South Brisbane – QLD 2020

ALP 3.6% vs GRN

Incumbent MP
Jackie Trad, since 2012.

Central Brisbane. South Brisbane covers suburbs in on the south side of the Brisbane River in central Brisbane, specifically West End, Highgate Hill, Kangaroo Point, East Brisbane, South Brisbane, Woolloongabba and Dutton Park.

The seat of South Brisbane has existed continuously since 1860. The seat has been won by the ALP at almost all elections since 1915.

The seat was once held by Premier Vince Gair from 1932 to 1960. He was expelled in 1957 and formed the Queensland Labor Party, and later served as a Democratic Labor Party Senator from 1964 to 1973.

The ALP held the seat from 1960 to 1974. The seat was held by the Liberal Party for one term from 1974 to 1977 and has been held by the ALP since 1977.

Jim Fouras won the seat in 1977, and held it until 1986, when he lost ALP preselection to Anne Warner. He later held the seat of Ashgrove from 1989 to 2006, serving as Speaker from 1990 to 1996.

Warner had previously won the seat of Kurilpa in 1983, but her original seat was abolished in 1986. She served as a minister in the Goss government until her retirement in 1995.

Anna Bligh won South Brisbane in 1995. Bligh became a minister in the new Beattie government in 1998. In 2005, she became Deputy Premier, and succeeded Peter Beattie as Premier in 2007. She won another term as Premier in 2009.

In 2012, Anna Bligh led the ALP to a massive defeat, with the party losing all but seven seats. Bligh held on in South Brisbane by a 4.7% margin, after a swing to the LNP of over 10%.

Bligh resigned from her seat immediately after the election. Labor’s Jackie Trad won the following by-election by a slim 1.7% margin. Trad was re-elected in 2015 and 2017.

Trad was elected deputy leader of the ALP immediately after the 2015 state election, and thus became Deputy Premier. She served in a number of portfolios, but primarily as Minister for Transport until 2017, and as Treasurer from 2017 to 2020. She was forced to resign from her ministerial roles in May 2020 due to an investigation by the Crime and Corruption Commission into her role in the construction of a new school in her electorate. She was cleared by the investigation in July 2020.


South Brisbane is a marginal seat, and a key target for the Greens. The Greens won the overlapping Gabba ward of Brisbane City Council with a landslide 62% of the two-candidate-preferred earlier this year, and Trad has lost her previous prominent position as Deputy Premier.

2017 result

Jackie Trad Labor 10,00736.0-6.0
Amy MacMahon Greens 9,54934.4+11.7
Simon Quinn Liberal National 6,76424.3-8.0
Cameron MurrayIndependent5161.9+1.9
Karel BoeleIndependent4841.7-1.2
Karagh-Mae KellyIndependent2490.9+0.9
Frank JordanIndependent2300.8+0.8

2017 two-party-preferred result

Jackie Trad Labor 14,88753.6
Amy MacMahon Greens 12,91246.4

Booth breakdown

Booths in South Brisbane have been divided into three areas: central, east and west.

Labor won a majority of the two-candidate-preferred vote in the east (54.7%) and centre (57.4%) while the Greens won a narrow majority in the west (50.5%).

The LNP came third, with a vote ranging from 16.9% in the west to 21% in the centre.

Voter groupLNP primALP 2CPTotal votes% of votes
Other votes28.053.610,11036.4

Election results in South Brisbane at the 2017 QLD state election
Toggle between two-candidate-preferred votes (Labor vs Greens) and LNP primary votes.

Become a Patron!


  1. Agree with most assessment that South Brisbane will be a difficult one for Labor to retain and that the Greens are in prime position to pick it up. One thing to add though is that Trad is top spot on the ballot paper, same as in 2017 when she was also higher than the Greens.

    The poll however indicates a pretty stark sign for Labor. Someone said before that Labor’s hope was that this poll was taken from all voters rather than just those who were going to vote on the day. In 2017, Labor fared better on pre-polls than on the election day itself.

    To be honest, this area has become more and more green every time and Trad’s main bet to hold the time back was being a progressive voice. However this appears not to be enough this time. Loosing South Brisbane will make it harder for Labor to win majority however loosing it to the Greens will ensure that if a hung parliament ensues, this seat will likely go towards a Labor coalition.

  2. From what I can see I don’t think any of the mud stuck to the Greens here. You could tell that things weren’t going well in Batman 2018 and the bullying allegations and internal divisions took the wind out of the Greens sails. Volunteers seemed surprisingly thin on the ground and federal Greens MPs seemed to be talking down their hopes of gaining the seat. There were also polls that had the Greens losing which proved to be right.

    I am not getting similar indications from this campaign; polls, volunteers and the general vibe all seem to be just as good for Greens.

    Also the Trad campaign seems to think running “cleared of corruption” materials is a good idea. All that serves to do is remind people that she faced credible allegations of corruption and got booted from the deputy premiership. The Greens campaign has focused surprisingly little on Trad and that will serve them well.

    Prediction: GRN gain

  3. Montau .. Labor won’t go into any “coalition”. They will. if necessary, be a minority govt with backing from Greens and/or Katter.

  4. Labor with a backing from the Greens, let alone a full-fledged coalition, would be political suicide and subject them to nearing-2012 levels all over again come 2024. Just imagine the Murdoch press all over it every single day for the next 4 years, digging up any little thing they can find to cause a scandal or paint Labor as the worst thing since Hitler himself. They’ve got no real choice but to sit down and have a long talk with Robbie Katter.

  5. Sorry that was what I meant Peter Knopke. That if necessary the Greens would support ALP if hung parliament ensued. Mostly agree that they would be better off with KAP support otherwise regional QLD would swing. I am just saying that the Greens would always support ALP over LNP unlike Katter who could go either way.

  6. KAP already has three seats and has supported a minority-labour government before. Greens have no hopes of being in a bargaining position unless they win more than three seats, which is highly unlikely. They would have to retain Maiwar, pickup South Brisbane and McConell and pull off a miracle in Cooper or Moggil. Having said that if labour were to ever take a political risk, it might aswell be this time because by the time 2024 comes along, they would have been in power for 9 years straight and hoping to get reelected again for a fourth time is a bit of a wishful thinking unless they have actually achieved something substantial. So, they might as well as go bold and get slaughtered like Julia Gillard and David Bartlett/Lara Giddings at the polls after a stint with the Greens. Come 2024, Queenslanders’ sentiment towards Climate Change and coal might have shifted too with all the forest fires that we are about to face again.

  7. There could always be a similar situation to 2010 TAS, where the ALP’s David Bartlett asked the Governor to appoint a Liberal government, when neither party was willing to work with the Greens. A formal coalition between QLD Labor and QLD Greens would likely include some form of action against Adani, which I suspect that QLD Labor would not want to even consider. The QLD Greens have inversely tied their fate to Adani for better or worse, and can’t be seen to be backing down on it. KAP may ask for something that QLD Labor could not give or would prefer to go with the LNP. The QLD LNP are not dumb enough for a formal coalition with PHON. Fringe elements would love it, but would be poison in SEQ and I suspect cooler heads will prevail.

    As such, short of an LNP-KAP or LNP-KAP w/ minority PHON support, I suspect the likely outcome in the event Labor does not get a majority is LAB minority +/- GRN +/- KAP confidence and supply.

    I suspect the biggest kingmakers will be KAP and they will opt for C&S to avoid cabinet solidarity and play with both the LNP and Labor.

  8. JM: I don’t see Labor or LNP refusing the support of the Greens or One Nation respectively if it means the difference between government and opposition. The LNP don’t even really have major policy differences with One Nation anymore. And can you imagine what would happen to Palaszczuk if she threw the ALP into opposition purely to protect Adani? She would be crucified. Labor would be annihilated in Brisbane at the next election. But I agree that KAP will be the most likely kingmakers anyway.

  9. JM
    You have not considered a coalition of ALP and Liberal Party. Whilst neither Palaszczuk nor Frecklington would be leader . When Government is the prize there could be individuals who will jump ship.

  10. @Furtive Lawngnome but it might make the difference between C&S vs Coalition agreements, even if they don’t turn the support away i.e. Labor and Greens only being able to agree on C&S and not a formal coalition.

    @Andrew Jackson that’s true I haven’t considered that, but short of a dissolution of the LNP back into the the Liberal and National parties I can’t see a ‘grand coalition’ style government happening? At least not this year.

  11. Furtive Lawngnome
    There is a difference between the ALP and every other party, in respect to their subject to the Whip.
    ( a very British way of putting it by the way)
    ALP members and candidates sign a pledge to vote as Caucus decides. Any member who beers from
    This will be immediately expelled.
    The ALP in Queensland extended this in Queensland to placing the elected MP’s under the direction of the unelected party executive and at just after midnight on Anzac Day 1957 the Queensland ALP Premier got a knock on the door informing him that he had been expelled from ALP for not following a QCE directive. The fact that all but one of his cabinet chose to support him resulted in the fall of the Gair Government an election, Country Party Government for next 17 years. The one cabinet member who chose Party over principle bragged that “ he was not too proud to be directed”
    ALP party discipline is not like any other parties the whip is an iron bar.

    As a consequence of this fateful decision on night of 24 April 1957 the Queensland Labor Party was formed seperate from ALP and the QLP affiliates with the DLP in early 1960’s. When I joined DLP in late 1960’s I actually joined QLP.

    The other political parties still have a whip but there have been plenty of cases that can be cited where Coalition Party members have voted differently to rest of party and not suffered significant adverse political repercussions.
    Katter Party even have written into their core values that members can vote in the interests of their electorates. Knuth and Katter have voted differently in Parliament and rather than thinking of this as a weakness they viewed it as a strength.

  12. JM you will find an earlier post by me somewhere that a split in both ALP and LNP is exactly what I am expecting. If LNP ever pick a city based leader Nats will walk and if Palaszczuk loses this election what I described as brothel zone labour will walk with ALP reverting into Working Class Labor based on Trade Unions and trendy Labor based on Coffee Clubs and Green left social issues.
    I am confident that this will be last Qld election with our current party structure.
    Both major parties are struggling to maintain unity. See the internal shenanigans in LNP Groom Candidate selection.

  13. I have been a ALP member since 1976 and I find now is the time of the most unity for the party and the trade union movt. The LNP , I cannot speak for. In Queensland the differences between the nats and the libs will always exist maybe queensland is unusual in that a majority do not live in se qld.

  14. @Andrew Jackson – I don’t think either party will split.

    The Libs and Nats are always going to have the issue of attracting city voters who will vote LNP federally (for a candidate who will sit in the Liberal party room) but refuse to vote for them at state level when any government would be led by a Nat. But de-merging doesn’t solve that. I think they’d be even less of a shot at winning those votes as the potential junior partner in a Coalition than they are as the LNP with a rural leader. As for the prospect of the Nats walking… they need those city seats to be won as well. Yes, a split would help them fend off the likes of One Nation and KAP, but frankly, the prize in the city is bigger if they want to be in government.

    As for the ALP, I think they are effectively a Coalition between the forces you mention. The factions slug it out and they keep the dissent to a level that allows them to share the brand. A split would require one side to abandon that brand and I just don’t see it. In a Proportional Representation situation, sure, splits everywhere. But unicameral Queensland is the last place you’d start trying to build a new brand.

    I’d like to think that there are still some politicians like those of the 1950s that would choose eternal opposition before compromising principle. But I don’t think there’s enough of them for one of the major parties to fracture. You saw what happened in NSW when Barilaro went to the edge of the political abyss but declined to jump.

  15. Dean Ashley, Fair points with a lot of truth. Especially last paragraph. I often wonder if Vince Gair actually would have chosen eternal opposition if he was looking in hindsite. However I feel sure that the DLP membership that I joined in 1969 would not have compromised. Most of them never gave up. a year ago there was a day on which two of them who must now be in their nineties were still hammering away at the typewriter with letters to editor in Oz.
    At least two from
    That era will have some impact on this election. There are ALP MP’s defeated in recent years by the efforts of these old men.
    Vince Gair was not a likeable man but he managed to inspire great respect for himself in others. My last words to him were not very kind because unlike many of his followers he was bought off. My words were “Vince Gair A man you can trust” and I then walked away. He died a year later. Even after his despicable sell out his coffin was carried by Groupers, Movement men and ex Senator Condon Byrne.

  16. Just voted at West End State School. More volunteers than voters. Lots of ALP / Greens obviously. LNP and UAP also represented. Didn’t see anyone from ONP but wasn’t looking for them either. Trad herself was there – second election in a row that she’s been at the polling place when I’ve gone to vote.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here