For the most part, the November 24 federal election saw Labor pick up swings of similar magnitude in Victoria across city and country seats, notwithstanding the unusually small swings in the inner-city. However, one intriguing variation with respect to country Victoria was a relatively weak Labor performance east of Melbourne, particularly in the West Gippsland electorate of McMillan.
McMillan MP Russell Broadbent enjoyed one of the best evenings of his chequered electoral career by suffering a swing of just 0.2 per cent, a result which echoed the surprise Coalition wins in the local seats of Narracan and Morwell at the November 2006 state election, following respective swings of 9.5 per cent and 7.0 per cent (the defeated Labor member for Narracan, Ian Maxfield, is the husband of Labor’s unsuccessful McMillan candidate, Christine Maxfield). These electorates correspond with the rural areas of McMillan which gave Broadbent his best results: the small booths here gave early indications on election night of a swing in Broadbent’s favour, providing the Liberals an unwarranted early morale boost. However, the three large Pakenham booths which came in later followed the outer suburban script, swinging to Labor by around 7 per cent. There were also relatively strong performances for the Coalition in the neighbouring electorates of Flinders and Gippsland. Flinders followed the pattern of McMillan in that the biggest swings were recorded in the urban fringe centre of Somerville. Peter McGauran defied occasional talk about the long-term security of his hold on Gippsland by holding on to all but 0.4 per cent of his primary vote, suffering an evenly distributed 1.8 per cent two-party swing.
Labor enjoyed stronger performances to the west and north of Melbourne, the most significant result being the party’s first win in Corangamite since 1929. Darren Cheeseman built his win on especially solid swings from the Geelong booths and the large country centre of Colac, giving him enough fat to survive a surprisingly strong Liberal performance on postal votes.
|Corangamite booth results with numbers varying in size to reflect number of votes cast. Click on image to toggle between two-party and swing figures.|
Gavan O’Connor failed to make much of an impression in his bid to hold Corio as an independent, although his 12.7 per cent share of the vote earned him a handy $22,115 in public funding. His candidacy was probably responsible for a relatively mild 3.3 per cent swing to Labor. Interestingly, booths in Geelong’s industrial northern suburbs produced above-average votes for O’Connor and, in a number of cases, two-party swings to the Liberals. To the north of Melbourne, Labor achieved an evenly spread swing across Bendigo (5.2 per cent), Ballarat (5.9 per cent) and McEwen (6.4 per cent). This moved the first two from marginal to technically safe Labor status, but famously fell 12 votes short of delivering them Fran Bailey’s seat of McEwen. The swing against Bailey peaked at South Morang (10.6 per cent) and Wallan Wallan (9.1 per cent), but there was no clearly discernible pattern to its distribution.
With one exception, electorates in the west and north of Victoria saw big swings to Labor in regional cities and little movement in rural and small town booths. Sophie Mirabella suffered an especially strong 7.1 per cent swing in Indi, which peaked at over 10 per cent in Wangaratta and was only slightly smaller in Wodonga. Swings were considerably more modest at Mansfield, Euroa and Nagambie in the south of the electorate. Similarly, two large booths in Mildura produced double-digit swings to Labor that were not reflected elsewhere in Mallee, which swung 3.5 per cent overall. In Wannon, Liberal veteran David Hawker also suffered double-digit swings in a number of booths in the large coastal towns of Warrnambool and Portland, whereas there was little movement from most rural booths. However, this trend was bucked in Murray: booths in the dominant town of Shepparton produced swings consistent with the divisional total of 5.8 per cent, although there were some interesting exceptions in the city’s outskirts and its satellite town of Mooropna.