Seat of the week: Maribyrnong

Bill Shorten’s electoral home in Melbourne’s inner north-west extends from marginal Essendon and Moonee Ponds in the east to rock-solid Labor St Albans in the west.

Red and blue numbers respectively indicate size of two-party majority for Labor. Click for larger image. Map boundaries courtesy of Ben Raue at The Tally Room.

Bill Shorten’s electorate of Maribyrnong has covered a shifting area around Essendon in Melbourne’s inner north-west since its creation in 1906. It presently extends westwards from Essendon through Niddrie and Avondale Heights to St Albans. Labor has held the seat without interruption since 1969, prior to which it was held for the Liberals for 14 years by Philip Stokes. Stokes had emerged a beneficiary of the Labor split ahead of the 1955 election, at which preferences from the ALP (Anti-Communist) candidate enabled him to unseat Labor’s Arthur Drakeford by 114 votes, in what was only Labor’s second defeat since 1910. The seat finally returned to the Labor fold at the 1969 election when it was won by Moss Cass, who secured enough of a buffer through successive swings in 1972 and 1974 to survive Labor’s electoral winter of 1975 and 1977. In 1983 he bequeathed a double-digit margin to his successor Alan Griffiths, who enjoyed a 7.4% boost when the 1990 redistribution added St Albans, which remains a particularly strong area for Labor. Griffiths was succeeded in 1996 by Bob Sercombe, who chose to bow out at the 2007 election rather than face preselection defeat at the hands of Australian Workers Union national secretary Bill Shorten.

Shorten came to parliament with a national reputation after positioning himself as the public face of the Beaconsfield mine disaster rescue effort in April-May 2006, and wielded great influence in the Victorian party factional system as a chieftain of the Right. However, Shorten was known to be hostile to Kevin Rudd, and rose no higher than parliamentary secretary for disabilities and children’s services during Rudd’s first term as Prime Minister. Shorten then emerged as one of the initiators of the June 2010 leadership coup, together with Victorian Right colleague David Feeney, and interstate factional allies Mark Arbib in New South Wales and Don Farrell in South Australia. After the 2010 election he was promoted to the outer ministry as Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation, and he then won promotion to an expanded cabinet by further taking on the employment and workplace relations portfolio in December 2011. Nonetheless, Shorten’s political stocks were generally thought to have been depleted by the political travails of Julia Gillard, whom he crucially abandoned in June 2013 to facilitate Kevin Rudd’s return. For this he was rewarded with a portfolio swap of financial services and superannuation for education.

After the 2013 election defeat, Shorten and Anthony Albanese of the Left emerged as the two candidates for the first leadership ballot held under the party’s new rules, in which the vote was divided evenly between the party membership and caucus. Albanese proved the clear favourite of the membership, in part reflecting the taint Shorten was perceived as carrying from his involvement in successive leadership coups against sitting prime ministers. However, Shorten’s 55-31 victory in the caucus vote was just sufficient to outweigh his 59.92%-40.08% deficit in the ballot of approximately 30,000 party members, the combined result being 52.02% for Shorten and 47.98% for Albanese.

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.

1,141 comments on “Seat of the week: Maribyrnong”

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  1. Good Morning

    A boat off Christmas Island. Not from Indonesia. What a quandary for Abbott and Morrison.

    Send it to Indonesia is a guarantee of destroying the relationship in the middle of an election campaign. Send it back to India and start a new diplomatic row with India.

    Let the boat land and have the policy fail.

  2. Good morning Dawn Patrollers. Plenty of weekend reading here.

    So what’s changed?
    Cormann is on our side. So there’s nothing to worry about with FoFA and ignoring the Senate Committee recommendations.
    Michael Pascoe on how these financial planning issues go right to the top.
    MUST READ! Mike Seccombe forensically examines the role of the Murdoch media and the IPA in the Big Tobacco conspiracy.
    Peter FitzSimons. The best bit tis the last bit.
    Brandis puts up the barricades to prevent any disclosure on free speech legislation submissions. What delicious irony!
    Anne Summers – Pru Goward has “excelled” herself.
    Punishment rather than protection is behind Morriscum’s law changes.

  3. Section 2 . . .

    Big U-turn on WestConnex as they realise it just won’t work.
    Oh yes WestConnex. Remember this?
    So will Muslim or Pastafarian chaplains be allowed to buy their way in to school chaplaincy?
    So much for Abbott’s “reconsideration” of the $7 copayment.
    This is the fine, upstanding priest that Abbott went in to bat for.
    Just what they need – a youthful, forward thinking new broom!
    Lenore Taylor on how Abbott has set himself up to be hung by his own words.
    So the healthy food star ratings get up. Nice work Fiona!
    Robert Manne – the Iraqi War of the Shilling.

  4. I think we owe a thank you to Al Gore and the persuasive Don Henry. Not only did they save the carbon furniture in Oz but a lot of countries look to us for regional guidance. A complete exit from us of any carbon abatement would scare the horses at what appears to be a crucial juncture of general agreement with the upcoming GW talks in Poland and then France.

  5. Following on from last night conversation about the Jews and correct paperwork for migration.

    These people had the correct paperwork.

    [When the first European refugees arrived in Australia after the second world war, under the displaced persons migration scheme, their number included dozens of fascist collaborators from central and eastern Europe. Amongst them were officers, like Kalejs, of the Arajs Kommando, the Nazi-controlled Latvian security police, a volunteer police auxiliary which, by mass shootings, mobile gas vans or deportation to concentration camps, wiped out Latvia’s 70,000 Jews and murdered other racial, religious and political targets of the Nazis.

    There were also Croatian fascists, whose cruelty is said to have sickened even hardened German Nazis. One of them was Srecko Rover, alleged to be the fanatical officer in charge of a mobile killing unit which massacred Jews, Serbs and, especially, communist-led partisans in the Balkans. Recruited by US intelligence before arriving in Australia in 1950, Rover immediately began a decades-long career as an ASIO agent and organiser of terrorist operations against left-wing migrants and President Josep Bros Tito’s communist Yugoslav government.

    How did these killers slip through the screening process which was supposed to weed out war criminals from genuine refugees? Post-war confusion, incompetence, diffidence and corruption by Allied immigration officials in Europe were partly to blame.]

  6. I’m not big noting us as though we make a big difference in the scheme of things but I bet a lot of S.E. Asians worry when a JSF might crash land in their village.

  7. Kezza2

    I won’t be around today but if you are, scroll down this site and watch Tom Watson attempt to put the VIP paedo ring on the agenda in UK parliament.

    Plus, another interesting point, I was totally unaware of Savile being a suspect ‘collaborator’ in the ‘yorkshire ripper’ murders.

  8. Dee

    as someone whose father was on the first boat out in 1947 – no, they didn’t have any paperwork at all.

    My father spent the last part of the war in an American PoW camp, from which he escaped, carelessly leaving any paperwork he might have had behind him (after spending three weeks soaked to the skin due to inadequate accommodation, I doubt there was much left).

    The UN issued him with papers. However, there were hundreds of thousands of people in exactly the same situation, so it would simply have been impossible for them to do adequate checks (and, of course, many of the avenues for adequate checking had been destroyed).

    The checks were so cursory that my grandparents didn’t know my father was still alive until he married my mother, thirteen years after he arrived in Australia.

  9. Roger Bottomley and others from last night

    Blogs are very dangerous places. It appears that I made a serious error last night when, in an exchange with Kezza about Savile, I used the word “understand”. This has been taken to mean that I am defending the man. I am not.

    A psychologist wrote an article analysing the possible characteristics that lead to such indefensible behaviours as Savile engaged in.

    [It’s easy to label him evil, but if we are to avoid future abusers like him we must try to understand him]

    Many social media contributors seem very keen to jump to instant moral judgement, presumably to give themselves a feeling of superiority. This is also encouraged by the msm, because outrage is easier to write than thoughtful analysis.

    As a one-time social science student, I have always sought to understand behaviour rather than instantly condemn it. I want the full story, not the headline. This does not mean that I support crime of any kind. A thief is still a thief, whatever his/her motivation. A rapist is still a rapist.

  10. In Iraq mass executions are continuing.

    It took Britain at least 300 years to develop effective democracy, and the rule of law and individual legal rights like habeus corpus and fair trials came first by several centuries. Who was stupid enough to think we could graft democracy onto Iraq (or Russia) any faster, when the rule of law and all the supporting social conventions were so conspicuously absent? The ethnic tensions and lawlessness are still there under the surface. Now they are raging unfettered. Invading this place to topple one dictator was madness.

  11. Great read from Latham. Thanks for posting.

    Dickhedley Thomas is a true journo scum bag.

    I hope he come a cropper in a big way.

  12. What a tragedy we have a pack of illiterate fools at our head.

    [Pyne was never a fan of the Gonski plan.  As the opposition’s education spokesman, he infamously didn’t even bother to read the initial report before emerging to attack it. He declared that New South Wales premier Barry O’Farrell had been “conned” by Julia Gillard into signing up. “In fact this is not a Gonski response, it is a Conski,” he quipped.]

  13. Thanks for the links BK. For better or worse the Newscorpse papers are in our work lunch room and it is striking how hard they are working now to either make Abbott look good or hide him when he is in trouble. They know their boy is in trouble. Even a conservative friend agreed the budget was “odd”. Have a good day all.

  14. Mildly amused by last night’s comments – in the rush to correct me, various Green posters demonstrated that it is a lie to say that Labor only introduced a public dental policy at the behest of the Greens, and that, in fact, Labor had been trying to introduce such a policy since 2007.

  15. zoomster

    The truth about a public dental scheme is like the ETS. Both Labor and the Greens have been trying to get it done.

    The legislation was a joint effort and as usual both parties are claiming credit.

    We can say the LNP had nothing to do with it

  16. Thanks for the link to Latham. Great smack-down of Hedley Thomas and his various pieces about the Gillard-AWU affair.

    [Journalism of this kind is not only incompetent, it’s wilfully malicious. It’s a betrayal of professional standards, whereby the public should be given the whole story, not just selective quotes for political purposes.

    But then it got worse. In previewing the royal commission’s hearings on the Bolt Report on June 8, Thomas declared that Spyridis’s “evidence will be really interesting because he has said little on the public record”.

    This was brazenly untrue. Spyridis had said a great deal, all of it clearing Gillard. Thomas seemed psychologically incapable of allowing these words to pass his lips.

    This is typical of his style: concentrating on material damaging to Gillard’s reputation.

    Thomas is a cunning master of the politics of smear – reason enough to monitor his work and write about the injustice of what he does.]

  17. zoomster:

    Labor took a national dental health scheme to the 2007 election, and it’s been Labor policy since then as far as I’m aware. Perhaps those Greens insisting otherwise weren’t paying attention to politics at the time?

  18. There’s some nasty stuff brewing between the Nationals and Liberals locally, part of it because of the covert National party support given to Cathy McGowan, partly because the Libs are running in a candidate in a seat the Nats see as theirs —

    — usually the Nationals help the Liberals campaign in Liberal held seats. Not this time, it seems…

    …and Bernie Finn, being his usual charming self, hints that he should have run a former (very well respected locally) Nationals MP down in the Parliament House car park.

  19. guytaur

    no, not ‘the same goes for Labor’.

    Labor had a public dental policy prior to the 2007 election.

    The Greens are saying that the only reason a public dental policy was introduced after 2010 was because the Greens forced Labor to introduce one, as a condition of their support.

    That’s simply a lie.

    If the Greens simply said ‘we supported the introduction of a public dental scheme’ I’d have no problems.

    It’s the pretence – like the similar pretence about carbon pricing – that it wouldn’t have happened if it had just been up to Labor that I’m objecting to.

  20. confessions

    Labor set up Medicare. Labor did not include dental, in that.

    Greens have argued these should be part of Medicare.

    Labor when back in government has made some moves in that direction the Greens said those moves did not go far enough.

    Just like pricing carbon both claiming credit

  21. BB 22

    Very true. Most electricity power rises here in SA have been due to the cost of fixing a run down network, where almost no maintenance was done in the entire 1990s. The carbon tax was a second order effect, and well compensated.

  22. confessions

    Its a matter of public record that in 12 years of Labor government no dental in Medicare.

    That is the reality that cannot be changed.

    Just accept the Greens are claiming credit. Labor can prove its policy next time its got a majority government. I am not expecting another hung parliament.

  23. guytaur

    Again, I’m not denying the Greens a share of credit, just pointing out it is a lie to pretend that Labor was forced by the Greens to introduce a public dentistry schem.

  24. zoomster

    Get over it. The Greens think Labor only did it due to pressure given that history in government.

    Its political rhetoric that all parties do. At least the Greens did have some involvement in passiing the legislation.

    Its not like the Greens are in government claiming credit for infrastructure that Labor set up.

    The battle is to save Medicare. Something on which the Greens do give Labor full credit for setting up.

  25. guytaur


    The Greens knew – as last night’s posts confirmed – that Labor had a public dentistry policy ready to go, that it was dependant on the passage of other legislation, and blocked the legislation (I’m sure their reasons were good and pure).

    So to say that they ‘thought’ Labor wouldn’t have implemented a public dentistry policy without the pressure of minority government suggests that the Greens had very short memories.

    I don’t know why you’re defending lying.

  26. Zoom, Not sure if you have read this one yet?

    [So just who is the mysterious Bede Fennelly?

    Well suffice to say he was no Benedictine Monk, however nor was he an employee or representative of Philip Morris.

    Bede Fennell was in fact an employee of British American Tobacco and doesn’t spell his surname with a Y, Mr Fennell never worked for Philip Morris.

    Despite the Commissions attempts to link the tobacco donations to the Labor Party Bede Fennell is also a former Director of the NSW Branch of the Liberal Party.

    Many may remember Mr Fennell as being part of the “Wentworth Seven” that involved Malcolm Turnbull back in 2003-2004.

    In 2007 details emerged of a secret apparent slush fund called “Friends Of Indi” that was discovered after former Liberal Member Sophie Mirabella neglected to declare it in direct breach of Australian Electoral Commission regulations and included donations from British American Tobacco.

    Bede Fennell at the time stated that he thought the money was being donated to the Liberal Party. However Fennell went even further stating:

    “For us that’s the main thing. That’s why we disclose it. We wouldn’t be giving money to bodies that aren’t connected to the Liberal Party.”]

  27. Yeah guytaur, 12 years with no dental in medicare and the then opposition takes a policy to the 2007 election to introduce a national dental scheme. Your point being?

  28. zoomster

    I am not referring to last nights posts because I have not gone back and read them.

    I am talking about how you are being a bit precious about political reality.

    You are whining because the Greens are making political capital about something without mentioning Labor. Like it or not that is how politics works. Its just like Labor talking about its achievements without mentioning the help of the Greens.

    Your party does it all the time. You also hate it when the LNP tells you that it only happened because the Greens were there.

    So just accept the political reality that the Greens are claiming credit for something and not mentioning Labor just as Labor does.

    Both parties do it. Both for political purposes to keep party identity separate.

  29. sprocket

    sigh. You wouldn’t believe how hard I worked to try and get the local media to dig into the ‘Friends of Indi’.

  30. confessions

    12 years of Labor government I was referring to. As I suspect you know if you had read my post to zoomster referring to Hawke/Keating

  31. [The Abbott government has put intense pressure on Commonwealth Bank chief executive Ian Narev to make a more ”considered” public response to the bank’s financial planning scandal, possibly including a beefed-up compensation scheme costing hundreds of millions of dollars.


    Loving that this has all come to light when the govt is winding back Labor’s FoFA laws which were designed to protect people from these kinds of scandals.

  32. Last night zoomster asserted:

    [Labor has a dental plan similar to Denticare leading up to the 2007 election. The Greens consistently voted with the Liberals to block it.

    Martin B responded:]
    [Completely untrue. The Greens never voted against a Denticare plan because such a plan was never presented to the Senate. The ALP government refused to introduce the plan before the abolition of the CDM Dental scheme; it is that scheme that the Senate refused to abolish. That is a completely different thing to voting against the ALP policy – in fact Greens Senators indicated they would support such a program]

    I followed up with:

    Shortly before the 2007 federal election the previous Liberal Government initiated a Medical Dental Scheme, for chronically ill patients (see Health Monitor report Access to dental care in Australia: a bit more (10) 2007). The current government has unsuccessfully attempted to stop this scheme in federal parliament. The current government considers that before a national dental care system is introduced the current medical dental scheme has to disappear. But political parties such as the Greens do no support the initiative because “it would leave Australia with only the promise of a full national dental plan at some time in the future and with no publicly funded dental care at all in the meantime”. (Cresswell and Ryan 2009)

    This morning zoomster says:

    [Mildly amused by last night’s comments – in the rush to correct me, various Green posters demonstrated that it is a lie to say that Labor only introduced a public dental policy at the behest of the Greens, and that, in fact, Labor had been trying to introduce such a policy since 2007.]

    Last night it was about claiming the Greens voted to block Labor’s plan, a plan that at the time had never been presented to parliament for voting. Martin B and I were responding to that claim.

    More discerning people will be able to see the disingenuous semantics being played by zoomster in her post this morning.

  33. guytaur

    [I am not referring to last nights posts because I have not gone back and read them. ]

    So you don’t know what you’re talking about.

    [You are whining because the Greens are making political capital about something without mentioning Labor]

    No, I am not. The Greens very clearly are mentioning Labor.

    As I repeatedly said, I don’t mind the Greens taking some credit. I do mind them lying – as supporters did last night – that Labor had no intention of introducing the policy and would not have done so without Greens pressure.

    That is a lie.

    I’m quite happy for you to keep posting on this subject, so I can continue to point out that the Greens lied.

  34. Peg

    hence the amusement.

    I did get it wrong – but in correcting me, you and MartinB showed that Labor did have a policy on public dentistry prior to 2007, which is not what the poster I was responding to was claiming.

    I liked the irony of that.

  35. zoomster

    As distinct from Labor lying. Sorry Labor has that on the record far more than the Greens.

    I did not dispute your lying claim. I just went to your whining on the issue. This is what it is when as I mentioned to confessions a majority Labor government can prove through policy what is empty rhetoric.

    The battle is actually to save Medicare. The Greens like Labor want to do that. I have not heard the Greens mention this dental issue mach lately because they are ore concerned with saving whats there to worry about extending it at the moment.

    Have the Greens been talking to Palmer about dental schemes in Medicare? Has Labor?

    Try for some perspective as to what is happening rather than doing Murdoch and the LNP thing of a hatchet job on the Greens in an obsession that does Labor no good as you distract energy from fighting the Tories,

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