Club was once in Griffith electorate but like most of Griffith’s Industries they along with most of Griffith’s Industry has been pushed to the outer suburbs or is it into non existence.
    How about getting back to exactly what Labor did for Griffith rather than what Griffith did for Rudd.

    If Glasson wants to win he will have to come out and distance himself from the George St mob.
    But all said and done his chances are much better than the Lib in Redcliffe who has as much chance as a snowball in hell.

    News Limited has nothing on the Westender for political bias.

    Andrew Jackson

  17. @Shazzadude. There’s quite a number of explanations for it. As also hinted to above, Rudd didn’t suffer as much a swing as some of his colleagues did in Qld in 2010 so it was always gonna go against the trend this time. Also Swan and Perrett didn’t have strong candidates against them who ran their own mini-elections within a seat. People who voted Swan and Perrett were mostly voting against Abbott, whereas some in Griffith voted against Rudd as a local member as much as against him as PM and quite liked Glasson. Also Swan and Perrett are in seats with strong history of being Labor, well Swan’s is anyway. Back to Griffith though; Abbott has ensured this by-election will be like most where the people send a message to the government not a protest on issues just within their own electorate. Abbott has ruined Glasson’s chances. There’s a reason you have to go back to the 1920’s to find an example of where a sitting government has won a by-election in a seat they didn’t already hold.

  18. SportsBet has Labor firm favourites against the Liberals:

    $1.08 ALP / $6.50 LIB

    I think that the Griffith by-election is Labor’s to lose. Betting firms are freakishly correct when it comes to predicting the outcome of elections ahead of time.

  19. Whilst delivering pamphlets for Ray Sawyer KAP Candidate for Griffith this morning I passed three ALP roadside stalls.

    Carefully I removed KAP identification and stored the KAP brochures and walked past. AT two of the ALP booths the women failed to acknowledge my presence. The LIb (and I say LIb they are not National in any way) spoke to me but had to be prompted to provide a leaflet.

    IN effect both ALP and LNP booth workers failed to be active. They showed less salesmanship than Woollies Check Out Chicks. They believe the only message that they need to present is a the smiling face of their own candidates.

    I would rank the Salesmanship of two of the ALP booths as 2/10 the other ALP booth as 3/10 and the LNP booth worker as 4/10.

    To the booth worker who thought that her phone call was more important than the message she was promoting I agree your phone call was more important. It interested you in a way that ALP Candidate certainly did not.

    Ray Sawyer was active at Murarrie in KAP’s new colours and his workers were handing out an A5 flyer with details of the candidate and his policies. Obviously Ray Sawyer has a message to sell.

    Andrew Jackson

  20. Some good points, Rudd for PM. I would’ve thought the PM effect would be worth a few points however, especially if Rudd being PM was a strong enough factor to be the difference between Labor having either 6 seats or zero seats in Queensland.

    Khan: “SportsBet has Labor firm favourites against the Liberals:

    $1.08 ALP / $6.50 LIB

    I think that the Griffith by-election is Labor’s to lose. Betting firms are freakishly correct when it comes to predicting the outcome of elections ahead of time.”

    Michelle Rowland was a $6 underdog in Greenway on the day of the election and got up.

    It’s worth noting the bookies installed the Libs as favourites originally.

  21. I cannot believe so many people think that this is too close to call……… Terri Butler will piss it in.

    The new Labor margin after next Saturday should no doubt be in double digits.

  22. Love how the tories have suddenly lost confidence here and are now just trying to higher the expectations of labor that may not be possible. When Kevin Rudd left, so did his 5% personal vote. In the redistribution where parts of his electorate went to Bonner in 04, those who voted for labor when they were in Grifith did not when they were in Bonner. This seat should be a dream for a new government. A high profile candidate who is the closest to an incumbent, loss of a popular member, this seat should be a liberal seat after Saturday but the shocking way they have handled government will lose it for them. Going to enjoy watching the libs spin their way out of this

  23. Bonner swung 2.4% to the Libs in 2004, so you’d expect a few former Rudd voters to have swapped to the Libs. Considering it was contested by the Labor MP for Bowman, it wouldn’t be surprising if the parts from Griffith swung more to the Libs than the parts from Bowman.

  24. Predictions by betting is a much disputed topic.Check Peter Brent at Mumble over the years for a dissection of this claim. Betting tends to align with the polls as the date for the election approaches. Further out from the election I don’t know that they are of much value.

  25. Remarkably at the Candidates forum in West End on Wednesday ALP candidate Terri Butler indicated that she was prepared to cross the floor in the interests of the electorate of Griffith.

    This is remarkable because to nominate for ALP pre-selection my understanding is she gave an undertaking and signed a pledge to vote with her Caucus colleagues.

    Butler is on the same track as a previous member for the area covered by the seat of Griffith. Vince Gair ALP Premier & MLA for South Brisbane who in 1957 dared to not comply with the dictat of the ALP and as a result received the infamous Midnight knock on the door on the morning of Anzac Day 1957 with a letter expelling him from the party. Will the ALP expel Butler or was her promise to the electorate of Griffith just an election ploy.

    Butler is either a signatory to the Pledge or she is not. If she is a signatory then she was less than accurate with the truth in West End. If she is not a signatory she is not really an ALP Candidate.
    Andrew Jackson

  26. Andrew whilst she may have said that, she’s not talking about every issue. if it was something minor like terminating a bus stop then she wouldn’t cross the floor for that like you seem to think but if it was something like a radioactive dump in Griffith then she would probably cross the floor. There are ways in which a party will grant a member to either cross the floor or obstain from voting.
    It should also be noted that Bill Glasson has already said a comment of the same nature. BTW do you know who katter is preferencing? Will be interesting to know if they are willing to give a confidence message to the Abbott government by placing LNP second or above labor

  27. Can I ask what the Vote was for the ALP and the LNP was for the Senate at the 2013 and 2010 election? That might hold a clue as to how much of a personal vote Rudd had and how much (in real terms) the ALP might need to gain.

  28. Observor

    I am surprised that an ALP MP would have to cross the floor to vote against a nuclear waste dump.

    I am also surprised that ALP think that oit is a federal matter where bust stops are located.

    A nuclear dump in an electorate with 90000 Voters probably a Population of 150K in an area of 6 Square kilometers sounds like a lack of Town Planning. If it is only a choice between laissez faire neo liberalism and ALP neo-liberalism who can tell what they is secreted in Orwellian clouds.

    As for KAP HTV it is a split ticket giving a blue option and a red option. IF you send me an e-mail I will scan one and send to you. MY e-mail address is visible below.

    Andrew Jackson

  29. Senate votes for Griffith 2010 – ALP 29.1%, LNP 35.6%, Greens 24.0%.
    2013 – ALP 33.2%, LNP 38.9%, Greens 13.5%.
    Bear in mind that the 2010 ALP Senate vote state-wide was only 29.4%, which if I remember correctly was their 2nd lowest on record in Qld.

  30. No Andrew but what I am saying is that Terri Buttler isn’t going to cross the floor on every issue that might go against the electorate

  31. Crossing the floor results in explusion from the ALP. What is common is members of the ALP and Libs not being present for votes. Undeclared abstention if you will

  32. Hmm ok so there is a suggestion of a personal vote to Rudd of about 8%. Glasson needs to take a chunk of that personal vote to be any chance.

  33. Last predictions?

    I was originally thinking a blow out, but the Libs have made a real go here, so I’ll say 53-47 to Labor, same result as the Federal election.

  34. I remind Unitary State of his/her comment 27 Jan “Terri Butler will piss it in.

    The new Labor margin after next Saturday should no doubt be in double digits”

    I am not sure who will win but I am certain that double digits are highly unlikely.

    I will be on Mayfield SS for most of day handing out Ray Sawyer’s HTV so if anyone from Tallyroom is voting there say good day.
    I will have a Bob Katter look alike with me so you can even get your photo taken with my Bob. Much more visible than Akroyd has been during the campaign.

    I have even got the bloke who introduced me to working on a polling booth’s back in 1969 with the QLP when I was still at high school helping me to ensure that KAP candidate Ray Sawyer has a chance. Between us Barry and I must have had 50 plus elections up out in sun and at least four days in the pouring rain handing out HTV as well as a few days sitting inside in relative comfort being paid by AEC for day.

    Personally I can not remember any Party worker working the booths being anything other than friendly to each other but do recall quite a few voters who lacked the refinement of the Party Workers. Thanks to the Lib who let me share their umberella in WEst Geelong. I still got back to my lodgings saturated.

    Ben Well don with Tally Room. Why not open up a thread Funny Tales from Polls. No names no pack drill once Radcliffe is over and done with. We can all then tell each other about our experiences with the committed or those who should have been Committed.

    Good Luck to all tomorrow. 10 out of 11 will be disappointing but disappointment is better than the alternative disappearance.

    This campaign is the first one in many years where I have been called a Grouper. Previous time was by a “Public Servant for Whitlam”

    Andrew Jackson

  35. I spent the whole day at Mayfield SS and apart from an incident involving a FF drink deliverer driving a Fairlane we managed to have Civil and Friendly discussions amongst all parties all day. Freedom of Speech does not give you the right to be abusive even to a Green Worker.
    Thanks Peter Paul and David and Stan’s family.

    FF needs to train their booth workers to deal with the world outside the confines of AOG.

    A year ago at South Brisbane during the By- Election a FF ministers wife was clearly in breach of electoral act in chasing voters up the pathway. If the Green’s had behaved the way this lady behaved I personally would have lodged a Statutory Declaration with DRO and would have quite happily have testified against her.

    Yes I know this is a double standard. Actually I expect higher standards off FF than I do off the Greens.

    Unitary State what did Terri Butler do wrong in a week to loose 9% of the vote?

    Surprisiongly for the first time ever neither LIb or ALP Candidate visited the booth I was working on. In fact the onbly candidate to visit Mayfield was Ray Sawyer the Katter Candidate. I would have been dissapoimnetdv if he had not

  36. Why do you expect higher standards from FF than the Greens?

    In the ACT they are well behaved well educated middle class very attuned to ensure things are done properly, like just about all other booth workers. You occasionally have to watch the Liberal poll workers though

  37. Observer
    Posted January 27, 2014 at 11:15 PM

    I agree. The Government has been disappointing to date except on asylum seekers. Here I was hoping that they would reneg on all of their policies and get the sort of neo-classical economic government we frankly need right now. Hopefully by budget time we will get that.

    I agree with Rudd’s personal vote of around 5%. That’s probably about right. So, on balance, this is a swing to the Opposition, but not a strong one.

  38. From the result, it’s probably worth noting that without a PUP candidate, that vote was likely to go to the LNP without any leakage to labor on preference. Also the swing to labor seems to be in areas that went LNP last time, probably the swing against labor is a result of lower turnout. Also it was always a big ask for labor to say reject the medical hero and go with a union lawyer, particularly considering that it was guaranteed three years of opposition representation.

    I think Abbott shouldn’t try and spin this, he can do so publicly to make himself feel good but internally, the government needs to remember this was a huge missed opportunity and whether they claim underdog status, it was easily possible for them to claim victory. I feel sorry for Glasson, he was the victim of a secretive, dishonest, arrogant brand of government and although unlikely, I seriously hope the LNP give him a senate spot, he has more credibility then some of the LNP hacks that are in already

  39. Andrew Jackson, your comments about Greens supporters show your complete ignorance about the subject. You suggest that FF voters and party workers should have higher standards than the Greens. Can I suggest you look at the history of world religion and its reign of terror and to those who enforce it? Not a pretty picture at all! Well known demographic fact. Greens voters are among the most educated and affluent in Australian society. So the whole myth about Greens voters being on the dole and constantly being at protests is a complete farce .I have gven out how to vote cards over the years as well. The only hatred and nastiest I have encountered at polling booths is from FF!

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