Victorian federal redistribution and other tales

In the event that we do face an election sooner rather than later, one difficulty Labor will have to factor in is what looks like an unfavourable redistribution in Victoria, draft boundaries of which were released during the election campaign. Despite the fact that the number of electorates in the state has not changed, the redistribution commissioners propose a radical overhaul that will abolish the rural electorate of Murray and create the new electorate of Burke in Melbourne’s northern outskirts. While this involves the abolition of a safe Liberal seat and the creation of a new one with a notional Labor margin of 10.8 per cent (as calculated by Antony Green on the basis of the 2007 results), knock-on effects make Corangamite and Deakin notionally Liberal, and McEwen (newly acquired by Labor at the recent election) very safely so.

According to the redistribution commissioners, the sweeping changes have been deemed necessary because relative population decline has made it unfeasible to preserve the existing northern regional trio of Murray, Mallee and Indi. However, this has been disputed in a highly critical submission from Tim Colebatch, a senior journalist for The Age, who calculates that one-in-six Victorian voters will be transferred to different electorates. Colebatch complains there has been a failure to account for future growth in outer suburbs and the inner city, which in partisan terms will mean bloated enrolments in nine Labor seats by 2018 and deficient ones in four middle suburban Liberal seats. It is tempting to speculate the commissioners have been influenced by the fact that redistributions of New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia turned Labor’s 83 seats from the 2007 election into a notional total of 88.

However, another submission from Jenni Newton-Farrelly of the South Australian Parliamentary Library reaches a very different conclusion. Newton-Farrelly has brought to the process her jurisdiction’s enthusiasm for electoral fairness, with reference to margins she has calculated from both the 2007 election and preliminary results from 2010. When these are adjusted to a 50-50 two-party outcome, Labor is found to receive more than its fair share: 20 seats to 17, with no margin in any seat lower than 1.4 per cent. On the results from the recent election, Newton-Farrelly finds the Liberals would have won Corangamite by 0.8 per cent and McEwen by 6.6 per cent, while Labor would have gained Aston by 1.5 per cent.


Antony Green crunches the numbers from seven electorates where there were only Labor, Liberal and Greens candidates and finds “little difference between the 2010 preference flows and the flows in the same seats at the 2007 election”. This comes as a profound shock, as we were repeatedly warned not to trust two-party opinion poll results based on exactly this assumption. Dennis Shanahan of The Australian, for example, wrote on August 2 that Labor’s primary vote had fallen into “the fatal zone below 40 per cent, where the party has only a slight hope of winning, and then based only on heroic assumptions about the results and the delivery of Greens preferences”. I like to think that the moral of this story is that even in this jaded and cynical age, heroism can sometimes still win the day.

• Amusingly, Labor has pulled ahead at the time of writing on the AEC’s meaningless national two-party vote figure, which excludes results from eight electorates. In the past few days I have heard Andrew Bolt, Barnaby Joyce, Kerry Chikarovski and Kenneth Wiltshire (no doubt there were many others) use the progress score on this count to assert that the Coalition had won, which is very clearly untrue. As Peter Brent of Mumble points out, it is almost certain that the complete figures which will be available in a few weeks’ time will show Labor the winner, by however narrow a margin. Smarter Coalition operatives have been limiting their pitch to the perfectly reasonable observation that the Liberal and National parties won “more votes and seats” than Labor.

• In the comments thread from the Mumble post linked to above, Peter Brent tells a reader that “Newspolls will take a breather for a little while”. Speaking of Newspoll, here’s an exchange from Sunday’s edition of Insiders:

Barrie Cassidy: (The Australian) ran the results of a poll on Saturday, not talking about individual seast but country-wide, that more people were in favour of a minority Labor government than a minority Coalition government. Now Glenn, you’ve had some experience with this, they actually polled a week ago and published six days later. That’s unusual, isn’t it?

Glenn Milne: Well, it’s clear they didn’t like the poll results.

Author: William Bowe

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.

3,234 comments on “Victorian federal redistribution and other tales”

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  1. JV

    I wasn’t suggesting that Arbib and Bitar are the only changes I’d like to see. But those two as a minimum cannot be allowed to run Federal campaigns again.

  2. [anony i enjoyed reading your post thoroughly how long have you been a member of the greens for?]

    my wife since 2007, myself just recently. she’s always been smarter than me 🙂 . i’ll actually start attending meetings now though. i know that will bring me back to earth with a bump.

  3. [Glenn Milne: Well, it’s clear they didn’t like the poll results.]

    My life is ordered by your thinking Glen, it’s about time you understood it.

  4. we have our priorities right here in Melbourne. First report on the news Fevola banned from Brisbane Lions pending investigation into indecent exposure!!

  5. anony the bug really hit me today reading the vile conservative bloggers on the at work
    today, it was like the final straw in doing something to fight it

  6. [jen authour the bug really hit me today at work about getting involved i had given some contemplation in the past, but not as strong as now]

    Scott, have been thinking about it while … there are times I feel ‘impotent’ where politics is concerned. This election I have actually felt less so (courtesy of this blog) but it has also highlighted the nastiness of the media and I really want to fight the negative propaganda in some concrete way.

  7. repost from end of thread

    Posted Wednesday, September 8, 2010 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

    1/ “Ron I was MORE referring to Arbib/Feeney/Bitar/Farrell.”

    but you were refferring to Conroy as well Fact is NBN stands as proof he is one of Labor’s most success Ministers with NBN itself a far reaching infra , tech and econamic effect on this Country that you obvous not realize how significant it will be , nor that only a very competant minister par excellency could hav got NBN to its current roll out stage

    Conroy is prob oz’s greatest ever communications Ministers

    and in passing , it further histary making inviolves monopoly separation of Telstra , someting Libs/Alston tried and failed

    2/ “He’s still an idiot though.”
    reely , given th above you look quite foolish

  8. Socrates@1

    I wasn’t suggesting that Arbib and Bitar are the only changes I’d like to see. But those two as a minimum cannot be allowed to run Federal campaigns again.

    No, or tell a PM (along with Gillard and Swan) he must dump a critically important policy – so he is mortally wounded. Reminds me of the antics of S.P.E.C.T.R.E.

    As you say the malaise is much deeper. It cannot and will not be fixed without a split.

  9. [Oh, George! North or South?
    Wonder how the Downer is going as ‘negotiator’ in Cyprus.]

    We had properties/home in north Cyprus (in Morphou) – my parents lost everything during the war 🙁

    and Downer in Cyprus? *facepalm*

  10. [anony the bug really hit me today reading the vile conservative bloggers on the at work
    today, it was like the final straw in doing something to fight it]

    a few months ago i started writing what i felt like on my facebook page. it brought the evolutionary throwbacks in the extended family out of the woodwork (there is a social conservative streak in australia a mile wide). i didn’t tone it down, i gave them no mercy in my replies and just kept doing it. i’m sick of pretending that the mass insanity and stupidity around me is normal and that my only recourse is to feign apathy. now i drop the hammer on stupid.

  11. So in this new age of everybody getting their say and all these nice things are there going to be six to ten contenders throwing their hat into the ring for Leader of her Maj’s Opposition or is the Opposition still stuck in the rut of one Glorious Leader calling all the shots?

  12. victoria,

    I’d take it all with a gain of salt.

    Fev is of elephant trunken dimensions. There is no car that could hold him if his member were to escape.

  13. Corangamite will see massive growth over the next 3 years with a huge new housing area in south west Geelong called armstrong Creek. In the long run it will be a safe Labor seat.

  14. [We had properties/home in north Cyprus (in Morphou) – my parents lost everything during the war]
    Ditto George.
    My grandparents died as refugees. We lost properties in Salamis & Ayios Seryios.
    Downer is hated by the Greek Cypriots.

  15. someone was asking about Tony Crook on the previous thread … heard on the ABC yesterday that he has only guaranteed supply, etc. to the coalition if they were to get into power. will sit on cross benches and reserves his right to vote his own way on policy. he won’t cozy up to the coalition officially until such time as Tony Abbott guarantees him the same cushy deal that the Nats statewide have recieved here from Colin Barnett. Royalties for Regions or some such rubbish they called it at the last state election. Very similar situation here, Barnett and Labor neither of which had a majority and the Nationals said “who’s gonna give to us” and put out their WL. Barnett blinked, Libs are now in power and Crook won’t sit with Federal Libs unless Abbott promises same deal on a federal level ….

  16. Victoria

    As a Lions fan the Fevola news could be perversely good for the club. The trade for him was a huge mistake. It has already cost the Lions Bradshaw and Lachlan Henderson, and indirectly Michael Rischitelli. Fevola hasn’t done much in an injury plagued season, and hasn’t looked very committed to getting fully fit again. The money they save coudl be used to keep Brennan, Drummond and others.

  17. Socrates

    As I just mentioned on earlier post, this could just be the excuse Brisbane is looking for to get rid of Fevola. He has been nothing but trouble for them all season. Add to that he has been unable to deliver on the field, and they would be very happy to see the back of him.

  18. I like the comments from the ‘stalking horse’, Kevin Andrews.

    [“disunity is death”]

    That is code for we (the conservatives) won and you (the moderates) lost. So go and suck eggs. And ‘If I see you doing any independent thinking, I will accuse you of destabilising our party’.

  19. CC

    There are plenty of highly intelligent idiots. And Conroy isn’t one of them. He still doesn’t understand his portfolio after 3 years.


    [Agreed Bitar must go, just reminds of me of Dracula. Bloodless and colourless. Just doesn’t strike me as a true labor man.]

    I agree. The resemblance is uncanny.


    Any idiot can say they will spend $42B of taxpayers money to create a huge infrastructure project.

  20. [That as a people we engage with each other so well is a tribute to the national psyche we have developed and the manner in which we continue to foster it.]
    WE ARE ONE, BUT WE ARE MANY………………………………………….

  21. It (Labor) cannot and will not be fixed without a split.

    Numerous bloggers long lists of Labor’s great left reforms achieved in past 3 years been posted on PB , only Labor hating morons copying th MSN bias dont accept that fact

  22. [your missus has always been active/interested in politics? anony]

    we both have. her highlight of turning 18 was getting to vote against howard.

  23. All this constant rearrangement of individual seat boundaries begs the question of why we have single member seats in the HoR.
    Why not multi-member seats of 5 members (i.e. Tassie = 1 seat) with proportional representation. Quota would be 20%+1.
    Advantages: 1/. Seats still have a degree of ‘localism’, 2/. Most constituents would be likely to have at least one local member representative of their views, 3/. The ‘local’ members would be likely to compete to be seen to deliver for their communities – i.e. no ‘safe seats are ignored syndrome’, 4/. More independents / greens / other minorities would be likely to be represented in many seats.

    This could be a mechanism for reinforcing the ethos of the new federal parliament.

    To my understanding it could be introduced by a vote of the parliament – as was compulsory voting and the change to proportional representation inthe senate.

    Perhaps the Indies, Greens, etc might like to raise it with the new government.

  24. juliem:

    I heard a replay of a Colin Barnett interview on breakfast radio on newsradio this afternoon. He was in meltdown about the Labor minority govt, carrying on about the Greens, and how Bob Brown had made “extreme statements” about his land acquisition.

    I was shocked. He sounded like Ron Boswell.

  25. Tony Windsor on the Abc News, To suggest that the Greens are in an alliance with the Labor Party when they do not have the majority in the House of Reps is just crazy stuff, commenting on the Libs views and the Murdoch hegemony who carried on about it.

    This guy is no dumbo, the libs and nats and the idoitic murdoch media were trying to treat him as a dumbo and rightly so he fired back correctly.

  26. Diogenes
    Posted Wednesday, September 8, 2010 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

    “Ron Any idiot can say they will spend $42B of taxpayers money to create a huge infrastructure project.”

    firstly you could get th figures rite

    secondly NBN from start up to now operational roll out requires Minister management , finesses , tech & negotiate skills far beyond your doctors comprehension to understand

  27. vic

    [All I am hearing in the Newsbreaks, is that “cracks are starting to appear in the Labor minority govt”! Geez!!]

    That’s all we’re getting in Adelaide as well. The MSM want a new election. We’ll see what the Labor-Greens-Wilkie coalition do to stop the meme propagating. A few runs on the board would help but they probably need to get Parlt to sit to really stop it.

  28. 7:30 report says Gillard to model the government on Labor in Victoria after 1999. Weekly briefings for the independents on upcoming legislation.

    Shorten and Gary Grey to get promotions

  29. madcyril@46

    7:30 report says Gillard to model the government on Labor in Victoria after 1999. Weekly briefings for the independents on upcoming legislation.

    Shorten and Gary Grey to get promotions

    Gary Grey being from WA will boost our ministerial Coomponent to 2 after Stephen Smith 🙂

    Yes, these things matter in WA – hence Mesma being spot welded as Lib Deputy.

  30. I do not think i heard that bit, but Windsor to me would or should be our next Governor General as suggested by a blogger last night.
    This guy when he sees a dill or stupid policy he states it. He can’t stand fools or people who think he is idoit and especially hates stupid media.

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