Seat of the week: Fraser

The electorate covering northern Canberra has been a stronghold for Labor since the ACT was first divided into two seats in 1974, presently providing a home for Shadow Assistant Treasurer Andrew Leigh.

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

Created when the Australian Capital Territory was first divided into two electorates in 1974, Fraser covers the northern half of Canberra, with Lake Burley Griffin and the Molonglo River forming its southern boundary. The southern half of Canberra, together with the non-residential remainder of the Australian Capital Territory, is accommodated by the electorate of Canberra. Whereas Canberra was held by the Liberals from 1975 to 1980 and again for a brief period after a 1995 by-election, Fraser has at all times been held by Labor. Andrew Leigh came to the seat at the 2010 election after the retirement of Bob McMullan, who had held it since a rearrangement caused when the ACT’s representation reverted back to two seats after briefly going to three between the elections of 1996 and 1998. This involved the displacement of Steve Darvagel, who had come to Fraser at a by-election in February 1997 caused by the retirement of John Langmore. McMullan’s vacancy in Canberra was filled by Annette Ellis, who had hitherto been the first and final member for the short-lived seat of Namadji.

When McMullan and Ellis both announced their impending retirements in early 2010, there were suggestions that they were pushed as much as jumped, in McMullan’s case because powerbrokers wished for his seat to go to Left faction nominee Nick Martin. However, the independence of the local branches was instead asserted during the complicated preselection struggles which followed in both seats. Suggestions of a factional arrangement were made to appear particularly distasteful by the strong fields of candidates which emerged, with Leigh joined in the race for Fraser by constitutional law maven George Williams, locally well-connected West Belconnen Health Co-operative chair Michael Pilbrow, and over half-a-dozen others. The Left membership voted down a deal to win backing for Martin by reciprocating support for Right candidate Mary Wood in Fraser, reportedly due to concern about that the Right was not united enough to make the deal stick, and also because it was felt the faction would be better off securing an arrangement with Gai Brodtmann, who had stitched together a cross-factional support base in pursuit of her own bid for Canberra. When the Right’s own candidates dropped out early in the counts, its support was thrown behind the ultimate winners, Leigh and Brodtmann, with Leigh prevailing in the final Fraser ballot by 144 votes to 96.

Leigh was professor of economics at the Australian National University immediately before entering politics, having earlier practised law in Sydney and London and gained a doctorate from Harvard University. A Julia Gillard loyalist, he gained the position of parliamentary secretary to the Prime Minister in the shake-up that followed Kevin Rudd’s abortive leadership bid in March 2013, only to lose it when Rudd returned to the leadership at the end of June. Although factionally unaligned, he won promotion to the outer shadow ministry after the September 2013 election defeat as Assistant Shadow Treasurer.

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.

670 comments on “Seat of the week: Fraser”

Comments Page 1 of 14
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  1. I had a look at earlier to see a particularly rancid Sheehan attack on Gillard, blaming her for everything wrong with the Unions, particularly the CFMEU, and the end of the mining boom amongst other things.

    I look now and there is no sign of it. Weird.

  2. Good Morning

    The morning Newspapers have gone full on terror to excuse themselves from talking about Ashby/Pyne

    Meanwhile the Guardian and ABC 24 have gone with the story. In fact News 24 has it as their top story with terror down the list.

    I am glad to see The Guardian and ABC not toeing the Right Wing agenda

  3. As well it seems 60 Minutes has more credibility than our print media. At least 60 Minutes has not totally ignored what history may come to see as our Guy Fawkes moment

  4. “@SenatorWong: Just wondering where SA Libs are as Abbott walks away from SA? Pyne, Briggs, Birmingham, Matt Williams etc – where are you?”

    It appears Japan has got the Sub contract

  5. Swamprat @ previous post


    The current view of the SNP is to maintain the Queen like Canada and Australia.

    But the SNP is not all Scottish independents by a long way.

    The Unionsists make Alecsammon the evil splittist, but many Scots support independence who are not SNP.

    I don’t disagree with your points and I do agree that some of the “no” campaigners have been playing dirty, but I don’t sit either way in terms of the Scotland Independence movement.

    However, I only raise the point about the royal family’s stance, nothing about the SNP or any other parties.

  6. [Sorry to disappoint the collective genius of The Poll Bludger, but Ashby’s interview is bad news for the government.]

    Oh , it’s good to have Ashby on the record. At one stage we hadn’t seen him at all, months after the case was started.

    And the Pyne meeting we didn’t know about will be embarrassing, I suppose.

    Then there’s the Brough admission. I’m not sure whether he’s actually fessed up. The evidence has been pretty damning, and fairly incontrovertible that he arranged for Slipper’s diaries to be nobbled, but I’m not sure he had actually admitted it himself, to camera.

    His excuse was pissweak. He just wanted to see justice done, or something similar. It was purely coincidental that he was Slipper’s rival for pre-selection.

    I’m not too sure whether procuring access to the private diaries of the third highest constitutional officer of the land is that easily overlooked, or explained away.

    What if someone thought Tony Abbott might have run a red light while participating in Polly Pedal? Would some sleuth have a right to access his diaries to see if they could dredge up any evidence? Don’t think so.

    But in the main, just about everything else was stuff we’d heard before. Brough was right: Slipper’s subsequent conviction justified everything they did to get rid of him. No-one likes a an old poufter who preys on innocent young men.

    Even if James Ashby isn’t so innocent.

    Highlight of the show was Ashby, presumably being paid for his contribution, weeping that he wouldn’t want his parents to be watching any show he’d be on.

    A bit late for THAT Jimmy boy.

  7. “@BernardKeane: COMMENT: I hope Julia Gillard is currently instructing lawyers over what Fairfax & its “journalist” have on the SMH website right now.”

  8. Morning all. I deliberately not watch the Ashby interview, as I considered it tawdry journalism featuring an already discredited witness. That being said, it does look bad for Pyne and Brough. However here in Adelaide, Port Power won the elimination semi yesterday, which dominates the local media. So I do not think it will get much traction. It will damage Pyne, but not Abbott, so I se it doing very little to change the status quo.

    The ABC coverage reports it cautiously as Ashby’ claim, which is all it is.

  9. Submarines for crying out loud. What have submarines ever done for us? What possible use could they be put to? More money down the drain on war toys.

  10. At last, some common sense from the Liberals who habitually take us to their interminable, bloody, expensive and losing wars:

    The foreign minister of the government that is going to go war against ISIL reckons that the war is lost already.

    Bishop, quoted in today’s CT: “…has warned that destroying the Islamic state entirely will be ‘impossible’ and that it might become a long-term threat similar to that posed by al-Qaeda.”

  11. [“@BernardKeane: COMMENT: I hope Julia Gillard is currently instructing lawyers over what Fairfax & its “journalist” have on the SMH website right now.”]

    I acually started reading the Sheehan article and after about four paragraphs lost the stomach to continue. It was pretty awful stuff.

    It seemed to allege that Julia Gillard is personally responsible for every bit of industrial thuggery that has ever occurred since she was at Slater & Gordon, or something like that.

    Written, of course, by Paul Sheehan, one of the select group of journos invited to Abbott’s Kirribilli “Thank You” nosh-up immediately post-election.

  12. Leon

    When Indonesia sends its invasion fleet you will be grateful we have a fleet of submarines, even if they do sit in dock without enough trained people to sail them. They will also turn back the boats, by popping up their periscopes. Very useful.

    Meanwhile spending money on health, education of infrastructure is a complete waste. The private sector will do them all so much better than government on a user pays basis. You know it is true, ask Tony Abbott.

    Jokes aside, the loss of the submarine contract will harm the SA economy far more than the Holden closure. Defence employs more people here, on higher wages.

  13. leon:

    [Submarines for crying out loud. What have submarines ever done for us? What possible use could they be put to? More money down the drain on war toys.]

    Our subs are actually probably one of our better military toys. They’re useful for covertly inserting and retreiving special forces, and are a very important intelligence-gathering asset.

    In a real shooting war, as unlikely as that is, they would be used to defend sea lanes / merchant shipping, which will always be vital given that we are so import-dependent.

  14. [Prime Minister Tony Abbott says he is “absolutely confident” the federal Liberal Party will not be dragged into the donations scandal engulfing the NSW Liberal Party, despite Speaker Bronwyn Bishop being contacted by the Independent Commission Against Corruption.]

    Read more:

    Haven’t the federal Liberals already been dragged into it courtesy of Sinodinos?

  15. ““@BernardKeane: COMMENT: I hope Julia Gillard is currently instructing lawyers over what Fairfax & its “journalist” have on the SMH website right now.””

    I for one would be LMAO if Gillard sued Sheehan and Fairfax. Well overdue.

  16. Morning bludgers

    I havent seen the 60 minutes story as yet. But listening to both sports radio and abc radio this morning. Top story is Ashby having secret meeting with Pyne to discuss slipper. Pyne promising to provide a lawyer and a job for Ashby. Pyne denying same.

  17. The USA is discovering that Obamacare, like Medicare here, is far cheaper and more effective than private health insurance. Paul Krugman points out the right wing response is to desperately deny the evidence.

    Meanwhile Tony Abbott wants to copy the US private system. He really is nuts – an unreconstructed, cold-war ideological warrior, in a post cold-war world.

    Have a good day all. I think ICAC is a far greater threat to the Libs than Ashby.

  18. [Before the election, Defence Minister David Johnston stood out the front of ASC in Osborne and promised: ‘We will deliver those submarines from right here at ASC in South Australia. The Coalition today is committed to building 12 new submarines here in Adelaide’.

    But now Tony Abbott and Minister Johnston are breaking that promise and South Australian Liberals are cheering them on. Not one single South Australian Liberal is holding Tony Abbott to his pre-election promise.]

  19. [
    The morning Newspapers have gone full on terror to excuse themselves from talking about Ashby/Pyne

    The story has been on the front page of every news website I have looked at this morning. Including,,,,

  20. [21
    Posted Monday, September 8, 2014 at 7:50 am | PERMALINK
    Prime Minister Tony Abbott says he is “absolutely confident” the federal Liberal Party will not be dragged into the donations scandal engulfing the NSW Liberal Party, despite Speaker Bronwyn Bishop being contacted by the Independent Commission Against Corruption.

    Read more:

    Haven’t the federal Liberals already been dragged into it courtesy of Sinodinos?]

    So says Chief Rorter Abbott. You gotta laugh. Up is down in Abbottworld

  21. [chris murphy ‏@chrismurphys 3m
    Whew! Lucky Mal Brough is an LNP man,otherwise he could be in trouble asking staff to get an MP’s diary #auspol ]

  22. Unlike al-Qaeda the IS was not set up to wage war on the west. Not until we started bombing them anyway. That, plus supplying some of the component groups with arms, will ensure an endless supply of own goals in the west.

  23. victoria:

    Perrett is apparently re-writing to the AFP again. In denying any wrong doing Pyne essentially draws this down to a he said-she said scenario.

  24. guytaur

    I have no idea about newspaper printing cut off times, but the fact the 60 Minutes story went to air at 8 PM Eastern last night might explain it’s not appearing in this morning’s printed papers. I stand to be corrected however. And to be honest, it’s hardly a stop the press kind of story.

  25. Socrates:

    Yes, federal Liberals are still in great danger of being dragged into the ICAC donations scandal. It seems implausible that if the party was using a laundering style operation to ‘clean’ illegal donations, that federal NSW MPs’ campaigns wouldn’t have been a beneficiary, even in part. I guess it comes down to how much was known about the operation and by whom.

  26. Why wouldn’t Ashby want his parents to see the interview? He was playing the martyr, and surely they already know he’s gay. I wonder what was cut from the full i.v.

  27. victoria:

    Didn’t the AFP dismiss Perrett’s complaint not long after he first lodged it?


    Not so windy here, but expected to become gusty today. Lots of rain though, which is great.

  28. Good “morning” Dawn Patrollers.

    Like an adolescent schoolgirl Abbott has several “best friends”.
    Jodi McKay has a simple ICAC “bucket list” – get rid of Eric!
    The New Matilda on Abbott’s first year.
    Abbott “absolutely clear” that federal Libs won’t get dragged into the ICAC donations scandal. I thought it already had been!
    Calls grow for an inquiry into tax avoidance by international companies.
    Lenore Taylor on Abbott protecting his vulnerable claim that he hasn’t broken any promises. What a dill!
    One would tend to believe Ashby’s story rather than Pyne’s.
    And The New Matilda will not be inclined to let go of this.
    The Independent Australia looks at the 60 Minutes story.,6873
    Steve Lewis – can Abbott stop his team from stumbling?

  29. Section 2 . . .

    The great Public Service redundancy ripoff.
    This is a good article on the phantom menace of atheism.
    The Libs can fix this – less regulation.
    Morrison is making us much unloved by UN Human Rights Commissioners.
    Aussies feel “tasered” by Abbott’s first year says Xenophon.
    Child care support accessibility is suffering.
    Essendon now has to deal with some big decisions.
    Andrew Dyson with Abbott’s first birthday cake.
    Ron Tandberg mourns the demise of the RET.
    David Rowe gives us plenty to see at Abbott’s debauched first birthday party.

  30. “@MWhitbourn: Morning #ICAC buffs. Oodles* of Libs up today incl Mark Neeham & Michael Photios. Suppression order over emails also on agenda. *Watson word”

  31. [Geezlouise ‏@Turlow1 2m
    It must have taken all Liz Hayes’ 50+ years of experience to avoid asking Ashby 1 hard question #Ashbygate #auspol]

  32. Upping the anti –

    [ Europe Goes “All In”: Will Sanction Rosneft, Gazprom Neft And Transneft

    …the main reason why everyone mostly dismissed Europe’s sanctions against Russia is that despite all its pompous rhetoric, Europe consistently refused to hit Russia where it would hurt: its energy titans Gazprom, Rosneft And Transfneft.

    The reason is simple: by imposing sanctions on these core energy exporters, Europe would directly threaten the stability of its own energy imports (Russia accounts for up to 30% of German gas imports), and as winter approaches with every passing day, playing with the energy status quo would seem like economic suicide.

    This all appears to have changed last Friday, when as the FT reports from a leaked copy, Europe’s latest sanctions round will boldly go where Europe has never dared to go before, and impose sanctions on the big three: Rosneft, Gazprom Neft and Transneft. ]

  33. [ FRASER NELSON: Make no mistake, the UK government will now be on full panic mode.

    This eclipses everything: the country is 12 days away from dissolution.

    We’re seeing an almost perfect rerun of what happened in Quebec in October 1995 when the ‘yes’ pulled into a lead at the last minute.

    Then, Canadians (who had ignored the debate until then) suddenly took notice, realising that their country was falling apart. Seven days before the poll, a massive unity rally in Montreal was organised (details here) by a fisheries minister acting on his own initiative.

    God knows such initiatives are needed now. ]

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