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. How desperate is news ltd going , is Abbott and the coalition polling that badly

    News ltd has to continue to personal attack the prime minister

  2. In case you missed it on the old thread.

    Good morning Dawn Patrollers.
    And the SMH continues to look under the rocks for spiders.
    Another Liberal Incubator comes under scrutiny for misogynistic behaviour inculcation.
    Do I detect an element of ridicule of Tone in this article?
    A good AFR article on Abbott connection with the Catholic church.
    Richard Ackland writes about last week’s decision to reduce the penalties on some James Hardie directors.
    Mike Carlton magnificently excoriates Pell in this contribution.
    Leunig has a cartoon of a classical bent.

    Ron Tandberg continues on the same subject.

  3. UK byelection

    [Thursday was the most dismal day in the recent history of British democracy. Almost every wooden spoon turnout record in the electoral record book looks to have got woodener. The lowest turnout in a peacetime byelection in the universal suffrage era? That’s now Thursday’s 18.16% in the Manchester Central byelection.

    This week’s elections are the reedy voice of a country whose attachment to the main political parties is thin. Both major parties lost PCC contests they hoped to win – the Tories in Surrey and a humiliated Lord Prescott in Humberside. The Lib Dems had a drubbing on all fronts – another lesson from which conclusions will have to be drawn. The public embraced independents where they seemed credible]

  4. As if she had enough questions to answer on S&G, now…

    [ Statement dices with danger
    Gillard’s statement on the conflict in Gaza and Israel raises questions. ]

    Is running as a teaser on the f/p of the SMH site.

  5. Julia Gillard was out of the country, wasn’t she? In Bali? Meeting with world leaders?

    There’d been a TV interview on Lateline, true, but that was only about a week before, right?

    You don’t just decide to have Royal Commissions overnight, do you?

    So, after a few days of everyone not quite knowing what was going on she comes home and convenes a meeting of the Cabinet (y’know, that pesky “Cabinet government” thing?) and we’re going to have a big investigation into EVERYTHING.

    So WHAT is is THIS twaddle about?

    [ The Gillard government’s first response to the distressing and alarming ABC interview of Detective Chief Inspector Peter Fox about paedophilia was to deflect, procrastinate and evade.

    …the instinct to inertia was clear.

    She was prepared to empathise but not to act.

    …the pressure on Gillard mounted as the day went on.–again-20121116-29heq.html#ixzz2CQG0hDPA ]

    Complete with a dig at Bill Shorten:

    [Shorten had wanted a royal commission but dutifully did as he was told and hewed to the government line.]

    …and a dollop of Ruddstoration:

    [Among others, Labor’s internal opposition leader, Kevin Rudd, from Dubai, called for an inquiry.]

    plus a nasty sting in the tail…

    [Have the… independents become the moral compass of the Gillard government?]

    In answer to all these questions that must be answered all I can say is that – when Peter Hartcher is doing the asking – your guess is as good as mine.

  6. BB

    and, of course, if she had called for an RC within microseconds of the issue being raised (because anything longer than that would have been ‘procrastination’) it would have been a knee jerk populist reaction, irresponsibly committing spending for a purpose with dubious benefits at a time when the government faced incrasing financial pressures, etc etc etc

  7. In addition to the Government storming back into contention in recent months things may also be looking good on the Independent front.

    [ It is understood that Labor and Coalition opinion polling indicate that it is more likely that Mr Windsor and Mr Oakeshott will retain their seats as the impact of the carbon price is not as dire as Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said it would be, and benefits flow from programs such as the national broadband network and the health and education funding increase. ]

  8. The Murdoch inspired investigations in the UK go on, and on, and on …

    [Deputy assistant commissioner Sue Akers said that 70 storage devices were being scrutinised by officers as part of the investigation into privacy breaches, including the alleged hacking of computers and stolen mobile phones. The inquiry will finish in January next year.

    Akers, who has now retired, said the Met had still not made contact with all the victims of alleged phone hacking at the News of the World and said it was “a very significant demand on our resources”.]

  9. my say

    Posted Saturday, November 17, 2012 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    swamp rat correct

    o dear o deary me

    why do intelegent catholics have to keep educating
    we dont of course if people stuck to what this site is

  10. Wow, message from the sky: I’m emailing you from mid-air – Norwegian Air is introducing free wifi on all of their flights – from my son

  11. Gee, no wonder James Ashby and Karen Doane thought they could score jobs in the Can-Do government if they ratted on Slippper!

    Full story here:

    [PREMIER Campbell Newman and his ministers will publicly release their ministerial diaries in a move aimed at bolstering accountability after a week mired by ministerial mistakes and renewed accusations of nepotism. ]

  12. [BB

    and, of course, if she had called for an RC within microseconds of the issue being raised (because anything longer than that would have been ‘procrastination’) it would have been a knee jerk populist reaction, irresponsibly committing spending for a purpose with dubious benefits at a time when the government faced incrasing financial pressures, etc etc etc]

    Your words seem so… effortless… Zoomy.

    Are they plagiarized?

  13. A new wave of extinction is in full swing, warns Tim Flannery
    [Why should the extinction of Australian organisms concern us? The answer is almost precisely the same as to the question of why human rights are important, even when they concern people we’ll never meet. First and foremost, it is a matter of values. The demise of a bat may not weigh greatly in the balance of human wellbeing, but it speaks volumes about the human soul.

    As with human rights, extinctions beg the question of where we draw the line. If we can stand by as a species of bat is snuffed out, then why not other species as well? Can we really expect poor Indian villagers to heed our pleas to conserve the tigers that menace their livestock if we do nothing to prevent the extinction of Australian species? As with the question of torture, to open the door to the practice of extinction is to contemplate the horrific becoming routine.]

  14. CO – It’s tight.

    A year ago who would have thought that Oakeshot and Windsor would both be in with a chance of retaining their seats.

    The Nats must be gnashing their teeth!

  15. That Hartcher article is a bit of a mess. I don’t know what he was trying to say, but it comes across as a massive vote of confidence in the Independents, and approval of their support for the ALP to lead in this term. This is the key passage:

    [ And Oakeshott says that the course he and Windsor took was the harder of the options available to them when the hung parliament first presented itself to them as kingmakers – or, as it happened, queenmakers – after the 2010 election.

    “The easier path for us to take after the election would have been to make Tony Abbott prime minister, put our feet under the desk for three years as ministers in an Abbott government.

    “We would have had a massively easy re-election option because we wouldn’t have had a Liberal or Liberal-National candidate standing against us, or, if we had, they would have run all but dead.”

    And both Oakeshott and Windsor had been National MPs in their previous lives in the NSW Parliament.

    The pair knew they would anger their regional and rural constituencies by installing Gillard as prime minister. “We talked about it at the time,” but decided that the national interest required them to weight the competing policy offerings of the two parties and choosing the one they thought better.

    The pair detect a change of tone in their electorates in the past few months. They think their constituents are becoming more appreciative. “I have someone coming up to me almost daily now and saying, ‘I could have slit your throat two years ago but now I can see what you were trying to do and I’ll back you,'” Oakeshott says. ]

    And he said it in the worst possible way, or at least in the way that casts it in the worst possible light for the ALP, but he has asknowledged that a decision made by a major party needs to be a much more considered one than that taken by an independent.

    Ultimately, what Hartcher is saying is that the ALP came to the right decision, they did it with the support of key independents, and any criticisms are merely nit-picking. Amongst which he nit-picks quite a bit. For a man who spends most of his time moaning about the ALP, that’s not too bad.

  16. [The slogans that served him so well for so long are now a liability. Abbott now hesitatingly delivers the scripted one liners, seemingly worried that the words will come out all wrong. And no longer, anyway, is the media taking the slogan and running with it. More is being demanded of Abbott than at any time since he assumed the leadership.]

    Well yes, that in part explains why the OO and Sky News have been burning the rubber trying to beat up the S&G stuff – the tactics of old aren’t working anymore for Abbott.

    There was never a Plan B, the coalition just thought it could sit back, relax and just cruise into government without having to do anything.

    I’m not sure however that parading others on the front bench in front of the public is a good thing. They aren’t exactly brimming with talent.

  17. connfessions
    one passing word i dont seek to be popular here on pb or any where but
    if i was ask to chose betweeen my faith, and poloitics
    my faith would win

  18. BB

    You sprung me!!

    I confess: I was leaked the alternative article Harcher had prepared in anticipation that Gillard would trash several known conventions of Australian government and immediately call for an RC from Bali…

  19. [lizzie
    Posted Friday, November 16, 2012 at 10:09 pm | PERMALINK

    You mean I must throw away OH’s collection of paper clips???]

    You use the gently, gently approach. First move them to a different place. Then to another, closer to the door. When he can no longer find them, he will start another pile.

    Then ditch the original pile. At least it keeps the whole thing under control.

    [This little black duck
    Posted Friday, November 16, 2012 at 10:11 pm | PERMALINK

    Leaving aside, the hedonistic aspect, how is Oz faring?

    At my ripe old, I have the luxury of not caring much about a hoot about what is left for me. That is focussing my attention much more on what that which is about to come for my progeny.]

    My son gave me a birthday present when I expressed discouragement about the state of my shed, full of useless junk but which I couldn’t face sorting through.

    It was a skip. It was only there for a week, and it was parked just outside the roller door of the shed.

    It was cathartic, tossing stuff out that I knew in my heart of hearts I would never actually repair or fix up or put back into useful service or might need someday.

    I thought it was way too big, but I filled it to the brim and over.

    Posted Friday, November 16, 2012 at 10:11 pm | PERMALINK
    And biros that no longer work?

    And cardboard boxes that might come in handy for something?]

    YES, chuck the lot!

    Moreover, my father has no Scots ancestry whatsoever, and doesn’t believe in any of those standby appliances. They are all religiously switched off at the powerpoint whenever not in use. What’s more, my mother takes the battery out of her wristwatch every evening, and reinstalls it in the morning (and I’m not kidding).]

    But…. but… the microwave has to be reprogrammed with the time when it is switched off! I believe you (because it is you) when you say you are not kidding about the watch, but that is unbelievable! I even hate to reprogram my watch when daylight saving comes and goes!

    Some clocks such as watering timers I don’t change for DS, they just come on an hour later or earlier as applicable.

  20. @ my say/swamprat

    Paragraph 1376 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) states,

    “The Council of Trent summarizes the Catholic faith by declaring: “Because Christ our Redeemer said that it was truly his body that he was offering under the species of bread, it has always been the conviction of the Church of God, and this holy Council now declares again, that by the consecration of the bread and wine there takes place a change of the whole substance of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of his blood. This change the holy Catholic Church has fittingly and properly called transubstantiation (CCC, 1376).”

    I know it sounds ridiculous, but that’s my point.

  21. I am surprised that Abbott has been praised for agreeing that priests should be required to divulge details of confessions about child abuse. What Abbott said was ‘everyone must obey the law’. The media including Keane at Crikey concluded that Abbott was falling into line with overwhelming public opinion.

    I thought at the time that there was no way Abbott would go against a lifetime of belief and it was clear that his weasel statement meant nothing because the law currently exempts priests from disclosure.

    Sure enough Pell has belled the cat in today’s SMH.

    [ Catholic teaching is clear: the seal of Confession is inviolable. The law of the land is also clear. Federal and state laws protect a member of the clergy from being forced to divulge details of a religious Confession, just as it protects clients from being forced to disclose what they discuss with their lawyers.]

  22. don

    Thank you for your handy hints, but I only mentioned the tip of the iceberg. The other day I found a cardboard box with all the loose change emptied from his pockets each night over several years.

    I am considering my options 😉

  23. When will they EVER learn, like Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghan – there is NO and ever BEEN a military solution – ditto Israel/Palestina

  24. mysay
    [why do intelegent catholics have to keep educating
    we dont of course if people stuck to what this site is

    You and your fellow Catholics are not the issue, mysay. The issue is that the RC Church hierarchy has gone to extraordinary lengths to protect priests at great cost to their victims and, it would seem, continue to do so. Even such a loyal person as you would have to agree that, while other organisations are also at fault the Catholic Church is the main offender, and this horrible situation has to be stopped.

    The moral issue for you and your fellow Catholics is knowing that a part of your contributions has gone toward defending these predators, and shifting them around to avoid detection and justice.

    Any organisation is vulnerable to bad management and the Catholic Church of today is an example. It’s not about you, it’s about the way your church operates.

  25. My remarks on the Waleed Aly defence of the inviolate character of the “confessional”:

    [1. Mandatory reporting applies to all the professions — mine included — I’m a teacher. One can argue that mandatory reporting isn’t a good policy, but one cannot argue coherently that it’s a good policy from which people should be exempted on doctrinal religious grounds.
    2. As a believer in the separation of church and state and the primacy of the state law over canon law, I regard it as offensive that some religion should purport to make the state law null and void to the extent of its offence to canon law.
    3. Aly is probably right in that in practice, abusers are probably not going to confess if they think that the confessional is not inviolate. On the other hand, the inability of abusers to relieve their pain by confessing may well become too much and force them to confess to the authorities. The sort of person who confesses is one who feels guilt after all.
    4. The issue of the confessional is really about the concern people have about the culture of cover-up. To the secular mind, it’s seen as effectively being an accessory to a future crime — effectively — a criminal conspiracy approved at institutional level.
    5. Priests don’t necessarily know who is confessing, and so even if mandatory reporting applied, they’d not necessarily have any actionable information.

    In practice, I doubt breaking the confessional would substantially advance justice in the short term, though such a move would be a step towards making the Catholic Church more accountable in practice. On these grounds, I would support it.]

  26. Oh, i see @KRuddMP is on Monday #QANDA , of course, of course, it’s #Newspoll week coming up. Oh wait, we need Margie & The Kidds

  27. I can only assume, from his surname, that the distinguished Paul Kelly might be a Catholic. If Dr Pell has accepted the RoyComm, why is the Oz so firmly against it?

    [Rarely has an Australian goverment embarked on such a sensitive and vast project in profound ignorance of what it was doing, with virtually no serious policy consideration and driven entirely by politics.]
    Isn’t politics, in the end, obeying the wishes of the people?

  28. Lizzie

    [The other day I found a cardboard box with all the loose change emptied from his pockets each night over several years.]

    I’ve got an esky full!

  29. [I can only assume, from his surname, that the distinguished Paul Kelly might be a Catholic. ]

    He is often referred to here as ex DLP. I have no idea what religion he is though.

  30. lizzie@32


    Thank you for your handy hints, but I only mentioned the tip of the iceberg. The other day I found a cardboard box with all the loose change emptied from his pockets each night over several years.

    I am considering my options

    Ah, well now, that puts an entirely new perspective on things!

    The honourable thing to do is to take it down to the bank and put it through the change thingummie and get new crisp banknotes, and put them in his wallet.

    On the other hand, if he has forgotten about that particular cardboard box…. 😀

  31. “A debate about nothing”
    [MANDATORY reporting for priests in the confessional is irrelevant in fighting clergy sex abuse, because not only do paedophile priests not go to confession, no one else does either, according to senior priests.

    “That’s a big red herring – we don’t do it any more,” said respected retired Melbourne priest Eric Hodgens. “These fellows [child sex abusers] are never going to go to confession. Priests don’t even go. But back in the days when it did happen, it was a very tedious job.”

    None of the priests canvassed by Fairfax Media this week had ever heard anything startling in the confessional, and certainly not admissions of paedophile behaviour.]
    Read more:

  32. KRudd on mon night #qanda for #MSMhacks to latch on #Ruddstoration on Tue, Wed, Thu, nicely into #Newspoll weekend – u know i make sense

  33. Unfortunately, you have to count by hand, then bag in banking format amounts, all the coins and then check what day they do coin counting and take them in to be counted again by the change thingummie!

  34. The Finnigans@42

    KRudd on mon night #qanda for #MSMhacks to latch on #Ruddstoration on Tue, Wed, Thu, nicely into #Newspoll weekend – u know i make sense

    finns, that is gobbledegook. I have no idea what it means.

    Translation please?

  35. Interesting line in Mike Carlton’s article. Of all the comparisons available he chose this one.

    [Strip away the apostolic airs and he could have been a flack for James Hardie assuring the world that the dangers of the company’s asbestos products had been rather overblown.]

  36. Finns:

    Isn’t Rudd also with Turnbull? I’m hoping that just for once, the OM decide to eschew Ruddstoration hysteria in favour of some leadership speculation on the Liberal side.

  37. lizzie @ 37
    But you must admit that Kelly gets the “panicked Tony Abbott falling into line” right. Still following the Murdoch dictum though, that if Abbott has to be critiqued then Labor must be simultaneously excoriated.

  38. Space Kidette@43

    Unfortunately, you have to count by hand, then bag in banking format amounts, all the coins and then check what day they do coin counting and take them in to be counted again by the change thingummie!

    You need a better bank.

    Here in Armidale northern NSW my wife takes my change from the bowl I toss it in to the Credit Union ( and there is a big machine.

    She tosses them in a hopper, they get counted, a paper chit is spat out, she goes to the teller, who gives her the notes and change.

    Works for us!

  39. CWealth Bank has a “self service” money counting machine – works like a conveyor belt. It then gives you a print out and you take it to the teller who deposits the funds in your account, if you are an account holder, or gives you the cash less a handling fee (10% from memory) if you don’t have an account. Great fun watching the display count the coins – quite quick too.

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