Townsville – QLD 2020

ALP 0.4%

Incumbent MP
Scott Stewart, since 2015.

Central Townsville. The seat covers the Townsville CBD and the suburbs of Castle Hill, Garbutt, Mount Louisa and Bohle, as well as Magnetic Island and Palm Island.

The seat of Townsville has existed continuously since 1970, and previously existed from 1878 to 1960.

The seat has been dominated by the Labor Party for most of the twentieth century, although Labor domination has occasionally been punctuated by Coalition victories.

The ALP had held the seat for all but three years from 1915 to 1960, but after the seat was restored in 1972 it was won by the Liberal Party’s Norman Scott-Young. He held it until 1983.

The 1983 election was triggered by the breakdown in the coalition between Joh Bjelke-Petersen’s National Party and the Liberal Party, and a majority of Liberal MPs lost their seats, including Scott-Young.

Ken McElligott won Townsville for the ALP, but three years later lost to the National Party’s Tony Burreket.

Burreket lost to the ALP’s Ken Davies in 1989. In 1992, Davies moved to the neighbouring seat of Mundingburra. He retained Mundingburra by a bare 16-vote margin. The result was overturned in the courts in 1996. The ALP decided to replace Davies as the ALP candidate, and he ran as an independent. The Liberal Party won the race, and resulted in the ALP losing its parliamentary majority and the National-Liberal coalition forming a new government.

Geoff Smith was elected to Townsville for the ALP in 1992, and held it for two terms until 1998. He was succeeded in 1998 by Mike Reynolds. Reynolds served as a minister from 2004 to 2006 and as Speaker of the Legislative Assembly from 2006 to 2009, when he retired.

Mandy Johnstone was elected to Townsville in 2009 for the ALP. In 2012, Johnstone was defeated by LNP candidate John Hathaway.

Hathaway was defeated in 2015 by Labor’s Scott Stewart, and Stewart was re-elected in 2017.


Townsville is Labor’s most marginal seat in Queensland, and is bound to be in play if the election is close.

2017 result

Scott Stewart Labor 9,45733.6-6.5
Casie Scott Liberal National 8,70930.9-5.1
Allan EvansOne Nation5,61119.9+16.1
Rebecca Ryan Greens 3,05710.9+2.5
Lindy CollinsIndependent1,3304.7+4.7

2017 two-party-preferred result

Scott Stewart Labor 14,18950.4-5.3
Casie Scott Liberal National Party 13,97549.6+5.3

Booth breakdown

Booths in Townsville have been divided into four areas. Polling places on offshore islands have been grouped together, with the remainder split into centre, south and west.

Labor won a solid majority in the south (56.6%) and the islands (62.8%), and narrowly won in the centre (51.6%). The LNP narrowly won in the west (50.2%) and won pre-poll more comfortably (55.6%).

One Nation came third, with their vote over 20% in the west, and lower in the centre and the islands.

The Greens came fourth, with a primary vote highest at 17.5% on the islands, and over 13% in the centre and south.

Voter groupON primGRN primALP 2PPTotal votes% of votes
Other votes20.010.550.83,89013.8

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

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  1. *Ben you will need to amend profile as LCQ has removed Michelle Roach from their website.
    This makes Townsville the 3rd seat to already loose a candidate in the past 2 weeks (Greens-Clayfield, ALP-Whitsunday) but won’t have as much impact compared to the other 2.

    This seat, along with Whitsunday, currently has the most candidates currently endorsed at 7 (as at 3/9/20).

    This is the one seat when doing my predictions I call a ‘Dog’s breakfast’. Good luck in calling this one!

    I know from local sources that this is one seat gaining a lot of attention, with the PUP Candidate Greg Dowling being the ‘leader’ of the Qld UAP. KAP has also had quite a few signs up for their local candidate. NQ has been a bit quiet so far. Most consider ALP gone here, but could pull off a Bradbury depending on the split between LNP/ON/KAP. Crime seems to be the top issue for Townsville at the moment.

  2. Thanks, can you give me a list? I’ll fix Mundingburra now. The website defaults to comments being turned off so I need to turn it on for each seat and clearly I’ve missed a few.

  3. Whitsunday, Bonney, Theodore, Broadwater, Redlands, Thuringowa, Stafford. (I think that’s all of them.)

  4. Mundingburra’s still out for me. (While you’re on that page: Coralee O’Rourke is no longer running for Labor. Health reasons.)

    Townsville seems to have a “tough on youth crime” campaign going on, no doubt pushed by the local Murdoch rag. That spectacularly failed to work in Victoria a couple of years ago, so this might not be as much of a gimme as it looks like. LNP still favourite, but we’ll see.

  5. I don’t know if running a previous MP that served as MP during the toxic Newman years and lost 55-45 in 2015 will win, But we’ll see

  6. Labor are going to have a very tough time in North QLD. 2019 was bad for Labor in Brisbane but felt like a straight up political realignment in North QLD. I think Labor will lose a lot of seats in the North and won’t be able to make it up in the South due to Gold Coast border closure resentment and Labor gaining most of the winnable Brisbane seats last time (where the “safe from covid” message will actually play well). They’ll lose the election despite winning their Brisbane vs LNP marginals by a lot.

    Anyway the way I see it Labor won’t be able to hang on here at all.

  7. Cassie Scott had the biggest margin to overcome in three Townsville seats yet made it the most marginal. But instead running her again they install the local party powerbroker and ex Newman MP.

    Btw the crime angle is because that was what Cassie ran on. Young single mum who decided to run on crime and even had her house broken into during the campaign.

  8. Being able to tie the LNP to Newman has been Labor’s go to strategy for a while and worked as recently as the 2018 Longman byelection. Will it work in 2020 though? Hathaway was just a backbencher.

    Looking back at Herbert in 2019, there was a big swing despite ALP incumbency and a sophomore surge.

    Not seeing ALP surviving here without a huge announcement for Townsville

  9. September Prediction: The first Labor held seat I see falling to the LNP. I see absolutely no way in sam hell Labor holds this. Crime is a massive issue there. Casie was very very unlucky to fall short here.

  10. @Watson, based on demographics and current stories. I’ve heard quite a lot from people around and it just shocks me. This is why it’s a big topic and can’t remember the stats quoted by (I’ll have to look it up) Townsville is the 3rd worst in a couple of key indicators (from abs from state level) that starts to explain the demographics of the area. And the perceived lack of interest in Labor is why most consider them gone up here. The KAP proposing the Kajabbi solution is one step of the parties trying to address this issue, and why it’s being campaigned on hard. The ALP is focusing on COVID really, which plays well in Brisbane, but not up here. This is why all 3 Townsville seats I have considered TOSS-UPs and have no idea who will win as there will be a swing against Labor and it just depends on who gets in based on order of preferences… something as fun as watching Hinchinbrook 2017.

  11. Politics_Obsessed,
    Now I get it! It’s the LNP manufactured aboriginal youth crime wave. And to combat that ‘crime wave’, they have a new policy – a curfew on aboriginal children that are out after dark.

    Here is Tim Nicholls, spruiking the LNP policy to combat the LNP’s fictional crime wave.

    The ABC investigated the LNP’s alleged youth crime wave and found:
    “In Townsville those figures went down. Offences against property dropped 16 per cent while offences against a person fell 2 per cent”.

    Oops… Tim Nicholls isn’t the LNP Leader… that was the 2017 election.

    Is Deb Frecklington LNP Leader in 2020? Here’s Deb with the same policy to combat the same fictional crime wave.

    It didn’t work in 2017. Why would it work in 2020?
    Has Townsville been infected by an outbreak Gullible-2020 virus?

  12. Is that Watson comment really appropriate? Complete fairytale stuff in what he is claiming and not really related to election analysis. It reads like an unhinged Twitter rant.

  13. I actually agree with Watson Watch (who happens to share his username as the same surname as mine) this is no way a lock for the LNP. Townsville is still swingy, Phillip Thompson only won big because O’toole was one of the worst MP’s in the seats history by refusing to say she supported Adani and a bunch of other things. And Morrison’s coattails as well as Bill Shorten

  14. The proposition that Labor can defend this seat with no margin, is plainly absurd. Who will win through from the ‘melee’ of candidates is anyone’s guess. However to suggest that there is some “path” to navigate for Labor is just preposterous.

    Watsonwatch’s proposition that crime is not an issue, or the it has been done before is also completely ludicrous. EVEN IF the reality didn’t match up with the noise. There is still the noise. Propaganda IS, IS, PERCEPTION !!. That (propaganda/perception) is the ONLY thing this govt has going for it in the first place. “we are a good govt” yeah right.
    I’LL be shocked if there ISN’T a 10%+ swing against Labor

  15. @Winediamond

    “The proposition that Labor can defend this seat with no margin, is plainly absurd.”

    Really? Well the LNP don’t seem to think so. They suggest they have a better chance in the seat of Thuringowa then they do here. I’m not suggesting this seat won’t be a tough fight for Labor. But LNP suggesting this is the hardest seat for them to win suggests the margin can be misleading. Remember also there were suggestions Labor would lose all three seats in Townsville last state election and they retained them all.

    Article Below.

    “The most marginal electorate in whole of Queensland is the seat of Townsville itself, held by Labor’s Scott Stewart on a wafer-thin margin of 0.4 per cent.

    But confusingly, some in the LNP don’t even rate this seat as their best chance.

    “It will be the toughest seat [in Townsville] to win because of its strong local member,” one Opposition MP told the ABC.

    The former LNP member for the Townsville-based Federal seat of Herbert, Ewan Jones, believes the seat of Townsville will be a tough fight for LNP candidate John Hathaway.

    “To win Townsville you have to carry Palm Island, Magnetic Island, Garbutt, those sorts of suburbs — it’s very hard,” he said.

    At the other extreme, in the seat of Thuringowa, where Labor’s Aaron Harper sits on a seemingly comfortable margin of 4.1 per cent, the LNP is more confident its candidate Natalie Marr can get over the line.

    That’s because of the strong presence of minor parties in this outer suburban and semi-rural seat.”

  16. PN
    Yeah read ABC piece. Typically slanted into a pathetic racism distraction, without any counter balance as per usual. Served the purpose of talking around the justice issue, instead of about it. Really piss poor. Are you surprised the LNP are talking it down ? All in all “nothing big is going to happen because things are really ok” (meaning it’s ok to vote the govt back in wink wink !)
    Yeah right !n Really really, piss poor !!. But remember the ABC doesn’t have a problem with bias……..!

    I’ll double down instinctively, thanks. Did i say the LNP would win one seat in Townsville ?. They might, & Might not !. I’m pretty sure Labor has to lose all three, & i don’t care who to. Townsville by rights should go KAP, with no ON candidate.(so far)

  17. Decided to have a look at the betting pools (via Ladbrokes), 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 – 1.83
    Labor – 2.0

  18. I was always quite sure Labor will lose this seat, I’m almost certain now. As a Labor voter it gives me no great pleasure to say it but when you know, you know, gotta be fair. Deb’s curfew policy will resonate very well with people in Townsville, whether I like it not. It doesn’t matter whether people in Clayfield like it, the policy isn’t designed for them. Starting my final tips now: Certain LNP Gain.

  19. @FTB I tend to agree with your assessment as well. Labor could still very well hold both Thuringowa and Mundingburra, but Townsville itself looks like it could be too far gone. I suppose we’ll see soon enough though.

  20. This isn’t done just yet, But it would be foolish to say Labor aren’t the underdogs. Labor don’t need to win this seat for a majority, They can gain a Gold Coast seat or 2 and a couple of Sunny coast seats and maybe a Brisbane seat from the LNP instead. However i hope you people aren’t just projecting this an LNP gain just because of Cathy O’tooles big defeat. Federal elections voters don’t always vote the same in state elections. and i can see the 8% who preferred the LNP last year go to Labor at the state election

  21. As Daniel said the 8% higher federal vote is the key…….. people often vote differently at state and national levels. In theory a margin of 0.4% suggests this is the first to go….. but who knows,

  22. @Feel the Bern

    I’ve noticed you’ve been fairly pessimistic about Labor’s chances in a lot of seats this year, which is fairly surprising seeing as Labor is technically ahead of the LNP in the statewide polls (if not by much). I’m not sure how much your pessimism is warranted tbh. I hope its not just projecting off the federal election result here.

    That being said, I do think Labor will struggle here, if only because Scott Stewart has no buffer to protect himself and really can’t afford any swing. As others have said, there’s a chance that Labor could still hold Mundingburra and/or Thuringowa though.

  23. Does anyone think the law and order issue is somewhat overated? In the 2015 Queensland election the LNP pitch was going hard on bikies. But the issue divided opinion and there was a view Attorney General Jarrod Bleijie cost the LNP more votes then he retained with the issue. I even spoke to one hardhead in Labor who suggested it was the fact Gold Coast was so conservative that the LNP retained all there seats despite a swing against them. Rather then the VLAD laws.

    What’s a concern for the LNP is its also the Police that have reservations about the curfew laws. Its not just civil rights activists which may hold some weight with voters.

  24. Many of those that had grave reservations about VLAD laws are fully supportive of curfew. No kid under the age of 16 should be on street after sundown without a valid excuse.
    Parents who allow children to roam in supervised should lose custody and pay for children’s care.
    Quite clearly this issue has a racial element in Townsville. No one asks question why should an Aboriginal teenage delinquent be treated any differently to a white teenage delinquent. If treatment is different it is racist. School exclusion policies are racist and Aboriginal students are less likely to be excluded and even less likely to be expelled for same offence.

  25. I agree generally law and order doesn’t work as well as it is made out, bit I think it probably will in this area of the world based on last election. Townsville was the least marginal of the three seats , now it is the most marginal. The LNP candidate for Townsville ran heavily on law and order and achieved a 5.3% TPP swing. In Mundingburra the LNP candidate didn’t run on law and order, he got only a 0.7% TPP swing. In Thuringowa they didn’t even get into the TPP and had only 21% of the vote. Based n those results it looks like crime is a hot issue in these seats.

  26. Last Week Prediction – LNP will win, despite the blatantly dog-whistling policy espoused by Freckles in the last week, and not because of it.

  27. @Joe, I’, starting to make some final predictions, the race certainly changed here and there for me over the past couple months, there’s some seats I thought Labor were gone in but I’ve changed my tune. Not here though, Labor will struggle in NQ, it will all come down to what they pick up in the SE to compensate.

  28. LNP gain, smallest margin in the state, a first preference swing to LNP plus Katter and One Nation preferences delivers this one.

  29. The trouble with the predictions is they confused the curfew policy as masterstroke that would deliver seats to the LNP. It’s now been revealed the LNP were getting desperate as their polling wasn’t strong as led to believe. They used the curfew policy as a ‘throw the kitchen sink’ moment to deliver seats in North Queensland even if it meant potentially alienating voters in South East Queensland and it failed. Which goes to my original comment above that Law and order isn’t the big wedge issue from the Right that some lead us to believe.


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