Key seats to watch in federal election

Paul Osborne
(Australian Associated Press)



(Based on marginality, curiosity or candidates of interest)

Note: Actual margins from 2016 election can be found in brackets after seat name. Some seats have listed notional new margins based on the boundary changes in the federal redistribution.



Capricornia (0.63)

Large rural and regional seat based on Rockhampton in central Queensland. Michelle Landry (LNP) holds it on a very narrow margin. Third-generation coal miner Labor’s Russell Robertson is seeking to win it, after Labor lost it in 2013. Jobs, health, roads, energy expected to be key issues. One Nation preferences could determine result.


Herbert (0.02)

Labor’s Cathy O’Toole holds the north Queensland seat based on Townsville by a mere 37 votes, after narrowly defeating the LNP’s sitting member Ewen Jones in 2016. But former serviceman and 2018 Queensland Young Australian of the Year Phillip Thompson (LNP) will put up a fight, especially over the future of mining jobs, and could benefit from minor party preferences such as high school teacher Nanette Radeck (Katter’s Australian Party). Defence, national security, jobs, infrastructure key issues.


Longman (0.79)

Won by Labor’s Susan Lamb in 2016 and retained in a July 2018 by-election (over her dual citizenship) with a 4.45 per cent margin. LNP has preselected local businessman Terry Young. Small business, jobs, horticulture, roads key issues. The success of the Greens and conservative minor parties will be crucial to who wins, but Labor should hold.


Forde (0.63)

Logan-based industrial and small business seat south of Brisbane, it has been held by Bert van Manen (LNP) since 2010. He faces a tough fight with Labor candidate Des Hardman in a seat which has swung back and forth between the major parties since it was created in 1984.


Flynn (1.04)

Huge central Queensland seat based on the port of Gladstone held by LNP’s Ken O’Dowd. He has been sitting member since 2010. Coal, gas, grain, cattle are the key businesses. Labor’s Zac Beers is a strong chance of winning. But Sharon Lohse(One Nation) preferences will be crucial. Minor parties got O’Dowd over the line in 2016.


Dickson (1.69)

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has held the seat since 2001, but the margin has narrowed after the 2016 election and subsequent redistribution. Mortgage belt seat covering Brisbane’s northwestern suburbs, with some rural parts. Grass-roots campaigning by GetUp and others is putting pressure on Dutton, who was hit by a 5.1 per cent swing in 2016. Labor’s Ali France is hopeful of doing well, but will require a strong showing from the Greens’ Benedict Coyne to win.


Dawson (3.37)

Nationals MP George Christensen has held this north Queensland seat since 2010. Labor has been targeting the seat, with candidate Belinda Hassan. Conservative minor party preferences should flow strongly to Christensen.


Petrie (1.65)

Northern Brisbane seat, mainly residential with some light industrial and commercial activities. Held by the LNP’s Luke Howarth since 2013, but is now vulnerable to Labor candidate Corinne Mulholland, who is campaigning strongly on health issues. Greens preferences could put Labor over the line.


Bonner (3.39)

A Labor target seat based in Brisbane’s industrial inner south. Held by LNP’s Ross Vasta who has won and lost the seat in recent years. A double-figure showing by the Greens could help Labor’s Jo Briskey.



Flinders (7.01)

Health Minister Greg Hunt will battle ex-Liberal Julia Banks, who is giving up her seat of Chisholm to run as an independent. A redistribution has chipped away Hunt’s margin, but he’s held it since 2001 and is a born and bred local. Green, Labor and minor party preferences could benefit Banks.


Corangamite (0.03)

Liberal MP Sarah Henderson holds this redrawn seat, based on Geelong and the Great Ocean Road communities, with an estimated margin of 0.03 per cent (was 3.1 at the election). She won the seat in 2013, was re-elected in 2016 but could face pressure from Labor’s Libby Coker.


Macnamara (formerly Melbourne Ports) (1.38)

Labor’s Michael Danby is retiring after more than 20 years in the seat, which has been redrawn to reduce the margin to an estimated 1.2 per cent. Labor’s Josh Burns will face a battle with the Liberals’ Kate Ashmor, a local lawyer, and the Greens’ Steph Hodgins-May, who in 2016 came within 477 votes of taking the seat (which would have made her the first female Greens MP in the lower house).


Dunkley (1.43)

The redistribution has made this south-east Melbourne seat held by Chris Crewther for the Liberals since 2016 into a marginal Labor seat. Labor’s Peta Murphy will need to lift her primary vote from the 2016 result to win.


La Trobe (1.46)

The Liberals’ Jason Wood has been the on-again off-again member since 2004. The redistribution appears to have strengthened his hand but a 3.5 per cent margin still makes it a target seat for Labor, whose candidate is Simon Curtis. Labor has campaigned strongly on school funding in the outer metropolitan seat which has a mixed bag of industries from farming to construction and tourism.


Chisholm (1.24)

Sitting MP Julia Banks is running in Flinders, having quit the Liberal Party over its attitude to women and other issues, to sit as an independent. Banks was the only Liberal to win a seat off Labor in the 2016 election. Before that Labor held Chisholm since 1998. Labor’s candidate is Jenny Yang, who has been a local mayor. The Liberals are running Gladys Liu, a speech pathologist who has also advised Victorian Liberal premiers. The Liberals hold the seat with a notional margin of 2.9 per cent.


Indi (4.83)

Independent Cathy McGowan is retiring from this regional Victorian seat, but her formidable campaign team is swinging behind health researcher Helen Haines. The Liberals have preselected engineer Steve Martin and the Nationals are running Mark Byatt, a key figure in tourism and development in the region. Hard to pick.



Cowper (4.56)

Former independent MP Rob Oakeshott, who helped deliver Julia Gillard minority government in 2010, is taking another shot at returning to parliament in the wake of Nationals MP Luke Hartsuyker retiring. He faces the Nationals’ Patrick Conaghan in the marginal NSW mid-north coast seat, and could benefit from Labor and Greens preferences.


Gilmore (0.73)

The Liberals controversially preselected former Labor national president Warren Mundine for this NSW south coast seat being vacated by MP Ann Sudmalis. The man who was to be the Liberal candidate, Grant Schultz, is standing as an independent with the support of some disgruntled local party members. The Nationals are standing former NSW minister Katrina Hodgkinson. Given the 0.7 per cent margin, Labor’s Fiona Phillips is hopeful of winning the seat amid the coalition chaos.


Robertson (1.1)

The Liberals’ Lucy Wicks has held this NSW central coast seat since 2013. But with it now sitting on a 1.1 per cent margin, Labor’s Anne Charlton could draw on the preferences of Greens candidate Cath Connor and slip over the line.


Lindsay (1.1)

Labor has chosen former NSW state minister Diane Beamer as its candidate following the scandal over sitting member for Lindsay Emma Husar’s “unreasonable” treatment of her staff. Husar has decided not to contest the seat as an independent. Melissa McIntosh is contesting the 1.1 per cent margin seat for the Liberals, with Fiona Scott having lost the seat to Husar in 2016.


Banks (1.4)

Immigration Minister David Coleman is defending the seat he has held since 2013, but Labor’s Chris Gambian is in with a chance in this southern Sydney electorate. Banks, which is home to light manufacturing, commercial and service industries, was held continuously by Labor from its inauguration in 1949 to 2013.


Page (2.3)

This largely rural and tourism based NSW north coast seat is held by the Nationals’ Kevin Hogan by 2.3 per cent. Hogan sits on the crossbench in parliament, having become disgruntled with the coalition leadership revolving door. The seat, which is the fifth poorest in the nation, has swung between Nationals and Labor since its creation in 1984. Labor’s Patrick Deegan, a social worker who hails from Casino, is a solid chance at regaining the seat.


Eden-Monaro (2.9)

This southern NSW seat was once considered a bellwether (going to the party that wins government) but Labor’s Mike Kelly brought that to an end in 2016. The 2019 race will be fascinating as the Liberals and Nationals are standing candidates, which will maximise the chances of a coalition win. Labor’s best hope lies in a strong Greens preference flow. The coalition will be banking on a positive response to Snowy 2.0 supercharging the local economy. A margin of 2.9 per cent makes it a close-run thing.


Reid (4.7)

Former minister and Malcolm Turnbull supporter, Craig Laundy, is retiring and will be replaced by child psychologist Fiona Martin. Labor has preselected business manager Sam Crosby, who grew up in Sydney’s inner west. The seat had been consistently in Labor hands until the 2013 election, when Laundy became the seat’s first Liberal member.


Warringah (11.1)

Tony Abbott’s beachside Sydney seat would not normally be in a list like this but he is facing a barrage of contestants including former Winter Olympian Zali Steggall. It will take a huge swing (in the vicinity of 12 per cent) to unseat the former prime minister. But stranger things have happened in elections.


Wentworth (17.8)

Another seat that usually does not feature in such lists, but independent Kerryn Phelps will face a battle to retain the 1.2 per cent margin inner Sydney seat against former diplomat Dave Sharma. Phelps and Sharma faced off in a by-election to replace former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull. Phelps retains a high profile from her advocacy for asylum seekers and work with the Australian Medical Association.



Bass (6.1)

This north-eastern Tasmanian seat has swung wildly in recent elections being won by Labor’s Ross Hart in 2016. The redistribution has made it slightly more difficult for Labor but it still has a 5.4 per cent margin. Both the Liberals and Nationals are running candidates which will ensure a strong conservative preference swap. A double-digit Greens primary vote is not out of the question. Unclear how it will pan out.



Hasluck (2.1)

This Perth metropolitan seat has been held by federal minister Ken Wyatt since 2010. But his margin has been chipped away to 2.1 per cent. Labor candidate James Martin has a financial industry background and almost two decades in the Army Reserves. Speculation the 66-year-old incumbent was thinking about retiring won’t help his cause.


Stirling (6.1)

Liberal MP and minister Michael Keenan is retiring which should increase the chances of Labor picking up this Perth northern suburbs seat. Keenan has been the local MP since 2004. Labor candidate Melita Markey has been a long-time advocate for asbestos disease victims. The Liberal candidate, former soldier Vince Connelly, defeated four women for preselection despite Keenan’s preference to be replaced by a female candidate.


Swan (3.6)

Former Labor leader Kim Beazley’s daughter Hannah is contesting this Perth inner southern suburbs seat, held by Liberal veteran Steve Irons since 2007. Name recognition may help Labor.


Pearce (3.6)

Attorney-General Christian Porter has a reasonable chance of holding this northern Perth seat, which he first won in 2013, but Labor has made inroads at a state level as young families move into new suburbs. Labor’s Kim Travers spent almost three decades in the police service and is a long-time mental health advocate.



Boothby (3.5)

Nicolle Flint won the seat in 2016 after the retirement of Andrew Southcott and holds it with a notional margin of 2.8 per cent after the redistribution. Labor has been targeting Flint over her support for a leadership spill against Malcolm Turnbull. It has preselected local Nadia Clancy. The seat will be in play and Greens/independent preferences will play a role.


Mayo (5)

First-term Centre Alliance MP Rebekha Sharkie retained the Adelaide Hills and SA coast seat in a by-election after being struck down in the citizenship scandal. She faces another challenge from Liberal blue-blood Georgina Downer. Sharkie should hold but the Liberals are keen to pick it up and will throw a lot of resources at it.



(Electorate sizes, margins and industries: AEC)


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