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 thoughts on “Seat of the week: Wannon”

  1. Where did I say it’s not Ok to protest? Please provide that quote.

    You mean you believe it’s not OK to protest? You may disagree with the protesters but the right to protest is pretty basic to a democracy. Protest in favour of the Carbon Price as today or against is last year. Or do you think Abbott should have sent tanks in to clear the streets?

  2. [Did Abbott really say that? Is there a link?]

    Thousands are dying on boats, it’s certainly a humanitarian issue for Australia.

    Yes it’s unfortunate that people died in Sri Lanka during the War… but the democratically elected government was fighting against separatist terrorists

  3. zoid:

    I suspect Abbott has been verballed. Typing that phrase into Google doesn’t bring up any direct quotes from the coalition.

  4. [485

    If you are in the room with David Cameron and he is the fair decent guy, you really need to take a good hard look at yourself]

    ‘Xactly. Cameron is no nice guy.

  5. [I thought Kevin Rudd was bad enough faking shit, now Abbott has Abbott taking the cake.]

    Really just can’t help yourself can you.

  6. Zoidlord,

    [You seem to be suggesting it’s ok to focus on boats alone in every single issue, and yet you are discussing other countries with other issues other than what Abbott was there for in Sri lanka?]

    I have said no such thing, in fact I thought I’ve said the opposite. I have on numerous occasions that the obsession with boat arrivals is beyond my comprehention and that there are far more pressing matter the be engaged in. I don’t agree with the treatment of asylum seekers, and never have. I don’t agree that it was right for Tony Abbott to askew dealing with human rights abuses in order to persue petty domestic matters. I don’t think it is right to demand Indonesia be equally obsessed with the issue when they have real matters to deal with. Australia acts like a spoilt child because frankly it is. It may be it’s downfall but a downfall would be long and slow, and a few stupid and shortsighted budget measures aren’t going to cause a major developed economy to collapse on itself.

  7. [399

    I see Kevin Merit Andrews claiming reforms to the DSP.

    Okay good we can confidently predict that a fifth could be moved into work.]

    We can?

  8. [I see Kevin Merit Andrews claiming reforms to the DSP.

    Okay good we can confidently predict that a fifth could be moved into work.

    We can?]

    Work or abject poverty doesn’t really matter which if you ask Andrews.

  9. confessions

    Posted Sunday, November 17, 2013 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

    “The biggest humanitarian issue in the region is stopping the boats.”

    Did Abbott really say that? Is there a link?

    OH and I were channel surfing in our hotel room when we heard him make the comment.

    I don’t even know what channel we were on as we surfed through the hotel TV.

    But he said it, he is not being verballed.

  10. [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.”

  11. I never thought Neal was as nasty as Mirabella, even though she had some pretty disgusting things to say.

    The ‘don’t you know who I am’ line was stupid, and comes from that entitlement mentality that you see among many MPs today.

  12. [What did you think about Abbott handing over coastguard boats to the Sri Lankans?]

    those bent sri lankan sailors will be able to do a more efficient job

  13. Oh dear

    The ABC is reporting this:

    But Labor’s Senate leader Penny Wong has praised the efforts to build closer ties with Sri Lanka.

    “Cooperation with our neighbours, cooperation with Sri Lanka is something Labor has said is a priority for a long time,” she told Channel Ten.

    “I’m glad that the Government, after being so negative about, for example, the arrangement with Malaysia, has now come to the view that regional arrangements are important.”

  14. Libya follows Somalia and is on the way to being a “failed state”
    The folly of the Western intervention which overthrew Gaddafi is now apparent,just as the endless comnflicts in Iraq/Syria signal the same sort of disaster there

    Since Friday dozens have been killed in Tripoli where conflict between armed groups and the Govt… cntinues on the streets of the capital

    Armed groups which helped the overthrow of Gaddaffi refuse to disarm,and act violently in the absence of a Libyan army

    Meanwhile foreign firms which are needed to restore all sorts of services refuse to return to Libya,and the largely foreign personal who ran Gadaffi’s national health scheme have fled,…so medical care…once quite good…is not available for people
    The once viable tourist industry has collaped…with deserted hotels and resorts …. and many foreign airlines refuse to use Tripoli airport due to the presence there of armed gangs demanding money

    In Benghazi,a local administration has seized power and Eastyern Libya is lawless. There haqve been 80 killings of local officials there,as was the case with the US consulate last year In Derna Jihardists have proclaimed a religious Emirate

    Gadaffi undertook a very succesful water harvesting scheme from the vast artesian basin under the Sahara,and was well advanced with Chinese /Russian assistance in building a rail network that would link Tunisia to Eqypt…with a coastal line that would enable the running of a Cairo to Casablance rail service servicing Tripoli /Benghazi/Tobruk

    All this has collapsed..The railway which was nearly compoleted is unfinished and even the oil industry is failing as the armed gangs demnand a share of profits from refineries

    The West which aided Gadaffi’s overthrow is now being effected by all these events
    For many in Libya it must seem like Gadaffi’s times were the good old days indeed

    from the Tripoli Post…

  15. OC:

    The demon baby comment was truly bizarre. Did she try to deny it? I recall Rudd rightly demanded she apologise for the comment.

  16. ‘Ditch the Deniers’ isn’t personal to anyone, certainly not aimed at Tony he believes 100% in the science at least 22% of the time.

  17. More on Libyan cisis
    Govt Proclaims State of Emergency as fighting spreads

  18. fess

    from memory, Neal was technically correct – the Speaker hadn’t heard what she said, and was given a form of words that she hadn’t used, so Neal said that that wasn’t what she’d said so she couldn’t retract it.

    (Of course, I might be thinking of another incident altogether, but my knowledge on all things Mirabella is pretty comprehensive…)

  19. Yet more , “Ve know nothkic….”

    [ The department led by Malcolm Turnbull – who last year said NBN Co was more secretive than the Kremlin – has refused to release its briefing to the new government under freedom of information laws.

    The ”blue book” briefing was prepared to offer the Coalition – in the event it won government – the Communications Department’s frank assessment of its election policies and commitments, as well as broader communications issues, to ensure a smooth transition to government.

    The decision marks a shift from 2010, when communications was one of at least 17 departments to release the incoming government briefs it prepared for the Gillard government in response to FOI requests.

    Department assistant secretary Andrew Madsen found releasing the information was in the public interest and would be consistent with the aims of the FOI Act, ”which include increasing scrutiny, discussion, comment and review of the government’s activities”.

    He said releasing the documents would also ”resonate strongly with the public”, including with regional Australians, who will be most affected by the Coalition’s different NBN policy.

    However, he said this was outweighed by the need for departments to present frank advice to government, saying its release ”may affect the establishment of a relationship of trust and confidence between the department and minister”.]

    Read more:

  20. As someone who was abused on more than one occasion by Ms Mirabella, I will point out that, when asked for an apology, her stance was always that if you were in politics you should expect to take it on the chin, and furthermore, she was just calling a spade a spade.

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

    I can certainly understand someone refusing to apologise to her, on those grounds alone!

    One of my ‘favorite’ Mirabella moments was when she called Roxon a ‘feminist hypocrite.” Asked to withdraw, she asked which word was offensive.

  21. zoomster:

    That would make sense then. My recollection is that she was referred to some kind of parliamentary committee for her remarks.

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