Seats of the week: Dunkley and Macquarie

This week: one Liberal marginal in outer Melbourne, and another in outer Sydney.

Another double header in our ongoing scramble to cover potential Coalition-held seats of interest.

Dunkley (Liberal 1.1%)

Dunkley covers an area of bayside Melbourne about 40 kilometres from the city centre which has been effectively unchanged by the redistribution. It consists of two distinct electoral parts, with Labor-leaning Frankston and its northern coastal neighbour Seaford slightly outweighed by blue-ribbon Mount Eliza immediately to the south. The electorate further extends south to Liberal-leaning Mornington along the coast, and inland to marginal Langwarrin. The north-south electoral cleavage reflects a straightforward divide in incomes, the area being notably Anglo at both ends.

Dunkley was created with the enlargement of parliament in 1984 and won for Labor on its inauguration by Robert Chynoweth, who had cut short Peter Reith’s brief first stint in parliament by winning Flinders for Labor at the 1983 election. Chynoweth was re-elected with a small swing in 1987 and then gained a 3.9% boost with a redistribution that shifted the electorate further north, exchanging Mornington for Chelsea. However, even this was not sufficient to hold back a tide that costs Labor nine Victorian seats at the 1990 election, with Liberal candidate Frank Ford gaining the seat off a 6.8% swing. Chynoweth ran again in 1993 and emerged a surprise winner, securing a slender 0.6% margin after a 1.9% swing. Hope for another term was effectively dashed when a new redistribution effectively undid the last, leaving Chynoweth defending a negative margin at a losing election.

The seat has since been held for the Liberals by Bruce Billson, who by the 2004 election had built enough of a buffer to survive the reverse that has played out with 5.3% and 3.0% swings over successive elections. Billson rose to the outer ministry portfolio of veterans affairs in the last two years of the Howard government and then to the front bench in opposition, but he was demoted to the outer ministry by Malcolm Turnbull after backing other horses in leadership ballots. He would return in the small business portfolio when Tony Abbott became leader in December 2009, holding it and related portfolios ever since. His Labor opponent is Sonya Kilkenny, a commercial lawyer from Seaford.

Macquarie (Liberal 1.3%)

Located on the western fringes of Sydney, Macquarie combines the solidly Liberal-voting Hawkesbury River area around Richmond and Windsor and Labor-voting communities on the Great Western Highway through the Blue Mountains. The seat has existed in name since federation but has changed substantially voer its history, having originally been concentrated on Bathurst and Lithgow. Those areas came to be accommodated by Calare after the 1977 and 1984 redistributions, the latter effecting further change by transferring Penrith and St Marys to the new seat of Lindsay. Macquarie briefly resumed its former dimensions between 2007 and 2010, when Calare moved deep into the state’s interior to cover the abolition of Gwydir and Macquarie lost the Hawkesbury area to Greenway. This resulted in a brief interruption to a Liberal hold on the seat going back to 1996, which was resumed in 2010 when Louise Markus succeeding in transferring to the seat from unfavourably redistributed Greenway.

Macquarie’s most famous former member is Ben Chifley, who was born and raised in Bathurst and first elected to the seat in 1928. Chifley was voted out in the 1931 landslide, twice failing to recover the seat before finally breaking through in 1940. Labor thereafter held the seat without interruption until the dark days of 1975 and 1977, with Ross Free recovering the seat with Labor’s improved performance in 1980. Free jumped to the new seat of Lindsay when parliament was enlarged in 1984, which took in the strong Labor areas of Penrith and St Marys. The slender margin left to Labor in Macquarie was erased by a slight swing at the 1984 election, and the seat held for the Liberals for the next three terms by Alasdair Webster. Maggie Deahm won the seat for Labor in 1993 by 164 votes, a margin that was easily accounted for by a 6.5% swing to Liberal candidate Kerry Bartlett when the Keating government was dumped in 1996. Bartlett’s margin progressed from 4.1% at the 1998 election to 8.9% at the 2004 election, at which point the aforementioned redistribution pulled the rug from under his feet.

Macquarie now had a notional Labor margin of 0.5%, to which the locally familiar Bob Debus added another 6.6% as Kevin Rudd led Labor to office. The Hawkesbury area meanwhile came to be represented Louise Markus, a former Hillsong Church community worker who in 2004 won the seat of Greenway for the Liberals for the first time since it was created in 1984. The redistribution then inflated her margin in Greenway from 0.6% to 11.0%, of which 4.5% remained after the 2007 election. The effect of the 2010 redistribution was even more pronounced, producing a 10.2% shift to Labor in Greenway while all but eliminating Labor’s margin in Macquarie. Upon jumping ship for Macquarie, where her task was aided by Debus’s retirement, Markus picked up a relatively mild swing of 1.5% that was nonetheless sufficient to secure her a margin of 1.2%. Markus meanwhile was promoted to the outer shadow ministry portfolio of veterans affairs in September 2008, but dropped after the 2010 election.

Labor’s election for the second successive elections is Susan Templeman, principal of Templeman Consulting, who promotes herself as “one of the country’s leading media trainers and coaches”.

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.

644 comments on “Seats of the week: Dunkley and Macquarie”

Comments Page 13 of 13
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  1. dave

    Posted Saturday, July 27, 2013 at 8:26 pm | Permalink


    RETIRED South African archbishop Desmond Tutu says he would rather go to hell than worship a homophobic God.

    Those anglicans…..
    Given Abbott’s dictatorial edict that the Liberals vote against SSM I deduce that his G*d is homophobic…

  2. [you don’t need to be able to spell when you are ace at making stuff up and deceiving yourself!]

    I’m not deceiving myself at all.

    I can only conclude from your comments that you are trolling. In which case I will give your comments the response they deserve.

  3. Hockey is bullshitting wrt costings. He is trying to have a bob each way and ping the govt into the bargain.

    Not good enough.

  4. AA @7:44pm – interesting post. The end of the Pacific Solution was bipartisan and seemed like the best thing to do at the time in terms of our migration program and our international obligations. No one as far as I remember foresaw the cunning and ruthlessness of criminal gangs in Indonesia as they developed their business model and ramped it up to an industrial scale. Was it the wrong decision? Maybe. Or maybe the Pacific Solution would have been overwhelmed. One thing remained constant – the ruthlessness of the Opposition in exploiting the issue for crass political purposes. They sank the Malaysia option because they were afraid it might work. Joe Hockey the hypocrite crying crocodile tears although he had no problem sending asylum seekers to Nauru when it was ‘t a signatory or turning boats back on the high seas to an uncertain future. Now the ‘Liberals’ are giving aid and comfort to the criminal gangs through trying to ‘jawbone’ down the PNG solution while coming up with a bizarre reorganisation of the military and another 3 word slogan as their contribution. The liberals are a disgrace

    P.S. I’m also in Joe Hockey’s electorate but never have or never would vote for him.

  5. AussieAchmed@601


    Posted Saturday, July 27, 2013 at 8:26 pm | Permalink


    RETIRED South African archbishop Desmond Tutu says he would rather go to hell than worship a homophobic God.

    Those anglicans…..
    Given Abbott’s dictatorial edict that the Liberals vote against SSM I deduce that his G*d is homophobic…

    Without a doubt – ‘straight’ 🙂 from pell….unless of course it involve altar boys and the like – anyone who cannot fight back.

  6. GG

    It doesn’t bode well at all for Essendon playing in the finals.

    I wonder if Essendon are going to dump Demetriou in it when they go down.

  7. confessions @ 569

    Gillard was not knifed.

    She called a party ballot. There were two candidates.

    Gillard lost.

    You should be over the grieving process by now.

    Your Rudd hatred is obvious in every post.

  8. Diogs,

    The cheap shot agaisnst Demetriou by the Hird camp is a sign of their desperation.

    It will not end well for the Hird herd.

    Carlton may be the first and only team to win the Premiership from 9th position this year once Essendon are stripped of all their points.

  9. confessions@607

    Hockey is bullshitting wrt costings. He is trying to have a bob each way and ping the govt into the bargain.

    Not good enough.

    He is setting the scene so that he can avoid producing costings.


    Its all so transparent.

    The only question is whether the non newscorp media will front him on it.

    ABC probably will not. In the name of – what do thay call it ?

    errr – balance.


    abbott still not being called out when he runs away from pressers. Our fearless media rollover…..

  10. GG

    Hird knows he’s in an awful lot of trouble. I think he’s just waiting to be put out of his misery.

    I notice Evans actually said he wanted to spend more time at his work which departs from the usual script.

  11. PTMD
    The 8pm gremlins ate my comments butwe are in agreement re the faces of TA etc after the election will be priceless add MODLIB(who will be claiming his boy MT would have won) and of course baby Sean spitting his dummy etc

    Hope you are just about 100% now

  12. Dave,

    50% is Peak Labor. They haven’t got over 50% for about 3 years now except for the occasional rogue morgan.

    Labor can’t win on 50%, Rudd should end the madness and just announce the bloody election!

  13. 50-50 seems about where it is. Only Newspoll showed a slight move back to the Coalition, but we have now had three polls released since that have not shown any such move. Labor have a very genuine shot at pulling this off, but I still believe their best chance is to go soon.

  14. Diogs,

    The President’s role is more the spruiker and heart and soul of the Club. So Evans going would normally not be a huge deal. However, Essendon sacked Robson their CEO months ago. They now face the most difficult period of all with no one steering the ship.

    Be ready for unrelenting whingeing from Windy Hill. It’s going to be a big one.

  15. Steve777

    Posted Saturday, July 27, 2013 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

    AA @7:44pm – interesting post.

    One of the reasons put forward by the Liar Monk Abbott was that Malaysia was not a signatory of the UN Convention.

    Yet Nauru, the country that Abbott was promoting and supported as an option for asylum seekers was not a signatory during the Pacific Solution period.

    They did not sign the UN convention until June 2011.

    Just another example of the Liberal lying and hypocricy

  16. “@rhysam: Polling, the short version:
    ALP are in the game. Big time. Cue various businesses laying sizable hedge bets. #auspol”

  17. Lizzie:

    [Fran, crikey whitey, OzPolT

    I’d like to add my appreciation for many thoughtful posts and links from such as you.]

    I’m glad you find them worthwhile. I enjoy setting them down.

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