Bernie Ripoll will not re-contest his seat at the next election.
A marginal Labor seat once held by Pauline Hanson. The new ALP candidate is Milton Dick, who is a former Brisbane City Council Opposition Leader. Issues of concern are the Ipswich Motorway, the NBN roll-out, a large percentage of welfare recipients, and high youth unemployment.
Oxley is arguably one of the most culturally and economically diverse electorates in Australia. Despite the Liberal Party taking reign at Oxley’s inception in 1949, it has been a strong Labor seat since, with only a short-yet-memorable interruption by One Nation founder Pauline Hanson.
The electorate of Oxley is situated in the centre of the western corridor between Brisbane and Ipswich. The outer metropolitan seat covers approximately 155 sq kms from Redbank and Goodna along the Ipswich Motorway, to the south-western Brisbane suburbs of Inala and Oxley, extending north to include the Centenary suburbs of Jindalee, Mount Ommaney and Westlake, using the Brisbane River as its boundary.
Owing its name to European surveyor and explorer John Oxley, the electorate was first proclaimed at federation but later renamed Griffith, until the 1949 expansion of Parliament saw Oxley reinstated as a central Ipswich seat.
Queensland Police Constable Bill Hayden held the seat for much of Labor’s rule, from 1961 when he defeated Menzies’ Health Minister Donald Cameron, until 1988. In this time, Hayden served as Health Minister, Treasurer, Opposition Leader and Foreign Minister before resigning to take the post of Governor General. The ensuing by-election was won by the ALP’s Les Scott, who held the seat for the remainder of the Hawke/Keating government.
In the lead up to the 1996 election, former Ipswich councillor Pauline Hanson was dis-endorsed by the Liberal Party due to improper remarks she made about Indigenous Australians. Despite the party's disapproval, Hanson won the seat as an independent with a record-breaking swing against Labor of 19%.
The 1998 redistribution moved areas of Ipswich to the neighbouring electorate, which saw Hanson contest the seat of Blair, in an attempt to chase her supporters. Despite coming first on primary votes, Hanson lost with preferences. Her One Nation Party, formed in 1997, has since failed to reclaim the seat of Oxley from ALP incumbent Bernie Ripoll, who has held the seat for six terms but will retire at this year’s election.
Ripoll most recently served as Shadow Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation, Shadow Minister for Sport and Shadow Minister Assisting the Leader for Small Business. In his valedictory speech, Ripoll reflected on a more simpler and “generous” time in Parliament, also commemorating his achievement in “win[ning] back Oxley for Labor and [his] community” in 1998.
With several commercial and social centres, Oxley can be divided into three main areas (southwest, southeast and north) based on the two-party-preferred (2PP) results at each polling booth in 2013.
The North refers to the Brisbane suburbs of Jindalee, Mount Ommaney, Westlake and others, where the average wage is around $60,000 p.a. The LNP was successful in this area with around 58-percent of the vote.
The southeast includes the south Brisbane suburbs within the electorate like Oxley, Inala, Darra and Forest Lake. Overall, Labor took 60 percent of the 2PP result, though it worth noting some suburbs within this area are safer for Labor than others. It’s interesting to compare the Inala/Richlands vote for Labor at 69 percent with Forest Lake’s vote at around 52 percent. The average wage in Inala-Richlands is around $40,000 while its neighbouring suburb Forest Lake is $49,000.
In the remaining southwest area, made up of Ipswich suburbs, there was a preference for Labor, with strong support from Goodna where Labor’s 2PP vote was at 68 percent.
The suburbs of Inala, Durack and Darra are multicultural with around 45-50 percent of their population migrating from overseas, mainly from Southeast Asian countries like Vietnam. One Inala resident said that resources for migrants was an issue for her community, while many also expressed concerns about young people, and the community needing “something for the kids to do”. This is expected from the state’s baby capital; 2011 ABS data reports that Oxley has Queensland’s second highest proportion of children aged 0-4 (8.3 percent) and the state’s highest proportion of couple households with dependent children (41.8 percent). Youth disengagement is particularly a priority for Inala and Goodna as only about 65 percent of their youth (15-19 years) are fully engaged in work or study, compared with 80 percent in the neighbouring area of Forest Lake and northern suburbs like Jindalee.
Though traditionally a safe Labor seat (the only Queensland Labor seat retained in 1975), Oxley is marginal. ALP candidate Milton Dick, the brother of the Queensland Health Minister, and former opposition leader for Brisbane City Council, has a large enough profile for some to consider the seat his. Though Bibe Roadley is not your ordinary LNP candidate; the former Family First candidate has recently spoken to the media about overcoming heroine addiction. The youngest candidate to run for the seat, 27-year-old Brad Trussell, is the One Nation candidate fighting for Hanson’s old seat. Though the Greens did not do well at any polling booth in Oxley in 2013, with an overall swing of 6.41-percent against them, this was a trend reflected across the state. With the Greens in better stead this year, Steven Purcell may draw the Green’s vote back to around 12 percent to resemble the 2010 election results.