Seat of the week: McEwen

The Melbourne fringe seat of McEwen has long been one of Victoria’s most keenly contested marginal seats, but the addition of the Labor stronghold of Sunbury in the latest redistribution may have put an end to that.

The most electorally significant change to result from the redistribution in Victoria relates to the electorate of McEwen, a traditionally marginal seat in Melbourne’s northern hinterland which has now been rendered fairly safe for Labor. This results from the transfusion of around 35,000 voters from rapidly growing Labor-voting suburbs around Sunbury, which are counterbalanced by the loss of outer urban areas further east (20,000 voters to Casey, 13,000 to Scullin and 4500 to Jagajaga), together with 10,000 to Indi and 7,000 to Bendigo in rural Victoria. The electorate maintains a stretch of the Hume Highway including Kilmore and Seymour, together with the urban fringe centres of Gisborne, Wallan and Whittlesea. Among the areas transferred to Indi are Kinglake and Maryville, which were devastated in the bushfires of February 2009.

McEwen was created with the expansion of parliament in 1984 and held for Labor in its first two terms by Peter Cleeland, who was unseated in 1990 by Fran Bailey as part of a statewide swing which cost Labor nine seats. Cleeland recovered the seat with a 0.7% margin in 1993, but was again defeated by Bailey in 1996. In 1998 it was one of a number of marginal seats which registered a below-par swing to Labor, a circumstance that allowed the Howard government to win re-election from a minority of the national two-party vote.

Consecutive swings to Bailey in 2001 and 2004 combined with a 1.0% redistribution to put the seat outside the marginal zone, but such was the swing to Labor in 2007 that Bailey needed every bit of her 6.4% margin to hold on. At first blush the result was the closest in any federal election since Ian Viner’s 12-vote victory in the Perth seat of Stirling in 1974: Labor challenger Rob Mitchell won by seven votes on the first count, but a recount turned that to a 12-vote margin in favour of Bailey. Labor challenged the outcome in the Federal Court, but the determinations the court made regarding individual ballot papers actually increased Bailey’s margin to 27.

Fran Bailey retired at the 2010 election, disappointing Liberals who hoped the esteem she gained during the bushfire crisis would stand her in good stead in a difficult seat. The party appeared to do well in preselecting Cameron Caine, a Kinglake police officer credited with saving several lives during the emergency, but he was swamped by a 5.3% swing. This made it second time lucky for Labor’s Rob Mitchell, who won preselection with the support of the Bill Shorten-Stephen Conroy sub-faction of the Victorian Right. Mitchell had earlier won a seat in the state upper house province of Central Highlands at the 2002 election, before being frozen out by the electoral reforms that took effect in 2006.

The preselected Liberal candidate for the next election is Ben Collier, managing director of Sunbury-based information technology consultancy Collier Pereira Services.

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.

1,337 comments on “Seat of the week: McEwen”

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  1. Jolyon Wagg@1296

    [Is there a way to view all the messages in a thread? There used to be a ‘View All’ button but, unless I am missing something, it disappeared in the last upheaval.]

    I have made the request to have the ‘show all’ option reinstated but no luck so far.

  2. [Is there a way to view all the messages in a thread? There used to be a ‘View All’ button but, unless I am missing something, it disappeared in the last upheaval.]

    “View All” is indeed missing, but it is an excellent way of finding a post (your own or someone else’s) without having to grind slowly through what can be a hundred or so pages, trying to guess where you saw that post last.

    Bring back “View All”!!!

  3. [But I think Julia Gillard is holding the ALP vote back.]

    I think you are wrong. I think the Labor caucus and the majority of Labor voters are right.

    Still, the longer you believe what you do, the more you will ultimately realise that your judgement is poor!

  4. Just saw “in the papers” segment, which shows pics of front pages, on Skynews. only poll bit said 95% of Australians support Royal Commission. I saw nothing on the main poll. pushed off the front page by the Middle East & other things, or is the info staggered over 2 nights?

  5. Scorpio

    If you are about.

    Went today to the 80th Anniversary of the Dover Square Tennis Club.

    Much fun was had. Fantastically the club now has a membership of 180 and enough junior members to make 22 teams.

  6. Centre

    ‘Still, the longer you believe what you do, the more you will ultimately realise that your judgement is poor!’

    I hope so!

  7. fiona

    Thank you.

    Most kind. You are one of the nicest bloggers on here

    I am a cranky old socialist and decided PB was in a universe I have little time for (or probably more accurately it has little time for me as William said I was a boring undergraduate). Fair enough.

    I lurk mostly for information.

  8. Just the AAP report, main articles to come
    [Coalition would win federal election: poll
    November 18, 2012 – 11:25PM


    Opposition Leader Tony Abbott’s approval rating may be on the wane but the coalition would win an election on a two-party basis, the latest Fairfax/Nielsen poll says.

    According to the poll, the opposition would win 53 per cent of the vote (up one point since last month) and Labor would receive 47 per cent (down one point).

    The poll, in Monday’s Fairfax newspapers, shows Labor’s national primary vote is steady on 34 per cent, while the coalition’s vote has risen by two points to 45 per cent, with the Greens up one point on 12 per cent.

    Mr Abbott’s approval eased one point to 36 per cent. His disapproval is steady at 60 per cent.

    His net approval is down a point to minus 24, a new personal low.

    Voter approval for Prime Minister Julia Gillard remains steady on 47 per cent and, with her disapproval steady on 48 per cent, she has an unchanged net approval of minus one.

    Ms Gillard maintains a nine-point lead over Mr Abbott in the preferred prime minister stakes at 51 per cent (up a point) to Mr Abbott’s 42 per cent (up two points) in the national poll of 1400 taken from Thursday to Saturday.]

  9. Swamprat,

    Sheez, I seem to be getting a reputation for being nize … you, like a few others, obviously haven’t seen me when I’ve done me block!

    But thank you, even unwarranted appreciation is sweet 🙂

    As for you:

    [I am a cranky old socialist and decided PB was in a universe I have little time for (or probably more accurately it has little time for me as William said I was a boring undergraduate). Fair enough.]

    I have always valued your input and insights, and have never seen you as an undergraduate, boring or otherwise. Au contraire completely and utterly.

    So as far as I’m concerned don’t just lurk. If this country is ever to get back into some sort of rational discourse it will only be because people like you, me, and all the rest of the motley PB crew keep on keeping on.

    In other words – please stay around and niggle as much as possible!

  10. MM
    I have no doubt about which species domesticated humans. 😆

    Love your story about the chook and am not surprised at the empathy seemingly dumb animals possess, particularly choox.

    I have no knowledge of alpacas and llamas being used for flock protection, but know of several Maremmas being used to protect flocks, particularly sheep from foxes and dingoes with great success. They’re not particularly good pets as they bond with their flock and tend to be arrogant but for flock protection they are excellent.


    And here:

    The so- called ‘Mountain’ dogs along with Shepherds, Rottweilers and similar have all been used with success as protection dogs for homesteads, flocks and people and most make great pets, although gumboots are mandatory when lawnmowing in most cases ….. 😆

  11. Muttley McG,

    [I have no doubt about which species domesticated humans]

    What’s more, they are still trying – gotta admire their determination.

    Now this is really bedtime for one tired wannabe dogowned humane.

  12. Good Morning

    Sorry to repaste Libtika but its delicious.

    “@latikambourke: Nats Senator Barnaby Joyce is upset at being called ‘deranged’ by the Climate Change (Tony Abbott’s complete bullshit) Minister Greg Combet.”

    “@latikambourke: Nats Senator Barnaby Joyce says calling him ‘deranged’ because of his views about the effects of the carbon tax doesn’t further the debate.”

    “@latikambourke: Nats Senator Barnaby Joyce says the public sees Parliament as ‘Romper Room’ and its damaging all Federal MPs and Senators.”

  13. The argument put forward by Senator Joyce is really silly and has no bearing on the real world.

    All Abettors would have an idea of the number of stock that would be processed in a given period and the amount of “carbon” that the business would release into the atmosphere during that period. All that happens then is that the pollution that is released is costed and the additional cost added o the fees charged.

    The “additional” charges for the “next beast” processed doesn’t bear the entire cost. The cost is applied over the all the beasts processed for the period. X amount of pollution times the carbon price divided by the total kills ( not that different calculations would have to be done for cattle sheep etc because each would generate a different amount of pollution.

    It really is quite simple and if Joyce, who is supposed to be an accountant, is peddling this rubbish all I can say is that anyone who is his client better think very seriously about looking for a new firm to do their accounting work.

    I do not think that Joyce is that silly but that he belongs to that “class” of politician that will say or do anything to get a vote. IT would appear that “honesty” and Mr Joyce are not well known to each other.

    Of cause this does not take into account those situations where the Abettors is well managed and uses it pollution to generate power for itself and for nearby communities as was referred to earlier today by someone who posts here. If I remember it was an Abettors neat Tamworth which was reducing its emissions so that it did not pay any carbon price and in doing so produced power for itself so reducing costs.

    But I guess that is too complicated for Mr Joyce to understand.

  14. In the sea of mediocrity that celebrates itself as the Canberra Press Gallery, it’s become apparent that most of them just don’t understand what they’re reporting about.

    We’ve had our laughs at their ‘Gillard won’t last the week’ predictions and we’ve just shaken our heads about being told it’s all about context when the PM gave her ‘misogyny’ speech, correctly looking forward to their bewilderment when the world saw it for what it was and disgracefully didn’t take ‘context’ into account.


    Would any of the press gallery (no capitals deserved) like to advise us of the ‘context’ of this AWU beat-up? I haven’t read much about ‘context’, just breathless drivel from a pack who don’t know their ‘advice to set up an incorporated body’ from their ‘setting up a slush fund’. This, despite the PM’s statement at the start of the press conference that it was a repeated defamation.
    I listened to that and, along with most on here, understood it. It wasn’t a difficult thing to understand. I wasn’t surprised that Chris Uhlmann immediately repeated it on 7.30. He’s got his own agenda and his own lack of understanding to deal with and he wouldn’t carry a grudge against the person whose interview got him demoted, would he. But still it goes on. Chris Kenny tweets that the PM set up a slush fund. We all now, of course, that Chris is independent when it comes to politics and the fact that 99.9% of his comments are anti-Labor shouldn’t disqualify him from being regarded as a political commentator, should it? Getting the facts wrong might, though, especially when he’s claiming that the PM got the facts wrong. I worry for Chris at times. He should be treated as an independent political observer, but I’ve heard him described as a partisan hack working for a corrupt organisation.

    The standard that the press gallery and the Opposition want to apply to the PM is so high and so movable that it is a standard that all of us would fail, just because we are human.

    So, to the ABC and last night’s 7.30 report. I suspect that Leigh Sales had no choice but to interview Blewitt as told. The ABC used to be a media outlet you could trust. The 7pm news was untouchable for accurate reporting and we all knew that. Now, it’s full of comment, innuendo and just a plain lack of understanding. Similarly with the 7.30 report, where Kerry O’Brien understood what he was talking about and if the interviewee got it wrong, he was quickly brought to account. Now? Confessed fraudsters, sleazebags, people with grudges given an opportunity to push their grievance and a race to the bottom with A Current Affair and Today Tonight.

    Finally, though, a question to the press gallery. Will you now apply the same standards you’re setting for the PM to all political leaders?

    No, I thought not.

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