Seat of the week: Aston

The increasingly misnamed Seat of the Week series takes a visit to Melbourne’s eastern suburbs, and a seat that has remained outside Labor’s grasp since 1990.

The outer eastern Melbourne electorate of Aston was created with the expansion of parliament in 1984, from territory that had mostly been accommodated by La Trobe since its creation in 1949. It covers the Liberal-leaning suburbs of Wantirna in the north and Rowville in the south, along with naturally marginal territory in Wantirna’s eastern neigbours Bayswater and Ferntree Gully. Labor held the seat for the first two terms of its existence, but it steadily strengthened for the Liberals over time, and is currently held by them on a margin of 8.2%.

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.

The seat’s inaugural members was John Saunderson, who had gained the seat of Deakin for Labor when the Hawke government came to power in 1983. He inherited a notional Labor margin of 7.0% which fell to 3.6% at the 1987 election, before copping the full force of Labor’s statewide battering in 1990. It was then one of nine Victorian seats to fall to the Liberals, and one of three across the state to experience double-digit swings. The incoming Liberal member was Peter Nugent, a moderate noted for bucking his party’s line on indigenous issues. Nugent’s sudden death in April 2001 resulted in a by-election three months later which delivered the Howard government a morale-boosting win that predated the game-changing Tampa episode by a month, Labor’s 3.7% swing falling short of the 4.2% Liberal margin.

The member for the next two terms was Chris Pearce, a Knox councillor and managing director of an information technology company. Pearce picked up a 7.1% swing at the 2004 election, the biggest in the state in the context of a strong performance by the Liberals throughout suburban Melbourne. It was widely noted that this left the seat with a bigger Liberal margin than the famously blue-ribbon Kooyong, which was seen to typify the hold the Howard government had secured in middle-class outer suburbia. However, it equally joined many such seats in swinging heavily to Labor at the 2007 election, when an 8.1% swing reduced Pearce’s margin to 5.1%. Pearce meanwhile became closely associated with Peter Costello, and his announcement that he would bow out at the 2010 election came hard on the heels of Costello’s.

The hotly contested preselection to choose Pearce’s successor was won by Alan Tudge, a former staffer to Brendan Nelson and Alexander Downer, ahead of Neil Angus, a chartered accountant who would go on to win Forest Hill for the Liberals at the 2010 state election. Labor was vaguely hopeful that Pearce’s retirement would help add Aston to a list of Victorian gains compensating for expected losses in New South Wales and Queensland, but the 3.3% swing left Tudge with a margin of 1.8%. The subsequent redistribution cut the margin further back to 0.7%, by adding Boronia and removing Vermont, but the tide at the 2013 election flowed heavily the other way, blowing the margin out to 8.2%. Tudge subsequently won promotion to parliamentary secretary to the Prime Minister.

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.

979 thoughts on “Seat of the week: Aston”

  1. Autocrat
    [Tell ya what: I saw Abbott on the TV this morning, walking about in his APEC outfit. Stick a matching fez on that guy and he’s dead set in danger of being kidnapped by a recently bereaved organ grinder.]

    Yep, he really is the Primate Minister.

  2. [It’s the jutting chin as well as the seat-straddling walk and the hanging arms]

    I was arguing at the time that the best election ad for Labor would be to show shot after shot of Abbott walking, with the caption, “Do you want this man representing you on the world stage?”

    I’ve always felt Abbott’s walk tells you everything you need to know about the sort of person he really is.

  3. chinda

    Twitter keep repeating pix of Abbott kissing women, with his lips jutting out so that his face doesn’t come too near. That’s how chimpanzees kiss. “Normal” people, when social kissing, do more cheek to cheek stuff, or even lips to cheek. Somehow Tony seems to have missed out on social interation lessons. Maybe his pseudo-priesthood was the problem.

  4. chinda63

    [I’ve always felt Abbott’s walk tells you everything you need to know about the sort of person he really is.]

    Couldn’t agree more!

    Add to that the jutting jaw and the over the top handshake along with that smirk and we have a disaster.

  5. chinda and co. –

    Abbott says and promotes plenty of things that deserve to be condemned. Ad hominem attacks against him don’t rise to the standard I expect of Poll Bludger.

    Pointing out that Abbott is a gorilla and therefore unfit to lead the country is very similar to the misogynistic attacks on Julia. It’s the content of Tony’s character that should preclude him from the job, not his membership of a different species.

  6. [“The big reveal” two or three days before the election can and does result in voters being misled, with no time to check the truth of what they are being told.

    In the 2010 federal election the Coalition’s treasury spokesman Joe Hockey released 12 pages of costings (with no explanation of how they were derived) late on the pre-poll Wednesday. They were covered by a one-page note from a Perth-based accountancy firm that said it was “satisfied that based on the assumptions provided, costed commitments and savings have been accurately prepared in all material respects”.

    But the costings weren’t accurate, as the Treasury discovered after they were released after the election.]

    Read more:

  7. dave

    China and Russia earlier in the year signed a $400 billion dollar gas deal. They are finalizing another similar deal only a little smaller. Payments are to be in their own currency so no US “petrodollars”. The US will look much less important.

  8. StephenD

    Abbott’s unfortunate bearing and social skills have little to do with his (in)ability to lead the country, but they do relate to his appearance as our representative abroad. By his words, his actions and his demeanour, he shames us.

  9. Serco The company also revealed that profits would have been flat between 2009-2013, were it not for its controversial contract running Australia’s migrant detention centres, including a facility on Christmas Island, condemned by Australia’s top human rights official for its filthy conditions and high levels of self-harm among inhabitants.

    Profits ahead of services and care and the results are evident

  10. This story started several weeks ago, but came to a head late last week:

    I’m disappointed that they chose to abandon halal certification (and therefore the supply deal with Emirates) rather than standing up for themselves. It’s great to see that the Dairy Farmer’s Association is expressing disappointment, but they could’ve offered support weeks ago instead of sitting around waiting for the company to come to them (which it didn’t).

    Imagine the political outcry that would occur if companies were targeted for certification of kosher goods with claims that the money paid went to fund terrorism. Remember the furore over the boycott of Max Brenner over its ties to Israel (which is a much more legitimate thing to object to than cultural dietary standards).

    George Brandis will no doubt be pleased that a bunch of clowns acted on their “right to be bigots”.

  11. #919
    And there I was thinking that the government had the legislation in place to track money being sent to aid terrorism and could have stopped it.

    But it seems they haven’t/can’t so allow a trade deal to be scuppered.

  12. [victoria
    Posted Tuesday, November 11, 2014 at 10:10 am | PERMALINK
    Check out these pics of the Abbott at Apec ]

    From this article, it seems that Abbott has trouble fitting in to a group:

    [Mr Abbott at first struggled to find his place in the line up but eventually found his position next to his political soulmate – Canada’s conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper – but awkwardly, directly behind President Putin.

    The leaders avoided making any eye contact although Mr Abbott was photographed glancing towards the Russian leader, who he is likely to meet on Tuesday afternoon, Australian time.]

  13. [guytaur
    Posted Tuesday, November 11, 2014 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    “@sarahinthesen8: Things must be worse in detention camps than we thought if Govt is finally taking Greens advice to implement a monitoring team to keep watch”

    No wonder Morrison has been quiet.]

    Yes, Morrison has been an unwonted absence from the media circus lately.

    Has Credlin pulled sharply at his reins in order to remind him who bosses whom?

  14. And if Abbott should stumble, look even more like a loser, there is always Bishop the Jnr.

    The West newspaper and some of the letter writers have really got the hots for her at the moment.

    While “never” should not be in a political lexicon, other than the fact that this person is a Woman of Steel, she is from the West. Despite all the suck up praise she is getting, it comes from her FA profile rather than anything she seems to be capable of (other than being very nasty)on the domestic front.

    It does look, however, as she may have a new boy friend…for as much as this matters.

  15. v

    Thanks for link. Is it a harbinger of doom that Ms Hird is wearing all black with black accessories today?

    Smith of ‘The Australian’ gets stuck into Mr Hird today.


    Howe is concentrating on the commonsensical view that the general expectation was (and is) that ASADA and the AFL were expected to cooperate and did cooperate and that any benefit in terms of policing dope cheats should be gleaned from that cooperation.

    But you never can tell. Sometime the Law’s an Ass.

  16. v.

    Both Stuart and White are sounding significant alarm bells about the degree to which Australia has forfeited its sovereign options in relation to future Asian conflicts by the way in which we are entangling ourselves with the US.

    My view is (and has been for a long time) that this may be in the US national interest but it is not in ours.

  17. Victoria at 909. I know it’s edited footage, so I shouldn’t comment – but it does look as if Abbott ignored the woman in the room, unlike Obama or Putin, neither of whom find women threatening.

  18. [BK

    Frances Abbott still just does not get t!

    Her free scholarship may not be doing her much good in the real world where you are judged on your ability, not your family connections.

    A article yesterday said she was working as an assistant buyer for children’s clothes at Myer. Someone who graduated with a ‘distinction’ average might expect to be snapped up by a good fashion house. (Especially someone deemed good enough for a full scholarship!)

    Maybe in this case the circumstances of her obtaining the scholarship were not seen by prospective employers as a plus.

  19. citizen

    [Her free scholarship may not be doing her much good in the real world where you are judged on your ability, not your family connections.]


    Try telling that to the next gen Packers, Murdochs, et al.

    Frances knows perfectly well that she is getting an inside run – not for what she is – but from her Dad’s power.

    There was a small personal price to pay with Frances standing on the victory dias in oh so virginal white to reinforce Dad’s virility, his lack of problems with women, and his fertility.

    Frances’s vestal robes complemented the priestly Dad’s blue tie nicely.

  20. Something puzzles me about Peter Brent’s psephology. He routinely asserts that the Abbott Government will be re-elected in 2016. Yet he sits on the fence on the Victorian state election which is less than three weeks away.

    When Abbott is re-elected the year after next, the culture warriors will be out crowing again.

    I reckon high approval/satisfaction/better premier inflate voting intentions, and if that’s the case in this contest the ALP will romp home on 29 November.

    But I’m certainly not predicting that.

    Did I mention there are still three weeks to go?

  21. Headline from Murdoch’s Oz:

    [Joyce: Goss plaudits ‘are obnoxious’

    BARNABY Joyce has said while Wayne Goss was a great premier, Joh Bjelke-Petersen should also be “celebrated” as an “exemplary leader”.]

  22. [BARNABY Joyce has said while Wayne Goss was a great premier, Joh Bjelke-Petersen should also be “celebrated” as an “exemplary leader”.]

    Oh FFS.

    Barnaby is right on one point. The dictionary definition of exemplary is not just “serving as a model” but also “serving as a warning or deterrent”. JBP fits the latter.

  23. AA re Bishop the Jnr…

    The old saying being born in a stable does not make me a horse, might apply to her.

    The West really has gone over the top for her…Woman of Steel and all that stuff.

    I see this as an insurance policy for the Liberals but I would have thought nasty, bully and loud mouth were attributes held by Morrison which is more in keeping with Liberal DNA for leadership at the moment.

    PMs from WA are few and far between. Big Kimbo came close but, at the end of the day, not close enough.

  24. And AA, in relation to the chances of becoming PM from the WA, while Bob Hawke went to school in Perth and he was adopted by Sangropia, he was born in SA too.

  25. Just heard on the news that there is some function to be held in Canberra for Veterans.

    Abbott invited two elderly brothers to attend.

    Problem is the Government never offered air flights for them to get there.

    If I heard right the elderly veterans did not have the money to get a flight and Kerry Stokes is paying for them to attend.

    Abbott is certainly not a man of the people and apparently Stokes is.

  26. Tricot
    I think many see as the chance to get a ‘sandgroper’ into the big chair.

    Most notable was her absence from the WA Federal Liberals group pushing for a fairer deal for WA on GST

  27. And AA, in relation to the chances of becoming PM from the WA, while Bob Hawke went to school in Perth and he was adopted by Sangropia, he was born in SA too.

    but he was a human, so met the criteria to be a honorary sandgrpoer

  28. Looks like everyone except the oik of a PM is coming to help the two bros.

    [Radio listeners have now donated thousands of dollars, as well as offers of car hire and accommodation, after the brothers’ plight was featured on 666 ABC Canberra.

    Virgin Australia has also offered to pay for return flights for the pair after being contacted by the Prime Minister’s Office.

    Murray and Eric flew together in 460 Squadron in 1944, bombing Hitler’s factories in Nazi Germany.

    They were the only brothers to fly combat missions in the same aircraft, a practice forbidden at the time but excused by RAAF Bomber Command because of a shortage of skilled air crew.]

Comments Page 19 of 20
1 18 19 20

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *