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. Good Morning all on this bright and sunny day

    Sean, Sorry have to disagree, Australia does not need to reduce its minimum wage.

    Lets look at it economically, as wages increase spending not only increases but the nature of the spending changes.

    Increased spending = increased revenue = profit

    Lets look at America with its very low and static minimum wage and what is the result of that lack of wage growth, America’s economic shows no real growth.

    As a result of America’s lack of wage growth, it has needed to increase spending on social welfare entitlement programs which has crowed out other government programs and created the need to increase taxes.

    If we restrict wage growth, it may provide a business with short term cost savings but in the long run will cost the business in terms of loss revenue which impacts on their ability to grow therefore being able to generate new profits.

    Lets look at it another way, in wealthy areas business charge higher prices as the local market is seen as being able to sustain it but if wages were frozen or fell then those business would need to reduce cost thus losing revenue.

    The argument for lower wages might sound logical but wages are only one part of the cost of business, there are other cost pressures and regulation related issues which need addressing.

    A strong healthy economy is one where wealth is increasing rather than declining.

  2. Further to previous post.

    Supply & Demand

    Increased demand = increased prices
    Decreased demand = decreased prices

    Currently most jobs being created are at the higher end of the labour market not the lower end which is why we see little growth in manufacturing but we see growth in the finance sector.

  3. And from the Land of the Free –

    Some cartoons on the early arrival of Christmas.
    Bill Maher on Sarah Palin and the Pope. Very funny.
    Martin Bashir piles into Plain.
    This is a worrying situation that has been developing in recent years.
    Stephen Colbert rips the racial comments of WaPo columnist.
    And Jon Stewart has a crack at the disgraced Toronto mayor.
    This week’s decision from Bush’s stacked SCOTUS will create much interest.
    Bill Maher’s New Rules.

  4. A Federal Liberal MP has come under fire for labelling the principal at the West Australian school where his wife works a “Labor hack”.

  5. Morning all, and thanks for the links as always BK.

    There will be a climate change rally in Elder Park in Adelaide at 11am today. I hope many can make it, with so many recent reminders of the reality of climate change. It may not be put down as a cause of everything, but things like this do seem to be happening more often.

    Some of the largest hail stones ever seen in SEQ. see the photos.

  6. mexicanbeemer

    Or to make it simpler for Sean. Businesses need customers; no money; no customers.

    It is in fact a problem China has to solve, wich is why in the long term China can’t keep destoying western manufacturing as they have been.

  7. Good Morning

    Thanks for another excellent Dawn Patrol BK


    If those comments about ST at Menzies House are true it shows its an ill wind that blows no good.

  8. Insiders is going to be fun. What spin can Nikki Savva come up with to cover for the contrast even ABC is highlighting between David Cameron and Tony Abbott on Human Rights?

  9. @wendy_harmer: I’ll be MC Sydney Clmate Change rally. Come join the firies and @tanya_plibersek 11am Prince Alfred Park. Bring a groundsheet!

  10. guytaur

    The climate do-nothings must be so proud.

    [Recent decisions by the governments of Australia, Japan and Canada to downgrade their efforts over climate change have caused panic among those states most affected by global warming, who fear others will follow as they rearrange their priorities during the downturn.

    In the last few days, Japan has announced it will backtrack on its pledge to reduce its emission cuts from 25% to 3.8% by 2020 on the basis that it had to close its nuclear reactors after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

    Australia, which is not sending a minister to this weekend’s talks, signalled it may weaken its targets and is repealing domestic carbon laws following the election of a conservative government.

    Canada has pulled out of the Kyoto accord, which committed major industrial economies to reducing their annual CO2 emissions to below 1990 levels.]

  11. From last thread:
    Sean Tisme

    [Interesting fact… Australia has the highest minimum wage in the WORLD. And the Unions are scratching their heads why manufacturing is going to shit in this country??]

    There is no manufacturing in this country in which people are employed at the minimum wage and reducing the minimum or even abolishing it won’t lure any of it back because the drivers of manufacturing have only a passing connection with the wage structure of each country. Our employment provisions also provide for workplace safety which is expensive. Our cost of land is expensive. We don’t permit factories to pollute for free (except perhaps soon in CO2). Also, there’s the question of access to markets, the strength of our currency and so forth.

    If some sweatshop in Bangladesh or Saipan wanted to relocate here, proper wages would be only one of its considerations.

  12. “@senthorun: Downplaying child abuse here. Ignoring torture overseas. I guess ensuring justice is asking a little too much from our PM. #auspol”

  13. Tony’s cone of silence.

    [Mark Butler MP 15 Nov
    Tony Abbott only allocating less than 2 hrs next week to debate 11 Bills that remove limits on carbon pollution! #revealbeforerepeal ]

  14. morning

    I was thinking there should be a montage of all the weasel words to come out of Abbott ‘s mouth of late. With the hashtag #shithappens

  15. Bludgers I think you are all secretly happier now that your team is in opposition. It lets you get all pious and self righteous about things in a way you never could when shameless populist/realists like Rudd and Gillard were running the show on your behalf and doing all sorts of nasty things to your beloved designated victim classes.

  16. Patiently waitin for some meeja sleuth to point out the irony of Abbott’s conspiring with SL to prevent ASs leaving, whilst at the same time there is global condemnation of human rights abuses in SL.

    Abbott can’t be accused of hypocrisy though, because he has in effect denied the abuses ….. just difficult times.

    His very presence on the international stage draws ridicule on us all. What dopes would elect such a jerk as leader.

  17. Just reminding everyone that there are rallies on Climate Action led by Get Up in each of the capital cities at 11 AM today. Check their website for details.

    Interestingly, despute being unopposed in principle to nuclear power, I had this exchange with another person over at LP who supports action on climate but is especially keen on “the nuclear option”. It’s much too long to reproduce here, so those interested can follow the link:

  18. Two hours to debate bills? Didn’t take long for them to forget about all that parliamentary scrutiny they demanded from the last parliament!

  19. Turkey’s

    Look at PMJG’s response on human rights at 2011 CHOGM.

    Contrast is chalk and cheese. I have been no fan of Labor’s AS policy. They never did stuff like Abbott.

  20. Savva providing cover Abbott calling 5000 people ‘missing’ in Sri Lanka, aka, mass murder ‘difficulties’. Torture and rape are also ‘difficulties’.

  21. Abbott is so obsessed with boats that he is ignoring human rights issues and damaging the national interest. How long before this obsession results in other countries imposing sanctions on us?

    His obsession is psychotic and pathetic.

  22. [psyclaw
    …..His very presence on the international stage draws ridicule on us all. What dopes would elect such a jerk as leader.]

    Nearly 7 million of your fellow Australians would… they did and bugger all has changed in voting intentions since.

  23. [Savva providing cover Abbott calling 5000 people ‘missing’ in Sri Lanka, aka, mass murder ‘difficulties’. Torture and rape are also ‘difficulties’.]

    As well as polishing his diplomacy turd by saying he was being deferential and respectful to foreign nations in not raising human rights. Atkins set the record straight on that one.

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