Seat of the week: McMillan

After a long career as a marginal seat, the West Gippsland electorate of McMillan has bucked the statewide trend of recent decades by moving decisively to the Liberals.

McMillan extends through West Gippsland from Pakenham in Melbourne’s eastern outskirts to the western reaches of the Latrobe Valley, and along the coast from Wonthaggi through Wilsons Promontory to Welshpool. It covered broadly similar territory on its creation in 1949, the area having previously been covered by Gippsland and to a smaller extent by Flinders. The redistribution following the expansion of parliament in 1984 caused it to lose its coastal territory while extending further eastwards along the Princes Highway to Traralgon, which was eventually reversed by the redistribution of 2004. The transfer of Traralgon and neighbouring Latrobe Valley towns to Gippsland on the latter occasion substantially weakened Labor, and the seat has been held by the Liberals ever since.

Conservative strength in the rural areas kept McMillan in Liberal hands from 1949 until 1980, barring a National/Country Party interruption from 1972 to 1975 when it was won and then lost by Arthur Hewson. However, post-war growth in the Latrobe Valley strengthened Labor over time, leading to a close result in 1974, a relatively mild anti-Labor swing in 1975, and finally a win for Labor candidate Barry Cunningham in 1980. Cunningham was swept out a decade later with the statewide backlash that cost Labor nine Victorian seats at the 1990 election, but he recovered the seat by a 0.4% margin in 1993. This was not enough to save him from even the relatively modest swing Labor suffered in Victoria at the 1996 election, when Russell Broadbent gained the seat for the Liberals with a swing of 2.5%.

Broadbent first came to parliament in 1990 as member for Corinella, a seat to the immediate west of McMillan which existed from 1990 to 1996. He was defeated at the 1993 election by Labor’s Alan Griffin, who moved to his present home of Bruce with the abolition of Corinella. Broadbent returned as member for McMillan three years later, before again experiencing the sharp end of life in a marginal seat with his defeat 25-year-old Labor candidate Christian Zahra in 1998. Zahra added 2.3% to his margin against the trend of the 2001 election, before emerging a big loser when his electorate traded Morwell and Traralgon for conservative farming and coastal areas around Leongatha and Wonthaggi. Zahra was left needing a 2.9% to retain his seat in 2004, but a 2.1% swing the other way saw it change hands for the fifth time in six elections.

Thus began a remarkable third stint in parliament for Broadbent, who went on to perform very strongly in limiting the swings against him to 0.2% in 2007 and 0.4% in 2010, before securing his hold with a swing of 7.6% in 2013. He has been assisted by a trend against Labor in the Latrobe Valley and surrounding areas, which has been equally evident at state level. Broadbent has failed to win promotion, but has generated headlines on a number of occasions with his liberal positions on asylum seekers.

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.

3,364 comments on “Seat of the week: McMillan”

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  1. Good morning Dawn Patrollers.
    George Street, a place NOT to be!
    And this inept management at Myer dig the hole deeper.
    Conservative values come to the surface.
    “In a submission to the federal government, Mr Barnes wrote that it could save $750 million by forcing patients who are presently bulk-billed to pay $6 to visit their GP.” It doesn’t matter how one spins it, it is an impost on those least able to pay.
    What is our society coming to?
    An interesting article on our freedoms by a NSW law professor.
    Alan Moir is a bit cynical about the prospects of a second Sydney airport.
    MUST SEE! David Pope has a manic Abbott kite flying on a seaside holiday.

  2. Morning all. A former Abbott advisor states the obvious follow on of the $6 fee proposal.
    [The author of the plan to charge a $6 fee for GP visits says hospitals may have to charge a similar fee to stop patients from clogging up emergency departments.
    Terry Barnes, the author of a controversial submission advocating the end to free doctor visits for bulk-billing patients, said a similar fee should apply to emergency departments to stop patients abandoning GP services.]

    I personally have no problem with the small hospital fee proposal. People clogging up emergency wards with minor ailments is socially harmfull, and has nothing to do with social justice. It will not prevent treatment of genuine emergencies.

  3. Don

    [Interesting that catholics in the US haven’t taken to heart the Pope’s approval of evolution.]

    They are still in the Jurassic period. 😉

  4. Good morning, thank you BK the links each morning have given me a quick overview during my travels through northern WA. Often found myself in areas with limited access to Internet and was able to quickly find out the news of the day. It is weird being on the east coast and not having a couple of hours of posts to read with my morning coffee.
    On the subject of health care, if Tony really doesn’t want to subside organisations he needs to abolish our 2 tier health services. If health insurance companies and private hospitals are making a fortune, subsidised by taxes, then this money could be better spent on actual health care. Imposing a fee on bulk billed visits will be detrimental to those who can least afford it and further increase the divide between rich and poor. Why is the government subsidising elective services and Caesarians for private patients while planning charges for low income people to access basic care.

  5. I would encourage keen media scanners interested in international news to read the Al Jazeera website, for an increasingly broad range of news and articles. Unlike most of our media, they are not currently on holidays. Amazing to see the number of stories reported there not picked up here.

    This article on expensive cities closing themselves off to young creative people is interesting. I could say the same about Australian universities…

  6. Socrates @3
    [I personally have no problem with the small hospital fee proposal. People clogging up emergency wards with minor ailments is socially harmfull, and has nothing to do with social justice. It will not prevent treatment of genuine emergencies.]

    A purpose built GP superclinic is sitting vacant at the front of Redcliffe Public Hospital. This should be full of bulk-billing GPs and open 24 hour a day 7 days a week to take the load off the Emergency Dept. The Newman Govt has procrastinated on putting in the staff. Why? To discredit the Rudd/Gillard Govt during the Federal election?
    Yvette D’Ath’s campaign office is directly opposite this much needed facility, she was one of the driving forces in its establishment, surely the voters around there will wake up to the LNP, destroyers not community minded at all.

  7. Forcing people to pay a $5 fee to visit the doctor is much better for the budget than making the miners pay a mining tax, better than taxing superannuation earnings over $100k and better than stopping the FBT rorts.

  8. Now that I’ve an iPad I’ve started exploring the world of apps. No 1 son suggested “Pandora” and it really is a very nice app. It’s a way of creating your own personalised music stream,

    Unlike those audio tape mixes you’d make up for the car cassette or parties back in the 1970s this one doesn’t exactly give you what you want. You might ask for Bob Dylan and get a selection of tracks that have similar attributes – harmonicas, folk influences, political lyrics and gravelly-voiced male vocals. Apparently the app also considers what others making similar choices have also chosen in selecting your stream. You can reject tracks individually of course with a thumbs down or by choosing to say you’re tired of listening to it.

    At first I saw this more open and random music delivery as a weakness and somewhat annoying, but actually, IMO, this is a strength because you end up with a more eclectic experience and include things you’d not known existed. The app also provides interesting biographic details on the artists as the track is being streamed. For example, I found the stuff on some blues person called “Leadbelly” fascinating if rather sad.

    That this app is free makes it all the more impressive.

  9. socrates

    [interested in international news to read the Al Jazeera website]

    Most of their stuff is good.

    Not reliable however in political reporting in the immediate Gulf area.

  10. Having just caught up with the overnight discussions here, all I can say about the changes in boat arrivals is /who the hell cares/? This particular statistic has no relevance to anything outside the basest politics (on both sides of the party-political divide). Sure it might be satisfying for Labor supporters to hit back at idiots like Sean about the origins of the current policies, but how many of the people making those points actually support the kind of inhumane treatment that’s inherent in “stopping the boats”?

    Surely the far saner option when dealing with Sean is to simply ignore him? It’s not just feeding the troll, it’s also letting the conservatives frame the discussion in terms of meaningless statistics rather than the ethical and practical issues involved with assylum seeker policies.


  11. Should a person get health care at their GP because they are sick or because they can spare $5 out of their meagre household budget?

  12. Fran, I am also a new owner of an iPad. Could you ask son No 1. How to use the Windows control-f (find) on an iPad. I often want to search a web page for a term and I can’t seem to do it. I have googled it and get a lot of hits for finding my iPad (which is not a problem as it is on my lap!)

  13. Perhaps instead of imposing a $5 fee the Govt should perhaps look at what locums are getting paid in the north-west.

    Over $2000 per day plus car plus accommodation plus airfares. No this not what taxpayers are paying specialists, they cost more.

  14. Morning all.

    Leadershit, only there’s no obvious replacement for Barnett.

    [Liberal backbenchers have flagged the prospect of a delegation of MPs using the party’s upcoming regional “love-in” to tell Premier Colin Barnett to lift his game in the face of worrying poll figures.

    A weekend Newspoll recorded the Liberal primary vote having fallen more than 11 per cent since the March State election to 36 per cent, and for the first time Opposition Leader Mark McGowan led Mr Barnett as preferred premier.

    Despite the gloom, a move on Mr Barnett by the Liberal Party room appears unlikely for now because of a lack of clear successor.

    “There’s no one. Simply no one,” a senior Liberal told _The West Australian _ yesterday.]

  15. [The WA Electoral Commission annual returns for 2012-13 cement the Liberals’ WA branch as the war chest of the Federal party, revealing it got three times as much income as in the previous year and more income than all the other political parties in WA combined.

    In total, the WA Liberals received more than $11.36 million in donations and other income, compared with Labor’s $5.82 million and the Greens’ $1.31 million.

    The Liberals’ 500 Club fundraising arm made the biggest donation – of $425,000 – while the party’s biggest single contributor was long-time donor Kreepy Krauly magnate Terry Jackson, who pitched in $150,000.]

    Unsurprisingly, the Shooters and Fishers party receives most of its donations from the firearms industry.

  16. AA, a few questions I have about the is $5/6 co contribution
    1. Isn’t it just a reduction of the $35 rebate people are getting now?
    2. How will Drs be compelled to charge it? Surely if they bulk bill now, they will continue just get $5/6 less.
    3. How many Drs bulk bill now?. Most make you pay a co-contribution -$35 for my Dr and $70 for my wife’s. There are no bulk billing clinics around here – I suppose some Drs decide to give some of their patients a break and not charge the extra co-contribution.

    As for Sean’s reluctance to pay for hospital cover. No-one tell him that after 30 years of age, for every year he doesn’t take out cover, his premium will go up by 2% for the rest of his life. So if he decides to take it up at 40, he will pay an extra 20% on the premium for the rest of his life. (Unless he stops for a period of time and then the 2% increase continues).

    This was designed for people like Sean who have decided to self insure during his healthy years and then get cover when they are older and are a higher risk. The extra 2% per year, for every year he delays, is designed to cover the extra risk. So we should be thanking Sean to cover himself early and then paying later for it.

    What struck me about Sean is that he sees this as an economic question. With health, it is not an economic issue, but about risk management – something that he doesn’t seem to understand (yes, I know this is not unusual).

  17. AussieAchmed
    Having just spent time with some young families I can assure you that need to go to a GP motivates any doctors visit and any additional cost means a cut somewhere else. If you don’t have a health card the visit will have an additional cost because of prescription fees. The cost of living in Perth suburbs makes every dollar count and not everyone is FIFO. There may be a small percentage of people who overuse health services but why should everybody suffer. The gap paid for non bulk billing is $30 dollars plus, if you can find a clinic taking patients and the private health insurance being prioritised by these families doesn’t cover this.

  18. @billshortenmp: Thinking of everyone on the Pilbara coast enduring Cyclone Christine – stay safe and know you’re in our thoughts this #NYE

  19. Assantdj

    Posted Tuesday, December 31, 2013 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    Having just spent time with some young families I can assure you that need to go to a GP motivates any doctors visit and any additional cost means a cut somewhere else. If you don’t have a health card the visit will have an additional cost because of prescription fees. The cost of living in Perth suburbs makes every dollar count and not everyone is FIFO.

    I am living in Broome after spending years living/working in the Pilbara.

    Fees etc in the north-west appear to be based around the earnings of the mining workers. The COL is tough on those living in these areas on the minimum wage. Not everyone in Karratha etc work for the mining companies.

    Sorry, think its tough financially in the metro, its even tougher in the north

  20. PB

    I found this:

    [When using Safari, type the word or phrase that you are trying to find in the search box in the upper right corner and a pop up box will appear with a number of choices for you. At the bottom of that pop up box there is a heading that says “On this page” in a grey bar. Tap that search word in the bottom of the box and that’s how you do a find for the word or phrase in Safari.]

    Alternatively there’s apparently also a chrome app that you can load into IOS7 that does the job pretty well.

  21. I just tried searching for the word “iPad” on this page by putting it int the address bar. There was an on this page option at the bottom of the choices. It worked, PB

  22. Morning all

    I have always enjoyed Antiques Roadshow…..

    [A painting that hung on the wall of a priest’s home for more than a decade after he bought it for £400 ($745) at an antiques shop has been identified as a van Dyck portrait worth a thousand times as much.
    The work, previously dismissed as a copy, was valued at £400,000 ($745,000) after its owner had it evaluated on Antiques Roadshow and is the most valuable painting to be identified in the 35-year history of the BBC television program.]

    Read more:

  23. BK # 1 thanks for links as always.

    Re the George WIlliams article I am very disappointed and annoyed by his article re Tim Wilson (the man whose qualifications as Human Rights Commissioner are that he is a climate denying tobacco advertising lobbyist)

    It is just not true that the Human Rights Commission needs such an appointment to make it focus on traditional freedoms, let alone the human rights implications of anti-terrorism laws.

    This page among “current projects” on their site provides a very long list of work on human rights and terrorism laws:

    Read before you pronounce, Prof. Williams …

  24. GG

    Some friendly advice if you’re around.

    A movie just released is Philomena, starring Judy Dench (and for which I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s a top running contender for an Oscar).

    To avoid serious apoplexy can I suggest that you do not go and see the movie.

    I thoroughly enjoyed it although 3 days later I am still trying to get the thought out of my mind that the nuns involved must surely be still furiously burning in hell for their wicked deeds, if there is a God and if he/she is just.

    It is based on the true story “The Lost Child of Philomena Lee” by journo Martin Sixsmith.

  25. PeeBee@21

    3. How many Drs bulk bill now?. Most make you pay a co-contribution -$35 for my Dr and $70 for my wife’s. There are no bulk billing clinics around here – I suppose some Drs decide to give some of their patients a break and not charge the extra co-contribution.

    Not sure about number of doctors, but 80% of visits to a GP are bulk billed.


    [Bulk-billing rates have been steadily rising to more than 80 per cent of 115.5 million total non-referred visits to GPs last year – about five per person.

  26. New Years Eve – nothing to celebrate.

    Tomorrow we will still have a Coalition Govt that has no social conscience, no empathy or sympathy.

    Abbott learned nothing in his time in the seminary or from his religion.

    The $5 fee is a “let them eat cake” decision.

  27. There is a To The Manor Born joke here somewhere.

    “@BBCBreaking: Actresses Penelope Keith & Angela Lansbury become dames, knighthood for sculptor Antony Gormley in UK New Year’s Honours list”

  28. AussieAchmed
    I have just spent 5 months caravanning around between Carnarvon and Derby. Lovely to see but wouldn’t want to live there.
    I think that on so many levels our great country is sinking, profit at all cost has replaced decent human behaviour. I also fear this will get worse especially in areas of social equity. Nobody should have to delay health and dental care because of cost. It appears health reform is all about tinkering at the edges so as not to upset vested interests instead of meaningful reform to deliver better outcomes.

  29. “@HillbillySkill: Rural Drs Assoc are correct. Why not reduce ridiculously high Medicare Rebates to Specialists like Dr Bill Glasson,instead of $5 co-payment?”

  30. I suspect the reason for the high rate of bulk billing is that the medicos have done their sums.

    Somebody who is getting a consultation for free is perfectly happy (as I am) to be in and out in five minutes if what you are worrying about is groundless, or if all you need is a look at your throat, check your heart and lungs and a prescription.

    But if somebody is paying the full rate, maybe they want the full catastrophe, and a half hour consultation when it is not really necessary.

    I suspect you can make a lot more money with short consultation bulk billing patients than you can with full fee paying clients and long consultation times. And no bad debts.

  31. “”The author of the plan to charge a $6 fee for GP visits says hospitals may have to charge a similar fee to stop patients from clogging up emergency departments.””

    How much RED tape will be involved keeping track of all this!.

  32. “@BBCBreaking: 1,195 people receive UK New Year’s Honours, with more women than men included for first time in modern honours system”

  33. liyana

    Pv Onselen has already decided that Brandis doesn’t know the meaning of partisan.

    Those bookshelves were obviously just for show and self-grandisement, not for learning!

  34. psyclaw

    I have a family friend whose mother (an only child and adopted) had become pregnant out of wedlock in the early sixties. Her adopted parents had decided to send her away to a convent so that she could give birth to this child, away from the glaring eye of the public. The very sad part of this story is that her parents unbeknown to her, authorised adoption of this child. She was told by her parents that the baby died whilst giving birth. She believed them.
    Imagine the surprise 40 years later, having a woman knocking on your door who is a spitting image of your mother.
    The betrayal felt by my friend and her mother is still having repercussions on their lives. There were no answers from her parents as to this betrayal, as father had died and mother was in a nursing home with dementia.
    Ironically this family is not even Catholic, and have never followed any faith. At the time they thought it was an elegant solution to a problem. I could never understand why they did not choose to helo their daughter raise this child. After all, they only had the one child themselves and were in a very good financial position to do so.

  35. Vic & Psyclaw
    The human tragedies surrounding adoptions, forced and otherwise, are countless and we tend to know more about those in Western societies whereas presumably it’s worse (and undocumented) and for different reasons in many 3rd world countries. However we should be careful not to say “one size fits all” and I’m sure many human tragedies have also been avoided by adoptions in the right circumstances. It’s hard to envisage any forced adoptions as falling into that category but where drugs/mental illness/domestic violence is involved that may well be the case and some of the domestic child murders may well have been avoided by forced adoption. Who has the 20/20 (hindsight) vision to make a call!?

  36. psyclaw,

    I suggest you read Dickins. He’ll expose a society of the 19th Century that was not particularly nice.

    Brutish times and certainly imposing your comfortable 21st Century value systems on a different time and place might make you feel smug. But, I suppose the warmer inner glow rhetorical igorance will sustain you in 2014.

  37. Liyana

    [Brandis in The Australian – ” human rights are innate” Unbelievable ! I don’t think he knows what innate means …..]

    Well he might be using “innate” in this context to claim that rights attach in virtue of birth rather than something present in the DNA of all humans born. Innate usually implies an attribute found post- birth but present before, presumably in our genes, but the literal merely specifies “at birth” and could certainly describe one’s social patrimony – the legacy bequeathed by previous generations to every newly arrived human.

    It is the case of course that the word, innate, is frequently misused as an intensifier in describing strong attributes, which in our culture are seen as more authentic if they are seen as of nature rather than of nurture or of learning/experience. I’ve heard cricket commentators describe someone as someone who has an innate capacity to pick the bad ball or innately knows where his off stump is.

    I’m no pal of Brandis but he’s probably on reasonable semantic ground here.

  38. victoria@43
    I just find such cruelties beyond comprehension.

    I suppose I was unaware, as a teenager, of a lot that went on, but I don’t remember the sixties as being like that, although certainly the sixties were not far removed from such practices being commonplace.

  39. Adoption

    To understand, you have to take yourself back to when sex before marriage was never admitted to, and a pregnancy was proof of such behaviour. The pill hadn’t been invented, other methods were not foolproof. The acceptable solution was for a girl to “go and stay with relatives for a while” and return home as if nothing had happened.

    That was the culture of the times.

  40. Vic

    There is an apparently great movie being released in theaters this January on that very subject of children born “out of wedlock” and adopted out.

    It is called “Philomena” and stars Judi Dench and Steve Coogan.

    This is the trailer and yes it involved the Catholic practice of adopting children out.

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