Seat of the week: Calwell

A journey around another safe Labor seat in Melbourne that tends not to get too much attention on election night.

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

Calwell covers suburbs around Melbourne Airport in the city’s north-west, including Keilor, Sydenham and Taylors Lakes to the west, Tullamarine to the south, and from Broadmeadows north along Sydney Road to the southern part of Craigieburn. The seat was created with the expansion of parliament in 1984 but at that time the electorate was oriented further to the west, with only the Keilor and Sydenham area west of the Maribyrnong River carrying over to the electorate in its current form. The redistribution which took effect at the 1990 election shifted it eastwards to include Broadmeadows, which it has retained ever since. Substantial changes at the 2004 redistribution saw the electorate lose the areas west of the river to the new seat of Gorton while gaining Sunbury and Craigieburn to the north from abolished Burke, but these were reversed at the 2013 election, when Sunbury and most of Craigieburn were transferred to McEwen and Keilor and Sydenham were returned from Gorton.

Calwell has been won by Labor at each election since its creation by margins ranging from 7.1% in 1990 to 19.7% in 2010, which were respectively the worst and best elections for Labor in Victoria during the period in question. The seat’s inaugural member was Andrew Theophanous, who had been member for Burke from 1980. Theophanous quit the ALP in April 2000 after claiming factional leaders had reneged on a deal in which he was to be succeeded by his brother Theo, who served in the Victorian state upper house from 1988 to 2010 and as a minister from 2002 to 2008. Andrew Theophanous was facing criminal charges at the time of his departure from the party for receiving bribes and sexual favours from Chinese nationals seeking immigration assistance, for which he would eventually be sentenced to four years’ imprisonment, which was halved after one of the major charges was quashed on appeal.

Labor’s new candidate at the 2001 election was Maria Vamvakinou, who shared Theophanous’s Greek heritage and background in the Socialist Left faction, having spent the eight years before her entry to parliament as an electorate officer to factional powerbroker Senator Kim Carr. Vamvakinou went entirely untroubled by Theophanous’s forlorn bid to retain his seat as an independent, which scored him 9.6% of the vote. Vamvakinou had her 17.7% margin at the 2001 election pared back 1.6% by redistribution and 6.9% by a swing to the Liberals at the 2004 election, before enjoying a thumping 11.1% swing in 2007 and a further 0.4% swing in 2010. The redistribution before the September election increased her margin another 0.4%, but she went on to suffer a 6.2% swing that was slightly above the statewide 5.1%, reducing her margin to its present 13.9%. Vamvakinou has remained on the back bench throughout her time in parliament.

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.

1,367 comments on “Seat of the week: Calwell”

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  1. Tism

    Your mob of incompetents couldn’t even protect Christmas Island from invasion, let alone the mainland.

    And your Morriscum said it was because the ocean is big.

    What insights you wankers have.

  2. GhostWhoVotes ‏@GhostWhoVotes 2m
    #Newspoll Primary Votes: L/NP 40 (-3) ALP 38 (+3) #auspol

    Retweeted by George W. Bludger

  3. Centre@1331

    I don’t think the polls will change.

    There all doing xmas shopping.

    What’s the date, good I’ve got another two weeks to go yet

    I looked at theories that the end of year silly-season period influenced polling behaviour. I looked at the theory that December polling would be different to normal in any of the following regards:

    1. The 2PP standing of the Government at the time
    2. The poll to poll change in 2PP.
    3. The 2PP of the Coalition parties
    4. The 2PP of the party that is ahead
    5. As an indicator of voter disinterest levels, the sum of the “uncertain” figure for the PM’s approval question and the Opposition Leader’s.

    I found very little evidence for any of them. Polls move (or don’t move) about as much or as little at this time as any other. Any differences in poll behaviour are minor.

  4. Rossmore:

    [The souls reference was a metaphor for gawds sake … stop splitting hairs on obtuse points]

    Unless you’re religious, you should choose a better metaphor. Indeed, even if you are religious, you should choose one.

  5. Psephos 1336 do you have any values, principles at all? The pokie industry is entirely based on a strategy to extract dollars from low income workers with a massive PR and marketing industry working furiously behind it. It is succeeding spectacularly and its disappointing that sections of the ALP seem to think its better to to acquiesce than mount the political argument. Pokies are in the same ballpark as tobacco. An evil industry.

  6. If you really want to minimise problem gambling, you need to implement three changes:

    1. Slow or prolong the playing time of machines so in effect the time spent on machines is increased for every dollar played.

    2. Increase the return for all winning spins to stop the amount lost in a given time.

    3. Display increments of total losses on machines to warn players how much they’re spending at a particular venue.

    That would go a long way to curbing problem gambling 😎

    Fran, stick to studies of the moon 😆

  7. Sean Tisme is now impersonating Sean Tisme at Menzies House.

    How do you know it was an impersonator Baby Sean ,if you have not visited Menzies House yourself?

    What about your other Trolling Posts there and elsewhere?

    Google is an amazing tool – just like you!

  8. Psphos

    [I know that Mike Kelly for example was told very clearly by all the football clubs in Queanbeyan that if Labor touched their pokies he could forget any chance of re-election, and I think most other NSW Labor members got the same message.]

    Well there you go … lucky they pandered then and saved him from being replaced by that spiv from the BCA or whoever it was.

  9. Also …

    [In fact what happened was that the great NSW working class – you know, those people we represent – told us …]


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