Seat of the week: Deakin

Update (3/9/12): Essential Research. The weekly Essential Research report has fallen into line with other pollsters in giving Labor its best result since March – up two on the primary vote to 34% and one on two-party preferred to 55-45. The Coalition is down a point to 48%, a result it last recorded in April. The poll has 52% thinking female politicians receive more criticism than men against only 4% less and 40% the same, and very similar results (51%, 6% and 38%) when the subject is narrowed to Julia Gillard specifically. A question on which groups would be better off under Labor or Liberal governments find traditional attitudes to the parties are as strong as ever, with wide gaps according to whether the group could be perceived as disadvantaged (pensioners, unemployed, disabled) or advantaged (high incomes, large corporations, families of private school children). Respondents continue to think it likely that a Coalition government would bring back laws similar to WorkChoices (51% likely against 25% unlikely).

Deakin is centred on the eastern Melbourne suburbs of Blackburn and Nunawading, extending eastwards along the Maroondah Highway to Ringwood and Croydon. At the time of its creation in 1937, it extended far beyond the city limits to Seymour and Mansfield, before gaining its wholly urban orientation in 1969 and assuming roughly its current dimensions when it lost Box Hill in 1977. A trend of increasing Liberal support as the electorate extends eastwards is better explained by diminishing ethnic diversity than by income: in its totality, the electorate is demographically unexceptional on all measures. The redistribution has cut the Labor margin from 2.4% to 0.6% by transferring 18,000 voters in the electorate’s south-western corner, at Blackburn South, Burwood East and Forest Hill, to Chisholm; adding 8000 voters immediately to the east of the aforementioned area, around Vermont South, from Aston; and adding another 10,000 voters around Croydon in the north-east, mostly from Casey but partly from Menzies.

For a seat that has been marginal for most of its history, Deakin has brought Labor remarkably little joy: prior to 2007 their only win was when the Hawke government came to power in 1983, and it was lost again when Hawke went to the polls early in December 1984. The seat presented a picture of electoral stability from 1984 to 2001, when Liberal margins ranged only from 0.7% to 2.5% (although the 1990 redistribution muffled the impact of a 4.3% Liberal swing). Julian Beale held the seat from 1984 until the 1990 election, when he successfully challenged controversial Bruce MP Ken Aldred for preselection after redistribution turned the 1.5% margin into a notional 1.9% margin for Labor. Aldred accepted the consolation prize of Deakin and was able to retain the seat on the back of a sweeping statewide swing to the Liberals. He was in turn unseated for preselection in 1996 by Phillip Barresi, who held the seat throughout the Howard years.

Barresi emerged from the 2004 election with a margin of 5.0%, the biggest the Liberals had known in the seat since 1977. The substantial swing required of Labor at the 2007 election was duly achieved with 1.4% to spare by Mike Symon, whose background as an official with the Left faction Electrical Trades Union had made him a target of Coalition barbs amid controversies surrounding union colleagues Dean Mighell and Kevin Harkins. Symon’s preselection had been achieved through a three-vote win over local general practitioner Peter Lynch, the candidate from 2004, who reportedly won the 50% local vote component before being rebuffed by the state party’s tightly factionalised Public Office Selection Committee. Andrew Crook of Crikey reported that Symon had backing from the Bill Shorten-Stephen Conroy Right as a quid pro quo for Left support for Peter McMullin’s unsuccessful bid for preselection in Corangamite. Symon was re-elected in 2010 with a 1.0% swing in the face of an attempt by Phillip Barresi to recover his old seat, which was perfectly in line with the statewide result. He was rated by one source as undecided as Kevin Rudd’s challenge to Julia Gillard’s leadership unfolded in February 2012, but soon fell in behind Gillard.

The Liberal candidate at the next election will be Michael Sukkar, a 30-year-old tax specialist with Ashurt, the law firm previously known as Blake Dawson. Sukkar emerged a surprise preselection winner over John Pesutto, a lawyer and Victorian government adviser said to be closely associated with Ted Baillieu. VexNews reported that also-ran candidates Phillip Fusco, Terry Barnes and Andrew Munroe were eliminated in that order, at which point Pesutto was in first place, state government staffer Michelle Frazer was second, and Sukkar and former Melbourne candidate Simon Olsen were tied for third. After winning a run-off against Olsen, Sukkar crucially managed to sneak ahead of Frazer, who unlike Sukkar would not have prevailed against Pesutto in the final round due to a view among Sukkar’s backers that she “wasn’t up to it”.

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.

1,969 comments on “Seat of the week: Deakin”

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  1. I expect Newspoll to move back to the coalition within the MOE and be heralded as the end of the PM.

    Abbott has gone very quiet this past week, which is usually a good thing for him in the polls.

    Happy to be proven wrong though

  2. One for the “Only In America “file
    Science in the classroom
    In Missouri last month a state referendum was carried which gives children the right to leave their science classes if the teacher mentions of teaches anything about evolution…that great bane of the Christian fundies!

    Interesting too that recent world survey shows that the USA now runs in 25th place on a scale relating to the quality and publuc esteem of science as a subject
    US Science Teacher groups say that this is seriously impeding US students from taking up careers in science…not so one thinks kids in China/Japan/Russia and most Euro countries

    But in Missourio the worry is about Evolution!!

  3. I wondered if might happen, its been all Afghanistan plus some stuff on the boats for all of the polling period. People hate the war.

  4. [1913
    Bushfire Bill

    Katharine Murphy is in the lifeboat, waving her first class ticket, pointing at the Other Media, over there…]

    The basic issue for print journalism is that the costs of production cannot be recovered from the sale of journalistic products – news and information. Publishing has always depended on advertising and “editorial work” and has only been required because it served to defend and/or expand circulation. But now that advertising revenue is falling independently of circulation, there is less and less cash available to support editorial work. Since editorial work is only ever a cost-centre, and costs must be cut to match declining income, it follows that editorial work will increasingly be scaled down. Eventually, as all publishing costs are cut to match declining income, editorial work for hard-copy publication will become a legacy occupation, scaled down to the level that applied before the age of mass literacy.

    The changes in the advertising market will be good for marketers of goods and services, and, indirectly, for consumers. The media machines will no longer be able to appropriate a share of the value of all mass-marketed consumer products. Advertising will become ever-better targeted and costs will be driven down.

    As well, the decline of mass media will probably have highly beneficial impacts on the collection, reporting, diffusion and replication of news, with, most likely, a proliferation of specialty news-services run as low-cost, online, info-sharing channels, offering diverse selections of voice, graphics, photos, video, text and data. This will eradicate the political power as well as the economic privilege of the media moguls. It is happening as we watch. Of course, this means the way political parties communicate will also have to change, and we should see this start to accelerate.

  5. G and A
    Interesting that the most succinct statement was from the well dressed young Afghan man in the audience who quickly dismissed the politicians on the panel as being completely wrong and ill-informed… with his story of the total collapse of much of the country. but who wants the truth?
    Remember Vietnam..and the “light at the end of the Tunnel”

    The two politicians ignored him of course
    says it all about out political class !

    and this on the very day that Pres Karzai has shown how little he thinks of the Aiustralian military there.( a matter that the Minister cleverly avoided,using the old “I haven’t info “technigue”.).though if some writers are correct Karzai is building up his Brownie points with the Taliban for that day…coming soon.I fear ..when to quote that lady”the job will be done”,,,and he can go to the comforts of some Swiss Bank!

    Sorry about those dead Aussie boys though !

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