Seat of the week: Corio

Once an electoral bellwether to rival Eden-Monaro, the Geelong-based seat of Corio has been in Labor hands since 1967, and is today held securely by Shadow Immigration Minister Richard Marles.

Geelong has been the focal point of the electorate of Corio since it was created at federation, its name being derived from the bay on which the city is situated. However, it originally extended northwards to encompass areas beyond Melbourne’s limits including Sunbury, Melton and Bacchus Marsh, became more strongly focused on Geelong after the expansion of parliament in 1949. The continuing growth of Geelong has been such that the its south-western suburbs of Highton, Belmont and Grovedale are now accommodated by Corangamite, a once rurally oriented and safe Liberal seat that has more lately been highly marginal. Corio nonetheless extends south to cover the Bellarine Peninsula, and north to encompass Lara 20 kilometres to Geelong’s north.

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.

Now a safe seat for Labor, Corio was a litmus test electorate early in its life, having changed hands along with government in 1910 (to Labor), 1913 (to Liberal), 1914 (to Labor), 1917 (to the Nationalists), 1929 (to Labor) and 1931 (to the United Australia Party). It fell to Labor ahead of schedule at a 1940 by-election after Richard Casey was appointed ambassador to the United States (he would return to parliament in 1949 as member for La Trobe), a result that played a crucial role in Bob Menzies’ defeat on the floor of parliament the following year. Cycling hero Hubert Opperman recovered the seat for the Liberals with the 1949 election win, eventually serving as Immigration Minister before taking up a diplomatic post in 1967. Bob Hawke unsuccessfully contested the seat for Labor in 1963, and newly arrived Labor leader Gough Whitlam encouraged him to do so again when Opperman departed mid-term in 1967. Hawke preferred to pursue his designs on the ACTU presidency at that time, and the by-election was won for Labor by engine driver Gordon Scholes, in an early electoral success for Whitlam. Scholes consolidated his hold over time, managing to survive by just 20 votes in 1975, and the seat had become fairly safe for Labor by the time he retired in 1993.

The next member was Gavan O’Connor, who rose to the front bench in 1998 but became increasingly imperilled as local Labor branches fell under the control of the Right. This enabled ACTU assistant secretary Richard Marles to unseat him at a preselection vote held in March 2006, winning 57% of the local party vote. O’Connor registered his displeasure by running as an independent, complaining that Kevin Rudd – who had not in fact been leader at the time – had told him he lacked the power to prevent Marles’s union backers from rolling him. O’Connor managed only 12.7% of the vote, with the Labor vote falling only 1.2% and increasing by 3.3% on two-party preferred. Without the complication of O’Connor in 2010, and with Labor performing well across the state, Marles added 5.3% to his margin, before a 5.7% correction in 2013 reduced it to its present level of 7.7%.

Marles was quickly promoted to parliamentary secretary in June 2009, but took a further four years to attain ministerial rank. After remaining in the Julia Gillard camp during Kevin Rudd’s first leadership challenge in February 2012, Marles came out in support for Rudd during his abortive second bid a year later. He resigned as parliamentary secretary when the challenge failed to eventuate, joining an exodus that also included Chris Bowen, Martin Ferguson, Kim Carr and Simon Crean. When Rudd succeeded in toppling Gillard in June, he won promotion to cabinet as Trade Minister, a position that had been vacated by the resignation of Craig Emerson. Since the 2013 election defeat he has held the position of Shadow Minister for Immigration and Border Protection.

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.

1,790 comments on “Seat of the week: Corio”

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  1. ModLib

    [I have a sneaking suspicion ..]

    Ah, here we go. ModLib will have carefully bookmarked this, so that (if the Libs do get up in Victoria), she can cite it later to prove she ‘predicted’ the Liberal win.

  2. [Andrew Greene ‏@AndrewBGreene 5m5 minutes ago
    Senior government source confirms to @abcnews this morning’s raids in Melbourne are counter-terrorism related, AFP not yet confirming]

  3. John Birmingham has a bit of a larf .

    [Protecting our precious thingies from Islam

    [It’s only by constant vigilance and standing up for our most cherished thingies that we can stop these intolerant Muslims from subverting all the thingies Breaker Morant fought so hard to protect in Vietnam. Our ways and thingies and precious, precious freedoms. The freedom to spit at brown people in the street. The freedom to just make shit up about them and call it news. The freedom to spray rude words on their places of worship.

    Australians all let us rejoice.]

  4. Morning all. Thanks for the links BK, quite a mixed bag today. The Vic government pressing ahead with the EW link contract is appalling, with one recent lost court case and a major one looming. To hell with the public interest. Which Vic Liberal has been promised a lucrative private sector job if they lose the election?

    Regarding the power supply, plant rooms for tunnels that size are typically the size if a block of flats, up to 20 metres high with air vents. Nice impact on the park.

  5. [Andrew Greene ‏@AndrewBGreene 5m5 minutes ago
    Senior government source confirms to @abcnews this morning’s raids in Melbourne are counter-terrorism related, AFP not yet confirming]
    A raid a day keeps the bad polls away?

  6. The media need to be reminded, often and robustly, that we now have the Government that they wanted and campaigned for with their unquestioning support for Abbott’s 3 word slogans

  7. [A spokeswoman for Mr Dreyfus said Labor was originally concerned that journalists could be jailed for accidental disclosures but that the laws now only covered “reckless” or intentional disclosures.]

    Hence the importance of the word ‘reckless’.

    A journalist who publishes information KNOWING that to do so is likely to lead to the exposure of an ASIO agent currently engaged in an undercover operation is subject to the 10 year penalty.

    A journalist who publishes information without taking steps to make sure that doing so will not lead to similar exposure is also subject to those laws.

    A few years ago, a CIA agent’s identity was revealed as political pay back because of something her husband had done. These laws are to prevent that.

    They are also to protect agents who might well be under threat if their identities are revealed mid-operation.

  8. The plan to cut company tax to create employment and growth
    1.5% cut equates to $1,500 for every $100,000 in tax…….to get close to the minimum wage, and to hire one more worker and company would need to be currently paying around 30 times that in tax

  9. Socrates@1705

    Andrew Greene ‏@AndrewBGreene 5m5 minutes ago
    Senior government source confirms to @abcnews this morning’s raids in Melbourne are counter-terrorism related, AFP not yet confirming

    A raid a day keeps the bad polls away?


  10. Achmed 1708

    But at least the change in company tax will cover price movements on a new Merc with the decline of the dollar. Focus on the basics!

  11. Paul Krugman has a useful summary of how and when right wing economics went completely off the rails and became a war on the poor.

    Now it is not even good economics, and is awful sociology. Have a good day all. Be afraid, but not alert. Just trust Tony and Rupert to look after you.

  12. [Indeed, as Bret Walker, the former Independent National Security Legislation Monitor, told the Australian Human Rights Commission’s free speech conference in August: “One of the best arguments against the counter-terrorist laws is that we didn’t need any of them, because we’ve long criminalised murder, conspiracy to murder, and incitement to murder.”

    There are, certainly, some conceptual distinctions between traditional crime and terrorism. The latter is primarily intended to create fear. And governments hope to prevent terrorist acts rather than just punish them after the fact. Those differences perhaps justify some distinct anti-terror legislation.

    But since September 11 governments have seemed intent on severing the concept of terrorism from its constituent parts – cleaving it off into a distinct body of law. This has created, as Bret Walker pointed out, massive redundancy, complication and confusion. The real winners from this decade of security hyper-legislation are lawyers.

    . . .

    Think back to August, when the Government announced its turn towards national security. That announcement was made at a press conference where Tony Abbott also said he was abandoning the promise to repeal section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act. We were told this was a matter of clearing the decks so everybody could get behind Team Australia.

    Yet last week Fairfax reported Abbott shelved free speech reform so section 18C could be used against Islamic hate preachers.

    This makes the August press conference even more disingenuous than it appeared at the time.]

  13. These new laws are unacceptable in a democracy. They represent a capitulation to terrorism not a safeguard.

    This is far more frightening than a few domestic jihadis. This is the essential architecture of authoritarianism.

    [The bill empowers Asio agents to commit crimes in certain situations in connections with an SIO, potentially also including lying to a court or parliament. If there’s ever a Royal Commission into Asio, agents could potentially given a free pass to lie, while elected representatives have had to step down for doing the same.

    Brandis’s reforms create two kinds of citizens: those of us who have to obey the law and those who do not. ]

    Think about this. This is authoritarianism. This is the Australian government surrendering to terrorism. Worse: its likely littlemore neither major party wants to be embarassed when intel agencies stuff up. Its arse protection for elites – at the cost of all our freedoms.

    Brandis’ legislation is yet to pass the lower house and we should be pressuring our MPs to beef up the safeguards on the *INEVITABLE* abuse of these powers by security agencies.

  14. Lizzie cited:

    [Indeed, as Bret Walker, the former Independent National Security Legislation Monitor, told the Australian Human Rights Commission’s free speech conference in August: “One of the best arguments against the counter-terrorist laws is that we didn’t need any of them, because we’ve long criminalised murder, conspiracy to murder, and incitement to murder.”]

    Indeed. I’m not sure if I’m channelling Walker or he is channelling me or were both iterating arguments that have been about for decades — the last probably. 🙂

    The claim that ‘terror’ laws are needed because they seek to prevent it rather than punishing it after the fact is a distinction without a difference however. All criminal law exists to mandate or constrain specified conduct, backing compliance with sanctions. Deterrence is a key performance measure of the law. Those bikie laws in Queensland, absurd as they are, in theory, seek to prevent bikie-related criminal activity by making being part of a motorcycle group proscribed by the state an offence. The system of gaoling fine defaulters in WA persists according to the WA AG to deter fine defaulting by those contemplating it and of course the fines are an attempt to deter certain types of conduct. Terror law is clearly a subset of the criminal law rather than a unique area of jurisprudence.

    That investigations are conducted to determine whether laws are being breached, or about to be breached doesn’t make terror law special either. This occurs all the time in the cases of organisations dealing in various kinds of contraband. Recently, a suspended police officer was allegedly caught attempting an armed robbery with a gang of other criminals in Cabramatta. Police lay in ambush at the time and place as they’d presumably formed the view that a crime was in prospect.

    There is no case for new laws in this area. Let the police configure themselves as they think most apt to use the powers they already have to prevent the crimes known to the criminal law from being implemented. Let them seek and obtain such warrants as may be needed to support whatever surveillance, interception of data or data recovery is required to do the job.

    In the meantime, let those puffing out their chests or saying that the country is in existential danger from an enemy within shut their figurative cake-holes and deal instead with the business of governing the country. That is after all why we separate the rule-makers from the rule-compliance folk.

  15. Talking of Krugman, this is promising –

    Not long ago, it would have been unusual for a Democratic senatorial candidate in Iowa to run a powerful abortion-rights television ad like the one recently broadcast by Representative Bruce Braley.

    …Ms. Ernst’s personhood ideas, shared by at least five other Republican candidates for United States Senate this year, have been radical for years. What’s new is that Democrats are increasingly willing to say so. For years they were cowed by the religious right into changing the subject when abortion or birth control or same-sex marriage came up. But now, increasingly assured that public opinion supports their positions, Democrats have become more aggressive in challenging Republicans about their beliefs.

    ..For a younger generation of voters, the old right-wing nostrums about the “sanctity of life” and the “sanctity of marriage” have lost their power, revealed as intrusions on human freedom. Democrats “did win the culture war,”

    Seems the experiment is being tried in Australia just as it becomes obvious it’s failed elsewhere…

  16. Meanwhile in Iraq journo Patrick Cockburn has a pessimistic assessment.
    [Isis an hour away from Baghdad – with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack

    The Iraqi army, plagued by corruption, absenteeism and supply failures, has little chance against Islamist fanatics using suicide bombings and fluid tactics. And US air strikes are making little difference]–with-no-sign-of-iraq-army-being-able-to-make-a-successful-counterattack-9763658.html

  17. A world class fecking eejit in Northern Ireland

    [Neighbour complains after mistaking EU flag for ‘Arabic flag’

    Police were called to investigate an EU flag flying in a Northern Irish town, after a resident reportedly mistook the well-known emblem for an “Arabic flag”.

    The flag was flying in celebration of the Ryder Cup outside a house in Holywood – the hometown of golfer Rory McIlrory who went on to help Europe win the trophy.

    The owner of the house was stunned when two police officers knocked on his door on Sunday morning, BBC News reported. ]

  18. If the laws were seriously scary all on their own, there wouldn’t be the need for all this hyperventilating.

    The fact that journalists (who are afraid that lazily accepting information as safe to publish, rather than actually doing some work and checking, might get them into trouble) are allowed to print such utter rubbish is a sign that their freedoms are still there.

    Now, some of the stuff in the second and third tranche of legislation MAY be seriously scary. At this rate, however, half of the left will have collapsed in a screaming heap before we get to even see that legislation.

  19. The ferro economy continues to rust away…

    Iron Ore @ USD 77.70/ tonne CFR, down 1.1%
    Coking Coal @ USD 113.03/ tonne CFR, down 0.7%

    Meanwhile, the shakeout in thermal coal gets worse, sold @ USD 64.55/ tonne, down 2.6% on the day.

  20. Lord Richards, 42 years as British warrior, opines that he has learned two fundamental lessons:

    (1) Don’t go to war unless you have to
    (2) Don’t go to war if you are not prepared to do it properly.

    To which I would add:

    (3) Be absolutely clear about your desired war outcomes.

    Our current ‘mission’, whatever it is, fails all three basic tests.

  21. Some enterprising MSM journo should ask Abbott what Australia intends to do should ISIL get inside Bagdad. Which they might conceivably achieve by, say, 2pm AEST today.

    I bet you:

    (1) The journos will not ask that question.
    (2) Abbott would not have a clue.

  22. g
    When the Coalition says ‘welfare’ they mean ‘malfare’; when they say ‘human services’ they mean ‘inhuman services’. When they say ‘welfare leaners’ they mean ‘disabled’. By definition the coporates who are tax dodgers are not ‘leaners’. When they say ‘lifters’ they mean ‘finance industry spivs’.

    When Abbott says ‘humanitarian mission’ he means ‘bombing mission’.

    And so on and so forth.

    [Essential: voters want security over liberty
    Bernard Keane | Sep 30, 2014 12:17PM

    Voters agree that some freedoms should be sacrificed in the name of security, but are growing more concerned about climate change. And the government is yet to benefit from the relentless focus on terrorism, today’s Essential Report shows.

    Voters believe some people should have their rights and freedoms curbed for the security of other Australians, and support detention without prosecution, according to today’s Essential poll. However, recent terror raids have yet to translate into a polling bounce for the government.


    However, the relentless focus on national security has yet to deliver the government a noticeable polling bounce: the Coalition’s primary vote is up a point to 40% but Labor remains on 39%, the Greens on 10%, and PUP on 4%. The two-party preferred result has shifted down a point to 52%-48% in Labor’s favour, the same level as four weeks ago, despite the media focus on the Sydney raids of the week before last and the shooting of an 18-year-old man by police in Melbourne. This might suggest that because national security plays more to the fears of older voters who already back the Coalition, it may only serve to lock in the government’s core support rather than expand it.]

  24. [1719
    Fran Barlow]

    The entire discourse just misses the point. ISIL is carrying out a political, theocratic revolution by violent (and other allied) means; means that extend to the use of political violence in the West. They have obviously already succeeded in some of their goals and continue to both consolidate their position in the former Syria and to try to extend their reach in the former Iraq.

    What is proposed by the West and by its clients represents an attempt to mount a counter-revolution. Events are not framed this way, but that is the correct depiction. It is possible that Western analysts do not recognise a revolution when they see one, but it is more likely they avoid the use of the term because it suggests the conflict has complex geopolitical and strategic as well as “humanitarian” dimensions.

    Considering their relative strengths and weaknesses, it is not at all obvious that the West can mount a successful counter-revolution. For a start, given the history of conflict in the the territories of the former Iraq and Syria, it is highly likely that any new military interventions will only give new impetus to the now ascendant revolutionary forces. By themselves, new Western interventions will likely only become self-defeating. To that extent, the West has already been repelled by ISIL. By itself, the West can no longer determine the future of these lands and its peoples. This is the crystalline reality of the situation.

    To compound this, those regional powers with the capacity to resist the revolution – Iran, the Assad regime and Russia – are otherwise opposed by the West; while the West’s closest ally, Turkey, is, for its own reasons, disposed to allow the revolution to succeed.

    All things considered, if the West is able to confine the revolution to parts of the former Syria and Iraq, they will be doing very well. There must be some kind of chance that the Revolution will spread to adjacent territories – to the Gulf States, parts of Lebanon, to North Africa, and possibly to destabilise Turkey and Saudi Arabia as well.

    Everything that is happening in Australia – and elsewhere – needs to be considered as a reaction to this revolution. It also follows that in deciding how to react to ISIL, here in Australia we need to gain a correct understanding of the nature of this revolution; of its territorial ambitions and its extra-territorial intentions, relationships and dimensions.

    It does seem to me that the very least we should be doing is trying to acquire as much information – call it intelligence – as we can about the the interactions of ISIL with our own citizens. We need to do this precisely because ISIL is willing to use extra-territorial resources to help secure its victory. This makes Australia a possible theatre of revolutionary violence whether we like it or not.

  25. BW

    This will fail but a good try at getting answers to the questions you put about going to war.

    @VictorianGreens: Guess who’s coming to #Melbourne? @SenatorLudlam will join us for the Sate-wide Day Of Action on Oct 18. RSVP

  26. BW

    Arrrgh sorry. If you feel confused you have a right to be. I posted the wrong tweet.

    The Greens have put in a motion to debate Iraq in the Senate.

  27. [1736


    Iron rusts and coal burns to ashes.

    If we can’t sell red sand we’m up shite creek.]

    Shite Creek…a wadi in the East Pilbara…

  28. briefly, Fran

    Calling what is happening in the ME a ‘revolutionary war’ is, IMHO, far too simplistic.

    Arguably ISIL is an expression not of a revolutionary war but of a concatenation of civil wars.

    In some contexts this war is indeed revolutionary. These would include the elements of conflict associated with war of Sunni minorities/majorities against Assad/al Maliki and his successor.

    In some cases this war is ethnic/national. But for the Kurds the war is not primarily either religious or revolutionary. It is a war of national expression cum national survival.

    In some cases the war is geopolitical. For example, the various protagonists are funded/supported with weapons by external powers with an interest in the outcomes beyond religion, beyond ethnicity, and beyond any relationahip between who is master and who is man.

  29. leroy
    Maybe the reason the Libs aren’t getting a huge patriotic boost is that most Australians understand that since 1991 the Liberals have been getting it wRONg in the ME.

  30. 1745

    It looks like a revolution, talks like one, acquires territory like one, imposes itself on its subjects and opponents like one. I reckon it is a Revolution in the same vein as its Iranian, Chinese and Bolshevik antecedents.

    We need to comprehend this as being about the seizure of power and its consolidation, reproduction and extension by the use of a variety of means, including the use of violence.

    Of course, in these situations, where resources are scarce, violence is not merely a means of action. It is a resource in itself. Violence of all kinds are both demanded and legitimated by Revolution. We really have to understand this violence….we must.

  31. Boerwar

    [since 1991 the Liberals have been getting it wRONg in the ME.]
    The West has been getting it wRONg for over 100 years , see France + England and USA + USSR.

  32. briefly

    [The entire discourse just misses the point. ISIL is carrying out a political, theocratic revolution by violent (and other allied) means; means that extend to the use of political violence in the West.]

    At this stage, as far as can be told, they have not implemented violence *in the West*. They may yet manage to do so, and of course, if they succeed, that will be dreadful, but it will still be no more than a crime of violence. Violent crimes are not made more heinous because the criminals carrying them out had reactionary ends in mind. A person who murders his family or kills a random bunch of innocents in a spree shooting has done something quite as horrible as a person who kills the same number of people to establish Islamist rule.

    The first two scenarios are far more likely than a terror attack here.

    [It does seem to me that the very least we should be doing is trying to acquire as much information – call it intelligence – as we can about the the interactions of ISIL with our own citizens. We need to do this precisely because ISIL is willing to use extra-territorial resources to help secure its victory. This makes Australia a possible theatre of revolutionary violence whether we like it or not.]

    I have no problem with the relevant authorities seeking to gather salient data on those who may be predisposed to render material assistance to those who would act in way that would amount to war crimes or violate human rights which we ate bound to uphold. Let them use the law we have to ensure that so far as we can manage it, such activities are frustrated and those guilty of crimes are held to account by our laws or those of other lands.

    Of course, let us keep in mind that our government in concert with other Western governments is on friendly terms with states that violate human rights, including in that region of the world — the Saudi regime for example, which carries out beheadings in public for amongst other things, sorcery, and whose ideology — Wahhabism — is the same as that of ISIL/ISIS. The majority of those involved in the 9/11 attacks were Saudi nationals. Plainly, this current matter is less about the warranted disgust any rational person feels at violent fundamentalism than about the Australian state’s connection to the geopolitical coattails of the US. Australia has been a minor author of the problem about which the ruling regime now voices its angst. And here, and in Britain and presumably the US, the xenophobic jingoistic press is actually doing ISIS a solid by making out that they are everywhere when they are hardly anywhere.

    It is hard to imagine that ISIS will triumph. Holding a state is far harder than tearing down an existing one. Yet our strategy is likely to increase the duration and human cost of the conflict. We ought to know better by now, and I suspect most do, but our rulers have an interest in whipping up irrational fear because this makes it easier to regiment the population and corral them into concessions that are contrary to the longterm interests of the populace.

    We who stand with working folk need to speak out against this wag-the-dog nonsense and demand that our regime refuse to become involved in new military adventures abroad and new McCarthyism at home.

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