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”

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  1. The bit of play yesterday, by Port in the second quarter, where Westhoff hacked clear, Harnett put his body on the line to regather, gave it back to Westhoff who passed to another Port player who then gave it to Schultz to run into an empty goal pursued only by his team mates was amazing.

    Two other observations:

    (a) Ken Hinkley has done an amazing job with Port taking them from a pretty desperate position two years ago;
    (b) It would be nice if the Adelaide groundspeople were free to fix up my lawn.

  2. From the Steve Lewis article:

    [This then has been the main failing of the Abbott Government during its first year. It failed to do the necessary pre-budget marketing to soften up the electorate for a series of ‘harsh’ measures: the Medicare co-payment; deregulation of higher education fees; welfare reform; lifting the pension age to 70.]

    I’ve always believed the WA Senate election re-run was the cause of this. It forced the government to put off the release of the Audit Commission Report, and by the time that was over it was pretty-well Budget time… too late to begin a “softening up” period. Everything telescoped into everything else with no opportunity to separate one from the other.

    In any case, it’s difficult to see how the more extreme Budgetary measures could have been sold, no matter how much of PR campaign was used to do so.

    Lewis’ position is that anything can be sold to anyone, if only you can brow beat them for long enough.

    But I still would never eat a shit sandwich, no matter how hungry I was, no matter how tempting the sauce.

  3. On twitter

    [There are two villains in the #Ashbygate scandal: the Liberal Party for carrying out the conspiracy and the media for ignoring it. #60mins]

  4. The explosion of the truck carrying 52 tonnes of ammonium nitrate is your starting point should you wish to do home brew bombs.

    When Howard was doing fridge magnets about the enemies under all our beds, one of the real concerns was all the explosive materials that go into our agricultural economy.

    Further, some of the anti-biocide suite of chemicals which are available in millions of litres were, and are, considered to be far more accessible and far more immediately deadly than the so-called ‘dirty bomb’, albeit not necessarily quite as long-lasting in their effects in terms of denying ground.

    Anyhoo, there was a bit of noise about putting some controls onto agricultural chemicals that form the potential basis for home brews.

    If your common or garden variety truckie can be in control of 52 tonnes of ammonium nitrate then, IMHO, those controls are not worth a ute full of jihadis.

    The real reason? Who knows, really, because the facts will have been carefully buried by the anti-terrorist heroes of the universe.

    But, very probably, it would have caused additional cost and inconvenience to farmers, rural contractors, rural carriers, and agribusinesses.

    And we can’t let terrorists stand in the way of profit, can we?

    BTW, when I was a kid one of my farmer uncles demonstrated what you could do with a short length of fuse, a detonator, a third of a stick of gelli and a bag of ammonium nitrate – all items then legally available to land clearers.

    It made a very satisfactory bang and blew a grown tree out of the ground, leaving a largish hole with smoking, shattered tree roots where the tree used to grow into the ground.

  5. A big tick to Abbott for getting something right: Soryus (presumably something of a variable) built in Japan.

    Essentially this means (a) that we will not get a re-run of the Collins and Air Warfare Destroyer fiascos and (b) that we will have a credible strategic deterrent that does not depend on being a weensy bit part player of the US military.

    This stuff was far too important to let the Australian defence cartel, unions, state-based federalism-distorting scams, and political self-interest rule.

    The unions stopped Labor from making a sensible decision on this one.

  6. “@danielhurstbne: “I’m happy to take some questions on the #Ashby matter but let’s deal with that after we’ve dealt with other subjects” – Abbott”

  7. I wish Abbott wouldn’t lean in towards the speaker during pressers. He crowds them. Chaninsaw is standing a normal distance away. Abbott “pushing”. The man has no people skills.

  8. My how different the Tory Party in NZ is. Yesterday they announced two very large marine parks where commercial fishing will be banned. Today they announce an intention to further extend FTTH broadband to small towns and another 200,000 people.

  9. BW @ 61

    From the explosion, we can see that unsafe practices in our industries and transportation is more likely to cause harm to ordinary citizens than terrorism ever will on our soil.

  10. har har

    Abbott: ‘We rightly shrink from reaching out to these conflicts.’

    That is a warmonger who is hiding his warmongery.

  11. So far no Ashby questions. Abbott fobbing them off. Two attempts so far have been rebuffed. Expect him to walk off when they start (IF they start).

  12. [The most perplexing thing about Sheehan’s article is what could have possessed him to write it? I mean, why bother?]

    Because she’s about to front the RC. This was Sheehan’s contribution to the cause.

  13. Told youse!

    Abbott: it’s all in the past. Gillard is grubby. Slipper has been convicted. Slipper’s despicable. Ashby is a decent man. Why are we talking about this?

    He’s making a speech now. The usual prelude to a walkoff.

  14. Well the ALP now has ammunition for its next presser.

    All they have to do is ask what did the Prime Minister know and when did he know it?

  15. raraa
    Around 200 Australians a year die as a result of workplace incidents, so, statistically, you are correct.

    However, deaths related to terrorist incidents are on top of workplace deaths.

    The ral issue is that the quantum of deaths related to opportunity costs of two decades of the Libera’s largely misplaced and useless war on everything would be enormous.

    Imagine if, instead of devastating Iraq and Afghanistan, we had built more and better schools and hospitals?

  16. Re Ashby. The stuff last night tarnished the reputations of Brough, Pyne and Roy and there will be some lasting damage from that. But, unless there is more to come out, it really doesn’t make any difference if the Press Gallery or Parliamentary Labor presses Abbott on it or not.

    What would need to happen to make the story go much further is some evidence of Abbott himself becoming involved at some point. And/or a Murdoch media crusade against the Government a la Gillard-AWU.

    The latter definitely isn’t going to happen. The former? Who knows. Someone other than Ashby would need to come forward.

  17. [I must say the popcherry playsuits (and their contents) being advertised on Bludger add a bit of unwonted colour.]

    I could be wrong but I think the adds feed of which websites you have been visiting – I have adds for Malaysia airlines (there was talk of incredible bargains but I couldn’t find them).

    I must say my general impression of you wants typing your contributions in a pop cherry playsuit or sun dress! Each to their own!

  18. meher baba

    I have now watched bits of 60 minutes, and the last words by Liz hayes were wtte that this matter is “far from over”

  19. “@Kate_McClymont: The Commish just announced that Speaker of the House is not seeking the suppression on emails between Peta Credlin and Paul Nicolaou . #icac”

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