Herbert – Australia 2025

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  1. I wouldn’t call this safe as it historically quite volatile like most QLD seats if the swing is on then this electorate could fall however with the large margin I suspect Labor will direct resources to other closer electorates.

  2. @Bob, Agree it is quite socially mixed and urbanized unlike the other NQ seats so unlikely to become rock solid for any party i would say Lindsay is somewhat similar

  3. I don’t think Labor will win this. It’s a safe seat now. It has a higher margin than McPherson (a blue ribbon Gold Coast seat). There seems to have been some political realignment in Townsville over the years since about 2017.

  4. @ Nether Portal
    Whilst i agree with you that i dont see Labor winning anytime soon, i do think Labor does still have long term aspirations for this seat. It is mixed demographically for example it has a university so there are university students, academics, nurses. school teachers, public servants retail workers etc that often favorable to Labor at the same time it has small business owners etc for that reason it hard to predict a realignment in a seat which is mixed demographically. Yes it has a Higher margin that than McPherson but Solomon & Eden Monaro now have a higher margin than Bruce or Holt and at a state level Bega has a higher margin than Liverpool and Strathfield has a higher margin than Cabramatta. Even though i believe Libs are still more likely to win Solomon, Eden Monaro, Bega & Strathfield than the other seats i mentioned. At a state level Labor has held all the corresponding state seats during their term of government. Seats that have shifted permanently (or long term trend) from one party to another have had a demographic shift areas such as Blue Mountains. Byron Shire, Georges River, waterfront areas around Drummoyne, La Trobe Valley, Lithgow etc and this has been seen at both levels of government.

  5. @ John
    Whilst i agree that Labor is under performing in QLD they do hold 5 QLD federal seats and got big swings to them in Lilley and Moreton in 2022. I dont expect them to pick up Herbert, Dawson, Capricornia, Flynn in 2025 like i mentioned in the above comment.

  6. @nimalan seats they already hold i might add i doubt they will pick up any at the next election. as if they couldnt win any from opposition (they actually lost one to the greens) what chance do they have in govt? the exception is leichardt which is a wildcard due the retrienmetn of what s hi name

  7. @ John
    For 2025, IMHO the following for QLD
    1. With the exception of Blair, i dont see any of the other 4 QLD Federal Labor seats to be under threat from the LNP
    2. I dont think Labor will win either Ryan or Brisbane from the Greens. In all 3 Greens seats i expect the Green Primary to go up. I dont see the LNP under Dutton as a threat to the Greens in inner Brisbane. There is a chance the Labor party will gain Griffith even if they dont increase their vote much but LNP Slips to third place.
    3. I agree i dont see Labor really making much gains in QLD. The exception like you said is potentially Leichardt due to Warren Enstch.
    4. Maybe if Labor is popular they may target Bonner but i think they need to sandbag Blair first before going hunting.
    5. I was alluding to the fact i think longer term Labor will be interested in Herbert, not anytime soon. Important to remember in 1983 Tasmania actually had a swing to Libs even as Hawke got elected and Labor did not win any Tasmanian seats that election. It took till 1987 for Labor to win a Tasmanian seat since the Whitlam era and it was not until 1993 that Labor would win a majority of seats in Tasmania. Even more interesting they did not win Braddon until 1998 so they had to wait 23 years before they won Braddon.

  8. @Nimalan I actually believe there will be a time in the future after the next LNP government (which I expect to last two or three terms) when Labor manages to form government but the LNP manages to win at least one of the seats in Townsville (if not two of them or even all three of them).

    You’ve also gotta remember that places like Cairns, Mackay and Rockhampton often vote for Labor on the state level and the LNP on the federal level because they’re working class but federal Labor is too focused on left-leaning issues that appeal to inner-city voters than on blue-collar workers and their issues so they vote LNP on the federal level. In Tasmania the opposite often happens: at the last state election in 2021 the Liberals won a plurality of the vote in all five seats (even Clark (albeit marginally), a very safe seat for Andrew Wilkie on the federal level, and Franklin, a safe Labor seat on the federal level). In 2018 the Liberals won a plurality of the vote in every seat except Clark. So voters in Clark and especially Franklin often vote for the Liberal Party on the state level but the Labor Party on the federal level, likely because Tasmanian Labor is one of the more progressive Labor branches (between 2010 and 2014, Labor formed a coalition government with the Greens after a hung parliament at the 2010 state election, before losing to the Liberals in a landslide in 2014, when they won a plurality of the vote in every seat for the first time in a while; I can’t see NSW or Queensland Labor forming an actual coalition with the Greens like the current one in the ACT or the former one in Tassie).

    Australia isn’t unique in this trend. In America, there are plenty of examples of this. A classic example of this is Vermont, a state which the Democrats have won at every presidential election this century (Joe Biden easily won it in 2020), but it has a Republican Governor (Phil Scott, who is a centre-right Republican who has never voted for Trump and voted for Biden in 2020; he supports same-sex marriage, gun control and abortion rights, for example, both things with bipartisan support in Australia and most other Western countries but are still deemed “liberal policies” by the Republicans). Vermont also has Democrats representing the entire state in both the House and the Senate. The Cook Partisan Index says that of the states it classifies as “red states” (note that confusingly America uses a reverse political colour scheme, the Republicans are red but also right-wing while the Democrats are blue but also centre-left), three have Republican Governors: New Hampshire (D+1), Vermont (D+16) and Virginia (D+3); while of the states classified as “blue states”, seven have Democratic Governors: Arizona (R+2), Kansas (R+10), Kentucky (R+16), Michigan (R+1), North Carolina (R+3), Pennsylvania (R+2) and Wisconsin (R+2).

  9. Agreed Leichhardt and Blair are the only two seats with a possibility of change. A future Qld leader might be able to but Jim Chalmers isn’t Kevin Rudd.

  10. Nimalan, NP, john
    I agree broadly. However there is another scenario. Albo won’t do this, but PM Marles, or Shorten could….
    PM “Future” makes an agreement with Dutton for BOTH parties to put the Greens LAST (on the ballot)!!.
    All three Green seats become vulnerable to both parties.

  11. What leverage would the Liberals have to negotiate that given they already put the Greens below Labor? I suppose they could threaten to reverse their current recommendations. I would think that such an agreement could spectacularly backfire on Labor and feed into the much of the Greens’ narratives.

  12. @ Nether Portal
    I agree with your analysis especially the fact that Federal Labor has underperformed among Regional working class voters which state Labor has performed better. You are correct the Labor party may have focused too much on inner city and keeping a lid on the growth of the Greens. It has really been a challenge since the 2010s for Labor as they have been challenged from the Greens and in some case been eclipsed by them when seats have turned to LIB/Greens such as Prahran, Maiwar etc. These voters probably want a focus on bread and butter issues. In 2007 Labor did not have this issue so could focus more resources to winning mortgage belt and working class seats of the Libs. However, longer term i dont see Labor holding onto seats such as Macnamara, Higgins, Richmond etc or winning Brisbane/Griffith so they might focus their resources elsewhere such as QLD/Tasmania probably has the best room for growth for Labor. It is a bit like why NSW Labor is now focusing on Bega/South Coast as they are probably not going to win Balmain, Bathurst etc back. At a QLD state level i dont see Labor holding McConnel long term or winning back South Brisbane so they may need ensure they have a clean sweep of Townsville to win a majority government. Finally, i agree with you apart from the ACT, Labor will be reluctant to sign a formal agreement with the Greens even in a hung parliament. Chris Minns refused to do so even though a coalition with the Greens would give him a majority.

  13. @ Paladin
    Even if a future Labor leader decided to preference the L/NP ahead of the Greens we need to see if Labor voters would actually follow the HTV or ignore it. There are some demographics that are quite hostile to Greens including religious voters, Coal miners and Jewish voters. In the case of LNP/Greens seats i dont see why a wealthy religious voter in Ascot would vote Labor anyway especially when it is in their economic interest to vote Lib there are no Coal miners etc that are hostile to Greens in such electorates. If Macnamara became Lib/Green seat i can see Jewish voters putting Greens last but not other voters. If the Labor decided to preference Libs over Greens and a working class religious voter in McMahon preference the Libs over Greens or a Coal Miner in Hunter voted Labor then Lib it is a mute point since the Greens will not make the 2CP in such a seat.

  14. There might be a seatby seat arrangement with the libs like in exchange for liberal preferences in griffithlabor would offertory preferences in ryan/brisbane

  15. John
    Consider the wager ON !!. I agree with this possibility.
    Fair point. However it’s really about whether Labor come to see the Greens as an existential threat, which they and yourself clearly don’t atm. The Greens essentially are a kind of “biblical serpent”or temptation to Labor offering an option of a kind of reassuring complacency, instead of the more exacting task of reform, and evolution. Making the Greens an adversary, rather than a proxy would require courage !!
    Things may well be very different in the future.

    You are correct at this time. Polls are showing a steady decline in the core Labor vote. Griffith ought to be an example of a disaster for Labor. Does anyone think Labor will regain it in the future ? The question of whose best interests are served when the Greens win a seat from either party is seldom examined. An average australian family primarily concerned with cost of living pressures is extremely hostile to the Greens !! Just thought i should remind you …..!!

  16. @Paladin Greens incumbents are usually secure and Griffith is a safe Greens seat now (just like Melbourne is). For Labor to regain it they would need the Greens vote to remain steady, their vote to slightly increase and the LNP vote to increase, so the LNP and Labor would both need about 20-25% each. Then LNP preferences would favour Labor so Labor would be able to win. This happened in the now-abolished seat of Batman in Melbourne in 2016: the Greens finished first but Labor narrowly won on Liberal preferences.

  17. @Nimalan good points I must say. However I personally don’t see Labor holding on to every seat in Townsville forever. I suspect a seat like Barron River in Cairns would be Liberal even in a Labor government, for example, as northern Cairns is quite Liberal-friendly on the federal and state level except of course Kuranda (once an alternative lifestyle community in the rainforest just outside of Cairns, so a high Labor and Greens vote there gets Labor 60% TPP).

    Speaking of Kuranda, I personally think a lot of these once alternative lifestyle communities are starting to become less hippie. In the seat I get up in (Lyne, a very safe Nationals seat on the Mid North Coast of NSW), the town of Elands is the hippiest town there. The Labor TPP is from Greens preferences but that TPP has dropped consistently and I think if all the hippies move out of this forest village then it could be finally won by the Nationals. It’s not far from Long Flat, another village just west of Wauchope and before the Walcha Mountain, which has a very high Nationals vote even by Lyne standards (over 80% I think at Long Flat Public School, though of course the town only has about 200 people at max).

    I see Labor holding on in Richmond due to Nationals preferences because at the moment Richmond has to include Tweed Heads, Ballina and Byron Bay. Byron Bay is hippie and plus some city people moved there too so it has a high Greens vote, Ballina has a high Labor vote for some reason, Tweed Heads is mixed between Nationals and Labor and then the coastal and rural towns (such as Kingscliff) are Nationals. Tweed Heads is a bit like Coffs Harbour or Port Macquarie in that it’s a regional city on the North Coast but the difference is it’s less conservative than Coffs and especially less than Port. The Nationals won the state seat of Tweed which was once considered a bellwether seat and the Liberals could gain control of the Tweed Shire Council at the 2024 local elections.

    Tweed Heads is the second-largest city on the North Coast after Coffs (Port is third). Having a look at suburb breakdowns, it seems that the far southern suburbs such as Banora Point, Chinderah and Terranora are the most conservative.

  18. Also I agree there’s no way Bathurst is going back to Labor. It’s a typical Nationals seat and now one of their safest seats.

  19. @ Paladin
    I actually dont think the lose of Griffith is a disaster for Labor in 2022 and i actually thought it may happen. The increase in the Green vote mainly happened at the expense of the LNP in Griffith there was a 10% swing from LNP to Green. The Labor primary vote decreased by 2% but that maybe what is a demographic redistribution, it is possible that everyone who voted for Terri Butler in 2019 who is still on the electoral roll in Griffith voted for her in 2022 but some who voted in 2019 have passed away or moved away. Griffith has the 3rd highest % of 18-29 year old so there has been a movement of new voters in all the new high rises. I think Labor will only regain Griffith if the LNP slips to third place i dont see the Greens being knocked out of the 2CP. In Brisbane and Ryan, i dont see the LNP being knocked out of the 2CP so i dont see Labor winning those seats.

  20. @ Nether Portal
    I did not mean to say that Labor will hold every seat in Townsville forever. However, i feel Labor needs to do well in North QLD to win majority government. The alternative is that Labor has to much better in SEQ and win seats such as Mogill, Everton, Chatsworth, Clayfield etc. Barron River has been a bellwether since the 1970s so i think there is a chance it will continue the tradition.
    With respect to Richmond if the Nats dont make the 2CP then Labor holds it. For the Greens to win Richmond they need Labor to loose votes in both directions and for Labor to be knocked out of the 2CP that could happen if Justine Elliot retires and the Nats take some of her votes and Greens take her votes.
    With respect to Bathurst it was not historically a typical Nats seat due to Lithgow being historically strongly Labor but with Coal industry dying Labor vote has declined similar to what happened in the La Trobe Valley (Vic).

  21. I think some comments here have been inaccurate in their perception of the relationship between Labor and the Greens. There are many voters who swing between the two parties and don’t dislike either of them, but the same is not true within the hierarchy of federal and state Labor parties. With the lone exception of the ACT, all Labor parties already see the Greens as an adversary, or at best a nuisance, because they are a serious competitor in many electorates that Labor want to retain or win. There is no love for the Greens in Labor, any more than there is for the Liberals.

    Speaking of the Liberals, I would think any sort of preference deal between them and Labor would be very unlikely, given they’re competing with each other everywhere for government. From the Liberals’ perspective, neither party will ever support them to form government. But even though they have less in common ideologically with the Greens, they might be better off preferencing the Greens in a Labor-Greens contest, because minority governments have historically been easier to attack from opposition than majority governments. That would better serve the Liberal goal of forming government themselves at subsequent elections.

    I also agree with Nicholas that Labor would have a lot to lose by openly siding with the Liberals over the Greens. Since the Greens would support a Labor government over a Liberal one, Labor preferencing the Liberals over the Greens would be sabotaging their own chances of forming government. On top of this, the aforementioned Labor/Greens swing voters might feel betrayed by Labor getting in bed with the Liberals so openly, and might be more inclined to vote Greens as a result.

    So both major parties could conspire to shaft the Greens, but I think it would be a strategic error for either of them to do so. Of course, Australian political history is replete with both major parties making unforced strategic errors, so I’m not ruling it out either.

  22. Alternatively, perhaps an even better strategy for the Liberals would be to give a higher preference to whichever of Labor and the Greens have the lower primary vote in an electorate. This would lead to more seats being competitive between Labor and the Greens, and keep both of them more focused on protecting their seats from each other, and a bit less focused on winning seats from the Liberals.

  23. @wilson even though I hate the greens as much as the next person I support giving them preferences for tactical reasons.

  24. It comes up in the news so often leading up to state/federal elections (both general and by-elections) when it comes to HTV cards where Liberal factions are feuding between ideology (preferencing Labor over the Greens) or tactics (preferencing Greens over Labor to maximise the chance of Labor either losing or forced into minority government with the Greens).

    Anyway, I’ve figured for awhile now that for QLD, in addition to being parochial, it’s more of the traditional left wing type of old especially compared to other states, or to put it another way, more akin to the outer surburbias of the other state capitals (e.g. Lindsay in NSW, Casey/Deakin/Aston in VIC) – bread and butter issues – cost of living, health and jobs, rather than middle surburbia where Labor seems to currently appeal best to. Not necessarily socially conservative (e.g. SSM plebiscite), but outside inner Brisbane, not really progressive. So while state Labor does very well (lack of parochialism plus there’s enough metro Brisbane seats to win elections, and even the regional city seats are small enough for Labor to win compared to equivalent federal seats), federal Labor needs someone who many in QLD would point out and say, they speak for us – doesn’t necessarily have to be someone from QLD.

    Rudd did…but I think even had he gone onto contest 2010, his luster may have faded a bit (as it truly had by 2013). Bob Hawke’s probably the last federal Labor leader who really appealed to QLD (looking at QLD results for the 1990 election and QLD was still pretty strong for Labor while Victoria pretty much collapsed – it’s now the complete opposite). Shorten in 2016 pulled in some of these seats, partially due to what was termed Mediscare, but also that Turnbull straight up did not speak for these electorates even if Shorten didn’t either, and then they switched back to Morrison, and stuck with him despite middle surburbia Australia (which alongside the teals secured Albo and the ALP the win) desiring to boot him out. While it’s still over a year before the next election, I think even if the ALP secure a second term, it won’t be because of QLD – they’ll likely get status quo at best.

  25. The LNP overperformed in Herbert in 2019 and 2022. The margin now is the highest in decades. From 1975 to 2007, it was a bellwether seat. The 2PP was normally low to mid 50’s. Labor barely scraped through in 2016 and they had One Nation splitting the conservative vote. I doubt Labor will win this back in 2025.

    On many key economic and environmental policies, Labor is more like the LNP than the Greens e.g. Stage 3 tax cuts, negative gearing, net zero, continuation of coal mines. It’s mainly due to the the LNP’s shock win in 2019. In 2022, the lessening of economic and environmental policies from the electoral focus turned the election more into a referendum on Scott Morrison.

    I agree with the general sentiment the focus of elections is on bread and butter issues like cost of living, education, health, infrastructure. Voters in middle and outer suburbia and regional areas e.g. Herbert, are more sensitive to such issues. Social issues such as recognising Palestinian statehood are not as high ranking when voting nor is there a clear link between them and job security or the ability to pay off a mortgage.

    Regarding the LNP preferencing the Greens ahead of Labor, Opposition Leaders like Deb Frecklington and Matthew Guy got a lot of flack for doing this. It might be because they got little tangible benefit out of it. The tactical preferencing of the Greens worked in Melbourne at the federal election of 2010. It might work when there’s a continually declining Labor vote in an inner-city seat with a Labor vs Greens contest e.g. South Brisbane. It won’t work if it’s applied nation-wide or state-wide.

  26. @Nether Portal – I completely agree with you. Labor will probably never win Herbert unless Phillip Thompson makes a serious gaffe or he just retires. The LNP have markedly improved their position in Townsville in recent years, and I fully expect them to sweep Townsville at the state election this year.

    I did want to touch on another point about why Herbert is becoming safe. For those unaware, Phillip Thompson is a veteran of the army. Guess what Townsville contains? The Lavarack Barracks, an army base. He would certainly win over the large military population having been in the same position previously. He is also always out an about in the electorate, so you can tell he has developed a strong personal vote which should last until he retires.

  27. @James as a resident of Herbert, I completely agree. Thompson is always out and about, and while I don’t always agree with him or the LNP I’ll probably always vote for him or at least put him above ALP. I don’t think Labor will ever win Herbert again unless they get a genuine nationwide landslide win with a strong vote across QLD and with a Hawke/Beazley/Rudd/16′ Shorten type leader (i.e. someone who appeals better to working class battlers rather than inner city progressives like Keating/Gillard/19′ Shorten/Albanese did).

  28. The real difference between ’16 and ’19 Shorten is who they were up against. There were voters turned off by Malcolm Turnbull’s “small l” image that can be seen in the Abbott-Shorten-Morrison (ASM) seats (Herbert being one of them). You could imagine Albo outperforming certain types of Liberal leader.

    I predict all the ASM seats, which stayed blue in 2022, will go for Dutton. Herbert certainly will.


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