Seat of the week: Wills

Located in Melbourne’s middle north, Wills was once home to Bob Hawke, is now home to Kelvin Thomson, and was home in the interim to independent Phil Cleary. It has never been home to the Liberals.

Red and green numbers respectively indicate booths with two-party majorities for Labor and the Greens. Click for larger image. Map boundaries courtesy of Ben Raue at The Tally Room.

Wills covers an area of Melbourne’s middle north, from long-established Brunswick in the south and Coburg in the centre to post-war suburbs further north. Like its eastern neighbour Batman, it straddles the divide between the Greens stronghold of the inner city and the expansive Labor heartland of Melbourne’s northern suburbs. However, the former area carries lesser weight in Wills than in Batman, being confined to the area around Brunswick, which makes the seat substantially more secure for Labor. The electorate was created with the expansion of parliament in 1949, though at that time its southern end was covered by the since-abolished electorate of Burke (an unrelated electorate of the same name covered Melbourne’s outer north from 1969 to 2004). Prior to 1949, an electorate called Bourke had boundaries similar to those Wills has had since Burke was abolished in 1955. Labor’s strength in the area was established early, with Bourke being held by either Labor or socialist independents from 1910 until it was abolished.

The inaugural member for Wills was Bill Bryson, who had won Bourke for Labor in 1943 before losing to an independent in 1946. Bryson was among seven Victorian “groupers” who were expelled from the party during the split of 1955, and he contested that year’s election as the candidate of the Australian Labor Party (Anti-Communist), which would shortly evolve into the Democratic Labor Party. However, Bryson was defeated by Labor candidate Gordon Bryant, who went on to serve as Aboriginal Affairs Minister in the Whitlam government. When Bryant retired in 1980, the seat was used to accommodate Bob Hawke’s long-anticipated entry to parliament, enabling him to assume the prime ministership three years later.

Hawke resigned from parliament immediately after losing the leadership in December 1991, providing Paul Keating with an early electoral test in the form of a by-election for a seat the party had never lost before. The test was failed disastrously: in a record field of 22 candidates, local football identity Phil Cleary outpolled the Labor candidate 33.5% to 29.4%, prevailing by 15.7% after preferences. The result was declared void the following November when the High Court ruled Cleary had not been qualified to nominate as his job as a teacher constituted “an office of profit under the Crown”. The imminence of the 1993 election meant no new by-election was held, but Cleary won the seat at the ensuing election by a margin of 2.4%. Cleary’s position was subsequently weakened when redistribution pushed the seat westwards, and Labor candidate Kelvin Thomson provided his party with a rare highlight at the 1996 election when he polled 50.0% of the primary vote to prevail over Cleary by 5.8% after preferences.

A member of the Labor Unity (Right) faction, Thomson entered politics as the state member for Pascoe Vale in 1988, and served in the shadow ministry following the Kirner government’s defeat in 1992. He was elevated to the federal shadow ministry in 1997, serving in portfolios including environment and regional development. However, he resigned from the front bench in March 2007 when it emerged he had given a reference to colourful Melbourne identity Tony Mokbel. From February 2013 until the government’s defeat he served as a parliamentary secretary, first in the trade portfolio and then in schools after Kevin Rudd resumed the leadership in June, after which he returned to the back bench. Thomson supported Julia Gillard in the February 2012 leadership ballot, but was among those who defected to the Rudd camp in June 2013. Together with the rest of his faction, he supported Bill Shorten in the post-election leadership contest. While Thomson’s electoral position has at all times remained secure, the Greens achieved a minor milestone at the 2013 election when they finished ahead of the Liberals to secure second place, ending up 15.2% arrears after the distribution of preferences.

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.

1,597 comments on “Seat of the week: Wills”

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  1. ModLib

    “Yes, facts are certain, but we are not talking about facts, we are talking about measurements. Measurements always have uncertainty and are approximations. Numbers, on the other hand are certain, but we are not talking about numbers here but measurements.”

    OH GOD…

    You are an idiot. Simply an idiot.

    Next you’ll be saying there’s uncertainty about everything because of Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle.

    “It is not certain that human production of CO2 is the most significant factor in global warming. It is probably true, yes. It is not certain.”

    where is the uncertainty. No hand waving or sentences that start with “I think”, because we don’t care what YOU think. Just a clear unambiguous statement about where the uncertainty lies

  2. Mod Lib

    If you had added the “it is probably true, yes” an hour ago, many words would have been saved.

    Those 5 words greatly qualify what you originally said, and now make your statement fair enough, IMHO.

  3. ML

    [The IPCC-consensus does not convey certainty, it conveys probability.]

    The logic of your distinction is nihilistic. Very little of the observable world, if anything is certain. One can have frivolous doubts about pretty much anything.

    That doesn’t mean we can’t act on matters based on high confidence that a causal relationship exists between one set of observed phenomena and some antecedents. Uncertainty does not reduce knowledge to nothing.

  4. [psyclaw
    Posted Monday, October 28, 2013 at 11:23 pm | PERMALINK
    Mod Lib

    If you had added the “it is probably true, yes” an hour ago, many words would have been saved.

    Those 5 words greatly qualify what you originally said, and now make your statement fair enough, IMHO.]

    Ahem…try 4 hours ago (!), not 1 hour ago:

    [Mod Lib
    Posted Monday, October 28, 2013 at 7:30 pm | PERMALINK
    Posted Monday, October 28, 2013 at 7:25 pm | PERMALINK

    Gosh, and medical researchers told us that certain medicines were safe, when it turned out they weren’t.

    AGW is about the soundest scientific theory we have.

    This is an example of the hyperbole to which I have been referring!

    If by AGW you are saying that the average temperatures are rising on long term trends, then yes, there is no doubt about that, and that human activity has increased CO2, yes, and that CO2 increases temperatures, yes.

    If by AGW you are saying that human CO2 generation is the most significant factor driving temperatures higher then no, that has not reached the level of certainty. For example, CO2 continues to rise, whereas temperatures have not for the last 15 years. yes, it is probably just a blip, and temperatures will likely skyrocket soon to catch up for the blip and continue the trend…..but they might not. Something else might be happening that we have not worked out yet.

    To say that everything is as certain as gravity is taking it a bit far IMO!]

    …not that it makes any difference….look at what has happened for the last 4 hours! :devil:

  5. Psyclaw

    No, what he said is still wrong, even with that caveat. See my post at 1556.

    The reason he is wrong is because he doesn’t care enough to check before making a claim. And then when people start telling him he is wrong, he pretends he was talking about something else. And then he tries to make it into some weird ‘we can’t know anything’ rubbish…

  6. Mod Lib

    I can’t find where you said earlier that human contribution is probably the most significant factor (in AGW).

    Now that you have expressly said so towards the bottom of last page I find myself in agreement with your statement there.

  7. [Astrobleme
    Posted Monday, October 28, 2013 at 11:29 pm | PERMALINK
    Sorry I should say that Figure 8-15 is on page 120]

    Yes, I have seen this figure before, probably from the last time you directed me to it in fact!!

    I understand that there is consensus that CO2 is the predominant factor and the current measures show that it is responsible for most of the measured global warming and that the IPCC report has attached increasing levels of certainty to this over time.

    All I have said is that this has not reached the level of certainty. Highly likely? Yes. See my post above where I say that it is likely the current blip will correct over recent years.

    The difference between you and I is that I am not certain that it will correct, I just think it is highly likely.

    If it doesn’t revert to the trendline, you are certainly going to have a lot of egg on your face after tonight!

    If it does revert to the trendline then we are both right. 🙂 agreed?

  8. And for the record, 15 years ago was … 1998. That was an El Nino year. El Ninos are not, at this stage anyway, attributed to AGW.

    Using that year as a reference year is misleading because that was anomalously warm for reasons unconnected, as far as science can tell, with AGW.

    If the land surface temps excluding La Nina years are all as warm as a serious El Nino year, then that’s significant rather than some sort of hiatus in warming.

  9. Ok Modlib

    I can’t help you anymore.

    You can add the word ‘uncertainty’ to anything you want to talk about if you like, but that doesn’t make it uncertain.

    It’s obvious you have no idea what you are talking about, but like to add the word uncertainty, because it makes it sort of sound like you know what you’re talking about. If you knew what it was you would be able to explain where the uncertainty lies.

    You can’t because you don’t know. Or maybe I should say you’re uncertain…

  10. Thanks Fran!

    I sent ModLib to a webpage describing cherry picking, but to no avail. Good to see more back up. Perhaps eventually modlib will attempt to understand.

  11. [1180
    Posted Monday, October 28, 2013 at 6:10 pm | PERMALINK

    Posted Monday, October 28, 2013 at 5:44 pm | Permalink


    I need you tomorrow morning please don’t leave my apprentiiceship doesn’t allow me to work on my own

    ——————————————————– Hi Mari – thank you but I’m publically apologising sincerely to you for deserting my post on here. I tried my best to fill in for BK – and add an occasional “bit of levity” but I guess I am not on the *protected species* list like Sean T. and was told to get lost by William.

    Hopefully some other PB’s will help you out tomorrow – please….

    Miss you all ….. even the trolls ….]

    That’s a bit sad. :(. I thought the deputy DPs were doing a great job.

  12. Hey guys!

    The mothership from Idiotville has brought me here again (as Badcat said the other day)… the PM is riding high on 47% approval in Newspoll just out now.

    I expect the mothership to collect me again soon.

  13. [prettyone
    Posted Monday, October 28, 2013 at 11:46 pm | PERMALINK
    Hey guys!

    The mothership from Idiotville has brought me here again (as Badcat said the other day)… the PM is riding high on 47% approval in Newspoll just out now.]

    Yes, quite an astonishing result… is the 56-44.

    Good night all.

  14. It’s based on 2010 preference allocations so some caution is required however the primary vote shows a bounce for the Coalition

  15. Ten warmest years in the instrumental record, by comparison with the 1901-2000 average:


    9/10 of the warmest years are in the decade starting 2002, which is only the third warmest in this century. No hiatus there. The exception is the El Nino year, 1998.

  16. “Has that Mothership from Idiotville…room for a more idiots…in that case take Sean and CC ??
    Blast off !!!”

    Only if they are good looking, otherwise I’ll blast off with someone else.

    Now where’s that Mr Bowe, I’ve got to ask him about the banner (again…)

  17. [I expect the mothership to collect me again soon.]

    Good. I hope you can give ML, ST, M77, and your mate CC a lift as well.

    And that it crashes enroute.

  18. The banner will be updated now that Newspoll has confirmed the election win pretty one. Best tell that mother ship you will be hanging around for a while yet so they may as well slip over to Alpha Centuri for a visit and pick you up on the way back.

  19. Hey Petty one! Can you get the crikey technical pixies some casual work maintaining the mother-ship from Idiotville?? They could do with expanding their hoeizons in the name of a worthy cause.

  20. carey @1553

    What’s the context?

    Hold on a sec!

    I thought the honeymoon was over?

    The rorting was supposed to have destroyed Abbott already.

    So what’s the playbook say?

    A weeks a long time in politics and it’s 3 years to the next election.

    The ALP hasn’t released any policy yet.

    Wait for the budget. . .

  21. david – can’t say I put a lot of weight in the approval rating thing but the lefties here used to love spruiking it when Abbott was lower then Rudd/Gillard so it’s worth throwing it back in their faces.

  22. dwh

    Its Newspoll look how far out they were due to not including mobiles in polling. At election.

    More importantly the voters are asleep so giving their own choice at the election a tick.

    Just remember as Miranda has shown that can change pretty fast

  23. CC apparently an incumbent PM should get an automatic lift in PPM. Basically things are now normalish after the last three years when little made sense.

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