The marginal electorate of Leichhardt in far-north Queensland is often forgotten when discussing election outcomes.


It is a bellwether seat and has been held by the party governing the nation since 1972.

However, Leichhardt is twice the size of Tasmania and encompasses the ethnically diverse city of Cairns as well as some of the most disadvantaged remote Indigenous communities in Queensland.

It has one of the highest proportions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander voters in Australia – some 15 per cent – many of whom live in the remote communities of Cape York.

Yodie Batzke is contesting the seat this election as an independent. Her mother is Aboriginal and father, part Torres Strait islander.

“For far too long the Coalition and Labor have, I guess, made decisions in this electorate which really haven’t been for the benefit of the community. They’ve been policies driven by Canberra and have ignored the needs of Leichhardt itself,” Batzke says.

Unemployment is a major issue affecting the electorate, which has a 10 per cent jobless rate – one of the highest in the country.

“What we need to do to close the gap is give people economic opportunities, we need to get kids to school, support them in their education and continue to invest in health and housing, they’re things we’re doing, they’re very practical and they build on the apology to indigenous Australia,” ALP candidate Jim Turnour says.

Former Howard government MP Warren Entsch held the seat for 11 years before the 2007 election

“I think there are three main issues there, one is jobs, the second one is jobs, and you guessed what the third one is, jobs. We’ve seen a huge erosion of opportunities and the loss of jobs in the area in the last two and a half years,” he says.

Turnour says that getting support from the Aboriginal and TSI communities is critically important to winning Leichhardt, but Entsch disagrees.

“While the indigenous vote is significant, it’s if you win it in Cairns, (you) win or lose the seat

Yodie Batzke is not directing her preferences to any party.

“We’re needing a place in parliament. For too long we’ve had a parliament that’s gone, I guess, unnoticed and unchecked, their accountability toward indigenous affairs is practically nil,” she says.