Seat of the week: Wannon

Malcolm Fraser’s old seat in the western districts of Victoria was highly marginal for the first half of the twentieth century, but it’s been a long time since it was last a source of interest on election night.

Blue and red numbers respectively indicate booths with two-party majorities for the Liberal and Labor parties. Click for larger image. Map boundaries courtesy of Ben Raue at The Tally Room.

Wannon has existed without interruption since federation, presently extending along the Victorian coast from the Twelve Apostles and Port Campbell through Warrnambool and Portland to the South Australian border, and northwards through rural territory to Hamilton, Ararat and Maryborough. The electorate has always accommodated the state’s south-western corner but was initially oriented further to the north and less to the east, encompassing Horsham until 1949 and only then acquiring Warrnambool, which had previously been in Corangamite. Relative population decline has lately caused the electorate to expand in a north-easterly direction, gaining Ararat in 1996 and Maryborough in 2010. Electoral support is generally evenly divided in the towns, but the rural balance keeps the seat safely conservative.

Wannon was a marginal seat prior to 1955, having previously changed hands on a number of occasions between Labor and the prevailing conservative party of the day, without ever being held by the Country Party. The turning point came with the retirement of Labor member Donald McLeod in 1955, at which point it was gained by its highest profile former member, Malcolm Fraser. Fraser was 25 years old at the time, and had fallen 17 votes short of winning the seat on his first attempt at the election held a year previously. After sweeping to victory on the back of an 8.5% swing, Fraser increased his margin at the next four elections and held the seat securely thereafter, going on to serve as Australia’s twenty-second Prime Minister from 1975 to 1983.

Fraser retired from parliament in the immediate aftermath of the 1983 election defeat and was succeeded at a by-election by David Hawker, who held the seat for the next 27 years. Hawker’s profile was rather lower than his predecessor’s, the high points of his career being a junior shadow ministry from 1990 to 1993 and the Speakership in the final term of the Howard government. On retiring at the 2010 election he was succeeded by Daniel Tehan, deputy director of the Victorian Liberal Party and son of the late Kennett government minister Marie Tehan, who won preselection ahead of Stephen Mitchell, founder of natural gas explorer Molopo Australia.

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.

732 comments on “Seat of the week: Wannon”

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  1. William

    [Maybe they support Australia being on the Security Council, but they didn’t support us getting there.]

    I realise you’re being tongue in cheek her so in that spirit …

    [we certainly supported Australia being on the Security Council {my emphasis}]

    The past tense excludes the lawyerly defence. They are saying they did support Australia getting there. Admittedly, they could say “in 2018” but she failed to mention that because that would be embarrassing.

  2. Just me

    Yep i think we can but it is important to remember that it wont be achieved by changing DSP.

    DSP itself is a flexible system which is not in need of any change besides being increased, to at least $500 a week.

    Too many people seem to underestimate disabled people rather than stepping back and providing them with the opportunity.

    By reform, employers, H.R, Recruiters, Educational Institutions and Employer representatives should come together to find ways to welcome disabled people into the workforce, not just welcome them but provide them with the learning & development opportunities which can make productive use of the person’s strengths.

    The current structure of DSP provides flexibility to those disabled people that are able to find employment with the means of returning to it if the role concludes within two years.

    The two biggest mistakes we repeatably make in this debate is

    1-Treating the disabled as if they are rorters
    2-Disabled people can only do basic functions

  3. [She never seemed to accept that when it came to someone abusing her, however.]

    You could tell the sort of glass-jawed individual she was whenever she was ejected from parliament. She would always scowl viciously and flounce out of the chamber.

    Her ejection was always someone else’s fault, never the result of her own behaviour.

  4. davidwh@702

    I knew what you meant Dave

    BTW – just asking – are the following words really yours –

    [ “I, davidwh, support a party that I don’t really support, a leader I don’t like and policies that are incomprehensible.

    I must be bonkers or under hypnosis”. ]

  5. They don’t seem like words I would use and can’t recall ever using them. I would need to know when and in what context I was supposed to have used them.

    I do know that there is a davidwh who posts comments in online news services but that person isn’t me.

  6. davidwh@706

    They don’t seem like words I would use and can’t recall ever using them. I would need to know when and in what context I was supposed to have used them.

    I do know that there is a davidwh who posts comments in online news services but that person isn’t me.

    They were posted here.

    But I would be the last person wanting to see anyone “quoted out of context”.

  7. davidwh@708

    Mind you on reflection I do agree with the sentiment in that post. That was certainly how I felt about things two years ago.

    Fair enough.

    So far at least you haven’t resorted to “I don’t recall”.

  8. Dave I don’t recall everything I have ever posted here and often post comments in a cynical manner so if those words were posted under my nic then I accept I posted them. Having said that I don’t support any political party in the way most people support their party’s.

    But certainly for much of the time I have posted here I haven’t supported the federal Coalition, TA as an alternative PM and have been less than impressed with their fragmented policy platform. Therefore I can imagine I could have posted that in a cynical sort of way.

  9. Neal’s comments were referred to the Speaker as he had not heard them (i think it was actually in the committee) he asked Neal if it was true. Twice she denied it although the video clearly showed she had. The opposition attempted to send her to the privileges committee for misleading the parliament. The government changed this to also look at The provocation from Mirabella (we were paying for these children). The committee did not find her in contempt but found her behaviour was far below an acceptable standard

  10. This and Iguana Joe’s happened in the month’s leading up to the start of Della Bosca’s affair – obviously a difficult time for all concerned.

  11. Again, fair enough with #711, but below seems, unusual?

    [ Having said that I don’t support any political party in the way most people support their party’s.]

    We both know you don’t need to comment further ?

  12. By Errol Brandt

    The government is telling a fib when it says that business wants to scrap the carbon tax. At best, this might reflect the views of some, but it completely ignores the views of others.

    Although not in any official capacity, I say this as somebody directly involved with implementing carbon pricing at one of Australia’s largest carbon polluters.

    – See more at:

  13. Sean Tisme@640

    I asked why the Get Up Rent-A-Crowd are wasting time

    So, you think that the 30,000 plus people who turned up to Melbourne’s Treasury Gardens today can simply be dismissed as “rent a crowd” ?

    And you wonder why you’re a target of such derision around here ?

  14. Dave I just mean I will support, and have supported, Labor and other alternatives to the Liberals on occasions when conscience wouldn’t allow me to support the Libs. So I just don’t give any political party complete loyalty like many people do.

  15. Carey Moore@674

    Can’t wait for Bolt to “spew venom” towards this Kid

    “And now the left are celebrating signs they had previously denounced as sexist – proving that it was never about gender equality but keeping alive the dysfunctional and really sexist Gillard/Rudd Labor-Green Government.”

    Bolt really is a disgraceful little creature isn’t he ?

  16. davidwh@717

    So I just don’t give any political party complete loyalty like many people do.

    OK. Fine sentiments, but I just don’t think that reflects in comments made on various issues.

    Quite the opposite – the always appears to be a reason, why

    – people are being “Too harsh”, or

    – the tory in question should be given “a break”, or

    – they have been, “taken out of context”, or

    – both sides do it, or

    – whatever,

    It repeats over and over, those same words, excuses ?

    Anyway, just saying.

  17. [462
    Posted Sunday, November 17, 2013 at 4:03 pm | PERMALINK

    I was trying to recall bigger protest crowds and the last ones that were bigger (that I can recall) were the anti-Vietnam War protests.

    These grew and grew until the Liberal warmongers were simply swept from office. They just didn’t get it.

    The Vietnam War was never going to go away by itself. Neither will climate change. It will get the Liberals in the end but the long-term costs will be borne by us all.]

    And the anti-dam rallies in Tasmania . They were massive, and probably as big as the moratorium marches. They’re the biggest ones I can remember in my lifetime.

  18. [178

    The welfare-bashing begins.

    Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews has given his strongest indication that a crackdown on welfare is coming – and in his crosshairs are the 822,000 Australians receiving the disability support pension.

    Back to the Howard era for people on DSP.]

    It will be much worse than that. Howard’s efforts were token compared to what these guys want to do. Between Andrews in welfare and Dutton in health, with Abbott (Credlin?, IPA?, Rupert?) issuing riding instructions, there is going to be carnage.

    ‘Life on welfare is terrible’, lament conservatives through their permanent veil of crocodile tears, and make damn sure it is.

    Keep an eye out for the name ATOS in relation to disability ‘assessment’ from “allied medical professionals” (meaning nurses with a couple of extra days training ordered to blindly follow an inflexible check box assessment procedure, deliberately designed to discourage and fail as many people as possible, for no good reason other than meeting arbitrary contract targets). I suspect that this company (or at least their appalling tactics) will turn up here soon.

    This issue is going to be a real test of both Labor and Greens values, and their political competence. If they can’t defend even the sick & disabled, then they might as well pack up and go home. They have to firmly unite over this issue and get to working on Clive.

    [Key details of the Government’s 2013 disability support pension report, exclusively obtained by The Sunday Mail, shows that just in the past financial year alone, $15 billion was paid out to almost 821,738 recipients – a 22 per cent increase in 10 years (673,334).]

    That growth in DSP recipient numbers was over 10 years, almost half of that period being under Howard. Does anybody have a link to the historical data about the number of DSP recipients, showing how the numbers changed under each government?

  19. Carey Moore@722

    I should clarify (just in case anybody thought otherwise): I wasn’t actually quoting Andrew Bolt earlier, I was parodying him.

    OK, but I still stand by my opinion that Bolt is a disgusting creature.

  20. davidwh@720

    I know how you feel Dave and there’s not much I can do to change that. Happy to agree to disagree on that point.

    Its not a matter of agreeing to disagree or not when facts are involved, eg –

    Tony Bourke pointed out this morning on Insiders that the senate have already passed a bill authorising the government to increase the debt limit from $300 B to $400 B, which will met the governments requirements well into the future.

    All hockey and abbott have to do is pass a similar bill in the HoR which they control, yet hockey is still threatening a tea party type shut down of government.

    The alternative is to detail why he needs a $500 B limit when he said in opposition you don’t repay debt by borrowing more – and money he says he doesn’t intend to spend.

  21. [Anything that may be mildly supportive of the Abbott government is odd isn’t it?]

    Gillard and the Labor Government were the ones who signed off on the agreement to hand over 2 Navy Boats to the Sri Lankans.

    So it’s really no surprise they have decided this was such a good idea.

  22. Wannon is quite possible for the ALP in the future……they are maintaining a base vote 40% to 45% and Michael Barling was a good candidate from the largest
    town in the electorate……look at its neighbour
    Corangamite in recent elections

  23. Reducing the minimum wage because it isn’t competitive with other, say developing, countries is stupid.
    Reducing the MW now would put a permanent break on the Aussie domestic economy.

    What you want is more bang for your buck…not less bucks for the bang.

    That great bastion of ‘capitalism’ (whenever they last practiced that) the USA is total disgrace and not something to be emulated. If it wasn’t for its reserve currency status it would have been an Argentina long ago. Money printing at $85bn per month to keep the show going, annual trillion plus budget deficits, and the moment they stop it collapses into a bigger heap, where they should have been back in 2008.

    46 million or so adults need help feeding themselves. You can have a full time job and still be in poverty. Its new status is the home of the multiple part time job to survive, as full time job still shrink.

    Even now it is only the sick state of competing currencies and reserve status that keeps its head out of cesspit. The US economic model and mindset is one to avoid at all costs.

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