The seat of Ryan – not as safe as it appears?
The Ryan electorate is named after Thomas Joseph Ryan, Queensland Labor Premier from 1915-1919. While the Australian Electoral Commission website describes the area as ‘mainly residential and acreage suburbs’, there is a high proportion of rental accommodation, particularly around the University of Queensland in St Lucia. Its demographic includes academics, the affluent middle-aged and retired, students, and public servants.
There have been occasions in the past when the area has not been a safe LNP seat. The State seat of Indooroopilly within Ryan, for example, was held by Ronan Lee, from 2001-2008 for the ALP, then from 2008- 2009 when he switched to the Greens. The Federal seat of Ryan was held for 25 years by John Moore (Lib), a Minister in the Fraser and Howard governments. He was succeeded by Leonie Short who took the ‘unwinnable’ seat for the ALP in a by-election in 2001 by doing a deal with the Greens. The LNP’s Michael Johnson won the seat back for the LNP in the 2001 general election but was later accused of branch stacking and financial mismanagement. He was sacked from the LNP in May 2010, stood as an Independent but lost his seat in August 2010.
Candidates in 2016
The LNP candidate, Jane Prentice, has held the seat since 2010 after having served for ten years on the Brisbane City Council. In February 2016 Malcolm Turnbull appointed her Assistant Minister for Disability Services.
The ALP candidate, Stephen Hegedus, might be described as a man after T J Ryan’s own heart. Like Ryan, he is a lawyer. He has specialised in native title law, and is committed to social justice, access and equity, and is a strong advocate for action on climate change.
The Greens have identified Ryan as one of their four most winnable seats in Queensland. Sandra Bayley is their candidate, who ran for the seat of Ashgrove in the 2015 state election.
In addition, John Quinn is standing for the Democratic Labour Party (DLP); David Todd for Family First; and Sly Gryphon for the Liberal Democrats.
With a strong Greens following, dented at the 2013 election by the Palmer United Party vote, a significant increase in the Green vote this time around seems highly likely. There are many GetUp members in the electorate. The ALP candidate has run a strong campaign with a focus that appeals to ‘progressive’ voters. The LNP appears to have focussed largely on the pork barrel, aged-care homes, and expensive billboards. The swing away from the LNP will be an important indicator on election night.