Seat of the week: Holt

A once marginal seat now safe for Labor, Holt in Melbourne’s south-east has provided a home for Gareth Evans, and more recently Anthony Byrne.

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.

Holt covers a Labor-voting area of Melbourne’s outer south-east, extending from Endeavour Hills and Narre Warren south through Hampton Park to Cranbourne. This area was accommodated by Flinders before urban expansion caught up with it after the war, then by Bruce from 1955 until the creation of Holt in 1969. The electorate was considerably larger at that time owing to the area’s lighter development, extending westwards through Dandenong to Springvale and eastwards to Emerald. Progressive redistributions reduced its area thereafter, but it continued to encompass Dandenong up to the redistribution that took effect at the 2004 election. It then assumed roughly its current dimensions, with Dandenong divided between Bruce and Isaacs, and Holt gaining Cranbourne from Isaacs.

As the balance of semi-rural areas and low-income outer suburbs tilted increasingly towards the latter, Holt transformed from highly marginal to safe for Labor. It was won for the Liberals on its creation in 1969 by Leonard Reid, then held for Labor during the Whitlam years by Max Oldmeadow, with William Yates winning it back for the Liberals in 1975. The watershed came when Michael Duffy won the seat for Labor with an 8.7% swing in 1980, and the margin was in double figures by the time Gareth Evans transferred to the seat from the Senate in 1996. Evans announced his intention to resign on the night of the 1998 election defeat, and while this ruffled feathers at the time, it did not cause trouble at the ensuing by-election for new candidate Anthony Byrne, who won easily in the absence of a Liberal candidate.

The loss of Dandenong in the 2004 redistribution cut Labor’s margin from 13.3% to 7.9%, which was followed by a further swing to the Liberals of 6.4% at the ensuing election, typifying Labor’s poor performance across Victoria. Reflecting the sensitivity of interest rates in a heavily mortgaged electorate, it then recorded a particularly forceful swing to Labor of 10.1% in 2007, joining Calwell in Melbourne’s outer north as one of two Victorian seats to record double-digit swings to Labor. The Labor margin was further boosted by 1.6% amid a generally strong result in Victoria in 2010, before a 4.9% swing in 2013 pared it back to 9.1%. A redistribution in the interim increased the margin by 0.8% through a transfer of over 14,000 voters in Narre Warren, Narre Warren South and Berwick to La Trobe in the east, a result of rapid growth in the outer suburbs generally, and around Cranbourne in particular.

The member throughout this period has been Anthony Byrne, a member of the Right faction who was widely noted as a supporter of Kevin Rudd throughout the previous government’s long-running leadership saga. Byrne won promotion to shadow parliamentary secretary for foreign affairs when Kevin Rudd became leader in December 2006, then became parliamentary secretary to the Prime Minister after the 2007 election, with the trade portfolio further added in February 2009. He reportedly switched support from Rudd to Julia Gillard for the June 2010 coup only when it became apparent that Rudd was headed for a heavy defeat, and was demoted to the back bench after the 2010 election, where he has since remained. In April 2014 he made headlines after accusing Bob Carr of “narcissism, self indulgence and immaturity” on the occasion of the latter’s book being published.

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.

607 comments on “Seat of the week: Holt”

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  1. Fran Barlow
    Posted Tuesday, September 16, 2014 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

    [BW wrote:

    Feel free to say exactly what the Greens would do with Australia’s military equipment.

    Not that you will.]

    Fran responds with:

    [That’s not the question you posed. You suggested that “getting rid of subs, ships, fighter planes, tanks and artillery will somehow fix everything.” We don’t think that, obviously.]

    Told youse.

    The Greens are far too rat cunning to actually say what they will do with fighters, ships, subs, tanks and artillary.

  2. Mari@530: I don’t necessarily agree that gaol is too good for them, but I do think that – in a rational world – they would be locked away until they die.

    Instead, under our patently absurd criminal justice system, they will probably get all sort of brownie points from the judge for their statements of “contrition” and because their daddies hit them with a strap every now and then decades ago.

    Under our absurd sentencing system, which makes enormous allowances for these (in my view) totally irrelevant mitigations, it is only the likes of Lindy Chamberlain and Andrew Mallard – who were clearly innocent – who get locked away for really long periods of time because (in protesting their innocence), they did not demonstrate “contrition”.

  3. So the budget is in trouble according to the Government but now we will pay $500 mill per year to go to a war on the opposite side of the world.

    Will the pensioners now have to pay a further $7.00 to the doctor for each appointment to their doctors?

  4. Hockey’s cuts in force:

    Leigh Sales ‏@leighsales 7m

    oh no!!! I love them!!!! RT @myriamrobin: ABC just confirmed Margaret and David leaving. Says At The Movies will not be returning.

  5. “@joeobrien24: Abbott says mission in Iraq is still fundamentally a humanitarian mission. On @abcnews24 now.”

    “@joeobrien24: Abbott calls effort to beat ISIL a “Coalition of the Concerned”. On @abcnews24 now.”

  6. “@Simon_Cullen: Tony Abbott says it’s possible he may have to leave the Northern Territory a “little earlier” than planned, given the situation in Mid East”

  7. Coalition of the Willing. Tick.
    Coalition of the Concerned. Tick.
    Coalition of the etc, etc, etc…

    Some time this century we may finally arrive at:

    Coalition of ‘Tell Them They’re Dreaming’.

  8. UBS global chief economist Larry Hatheway has warned that unless the Australian dollar falls below US85c in the near future, the Reserve Bank may have little choice but to use other tools besides changing rates to ward off bubble-like conditions in the property market.

    Speaking as he was wrapping up a tour of Australia, Mr Hatheway observed that just as Australia was beginning to wean itself off its dependence in the mining goods sector, it must now rebalance its economy towards consumption, as well as investment in other areas of exports.

    [Essential: Coalition struggles on the most basic issues
    Bernard Keane | Sep 16, 2014 12:39PM

    Voters believe the government isn’t performing well on the most important issues that shape electoral judgements, today’s Essential Report shows.

    The government is again falling further behind Labor as voters lose faith in the government’s capacity to deal with the key issues that influence votes, today’s Essential Report shows. It suggests the government’s focus on terrorism and national security matters is, for the moment, failing to cut through — and may in fact exacerbate — the electorate’s negative view of the Abbott government.

    Essential’s polling also shows the government’s apparent decision — still unannounced — to acquire the next generation of Royal Australian Navy submarines from Japan rather than build them locally is strongly opposed, with 51% of voters opposing and 28% supporting it. Even Coalition voters are on balance opposed (42%-40%) with Labor voters opposed by a factor of three to one, Palmer United Party/other voters are very hostile (70%-17%), and Greens voters opposed by a factor of two to one. More than a quarter of voters recorded being “strongly opposed” to the decision.


    On voting intention, the Coalition remains on 39%; Labor remains on 38%; the Greens are up a point to 11%, PUP is on 4%. The two-party preferred outcome is now 53%-47% in Labor’s favour, up a point from last week.]

    Note, Essential would’ve have been nearly all done before Iraq announcement. For more stats, see link below later this arvo.

  10. Why should Tone come home early from NT? He’s only done a couple of stunts. There must be more to do there yet. Is he preparing to fly somewhere again?

  11. [Abbott calls effort to beat ISIL a “Coalition of the Concerned”]

    As distinct from the coalition he’d like to build to oppose effective climate policy, which would be a Coalition of the Unconcerned. So far, there’s only one other taker — Canada — so perhaps it’s an Alliance of the Unconcerned — aptly, an AU.

  12. LL:

    [Note, Essential would’ve have been nearly all done before Iraq announcement. ]

    Based on Keane’s argument, this would not help the Government’s prospects – if voters really do perceive this focus on terrorism/security to be a distraction. It’s the economy, dumbo.

  13. Not that anecdotal stuff adds up to much but my bluer than blue m-in-law – of the view that if you don’t make it in life you are either lazy or stupid – made my jam drop to the floor when she announced she was totally opposed to Abbott sending “our boys” to the ME again!

    Never thought I would hear it from her lips.

    I am more disquieted about Shorten’s support of yet another adventure in this neck of the woods.

    The reasons (justifications/excuses) seem eerily like those which have had Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam……the campaign in the Sudan and the Boer War attached to their names.

    What in heavens name are we doing there other than being a flunky for the US?

  14. [Boerwar

    From the Absurdistan Files:

    Al-Sadr has been a considerable killer of Coalition troops.
    It must have been a death cult thing, right?

    Al-Sadr has been a key supporter of Al-Maliki who ensured:

    (a) that the Iraqi Army was a corruption-riddled, incompetent crock, and
    (b) that the Sunni side of the street was ripe for the ISIS picking.

    Anyhoo, he is now on our side. Go figure.]

    I must admit that I cannot keep up with the list of people, movements, terrorist groups, governments, would-be governments, baddies, goodies, former baddies now goodies, former goodies now baddies and whoever else in that part of the world.

    It doesn’t matter if I personally am a bit dumb on the subject but it would be most concerning if Abbott failed to totally comprehend who’s who and the consequences of supporting one group over another.

  15. The Essential result is up at their website [see #575 above for link].

    There are actually 2 changes to the results from last week.

    The Liberal component of the COALition is -1 from last week, 36% to 35%, with the Nats static at 3% for a total of 38% but given as 39% so obviously rounding is involved.

    PUP and ‘Other’ both unchanged.
    ALP unchanged at 38%

    And the Greens are up 1% to 11%.

    So the ‘swing’ [yeah, I know MOE and all that hence the “”]
    is thanks to rounding of a slight decrease in the COALition vote and the increase in the Greens [for the second consecutive week].

  16. lefty e

    [I repeat my prediction: no military bounce for these bozos. You need a minimum threshold of domestic competence and credibility to capitalise on international issues.]

    Exactly. This might be why the Murdoch press has been so rabid in support of ‘Rambott’ – they may sense there in unease in the electorate over the Iraq war-that-is-not-really-a-war-but-yeah-kinda-is.

  17. BW

    [(1) I do not support Shorten’s approach to going to war. If Abbott is a Dog of War, Shorten is a Neocon Lapdog.

    Shouldn’t that be Neocon Running Dog?

  18. [Exactly. This might be why the Murdoch press has been so rabid in support of ‘Rambott’ – they may sense there in unease in the electorate over the Iraq war-that-is-not-really-a-war-but-yeah-kinda-is.]

    Yeah, my sense is Australians by and large are happy to contribute to the attacks on ISIS, but the government isnt being straight about it either: lets be brutally frank, this will make us targets, not make us safer.

    That doesn’t mean it isn’t worth doing, but can the BS please.

    And all that aside: its been weeks now and the LNP isnt getting a bounce from this or Ukraine. Their numbers on key issues (like a -19% drop on protecting AU jobs, since Feb) are absolutely shocking. Plus other international issues (Scotland, climate change) only make Abbott look a bigger idiot than usual.

  19. [I do not support Shorten’s approach to going to war. ]

    Shorten’s approach neutralises the issue as a potential wedge. The arguments in favour of Australia joining this effort are convincing, if not compelling, IMHO. And Abbott’s attempt to prosecute the case have been woeful as well as just plain weird. Shorten is paying out enough rope for Abbott to hang himself.

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