Barron River – QLD 2020

ALP 1.9%

Incumbent MP
Craig Crawford, since 2015.

Far North Queensland. Barron River covers the northern suburbs of Cairns, including Smithfield, Redlynch and Kuranda. Most of the electorate lies in the Cairns local government area, with small parts contained in Douglas Shire.

The electorate of Barron River was first created for the 1972 election. At most elections this seat has been won by one of the parties who won the election.

Bill Wood won the seat for the ALP in 1972. He had previously sat as Member for Cook since 1969. He lost Barron River in 1974. He later served as a member of the ACT Legislative Assembly from 1989 to 2004.

Martin Tenni won Barron River for the National Party in 1974. He held the seat until 1989, when the seat was won by Lesley Clark of the ALP, as part of the Labor Party’s return to government after decades of conservative rule.

Clark lost to Lyn Warwick of the Liberal Party in 1995 before returning to the seat in 1998. She retired in 2006.

Steve Wettenhall was elected for the ALP in 2006. He was re-elected in 2009, and served as a parliamentary secretary from 2009 to 2012.

In 2012, LNP candidate Michael Trout defeated Wettenhall. Trout was felled in 2015 by Labor candidate Craig Crawford. Crawford was re-elected in 2017.


Barron River is a very marginal Labor seat.

2017 result

Craig Crawford Labor 9,49733.5-6.0
Michael Trout Liberal National 8,68630.6-10.4
Andrew SchebellaOne Nation4,76016.8+16.8
Cameron Boyd Greens 3,55112.5+2.2
Cheryl TonkinIndependent1,0393.7+3.7
Andrew HodgettsIndependent8262.9+2.9

2017 two-party-preferred result

Craig Crawford Labor 14,70751.9-1.7
Michael Trout Liberal National Party 13,65248.1+1.7

Booth breakdown

Booths in Barron River have been divided into three areas: centre, north and south.

Labor won a majority of the election-day two-party-preferred vote in all three areas, ranging from 53.1% in the south to 54.5% in the north. The LNP won 52.9% of the pre-poll vote.

Voter groupGRN primON primALP 2PPTotal votes% of votes
Other votes11.517.450.43,07610.8

Election results in Barron River at the 2017 QLD state election
Toggle between two-party-preferred votes and primary votes for the Greens and One Nation.

Become a Patron!


  1. This is one seat I’m surprised neither KAP nor ONP have chosen a candidate for yet. I get that Townsville seems more attractive to win a seat but there is such a small margin here. Although, Cairns doesn’t seem to be swinging like Townsville is for the moment. The IMOP (I love saying that acronym) is new this election and have no idea how they will perform or where their preferences will go, but could decisive in a tight seat. Tourism with COVID shut downs are hitting hard and seems to be regular news stories here. This is one regional seat I can see the LNP gaining but could see ALP holding on. Still early days in the campaign but I’ll go with…

    Prediction (August 2020): ALP Retain

    (The adjoining seats are Cairns, Cook and Mulgrave. Both KAP & ONP have a candidate already in Cook, so it seems the focus is more on that seat.)

  2. Won by every incoming government since 1972 (if one counts the 1995 win by the Liberals). A seat to watch. Incidentally, also my local seat.

  3. @Feel the Bern. Maybe it’s my Townsville bias showing but I just didn’t see the Cairns area swinging as much or as targetted. NQF has a candidate in neighbouring Cook, otherwise 4 seats in and near Townsville. KAP and ONP are the same with candidates currently endorsed in Cook but not Barron River or Cairns. I admit the LNP have chosen well with the candidate and there is a swing against the ALP coming in the regions… but I’m still staying with ALP Retain for the moment. When I re-do my predictions end of this month, it’ll be more clearer with candidates and the campaigning.

  4. I would be surprised if Linda Cooper doesn’t win but was surprised last time when Michael Trout didn’t take it for the LNP. Barron River is the most interesting in Cairns and there are a few things to consider.
    First, it includes the highest population growth area in Cairns around Trinity Beach – Smithfield. Which is also why the Captain Cook Highway traffic and current diversion construction and perceptions of that will matter.
    Second, areas of Barron River around the beaches have so far shown a relatively high increase in JobSeekers due to Covid-19, which leads to …
    Third, Barron River would probably have a higher proportion of female voters than any other division in the outer regions defined as north from around Gladstone and the outback. In fact the Cairns statistical ABS region SA4 is the only in this area with a higher female population ratio.
    Finally, Barron River in 2017 Greens outperformed and ONP underperformed relative to the outer regions.

    This was my analysis in 2017:

  5. This is the one seat I’m very confident the LNP will win. Linda Cooper was an excellent choice of candidate for the LNP.

    I also get the distinct vibe Craig Crawford is unpopular here. I am surprised PHON isn’t putting up a fight here, their preferences were critical last time.

    LNP Gain for me.

  6. Regarding the traffic situation. It seems to me that a lot of the current activity wit upgrades and bypasses is due to the influence of Crawford. In 2017 (or was it 2015?) the duplication of the Freshwater Creek bridge on the Cairns Western Arterial Road (CWAR) was a minor issue here when Trout said in effect if locals don’t vote the LNP back in, a LNP government wouldn’t support the project. Now further duplication of the CWAR is under way. The Smithfield bypass was spoken about for years, and is now finally underway, which I attribute to again to the influence of Crawford.

    The LNP have spoken about busting congestion on the Captain Cook Highway for years – it was one of Entsch’s messages in 2019 – but Labor is the ones actually making it happen.

    (It also helps tremendously that Barron River is a marginal seat, and a bellweather at that!)

    Linda Cooper is a good candidate, and was an excellent local councillor. She would be a good local member. Incidentally, two other local councillors have joined in with her in advertising stating they are “working together to provide local jobs and growth” (which is a curious statement as Cooper doesn’t hold any office at the moment). Warren Entsch has also provided his likeness to LNP advertising in support of Cooper, stating he supports her “plan for Barron River” (although what that is is anyone’s guess).

    Whatever happens. I think this seat will continue to be a bellweather after October 31.

  7. LNP gain with a 5%+ swing. Linda Cooper best candidate the party has ever had and will take it home on name recognition and being an out there hard worker. Becoming more popular with younger people too as the Covid situation is making younger people move away from the virtuous greens and into the real world. Crawford has been shocking and he knows it too, running multiple scare campaigns in multiple Facebook groups from his own page and his desperate staffers about people who left office 5 years ago. No one nation candidate either and I’m predicting most of those votes will go to LNP especially with Linda.

  8. Re comment from PRP on Craig Crawford being unpopular I sort of agree but also don’t. I had negative feedback before the last election which contributed why I expected Trout to win. Crawford is obviously an introvert. The criticism is really about his profile rather than his popularity.
    Re NQ View The reality of traffic on the northern beaches is that population projections in Cairns were supposed to happen in the southern corridor where the Bruce Hwy qualifies for Federal while the Cook Hwy didn’t. Highest population growth has been on the beaches. Tradie central at the Smithfield population growth centre. The Federal Hwy network has now been belatedly extended which is not a contributor to current works?
    To also clarify previous post areas of Barron River around the beaches have experienced higher increases in JobSeekers but this comes from a low base with most employment indicators this area is below Queensland averages on unemployment.
    Also re comments on female voters: Latest numbers from ABS recently highest female proportion by SA2 within Cairns regional SA4 highlights Freshwater with less than 90 males for every 100 females. Freshwater voted ALP last time despite being the typical leafy upmarket suburb that should be overwhelmingly L(l)iberal.
    I still expect Linda Cooper to win.

  9. September Prediction: LNP gain because of a very strong LNP candidate. Every chance this could become like Eden Monaro and no longer be bellwether? I can definitely see a situation where Labor retains gov but loses this.

  10. No one seems to think Labor is much chance here. I’d like it it if anyone had a better idea about the ON vote. Where it went, & will go, rather than it just doesn’t matter (that much ?) !.
    The Greens vote will be interesting here. Will it go up or down ?

  11. Barron River, the Sunshine Coast hinwhere *both* One Nation and the Greens do alright.

    For what it’s worth, PHON’s senate 4PP here last year was a bit over 15%, and about 3/4ths of it went to the LNP on a 2PP basis. If they stand a candidate here this time I’d expect similar results.

    Since there isn’t a PHON named yet, it’s entirely plausible there won’t be. In that case I’d say we should expect a Greens vote in the mid-teens. The soft-green vote here goes all the way up to 20%, but those voters tend to stick with Labor incumbents.

  12. I don’t agree that Barron River and Sunshine Hinterland are comparable. Not sure what 4PP is but if it is LNP/ALP/Greens/Right Nationalist vote I think that percentage would be below their HoR vote which in Leichhardt was the lowest in regional Qld outside SEQ?

  13. My partner got polled last night via mobile phone. Both majors treating this seat with the upmost importance.

  14. How do pollsters identify a mobile in a specific electorate or was it just a whole of state poll?

  15. Mark Beath –

    The ALP vs LNP split would by about 5%, but Ninderry and Barron River had almost identical four-party-preferred vote shares towards the Greens and One Nation. I don’t think it’s really saying that much. They both have a slightly-worse-than-average vote for PHON (not sure exactly why), and a somewhat-better-than-average vote for the Greens (Ninderry has a bunch of treechangers and I suspect BR has something similar).

  16. Andrew, I wasn’t privy to the entire phone call but I believe it was a whole of state poll. My partner doesn’t take much notice of politics, and couldn’t tell you who the leader of the LNP was.

  17. 5 candidates here with no ON (Cairns & Cook getting more attention). With no KAP and UAP not really big here, I’ll take the above comments and change my prediction. There’s a swing against ALP in regions and this really is a small margin so…

    Prediction (September 2020): TOSS-UP (Lean LNP) [Change from ALP Retain)

  18. Gut feeling.

    With Palmer United Party and Informed Medical Opinions now standing a candidate each, they will take quite a bit of the share taken by One Nation last time. LNP will also benefit from the decline of ONP. Labor and Greens will combine for about 44%, and struggle to find enough from preferences to overtake the LNP. LNP will win about 52-48 on preferences.

    This will be the only seat in FNQ to change hands, as I predict Cook, Cairns, Hill and Mulgrave will stay with the incumbent party.

    Not based on anything but my own thoughts.

  19. Recent polling for regional Qld: a 1% 2pp swing to LNP, with the majors up a bit and One Nation down a lot. (Greens also up a bit, which is handy for Labor here – Barron River probably has the highest Green vote north of the Sunshine Coast.) If that happens here it’ll be right down to the wire, Labor with their nose in front.

  20. Decided to have a look at the betting pools, to see which seats are currently looking like changing according to the punters. This is one of the ones with a party other than the incumbent ahead in betting pools (the below show just the most notable parties for the seat)…

    LNP – 1.65
    Labor – 2.15

  21. Voted today, at the pre-poll in Smithfield. Very relaxed and cordial affair, with workers from all three parties happily chatting and politely interacting with voters. None of the hyper-partisanship that you see elsewhere e.g. USA.

    Ch7 Local News had a poll saying this seat is 50-50.

  22. Craig Crawford has done very much for this seat. Smithfield is a booming centre. It it goes to LNP yet ALP retains government the seat might suffer.

  23. Last Week Prediction – LNP gain, by less than 1% on 2PP. Cooper will clean up in the suburbs that she represented as a councillor, and Crawford won’t be able to offset that with gains elsewhere. Because I’m predicting an ALP win in the election overall, Barron River will lose its bellwether status.

  24. Apparently Labor polling is indicating that there is a surge in votes for the Greens and that they may finish Top 2 and therefore win the seat on preferences. Unsure of sample size.

  25. Replying to Peter Knopfe

    The implied 4PP (LNP vs ALP vs PHON vs GRN) here from 2019 senate results was LNP 38.7, ALP 26.4, GRN 16.7, PHON 15.4, and “no preference” 2.8%. I guess that implies it’s possible for the Greens to win this seat if they could lock in all those Larissa Waters voters plus a decent chunk more from Labor.

    Looking around at other seats it seems possible that Barron River is the most likely non-Brisbane seat for the Greens to win one day (Noosa, Nicklin, and Ninderry that border each other would be possibilities if there was a minor collapse of the LNP vote).

    Is there anyone on the ground in Cairns aware of a much larger than usual Greens campaign?

  26. In terms of visibility, no more than the usual corflutes.

    Greens can only finish second if there is a complete collapse in support for Labor.

    I agree this could potentially be a future Greens target, but not for a generation yet.

  27. Will lose its Bellweather status i agree LNP gain, Not name pointing here but i have noticed somebody on here is upset that his party is losing and decides that he doesn’t want to say anything at all. It proves progressives can win in QLD and we will keep winning as well. Unless you had someone like Cutis Pitt as leader i don’t think NQ will go back ALP anytime soon. If this ends up being an upset ALP hold then the LNP needs to do allot of soul searching and if i were them i would kick out the Christian right from the party if they want any prospect of ever winner again. and yes i believe the ALP will be in power indefinitely unless the LNP change.

  28. Bennee .. 2 points 1. My name is Knopke not Knopfe .. 2. I don’t know the actual percentages but the polling puts them in the frame.

  29. Greens have top spot on the ballot, a candidate who seems to be actually trying, and the support of former Cairns MP Rob Pyne. Their main problem will be weak preference flows from non ALP parties. I don’t see most PHON voters putting the Greens above the majors – “Put ALP and LNP last” voters are more common in theory than in practice.

    The Greens need to overtake the ALP in their own right to win here and I don’t see that happening, especially not in a non-target seat in an election Labor have every chance of winning. Barron River may be the Greens’ first gain outside of Brisbane, but that will be several elections from now at best.

  30. Daniel, let’s keep it civil, mate. We should all be able to enjoy a discussion about politics without turning it personal. It’s one thing to hold an opinion, it’s another to use it to belittle and berate others.

  31. Talking up the chances of a party that came fourth with 12.5% last time seems a bit pie-in-the-sky to me. Getting into the high teens, maybe even 20%, would be a good result for them. The Labor insider who leaked that probably had their reasons for doing so.

    It wouldn’t necessarily be Labor coming third. The LNP could come third if it’s either a Labor landslide (like 2001, when an independent Cairns councillor came second) or they lose a big chunk of their vote to One Nation or whoever (almost happened in 1998, not so much in 2017). Neither of those look like happening in 2020.

  32. @NQ View, thank you for the defence – your insight into Cairns fascinates me, given I’m limited to firsthand experience in SEQ only. If Barron River is an LNP gain but Labor retains government, it feels like it would be a bit of an island, which is an interesting dynamic.

    Btw Daniel, I’m not upset – I just have a different perspective but feel its not worth sharing & no longer want to.

  33. A few more days before I am comfortable predicting most close sests, but this is one I am certain is going to the LNP.

  34. That’s a pity BJA I value your input as it balances the two dominant views in hete. Very pro Labor Greens and the couple of DLP Katter types. You always provide valuable and very reasonable views.

  35. Daniel
    Kicking the Christian Right out of Liberal Party will not make them dissappear. All that would happpenis they would set up
    Somewhere else. Tha ALP tried that tactic in 1955 ( and an even better example is Qld in 1957) The consequences in both cases were not exactly victory achieving for ALP.
    Both major parties need to tecognnisew that They can only win with a middle of the road platform. The highly divisive social issues need to be decided by Referendum’s but the left in both parties will not be happy with the results. Potentially you would see return of capital punishment, criminalisation of abortion, sodomy and prostitution. Massive sentences for criminals and much lower government expenditure due to taxation cuts.
    Centralised Electricity generation would return to 100% Coal with only renewables being privately owned small scale systems.
    Green disruptive demonstrations would be met with Joh like responses. Refugees would be sent back to where they come from.
    The current duopoly are are able to move leftwards in spite of population not because of it.
    Great majority of ALP and Liberal Party members agree on a lot more than their leaders think and part of leaders job is to make differences seem larger than they really are.
    My prediction for election Palaszczuk returned but dependent on Katter or LNP defectors. Frecklington will be backbencher when new Parliament meets.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here