Incumbent councillors sitting pretty in lead up to election

The Queensland Electoral Commission review of Brisbane City Council has been finalised ahead of the March 2020 Queensland Local Government elections, QUT Adjunct Associate Professor John Mickel said today.

“Most sitting councillors will have a smile on their dial with the Brisbane City Council electoral commission finalisation,” Professor Mickel said.

“Brisbane’s divisional boundaries review is one of 17 being undertaken, 14 of which are now completed.

“The LNP will have bigger smiles for two reasons. Marginal LNP divisions might still be marginal – Doboy, Coorparoo, Enoggera and Northgate for example – but they have had the power of incumbency.

“They also benefit from the State Government decision to maintain optional preferential voting at the election and they are not under political attack from right wing parties in Brisbane.

“Labor is in a political fight with the LNP on the right, The Greens on the Left and the Tennyson Independent in the middle.”

Professor Mickel said the exhaustion of votes under optional preferential voting meant that Labor had to lift its primary vote from the 33.8% it achieved at the last election to the 40s to be competitive.

To do so, though, it must take votes from the Greens and the LNP.

“Optional preferential voting means voters have the choice to fully or partially distribute their preferences,” he said.

When preferences are partially distributed, they are deemed exhausted and no longer count in the final tally of votes.

“For example, the highest Greens preferences which favour Labor exhausted at 50% in marginal Doboy, while LNP preferences in Independent Tennyson exhausted at 75%, and Labor preferences exhausted at 48% in the safe LNP ward of Pullenvale.

“On top of that, Labor needs to reverse the trend in the inner-city north and inner southside of Brisbane where it runs third to the Greens and the LNP.”

Professor Mickel said both major parties had undergone major personnel make-overs in the lead up to the March 2020 poll.

“The LNP has a new Lord Mayor Councillor Schrinner, a new Deputy in Councillor Adams and replacement Councillors in Chandler, Doboy, Coorparoo, McDowell, Walter Taylor and soon to be announced Councillor in Bracken Ridge,” he said.

“This regime change advantages the LNP who are asking for another term – their fifth.

“The replacement of Councillors has been cleverly done politically with a publicly smooth transition. Labor’s failure to do the same in 2016 cost it two wards in the face of a small lift in their city-wide vote.

“This time Labor has learnt the lesson. The party has given itself a makeover with Jared Cassidy as Leader in the council, a new Deputy – Kara Cook – and a media savvy Lord Mayoral Candidate in former political journalist Patrick Condren.”

Professor Mickel said the review had made two wards safer – Forest Lake, which now includes Richlands, for Labor and Jamboree for the LNP but Doboy, Coorparoo, Northgate, and Enoggera remain marginal.

He added The Gabba remained marginal for the Greens against Labor and an improving chance for the LNP.

“At the last election. The Gabba was ironically narrowly lost by Labor in the ward but won by Labor’s Rod Harding, in the Mayoralty,” Professor Mickel said.

“Councillor Jonathan Sri was elected on Labor preferences, but his electorate has been shrunk in the redistribution. He has also proven to be high profile yet controversial as a Councillor.

“His ward is undergoing a demographic shift that could be in his favour but also enhances the LNP presence especially in Kangaroo Point.

“If Councillor Sri outpolls Labor, he wins on Labor preferences; but if his vote follows the Mayoralty vote like last time he will lose.”

Professor Mickel said the QEC had listened to the concerns of residents where it could to try to meet the challenges of growth and accelerated voter registration in the inner-city wards.

He added that while no published public polling had been carried out, the only sign which could indicate a possible change was a by-election in inner Morningside in January 2018 where Kara Cook increased Labor’s two-party preferred vote by 3.6% replacing the popular Shayne Sutton.

“The redistribution and the significant change of Councillors since the last election adds for an interesting March election,” he said.

“It’s now over to Councillors, candidates, the campaign and which side is cashed up enough to prosecute their argument.”

/University Release. View in full here.