Seat of the week: Curtin

Despite bearing the name of one of Labor’s greatest heroes, and covering his old home turf of Cottesloe, the Perth seat of Curtin is blue in tooth and claw. Julie Bishop has held the seat since she unseated a conservative independent in 1998.

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.

Julie Bishop’s seat of Curtin covers Perth’s most affluent and Liberal-friendly areas, from Mosman Park and Cottesloe north along the coast to the southern part of Scarborough, and along the northern shore of the Swan River through the prestige suburbs of Peppermint Grove and Dalkeith. An area of relative Labor strength is provided by the area immediately west of the city. The electorate was created with the expansion of parliament in 1949, prior to which the Perth metropolitan area had been divided in highly variable fashion between Perth and Fremantle, with each consistently accounting for some of the area of modern Curtin. Curtin was originally limited to Perth’s inner west, with Fremantle continuing to extend up the coast as far as City Beach, before acquiring its coastal orientation with the redistribution of 1955. Fremantle was thereafter concentrated more to the south of the river, although its present northern limit at the suburban boundary of North Fremantle and Mosman Park was not established until 1984.

Despite bearing the name of a Labor Party legend, Curtin has been a blue-ribbon Liberal seat since its creation, being held first by prime ministerial contender and future Governor-General Paul Hasluck, and then by Victor Garland, a minister in the McMahon and Fraser governments. Garland’s resignation in early 1981 led to a preselection brawl in which the then Premier, Sir Charles Court, marshaled forces behind Allan Rocher to thwart Fred Chaney’s ambition to move from the Senate to the House, which he would eventually realise when he became member for Pearce in 1990. Rocher was defeated for preselection ahead of the 1996 election by Ken Court, son of the aforementioned Charles and brother of Richard, who was then Premier. This greatly displeased the newly reinstalled federal Liberal leader, John Howard, who did little to assist Court’s election campaign or to dispel the conception that he owed his preselection to controversial party powerbroker Noel Crichton-Browne. Rocher was thus easily able to retain his seat as an independent on Labor preferences, while a similar story played out in the northern suburbs seat of Moore.

Curtin returned to the Liberal fold in 1998 when Rocher was defeated by a new Liberal candidate, Julie Bishop, who had previously been a managing partner at law firm Clayton Utz. Bishop’s early career progress within the Howard government was reckoned to have been constrained by her ties to Peter Costello, and in the wake of the Coalition’s 2001 state election defeat she signed on to an abortive scheme to move into state politics to succeed Richard Court as Liberal leader. She eventually won promotion to Ageing Minister in 2003, and attained cabinet rank as Education, Science and Training Minister in January 2006. Reflecting the continuing strong performance of the party’s Western Australian branch, she was elevated to the deputy leadership in the wake of the 2007 election defeat. Her success in maintaining that position under three leaders reportedly led internal critics to dub her “the cockroach”, although dissatisfaction with her performance as Shadow Treasurer caused her to be reassigned to foreign affairs in January 2009. She retained the portfolio throughout the remaining years in opposition, further serving in the shadow portfolio of trade after the 2010 election, and was confirmed as Foreign Minister with the election of the Abbott government in September 2013.

UPDATE: Channel Seven has reported the ReachTEL poll conducted on Thursday night found only 28% believe the government’s new policies to stop boat arrivals were working versus 49% who don’t, while 56% say the government should announce boat arrivals when they happen. Last night it was reported that 53% think the Prime Minister should deliver the explanation for spying activities demanded by Indonesia, while 34% say he shouldn’t; and that 38% support Australia’s bugging activities with 39% opposed. It appears Channel Seven are sitting on voting intention numbers.

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.

1,517 comments on “Seat of the week: Curtin”

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  1. I have been using painkillers and anti-convulsants. It’s a novel thing for me. They help me get to sleep, but when they wear off I come to and then spend a few wakeful hours before, sometimes, dozing off again. I’m becoming a drone.

  2. Yeah I gave up the Oxy to stop being a drone, hence my comment on feeling better in my head. Fortunately I’m retired, so dozing off (always during the day) matters little to me. I will forever be on painkillers, but I have a healthy SOH.

  3. We (south east Qld) just had a heavy but brief downpour of rain. I sure as hell hope it doesn’t impact on the cricket at the Gabba, especially as we have the Poms on the backfoot for once.


    [THE Abbott government is bracing for the possible release of more embarrassing material from leaked US intelligence about Indonesia and other Asian nations, as it aims for a “broader and deeper” security relationship with Jakarta.

    The Weekend Australian understands Canberra is aiming to develop a “new process” of consultation with Jakarta as it seeks to limit the damage from the spying crisis.]

    Snooping ain’t what it used to be.

  5. [6….Spider]

    I have to work, which is a bit of a problem….fatigue is the main challenge. I’m glad you’re getting on top of things though. It sounds like you’re doing well.

  6. For the sake of Oz, I sure as hell hope this spy drama is quickly resolved. In Abbott’s case, I wish him the worst.

    Can you imagine how much Abbott would be stirring up trouble, regardless of the consequences for Oz, if this had occurred 6 months ago?

  7. And from the Land of the Free –

    The hypocrisy of the FoxNews wingnut caricature Sean Hannity on full display.
    Some cartoons on the 50th anniversary of JFK’s assassination.
    The class of FoxNews
    Just like a bloody witch doctor!
    And it’s actions like this that will help perpetuate it.

  8. There may have been some pressure on Barn Yabbie from the Cattlemens Association not to go lest he make a temporary problem for them a permanent one.


  9. William

    [Julie Bishop’s seat of Curtin covers Perth’s most affluent and Liberal-friendly areas]

    And not likely to change any time soon!

  10. Thanks k. Whatever happens now, Morrison is being damaged by these performances. He looks both arrogant and weak, unable to answer questions, as well as unwilling. He is not smooth when the heat is turned up.

    The ABC’s best remaining political journalists, Brian Clarke and John Dawes, finally captured the real Morrison in these two probing interviews.–a-full-and-frank-disclosure/5013806

  11. briefly @13
    Posted Saturday, November 23, 2013 at 6:46 am |

    Thanks BK. QB has always been good value. It’s great to see her speaking up for change though I wonder if there is a risk of politicizing the office.

    Mate, during the ‘opening of parliament’ after an election, the GG is required to read the incoming Gov.’s program for the 3 years ahead. I always feel this tends to politicize the GG office to some extent, and this last time in particular I couldn’t help feeling the words left a foul taste in her mouth as she read them. I know they made me feel somewhat soiled at the time.

  12. Briefly

    My sympathy about the insomnia. A surprising number of people suffer from it. I trust you are seeing a doc? There are a few starting to specialise in it, as there is a lot of study going on. There is a research group attached to Flinders Uni here in Adelaide. Untreated it can be very damaging in the long run.

  13. Quentin Bryce should have read the incoming government’s program interspersed with suppressed laughs and chuckles. That would have set the appropriate tone for Tony.

  14. Time magazine is widely read in Asia – from today’s edition

    check the front cover first…

    [Mark Textor’s Twitter account appears to have been closed today. That’s probably a good thing for diplomacy.

    Just a day ago, his comparison of the Indonesian Foreign Minister to a 1970s Filipino porn star caused Australian-Indonesian relations to deteriorate further, forcing the Australian political adviser to eat humble pie and say sorry.

    “I think I went too far this time and I unreservedly apologize,” he told Australian broadcaster SBS, after also tweeting his remorse to “Indonesian friends” and followers.

    But just who is Mark Textor? And why — as many people have been surprised to discover — is he an adviser to Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott?

    Textor has been described as one of the most influential people in Australia, and the most domineering, divisive pollster the country has ever seen. For 25 years, he has made a living out of taking the pulse of public sentiment. His skills have helped secure election victories for top international politicians, including British Prime Minister David Cameron and London’s Mayor Boris Johnson, as well as heads of government in Australia and New Zealand. So it was a surprise to many that the experienced communicator made such a faux pas at a time when relations between his country and Indonesia are so frayed.]

    Read more: Mark Textor: Aussie Political Adviser’s Best Twitter Rants |

  15. It really is sad, this is what we have got as our PM; hop did we get here?

    Repent Ye Whackos ‏@geeksrulz 8h

    BREAKING: Mr Abbott finally says sorry to Indonesia. #auspol
    Embedded image permalink

  16. Tom Berners Lee rightly condems threats to web privacy, including those “for national security”, an excuse that can so obviously be abused.

    He has started an index of web freedom. Australa does not finish in the top ten. I trust nobody would be foolish enough to think defense assets could not be abused by individuals for non defence reasons. I’m with SBY on this one.

  17. Confessions

    Thanks, I had not noticed the new banner either. If only the last photo could be positioned to make Abbott’s face sit under the “r” in Bludger.

  18. [Mark Textor has closed his twitter account:]

    He an Abbott are perfectly suited, to a 1940’s male only mining town. Dumb and dumber.

  19. Bryce’s address was interesting and probably signals the evolving role of the GG (and perhaps one day, president) as somebody who doesn’t just stay out of the way, cut ribbons and sign documents but raises awareness.

    I have no problem with her bringing up the republic as an issue, as it is a big issue that isn’t in contradiction with the government’s agenda. I don’t buy into the argument that, as the queen’s representative she has to be a monarchist or keep her republicanism in the closet. In 21st century Australia, it should be an acceptable view for anybody to have, even viceroyalty.

    I think opining on same sex marriage was ill-advised though, as it is an issue that is clearly going to be brought up in this parliament and is a contentious political issue. While she’s in the GG chair, she needs to be above that.

    But what’s done is done and she might open the door for more viceroys to be a little more opinionated in the future (which I have mixed feelings on) but, as long as they don’t try to interfere or use their status to influence legislation, I’m not losing too much sleep over it.

  20. Spider@3

    I weaned myself off oxy-contin about 5 months back, and have hardly slept since. (But I feel much better in the head).

    Tried Melatonin?
    My son used it successfully to deal with the same problem.

    He got me on it and I have no more sleep problems.

  21. Quentin Bryce’s term as GG ends in March. Abbott has not yet named the next GG. It takes months to work through the appointment process so he’d better hurry up.

    I’ve been wondering if Mrs Bryce’s comments on same sex marriage and a republic were her revenge on Abbott for making her read his abominable opening of parliament speeech. She clearly struggled with it and was very obviously unhappy with what she had to say. So why not stir up a bit of controversy at a time when the PM is already under pressure.

  22. Go Quentin Bryce. Shades of William Deane.

    I can really see them gathering in the streets today protesting that she has abused her position!

    I expect a Martinlutherkingesque speech from David Flint, nothing less! It will go down in Aussie folklore. “Never in the history of Australia was our loving and loved Majesty so grossly insulted by the convict stock of this ungrateful nation ….. the end is nigh ….. her phone must be bugged immediately … restore the Alert but not Alarmed emergency status … ”

    Who gives a flying feck, except the usual trolls n concern trolls.

    Can someone list here just one likely consequence of her speech which even tickles the “dire n we’ll all be rooned” scale.

    Ah Yes! Abbott is now likely to appoint a conservo as next GG!

    Now look what you’ve done Quentin!

  23. How could someone as supposedly intelligent and influential as Textor make such a ballsup of himself? And I think I’ve gone off Mumble.

  24. As the Queen’s rep in Australia, the GG is not being radical at all. Some time ago, I believe, the Queen wondered why Australia was so slow in going for a Republic. Contrary to some Republicans, the British Royal Family is very willing to “let go”.

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