Bowman is an outer-metropolitan electorate that includes the coastal suburbs of Brisbane's East, and a slew of islands in Moreton Bay. As a result, the key issues and policies in this division are centered on farming, industrial, and retail on the mainland. The islands are concerned primarily with tourism policy.
Bowman is going to play a pivotal role in the election. Although the seat is considered safe, colourful politicians, infrastructure upgrades and new developments will be prominent topics in this year’s election.
Bowman is an outer metropolitan seat named after Queensland politician David Bowman. Redlands City is the council Bowman represents. The area of Redlands City is approximately 537sq km stretching from Redland Bay to Thornside, all the while running along the pristine Redlands coastline. Lamb, Coochiemudlo, Karranga, Macleay, Russel and North Stradbroke islands also feature in Bowman. The key suburbs are Alexandra Hills, Capalaba, Cleveland, Victoria Point and Wellington Point.
Andrew Laming is the current member for Bowman. In what was traditionally a marginal seat, Laming and the Coalition has held Bowman since 2004. This kind of dominance hasn’t occurred in Bowman since the ALP held the seat for five consecutive elections from 1983 to 1996. Laming was narrowly re-elected in 2007, by a slender 64 votes, after an 8.9% swing against him. He gained that momentum back in the 2010 election with a 10.9% swing in his favor. The 2013 election saw a small swing of 1.5% to the ALP.
In terms of the 2016 election, Bowman is recognized as safe with the Coalition and Laming currently holding 58.9% of the two party preference votes. The ALP’s Kim Richards will be Laming’s main opposition as the Greens and the other minor parties will likely be non-factors.
Kim Richards is the COO of a large architectural company in Brisbane. Richards has been a resident of the Redlands for over 20 years. This year’s election will mark her first attempt at running for the seat.
Laming is seen to be one the more controversial politicians in Australia, but his popularity cannot be questioned, holding a 13-year dominance in Bowman. Laming has brought much attention to Bowman through his controversial comments made on social media.
The Hobart native was a part of a recent row over comments he made via social media regarding violent clashes in Logan. Laming tweeted, "Mobs tearing up Logan. Did any of them do a day's work today, or was it business as usual and welfare on tap?" There was also furore over Laming liking the page ‘How is Julia Gillard going to run the country from the kitchen’.
Laming has also gained public notoriety for some of his publicity stunts. He was filmed doing a handstand whilst skolling a beer at a party on Australia Day in 2014. And just last year he was booted out of parliament for dousing his hands with flammable fuel to protest the impact of cruise liner sulphite emissions. The former ophthalmologist is most certainly a renegade and a loose cannon but he has helped bring national attention Bowman, making it one of the more interesting safe seats.
Infrastructure upgrades are sorely needed in the Redlands. Likely the most congested road in the Redlands, Old Cleveland Road sorely needs an upgrade according to residents. Tony Williams, a barrister in Brisbane City, uses Old Cleveland Road to get to and from work.
“The state of Old Cleveland Road at peak hour is atrocious," Williams said. "It takes me an hour and a half to get to work usually when really it’s only a 30 minute drive. They need to add an extra lane, two lanes just isn’t enough.”
Before the 2015 state election the LNP did propose a $50 million upgrade to the road if elected. Unfortunately for users of Old Cleveland Road, the LNP lost the election. Whether or not Old Cleveland Road will be granted an upgrade is likely to be a burning question for voters in this year’s election.
New developments in the Redlands are also needed to be able to keep up with the city's growing population. The proposed Toondah Harbour development has residents gleaming at the opportunities it will bring to the city.
Business owner Michael Thompson looks forward to the extra money it will bring his tourism company and the Redlands as a whole. “I’m in the tourism industry and this kind of development is just the shot in the arm Redlands needs. I was thinking about shutting up shop until they announced this development. I’m excited to see the benefits Toondah will bring,” he said.
Yet there have always been a vocal number of residents who have constantly pushed back new developments in the Redlands. Those lobbyists’ chief issue with new developments is the damage to the environment and keeping the ‘Redlands culture’.
These were the exact concerns of Gary Simon in regards to the Toondah Harbour development. Simon had some strong words for the planned proposal. “The Toondah Harbour idea is preposterous. It is going to destroy the mangroves and damage the surrounding parts of the bay… The harbour just doesn’t fit in with the Redlands. It just seems like the (Redlands) would lose some of its identity.”