Seat of the week: Murray

The northern Victorian seat of Murray is one of a number of seats in rural New South Wales and Victoria which have drifted from the Nationals to the Liberals after long-serving sitting members retired, Sharman Stone having secured the seat once held by Jack McEwen in 1996.

Blue numbers indicate size of two-party majority for the Liberal Party. Click for larger image. Map boundaries courtesy of Ben Raue at The Tally Room.

Murray covers central northern Victoria including a 200 kilometre stretch of the river that bears its name, from Gunbower east through Echuca to Yarrawonga and Bundalong. From there it extends southwards into the Goulburn Valley region as far as Inglewood in the west and Nagambie and Euroa in the east. Its largest population centre by a considerable margin is Shepparton, home to about a third of its population, followed by Echuca, which accounts for about 10%. The electorate was created with the expansion of parliament in 1949, but its boundaries resembled those of Echuca which existed from federation until its abolition in 1937, when its territory was divided between Bendigo in the west and Indi in the east. Its dimensions have not substantially changed at any time since 1949, apart from a slight reorientation westwards when the electorate of Wimmera was abolished in 1984.

The area in question was the domain of the Country Party from its formation in 1920 until 1996, when Sharman Stone won Murray for the Liberals upon the retirement of Nationals member Bruce Lloyd. John McEwen began his federal parliamentary career as the member for Echuca in 1934 before moving to Indi when it was abolished the following term, then transferred to Murray in 1949 and remained there until his retirement in 1971. McEwen served as leader of the Country Party after 1958 and, for three weeks following Harold Holt’s disappearance at the end of 1967, Prime Minister. McEwen was succeeded on his retirement in 1971 by Bruce Lloyd, who held the seat until 1996. In a sadly typical outcome for the Nationals, the seat fell to the Liberals when Lloyd retired in 1996, Sharman Stone outpolling the Nationals candidate 43.2% to 29.7% and prevailing by 3.7% after the distribution of preferences. The Liberals had intermittently fielded candidates against Lloyd throughout his career, but always finished third behind Labor.

Sharman Stone served as a parliamentary secretary from after the 1998 election until January 2006, when she was promoted to the junior ministry as Workforce Participation Minister. After the 2007 election defeat she assumed environment, heritage, the arts and indigenous affairs, the first named being shared with shadow cabinet member Greg Hunt, before being promoted to shadow cabinet in the immigration and citizenship portfolio when Malcolm Turnbull became leader in September 2008. However, she was demoted to the outer shadow ministry position of early childhood education and childcare when Turnbull was replaced by Tony Abbott in December 2009, having supported Turnbull during Abbott’s leadership challenge, and relegated to the back bench after the 2010 election. In February 2014, Stone accused Abbott of Joe Hockey of lying about union conditions for workers at the SPC Ardmona cannery in Shepparton after the government’s rejection of a bid for $25 million in assistance put the future of its 2700 jobs in doubt. When asked at the time if she intended to remain in the Liberal Party, Stone said only that it was “to be seen how things pan out”.

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.

598 comments on “Seat of the week: Murray”

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  1. I guess we have to believe what the Murdoch papers tell us…
    Abbott’s highly covered overseas trip was a raging success?

    By any objective analysis there appears to be little new that came out of this trip. Abbott made his usual gaffes and attended various events and meetings where it appeared that laughing at his own jokes is becoming more common. Little else occurred.

    Being wedged on climate change is hardly a successful outcome and attending the opening of Wall Street of little consequence.

    To keep his record intact I invite our resident LieNP apologists to provide their points of success (but please, not to simply parrot that the newspapers said it was).

    Any takers?

  2. NATIONALS leader Warren Truss reckons Clive Palmer could go the way of other political “saviours” such as Pauline Hanson.

    He said those who voted for him in protest were ignoring their obligations to democracy and putting their country at risk.

    Reckon Truss believes those who voted anything but for one of the three Coalition parties ignored their obligations

  3. guytaur

    More Hockey fabrications (aka lies). His whole Budget is built on a web of deceit.

    [The report’s author, Associate Professor Roger Wilkins, said Australia was experiencing its lowest level of welfare reliance in decades, possibly since the 1980s.

    ‘‘I’m absolutely bewildered by Hockey’s obsession on welfare reliance in Australia,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s lower than it’s been in a couple of decades, possibly longer.’’]

    Read more:

  4. Morning all. Guytaur, lizzie I think the only welfare crisis Hockey is concerned about is that there are not enough poor people desperate enough to do his house keeping for a pittance.

    But yes once again it is a systematic refutation of another budget lie.

  5. It says a lot about the media when they sold the “budget emergency” lie instead of reporting facts.

    During Labor’s term;
    Australia moved from 15th to 12th biggest economy
    GDP rating went from 17th to 8th
    2013 number one for median wealth
    3rd Lowest net debt among OECD countries
    low unemployment
    low inflation low official interest rates.
    3 x Triple A ratings

    According to the media and Liberals all these are “bad” things.

  6. Today’s first WTF story from the Abbott inner circle, prominent in the Murdoch tabloids. Didn’t he kiss Rupert’s backside long enough?

    [A SINGLE mum has lost a legal stoush with the Prime Minister’s daughter after Frances Abbott broke the lease at her Melbourne rental property.
    A personal visit to the Prahran flat by the PM, as well as an assessment by the Australian Federal Police and Victoria Police, led to Frances Abbott withdrawing from the agreement three days after she signed the one-year contract.
    Landlady Janine Moussi claimed she was entitled to about $1000 — an additional month’s rent — and compensation to cover the period the property was without tenants.
    But the Herald Sun can ­reveal Ms Abbott’s bond was returned and most of the first month’s rent after she claimed she didn’t feel secure in the inner-city flat.]

  7. Good grief! Horrible news from Iraq today and then, of all people, up pops Tony – “Weapons of Mass Destruction” – Blair.

    Has the man no shame? STFU and go away: you’ve done enough damage!

  8. MB

    If Blair did not have a guilty conscience he would not have needed to say anything. He is obviously defensive because he knows his terrible error to support the Bush Jr invasion will tarnish his reputation as PM forever.

  9. I hate the way that Abbott immediately blundered into “full support” for America.

    [Australia is now the seventh-largest importer of major arms in the world and the biggest customer of the largest weapons producer, the US.

    Australia buys 10 per cent of all American weapons exports.
    Figures from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) show Australian imports of major arms – large-scale military materiel such as warships, fighter planes and tanks – jumped by 83 per cent in the five years to 2013, a reaction to increasingly volatile Asian relations and fears the region is set on the path of a dangerous arms race.]

    Read more:

  10. Bloody sooks.

    [Opposition environment spokesman Mark Butler said when legislation to repeal the former government’s carbon package returned to Parliament in the next fortnight, Labor would vote to abolish the carbon tax and for an emissions trading scheme.

    But he signalled it may dump an ETS as the central plank of the party’s policy depending on the international and domestic policy landscape between now and 2016.]

  11. lizzie

    Dumping an ETS as policy will mean more votes for the Greens less for Labor.

    I don’t think Labor are that stupid. Especially after all that pain gone through to get an ETS in.

  12. Well, THIS is interesting:

    [Abbott government is now paying the legal bills for Liberal turncoat Peter Slipper in the long-running sexual harassment suit bought by his former staffer James Ashby.

    In another strange twist in the case, The Australian understands the commonwealth has indemnified Mr Slipper for what is likely to be more than $1 million in legal bills and possible compensation in the sexual harassment case that has been running for more than two years.

    Attorney-General George Brandis, the man who led the charge against Mr Slipper and former attorney-general Nicola Roxon in opposition, has refused to comment on the deal, but it is believed Mr Slipper is now indemnified by the commonwealth in the dispute. Senator Brandis’s office directed questions to Special Minister of State Michael Ronaldson who, in turn directed questions on the issue back to Senator Brandis’s ­office. Neither office has given any comment on why the commonwealth has now agreed to support Mr Slipper ­financially.,d.dGI ]

    I wonder what Mr. Slipper has on them?

  13. The curious case of Frances Abbott and NewsCorpse. The attached screenshot shows she first “lost” the rental bond dispute, and an hour later was changed to “won” the dispute.

    An honest subbie somewhere in the bowels has red ears

    @johndory49: #Murdoch #Abbott:
    Left: Story corrected in 1hr serving interests.
    Right: defiantly uncorrected after 14 days.

  14. BB

    Not sure what the Government Gazette is up to with Slipper? Lies, incompetence or wielding some axe?

    Slipper was indemnified by the outgoing ALP government. Not by the incoming one.

  15. No decisions this govt makes are at professional level.

    [But while it was not uncommon for governments to use public money to prop up their own electorates, he said the government had to decide whether it was going to be political or professional.

    “A real truth is that there’s always a bit of a silver lining or a bit of gold plating around your own electorates {but} I’d like to point out that a three to one ratio is to a new level,” he said.

    Professor Currie said Australia’s independent body for infrastructure decisions, Infrastructure Australia, was not being used by the current government to decide which projects to fund.

    “The question is whether they want to be a professional government or they want to pork barrel, and whether we’ll forge the idea of trying to be professional about how we manage resources or just do it on a political basis.
    “I don’t think that’s how a country should be run.”]

    Read more:

  16. [Asked if that meant the policy might not be an ETS, Mr Butler said he was “not going to indicate one way or the other what we’re going to do because we will do that in a deliberative way” but that the party would look at “all policy options”. ]

    Can people please re read my posts about the Labor policy process?

    It would be foolish to lock the party into any position this far out from an election.

    I would also remind people that every time someone on the Labor side has even twitched when discussing the ETS, we’ve been confidently told by the media that that means the ALP is going to walk away from it.

    At present, all policy options are open – exactly what Butlet is saying. He’s leaving the door open in case the world situation changes between now and the next election, and a better mechanism than the ETS comes along.

    Labor will go to the next election with a policy that supports the best method of reducing carbon emissions to the desired target within the designated timeline.

    If that’s an ETS, then that’s what Labor will be supporting.

  17. [A massive Chinese state-owned company has been given $25 million by the Victorian and federal governments to develop more Latrobe Valley brown coal.

    Shanghai Electric will be announced on Monday as the final winner of government grants for new brown coal pilot projects. It is promising to build a $119 million demonstration plant to process coal into briquettes.

    The Napthine government wants to spark wider development and export of Victoria’s vast brown coal reserves. But environmentalists want brown coal phased out because of its high greenhouse gas emissions when burnt, even compared with more common black coal.]

    Read more:

  18. [The government has been accused of overstating the depth of its consultation with farmers and rural women over its controversial paid parental leave scheme.]

    [..acting prime minister Warren Truss insisted last week that the final shape of the scheme had not been determined because the government was ”talking with the National Farmers’ Federation and rural women’s groups”.]

    [..the NFF has never been consulted on the paid parental leave scheme, nor has Australia’s largest women’s group, the Country Women’s Association.]

  19. Lizzie 21

    The coalition has been guilty of a highly politicised infrastructure spend. Many things are needed due to population growth, but they have chosen to fund the ones needed in liberal electorates.

  20. zoomster – do you have any comment on the ALP waving the Green Army legislation through?

    I don’t see why the ALP would want to do this for any positive motives.

  21. zoomster

    That’s all very logical, but in the meantime people who do not follow the intricacies of Labor policy-making will tend to lose faith.

  22. Jackol

    it wasn’t my impression that they were waving it through. The statement was, I thought, that they weren’t necessarily against it.

    My tip would be that they’ll put up a series of amendments which (unfortunately) won’t get up, and then walk away from it.

  23. Lizzie
    Indeed. They cannot even lie cleverly. Speaking of which, back to Julie Bishop’s lie de jour about the Howard government decision to invade Iraq, she said nobody then could have predicted this outcome. I beg to differ, being one of thousands of people who marched against it in 2003.
    [According to someone called Paul Lambert on Comment is Free:
    All 16 U.S. Intelligence agencies, told George W. Bush in January 2003 that:

    ‘the invasion of Iraq . . . would be likely to spark violent sectarian divides and provide al-Qaeda with new opportunities in Iraq and Afghanistan . . . Analysts warned that war in Iraq also could provoke Iran to assert its regional influence and “probably would result in a surge of political Islam and increased funding for terrorist groups” in the Muslim world’.]

  24. lizzie

    They might, but then most people don’t pay attention to policy details until the election is in the air.

    We get back to Gillard’s roadblock metaphor — it’s not the journey that’s important, it’s the destination.

    Labor is commited to action on climate change. It will commit to the policy that looks like the best way to deliver that, which is highly likely to be the ETS.

  25. Good morning Dawn Patrollers.

    The New Matilda has an alternative view to Abbott’s self-proclaimed very successful overseas trip.
    Something to be proud of during a “budget emergency”?
    An interesting study by Ross Gittins on the mobility of Australians – or lack thereof.
    This really needs to be cracked down upon.
    The Climate Institute exhorts Labor to not back away from emissions trading.
    The problems for some of retiring at the age of 70.
    The Greens draw a line in the Senate sand over clean energy.
    More underhanded work by the Sydney maaates!
    Right on my doorstep this happened/ Why 3 am FFS?
    Can-Do is playing a blinder in putting the legal profession offside.

  26. [Under mounting pressure from his own backbench over perceived inequities in Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s pet policy, acting prime minister Warren Truss insisted last week that the final shape of the scheme had not been determined because the government was ”talking with the National Farmers’ Federation and rural women’s groups”.

    But Fairfax Media has confirmed the leadership of the NFF has never been consulted on the paid parental leave scheme, nor has Australia’s largest women’s group, the Country Women’s Association.

    The NFF doesn’t even have a current policy position on paid parental leave.

    Asked to clarify his comments, Mr Truss’s office said the National Party leader was referring to a recent meeting between the NFF and the prime minister’s office.

    But that meeting was held more than four months ago, on February 11 – well before Nationals such as NSW senator John Williams and Queensland MP George Christensen started agitating publicly against the leave scheme.]

    Read more:

  27. Section 2 . . .

    The data puts the lie to Hockey’s “lifters and leaners” crap. In truth his ideological concern is about the amount of equality relative to other countries.
    If we want to change politics in Australia we must do it ourselves.
    Bob Ellis on Hockey’s numeracy.
    Miscarriage – the last taboo.
    Rural groups call out Truss for telling porkies over the degree of consultation over the PPL.
    Some interesting infrastructure figures that suggest pork barrelling.
    Hockey’s budget shockwaves being felt in NSW.
    Is it laziness or lack of confidence or both that has prevented “urgent” legislation’s presentation so close to July 1?
    Despite Abbott’s explanation of it being a “terminological clarification” it still leaves us like a shag on a rock.

  28. Section 3 . . .

    Clive Palmer in an op-ed gives his stirring pre-match speech.
    Bruce Petty has picked up on Abbott’s frenetic hand movements.

    Pat Campbell and the genie coming out of the bottle in Iraq.
    David Rowe conflates the World Cup with the Middle East situation.

  29. [grace pettigrew ‏
    MGrattan says Govt will only consider #DD if repeal of Carbon Tax is blocked in Senate. Ergo #PUP should block repeal #auspol @abcnews24 ]

  30. So what the heck is the story with F Abbott and the unit.

    Did she sign the lease and then get told by the AFP she wasn’t safe there? OK, fair enough.

    Did she then move out and refuse to make rental payments until the property was re-let as she would have been required to do under the lease?

    Did the landlady take her to court and lose the case on some technical ground.?

    You’d have thought her family would have paid up just to keep the whole thing out of the papers.

    So what’s going on exactly?

  31. This article by Juan Cole (highly recommended source on Iraq) goes into the Bush lies about Iraq and Blair’s possible motives in agreeing with them. Blair was lobbied by BP in 2002.

    What was Howard’s motivation? We got nothing out of it or that lousy US “free trade” deal? Did Bush have dirt on Howard? Did the US have knowledge of the AWB bribery scandal that might have embarrassed Howard ministers?

    Probably not. Why believe the coercion explanation, when mutual love explains everything. Howard loved Bush’s intellect and dynamic leadership. Bush loved Howard’s honesty and charisma. You can easily see why we went to war with two such trusting souls in control.

  32. When honey ain’t honey.

    [‘Victoria Honey’, imported from Turkey, is one of four products identified by the Australian Honey Bee Industry Council as potentially breaching labelling laws amid claims it isn’t made from honey.

    The low-cost one kilogram honey tubs have been found in fruit shops around the country and are part of a sticky flood of similar products competing with local producers.

    According to the industry, more than 200 tonnes of allegedly substandard honey have been imported since complaints were first lodged a couple of years ago.

    Tests have been sent to Germany for analysis, with the industry saying the result show the products do not contain honey and are most likely corn syrup. ]

  33. Jackol

    and, as I said, the support is conditional on some issues being worked through.

    There’s not much point doing the playing nice thing if you single beforehand that the roadblocks you’re putting in the way are going to be insurmountable.

    Labor wants to appear atm as if they’re considering each issue on its merits. That means singling out some which they’ll let through IF certain conditions are met.

  34. “@latikambourke: Greg Hunt not denying Fairfax’s story that he promised the solar industry $$ but was rolled by PM Abbott. ‘Difficult decisions’”

  35. “@latikambourke: Asked if it was humiliating to be rolled by his senior colleagues Greg Hunt says the government had to make difficult decisions re budget.”

  36. Zoomster – sure, but Butler (whom I have rated in the past) has some very odd direct quotes in that ABC article.

    It’s all very well leaving the door open symbolically, but Butler is basically saying “yeah it’s all probably fine and we’ll pass it”.

    Shadow Environment Minister Mark Butler says he has minor concerns with the Green Army, but he’s confident they’ll be addressed by the Department.

    “Some other questions about the interaction of the payment system with other entitlements, but I’m pretty confident that we’re able to work through that. I imagine this bill will get passage in the Senate.”

    There’s not a lot of foreshadowing of significant bargaining/stumbling blocks.

    As you say, it all depends on what they actually do in the Senate. But I don’t understand the political strategy Butler is applying here, and he’s presumably not going rogue so this would be the strategy of the ALP leadership. The Green Army is a dog of an idea. I don’t see why anyone from the ALP should be talking positively about it. I do have a suspicion as to why the ALP might pass it, but it’s a paranoid dark suspicion.

    I will be very unimpressed if the ALP vote the Green Army into existence, and severely downgrade my opinion of Butler and Shorten.

    (And of course all my previous complaints about potentially walking away from emissions trading still stand – but I’ll wait and see what happens there. I agree – on the ETS at the next election issue – that Butler is simply keeping options open, and that’s fine.)

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