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Fadden by-election: Could the seat turn from safe LNP to a Labor - or independent - gain?

The by-election is being held as a result of the resignation of LNP MP Stuart Robert.

Voters in the Queensland federal seat of Fadden will head to the polls on July 15 after the resignation of Liberal National MP and former minister Stuart Robert, who sat with the Liberal Party in parliament.


Fadden, currently held by the LNP on 10.6%, is a northern Gold Coast electorate spanning suburbs such as Coomera, Labrador, Ormeau, and Pimpama. The area mainly spans the state electorates of Coomera, Bonney, Theodore and Broadwater, with the latter being held by Queensland Opposition Leader leader David Crisafulli. These electorates span from being held on just 1%, all the way up to 17%.


Even though a Labor gain is very unlikely, if they were to gain it, it would signify a political earthquake. The seat has only been held briefly by Labor during its almost 60 year lifetime, with the Liberals holding it most recently with outgoing member Stuart Robert.

 

History


Fadden was first created in 1977, as a South Brisbane seat, held by 13% for the Liberal party. However, with former Brisbane Lord Mayor Clem Jones contesting the seat for the ALP, the margin decreased to just 6%. After a closer win in 1980, it finally fell to Labor for a brief period between 1983 and 1984, until it was regained by the Liberals.


It remained a marginal seat until 1996, when incumbent member David Jull saw a huge 13% swing as a result of the John Howard sweep. The seat remained safe for the rest of its history, with Stuart Robert replacing David Jull in 2007.


Minor parties have also fared well in Fadden over the years, such as the Democrats who, at their peak, polled 13% in 1990. The seat has also been traditionally susceptible to populist parties such as One Nation and the UAP, with Palmer United picking up 15% in 2013, coming close to overtaking Labor for second. The Greens have also made small progress in the area, polling 11% in 2022.

 

Candidates (in ballot order)


Letitia Del Fabbro (Labor)

Scott Turner (Greens)

Chris Simpson (Democrats)

Sandy Roach (One Nation)

Marnie Laree Davis (Indigenous-Aboriginal)

Suzette Luyken (Legalise Cannabis)

Quentin Bye (Sustainable Australia)

Kevin Young (Independent)

Belinda Jones (Independent)

Stewart Brooker (Independent)

Jan Pukallus (Citizens)

Cameron Caldwell (Liberal National)

James Tayler (Independent)


2020 Candidates


Stuart Robert (Liberal National)

Letitia Del Fabbro (Labor)

Sally Spain (Greens)

Sandy Roach (One Nation)

Nathan O'Brien (United Australia)

Stewart Brooker (Independent)

Alex Forbes (Liberal Democrats)

 

Analysis


First, the most important thing for the ALP will be bringing the LNP primary within 6 or so percentage points of their own. At this marker, Labor will be in with a chance of winning on preferences from the Greens (where almost 90% of votes will flow to them), and potentially even One Nation, who also supply Labor with significant vote shares in the two-party-preferred.


Labor will also have the issue of a very low primary vote. Polling just 22%, the party has a steep hill to climb if they want to get even close to the Liberal primary vote of 45%, almost half of all votes. The last time they won a vote share above 30% was in 2007, when Rudd led the party to victory, winning a majority of seats in traditionally conservative Queensland, where the seat is located.


It's also crucial to remember that a comparison with the Aston by-election would not be suitable. Aston, situated in Victoria, was plagued with multiple issues for the Liberals, such as a perceived unpopularity of Dutton in the region, the parachuting of their candidate to the seat, and the waning popularity of the Liberals themselves in their traditional Melbourne heartland in the north-east. None of these apply to Fadden.


As for micro parties, Legalise Cannabis is the most likely to produce an impressive showing, considering they won almost 6% of the vote here in Fadden's senate vote number, on par with the UAP and One Nation. Other micro parties contesting all saw results below 1%, even as low as just 0.18%, in Fadden's senate vote share.


Lastly, its probable that the Greens and One Nation will both improve their vote number compared to the last election, with both parties on track for significant improvements in the upcoming state election in 2024 according to polling. Preferences might end up producing a very narrow margin between the Greens and Labor, considering parties such as One Nation, and Legalise Cannabis tend to give more preferences to the former than the latter.


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