Rockhampton – QLD 2020

ALP 5.2% vs ON

Incumbent MP
Barry O’Rourke, since 2017.

Central Queensland. Rockhampton covers most of the suburbs of Rockhampton, including all of the city south of the Fitzroy River.

The seat of Rockhampton was first created in 1865, and existed until its abolition in 1960. The seat was restored in 1972. The seat has been held by the ALP since 1912, with the exception of two periods when the sitting Labor MP broke away from the party.

The restored seat was won in 1972 by the ALP’s Keith Wright. He was elected leader of the ALP in 1982. In 1984 he left the Legislative Assembly to take the federal seat of Capricornia. In 1993 he lost his preselection for Capricornia after being charged with child sex offences and rape, and lost his seat at that year’s election.

Paul Braddy won Rockhampton in 1985. He served as a minister in the Beattie and Bligh governments. In 1995 he moved to the seat of Kedron. He retired in 2001 when the seat of Kedron was abolished.

Robert Schwarten won the seat of Rockhampton in 1995. He had held the seat of Rockhampton North from 1989 until 1992, when his seat was abolished and he contested the new seat of Keppel. He lost to the National Party candidate.

Schwarten served as a minister in the Beattie and Bligh governments from 1998 to 2011, and stepped down from the ministry in February 2011.

In 2012, Schwarten retired and was succeeded by Labor’s Bill Byrne. Byrne was re-elected in 2015.

Byrne retired in 2017, and Labor preselection was won by Barry O’Rourke, defeating Rockhampton mayor Margaret Strelow. Strelow went on to run as an independent. She came second on primary votes, but O’Rourke retained the seat for Labor.


Rockhampton has usually been a reasonably safe Labor seat, in the absence of the split Labor vote as we saw in 2017. This area is relatively strong for One Nation, though, who may still prove a threat.

2017 result

Barry O’Rourke Labor 9,67531.7-21.2
Margaret StrelowIndependent7,17423.5+23.5
Wade RotheryOne Nation6,52121.4+21.4
Douglas Rodgers Liberal National 5,44217.9-12.4
Kate Giamarelos Greens 1,6745.5-0.7

2017 two-candidate-preferred result

Barry O’Rourke Labor 16,82555.2-8.8
Wade RotheryOne Nation13,66144.8+44.8

Booth breakdown

Booths in Rockhampton have been divided into three areas: central, north and south. The north covers those areas on the northern side of the river.

The ALP won a majority of the two-candidate-preferred vote in all three areas, ranging from 52.4% in the south to 58.6% in the centre.

Voter groupLNP primIND primALP 2CPTotal votes% of votes
Other votes20.122.355.33,08510.1

Election results in Rockhampton at the 2017 QLD state election
Toggle between two-candidate-preferred votes (Labor vs One Nation) and primary votes for independent candidate Margaret Strelow and the Liberal National Party.

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  1. With Margaret not contesting (getting a thumping re-election as mayor in March), this should make Labor breath a little easier. However, it shows their vote is a bit soft and depends if there’s another split across the parties. KAP adds a bit of spice to this contest, despite not running here since 2012, could peel off some of the former IND vote before flowing back to mostly ALP. I had this as an ALP retain, being one of the magnificent 7 in 2012, but looking at the vote share from last time, just not as confident. Will be interesting to see how the campaign goes as I know KAP and ONP have been targeting this seat hard.

    Prediction (August 2020): ALP Retain

  2. September Prediction: Labor retain but not with the nothing to see confidence I would have once had for this seat.

  3. FTB
    OK but ON DO have a chance. How much is debatable, or unknown. Would you agree that it is a greater chance than Mackay ?. Is the mooted ALP wipeout north of Brisbane a live chance ?
    cheers WD

  4. KAP have been targeting Rockhampton. When I lived in CQ the expression was that Rocky would elect a Labor Party endorsed dead dog.
    This was not entirely accurate because at one stage Rex Pilbeam was both MLA and Mayor.
    However I can not see anyone but ALP winning this seat.

  5. Labor has a decent amount of buffer in this seat, and even in the awful federal result for them in 2019 they still won the Berserker booth and weren’t so far behind in most Rockhampton booths that they couldn’t recover. Going back to a Labor vs LNP runoff will also help Labor survive. I see them losing Mackay, which was much more uniformly bad for Labor last year, before they lose here.

    ALP retain, even if Labor has a very bad night in the regions.

  6. Biggest danger to Labor in both Mackay and Rocky is inner city Labor allignrd green Labor opening their mouths. Matt Canavans open invitation for Bob Brown to come back for a tour sums it all up. Labour’s unwillingness to stand up for working class interests against the Perceived interests of inner city bites in Coal dependent cities like Rocky. There are people in Rocky who have houses that are worth significantly less than they were a few years ago and regardless of accuracy they blame this on downturn in coal. Downturn in coal gets blamed for vacant shops, retail stores teetering on brink of bankruptcy, hotels room vacancies, schools with declining number of students and consequently fewer teachers. ALP should come out and
    1) Announce a new large government built, owned and operated High Efficiency Low Emmission coal powered Power Station
    2) Get message out that funding for anything in inner city is dependent on existing Labor seats remaining Labor. If Jackie Trad loses South Brisbane , the costs for South Brisbane will be locally borne. The perception at the moment in Country Queensland is that the cost of a Jackie Trad victory is borne by country Queensland.
    The KAP campaign on Rocky will no doubt be getting support from
    trade unions, business and Rocky community which a Ashby-Hanson campaign will be missing.

  7. Andrew Jackson
    Dead Right on all counts.
    Won’t happen of course.
    1/ Labor lack common sense
    2/ labor lack purpose, let alone vision
    3/ labor are conflicted if not divided
    KAP have effectively become the “north QLD Party” with the overarching presence, & influence that is consequent from that position.
    btw thanks for your previous reply, & apologies for my tardy acknowledgement
    cheers WD

  8. Torin O,Brien (ON) was on PML Tuesday. Really impressive young guy. On pure instinct he will get this. TALKED ABOUT
    1/ CRIME real escalation
    2/ Barry O’rourke lying about iron radio, saying stats had improved !!. Police stats show otherwise
    3/ Abattoirs employing 457 visas – leading to unemployment.
    4/ Torin is 3rd gen meatworker – cred

    It seems little has been learned from the ALP’s “results” last year, re Capricornia.

  9. Can’t see this one falling. The Independent vote from last time shouldn’t particularly go to anyone but you may see alo fair chunk go back to Labor. Katter enteri g just further splits One Natio and LNP votes. On top of that it seems the One Nation vote will drop across the state and even if the LNP vote goes up, it won’t be close enough to win it off preferences.

  10. FTB
    Thanks for the generous acknowledgement.

    No way the ON vote drops in Rocky, & Kap, & others will split the 2p vote. I predict a melee. Take a look at the photos of the candidates. O’Rourke looks tired, worn, ordinary, even a touch messy. O’Brien looks fresh keen, purposeful, efficient, even a little slick. Good thing he is a local, or that might hurt him. This could be the most important result of this election, because O’Brien is a potential leader. I’d make that prediction, for most of the same reasons i’d predict Andrew Hastie, becoming the next Liberal PM.
    All opinions welcome !!

    From O’Brien’s link

    Last night I was invited onto Paul Murray’s show to discuss the issues and opportunities across Rockhampton ahead of the Queensland election.
    I’ll let you be the judge of how I went.
    #Auspol #OneNation #PaulineHanson #TorinObrien #Rockhampton #QldVotes #PML #PaulMurrayLive #CentralQueensland

    This is worth looking at


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