Cook – QLD 2020

ALP 5.8% vs ON

Incumbent MP
Cynthia Lui, since 2017.

Far North Queensland. Cook covers all of Cape York and extends to the northern fringe of Cairns. It includes the towns of Port Douglas, Mossman and Cooktown, as well as all of Cape York and the Torres Strait Islands.

A seat by the name of Cook has existed since 1876, except for one term in the 1950s. The seat was held by the ALP for most of the twentieth century.

The seat was first won by the ALP in 1915, when Henry Ryan won the seat. The Country Party’s James Kenny won the seat in 1929 and held it until 1935. The ALP’s Harold Collins won the seat in 1935. He held it until Cook was abolished at the 1950 election. He moved to the seat of Tablelands, which he held until 1957.

Cook was restored at the 1953 election, when it was won by the ALP’s Bunny Adair. He left the ALP to join the anti-communist Queensland Labor Partyin 1957. He then became an independent in 1963, and held the seat until 1969.

The ALP’s Bill Wood held the seat from 1969 to 1972, followed by Edwin Wallis-Smith, also from the ALP, from 1972 to 1974.

The Country Party’s Eric Deeral won the seat in 1974 and lost it in 1977.

Bob Scott won the seat back for the ALP in 1977 and held it until 1989. Steve Bredhauer held the seat from 1989 to 2004, serving as Minister for Transport from 1998 to 2004. Bredhauer was succeeded in 2004 by his electorate officer Jason O’Brien.

Jason O’Brien was re-elected in 2006 and 2009. In 2012, O’Brien was defeated by LNP candidate David Kempton.

Kempton lost in 2015 to Labor candidate Billy Gordon. After he was elected, accusations surfaced against Gordon about previous criminal offences committed in the 1980s, as well as accusations of domestic violence. These offences had not been disclosed to his party, and Gordon was expelled from the Labor caucus over the issue. Gordon sat on the crossbench as an independent for the remainder of his term.

Gordon retired in 2017, and Labor’s Cynthia Lui won the seat.


Cook usually goes to Labor.

2017 result

Cynthia Lui Labor 10,10540.1-0.3
Jen SackleyOne Nation4,63918.4+18.4
Penny Johnson Liberal National 4,47517.8-15.9
Gordon RasmussenKatter’s Australian Party4,27817.0+4.5
Brynn Mathews Greens 1,7036.8+1.4

2017 two-candidate-preferred result

Cynthia Lui Labor 14,07155.8-1.0
Jen SackleyOne Nation11,12944.2+44.2

Booth breakdown

Booths in Cook have been divided into three areas. Polling places in Port Douglas have been grouped together, and the remaining booths have been split into north and south.

Labor won a majority of the two-candidate-preferred vote in two out of three areas, with 55% in the Port Douglas area and 74% in the north of the seat. One Nation polled 56.6% in the south.

The LNP came third, with a vote ranging from 13.7% in the north to 19.8% in the south. Katter’s Australian Party came fourth, with a vote ranging from 11.9% in the north to 27.7% in the south.

Voter groupLNP primKAP primALP 2CPTotal votes% of votes
Port Douglas17.320.055.23,37413.4
Other votes14.09.071.24,37817.4

Election results in Cook at the 2017 QLD state election
Toggle between two-candidate-preferred votes (Labor vs One Nation), and primary votes for Katter’s Australian Party and the Liberal National Party.

Become a Patron!


  1. The fact that Warren Enstch only got a small swing to him conpared to a large swing most of his other QLD colleagues got shows the LNP would be ill-advised to target this seat. There isn’t much ground they can gain here. The next time the LNP if and when win a landslide then maybe. But for now Labor will win. It could even be vs One Nation again

  2. Entsch has a strong personal vote in Leichhardt, which is already baked into the Lib result for every federal election since 1998 (except 2007, when he didn’t run). Check out the graph about halfway down this page:

    Also, the LNP generally does better at federal elections than state ones – five years of government since 1989 isn’t what you’d expect of a state that reliably sends two-thirds LNP MPs to Canberra. WA does the same thing.

    Here’s a thought, actually – no LNP / Nat govt has been re-elected in Qld since the Joh years. If they manage to win, and then don’t screw it up like Newman or just get unlucky like Borbidge, 2024 could be kinda like 2001 with the parties swapped (or SA 2002, Vic 2002, NSW 1999) – landslide re-election while the opposite side is in power federally (that also assumes Albanese wins federally in 2022). If that happens, Cook could go LNP in 2024 – less likely than Cairns or Barron River, but possible.

    As for 2020? Lui should get a sophomore swing, so the main interest will be who comes second – LNP, KAP and ON almost tied last time. A small swing to LNP could actually result in a 2cp swing to Labor, as minor party voters are less obedient with HTV cards than the LNP.

  3. This will definitely end up as another Labor v PHON contest.

    PHON actually seems to be taking this seat seriously and might have a chance of an upset victory if they get enough preferences from KAP/NQ First/LNP and the popular Independent running – Yodie Batzki.

    Labor’s Cythia Liu seems like a very good MP, but I have this as one to watch for an upset.

  4. It seems I’ve been talking about Cook on other seat profiles (Barron River, Cairns, others) but Cook itself. I originally had this down as an ALP Retain with Cynthia being a decent MP. And Labor actually choosing someone good to replace the debacle that was Gordon and Pyne (Cairns).

    KAP, ONP, NQF are really throwing some serious resources into this seat (leaving the two city seats of Carins alone) which is probably why the LNP haven’t bothered to select a candidate for this seat yet (or no one has come forward). Plus the LNP can focus elsewhere, like Cairns and Barron River. With the focus on this seat I’m putting it as TOSS-UP as I can seriously see an upset here thanks to CPV and the 4 right wing parties… just as long as it doesn’t splinter too much. I can actually see the KAP vote increasing in the south bordering both Traeger and Hill. It could be a case the ALP gets a swing against it, this goes to KAP, and ONP absorbs some of the LNP vote for running dead for now. Nevertheless, one seat I will definitely be watching on election night!

    Prediction (August 2020): TOSS-UP – Lean ALP

  5. The LNP candidate is Nipper Brown, has been so for a couple of weeks… whether he has any prospects though…

  6. Liu will win. With the introduction of NQF, the non-Labor vote will fragment even further. Leakage of preferences will assist, and Labor may even get a small swing in their favour.

    If I were running KAP, PHON and NQF, I’d want to work out some kind of unofficial alliance whereby two parties stand aside so the third has a realistic shot of winning (e.g. PHON in Cook, Mackay and Mirani, KAP in Hinchinbrook and Burdekin, NQF in Whitsunday). It isn’t in their combined interests to cannibalise their target audience in five-cornered contests, even with compulsory preferences.

  7. Some of the NT seats at last month’s election were interesting: Aboriginal independents won the seat of Mulka, came close in Arnhem and also won the Borroloora booth in Barkly (all in the north-eastern NT, along the Gulf of Carpentaria). NT politics is a very different ball game, but Labor might not always be able to take those ridiculously strong Cape York booths for granted.

  8. I can’t see an electorate with a strong representation of indigenous voters ever giving their support to One Nation. It would be like turkeys voting for Christmas.

    For any of the non-Labor parties to even have a shot, one will need to get close to 30% on primaries and then feast on the preferences of the rest. As it is, the LNP, KAP and PHON all got less than 20% last time. Where will this big swing come from?

    Nipper Brown only narrowly lost the mayoral election for Mareeba; he could potentially put the LNP in front of KAP in Mareeba. That could be enough to keep the LNP ahead of PHON in the final count. But what would I know? 🙂

  9. I wasn’t suggesting One Nation. (Although Aboriginal-majority seats voted in the CLP in 2012, not that they got much out of it.) Local independents from Aboriginal communities can fly completely under the radar without city-based party machines or media knowing they exist, like Nhulunbuy 2016, which left Labor’s deputy leader wondering what the hell happened to her safe seat. It’s harder in Qld because of the much bigger seats, but if that sort of thing were ever to happen then Cook would be the seat it’d happen in.

  10. KAP do well around Mareeba, which used to be in Dalrymple so people would remember Shane Knuth being their local MP. (It was also in Tablelands longer ago, which was held by the only long-term One Nation MP ever, until she lost her seat by redistribution – to Knuth.) And it’s in Kennedy for federal elections. Further north, it’s tricky. Cape York Peninsula isn’t really Katter country.

    Fun fact: Aurukun had a 15% vote for Fraser Anning’s party at last year’s federal election in Leichhardt – they came second, one vote ahead of the LNP. That must be Anning’s best result anywhere, thanks to the donkey vote. (That, or a remote Aboriginal community actually decided to vote for a neo-nazi. The donkey’s more likely, though.)

  11. @Bird of Paradox – thanks an interesting fun fact…minus the fun 😛

    That’s an interesting observation re: Mareeba. I remember seeing an article two weeks ago about Shane Knuth retiring a car because it had traveled so much in the electorate, and with him was their Cook candidate (Tanika Parker). So they’re obviously using that link of Shane to the southern areas. I concur up North of the electorate isn’t really Katter country, but they don’t need to win the north, just have enough votes up there to keep them in the game. The South is becoming stronger Katter, so really it’s around Port Douglas that will decide if Katter can overcome LNP/ONP/NQF, while holding a steady vote in the South.

    The other issue is though, if the seat polls (mentioned on the Thuringowa thread) are sensing a trend down in ONP vote (that poll looks extreme, copious grains of salt) then it could depend on ONP preferences. I’d normally say these help the LNP, but Hinchinbrook 2017 showed they can be friendly to KAP too. All this means, is this seat is still a TOSS-UP being too close to call for now.

  12. So this seat is one of 5 with the most candidates, raking in 7! All those 5 are north of Brisbane on the east coast.

    It still really is a dog’s breakfast here. I still think ONP vote peaked in 2017 and can see Yodie getting the north booth to herself, weakening Labor’s hold, although these might flow back in preferences. Realistically I see this seat has 3 scenarios, ALP Retain, LNP Gain or KAP Gain. It’ll just depend on the order of primary and then preference vote.

    Prediction (September 2020): TOSS-UP Too Close to Call [change from TOSS-UP ALP Lean]

  13. KAP certainly have potential to win from third, if they overtake ONP, making this one of the most psephologically interesting seats in this election.

    The ONP vote apparent decline showing up in seat polls may be due to Senator Hanson`s support for reopening state border controls, despite ONP having voters who are mainly parochial compared to the average Queenslander. I suspect that Hanson this is because Senator Hanson, the former Liberal and shop owner, more pro-market than many of her voters.

  14. LNP don’t have a chance here people. Unless they get a landslide like a 54-46 TPP or something. If Labor isn’t winning. Katter will. And who is to say Katter will preference the LNP over Labor? Pretty sure Bob Katter prefers Labor. Most of you people think the ALP will only hold 1-2 seats North of the Sunshine coast, Well let me tell you that is a BS prediction. Even in 2012 they weren’t wiped out north of the Sunny. The federal election last year doesn’t say a thing. Just ask Tim Nicholls and the 2016 Federal election. The LNP are not getting a majority government them winning here would suggest so which also won’t happen. Bancroft and Pine Rivers are more likely to fall than this. There will be a sophomore surge or the 1st term MP here, question is will it outweigh the small swing Labor will get against them here

  15. In 2017 the Katter Party were only 200 primary votes away from taking Cynthia Lui to a very close 2PP contest, probably would have been 51/49.

    I suspect their candidate this time will have a stronger chance than in 2017. Narrow Katter gain is my pick

  16. I have seen some comments where people have said that KAP will come on 2pp. This is unlikely that KAP will come out and win this seat but slightly more possible if they beat ONP to coming second on 2pp. With the introduction of NQF splintering the conservative vote further, and a popular independent candidate (Yodie Batzke) running, it shouldn’t be ruled it out.

    For KAP to win, the candidate must come in second place, or be very close to being 2nd on the primary vote and then to win on preferences to gain the seat.

    I’m predicting that this electorate likley will come down to a Labor – ONP on 2pp again. The ONP candidate (Brett Neal) and the party seem to be campaigning in this seat hard which cannot be said in 2017. In 2017 there was a heap of media attention but no campaigning (e.g. visiting the remote communities, talking to people, roadsiding etc). The sitting Labor MP has moved her office outside of the electorate into Cairns and this would likely take a bit of a hit on her vote. Therefore I expect this seat to become more maginal and I would predict a 2pp vote of ~51% Labor vs ~49% ONP but wouldn’t be suprised if ONP gains the seat.

    A complete tossup.

  17. Final prediction: an absolute nail biter, down to the wire, almost too close to call, could take days to count but very slight elan to Labor hold.

  18. What a lottery and too hard to call. If Labor loses it would be to the Independent or to the Katter candidate

  19. “For KAP to win, the candidate must come in second place, or be very close to being 2nd on the primary vote and then to win on preferences to gain the seat.”

    Last election they came fourth on 17% primary, yet another 200 primary votes and they would have entered the 2PP against Labor.

    If they’re third, but beat the LNP with ON preferences, then they’re in the 2PP with LNP preferences behind them against Labor.

  20. Electorates with large indigenous populations are likely to stick with Labor because they acted to prevent vulnerable communities from the threat posed by Covid. An increased majority would not surprise.

  21. Close but I’m calling this a KAP gain. By all accounts they have a strong candidate, I think they’ll do better than last time and preferences will get them home.

  22. PN
    Doubtless you are correct. However you really are getting carried away with the covid stuff. I think Jacinta Price could give you at least a couple of dozen better reasons than that.

  23. KAP was in fact the first to call for a complete lock down wanting to isolate NQ from the infection in the South. This was of course the correct policy but as with a lot of KAP policies it was ahead of its time.
    Let ‘s face it if China had totally isolated Wuhan in January or world had totally isolated China in late Feb this would not have been the crisis it has been.
    It is now clear that failure to act early has been the cause of the virus spreading.
    All Australian Governments have done a good job. Whilst we go into a Qld election the state sits on 1.3 Deaths per million whilst Europe and USA are having higher daily figures per million population than we have in whole crisis.
    Effectively the ALP Queensland Government adopted the policy that KAP proposed In February.
    Our Slaughter rate reflects this policy adoption.

  24. PK would have a point if the indigenous independent wasn’t in the mix, as I previously stated that impacts the Labor vote. By how much I am uncertain.

  25. winey .. The border politicking is the work of Morrison and Berijiklian .. They have exclusively condemned QLD yet have not said a thing about Liberal States such as Tasmania and South Australia who have been pretty much in lock-step with QLD. Why? .. because they are trying to undermine the ALP Govt. By the way, just because someone on Sky News says something it doesn’t make it factual.

  26. Calling this an ALP loss. Probably KAP gain. This will happen before 11 pm. Robbie will be the “queen maker”! I’m hoping he comes to the table with 7+ seats

  27. HTVs as I can find them:
    KAP have ONP second, but your choice of LNP or ALP at #6 and #7.
    ONP have KAP second, LNP before ALP.
    LNP have ONP before KAP. Revenge for the split ticket?

    So I think KAP winning on prefs means they probably need to have ONP finish fourth to kick off the snowball.

    UAP are running a non-local candidate (Batzke was #3 on Palmer’s senate ticket last year, so Goulmy is perhaps a late replacement); preferencing LNP at #2, minor right, KAP, ONP.

    NQF’s candidate is a local Aboriginal mayor, for those wondering. NQF appear to be consistently preferencing KAP #2.

    Batzke appears to be going with a straight donkey vote, so that’s LNP #2, and then ONP before KAP.

    Labor appear to have KAP #2.

  28. PK
    I’ll let you in on a little secret : No one cares about Tasmania !.& the same about SA EXCEPT for the wineries !. They are irrelevant, except that they pervert our democracy through overrepresentation — the senate.
    We have to pay for those bludgers anyway, a little more or less –meh.

    OTH QLD is haemorrhaging money, jobs, etc. ANOTHER secret Glady’s has her own problems…..! OR DID YOU MISS THAT !?
    Scotty is a little preoccupied with Dan ATM. Aren’t you being a little QLD centric ?.

    Thanks for the advice on SKY. Having studied the enneagram for 12 years i tend to take more notice of whom the info comes from, rather than where. Motivations are important. Bear in mind SKY has considerable reach into regional Australia, & few posters here watch it. always trying to help out !
    cheers WD

  29. The way I see it, if Cook goes to KAP or ONP, then neither the ALP or LNP will win majority government (very unlikely LNP would win a majority in any case).

  30. P.S. Still think Lui will win, but less confident than before. This might be the 47th piece in the puzzle for either side.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here