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. Morning traitors!

    Peta Credlin has allowed the sun to rise on time, although Scott Morrison will not be in a position to confirm or deny this until next Friday.

    Have a traitorous Sunday!

  2. A golden oldy [June this year]

    [Abbott reiterates Coalition’s plan to stop the boats

    On day one of a Coalition Government, we will begin the work of re-securing our country’s borders.
    .Turn boats around where it is safe to do so
    .Work closely with our neighbours to put in place a strong regional deterrence network to stop people coming into the region]

    More recently:
    [During the reporting period, 162 asylum seekers and six crew arrived in Australia – not including the 27 passengers on the undetected vessel There were four boat interceptions.

    Morrison denied the five boats to arrive in the reporting period represented a spike in arrivals, and refused to draw a link to Indonesia’s cessation of co-operation on people-smuggling operations.]

  3. And from the Land of the Free –

    Looks at this ripper of an ad for Dyson vacuum cleaners!
    Some cartoons on Christmas.
    How to peel and present a mandarin.
    Bill Nye, the Science Guy, says creationism is not suitable for children.

  4. Diogenes@2158 & (Steve777 much later)

    [I hate it when teams don’t enforce the follow-on.]

    Most of the time, it’s the better option. These days, there’s no rest day in test matches, so even when you win, the cost in human resources is higher than it needs to be.

    In this case, there’s a 3-day interval until Perth (4 if they win early) and it makes especial sense to settle the burdens of winning the match more evenly onto the shoulders of your own players than a follow-on would imply, given the amount of time left and the absence of any significant unscheduled breaks in play.

    Psychologically and physically, going out into the field is also far more damaging for the side that has been rolled cheaply on a flat deck than sending them back in on a mission against tiring bowlers.

    That’s why since 2001 at Kolkata (Calcutta) the Australians have been disinclined to enforce. The decision by SRW to do so was probably the worst blunder by an experience Test captain in Cricket history. I shook my head in disbelief, and the defeat it authored cost Australia the series.

    Sidebar: Look across the ditch at our peers the Kiwis who enforced against the Windies. Perhaps they had no choice as time was short, but the Windies did manage to put on 507 batting a second time.

  5. [From the wildebeest to the monarch butterfly, this year many of the world’s great animal migrations are out of whack. ]
    David Wilcove is a Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University and author of the book No Way Home, about migration.

    [It’s not just changes in temperature. It’s changes in precipitation, which can be very important for animals because those precipitation changes affect vegetation. It’s also changes in the extremes of heat, cold, drought, flood, all of that can be very disruptive to animal populations. We’re really basically reshuffling the deck and the consequences are going to be idiosyncratic and difficult to predict.]

  6. “Education Minister Christopher Pyne said Ms Credlin ”gives more freedom to the cabinet and the ministry” than most chiefs of staff he had seen in his 20 years in politics.”

    Read more:

    From Mr Pyne’s statement it is fairly simple to deduce that Ms Credlin is the most controlling CoS he has seen in his 20 years in politics.

  7. After reading lots of claims that Mandela was a “convicted” terrorist I had a check on what he was actually convicted of. Sabotage as it turns out and surprisingly the S.A. authorities got it right.

    If you want terrorism check out the Sharpeville Massacre perpetrated before Mandela decided that “you cannot fight a wild beast with bare hands”

    [The Nelson Mandela(Rivonia) Trial

    At the time of the Rivonia raid, Nelson Mandela was lodged in solitary confinement at a Pretoria jail serving a five-year prison term for leaving the country without a passport and inciting a strike. He began serving time in October 1962.
    ……………..Knowing that no such call would be forthcoming, Mandela retreated to the Rivonia hideout to began planning, with other supporters, a sabotage campaign. The campaign began on December 16, 1961 when Umkhonto we Sizwe saboteurs lit explosives at an electricity sub-station. Dozens of other acts of sabotage followed over the next eighteen months. (Indeed, the government would allege the defendants committed 235 separate acts of sabotage.) The sabotage included attacks on government posts, machines, and power facilities, as well as deliberate crop burning]

  8. ‘Most’ means that he [Pyne] has seen CoS, one or more, that have given more freedom than the current incumbent.

    Or, putting it another way, the current incumbent [Credlin] gives less freedom than other[s].

    And remember, Pyne has’t been a cabinet minister for the past 6 years roughly.

    I reckon Rossmore is correct.

  9. Things must be bad when the news is about the CoS and not the Govt.

    Focus on CoS to take the heat off the useless lying Govt MP’s.

  10. Peta Credlin to Scott Morrison: “We will decide what you say to the country and the circumstances in which you can say it”.

  11. Piers Akerman manages to weave evil unions, the ABC, the ALP and the hated Julia Gillard all into one mighty conspiracy.

    According to Piers, the ABC hasn’t been covering the Slater & Gordon story, so its viewers and listeners will be shocked to hear that Julia Gillard had a fancy-man twenty years ago, and that they went on a Bonny and Clyde-type crime spree at the time, buying and selling houses and otherwise (and this is where it might get sticky for Piers) indulging in “misappropriation of union funds”.

    Early last week, The Australian newspaper revealed that Fair Work Commissioner and former AWU boss Ian Cambridge has given sworn evidence of “gross irregularities” in the union slush fund that Ms Gillard advised on.

    Wilson, who was in a long-term relationship with Ms Gillard in the 1990s is the target of a police investigation and Victorian fraud squad detectives have already seized files from Slater & Gordon, files which Wilson claims should be subject to client-lawyer privilege.

    The detectives are seeking to establish whether the documents were created in furtherance of a fraud, which would render void the privilege claim and make them available as evidence.

    The court heard Mr Cambridge had provided “substantial evidence” in his affidavit about misappropriation of union funds by Ms Gillard.

    There’s a general bit at the end about nasty unions and their slush finds (although Piers doesn’t say why re-election slush funds are so bad… they just sound bad, I guess), and some more ABC-bashing (why in the f–k do they have him on Insiders?), before Piers concludes…

    Next year, the ALP must be given the opportunity to demonstrate it truly has the workers’ interests at heart.

    It will send a disgraceful message if it doesn’t champion the broadest inquiry into the operation of slush funds and the union movement’s handling of members’ money more generally.

    Surely it has nothing to hide?

    How a malignant windbag like Piers, so full of hatred and vitriol, for so much of the time, for so many institutions and people, can bear to live on this Earth with all its vile Leftist associations and conspiracies, beats me.

    While it is a sterling effort, I can only give this column a mark of 9.

    It would have made a perfect 10, except Piers forgot to mention his old favourite, the Heiner Affair. Perhaps he was in a rush to make the deadline?

    Tut, tut, Piers. Work smarter next time.

  12. Morning all, and thanks BK as always. Nice to see pressure on Abbott and Pell to answer questions, even if they have no intention of answering them.

    Yesterday in the Clare valley was lovely, nice wine and a nice lunch. Though I did encounter one rabid climate change denier at a soap shop, who saw the cold weather a few days earlier as proof of no warming pattern. Besides, he had “done a bit of research himself”. Meanwhile some grape growers in the same valley were discussing whether they would shift to planting spanish varieties in the future. Sigh.

  13. AussieAchmed

    The poor diddums may rage against the Credlinator but she is the only one able to suppress Abbott’s inner beast. Such a dilemma. Hilarious.

  14. frednk

    Piers , Henderson and Sheridan battle on as if the Berlin Wall did not come down and the “Domino Theory” is the latest thinking about Sth East Asia.

  15. The intriguing question is who is leaking against Credlin?

    Morrison – nah … the leak humiliated him
    Pyne – nah … he wouldn’t have jumped to her defence if it was
    Ditto Cormann
    Andrews … nah … too loyal
    Brandis …not sure…
    Turnbull – maybe … can see him starting to stir the pot
    Hockey – maybe – his choice of staff was knocked back by Credlin
    Bishop … nah … too busy sorting out the boss’s stuff ups
    The Nats … maybe, but they’re more likely to leak against Hockey
    Hunt … nah, goody two shoes don’t rat
    Robb … well he is in the naughty corner for contradicting the boss

    My money’s on Hockey or his office ….

    What a happy bunch of vegemites … the new term has only just started and already there’s fights in the playground…

  16. Here is an air quality map for 1100 cities in the world.

    […North-America is doing relatively well, Europe isn’t doing as well (probably in part because diesel is more popular as a source of fuel), Asia and most of the Middle-East ares doing pretty badly, and the worst cities are in India, Iran, and Pakistan.]

  17. Rossmore

    Then there are staff members . I’m sure there a plenty of intrigues amongst the palace servants. I dare say the Credlinator has stomped on a few of their precious toes even harder.

  18. [The intriguing question is who is leaking against Credlin?]

    According to Fairfax it’s:
    ‘cabinet sources’
    “several severely disgruntled MPs”
    “one minister said’
    “Coalition Senator Ian Macdonald”
    “business leaders too…”

    Incidentally I read somewhere that Hunt has been put on a tight leash recently, relegated, and was told to shut up.

  19. Speaking as something of a stickler for the retention of nuance in language, I’m disinclined to endorse the generic use of the term “terrorist” for acts of repressive or intimidatory violence by states.

    The problem with this term however is that its usage is almost always pejorative and so it operates rather more as a politico-cultural claim rather than as a dispassionate descriptor some observable phenomenon. The conjuring of the term “War on Terror” completed the transition of the term from one somewhat compromised by its association with the defence of elite interest to one conceivable only in such terms. For that reason, I tend to use the term with linguistic tongs and gloves.

    I recall being impressed some years ago with the efforts of the linguist, Noam Chomsky, who distinguished between what he called retail terrorism — within which he included the activities of groups like the PLO, the IRA and Sendero Luminoso and wholesale terrorism — describing the activities of states, who could conduct their murderous activities at industrial scale. Here, he had in mind, for example, the activities of the US in Indochina and in particular, the Phoenix program — a series of murder for hire initiatives conducted with the client regime in southern Vietnam. Chomsky had taken the politico-cultural content of ‘terrorism’ and reconfigured it to reflect the social content that mainstream usage had mystified.

    Rhetorical pointscoring aside though, one probably should use a specific term for repressive/intimidatory violence by states/state-like organisations. Depending on what it is, terms like genocide, democide, mass murder etc may be apt. I’d use the terms “murder”, and “criminal violence” or “communalist violence” to cover most of the semantic content of activities now placed unproblematically under the aegis of “terrorism”.

  20. Rossmore

    [Mr Morrison, who has been running tightly controlled weekly briefings about the Coalition’s ”stop the boats” policy, Operation Sovereign Borders, was chided by Ms Credlin as they left a cabinet meeting last month.]

    She didn’t even have the sense to do it behind closed doors, in private – virtually anyone could have heard.

    Read more:

  21. Re BB @15 – I think we can be pretty sure that there is nothing in the ‘Hiener Affair’, otherwise it would have been plastered all over the pages of the Murdoch tabloids during Rudd’s second coming, supported by lengthy, turgid pieces in The Australian.

  22. sprocket_@19

    you think we have problems. Here is a pollution map of China – safe level is 25.

    :large” rel=”nofollow”>:large

    Check out this from Shanghai –

    [pollution in Shanghai has reached record levels causing the government to ban cars and cut production across factories. The images below are not photoshopped or edited… this is the day–to-day life in that bustling city looks like… and in case you thought moving inside was ‘safe’, “the fog” is creeping into the buildings too now…

    No wonder they are buying Sydney & Melbourne etc residential property hand over fist. Also an escape route in case of strife etc in China.

  23. Interesting thought for Question Time this week.

    With the Dear Leader Tone heading off to act like he really cares at Mandelas Service (and I believe Bill is going too) I just wonder who will accept the Captains armband and lead the Grown Up Guvment this week in Question Time.

    Do you think that Wazza Trusssssssssssss might spearhead the Fiberal attack.

    Going to be interesting viewing that is for sure. Electrifying in fact.

  24. Poroti, nice post on Shrapville and the reasons why the ANC resorted to violence. Even then, as you say, Mandella was never a murderer. As well as the Sharpville massacre, there was also the appalling rate of black deaths in custody under white police. I have never seen stats for the apartheid era, but this 1990s report illustrates the magnitude of them, most almost certainly murders.

  25. dave

    Posted Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 9:17 am | Permalink


    you think we have problems. Here is a pollution map of China – safe level is 25.


    Check out this from Shanghai –

    Perhaps Hunt could go over there and show them how to plant trees.

  26. Terrorism doesn’t have to involve murder.

    When I was a teenager, terrorism manifested itself as plane hijackings. Although some of these did, indeed, involve deaths, many didn’t.

    It would be ludicrous to say that one (deathless) plane jacking wasn’t an act of terrorism whereas a another one, where there was a death involved, was.

    Acts of saboutage can be acts of terrorism.

    More importantly, of course, is Mandela’s own identification of the saboutage as acts of terrorism, a position he never resiled from.

  27. re reemergence of Gillard – AWU slush fund in 1990s
    Isn’t there a time limit on this sort of stuff?

    If you aren’t pinged for theft within 6 years you will never be.

    Unless this is a media orchestrated smear campaign to blacken the reputations and credibility of unions then the law is becoming a tool of the political party in power and the side with the deepest pockets

  28. jeffemu@34

    Dave @ “30″.

    Morris-scum won’t give the Chowes visa’s. They will be returned via Manus or Narau

    Heaps of Chinese here and they get ready legal access at various levels.

    – Business people can ‘buy’ citizenship subject to bringing in a set amount of $’s/ setting up businesses etc.

    – Uni students get ready access and after they graduate residency/ citizenship is readily available in many cases.

    Young well educated people who have lived here for 3-4 years already and probably have had part time jobs made links to the community etc.

    A lot of apartment purchases in Sydney etc are for their student children to live in initially and then retain as an investment or whatever.

    These measures have been in place under howard tories and Labor in one form or another.

    The wealthy in China are not only investing overseas but wanting to get a percentage of that wealth out of China just in case. The US Canada UK etc all seeing similar things as us.

  29. Socrates

    Thanks for the link. The death rate under apartheid must have been appalling. The numbers in your link were bad enough.

  30. Morning

    [Bill Shorten Pleased to be joining @TonyAbbottMHR at Mandela’s memorial service. It is right that we pause to farewell a defining figure of our time.]

    Therefore Abbott and Shorten will be absent from QT at some stage this week.


    [“We will never know how successful Julia Gillard could have been if she’d led a united party. That is one of the great sadnesses for me.”]

    This publication is a collection of essays “Bewitched and Bedevilled – Women Write the Gillard Years” by various authors, including: Kathy Lette employs every pun under the sun in her amusing letter to Gillard; Jane Caro looks at brand Gillard; Tracey Spicer considers her daughter’s dreams; journalist Claire Harvey provides a reporter’s view; Clementine Ford, Shakira Hussein, Eva Cox, Chloe Hooper, Catharine Lumby, Ruth Hessey, Helen Pringle, and Carol Johnson complete the list.

  32. So Victoria it is going to be a battle of the Vice Captains.

    Hmmmm interesting.

    I believe Tone and Bill will get back late Wed. So its fun and games all week.

  33. confessions

    The coalition have commissioned a productivity report on Holden. My understanding is that it is has been timed to be released after the South Australian election.
    I suspect this was arranged so that if the decision by the feds was not to support the industry further, would not be reflected in a depressed vote for them at the election.
    It is interesting therefore to see the current game playing.


    [A Climate Action Tracker policy brief suggests while Labor’s emissions trading scheme would enable Australia to cut emissions by five per cent on 2000 levels, the Abbott government’s policy won’t meet the Kyoto target.

    “The Abbott government’s proposed direct action program lacks the resources to meet the five per cent from 2000 reduction goal and instead could lead to emissions of about 12 per cent above 2000 levels by 2020,” the policy brief states.
    . . .
    Dr Hare, a lead author of the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, believes the coalition isn’t interested in serious action.
    In Poland for the latest round of UN climate talks, the scientist was critical of the coalition’s decision not to send Environment Minister Greg Hunt to Warsaw.

    “It’s not a good signal, people have commented about it,” Dr Hare told AAP.
    “If you are looking at everything that’s been said by the government the conclusion you have to draw is that the government isn’t very interested in the international negotiations.”]

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