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. GG

    An elderly woman was stabbed in her driveway. A 31 year old was apprehended and taken into custody. Apparently he was found in someone’s yard in the area. The incident occurred in the Locality near Greensborough College

  2. Greensborough Growler

    PJK polarised in things like media events and question time, but if you look at his policy positions, he always tried to be inclusive of other people’s views. The economy, IR, the Republic are a number of examples off the top of my head where he acted (or at least tried to act) in a consensus driven manner with the Coalition

  3. spur12,

    Which is exactly what Gillard does. Carbon Pricing, NDIS, NBN, MRRT, Paid Parental Leave and now education reform and Dentalcare.

    The coalition have chosen a non consensus approach atm if you hadn’t noticed.

  4. Kath Murphy breaks rule 15 of #1137:

    [15. If possible, resist the temptation to be a smartarse, or a giggling school girl who portrays politics as silly people playing in her personal sandpit.]

    by writing:

    [11.58am: The bottomline, as we hit crusing altitude and turn off the seat belts sign ahead of the Prime Minister’s National Press Club address is this: today is as much about politics as it is about substance.

    (Shocked, are Pulsers, I know.)


    Does she imagine anyone reads this rubbish she “blogs”, in real time?

    “Excellence” in journalism…NOT.

  5. Greensborough Growler

    I agree with all that

    My point was more in response to this:

    If your friends thought the Party should sit around, do bugger all and simply miss the opportunities to make the country better, then they really should vote Liberal

    You never tell people to vote for the other party. I don’t care what someone believes, if they put a (1) in the box for the ALP candidate, they are fine by me

  6. Gee #1137 got most of it right, I think.

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

    She should look in the mirror.

    Read all about it! Journalism has a future!
    I understand all the downsides of digital: the equity problem – the readers we can’t take with us from newspapers because they lack access to the devices they need. The quality problem – all the mind-numbing, click-baiting garbage hurled at readers on the ”verity” that they aren’t interested in quality. The commercial problem – how do we convince an audience to pay for material we’ve spent years giving away?

    I have no magic bullets for any of these problems. I’m not aware of anyone who does. Perhaps my optimism is completely irrational. One thing is for certain: we are going to find out over the next few years.

    My own view is we will make the transition best if we put quality first; and if we know who and what we are, and what value we can add.

    Modern journalism should be about providing clarity in the clamour. It should champion facts over what the American comedian Stephen Colbert has brilliantly termed ”truthiness” (a statement that feels or rings true, regardless of the logic or evidence).

    Read more:

    Katharine should take her own advice. Some suggestions:

    1. Omit the gratuitous mentions of the polls at every opportunity, as if political journalists are wasting their time covering the government’s programs and policies, because they “won’t be there anyway” come mid next year. This is not balance. Polls are not elections.

    2. Quit the guffawing on-line at the state of Parliament, especially Question Time. Stop making out that both sides are as bad as the other, when its overwhelmingly the Coalition who are wrecking the joint by exploitation of parliamentary procedure to gum up the works.

    3. Consign the phrase “But an Opposition’s duty to oppose” to the dustbin, for all time. Just because a syphilitic old Pommy said it once in the 19th century doesn’t make it true, or relevant.

    NOTE: Other phrases to go as well…

    (a) “Journalists are paid to be cynics”.
    (b) “But Xxxxx Xxxxx is a retail politician.”
    (c) “Some people say…”
    (d) Any phrase containing the words, “shambolic”, “debacle”, or “catastrophe” when what has happened is at best minor hiccup, a gaffe or a malfunctioning earplug.
    (e) “In what is perhaps a metaphor for…”

    4. Desist from meta analysis, the “inside the beltway”, “Gruen Transfer” type of political writing that reduces all political effort to spin and counter spin.

    5. Explain policies. Don’t assume that your readership somehow “knows” the details of a policy and that it’s not your job to remind them.

    6. Write the second thing that comes into your head in the morning, not the first. Try to connect your thoughts together before falling back on “The Savvy” that you claim to possess and that (by implication) your readers don’t.

    7. If the Prime Minister is defending herself against defamatory, disgusting libellous charges that relate to nothing, report the defence, not the jerk with the petition who interrupted it.

    8. Never use the phrase “Questions can be asked” without asking the questions.

    9. Never “quote” “Party Insiders”, or if you must, tell us either who they are or what is their position within the party.

    10. If you eventually find out they have lied to you, tell your readers this promptly.

    11. Don’t just print something because someone rang you up and said it. Laundering gossip in this manner from vague anonymous sources to the front page is bullshit.

    12. Stop interviewing other journalists. It only leads to Group-Think.

    13. Get a professional divorce from Michelle Grattan. She a bitter old crone who hates the Prime Minister and will only try to spread that hate. Think for yourself.

    14. Accept that pissing off half your readership by telling them they are idiots for preferring Labor is not a good business plan.

    15. If possible, resist the temptation to be a smartarse, or a giggling school girl who portrays politics as silly people playing in her personal sandpit.

    16. Don’t ever write about something your adolescent son did as if that’s a bellwether for the nation’s psyche.

    17. Remember that just because something’s on a front page somewhere that doesn’t make it true, interesting or relevant. Front pages are on the way out, remember? Print is dead?

    18. Stop writing “stories about the story”.

    19. Don’t assume that just because your own workplace is f**ked up, and your employer’s business model is in the toilet, that this can be automatically applied to the nation. You’re a survivor now, so try to get out more in the sunshine and see that continually telling your dwindling readership that they are poorly governed and that there’s no hope for change does NOT get them back all confident, reading your columns and advertising in your classifieds.

    20. Above all, discontinue the boring and self-indulgent practice of writing about journalism as if the public thinks it’s interesting. The only reason journalism is in the gun is because of 1-19 above.

  7. Chris Uhlmann was very careful to point out on 7.5 that the PM had done her education thing in order to try to save her government.

    You see, Julia never does anything because she believes in it but only because she is trying to sway public opinion.

  8. spur12,

    My view is that the Party owes them nothing.

    Maybe telling them they sound like Liberals is just the medicine they deserve. The consequences of ther back biting and treachery might be a Liberal Government. Then I suppose they’ll have something to really whine about.

    I have no time for disloyalty or whingers.

    If I want to know about Opposition talking points, I’ll read the MSM.

  9. [The biggest education reform in decades is announced and Lateline interviews… Christopher Pyne.]

    Maybe Garrett didn’t want to go on.

  10. Angry Anderson throws in a red herring because it is the only thing he knows anything about. And now he knows more about teaching than professional teachers.

  11. Chris Uhlmann was very careful to point out on 7.5 that the PM had done her education thing in order to try to save her government.

    Oh, she’s a sneaky one, that Gillard. The way she keeps diverting our attention from the whispering campaigns against her by releasing good policy is a disgrace. You won’t see Abbott descending to that behaviour.

  12. [You see, Julia never does anything because she believes in it but only because she is trying to sway public opinion.]

    And according to Chris “her rhetoric has an evangelical ring to it”. He, the most painful bloody, jumped up, preacher around would know all about that.

  13. thirdborn@1655:

    We were in the strange dairy industry on the far west coast of SA, I think it is like no other area. Dry, lots of limestone and not many trees. It was tough farming country.


    That is seriously difficult country to make a living at. Dairy? WHAT?

    What were your parents thinking?

    Kudos for making it work.

  14. If u where watching. The only show on tv the par as
    Uwoud of seen. Two presenters in Wales talking about our. Pm

    To be honest I don’t understand why any one would be watching anything else

    Ahrmad kelly just got silver in his swim race

  15. Angry Anderson. Why wouldn’t you be angry when just about every jockey in the land can look straight over your head? And when you think just like an uneducated idiot would, believing that the solution to every problem is as simple as the latest rantings that come out of the gullet of a foul-breathed, spittle-spraying hate merchant from 2GB? If I was in Gazza’s size fives, covered in forty year old tatts and batting around seventy two in the IQ stakes, I’d be angry too.

  16. [1876
    Bushfire Bill

    And God made Little Green Apples too…]

    BB….what are you saying? That the peoples of China, Korea and Japan have a low opinion of us? In over 30 years to- and fro- around East Asia, I have never experienced that. Almost invariably, I have been treated with at least courtesy and usually with genuine warmth. The Chinese, in particular, never tire of telling me how much they like Australia, how much they want to visit and how this or that family-member studied in one or other of our cities, what a good time they had here and how beautiful the place is. I can give many similar accounts from Korea, Taiwan, Viet Nam and Japan too.
    There is just no doubt that the peoples of these countries like us and what we have, regardless of the security they find in their native traditions and identities.

    Then again, maybe it’s just me. I really have learned to enjoy aspects of their languages, cultures, traditions and cuisines, have acquired a great admiration for their many achievements and have tried to cultivate personal interactions and friendships. Naturally, this takes one behind the veneers that comprise stereotypes, and into the reality of everyday life. Fundamentally, for me this has been a matter of learning – learning about myself as well as others; learning what it is I most identify with as an Australian, and learning that a sense of equality is not merely an abstraction: it is a pleasure to be enjoyed without thinking, as one enjoys a glass of water or piece of fruit. At its most elementary, this requires us to reject the fear of the different and to come to a better understanding of where human aspirations and dignity reside.

  17. There are certain coalition members I just love to see on TV. I can’t see them doing anything but losing votes for the coalition. Eric Abetz is right up there. I am thinking Angry is on the list.

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