Seat of the week: Gippsland

For as long as there has been a federal parliament, there has been a seat of Gippsland, and for as long as there has been a National/Country Party, the seat has been theirs. The present incumbent is Darren Chester, who succeeded Peter McGauran at a by-election in 2008.

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

The electorate of Gippsland has covered the far east of Victoria since federation, and has been in National/Country Party hands since the party was founded in 1922. It currently extends as far westwards as the Latrobe Valley towns of Morwell and Traralgon, other major centres being Sale, Bairnsdale and Lakes Entrance. The Nationals’ hold appeared to be in serious jeopardy for the first time when the redistribution ahead of the 2004 election added Morwell and Traralgon, which had long been accommodated by the electorate’s western neighbour McMillan. However, Labor’s traditional strength in this area has been waning over the past two decades with the decline of its electricity industry, and a realignment among workers with a stake in coal mining resulting from climate change politics. Howard government minister Peter McGauran, who had held the since since 1983, increased his margin by 5.1% at the 2004 election, and the swing against him in 2007 was only 1.8%.

McGauran was the first member of the Howard government to leave parliament after the 2007 election defeat, resulting in a by-election held on 28 June 2008. This produced a three-way contest involving both the Nationals and Liberals as well as Labor, which at the time provided a spur to talk of a coalition merger. After a campaign dominated by the Rudd government’s “alcopops tax” and local concern over the prospect of an emissions trading scheme, the Nationals easily retained the seat, outpolling the Liberals 39.6% to 20.7% and gaining a 6.1% swing on two-party preferred – a surprisingly poor result for Labor given the strength of the Rudd government’s polling at the time. Labor’s primary vote fell 8.1%, and was down particularly heavily at the Latrobe Valley end of the electorate.

Gippsland has since been held for the Nationals by Darren Chester, who had previously been the chief-of-staff to state party leader Peter Ryan. Chester had earlier run unsuccessfully against Craig Ingram, then the independent member for the state seat of Gippsland East, at the 2002 state election, and sought Senate preselection at the 2004 federal election against Peter McGauran’s incumbent brother Julian, who went on to defect to the Liberal Party in January 2006. After his strong win at the by-election, Chester’s margin was little changed at the 2010 election, and he picked up a further 4.4% swing in 2013. Chester was promoted to shadow parliamentary secretary for roads and regional transport after the 2010 election, and became parliamentary secretary to the Defence Minister when the Abbott government came to power in 2013.

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.

370 comments on “Seat of the week: Gippsland”

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  1. Bemused

    Many in nursing homes are dying…so what?


    [An inquiry was told last month that eight residents developed blisters on their trunk and genitals the day after their seven-minute bath.]

    Remember these are aged and frail people whose skin is thinner, bruises and bleeds quite easily

    It’s not that the treatment is bad but that it’s not suitable for the elderly.


  2. Dee@251


    Many in nursing homes are dying…so what?


    An inquiry was told last month that eight residents developed blisters on their trunk and genitals the day after their seven-minute bath.

    Remember these are aged and frail people whose skin is thinner, bruises and bleeds quite easily

    It’s not that the treatment is bad but that it’s not suitable for the elderly.


    I am not medically qualified and have no experience of that treatment, so I can’t comment on those matters.

    What alternative treatment was available and would it have prolonged their lives?

  3. A bunch of bumbling nincompoops in one long congaline from 2UE to the Speaker’s office.

    Compared to this, ignoring kero baths is a Bronnie triumph.

    [The controversial “burqa ban” started with a rumour given to 2UE by someone called “media manipulator”, which was then passed on to the Australian Federal Police officer at parliament house by another journalist from Channel Nine.

    On a segment called “Whispers” on the 2UE morning program on October 2, the following exchange occurred:

    Host one: “We’ve got one here from Media Manipulator saying a lobby group and at least one TV station are considering sending someone in a full burqa into parliament house in Canberra today.

    Host two: “Well there it is, that’s the tip coming through from Canberra.”

    Channel Nine confirmed that rumour was the reason a camera crew was sent to the front of parliament house that morning. When asked by an Australian Federal Police officer why they were there, the camera crew said it was because they had heard there might be a protest by people wearing burqas.

    That information was passed from the AFP to the director of security operations at parliament house, Sean Giddings, who passed it on to parliamentary authorities as well as to the office of the speaker Bronwyn Bishop and the president of the senate Stephen Parry.]

  4. Bemused

    There were scabies treatments readily available from the pharmacy.

    Funny thing is they didn’t know if the patients had scabies????

    They used the treatment for ‘suspected’ scabies.

    The baths were carried out by unqualified staff so perhaps they just poured the kero in…who knows….

    [Apparently medical staff ordered senior nurses to use the treatment, but they refused.

    Instead unqualified carers were forced to do the job.

    BRONWYN BISHOP, MINISTER FOR AGED CARE: When I heard of this incident of frail Australians, elderly Australians, being bathed in a bath of kerosene to get rid of an alleged attack of scabies, I couldn’t believe my ears.]

  5. sprocket

    [Compared to this, ignoring kero baths is a Bronnie triumph.]

    Bronnie didn’t ignore the kero baths; she called the Federal Police in a complete over-reaction.

  6. briefly

    […genuflects with enough sincerity…]

    Not chipping at you.

    For my parents generation an introduction of him into conversation always got the full title on first mention.

  7. [ANTI-VIOLENCE campaigner and Sammy D Foundation head Nat Cook has been confirmed as Labor’s candidate to replace independent MP Bob Such in the southern suburbs seat of Fisher. ]

    Her son died as a result of a coward punch and she’s done a great job promoting the cause.

  8. [Bronnie didn’t ignore the kero baths; she called the Federal Police in a complete over-reaction.]


    [BRONWYN BISHOP: I am not a doctor so I can’t satisfy myself as to the medical condition of each patient. However, because I was sufficiently concerned that there may be matters to be investigated, I referred . had the Department refer the matter to the Federal Police.

    FIONA REYNOLDS: But the Federal Police say they’ve received no such request, while Hannah Sellars from the Nurses Federation doesn’t believe it’s a police matter.]

  9. Nicholas way back @114

    Liked the Gippsland ditty though, of course, the Latrobe Valley is in Gippsland not the other way around.

    Having lived there one can say Gippsland is miserable in summer and worse in winter.

    In some respects it is fitting that the Nationals represent the electorate.

    To have to live in a place like Orbost would be akin to being buried alive.

    Apologies to all those who live in Orbost.

  10. On the topic of bias, hypocrisy and double standards.

    The correct way to narrow down what it is, if it’s anything, is (roughly):
    1) ask the person their process for forming an opinion

    If they explicitly include their bias, stop, else

    2) ask them to apply their process to situations A and B.

    Were they consistent? Then stop. Else, their process uses some unstated rule. Repeat from (1) with, if possible, an elaboration of their process and with more situations than just A & B.

    3) If it comes down to a difference in X, then it’s X. Well done. If they were entirely consistent the whole time, then you’ve identified a difference in values between you and them. Not bias, not double standards, not hypocrisy. Even if their process always leads them to conclude much the same things as some other entity (a political party, say) it would even be incorrect to assert that they are “rusted on” – there is simply a convergence/coincidence of their opinion with that of the other entity.

    The incorrect way to do it that I frequently see employed here is:

    1) Take another person’s assessment (not the process, just the final assessment) of situation A and B

    2) Note that it differs from one’s own assessment (or worse yet, a poll’s assessment) of situation A and B

    3) note that *a* difference between A and B is X

    4) leap to the conclusion it must be X.

  11. Interesting that Labor are running a high-profile candidate in Fisher, as winning the seat is extremely unlikely for them, even with the current poll slump for the Liberals (they’d need about a 7% swing on the March 2PP result to take it.) I’d have thought they’d put their stock into a high profile independent instead.

    I guess the ALP are trying to go for a stability pitch. As well as Cook being a good candidate, appeal to the fact that her election will prevent parliament from becoming unstable. I suppose not entirely reckless in a seat where voters clearly aren’t married to the Liberal Party line. However, it’s still a big ask, considering the seat’s history and the tendency of by-elections to swing votes away from the governing party.

  12. The second method is really just a way of saying “I disagree”, onto which is tacked a feeble attempt to wave off the others’ opinion by associating it with something negative.

  13. [guytaur
    Posted Monday, October 20, 2014 at 5:25 pm | PERMALINK
    “@Simon_Cullen: Parliament House security chief says the #burqa ban was the result of a TV cameraman mentioning the possibility of burqa-wearing protestors”

    Well well. There you have it. The mistake was to believe the media]

    BBishop must be spitting chips that this incident probably cost her the chairmanship of the international parliamentary union.

  14. [Centre; neither needed nor desired.]

    I don’t know. We’re lacking a voice here that suggests every single incident that occurs has something to do with the Greens and their impending collapse.

    Also somebody to attempt to shoot down any progressives or idealists in the ALP who don’t know everything like he apparently does.

  15. Bemused

    [I often disagreed with {centre} but always found him entertaining.]

    As always, YMMV. He was a blight on this place — ignorant, arrogant, reactionary, banal and tedious.

  16. Welcome to Australia, where we are officially TERRIFIED of blokes in drag:

    [Senator Parry said he had been advised the protesters, some of whom were men, would be wearing burqas to hide their identities.]

    Here’s the word uppermost in my mind: SOFT.

    Our politicians are SOFT. As in ‘weak’.

    Her’s a clue dimwits: a man in a dress still has to go through the same detection processes.

    Now sit down and STFU, you panicking, hysterical drongos.

    You’re clearly the last people we’ll need in charge if therer’s ever an actual crisis. I trust the public will bear that in mond in 2016.

  17. Fran
    [ignorant, arrogant, reactionary, banal and tedious]
    I sometimes think such things of myself.

    Separately, though. Not all at once. ;).

  18. [BBishop must be spitting chips that this incident probably cost her the chairmanship of the international parliamentary union.]

    She must be spitting chips about her foolish over reaction.

    She also might have been set up, and it could have been by either side.

  19. I expect a no change newspoll tonight. Abbott’s pissed off thinking liberals and gained unthinking PUP supporters. Really his gains have been PUP voters who don’t like unfair budgets but fear “mussies” more. The next turning point will be when a suicide bomber kills Aussie soldiers advising in Iraq- but turn which way?.

  20. Surely its only a matter of days before Pauline Pantsdown bursts in wearing a nun’s habit.

    Do you have to make yourselves look so laughable, LNP?

  21. [Offshore detention centres: annual costs hit $1 billion

    The federal government has spent more than $1 billion this financial year to house about 2200 asylum seekers in offshore detention centres in Papua New Guinea and Nauru.

    Running the detention centre on Manus Island has cost taxpayers $632.3 million, and the operational cost of Nauru was $582.4 million, a Senate estimates hearing was told on Monday.]

    Which is better value for $1 billion of taxpayers’ money – the ABC or detention centres?

  22. [He was a blight on this place — ignorant, arrogant, reactionary, banal and tedious.]

    But not pontificating and long-winded. He missed out on these two.

  23. DN

    [Separately, though. Not all at once. .]

    That’s the trick. 😉

    Mind you, I’ve never been reactionary.

    Since I’ve alluded to banality and recently, whimsy, I sometimes wish tedious were spelled ‘taedious’ so that it would become the third word in English to contain all five vowels in order.


    Luckily I am an hour or so by car from a place that has a name containing half the letters of the alphabet and all five vowels. How nice is that?

  24. fran

    Maybe he actually lodged a valid vote.

    Rather than deliberately not doing so.

    It’s just a small part of taking part in democracy.

  25. CTar
    It’s not a good idea to indulge in too much cheekiness at once. I would advise jointly. Sometimes I only manage separately ;).

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