McConnel – QLD 2020

ALP 7.9%

Incumbent MP
Grace Grace, since 2017. Previously Member for Brisbane Central 2007-2012 and 2015-2017.

Central Brisbane. The seat covers the Brisbane CBD and the suburbs of Fortitude Valley, New Farm, Newstead, Spring Hill, Herston, Bowen Hills, Windsor and parts of Kelvin Grove, Wilston and Newmarket.

The seat of McConnel was created in 2017, but is simply a new name for Brisbane Central, which had existed since 1977. This seat has been won by Labor at all but one election.

The seat was first won in 1977 by Brian Davis. He had previously held the seat of Brisbane from 1969 to 1974, when he lost to the Liberal Party. He held Brisbane Central from 1977 to 1989.

In 1989 Davis was succeeded by Peter Beattie, the former State Secretary of the Queensland ALP. Beattie was appointed as Minister for Health in the Goss government in 1995. In 1996, the Goss government lost power and the National-Liberal coalition took power without an election. Following this change Beattie was elected as leader of the ALP.

Peter Beattie led the ALP into the 1998 election and became Premier at the head of a Labor minority government, which quickly gained a majority following a by-election. He won landslide victories in 2001, 2004 and 2006 before retiring in 2007.

At the following by-election, the seat was won by Labor candidate Grace Grace, former general secretary of the Queensland Council of Unions. Without a Liberal candidate, Grace’s main opposition came from Greens candidate Anne Boccabella, but retained the seat comfortably with a 7.9% margin.

Grace was re-elected in 2009, but Beattie’s 2006 margin of 14.4% collapsed to only 6%.

In 2012, Grace was defeated by LNP candidate Robert Cavallucci, but she won back the seat in 2015, and won another term in 2017.


Labor’s margin against the LNP looks reasonably safe, but the bigger threat could come from the Greens. Labor only outpolled the Greens by 6.6% on primary votes, and only 5.85% at the point in the count where the Greens were excluded. If the Greens were to overtake Labor they would likely win on Labor preferences.

2017 result

Jamie Forster Liberal National 10,01736.5-5.5
Grace Grace Labor 9,23833.7-2.5
Kirsten Lovejoy Greens 7,43627.1+7.8
John DobinsonIndependent2831.0+1.0
Edward GilmourIndependent2420.9+0.9
Kamala EmanuelIndependent2170.8+0.8

2017 two-party-preferred result

Grace Grace Labor 15,87457.9+4.8
Jamie Forster Liberal National 11,55942.1-4.8

Booth breakdown

Booths in McConnel have been divided into three areas: centre, north and New Farm.

Labor won a majority of the two-party-preferred vote in all three areas, with 56.4% in New Farm and around 65% in the centre and north.

The Greens came third, with a vote ranging from 28.5% in New Farm to 33.1% in the centre.

Voter groupGRN primALP 2PPTotal votes% of votes
New Farm28.556.47,37926.9
Other votes24.055.17,24926.4

Election results in McConnel at the 2017 QLD state election
Toggle between two-party-preferred votes and Greens primary votes.

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  1. Given the level of campaigning by the Greens and the lack of support being given to the liberal and Labor campaigns this seat could definitely fall to the Greens.
    The Liberal campaign is disorganised and Labor has diverted funds South of the river too the far more powerful Trad.

  2. The boundary of this seat is also very similar to the Brisbane City Council seat of Central. The Greens easily outpolled Labor in that seat for the first time back in March & also outpolled Labor in the federal seat of Brisbane at those booths within McConnel at the 2019 election.

    That doesn’t guarantee that the Greens will be able to do it at state level, given Labor is the incumbent, but it does show that it can be done. And given the Greens have specifically prioritised McConnel as a seat to be won this time, which they didn’t do with Central or Brisbane, this is a very strong chance for them.

  3. The problem is some posters are over exaggerating the Greens results from the Brisbane City Council elections thinking it can translate to the state elections. I’ve seen one post that claims the Greens could be a chance in Greenslopes. Alot of those council seats the Greens have done well in didn’t have a Labor member where the Greens vote benefited. Its a different ball game in state elections where most of these Brisbane state seats have Labor incumbents.

    I’m predicting Labor retains here. The Greens vote may even take a dip here because of the pandemic. Minor parties are not exactly on voters mind right now with issues such as the Border closure and voters are more likely to head to the major parties. And managing the pandemic is more relevant as a state issue then it is on council.

  4. I would not be surprised if the Greens win McConnel.

    It won’t take much for them to slip into second on primaries and win with Labor preferences. But Labor would really need to be under the pump this election to finish third here. Not sure this is the election for that to happen.

  5. No, Grace Grace won’t finish third because she has a profile from incumbency – once that goes, this may become LNP vs GRN contest.

  6. I know Pinky Singh is very well liked and respected within the LNP membership. I am unsure if she is running here because its where she lives (not sure if she is local?), but I am more familiar with her work in communities south of the river. She has all the characteristics of a good candidate, but I am unsure if this was the right seat.

  7. This is closer than Miller vote wise between GRN and ALP first pref and why I consider this one and Moggill the next two best targets beyond Maiwar and South Brisbane. Grace Grace has the name recognition (so nice, you say it twice) and been the incumbent for a while. This will be like Melbourne federally when Lindsay Tanner resigned, an easy GRN gain with an absence of a sitting member.

    Prediction (August 2020): ALP Retain

  8. Pinky Singh just needs to channel Cr Vicki Howard and would fit in well with whatever Vicki & Trevor Evans have going together – I don’t know what it is but it seems to be working.

  9. I just love the (breathtaking) assumption that labor preferences would overwhelmingly flow to the greens. should they overtake labor Why ???.

  10. The assumption would probably come from the fact that ALP voters have delivered the Greens victories against the Libs in CPV three times before (Maiwar 2017, Prahran 2014 and Prahran 2018) and we have no data points that show them helping the Libs.

  11. This seat just baffles me. Lived here all my life and it has always a labor fortress until a few years ago – I think the Tory Teresa Gambaro was the first one to break the Labor hold here But I genuinely think it could go one of three ways this time.

    Greens certainly been out in the field early, and they are talking their chances up. But im not sure anyone is listening? I know who their candidate is – Kirsten has a huge campaign office and life size billboard on a fancy office block on Brunswick street – can’t miss her smiling face – but haven’t heard really what she will do on state issues – she is pretty vocal on local and federal issues though. Kirsten has run here at all levels quite a few times so she would have some significant name recognition. Have to say, they do seem very confident.

    Grace Grace is certainly the name you know name you trust (well around New Farm where I live) My family went to school with her and you couldn’t ask for someone more local – and that has been and appears to be her key election strategy.

    But from what I would assume the electorate has a pretty high turnover of residents, all the new LNP council approved mega horrendous unit towers in Newstead where the young and beautiful seem to be moving to. If they are anything like my kids they wouldn’t give a flying hoot about where their MP went to school or the fact they have to vote soon.

    The LNP Pinky – well she competes against Grace on having a unique name advantage and seems to be mimicking the Vicki Howard and Trevor Evans strategy of smile, a lot and wave at cars. I have seen her see her at least twice a week for a few months, waving enthusiastically at me as I head to work and back home. But don’t ask me what she stands for or is promising to do – maybe that is yet to come..

    For me I find it really odd that – to date, letterboxes aren’t being cluttered, phones aren’t being spammed like the federal and council elections and besides the occasional ALP and LNP info booth – you wouldn’t know election was on.

    I see this seat as a legitimate three horse race- noting Labor threw everything at trying to win back the council seat at election in March – and basically were laughed out of town -with the greens easily coming second foe the first time. And I think the Greens did pretty well in the McConnel booths at federal election as well – please correct me if wrong..

    Grace seems to be coasting along, (only seen one brochure about everything she has done as education minister to improve local schools) – and who can blame her – the Tories threw up a dud candidate last time and basically ran dead and she breezed in and probably and rightly expects LNP preferences will keep her comfortable from greens.

    I really did expect / hope to see more from the greens – perhaps they are doing things behind the scenes.. it’s hard to tell. Am very keen to see what they are going to do here.

    As for the Tories – seriously can’t believe their workers are wearing bright pink shirts – they look ridiculous – the old Nationals must be choking on their cornflakes wondering where it all went wrong. Also got a fridge magnet- business card size – in mail that was bright pink with just the word Pinky on – seems to be a complete waste on money – but my daughter thinks it is cool and has kept it on the fridge.not sure what we are suppose to learn from magnet.

    Strange seat with evolving demographics.. locally and federally this area is in love with the right wingers, but state – well judging from the Grace campaign – nothing to see here.

    When Grace does go – Labor may as well pack up and leave. it will be a Green Tory battle. Must make old time locals like David Hinchliffe, Jimmy Soorley and Peter Beattie squirm.

  12. @Politics_Obsessed

    Your post is a bit misleading. The Greens originally won the federal seat of Melbourne from Labor in 2010 because the Liberals directed preferences to the Greens. Labor still out-polled the Greens on the primary vote. And the Greens vs Labor were in the final two party preferred vote where the Greens won on Liberal preferences.

    Thats alot different to this seat where the LNP vote is too strong for them not to finish in the final two party preferred vote. The Greens would have to overtake Labor primary vote and finish in the final two party preferred vote vs the LNP. And then take the seat via Labor preferences as they did in Maiwar.

    Alot assumptions that the Greens vote will hold up from elections to come in this seat. I’m just not convinced it will this election because of the pandemic.

  13. @Political_Nightwatchman, fair point there. I was more looking at chances were greens can have a shot at the seat, such as when an incumbent retires, but yes a few assumptions are there based on past examples (Melbourne was more about sitting member, should have been clearer) and of prefs. Still consider an ALP retain for that reason and those you mention.

    I concur I have no idea how their vote will hold up this election so all we can do is make some assumptions but will be interesting to see if their 7 sets above 20% first prefs stay that way.

  14. Air
    That is a very, very, very long bow !!. Using anything that comes from the “inner recesses”of Melbourne as some kind of example applying to the rest of Australia……!!. I mean have you SEEN some of the people living in Prahran !!?. WRT Maiwar we are about to find out whether this is an aberration. Should be fun !!.

    PN Well put, & correct. i do wonder if the pandemic’s influence is as strong as you seem to ?

  15. winediamond how bizarre. There has been no counter example of the Greens getting approximately 80% preferences from ALP voters (vs Coalition) and you are convinced it’s not normal?

    Labor voters in seats the Greens do well simply do not like the Coalition. Labor and Green voters seem to preference each other 80% of the time and I think it’s a very safe assumption that that will happen again in Maiwar and would happen in McConnel if/when the ALP fall into 3rd place.

  16. @winediamond – yes most of those examples are in the inner city, but so is McConnel! Even if you could find a type of Labor voter who would prefer LNP over Greens, they aren’t the kind of Labor voter who lives in a seat where the Greens do well enough to receive Labor preferences. Prahran, Balmain, Maiwar, all the same picture. You can also look at Ballina and Lismore (Ballina in 2015 and 2019, Lismore in 2015), and Labor preferences to the Greens are usually stronger than the reverse.

  17. @Angus B
    Yes, the Greens did do pretty well in the McConnel booths at the last federal election as well.

    The Greens outpolled Labor in all those booths – including the New Farm based ones – and topped the booth at both Kelvin Grove & Spring Hill.

    As already mentioned, the Greens also easily outpolled Labor in the same areas at the recent Council election.

    These things don’t automatically translate to state election level, but it does show the base levels of support for the Greens are clearly strong enough for them to be in with a real chance of winning the seat.

    I can’t see any prospect of the Liberals winning it this time, so it is basically a Labor vs Greens contest

  18. Bennee
    “There has been no counter example of the Greens getting approximately 80% preferences from ALP voters (vs Coalition) and you are convinced it’s not normal?” YET…..

    “I think it’s a very safe assumption that that will happen again in Maiwar” I Disagree very strongly :;”WRT Maiwar we are about to find out whether this is an aberration. Should be fun !!”
    This is what makes Maiwar so interesting
    I guess it comes back to a fundamental question of whether voters vote FOR, or AGAINST (x party or candidate) ?. Knowingly, or UN -knowingly.
    McConnel seems to be a variation, or extension of the same theme.
    My view remains that 2019 was a watershed/ turning point which altered most existing patterns, & norms

  19. @Andrew Bartlett – thanks for your insight – the Greens have certainly shown Labor what happens when they forget about their ‘safe’ seats.

    I’d be keen to see Kirsten get up this time as she has certainly proven her respect for community by putting her hand up over the years when stocks were much lower, but I fear there is a growing Ascot / North Shore vibe in the area. Considering how much money and mud Labor threw at its woeful local and federal campaign the Tory vote remained somewhat solid, despite their clear shortcomings. In some ways I can see, fear, this part of Brisbane being the ‘new Clayfield’ for the right.

    I guess we won’t know until Election Day how it pans out.

    I’d be really interested in your view Andrew if you think I am right in saying Grace is either really complacent this time (which would be foolish IMO) or perhaps just doesn’t care.. her campaign seems to be invisible when compared to her previous runs.. if I was her and had Labor’s terrible local and federal results, you guys and a bunch of crazy Tories in bright pink shirts running around, I would be watching my back…

  20. Greens/Lab tossup, most likely greens. The Greens are certainly confident anyway. LNP finishing third would be the easiest way for Labor to retain. Anyone expecting LNP to win is probably smoking something.

  21. Winediamond, there was nothing unique or abberant about Maiwar. We’ve had a number of elections following the same pattern – Greens overtaking Labor and defeating the Lib or Nat with Labor preferences. Prahran (twice), Ballina (twice), Balmain in 2011, and Maiwar, and they came very close in Lismore in 2015.

  22. A lot of interesting discussion here, but I just wanted to chime in and say – this district features among the most pleasing electoral boundaries in all of Australia.

  23. The polling published in The Australian today certainly looks like it is matching up with the Greens’ confidence in this seat. It is interesting to consider how this sort of media impacts the swing voter who have held out on supporting them because of the ‘winability’ factor. Unless something really gets in the way of this trajectory, it really is looking promising for the Greens, although it looks close indeed.

  24. Ben
    How flattering to receive two posts from you. I’m pleased to have aroused your interest. It’s my birthday today so i’ll respond in detail on the Maiwar thread tomorrow . I agree there has been a history. However i don’t agree that there is a prevailing pattern. Not unless there are unlikely (future?) developments.

    You raise Ballina, & Lismore as an example. This is a highly “unique ” area, full of ‘herbal”, & other “alternate” influences in a concentration not found anywhere else ! Byron shire is like no other. So i see this area as singular, not illustrative.
    Clearly historically Labor prefs to the greens having been stronger as you have identified. i agree that this will prevail in Sydney, & Melb. However i’m doubtful wrt Brisbane. I’ll make my case tomorrow
    cheers wd

  25. Poll came out with Labor/Greens/LNP all on similar votes. It’s going to come down to exclusion order. For Greens to win, they need to finish ahead of Labor, and Labor can’t finish ahead of LNP (I’m assuming South Brisbane is a one off).

    It will come down to how much LNP and ALP try in this seat. I think the Greens have the numbers here but the possibility of LNP finishing 3rd makes this unpredictable.

    My prediction has changed from GRN gain to toss up (ALP vs Green)

  26. @Ben Raue

    I will say this the difference between this seat and Maiwar was the incumbent didn’t recontest. I really do believe if Steven Miles had recontested Maiwar which he should have Labor would have won. Instead he chose a safer seat of Murrumba and handed Maiwar to the Greens. Whether I agree with that is another matter. The fact Grace Grace is recontesting certainly makes it not completely the same scenario as Maiwar.

  27. As John says, it’s down to exclusion order. I don’t think there’s any chance of the LNP coming third on primaries though.

    As for Labor voters’ preference of Greens or Liberals: while we don’t know this directly for state elections we can analyse Senate data. I have done this analysis on a four-party-preferred basis (and projected those results onto the relevant state district boundaries). Areas with higher Green votes do indeed correlate with higher percentages of outgoing Labor preferences. In areas where the Greens’ 4PP exceeded 20%, their share of Labor preferences (over LNP or PHON) exceeded 70%. (Lower for lower, but in those areas it’s irrelevant.) I attribute this to a combination of (a) Labor voters choosing another left-wing party, and (b) HTVs.

  28. I was responding to winediamond questioning the tendency of Labor preferences to favour the Greens over the LNP, not necessarily saying the Greens will win.

  29. LNP 31, Grn 30, ALP 29. 8% undecided, margin of error 4%. (All quoted from that article.)

    Basically, all that says is that the LNP can’t win. The Greens could lead on primaries, or miss the top two altogether, and the preferences of others (Palmer, etc) could completely scramble that order.

    Oh, and 31+30+29+8 = 98. Have some rounding error to go with that 4% MOE.

  30. Am surprised by how active the LNP are becoming in this seat. I can’t see how they think they have a chance given each party will score about a third of the vote. Maybe it is to shave off Labor votes to help the Greens defeat GG? This part of town continues to gentrify and the LNP holds the Central ward in BCC and they hold the Federal seat. I wouldn’t be surprised if long term this seat becomes an LNP/Greens contest.

  31. Elisa A, that’s a fairly astute point but I think a more pronounced cause of that would be incumbency rather than gentrification. In nearby Maiwar the ALP have no chance of making the final 2 due to the “you have to vote ALP to keep the LNP out” narrative being flipped on it’s head, ALP will lose ~5% primary vote at least directly to the Greens and they would do the same in McConnel in a potential future 2024 election were Kirsten Lovejoy the incumbent.

  32. Have already had mail drops from the LNP, Greens and ALP here (in that order) – and quite high-quality offerings. All had fairly well-outlined policy platforms. Greens rep for Lovejoy doorknocked this evening too.

    At the core of it, Grace is campaigning on incumbency and Labor’s Covid performance; Pinky on a fairly standard liberal “pro-business” + “no new taxes” platform (a bit strange given most taxes set federally); and the Greens are campaigning on a time for change platform: “we just need X votes to turn this seat green” ala how they’ve campaigned in other 3-cornered contests like Higgins in Vic (and also getting rid of Go cards and providing free public transport?).

    Parties have all had a presence at the Saturday powerhouse markets in New Farm, and seem to be campaigning fairly seriously, even the libs. Nothing tokenistic here. All parties seem to think they’ve got viable win scenarios, but looks highly likely that it will come down to preferences and exclusion order. Messy

  33. @Angus B I am sure Grace Grace is trying very hard & am also certain she is not complacent.

    You are right that parts of the seat are becoming more Lib-leaning (not quite the same demographic as Clayfield, but similar enough) – especially the Newstead & Teneriffe sections, along with bits of New Farm – but not enough to compensate for the rest of the seat.

    The winner will be whoever comes first between Labor & Greens – the LNP have no chance & (unless their vote plummets to put them in 3rd, which seems improbable) their preferences are irrelevant. This makes it more straightforward than South Brisbane, where the LNP will come 3rd & the way their preferences spilt could well be crucial.

    Labor’s vote has been gradually trending down overall in this area over the past ten years at local, state and federal levels, and the Greens’ has been trending up. That doesn’t make it inevitable that the Greens will poll above Labor this time – the value of Grace’s incumbency can’t be ignored & obviously this election also has some unique characteristics.

  34. Elise, I think the LNP enthusiasm is because it is a rather new political person rather than genuine hope to win. Pinky didn’t come through uni politics and only joined a few years ago when she met several party figures and politicians. Pinky is super well liked and an enthusiastic person who people naturally are drawn to and want to help. It is a credit to her.

  35. Labor have begun with their LNP/Greens preference deal disinformation campaign, to which the Greens have already published info confirming Labor are being preferenced above the LNP in every seat.

    In the unlikely but not impossible scenario that the LNP fall into 3rd place in primaries, it would of course be a fascinating scenario where their yet-to-be-published decision to preference either Labor or Greens above the other could make the difference.

  36. Watching what has been happening over the past few days it’s been fascinating to see Grace Grace on the hustings.. it is like she has just realised there is an election and she may be facing a real challenge. She doesn’t look engaged and appears to be running to ‘tick a box’. After getting a sorry I missed you card from her in my letterbox when I was certainly home, I wonder if she cares if she wins. Her supporters are certainly going to town on Pinky on community Facebook page which makes me think Grace feels LNP are bigger threat than greens.

    There has been a notable increase in LNP Pinky material in my letterbox and her campaign seem to be a lot more visible and energetic over past week. We also received a call from her team as well. Her pinky branded fridge magnet took a while to work out what it was but I guess that’s the point – certainly boosted her name.

    Greens not as active on street corners or letter boxes, but got a new brochure this week, certainly strong presence at markets – they have also knocked on my door and have the street chatter going on in local coffee shop.

    This is anyone’s guess. All sides are playing to win – if I was to bet – money isn’t with Grace.

  37. Driving through West End this morning I saw street activity by ALP and LNP but apart from
    A few corflutes no Green activity.
    I would’ve surprised at GraceGrace losing this seat. Obviously their areppckets of high density Greens but once again high mortgages . It should also be remembered that this was Don Lane Territory in Joh era. Only time I ever came close to helping the Libs was Don’s election when he stood as a Coalition candidate printing own Coalition HTV and defecting
    To Nationals. Yes I know what happened to Don Lane but this electorate elected him because he was popular in electorate. I do not defend his corrupt conduct but I do defend his career as a police officer in Special Branch and his performance as an MP.

  38. The issue I think in these inner city areas is that while they are definitely gentrifying and there are high mortgages, they are also much younger and generally more “modern”than their equally rich friends in the suburbs.

    This pattern makes it Greens territory. Sure when they hit 55 these wealthy young lawyers may well vote LNP, but just now they are still in the “progressive”era of their lives.

    However, I think it is too big an ask for the Greens to win this seat this time and while the demographic will tend in tehir direction, I predict that a positive SEQ shift to the ALP will comfortably keep Grace Grace ahead of the greens.

  39. Andrew Jackson the Greens tend to concentrate on door knocking rather than sitting on the side of the road.

    West End isn’t in McConnell but I would be surprised if there weren’t a lot of Green yard signs up in all their best electorates. There seems to be a lot of them in Maiwar and Cooper.

  40. Nene
    Sorry about West End I meant New Farm.I was way out of my normal stamping ground. These inner city suburbs look the same to me run down Industrial shell taken over by non productive service industries. Was going to NewFarm Park with Grand daughters taking them on Citi Kat going up river to St Lucia and back again. The youngest summed up what Geographers call Zone of Transition with one word “boring”.

  41. Deb Frecklington has announced that LNP will preference Labor last in every seat. That may make this interesting. What are the chances of LNP finishing 3rd here?

  42. There’s a couple of ways that could happen:

    (a) Greens take a bit over 3% each from LNP and Labor. That ends up with the three-way tie from that seat poll last month.

    (b) Greens take a bit under 5% straight from LNP, while the Labor vote stays put.

    That’s ignoring independents and minor parties. In particular, the LNP would get 1-2% preferences from Palmer.

  43. LNP got 37.55% “three party preferred” last time they need to be lower than 33.33% to be able to finish 3rd. I guess that’s possible with ALP and Greens campaigning hard and LNP not so much.

  44. @ZH some but minimal. Greenslopes and Miller are the seats other than South Brisbane where Greens might get a boost from LNP preferences

  45. I see this seat on Sportsbet has Labor and Greens tied at $1.85 each in this seat. I have read varying views on the LNP preferncing the Greens in all seats above Labor. Some believe it may be a factor in up to four seats, while others think it will only be a potential deciding factor in South Brisbane.


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