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. An item from “Counterpunch” on the recent visit of Clinton to Perth and her inspection of her underlings in the Oz Government…and their compliance with all of Washington’s wishes
    As the article shows …Keating his credit ..pointed out the folly of our policies which pit us against China in any clash with the US
    we are the most compliant sattelite…a bit like the old East German regime’s subserviant ties with Moscow

  2. Henry – maybe he does, but I think AAP released an article at 10pm (way too early) once by accident, and he commented here about it.

    I expect he works somewhere in the media (maybe not directly, tech support?), as Ghost probably does too, but somewhere else.

  3. fiona:


    As the owner of large dogs, I’m well familiar with the steaming divet so to speak.

    Fortunately I’ve trained my lot to do their business up the back of the yard which doesn’t need mowing as it gets no sun at all. 🙂

  4. Energex ‏@Energex

    Since 10am yesterday, crews have restored power to 100,000 customers in SEQ. Crews still working to restore the remaining 3,000 customers.

  5. z
    [my beloved super sized kelpie went through a stage where she accidentally killed chooks (she loved to carry them around, despite us trying to persuade her it wasn’t a good idea).]

    Choox are crazy smart and will frighten their stupid selves to death and your Kelpie likely only wanted to play. The trick is to convince Dog that they are YOUR choox and not her playthings which usually costs a chook, maybe two, but once the Message is Understood there are no further issues.

    Most dogs particularly Kelpies, Heelers and Shepherds are intelligent working dogs and need exercise and stimulation without which they become bored and mischievous. I bought a mountain bike a couple of years ago and BigDog takes us for a brisk, couple of kilometres run down to the local dogpark to socialise with her mates, then home again by which time we are both tired and thirsty, the perfect outcome. 😆

    She’s currently snoozing at my feet but the radar ears never cease ……

  6. Fiona # 1249, thanks. May have shared the story here a while ago, same dog was quite scared of water but nonetheless saved me from drowning in the Nepean when I was 15 …

  7. Oakeshott Country@1228

    The original coroner’s inquest of the Chamberlain’s got it right.

    Having said that I must say I recently read a coroner’s report where I thought there had been negligence. I could see the point where the coroner did not ask the vital question ( why did you leave the patient ?) and the findings were less damning than they should have been.

    Part of the problem in such cases is usually a gross inequality of representation.

    The relatives of the deceased will be totally outgunned by lawyers representing the Dr, hospital, health department and any others on that side. All funded by the taxpayer or insurance while the relatives foot their own bill.

    It is a disgrace.

  8. deblonay @ 1251

    I loved this about the unreflective Gillard-Abbott

    [The formula went to script – the usual unreflective Australian views, and the all revealing American perceptions about power in the Asia-Pacific.}

    [Clinton is keen on the mutual building of “a more mature and effective multilateral architecture for the region that can help settle disputes peacefully, promote universal rights (and) greater trade and commerce within an economic system that is open, free, transparent and fair” (Bordermail, Nov 14). This is striking, given the fact that such trade arrangements being negotiated – the Trans-Pacific Partnership being foremost on the agenda – has proven to be highly secretive, an enemy of free expression and potentially stifling for non-American companies. The aim of the arrangement is to punish online piracy, and the true enemy lurking in the detail is China – and other powers and citizens who refuse to abide by the US anti-counterfeiting regime.]

    When I was young it was “all the way with LBJ” but that was a Liberal Party Anthem. How the once great ALP has declined when the contest is now between who can be the most “unreflective”, Gillard or Rudd!!

    No intelligent person would consider Abbott is capable of reflection.

  9. Henry,

    Oh alright then.

    When my daughter was in Year 5, one of their science projects was to “hatch” a hen’s egg and rear the subsequent chicken for approx two weeks. At the end of that time, the children could take the chicken home, or else it would go to the “home for adopted chickens” (yeah, you know what that means).

    My daughter’s fowl – Indiana Jones by name – was a rather fetching bitza which OH and I described as a Grey Orpington. We eventually succumbed to both daughter’s and chook’s pleadings, and built a chook run in the back garden. But you cannot have a hen all by her lonesome, so the next step was to find a friend.

    An outing to the Vic Markets provided an admirable friend: a Rhode Island Red who was instantly (by daughter) named Hazelnut.

    Anyway, Hazelnut and Indi lived together in mutual friendship and many eggs (all of which we appreciated) for a bit over two years. Then Hazelnut got eggbound. We provided all the treatment that was reasonable, but one afternoon the poor lassie died – keeled over in the middle of the run, with her left wing spreadeagled.

    The Top Rooster (aka OH) ventured into the run to remove the body – which was given appropriate burial in the part of the garden reserved for dead pets.

    Indiana Jones was distraught. Ran about like a little mad thing for a couple of hours. Then – suddenly – she lay down where Hazelnut died, spread out her left wing …

    We can only suppose that somewhere in that so-called birdbrain she decided that if that’s what she had to do to follow Hazelnut, she’d do it.

    And, to be honest with you, Henry, this was the anecdotal evidence that started me on a bit of research to establish that bird-brains have a lot more going for them than we stupid humans might think.

  10. [1219
    Posted Sunday, November 18, 2012 at 10:04 pm | Permalink


    I don’t know whether you caught any of ABC Classic’s Song and Dance program this…]

    Sadly, was busy ….accounts….no wireless….but the program sounds excellent…

  11. Marrickville Mauler@1238

    Even a small dog with ‘personality’ is a deterrent

    muttley#1200 – sadly didnt work that way when some low life broke in to our place as kids and stole , amongst other things, my grandfather’s medals. We found our very big golden retriever hiding and whimpering. Early comments about her limited abilities as guard dog dropped off when we saw the marks (including blood) indicating the cretins had coshed her.

    Have always hoped they came upon a Rottie or even worse the next house they came to.

    I hope they come across three.

  12. confessions @ 1224…..I agree….one thing that struck me was R’s appearance: very pale, bit puffy in the face …not so full of vitality…maybe the lighting and make-up didn’t work for him…

  13. @Puff

    Small world! Thomas McIlroy was in the same homeroom as me at De La Salle College in Malvern.

    Weird to see his name pop up here!

  14. Centre @ 1244

    I have already written to Santa. If I have been good, Dopey Joe gets the job, if I have been really really good, it goes to Mesma.

    You might have been a pr**k because it is going to Malcolm.

  15. Mod Lib

    [I am afraid all this shows is that you do not understand statistics.

    52-48 to the ALP is exactly the same as 49-51 to the LNP if the poll has a margin of error of 3%.

    Exactly the same.]

    What an embarrassing load of hogwash.

    Assuming 3% MOE and using Mod Lib’s ‘logic’ it follows that:
    46-54 is exactly the same as 49-51
    43-57 is exactly the same as 46-54
    40-60 is exactly the same as 43-57
    and so on until finally:
    1-99 is exactly the same as 99-1

    Makes you wonder why anyone bothers with polls at all 🙂

    BTW, ML, ts called reductio ad absurdum. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to trot it out…I haven’t used it in years.

  16. [Australian negotiators are famous for being rolled in Washington, and they have managed, in their denser moments, to play a very small second fiddle in the power game. These recent talks have simply confirmed that fact. Australia, as Keating now terms it, is the grand “derivative” power, rather than one assertive, diplomatic and skilful in navigating between Beijing and Washington. Never you mind what Chinese state-owned media have claimed – that Canberra risks being “caught in the crossfire” of US and Chinese confrontation. Australia is the somnambulist of Asia – and it may well pay a very heavy price when it wakes up.]

  17. Muttley McG,

    Given that alpacas (and llamas?) are now being used as protectors of some herds, do you have any knowledge about how they interact with traditional protective/herding dog breeds?

  18. Puff #1267, thanks.

    Our retriever was a present from my highly eccentric grandmother, apparently the dog was the runt of a pedigree litter all the rest of whom went on to be champion gun dogs, guide dogs etc.

    We only called her by her full name “Ledora Kyvalley Sovereign” if she was in trouble! Honey the dog,gone over 30 years ago but not forgotten.

  19. Marrickville Mauler,

    [Honey the dog,gone over 30 years ago but not forgotten.]

    I still sometimes wake up crying, missing my one and only dog Pandora Casa Verde, aka Imp.

  20. MM

    I share your anger but Retrievers are not necessarily protective by nature. There’s a special corner of hell reserved for those who mistreat animals and children.

    I’d like your burglars to visit here and meet BigDog who turns from big soppy sooky loving puppydog into frightening angry growling snarling menace when she feels we are threatened as a couple of doorknockers have found out. We were gobsmacked the first time she lit up but reassured at the same time.

    It is a bloody awful thing when we can’t be safe in our own homes and Police response often leaves a lot to be desired.

  21. Mod Lib doesn’t know anything about polls. He’s made well over a hundred posts that Labor faces oblivion with Gillard as leader, based on polls!

  22. briefly:

    More interested in whether McTiernan could be persuaded to run again in Canning.

    WA laws don’t preclude state MPs also being local govt members.

  23. …after the Obama win PB seems just a little dull and predictable. Same old posters. Same old certainties.
    Think I’ll check out ’till the election is called.

    Bye folks…….good luck Julia!

  24. My guesses…..Labor PV continues to improve (1 or 2 points), LNP PV drifting (also 1-2 points), Greens and Others static, 2PP up a point for ALP. PPM shifting a net 6-8 points in favour of JG. Abbott’s net-sat sagging by another 6 points, JG net-sat at all time high….

  25. Muttley, you might have read some of it, there is a fascinating literature on who domesticated who, with the balance of opinion as far as I can tell being that the dogs worked it out first. Likewise cats for that matter.

  26. So let me get this straight…
    The hen lays an egg regardless right?
    But the rooster has to fertilise the egg to make a chick?
    How does the rooster mate with the hen. Same old leg over?

  27. [1285
    Posted Sunday, November 18, 2012 at 11:03 pm | Permalink


    More interested in whether McTiernan could be persuaded to run again in Canning.

    WA laws don’t preclude state MPs also being local govt members.]

    I like AT very much. She is a dynamo and quite fearless. She is not flavour of the month inside the factions, but she is a very distinctive and smart campaigner. I have no idea of she would run again…..why not Cowan, Hasluck or Stirling?

  28. 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.

  29. There are plenty of seats in WA that are winnable in the right circumstances…. not the least being that KR is never allowed near the leadership again…

  30. [why not Cowan, Hasluck or Stirling?]

    Her former state seat took in parts of Canning, mostly to the north of the electorate. She reigned in Randall’s margin somewhat last time, so there’s the possibility she could make further inroads a second time.

    I think she’s marvelous, and wish she’d run again, but recognise she’s probably ensconced in her new role and reluctant to go federal any time soon.

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