Seat of the week: Scullin

After more than four decades in the hands of the Jenkins dynasty, the outer northern Melbourne seat of Scullin has passed on to Andrew Giles with the former Speaker’s retirement at the September election.

Scullin covers suburbs at the northern edge of Melbourne including Thomastown, Epping and Mill Park, from which it extends eastwards beyond the Plenty River to semi-rural outskirts and further suburban territory around Diamond Creek, a somewhat stronger area for the Liberals. The electorate traces its origins back to the seat of Darebin, which was created in 1949 to accommodate the area from Reservoir south to Preston. A seat bearing the name of Scullin existed in Melbourne’s inner north from 1955 until 1969, at which point it was abolished and the name reassigned. The newly renamed electorate of Scullin continued to cover the area immediately south of its present location, which was accommodated by Burke in the west and Diamond Valley in the east. Epping and Thomastown were absorbed by Scullin when Diamond Valley was abolished with the expansion of parliament in 1984, at which time Scullin continued to cover suburban territory around Hadfield further to the west, while the Diamond Valley area remained in McEwen. The electorate assumed its present character when the former area was exchanged for the latter with the redistribution that took effect at the 1996 election. Scullin as it has existed since 1969 has been held at all times by Labor, by margins ranging from 7.0% in 1977 to 27.6% in 1984. The current margin is 14.3%, following a 6.2% swing against Labor at the election in September.

Despite the dramatic changes in the territory it has covered, Scullin maintained continuity of representation in being held firstly by Harry Jenkins Senior from 1969 to 1986, and then by his son Harry Jenkins Junior up until the recent election. The elder Jenkins had been the state member for Reservoir from 1961 to 1969, and served as Speaker of the House of Representatives from the election of the Hawke government in 1983 until his appointment as ambassador to Spain in December 1985. His son then emerged as a compromise preselection winner after a tussle within the locally dominant Socialist Left faction, which took place against the backdrop of the events which led to its controversial figurehead Bill Hartley being expelled from the party. Jenkins faced a preselection challenge ahead of the 2007 election after the Right and hard Left reached a deal in which the latter was to back Bill Shorten’s move against factional independent Bob Sercombe in Maribyrnong, with the former to support youthful party operative Nathan Murphy in Scullin. This fell through after Sercombe agreed to go quietly, relieving pressure on Right members to fall in behind the contentious deal in support of Murphy, who has since entered state politics as a member for the upper house region of Northern Metropolitan.

Jenkins followed his father’s footsteps still further when he took on the position of Speaker after the election of the Rudd government in 2007. The Labor leadership hoped to improve their precarious position on the floor of parliament after the 2010 election by having Jenkins make way for an independent or Coalition defector, but this could not be effected until Liberal member Peter Slipper agreed to take on the position in November 2011, which proved to be a poisoned chalice for all concerned. Jenkins insisted he had abandoned the position of his own accord as he wished to resume participating in policy debate. He announced his intention to bow out of politics after serving out his term the following July. With the seat remaining a prize of the Socialist Left, there was no reported opposition to the preselection of the state faction’s secretary Andrew Giles, a Slater & Gordon lawyer and former adviser to state MPs Gavin Jennings and Lily D’Ambrosio.

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.

1,398 comments on “Seat of the week: Scullin”

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  1. Morning all, and thanks BK. Abbott’s new honour system for political expenses is about as credible as the catholic church’s Towards Acquital process for internally reporting priestly abuse.

    How can you rely on people doing “the right thing” unless you say clearly what the right thing is, then have omeone independent check it. The lack of reporting means Abbott will no more Stop the Rorts than he has Stopped the Boats.

    In both cases, Australian taxpayers will keep paying for failure.

  2. Socrates

    [How can you rely on people doing “the right thing” unless you say clearly what the right thing is]

    Indeed, although I’d couch it more in terms of the realtionship between the claimed activity and parliamentary business. You could not claim it for activity that was substantially of private benefit. Private benefit would include, but not be limited to, promotion of your re-election, fundraising for your party or some other private activity, social commitments (as distinct from being somewhwere in an official capacity), family events and so forth.

    Where an activity was claimed, the claimant would be required to submit, to the relevant office(r) of the parliament, a complete log of the activities to which the expense related, the rationale for the activity, the public benefits realised, and an evaluation of what alternatives, if any, might have realised the same ends at lesser expense in cost or time.

    These could then be examined in detail by a committee of the parliament where the claimant would report on the activity and its public benefit.

  3. [BARNABY Joyce has told colleagues his position on Tony Abbott’s front bench may prove ”untenable” if the sale of GrainCorp proceeds, but he denied threatening to resign.]

    Also cant see any reportage on the boat failure in the Herald Sun. Maybe someone else can spot it

  4. Nicholas Cowdrey (ex NSW DPP) smacks down the lynch mob demanding a life sentence for the King Hit death:

    Summary: “You had to be there.”

    The personal feelings of the deceased’s family, and the prominence of the case are not determining factors in sentencing.

    He ends with this suggestion:

    Or maybe it is really better for Government to continue to apply itself to better controlling the effects of alcohol in society.

    Read more:

    I’m sure the Liquor Industry, prominent donors to the Liberals (and in the past, to Labor) would say something like, “Alcohol doesn’t kill people. People kill people.”

    There’s also another alternative: don’t go to Kings Cross or to a notorious pub on Saturday night.

    I certainly don’t, and the reason why I don’t is because I don’t want the kind of aggravation that Thomas Kelly suffered. There are plenty of nicer places to go where you don’t take the chance of being randomly king hit.

    This isn’t blaming the victim, so much as saying that the more violence there is on Sydney’s streets, then automatic countermeasures should logically kick in. Parents will forbid their sons and daughters from going near the areas. Birthday parties for 18 year olds will not be scheduled to be held in inner city clubs and pubs. The pubs themselves will increase surveillance and physical protection. The police will ramp up patrols.

    And perhaps – just perhaps – governments will decline donations from the Liquor and the Hotel Industries and actually do something about licensing hours. In all his rants calling for A-G Greg Smith’s head on this matter, I haven’t seen Ray Hadley, for example, suggest that the easy availabiliy of alcohol had anything to do with it. You think he might have twigged when his own daughter’s party turned ugly due to inebriated teenagers crashing it.

    All in all though, if you don’t want to take the chance of being king hit, just stay away.

  5. Morning,

    That’s only the second time I’ve ever looked at the Herald Sun & it really is a piece of crap. It totally deserves Bolt.

    victoria, to answer your question @12 I couldn’t see any mention of stop the boats.

  6. Morning all.

    Thanks victoria for the link on Barnaby.

    [Open warfare has erupted between the Coalition parties with senior Nationals also accusing Mr Hockey and others of peddling lies about Nationals leader Warren Truss’s position on a second Sydney airport at Badgerys Creek.]

    Let’s see where this goes.

  7. mikehilliard

    The herald Sun is crap, but it is the biggest selling publication in Melbourne. The Age does not even come close. Sad state of affairs I know.

  8. About 25 years ago I was stuck in a traffic jamb about 11pm on Bayswater Road in Kings Cross with a couple of friends & with the roof off the car (old Mini Moke0. Some drunk guy just stepped off the pavement & punched me in the head. Didn’t even see him. Put my jaw out which took months to get better.

    bushfires right, being in the Cross just heightens the chances off getting decked by some idiot.

  9. Looking deeply into the Biggest circulation dead tree newspaper, the Sunday ToiletPaper for some news, any news on Tony Abbott’s turn the boats back humiliation by Indonesia.

    There is none.

    One could almost think that Rupert Murdoch organs are running a protection racket.

  10. Good morning Bludgeroonies!

    YIKES the media are so anti LNP, aren’t they?

    Oh, hang on, that doesn’t fit with the meme here, does it? Or have we flipped on that flop now…..its so hard to keep up with the current position! 🙂

  11. Coorey just pointing out that Morrison is actively suppressing information such that Australian taxpayers are learning more from the Indonesians than from Morrison about what is happening to taxpayer funds.

    Morrison is stuffing around with other people’s money and he should come clean on it.

  12. Boerwar: I can’t get past the Australian paywall, so no.

    The point is that all of a sudden the media is criticising the LNP government, when there are perfectly justifiable reasons for doing so.

    Quite similar to the media criticising the ALP government, when there were perfectly justifiable reasons for doing so.

    Get it?

  13. Mod Lib

    Yes I really noticed the media bias yesterday when the Tugboat Tony back down, capitulation, chickening out had headlines stating that Abbott ended the dispute. Ended FFS !!

  14. ML

    ‘Boerwar: I can’t get past the Australian paywall, so no.’

    I posted a comprehensive critique of Sheridan’s hagiography in the previous string. It undercuts completely your snark about the media being anti-LNP government.

  15. I didn’t watch the speeches at the WA Liberal conference yesterday. Abbott has some cheek chipping Labor for engaging in crass political behaviour.

  16. Insiders did an excellent job of juxtaposing Abbott’s words with the Abbott Government’s behaviour. It was all in the Liberal Government’s words.

    Utterly hypocritical.

  17. I am not suggesting that the media is anti-LNP.

    I am just pointing out that the exuberance of posters here with all this media criticism of the LNP government is in stark contrast to the exuberant hostility of posters here with all the media criticism of the ALP government.

    One could almost mount an argument of hackery in the contrast there, couldn’t one?

  18. confessions
    From the very little I saw of Bishop’s speech ‘triumphalism’ came to mind. The arrogance and hubris was palpable.

    No wonder the Indonesians are pissed off with the Australian Government.

    This week Bishop came up with a new way of pissing overseas nations off: ‘mutual obligation’.

    To paraphrase, ‘In how many ways do I assume that I am superior to you?’

    Sheridan was quite right. The Liberals should stop talking about foreign aid because they do not get how and why they are damaging Australia’s international relationships.

  19. Good Morning

    As I expected Mr Shorten doing well in interview format. Liked the start of Insiders journalists actually revealing the issues. Credit to them so far.

  20. Some of you may, or may not perhaps, enjoy this email from a Green voting friend of mine:


    Stop the boats
    Stop the boats
    I promised the people
    So they gave me their vote

    Stop the boats
    Stop the boats
    We entered office
    On a positive note

    Stop the boats
    Stop the boats
    I called on Defence:
    “Sovereign Borders” it twas denote

    Stop the boats
    Stop the boats
    Return the illegals, to
    Indonesia remote

    Stop the boats
    Stop the boats
    But oh dear our spying
    Did Indonesia provoke

    Stop the boats
    Stop the boats
    We’ve now a boatload of illegals
    We’re keeping afloat

    Stop the boats
    Stop the boats
    Sorry they’re all yours
    Indonesia did gloat

    Stop the boats
    Stop the boats
    So the illegals off to Christmas Island
    Did our Navy tote

    Stop the boats
    Stop the boats
    Now the promise I made
    Might prove hard to unquote

    Stop the boats
    Stop the boats
    Maybe Morrison
    I’ll have to demote

    Stop the boats
    Stop the boats
    Did I say we would???
    No you must have a misquote

    Stop the boats
    Stop the boats
    Actually my real CORE promise
    Was to “Stop the Bloat”

    Stop the boats
    Stop the boats
    It just seemed so easy at the time
    To stop all the boats.


  21. “@tim_chr: Bill Shorten seems to have learned the key lesson of the past three years – focus attention on Direct Action and its flaws. #insiders”

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