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. Heard Karl Kruzelnitski on 24’s One on One this morning early. Well worth watching (on Iview?) for a story of a persecuted family landing in Australia and KK’s attitude towards soldiers who kill and maim. (That’s not a good summary).

    Really liked his matrix of intelligence/aggression. 🙂

  2. [Yeah Abbott would have to lose the confidence of the house, losing regional respect, and the confidence of anyone with an IQ above 5 isn’t grounds sadly.]

    I know it sounds snobby and pedantic of me, but there’s one precedent I don’t want the holder of that title to ever make: that of dismissing a government based on disapproval of policy. We have elections for that. If we allow a GG/President to use their reserve powers like that, we’re going down a very dark path.

    (And, no, 1975 was nowhere near that point.)

  3. Lots of comments putting the current spying issue to first happening on Rudd’s watch. But who knows that is the case, the papers are dated on Rudd’s watch but this could well of been approved on Howard’s time in government.

  4. Fairfax Media understands the medical evacuation, which began on Friday has occurred in part because the Nauruan government has expressed safety concerns about the children.

    Did this all get planned and executed after the 0930hr deadline to be included in this weeks fact hiding presser by Morrison?

  5. Don’t read the execrable Piers unless you want to know the Coalition side of the story. But this is his witty ‘joke’ for the day on Tanya.
    [Labor’s shrew-du-jour, Tanya Plibersek, who yesterday broke from Shorten’s team and undermined his modest attempt to seek a bipartisan approach to the problem by launching an unwarranted attack on the government.]

  6. BB

    Re your link to the Hartcher article:

    [Political opportunists in Indonesia are happy to see Australia squirm. But Tony Abbott has a chance to turn things around.

    The headline on the front-page editorial of Media Indonesia, a major daily, this week declared: “We are not an inferior nation”.

    Like being told “don’t think of a white bear,” or Richard Nixon’s claim that “I am not a crook,” once the idea is planted in the mind, it’s impossible to remove.

    Which confident, secure person needs to declare “I am not inferior”? It is precisely Indonesia’s status anxiety that drives much of its shrill outrage in controversies with Australia.]

    Hartcher stumbles around like a drunk in a cemetery without a light on a dark night look for Indonesia’s hot buttons. And Hartcher finds ‘status’ anxiety’.

    If Hartcher wanted to go searching for Indonesia’s hot buttons he does not have to make them up. They are in plain sight. They are the ones that Abbott&Co have pushed time and time again. Just because Abbott&Co can’t figure them out does not mean that Hartcher has to join the Liberal bulls in the Indonesian shop. All Abbott&Co and Hartcher have to do is to read their history and listen carefully to what the Indonesians are saying.

    It is that easy.

    Here are some hot buttons that Hartcher might have found had he not made up ‘status anxiety’ to explain what is going on:

    (1) Indonesia was colonised by white for 400 years. The ideological bedrock for the colonisation was out-and-out racism. The coloniser/coloniser relationship was based on arrogance, domination, bullets, a born-to-rule mentality, the superiority of christianity as a religion and a disregard for Indonesian values. The Indonesians spent around 60,000 lives fixing the problem. All of the current generation of Indonesian leadership would have had parents, uncles and aunties and so on and so forth who lived through all this crap.

    Australia is a white country which has the opposite bedrock – it largely wiped out its Indigenous people, drove them off their own land, marginalised them, stole their children and so and so forth.

    Along comes an Australian Opposition and then a Government which:

    (1) started/participated in two decades of brutal wars against islamic countries.
    (2) announces policies that infringe Indonesian sovereignty (buying back boats and paying Indonesians to spy on other Indonesians, towing boats out of international waters into Indonesian waters).
    (3) simply ignores repeated signals from Indonesia that it does not support these policies
    (4) announces that it does not matter what Indonesia thinks
    (5) announces that it is spying on the President of Indonesia for the good of Indonesia.
    (6) effectively dismisses the early warning signs from Natalegawa and Sudhoyono
    (7) hangs around with racist and islamophibic mates, shockjocks and indeed recruits them as senators and members of the House.
    (8) signs an agreement with the US which increases the marine presence in Darwin by including aircraft and naval ships
    (9) as a matter of priority seeks to get rid of hate-speech laws which, inter alia, protect muslims in Australia.
    (10) despite clear signals from Indonesia, repeatedly assert that he relationship is good and getting better.

    According to Hartcher the Indonesian reaction to these affronts is somehow or other out of kilter because the Indonesians are mentally ill: they have ‘status anxiety’.

    Jesus wept.

    Oh, and if Hartcher is hunting around for ‘shrill outrage’, which he also ascribes to the Indonesians, he might spend a nanosecond listening to the shockjocks and their various tribes of verbal and moral incontentinents.

  7. [Lots of comments putting the current spying issue to first happening on Rudd’s watch. But who knows that is the case, the papers are dated on Rudd’s watch but this could well of been approved on Howard’s time in government.]

    It is irrelevant who it was, the Indonesians are insulted by Abbott’s lack of intelligent response, not withstanding Adam’s strong views and fierce defence of Abbott.

  8. [Lots of comments putting the current spying issue to first happening on Rudd’s watch. But who knows that is the case, the papers are dated on Rudd’s watch but this could well of been approved on Howard’s time in government.]

    It is irrelevant who it was, the Indonesians are insulted by Abbott’s lack of intelligent response, not withstanding Adam’s strong views and fierce defence of Abbott.

  9. IMHO, the GG should not engage in issues that are party-political or actually or potentially divisive. Bryce has just given a good example of why we should not change the Constitution to having a prez as well as a pm.

    IMHO, given Rudd and Abbott, one pm is plenty already.

  10. Boerwar

    As far As i can tell, Mike Carlton is the only msm journo to come close to telling it like it is

    [Tony Abbott has brought this foreign policy disaster upon himself. True, the gung-ho cowboys at Defence Signals were fiddling with the phone calls in 2009, on Kevin Rudd’s watch. The Labor government must have known about it and should share the blame.
    But as opposition leader, Abbott – with a tin ear for diplomacy – had long been riling the Indonesians. So, too, had Julie Bishop and the frightful Scott Morrison. Refugee vessels would be turned back. Australian agents would buy up fishing boats in Javanese coastal villages. So there, like or not.
    For months, Jakarta sent discreet signals that it didn’t like it. Deaf to Javanese nuance and subtlety, Abbott and Co pushed on with overweening arrogance, flaunted in Bishop’s foolish boast that ”we’re not seeking Indonesia’s permission; we’re seeking their understanding”. It apparently never occurred to her that she needed both.
    When the storm broke this week, Jakarta hit back hard. Even then, Abbott could still have saved the situation with a swift, forthright apology to President Yudhoyono. All he had to do was pick up the phone to the Istana Merdeka. But as we know, ”sorry” is not in the Liberal lexicon. Instead, Abbott piled insult upon injury, in effect telling Parliament that monitoring the phones of the President – and his wife, for heaven’s sake – was vital to Australia’s security.]

    Read more:

  11. As Boerwar, BB and others have opined, if does not matter one iota what our msm says in defence of Abbott. The actions of Abbott and his flunkies over the duration are what the Indonesians are taking into consideration. It is damn obvious to any observers that SBY and members of his govt do not like Abbott and his flunkies.

  12. BK from your Mike Carlton link:

    [Tony Abbott has brought this foreign policy disaster upon himself. True, the gung-ho cowboys at Defence Signals were fiddling with the phone calls in 2009, on Kevin Rudd’s watch. The Labor government must have known about it and should share the blame.]

    Why should Labor ‘share the blame’? It is absurd. It is clear from Abbott’s statements about intelligence, about which he is refusing to comment when he is not making statements about it, that the Howard governments spied and that the spying continued during the Abbott Government. A hot issue for Abbott is whether Australia can possibly ever trust the US intelligence ‘community’ to keep even the most basic of secrets from becoming public. Rudd/Gillard were embarrassed by Manning’s hoard. Now it is the turn of the Abbott Government with Snowden’s.

    There is absolutely no doubt that Indonesian and Australian lives have ben saved by disruption of bomb plots and degrading JI. But the publication of our spying activities will serve as a wonderful recruitment tool for the next generation of jihadis.

    Seriously, we need to consider the value proposition of intelligence activities.

  13. [Abbott takes $4.5 billion from foreign aid.]

    Wouldn’t want to pay the enemy and at the rate he is going there wont be other categories of country.

  14. Boerwar

    I feel Carlton made mention of that to appear evenhanded somehow, but seriously does anyone believe that this phone tapping only took place in this period.

  15. [The Australian MSM has yet to pick up the Russian connection. Slow.]

    Is it possible they missed his release? I just am sure i heard a BBC journo last night on PNN say that everyone had been released?

  16. v
    It is hard to say. It does seem as if the MSM in general is going through a bit of a learning experience – about themselves and about Indonesia.

  17. On Foreign Aid do not forget it has been admitted by the government that of what remains there is diversion to the AS programme by sending boats to Sri Lanka

  18. The more I see of Abbott&Co the more it strikes me how very old-fashioned this Government is. The 19thC anglo empire seems to be their natural place.

  19. Boerwar

    It is obvious from the musings in the Murdoch press including Oakes offering, is that they are trying their darndest to make this an issue about the spying and the reaction by Indonesia. Polishing the turd that is Abbott and the coalition.
    Fairfax are attempting to be more balanced.

  20. WWP

    There are Russians in Jakarta stirring the pot about the Australian/US hypocrisy in condemning others for human rights violations when they violate the human rights of Indonesians by spying on them.

    The Russians are facilitating a delegation of Indonesian parliamentarians to go and talk personally with Snowden.

    As far as I know this has been completely missed by the Australian MSM. As with so much with the Abbott Government, if you want to read about it, you have to read the Indonesian MSM.

  21. v
    Yep. It is Indonesia’s fault. And Shorten’s. And Rudd’s. And Snowden’s. And the Guardian’s fault. And the Fairfax’s press’s fault. And the ABC’s fault. It will soon be the Russians’s fault as well.

    Problem solved.

    My prediction is that Abbott’s ratings will go back to where they were for most of his time in Opposition, with around a third of Australians thinking he is OK.


    [Canada is blessed with 3 million lakes, more than any country on Earth — and it may soon start manufacturing new ones. They’re just not the kind that will attract anglers or tourists.

    The oil sands industry is in the throes of a major expansion, powered by C$20 billion ($19 billion) a year in investments. Companies including Syncrude Canada Ltd., Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Exxon Mobil Corp. affiliate Imperial Oil Ltd. are running out of room to store the contaminated water that is a byproduct of the process used to turn bitumen — a highly viscous form of petroleum — into diesel and other fuels.

    By 2022 they will be producing so much of the stuff that a month’s output of wastewater could turn an area the size of New York’s Central Park into a toxic reservoir 11 feet (3.4 meters) deep, according to the Pembina Institute, a nonprofit in Calgary that promotes sustainable energy.

    To tackle the problem, energy companies have drawn up plans that would transform northern Alberta into the largest man-made lake district on Earth. Several firms have obtained permission from provincial authorities to flood abandoned tar sand mines with a mix of tailings and fresh water.]

    Bludgers may be interested in the pic that goes with this report….truly vile

  23. [There are Russians in Jakarta stirring the pot about the Australian/US hypocrisy in condemning others for human rights violations when they violate the human rights of Indonesians by spying on them.]

    They have quite a compelling point. Obviously they would need to overlook their own short comings … they need the oil and greenpeace was in the way.

  24. [The delegation to Russia is a serious development in the matter. Why has it been overlooked?]

    Because it doesn’t fit with msm narrative on this issue to date. As you pointed out, Carlton is the only one who has picked what this is really about.

  25. Confessions

    Fitting into our msm narrative is not going to resolve the impasse. Indonesia have elections next July and they will milk this situation in much the same way Abbott did when in opoosition.
    We need a mature and grownup assessment of where our country is at. As Boerwar pointed out, this govt currently belongs in the 19th century with its approach and attitude.

  26. victoria:

    The other thing may be that our media can only see Indonesia as kow-towing and Australia as the powerful one, rather than the other way around.

    SBY beating up on Abbott because he can.

  27. [this govt currently belongs in the 19th century with its approach and attitude.]

    How many years have we been comparing the Liberal party with something belonging to the pre-Enlightenment era?

  28. Outsider

    Thanks for posting the article. It is indeed an excellent summary of where we are at.

    The big question is how does it now get rectified?

  29. We now turn salt water into drinking water, we are tapping the aquifers, we are turning sewerage into drinking water. Why?

    Is it because the climate has changed? Or just for the hell of it?

  30. Abbott has managed to place himself in a position which is almost beyond resolution. The best he can do is grovel, but the consequence for him is total loss of face – not just in Indonesia but throughout Asia. The Jakarta not Geneva boast is hilarious in the current context. How Australia will suffer, god knows, but the implications are far reaching and significant. The man is an international embarrassment. The situation will take years to resolve – and not while Abbott remains PM. What will be fascinating to see is whether the Australian electorate absorbs the implications for Australia. My fear is that this will actually play out quite well in domestic political terms for Abbott, at least in the short term. It’s a depressing thought. In some ways Shorten has the toughest position: how to hold Abbott accountable whilst maintaining Australia’s international standing. His response needs to be careful, muted and subtle. Which it has been, so far. Very very interesting times….

    And very very depressing for those of us (like me) with many connections in Indonesia and a love for that country. My friends there – Indonesian and Australian – are in a state of despair. Many bad days ahead.

  31. Outsider

    Abbott and his govt have to completely change their rhetoric on their sovereign borders policy.
    Basically they are never to utter the words stop the boats again. Are they up to it?

  32. Abbott will suffer domestically as well, the morons who support him will not like him appeasing the enemy. And you would think Indonesia would be smarter than his voters in Australia where if he apologised on one day and insulted them again the next he’d be back in trouble.

    I think it is fair to say that a weak, stupid compliant, nay cheerleading media who allow constant lies, contradiction, policy studity without question, prepare an opposition leader very poorly for national leadership.

  33. Laurie Oakes gives a good explanation of the way that Abbott is digging an ever deeper hole.

    [Mr Abbott’s advisers told him he needed to take a strong line right from the start by making it clear there would be no admissions about Australia’s spying activities and no apologies.

    He did that effectively enough in answer to a question from Greens MP Adam Bandt in Parliament.

    Unfortunately it was all he did.]

    Now this is an example of Abbott’s lack of the ” tact, understanding and a willingness to listen” required.
    [Mr Abbott believes he struck up a genuine rapport with Mr Yudhoyono in his visit to Jakarta soon after the election, and he is determined to repair the damage that has been done to that personal relationship.]

    None of the body language we have all seen suggests this rapport. Quite the contrary.

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