Dawson – Australia 2022

LNP 14.6%

Incumbent MP
George Christensen, since 2010.

Geography
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.

History
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. Bidgood didn’t run for re-election in 2010, and a 5% swing back to the Liberal National Party saw George Christensen win the seat. Christensen has been re-elected three times.

Christensen announced plans to retire at the next election in 2021. In April 2022, shortly before the election was called, he resigned from the Liberal National Party. The following week he announced he had joined Pauline Hanson’s One Nation and was running as the third One Nation Senate candidate in Queensland.

Candidates
Sitting Liberal National MP George Christensen is running for the Senate as the third One Nation candidate.

  • Andrew Willcox (Liberal National)
  • Julie Hall (One Nation)
  • Shane Hamilton (Labor)
  • Jim Jackson (Great Australian Party)
  • Christian Young (United Australia)
  • Ciaron Paterson (Katter’s Australian Party)
  • Paula Creen (Greens)
  • Assessment
    Dawson looks like a safe LNP seat, but that is based on a large swing at the last election. A reversal of that swing would make this seat much more competitive, but the LNP would still be favourites.

    2019 result

    CandidatePartyVotes%Swing
    George Christensen Liberal National 38,16443.0+0.3
    Belinda Hassan Labor 18,02220.3-12.5
    Debra LawsonOne Nation11,62813.1+13.1
    Brendan BunyanKatter’s Australian Party5,6196.3-0.2
    Colin ThompsonUnited Australia Party4,3554.9+4.9
    Imogen Lindenberg Greens 4,0094.5-0.7
    Ann-Maree WareDemocratic Labour Party2,8353.2+3.2
    Lachlan QueenanIndependent2,4782.8+2.8
    Michael TurnerConservative National Party1,7412.0+2.0
    Informal6,6997.0+2.5

    2019 two-party-preferred result

    CandidatePartyVotes%Swing
    George Christensen Liberal National 57,40564.6+11.2
    Belinda Hassan Labor 31,44635.4-11.2

    Booth breakdown

    Booths have been divided into five areas. Dawson covers parts of four local government areas. Polling places in Townsville, Burdekin and Whitsunday have been grouped according to council area. About half of voters live in Mackay Regional Council area. These booths are split between those in the Mackay urban area and those in the remainder of the region.

    The LNP won a majority of the two-party-preferred vote in all five areas, ranging from 60.1% in urban Mackay to 72.6% in Burdekin.

    One Nation came third, with a primary vote ranging from 9% in Townsville to 15.2% in rural parts of the Mackay region.

    Voter groupON prim %LNP 2PP %Total votes% of votes
    Mackay Urban13.860.115,26017.2
    Townsville9.061.37,1258.0
    Mackay Rural15.265.86,7557.6
    Whitsunday13.162.06,3757.2
    Burdekin12.972.64,0264.5
    Pre-poll13.165.939,40744.4
    Other votes13.566.39,90311.1

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

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    39 COMMENTS

    1. Labor held on to Mackay at the state election with a small swing against, which people seem to be putting down to the power of incumbency during covid. But even in that election, Whitsunday, Burdekin and Mirani firmed up for conservatives.

      Conventional political wisdom had Christensen as a goner in 2019, but conventional political wisdom has failed quite often in the last couple of decades. Looking at the pendulum now it’s hard to believe this seat was marginal and targeted by Labor in 2019. The LNP have more margin here than in long term safe seats where Labor haven’t tried for decades.

      Whatever it is the area likes about Christensen and the LNP, it would be just as true now as it was in 2019. I don’t think the Labor -> PHON voters are coming back to Labor, at least not in similar numbers.

      It’s not even likely Labor will (or should) put marginal seat resources into this seat. Their path to victory doesn’t go through Dawson.

    2. Apparently last federal election Labor behind the scenes knew that George Christensen trips to the Philippines knew were not issue in the electorate according to the book ‘Party Animals’. The electorate didn’t really care and it reflected with a massive swing to Christensen. The Adani issue was particularly cutting in this seat as there are mining workers who travel to neighboring electorates Capricornia that work in the industry.

      LNP likely to retain. The base primary vote Labor is coming off is just too low at 20.3% to make up in one election. Although it was reported in Courier Mail that Labor insist the seat is in play with Christensen not recontesting. I will say though One Nation’s vote is unpredictable. And people need to be careful in making assumptions that it will automatically flow back to the LNP. Its why state seats of Hervey Bay and Nicklin were missed by commentators at the last state election as Labor gains as most of the plummeting One Nation primary vote trickled to Labor’s column and instead of the LNP’s. However, because mining and incumbency is likely benefit the LNP it certainly plausible to draw that conclusion in this seat.

      Labor has already named their candidate with mining worker Shane Hamilton. It was reported in June Businessman Geoff Baguley was frontrunner to be the LNP candidate in Dawson. Former rugby league player now Mackay Councillor Martin Bella and Whitsunday Mayor Andrew Willcox are apparently are also seeking LNP preselection.

      It was reported in the Guardian a couple of days ago there was last minute effort by Matt Canavan and Barnaby Joyce forces to convince Christensen stay. This was done to boost Joyce’s numbers in the Nationals, but Christensen indicated he was not interested.

    3. I’m honestly just astonished how dumb Albo and his campaign advisors are. You’d have to be an absolute lunatic to prioritize this seat for an ALP gain. They’re approaching UK Labour levels of delusion.

    4. The longer I spend inspecting the boundaries of electoral divisions in Queensland, the worse it gets.

      Leichhardt fails to unite all of Cairns. Herbert fails to unite all of Townsville, with Dawson snipping off a piece, which in turn fails to unite all of Mackay, with a small part of in Capricornia, which contains Rockhampton but not Gracemere, which is in Flynn, which snips off the northern periphery of Bundaberg, instead of uniting it in Hinkler.

      How does the redistribution committee get away with such indefensible boundaries?

    5. Nicholas –

      I agree the boundaries are downright strange, but there’s usually a few motivating reasons.

      Leichhardt could only unite all of Cairns by giving away Cape York to Kennedy; a possibility which has been vociferously objected to in previous redistributions IIRC.

      Townsville is now a little too large for one electorate, I believe (as the northern hinterland part of Herbert has a lower population than the Dawson part of Townsville).

      I expect this issue will actually be somewhat resolved in the next two redistributions as SEQ continues to grow relative to the rest of the state. Wide Bay has already been pulled into the Sunshine Coast, and this process is effectively removing a non-SEQ division.

    6. Bob, this isnt Liberal it is National. The Nationals contest the following QLD seats under the LNP,

      Dawson,Flynn,Capricornia,Maranoa,Kennedy,Hinkler and Wide Bay. The rest of the LNP seats and Labor QLD seats are always contested by the Liberal branch of the LNP.

      But I know what you mean except I’ll say National hold or LNP hold with a swing to them (yes people the LNP will get a swing to them here because GC wasn’t exactly popular and Labor is toxic up in coal country)

    7. the fact that Labor are targeting this and yet they are putting no resources (I know this bc I’m on the ground) into Swan, a marginal seat where Labor are likely to get a swing to them is beyond me.

    8. Nicolas Weston
      I agree boundaries don’t not reflect Community of interest. However the redistribution committee or given specific directions about percentage variance from the Average and in this country area of Queensland are you slight deficiency in numbers means a huge adjustment in kilometres.

      Political party feedback on boundaries has nothing to do with community interest and 100% to do with tactical advantages.

    9. I don’t see Andrew Willcox sitting with the Nationals with Barnaby as leader. There is no evidence Andrew Willcox is a member of the National party and who knows how long he has been a member of the state LNP for. I believe members can align themselves in QLD and it wouldn’t be surprising if he sits with the Liberals considering Entsch and Thomson do and they are North QLD as well.

      Barnaby must go. He is a disgrace to our country

    10. @ Daniel I’m not sure about that given that Ian Macfarlane (MP for Groom) attempted to switch to the Nationals around 2015 or so and was barred from doing so. Dawson will certainly remain a National seat regardless of who is the leader though anyway.

    11. Concur with general sentiment here that this will be a LNP retain.

      Currently 4 announced candidates for this electorate with ALP, LNP, PHON and UAP. Expect the GRN to run here and also for the KAP to run here with their website listening a candidate ‘TBA’. The three state seats are (part of) Burdekin, Whitsunday and McKay. Burdekin had a -22% for PHON at the 2020 State Election (Whitsunday and McKay had -10%). (Although just to the south is the state seat of Mirani which is PHON held.) I can’t see PHON getting as high as 13% again. UAP got just under 5% in 2019, but scored under 1% in the corresponding seats in 2020. As mentioned in Herbert, with Clive running and being stronger on federal issues, I don’t see UAP as low as 1% but 4-5% seems their ballpark. With no CON or DLP (I know!) running here this time, I see those votes flowing mainly back to LNP. With the LNP high as it is in the 40% range, I just don’t see anyone else winning here. I see a swing to ALP, to recover from their low base from last time, but can’t see them taking the seat. 3-7% seems about the right range for GRN and KAP when they do select a candidate.

      As an aside, there are 2 ‘Meet the Candidates’ forums next week for the 4 currently announced candidates with George Christensen as a ‘guest speaker’.

    12. George Christensen resignation from the LNP doesn’t mean much in the grand scheme of things because he’s leaving parliament. But it still might resonate with some in the electorate that he has a personal following. Particularly that socially conservative working class Labor type voter who votes Labor state but votes Christensen federally. They might be tempted tend to go back to Labor this election and there may be some correction swing. There may be some on the far right too who will join Christensen disenchantment and vote for One Nation or UAP. Because of the size of the swing I still can’t see Labor pegging this back far enough to win it.

      LNP retains

    13. The Oz reports that George Christensen has withdrawn his retirement and will run for One Nation. Not sure at this stage if the plan is for Dawson or elsewhere.

    14. Should George run and come either first or second the LNP are well placed as the ALP will likely come third and direct preferences to the LNP.

    15. Will Labor really come third though? Surely their vote is so low it has no way to go but up, while it’s likely that Christensen will cannibalise the LNP vote.

    16. Wreathy, either way the LNP would still be favoured to win. If One Nation/Christensen come third then they would likely direct or recommend preferences to the LNP anyway, denying Labor a win.

      Whilst if Labor come third then they are also likely direct/recommend preferences to the LNP over One Nation

    17. The only remote possibility is if One Nation leads on first preferences, Labor comes second and LNP third. That way, the LNP vote may split more to Labor, giving Labor a win. But I would say that is highly unlikely and the likely result is either 1 LNP, 2 Labor, 3 One Nation or 1 LNP, 2 One Nation, 3 Labor.

    18. Or One Nation lead by enough that leakage of preferences are not enough for the LNP don’t catch up.

      For instance imagine after Palmer and Katter preferences Christensen on 40%, LNP on 32%, Labor on 28%. Even if Labor officially preference One Nation lunch, a combination of a general put the LNP last union campaign, people not looking at how to votes and supporters of the ALP just disliking the LNP could see 40% of their vote ignoring the how to vote. In that scenario they get home easy. If only 30% put LNP last then the LNP just scape home.

    19. Please ignore first one as it had a typo.

      Or One Nation lead by enough that leakage of preferences are not enough for the LNP to catch up.

      For instance imagine after Palmer and Katter preferences Christensen on 40%, LNP on 32%, Labor on 28%. Even if Labor officially preference One Nation lunch, a combination of a general put the LNP last union campaign, people not looking at how to votes and supporters of the ALP just disliking the LNP could see 40% of their vote ignoring the how to vote. In that scenario they get home easy. If only 30% put LNP last then the LNP just scape home.

    20. Yeah, forgot about that scenario LNP Insider, where One Nation wins due to leaked Labor preferences. It has happened before in 3 cornered contests with Labor, Liberal and National candidates – there was one Victorian example (not sure which district) where Labor recommended preferences to the Liberal candidate but due to leakage, the Nationals won instead.

    21. Not all that surprising. Lanai Scarr speculates that he’s only doing this to secure another six months of full parliamentary pay. That would definitely be on brand for the Member for Manila, and definitely on brand for One Nation who’ve spent decades running electoral funding rorts.

      Wouldn’t surprise me if he ending up winning again anyway.

    22. Yes, didn’t know that as I posted. Clearly just a move to claim the pension.

      Mind you, it will give them a solid North Qld campaign presence to maximise their vote while helping reduce the travel burden on Pauline. She can focus on south half of the state as George gets around the north.

      On that topic. You will find Palmer’s weakest vote is Townsville and surrounding area. People remember what he did to the workers in that town. Katter is still strong in the north but maybe there is an opportunity for One Nation to gain votes in that area. Having George on the ticket is probably about picking up that vote.

      Mainstream media won’t cover this though, just the pension angle.

    23. As expected, Greens have endorsed a candidate (Paula Creen) and Katter’s Australia Party have endorsed a candidate (Ciaron Paterson). Both GRN and KAP are coming in late, although Ciaron Paterson ran as the KAP candidate in 2020 QLD for Whitsunday, so has some name recognition.

      ABC is having fun, by saying there are two endorsed ONP candidates for this electorate 😛 George is running as no.3 on the PHON ticket for the senate, as mentioned above. A bit cynical getting the pension angle, but valid argument by LNP Insider about getting the northern vote.

      Interesting spanner into the works, and might increase the ONP vote here, but still see this seat as LNP Retain. I looked at North QLD Sets of Leichhardt, Herbert, Dawson, Capricornia and Flynn to see the chances of ALP or a flipped seat here…. Dawson has the highest LNP Primary Vote of all 5 (42.95%), the largest LNP-ALP vote gap on primary (22.67%), second lowest GRN vote (4.51%) but interestingly, the highest vote for all others (i.e. not LNP,ALP,GRN) at 32.35%. Just shows that even for a good election, it’s such a big hill to overcome the LNP for ALP and even for PHON or a minor, which would need strong preferences to snowball up.

      Current Prediction (unchanged): LNP Retain

    24. I don’t think Labor will win this seat but it will be interesting to see how much of a personal vote Christensen had for the LNP. I wouldn’t be suprised to see it revert to it’s classic marginal status

    25. Seeing conflicting claims that Christensen has backflipped and is still running here but I don’t think that’s the case. Shame for One Nation because if anybody was going to win them a seat in the lower house it was going to be him. Clearly it was all about the money and the attention after all given his unwinnable position on the senate ticket. He’s still retiring even if both he and the media insist that he’s back in the game.

      Easy LNP retain but with a slightly reduced margin of a couple percentage points. It’ll be interesting to see how many (if any) traditionally labor but now supporters of the ONP and/or Christiansen revert back to form.

    26. George is quite greedy he is standing no 3 onp senate ticket to get the $105k.. he of course has no chance to win onp only get one seat at most. He is not standing here as by accident could win.. gravy train here I come

    27. George Christensen moving to the Senate Ticket for One Nation, I think will bring in alot of support in this region for the PHON candidate, Julie Hall.

      I do believe that George was the main reason the LNP margin in Dawson was so large. I predict one of the two:
      PHON gets the seat with a small and loose margin of less than 0.5%, or LNP retain the seat with a margin of 1-10%.

    28. @ Rory I am very skeptical of One Nation picking this seat up or even landing in the 2CP but I won’t discount it. I have visited this electorate quite often and know that it is prime real estate for Hanson just as the state electorates within its boundaries are. However I have seen no sign of a resurgence of support for her and so suspect a similar outcome to 2019. May be in Mackay tomorrow so will reply with any observations I make. At the moment I still think the LNP will retain the seat with something like a 7-11% margin although that is dependent on a few assumptions regarding ONP preferences, Christensen’s personal vote and provided it is an LNP v Labor contest.

    29. Traveling through all of Dawson last night and today. Fairly dead on the ground but can’t comment much as I didn’t venture into many residential streets. Couple Labor and LNP signs but as I expected Palmer and his eyesores outnumber the majors and they’re everywhere. Not a single sign of One Nation although that does not fool me into believing they have magically up and lost support in the past 3 years. This region is where they have it best. Nothing from the Katter’s either.

    30. The large part of Mackay in this seat makes it a possible Labor win but this has not happened often. Rex Patterson in the 60s and 70s and the recent win under Rudd 2007 to 2010.

    31. @Laine, I was travelling through Dawson coincidentally coinciding with when Christensen announced he would be on the ONP Senate ticket. I didn’t check out Mackay but I ventured into residential streets of Whitsunday region and there was a bit of signage out for ONP but it was still early days in the campaign and LNP and Labor hadn’t put much signs out yet either. Their signage was present between Prosperine and Cannonvale but also around the fringes of Bowen. I also spotted some big outdoor media for ON in-between some big yellow ones and a billboard high-lighting LNP’s Andrew Wilcox.

      I expect a slight swing to ONP from LNP here on the back of Christensen’s rub of ONP and his personal-following but ONP already have a fairly established base here. I also expect a chunk of LNP’s primary-vote will bleed over to the ALP. Wouldn’t be surprised to see a non-classic 2CP outcome here but I still expect a comfortable LNP retain vs ALP. Would be a different story if Christensen knocked off Hall for this HoR seat but I think that ONP had already at this point invested into outdoor media featuring Hall as the candidate. If Christensen was the candidate I would have expected a proper 3-way race resulting in either a LNP vs ONP 2CP, with LNP retaining comfortably. OR a ALP vs ONP 2CP going down to the wire similar to the Mirani race in the 2020 state election.

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