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 12 of 14
1 11 12 13 14
  1. The economic arguments against an independent Scotland are weak and desperate. An independent Scotland could easily negotiate a common migration zone and customs union with England and Wales. If anything, economic arguments favour independence because it would enable the Scots to avoid the damage inflicted by periodic Tory misrule from Westminster. If the Scots had had their own central bank, their own currency, and their own budget policy during the Cameron Government they could have avoided the austerity policies which have devastated the British economy. The Tories, allergic as they are to the counsel of economic historians, cut government spending in a low growth economy, pushing the UK back into recession. The Scots wouldn’t have been silly enough to do that.

    I think the main reason why the Scots should vote Yes for independence is that they have developed far more effective political institutions than the Westminster model. The Scottish Parliament demonstrates good democratic practices. Their parliamentary committee system is more thorough and open-minded than the UK’s. The committees which draft legislation include members from a diverse set of political parties; they travel across Scotland to hold public, recorded meetings. The electoral system for the Scottish Parliament includes both single-member constituencies and proportional voting for multi-member regions, resulting in a legislative body which reflects the diversity of views and interests in the electorate far better than the Westminster model. The Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament is elected by a secret ballot of all members, giving this officer genuine independence from partisan allegiance. The Members of the Scottish Parliament sit in a semi-circle with the largest party in the centre, which reduces the combativeness of debates and fosters listening and dialogue.

    If we were to design a set of political institutions for the express purpose of solving real-world problems in a free and peaceful society, it’s hard to imagine anyone coming up with the Westminster system. The best problem-solving processes promote collaboration, analysis, creativity, listening, humility, respect, open-mindedness. The Westminster process is adversarial, egotistical, theatrical, didactic, self-indulgent, arrogant, insular, contemptuous, and narrow-minded.

    The UK has the highest degree of inequality of income and wealth in the developed world after the United States. Its financial centre, the City of London, has far too much power over the economy and political system. The British economy is exposed to severe systemic risk because of the corrupt, unstable financial sector in London. In the UK the interests of bankers take precedence over the economy and the people. Wealthy foreigners, including corrupt Russian oligarchs, are allowed to buy real estate in the UK, pushing London house prices out of the reach of most Britons. This serves the commercial interests of the banking and real estate industries; it screws everybody else. The UK has a real estate bubble which will inevitably burst and cause severe economic hardship and mass unemployment. The Scottish people don’t like extreme inequality of income and wealth. Their economy took a pounding from Thatcher’s ill-considered policies. They were overwhelmingly opposed to the Blair Government’s disastrous decision to go to war in Iraq. They are rightly suspicious of New Labour ‘Third Way’ mushiness. They want the Cameron Government gone and they don’t trust Ed Milliband’s hollowed out technocratic Labour Party to do the job. Their best chance of removing the Cameron Government from their lives is to vote Yes to independence.

    Why should the Scottish people continue to shackle themselves to a political and financial system as dysfunctional, corrupt, unequal, and crisis-prone as the UK’s?

    The Scottish people would be better off with their own political arrangements. Sentimentalists can always fly the Union Jack in the front yard, play maudlin English songs, and spend frequent holidays in England. Heck, they can even move there if they want. But sentiment is not a good reason to stick with badly designed political and financial systems.

    I hope the nationalists defeat the forelock tuggers. The No campaigners have been incredibly arrogant – when they were leading 60-40 in the polls No campaigner Ian Davidson MP remarked smugly that the campaign was over and the sole remaining task was to ‘bayonet the wounded’. Now that the polls have turned dramatically, the loyalists reek of fear and desperation. They deserve to lose.

  2. [It is alright everyone, Mark Simpkins on ABC News24 has said that the soap opera (ashbygate) will soon be over just like the PM has said.]

    He’s probably right about Ashbygate. All this time, so much information in the public domain, yet nothing that has meant much at all in terms of accountability of the backroom operators manipulators.

    ICAC on the other hand, not looking so good. And on the day Abbott declared he was confident no federal Liberals would be affected by the ICAC investigation (yes, yes, there’s Sinodinos, but in Abbott World we’ve all forgotten about him courtesy of the 24hr news cycle), we hear of the donations scandal possibly going all the way to the PM’s unelected CoS. And with BBishop thrown in for good measure.

  3. [I think that if Abbott really kicks the public sector hard then the possibility of the Greens taking a senate spot moves from a day dream to reality. ]

    Howard in his first term kicked the APS hard, so much so that he managed to crash the Canberra housing market big time.

    Yet no Green Senator was elected at the subsequent election.

  4. 1Now retired, Mr Hale still believes CityLink changed Melbourne for the better and helped revive the CBD. But he holds startlingly different views about the value of Melbourne’s current mega road project, the East West Link.

    Mr Hale says the 5.2-kilometre toll road is “the wrong priority and will not alleviate congestion across the city” and that the Napthine government is set to sign on to a project that will set Melbourne back for years.

    “The evidence from cities around the world where real renewal has been achieved is that public transport should be the primary focus, not just more and more roads,” he says.

    “For those of us who have been involved in major transport projects long enough, the lessons learnt, often the hard way, are that building more roads without investing in public transport is simply a recipe for inducing more vehicular travel.”]

  5. lol, gotta laugh at this one….

    Retweeted by Richard Chirgwin
    Mike Carlton ‏@MikeCarlton01 4m

    Brickworks, Sinodinos, Nicolau, Credlin, Abbott, ICAC. Just another brick in the wall…

  6. Darren L:

    [Mungo MacCallum, whose autobiography is entitled Mungo – The Man Who Laughs, has always held wicked regard for the ridiculous.

    It helped on Monday when his passing was announced to the world on Twitter while he was tucking in to a plate of scrambled eggs in a Mullumbimby cafe across the road from the Byron Shire Echo, a newspaper that has carried his wild wit for some years.

    He was, to fellow patrons, pretty clearly alive. Lacking a Twitter account himself, he posed for a “proof of life” photo with a copy of the Sydney Morning Herald dated September 8, 2014, which soon appeared on the Echo’s website.


  7. [Steve777
    Posted Monday, September 8, 2014 at 8:21 pm | PERMALINK
    An Australian angle on Scottish independence:

    I don’t know about the legalities. It doesn’t seem like anything that can’t be sorted with a bit of good will and common sense.]

    There’s no problem here. PM Abbott could always revive the bunyip aristocracy. In fact, he has already made a start with his sirs and dames.

  8. daretotread@544


    What is the point of expensive equipment if you do not plan to be in a conflict soon. Fancy equipment degrades over time and may never be used. Sure have a stockpile of equipment, but it would be of more use to establish manufacturing capacity such that if needed lots of the newest and best stuff can be turned out quickly.

    Hmmmm yes… much of the kit I was issued in when I joined the RAAF in the mid-sixties had been manufactured during WWII.

    These days things move faster than they did during WWII and earlier when a defence build up could take place over months and years.

    How long do you think even basic recruit training takes? Then there is more advanced training to learn specialised skills.

    Then there are accommodation requirements.

    Then switching civilian manufacturing across to producing military equipment.

    I suspect you really have no ideas of the complexity.

  9. Darren @ 559…

    You know the old saying you lose one and then one is replaced.

    Well I heard today Mungo was gonski and then I heard the Lovely Princess is Royally Preggers again.

    Mungo had hangovers – Kate has morning sickness.

    What a bloody coincidence.

  10. Darren?..

    On Monday September 8, 2014 a minor sensation was caused when the misinformation of his death was announced in a tweet on the social media site Twitter.[4]. The matter was clarified within the hour but, equally within the same hour, a trending hashtag #mungolives had sprung up on the same

  11. Confessions

    Yes you are right and the “green” or second labor senator is a pipe dream for electoral ignorami in most cases. However there is a more generalised lack of trust in Abbott and co than there ever was in Howard. I think in 2016 it may move from “must be dreaming” to outside chance.

  12. Someone who actually has died:

    [ Ross Peake @rosspeakeCT · 2h
    Vale Harry Evans, longest serving Senate Clerk, a fierce defender of the @AuSenate #Canberra #auspol]

  13. 551

    I am sure that the UK would let Scotland stay in the Common Travel Area (UK, Ireland, Isle of Man and the Channel Islands) as the UK would not want to be imposing a land border with Scotland. The only issue is if the EU insists on Scotland joining the Schengen Area, a requirement for EU nations (except for the UK and Ireland (while the UK is outside Schengen)) and that would mean either land border controls or the UK and Ireland being drawn into Schengen.

    The EU is already a customs union.

  14. [I don’t know about the legalities. It doesn’t seem like anything that can’t be sorted with a bit of good will and common sense.]

    Not a constitutional (or any) lawyer but near as I can make sense of it, if the UK dissolved into two new states such that there was no continuing state then the status of Australia’s HoS would be entirely unclear. But that is never going to happen: E, W & NI will be the continuing state with all of the ongoing responsibilities including succession in the matter of the HoS of Australia.

  15. After watching Jacqui Lambie on Oz Story my first impressions of her remain. A boofhead. A well meaning boofhead perhaps but still a boofhead. I can actually see her splitting off from PUP pretty quickly as she seems to believe her own publicity.

  16. Imagine if senior Labor opposition members inside and outside Parliament conspired with a staffer and a major media organisation to bring trumped up charges against a Liberal Speaker with a view to bringing down the Speaker and damaging the Government. Imagine the screaming headlines, imagine the cries of outrage from the Murdoch megaphones. Alan Jones turning purple with rage and frothing at the mouth.

    This is Third World stuff. Conspiring to bring down a Speaker and a Government through abusing the courts is a big deal.

  17. DTR:

    If the ACT was going to return a GReen Senator instead of a Liberal one, voters had the perfect opportunity to do so once a) Hockey in opposition had announced widespread cuts to the APS should they win govt, and b) the Liberals preselected that extreme nuff nuff Zed whoever, who subsequently went on to be elected.

    ACT voters however chose not to do this. They didn’t do it then, and there’s no reason to expect that they’ll do it in 2016 either.

    Senate electoral reform is the only way IMO.

  18. [The only issue is if the EU insists on Scotland joining the Schengen Area, a requirement for EU nations (except for the UK and Ireland (while the UK is outside Schengen)) and that would mean either land border controls or the UK and Ireland being drawn into Schengen.]

    Indeed that is the issue is it not?

    If Scotland doesn’t care then I suspect England will be able to wangle an exception forScotland on the basis that S should be allowed to inherit the objection lodged by the UK. If Scotland actively wants to enter the Schengen zone it becomes interesting, EWNI will have little chance to avoid being Schengened.

  19. Bemused

    I have plenty of idea of the complexity but that still does not mean it should not be done.

    Now if you had read my post you would see that I want a well trained group of “officers” (or specialists)who would know and use all the equipment. Vitally however they can train others. I would have to query how genuinely effective ANY equipment is if it takes too long to learn to use it. It is a balance but high tech equipment may not be much use in a real emergency, especially if it is so hard to use that we need someone to spend 8 hours a day for 30 years to use it.

    As for manufacturing capacity that is an old hat argument. These days production designs are done on the computer so it should be very easy to switch production from making parts for cars to parts for tanks. There are Robots and flexible production lines.

  20. [voters had the perfect opportunity to do so once a) Hockey in opposition had announced]

    Much as it should, perhaps, be different, opposition intentions are never going to have tge same weight with voters as government actions.

  21. [580
    Posted Monday, September 8, 2014 at 8:43 pm | PERMALINK
    Ashbygate is ongoing. Peter Slipper is still doing court cases.]

    Only the crim one in the ACT

  22. This article was posted earlier. Good summary

    [For instance, why did Ashby first go to baby parliamentarian Wyatt Roy with his complaint about Slipper? Once Russell said there would be no legal assistance or no guarantee of jobs, why didn’t Ashby go back to Pyne and demand to know what was going on? How did he get the job with Slipper in the first place, and what was the state of his knowledge about the Speaker’s sleaze factor?

    There is the smell of the chequebook hovering over this story. The PR man for Harmers Workplace Lawyers, who have been acting for Ashby on a no-win, no-fee basis, is Anthony McClellan, a former Logie winning chief of production at 60 Minutes. It is possible that McClellan might have been able to stitch up a few dollars for Sunday night’s Ashby show.

    Somewhere in the federal court, there is an application from June that the commonwealth fork out $1m for Ashby’s legal costs. We asked McClellan to help us with our inquiries, but he says he is unable to talk about it at the moment.]

  23. Confessions

    I think you fail to grasp just how unpopular labor was in 2013. there was no chance for a non LNP Senator in 2013. the possibility of one in 2016 is tiny but not negligible.

    Oh and electoral reform would not help the ACT at all since the quota of 33.3% is so high.

  24. [Much as it should, perhaps, be different, opposition intentions are never going to have tge same weight with voters as government actions.]

    And so we’ve squared it all back to my original point about the Howard govt’s actions to trash the ACT housing market.

    In short, I’ll believe an ACT Greens Senator in place of the usual Liberal Senator in the ACT when I see it. Speculation of the Greens pipping the Liberals in the ACT Senate vote is akin to Labor winning Sturt off Pyne: we go down this road every election, and every election end up dejected.

  25. [537

    little boats…also known as the Barramundi Class…an armada of tinnies…

    They could recruit Truthy and make him Admiral of the Tinnies! :D]

    Yup. He could be in charge of implementing the Mangrove Strategy.

  26. Don’t speak too soon.

    imo, Ashbygate is going to bubble along with renewed vigor.

    Ashby is being pursued for perjury. They’re going after Brough and Slipper’s legal reps are firing up and they are going to use Rabbott’s & other Liberal MP’s travel expenses in Slipper’s defense.

    This could go anywhere!

  27. Was @MalBrough_MP a naughty boy directing James Ashby to download material from Peter Slipper’s office? Was this an offence? #neckgate

  28. 573

    Presumably it would be as easily handled as Irish independence. In 1922 Ireland, apart from Northern Ireland, became a separate state and in 1927 the full name of the UK was changed from the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland to the United Kindon of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and that caused us not trouble despite the Schedule and the end of the Constitution specifying the monarch of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland as to be sworn loyalty to.

  29. [I think you fail to grasp just how unpopular labor was in 2013.]

    Okay then, look at it from this perspective. How high was the Greens vote at the 2010 election? My recollection is that it was the highest it’s been in any federal election.

    And given their vote was so high at the 2010 election, who was the Greens Senator who represented the ACT during the last parliament?

  30. 589

    Changing the ACt Senate election system, other than to preferential majority voting with each party only allowed to stand a single candidate (with effective anti-front party rules), will not give the greens an ACT Senate seat. THe only way to get a reasonable chance of an ACT Greens Senate seat is to add at least another Senator to the ACT.

    Of course the Whitlam government should have introduced 3 Senators per territory rather than 2.

  31. A Labor/Greens Coalition will be the future norm on the Left. It just needs Labor to overcome its delusions about ever being in an outright majority again.

  32. if the UK dissolved into two new states such that there was no continuing state then the status of Australia’s HoS would be entirely unclear

    I’m fairly sure the Queen’s role as Queen of Australia no longer has anything to do with what may happen with England, Scotland or any other country.

    England could depose the monarchy and form a new republic and the Queen and her descendents could still be ‘our’ royal family.

    So whether Scotland and England are cohabiting or not won’t matter to us in the slightest.

  33. Confessions

    For crying out bloody loud. The issue is a non LNP second senator in the ACT, not the size of the Green vote. It is the size of the Liberal vote that is crucial. If this falls much below 30% the possibility of either a green of a second ALP or even a FF rises.

    Now I agree with you the chances are miniscule. However Hockey and Abbott are just the two most likely to set it to happen.

Comments Page 12 of 14
1 11 12 13 14

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *