Redcliffe is one of the major centres in Petrie, where transport is a key issue. Photo by Bertknot, Flickr.
Petrie runs along the Bruce Highway and the train line from the Moreton Bay Regional Council area of Burpengary to Brisbane's northern suburbs, and east to Redcliffe. It is predominantly a working class area with large residential estates. Major issues include the National Broadband Network and public transport. It is held by the LNP's Luke Howarth on a margin of 0.5%.
The electorate of Petrie, situated north of Brisbane, is the Coalition’s most marginal seat in Australia. The last campaign in September 2013 resulted in the election of Luke Howarth, candidate for the Liberal National Party, by only 871 votes over Labor's Yvette D’Ath. For the 2016 election, Howarth is running against the Labor candidate Jacqui Pedersen. Because of the extremely small margin of 0.5%, Petrie is a particularly coveted electorate for the Labor Party, which is also targeting eight seats in Queensland, according to The Financial Review. The third declared candidate for Petrie is Sue Weber, who is representing the Greens.
The division, created in 1949, was named after Andrew Petrie, a noted civil engineer and explorer born in Scotland in 1798. After moving to Brisbane in 1837 with his family, he settled in Moreton Bay, working in building construction and as an explorer, organising expeditions around the Moreton Bay.
In 1949, the seat was won by Alan Hulme (Liberal Party), who served for 12 years before being defeated by Reginald O’Brien (ALP). Hulme won Petrie back in 1963 and sat for nine years until his retirement. Since its proclamation, the seat has been predominantly held by the Liberal Party (now the Liberal National Party). More recently, Teresa Gambaro held the seat for 11 years, between 1996 and 2007. Ms D’Ath (ALP) then held the seat for two consecutive terms. The Liberal National Party won the seat back in 2013 with the election of Howarth, former managing director of Sandgate Pest Control and a long-term member of the LNP, which he joined at 19. Howarth completed a Diploma of Business and a Certificate III in Pest Management in Brisbane. Howarth considers the upgrade of the Bruce Highway as well as the development of infrastructure like the Moreton Bay Rail as major issues for of Petrie.
Petrie covers an area of approximatively 152 sq km and extends from the northern Brisbane suburbs, east of the Bruce Highway and up to Burpengary Creek. The Petrie-named town, however, belongs to the electorate of Dickson. Classified as an outer metropolitan area, the division is situated in the state capital and has had recent suburban expansion, partly due to its proximity to Brisbane. Thus, it is a mainly residential area stimulated by local and regional businesses and industry. The electorate includes local government areas of Brisbane City Council and Moreton Bay Regional Council, such as Deception Bay and Redcliffe. Howarth’s electorate office is situated in Clontarf Beach.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the electorate had 158,788 residents in 2015. The median age was 38 years old with a median weekly household income of $1,186. About 60 per cent of the residents interviewed reported working full-time. 75.1 per cent were born in Australia in 2011.
Interviewed in 2013 by the ABC, Petrie residents expressed their concerns about two main issues: the rising cost of living, and the state of the economy. Indeed, in 2011, 6.1 per cent of residents were unemployed, which represented a one per cent increase over the average unemployment rate in Australia at the same period. On the other hand, the median weekly rent was $310 for the 33.8 per cent of Petrie residents who were renting. This is under the median weekly rent price of the neighboring electorates of Lilley ($325) and Dickson ($330). Other issues in Petrie include the development of the National Broadband Network, as well as the need for improved public transport.