Seat of the week: Flinders

Presently held for the Liberals by Environment Minister Greg Hunt, the Mornington Peninsula and Phillip Island seat of Flinders was famously lost by Prime Minister Stanley Bruce in 1929, but Labor has only managed to win it on two further occasions since.

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

Environment Minister Greg Hunt’s seat of Flinders encompasses the southern part of Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula, including the mouth of Port Phillip Bay at Portsea, along with the area around Westernport Bay further to the east, including Phillip Island. Its territory along Port Phillip Bay commences at Mount Martha, 60 kilometres to the south of central Melbourne, from which it extends through Dromana, Rosebud and Rye to Sorrento and Portsea, an area popular with retirees. Its other major centres are Somerville in the centre of the Mornington Peninsula and Hastings along the western shore of Westernport Bay. The electorate has existed federation, and has covered almost the entirety of its present area since that time. It originally extended north to Dandenong and east to Drouin, Warragul and Leongatha, before the latter areas were absorbed by the new seat of McMillan when parliament expanded in 1949, and the electorate of Bruce was created to accommodate Melbourne’s south-eastern expansion in 1955.

Flinders has been won by Labor on only three occasions in its history, the most memorable being the defeat of the then Prime Minister, Stanley Bruce, in 1929. Bruce recovered the seat in 1931, and it would next be won by Labor at a by-election in 1952, before returning to the Liberal fold at the next general election in 1954. Phillip Lynch came to the seat in 1966, going on to serve as Treasurer in the first term of the Fraser government, then resigning a month before the December 1977 election over his use of a family trust to minimise tax. Lynch returned to cabinet after the election upon being cleared by an inquiry as Industry and Commerce Minister, the Treasury portfolio remaining with his successor, John Howard. His retirement precipitated a momentous by-election in November 1982, at which Peter Reith retained the seat for the Liberals in the face a surprisingly mild swing of 2.3%. This sealed Bill Hayden’s fate as Labor leader, and he was toppled by Bob Hawke on the day Malcolm Fraser called the 1983 election the following February. It was at that election that Labor won Flinders for the third and so far final time, with Reith losing to Labor’s Robert Chynoweth without having had the opportunity to assume the seat he had won at the by-election.

With the enlargement of parliament at the 1984 election, Chynoweth moved to the slightly safer new seat of Dunkley, and Reith recovered Flinders with a swing of 1.5%. Reith held the seat with fair-to-middling margins until he retired after an eventful five years as a Howard government minister in 2001. He was then succeeded by Greg Hunt, who gained a secure hold on the seat with consecutive swings of 3.9% in 2001 and 3.5% in 2004. Hunt won promotion to parliamentary secretary in January 2007, and then to shadow cabinet in the important climate change and environment portfolio after the 2007 election defeat. He has maintained the environment portfolio ever since, although the climate change portfolio was abolished after the Abbott government came to power. Hunt’s present margin in the seat is 11.9%, following a 2.8% swing in his favour at the 2013 election.

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.

1,285 comments on “Seat of the week: Flinders”

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  1. BW

    As I say read the extensive wiki article before posting arguments. If you happen to be an epidemiologist working int eh field I am happy to hear your arguments but until then i will rely on Wikki and the newest books about. The current contenders for a role as the agents of black death are:

    Yersia pestis – rat fleas transmitted bubonic plague probably in a pnuemonic form (Yersia p is a BACTERIA and treatable by anitibiotics. Not even a frightening disease any more.

    An Ebola like virus. This is the “new” thinking but not accepted as yet fully

    Anthrax in pneumonic form – se wikki.

  2. I think ebola has been blown up to huge proportions by the media, and its spread, while not as drastic as what the media makes it out to be is caused by complacency and misunderstanding of what it is on one side, and by break of procedure on the other side.

    Also shocking is the pro-pharma governments in the west relying too much on pharma’s advice on this, rather than to have just gone in and mitigate the issue at the beginning and from its source.

    It’s not going to impact us hard, but what’s wrong in all this is that we’re not going to learn much from this problem at all.

  3. [1183


    Working out the answsers before you collect and report the data is a handy government management attribute.]

    It’s a prerequisite for the job.

  4. guytaur,
    face facts. you give the impression of a gigantic cry-baby.
    This may not be true. You may not be the largest sook on the planet.
    If that is true I apologise.

  5. dtt – from wiki:

    ‘The authors concluded that this new research, together with prior analyses from the south of France and Germany

    “…ends the debate about the etiology of the Black Death, and unambiguously demonstrates that Y. pestis was the causative agent of the epidemic plague that devastated Europe during the Middle Ages.”‘

    The most recent data from bodies exhumed in England this year supports bubonic -> pneumonic plague, too.

  6. teh

    Read to the END of the wikki article. It actually sort of debunks the first bit. (typicial Wikki it is brilliant but accepted first theories always get the top wrap Also the newest book on the subject

  7. A Russian official has mocked Tony Abbott’s threat to “shirt-front” Vladimir Putin at the G20 summit, contrasting the President’s judo skills with the Australian Prime Minister’s passion for riding bicycles.
    And the Canberra embassy’s second secretary, Alexander Odoevskiy, has also pointed out that it may be difficult for the Mr Abbott to carry out his threat at next month’s Brisbane meeting because a formal bilateral meeting has not even been scheduled.

  8. victoria

    Mockery is the best way to deal with Abbott. The Russians are in the position where they don’t have to take Abbott too seriously

  9. I wonder if this Christmas we’ll see this theme:

    Abbott in a Santa suit, giving out coal to children and ask if they’ve been a good boy or girl.

  10. [A virus that wipes out its host population goes extinct, as does a creature that destroys its habitat.]

    As I saw it explained recently, ebole does NOT wipe out its host.

    It’s host is probably bats and/or “bush meat” animals. Ebola live a nice, quiet and productive life in these animals, only crossing over to humans every now and again.

    Eradicating ebola from humans by stopping the present outbreak does not stop ebola. The outbreak we’re seeing now is only the Show Business part, the flash brochure… not the fundamental core of ebola’s existence which lies deep in the jungles of Africa.

  11. dtt – I think you’re mistaking alternative theories for accepted theories.

    The problem with anything that occurred as long ago as the Black Death is that records were terrible and knowledge was worse. Y. pestis is by far the best candidate we have for causing plagues – it almost certainly didn’t kill everyone that died in that era that it has been blamed for, and there’s still a lot we don’t understand about how it spread and why it was so lethal, but the alternative explanations require even greater assumptions, have much less evidence supporting them, and have larger gaps in the theory of how they propagated than the accepted wisdom.

    Whether or not further research into the issue will resolve it remains to be seen, but right now the alternative theories are sufficiently lacking in evidence and credibility to be barely above “kook” territory.

    Of course, they said that about bacteria causing stomach ulcers 30 years ago so you never know. But you’re significantly understating the credibility of the Y. pestis theory and overstating the criticisms of it *based on the knowledge we have at the present*.

  12. the,

    ” Refusing to do anything to help in the meantime is an abdication of morality, frankly”.

    Putting people in harms way for a stunt is also an abdication of morality.

    My view is that we need to be considered in our approach taking in to account all the available facts. The Government has rejected sending people to the area for reasons they have revealed. I’m prepared to say they are in the best position to decide such things since they have access to far better quality information than the armchair experts of PB.

    This is not to say that nothing should be done. Just, that knee jerk responses based purely on the tears of emotional and self righteous proponents is not the sensible way to react in this particular situation.

  13. [The cloud over China’s coal imports

    Beijing stunned Australian coal miners and free trade agreement negotiators last week with a tariff increase on coking and thermal coals….]

    If anyone wanted objective evidence that Abbott doesn’t have a clue what he’s doing, here it is.

    Abbott is yesterday’s man, and the LNP has our basic economic direction wrong. This failure to understand obvious global trends is a massive problem for this country, and the sooner we all realise that the better.

    Analogy: its 1890 and we’re orienting our leadership is banking the whole economy on steam power and wool.

  14. FWIW…

    Ray Hadley slams Woolworths for pulling offensive singlets
    2GB radio shock jock Ray Hadley has lashed out at Woolworths for removing from its shelves a singlet that has been described as “racist” and “offensive”.

    The singlet was emblazoned with an Australian flag and read “If you don’t love it, leave”.

    Hadley said that Woolworths had “caved in” to social media pressure by removing the singlet.

    Hadley complained that retailers, politicians and fish and chip shop ladies were only authorised to cave in to him, and not to allegedly “pissant” web sites like Facebook.

    “I’m the one who does the bullying and makes the bloody decisions in Australia,” said Hadley, “not some luvvie web site or the people who use it.”

    Read more:

  15. Teh

    Sorry I am not confusing anything. Yersia pestis (once known as Pasteurella pestis) as the cause of the great plagues is certainly what I was taught.

    The first time I heard it questioned was in the context of AIDS when they discovered high levels of immunity in an area affected by the great plague of the middle ages (Black death) which had such profound effects on our society and perhaps indirectly led to the advanced democracies in which we live today. If there was immunity to AIDS then the idea that the black death may have been an AIDS like virus starts to grow legs.

    Once you start to query the plague idea then it does become obvious that the disease pattern does not fit with a vector borne disease (eg rats and fleas) and a person to person transmission really is the only rational way to go.

    Now this means that transmission could have been by Yersinia pestis in pneumonic form but apparently (I am no expert) but this form of transmission is rare. Also the Yersia story does not fit with the AIDS (viral) immunity – or at least not very well.

    Alternative theories such as Anthrax fit the transmission history better but once again not the pattern of viral immunity.

    The Ebola (or similar) theory does meet both the pattern of transmission and the genetic data.

    Other evidence seems to relate to the presence of bacterial DNA in plague victims. Helpful but not definitive evidence. If every body showed Y. Pestis DNA then OK it is clear but if it is only some then it reveals little. There is a report of at least one site showing Anthrax, which of course means that there may have been SEVERAL different plagues spreading. Tthis is quite possible given that food production was disrupted, and populations stressed, perfect conditions for a variety of DIFFERENT epidemics.

    Now as to the other “evidence” in the scientific literature I am not qualified to comment – nor I suspect are you. The actual disease history and symptoms may or may not fit best with Ebola or plague. I will leave this to the experts.

  16. Pneumonic plague is rare in modern forms of Y. pestis infection, sure, but given that there is absolutely no known ebola-like pathogen that presents and spreads in a similar fashion to how the Black Death is reported, it’s still a vastly more likely vector.

    Anthrax is, as you say, also presented in a vastly different epidemiology in modern times than what we know of the medieval plagues.

    Which is why Y. pestis is still considered the best answer – because it has less holes than the alternatives, even though it has many, many holes. Most of which will probably never be resolved due to the lack of accurate information about the period.

  17. dtt

    I’ve read the books on what caused the plague as medieval history is one of my interests. The claims that an Ebola like virus caused it have been pretty comprehensively debunked now.

  18. GG

    Ebola MUST be stopped at source before it spreads into other poor large urban communities – India or South America or the Philipines.

    Now they know HOW to stop the spread. It requires isolation of patients with good medical care with the best quality infection control and also ISOLATION of contacts.

    Now the first of these requires doctors and nurses, the second requires a logistics and control force able to stop people moving about.

    Now we know that Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea have not the resources to provide these things, hence the need for assistance from the west. That means us.

    If we DO NOT contain the epidemic to west Africa then this is the probable outcome. Refugees from west Africa take the infection to other parts of Africa, overwhelming their health systems. To date Nigeria and Senegal have been VERY POSITIVE but the risk is still high that Ebola could take route in other African nations. Critically it might spread from Nigeria or Uganda to India or to Zimbabwe or South Africa. From Nigeria it could move like lighting through refugee camps even reaching Syrian refugees in Turkey or to people in failed state Libya. Once in Turkey or libya then Europe is extremely vulnerable.

    The USA is probably safe PROVIDED Ebola does not take route in Mexico. If it did then nothing short of border massacres will stop its arrival in the USA

  19. GG – if I thought our leaders had any interest in taking a considered and measured approach, I would not be criticising them.

    They are not taking a considered and measured approach – they are utterly and entirely failing to engage with any action whatsoever, refusing to even consider the possibility of Australian assistance.

    The considering and measuring should have been occurring months ago to enable the action to be taken now. Instead, nothing has been done and nothing will be done because our government considers it to be not their problem and that, to me, is unconscionable.

  20. Dio

    I thought the Scott and Duncan book only came out in July this year?????

    However you (unlike some others) are qualified to comment.

  21. Abbott’s refusal to assist in containing the Ebola outbreak is a disgraceful abdication of his responsibility as the head of a country that considers itself as a good world citizen..

    It is one of his more shameful decisions & ought to be condemned by all right thinking Australians..

  22. ..on a par with refusing to support a modest one-year levy to help rebuild Queensland after cyclone Yasi..

    The thug just doesn’t care..

  23. dtt,

    I see you have worked yourself in to a tizz again.

    Unfortunately, your whole schtik is based on ifs, buts maybes and perhapes.

    Seriously, I can always listen to a fire and brimstone sermon at the local hot gospel centre. You would not be out of place.

  24. The Essential Report is out for the week, with the results at status quo, 52% to 48% 2PP to the ALP, again.

    Abbott remains deeply unpopular, with 52% of respondents dissatisfied with his performance, and Shorten edges slightly ahead of Abbott in the PPM stakes, 36% to 35%.

    What happened to Newspoll is anyone’s guess.

  25. The Big Ship@1235

    The Essential Report is out for the week, with the results at status quo, 52% to 48% 2PP to the ALP, again.

    Abbott remains deeply unpopular, with 52% of respondents dissatisfied with his performance, and Shorten edges slightly ahead of Abbott in the PPM stakes, 36% to 35%.

    What happened to Newspoll is anyone’s guess.

    Abbott’s ratings this month are actually approve 40, disapprove 48. The 52 disapprove was in September. And Abbott is ahead of Shorten 38-32. In both cases you were reading the figure on the far right as most recent. Actually the most recent figure is on the far left.

  26. Yeah, our abject failure to do anything meaningful about Ebola truly exposes the LNP for what they are: full of faux concern where they might wedge a vote or two, indifferent a*seholes where it wont.

  27. Abbott is floundering arond under questioning over the newly announced industry policy. Our PM is hopeless!
    There’s a shirtfront question coming up after the presser dries up on industry stuff.

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