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”

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  1. I might be able to stomach watching the two of them if I have a stiff drink or three, or schedule an hour of meditation afterwards.

  2. [I saw the teaser with Bolt/Rudd. Bolt leaning forward aggressively.]

    Look like Rudd was poking a stick at a caged monkey, and having fun at it.

  3. TP
    A week is a long time in politics, the whole election campaign was ahead. JG would have demolished Abbott.

  4. The reason why I’m following the ghost who votes on Twitter is to get the figures from a reliable source. Until the Ghost tweets it I don’t believe it, unless William posts first.

  5. [sprocket_
    Posted Saturday, July 27, 2013 at 7:05 pm | PERMALINK
    I think it would be a massive stretch by # NewsCorpse and The Liberal Brains Trust to dump Abbott now. But if people are desperate enough…

    My tip is a “Dream Team” of Hockey Leader, Turnbull as Treasurer. You read it here first.]

    Well, you can get 320:1 on Hockey being the next elected PM if you want it……


  6. Bolt is also entirely gutless. Won’t run for parliament when he quite possibly could and get a seat, makes him a coward in my view.

  7. TP,

    I don’t know whether Rudd stands to gain much from a later election. But I’m fairly sure that an earlier one won’t advantage Rudd.

    I’d like to see someone here give a better analysis of how voters think and behave.

    As for the youth vote. The questions are a) whether we are actually going to get more young voters registered this time and b) whether the polls are actually in error because of this factor. I don’t know.

  8. Watching Rudd pussyant around with Abbott is boring compared to watching him get flayed alive by Gillard.

  9. I pray that the Galaxy showing Rudd ahead 53% is true, that way Rudd the Dudd will call a snap election

    Then when reality hits it’s an outlier it’ll be too late

  10. Abbott
    “Because we won’t be replacing all the copper there will be more mobile phone towers that can operate”.

    Couldn’t get no higher but that’s what they are aiming at.

    Liberal policy:
    Smoke more dope
    eat those mushrooms.

  11. Puff

    A week is a long time in politics, the whole election campaign was ahead. JG would have demolished Abbott.”

    If a week’s a long time how do you quantify two and a half years’ worth of absolutely dismal polling?

    Sure, a week is a long time. But the harrowing thing is the adage works both ways, maybe Julia’s polling hadn’t even bottomed out yet.

    And I still much prefer Julia to Kevin. She was headed for one hell if a shellacking though.

  12. [I want Gillard back Rudd is obnoxious…]

    I can remember the scenes in parliament when Rudd won the first time. They were a completely obnoxious out of control rabble. Just image how feral they will go if Rudd won this time around.

    The Liberals would go totally insane if Rudd won this election. They would go troppo and embarrass themselves so much you might get Rudd for a decade. LoL

  13. In fact I want Rudd to win soley for the fascination of the Liberals reaction. Not to mention the Liberal media.

  14. TP
    If termite wins the election, and he carries on like before, the people will want to vote him out like they did before. Maybe that is the only reason they want him back in the Lodge, so they can kick him out.

  15. Puff

    The people didn’t want him out last time (2010). He had dropped to 52/48 but would have beaten Abbott in the run to the poll. The ALP nearly lost because he was deposed.

  16. AussieAchmed

    Posted Saturday, July 27, 2013 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

    Sean – explain what is wrong with the Australian economy.

    Convince me, see if you can get me to agree and I’ll vote Liberal.

    Sean…SEAN…where are you?

    Avoiding answering?
    Unable to substantiate your claims?

    I deduce from your refusal to respond you were lying about the economy?

    Or, and this is the one that has me all upset and crying in my bundy…you don’t want my vote….:-(

  17. Gillard would have won that election, just like she did all the things people said she would never do.

    I never doubted it, and I still do not doubt it. So I operate from the point of view that a certain ALP election win has been sacrificed to service Rudd’s ambition.

    Now the gamble may pay off, and it had better, because of the price paid to place the wager.

  18. Puff:

    You and confessions, can spend the rest of your lives in the comfortable knowledge that Gillard was storming to an historic election victory.

    Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise 😉

  19. When Rudd loses… which he will… PTMD will be here every night boring everyone completely crapless that Gillard would have won in a stunning landslide but Rudd stole an election win from Labor.

    Can’t wait

  20. Puff

    Former PMJG had Murdoch et. al. entrenched against her. Abbott had played the negative game for three years. Her worst 6 months were her last 6 months. She was unable to recover, but I guess some believe a certain man walked on water.
    Her legacy is what we’re now fighting to protect. We should thank PMKR for that if he succeeds.

  21. BK – confirmed

    ABC News 24 ‏@ABCNews24 11m
    BREAKING: The chairman of Essendon Football Club David Evans has just resigned

  22. paine

    yes liberal reaction interesting but enough negativity – i wont fresh possibilities and honestly rudd is best chance of that … 55/45 in election please

  23. Aussie thanks I am enjoying myself off shortly to see other rellies for lunch
    AND I meant what I said about your comments they are very very good and to the point

  24. Puff

    Sorry I forget JG also had the “Nostradamus” of politics – ST against her too! That’s if you can understand his vaguely Abbott-esque Facts.

  25. Sean Tisme@534

    When Rudd loses… which he will… PTMD will be here every night boring everyone completely crapless that Gillard would have won in a stunning landslide but Rudd stole an election win from Labor.

    Can’t wait

    Well. If Labor win, you have stated you will move to NZ.

    Will you move if abbott loses another ‘unloseable election’?

    Is that firm, no bullshit or just blowing wind out your backside?

    While were at it, FFS just change your Bludger name back to ‘truthie’ and be done with.

    Some honesty for once from a tory.

  26. Sean

    Why haven’t you taken up AA’s challenge?

    You can get 1 extra vote for Abbott (will not be enough to change the result though)

  27. lizzie
    Rudd is as boring as bat-guano. His stuff is scripted and he can go off the rails if left to his own devices, like that embarrassing salute to Bush Jnr. (My skin crawls just remembering it. Things like that started my disenchantment with Rudd.)

    He is a good debater against the likes of Abbott and can deliver a good one liner.

    He is useful, but not brilliant. He apparently is good for harvesting the Chinese demographic votes. He may also appeal to cultures who traditionally do not have females in leadership positions and so would not vote for women or for a pary led by a female.

    So there is a lot of bits he can pick up, plus he has the history of being the rescuer, and people want a rerun of the hoopla of 2007.

    Of course now we are assured of a win, the next problem is to manage the victory. Firework rockets that burn bright and showy tend to fall back to earth very quickly as empty shells.

  28. [Why did the liberals vote to end the pacific solution?]

    Are you, Dave and AA the same person or just doing a tag team act?

  29. whether jg would have won or not is impossible to predict. anything could have happened. She may have announced the png solution to fanfare or ridicule, or caught abbott doing summit so amazingly dumb that Mal took over. Its pure speculation.

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