Call of the board: Melbourne

More gory detail on the result of the May 18 federal election, this time focusing on Melbourne, where an anticipated election-winning swing to Labor crucially failed to materialise.

Time for part four in the series that reviews the result of the May 18 election seat by seat, one chunk at a time. As will be the routine in posts covering the capital cities, we start with a colour-coded map showing the two-party preferred swing at polling booth level, with each booth allocated a geographic catchment area by means explained in the first post in this series. Click for an enlarged image.

Now to compare actual election results to those predicted by a demographic linear regression model, to help identify where candidate or local factors might be needed to explain the result. I now offer a new-and-improved form of the model that includes interaction effects to account for the differences in demographic effects between the cities and the regions. The utility of the change, if any, will become more apparent when I apply it to regional seats, which confounded the original version of the model. The coefficients and what-have-you can be viewed here – the table below shows the modelled predictions and actual results for Labor two-party preferred, ranked in order of difference between the result and the prediction of the model.

The main eyebrow-raisers are that the model anticipates a stronger performance by Labor in nearly every Liberal-held seats, to the extent that blue-ribbon Higgins and Goldstein are both rated as naturally highly marginal. While this could prove a portent of things to come in these seats, it might equally reflect a model leaning too heavily on the “secular/no religion” variable to cancel out the association between income and Liberal support in the inner cities.

As in Sydney, the numbers provide strong indications of incumbency advantages, with both Labor and Liberal members tending to outperform the model and thus appear at opposite ends of the table. I suspect this reflects both the obvious explanation, namely personal votes for sitting members, and a lack of effort by the parties into each other’s safe seats. A tendency for parties to perform more modestly when a seat is being vacated is not so overwhelming as to prevent strong results relative to the model for Labor in Jagajaga and Liberal in Higgins.

With that out of the way:

Aston (Liberal 10.1%; 2.7% swing to Liberal): Aston attracted a lot of discussion after the 2004 election when the Liberals recorded a higher two-party vote than they did in their jewel-in-the-crown seat of Kooyong. Now, for the first time since then, it’s happened again, and by a fairly substantial margin (the Liberal-versus-Labor margin in Kooyong having been 6.7%). As illustrated in the above table, the swing places Alan Tudge’s margin well beyond what the seat’s demographic indicators would lead you to expect.

Bruce (Labor 14.2%; 0.1% swing to Labor): Located at the point of the outer suburbs where the Labor swing dries up, cancelling out any half-sophomore effect that may have been coming Julian Hill’s way after he came to the seat in 2016.

Calwell (Labor 18.8%; 0.9% swing to Liberal): Among the modest number of Melbourne seats to swing to the Liberals, reflecting its multiculturalism and location at the city’s edge. Maria Vamvakinou nonetheless retains the fifth biggest Labor margin in the country.

Chisholm (Liberal 0.6%; 2.3% swing to Labor): Labor’s failure to win Chisholm after it was vacated by Julia Banks was among their most disappointing results of the election, but the result was entirely within the normal range both for Melbourne’s middle suburbs and a seat of its particular demographic profile. The swing to Labor was concentrated at the northern end of the electorate, which may or may not have something to do with this being the slightly less Chinese end of the electorate.

Cooper (Labor 14.6% versus Greens; 13.4% swing to Labor): With David Feeney gone and Ged Kearney entrenched, the door seems to have slammed shut on the Greens in the seat formerly known as Batman. After recording high thirties primary votes at both the 2016 election and 2018 by-election, the Greens crashed to 21.1%, while Kearney was up from 43.1% at the by-election to 46.8%, despite the fact the Liberals were in the field this time and polling 19.5%. In Labor-versus-Liberal terms, a 4.2% swing to Labor boosted the margin to 25.9%, the highest in the country.

Deakin (Liberal 4.8%; 1.7% swing to Labor): While Melburnian backers of the coup against Malcolm Turnbull did not suffer the retribution anticipated after the state election, it may at least be noted that Michael Sukkar’s seat swung the other way from its demographically similar neighbour, Aston. That said, Sukkar’s 4.8% margin strongly outperforms the prediction of the demographic model, which picks the seat for marginal Labor.

Dunkley (LABOR NOTIONAL GAIN 2.7%; 1.7% swing to Labor): Together with Corangamite, Dunkley was one of only two Victorian seats gained by Labor on any reckoning, and even they can be excluded if post-redistribution margins are counted as the starting point. With quite a few other outer urban seats going the other way, and a part-sophomore effect to be anticipated after he succeeded Bruce Billson in 2016, it might be thought an under-achievement on Chris Crewther’s part that he failed to hold out the tide, notwithstanding the near universal expectation he would lose. However, his performance was well beyond that predicted by the demographic model, which estimates the Labor margin at 6.6%.

Fraser (Labor 14.2%; 6.1% swing to Liberal): Newly created seat in safe Labor territory in western Melbourne, it seemed Labor felt the loss here of its sitting members: Bill Shorten in Maribyrnong, which provided 34% of the voters; Maria Vamvakinou in Calwell, providing 29%; Tim Watts in Gellibrand, providing 20%; and Brendan O’Connor in Gorton, providing 16%. The newly elected member, Daniel Mulino, copped the biggest swing against Labor in Victoria, reducing the seat from first to eleventh on the national list of safest Labor seats.

Gellibrand (Labor 14.8%; 0.3% swing to Liberal): The city end of Gellibrand followed the inner urban pattern in swinging to Labor, but the suburbia at the Point Cook end of the electorate tended to lean the other way, producing a stable result for third-term Labor member Tim Watts.

Goldstein (Liberal 7.8%; 4.9% swing to Labor): Tim Wilson met the full force of the inner urban swing against the Liberals, more than accounting for any sophomore effect he might have enjoyed in the seat where he succeeded Andrew Robb in 2016. Nonetheless, he maintained a primary vote majority in a seat which, since its creation in 1984, has only failed to do when David Kemp muscled Ian Macphee aside in 1990.

Gorton (Labor 15.4%; 3.0% swing to Liberal): The swing against Brendan O’Connor was fairly typical of the outer suburbs. An independent, Jarrod Bingham, managed 8.8%, with 59.2% of his preferences going to Labor.

Higgins (Liberal 3.9%; 6.1% swing to Labor): One of many blue-ribbon seats that swung hard against the Liberals without putting them in serious danger. Nonetheless, it is notable that the 3.9% debut margin for Katie Allen, who succeeds Kelly O’Dwyer, is the lowest the Liberals have recorded since the seat’s creation in 1949, surpassing Peter Costello’s 7.0% with the defeat of the Howard government in 2007. Labor returned to second place after falling to third in 2016, their primary up from 14.9% to 25.4%, while the Greens were down from 25.3% to 22.5%. This reflected a pattern through much of inner Melbourne, excepting Melbourne and Kooyong.

Holt (Labor 8.7%; 1.2% swing to Liberal): The populous, northern end of Holt formed part of a band of south-eastern suburbia that defied the Melbourne trend in swinging to Liberal, causing a manageable cut to Anthony Byrne’s margin.

Hotham (Labor 5.9%; 1.7% swing to Labor): The swing to third-term Labor member Clare O’Neil was concentrated at the northern end of the electorate, with the lower-income Vietnamese area around Springvale in the south went the other way.

Isaacs (Labor 12.7%; 3.4% swing to Labor): What I have frequently referred to as an inner urban effect actually extended all along the bayside, contributing to a healthy swing to Mark Dreyfus. The Liberal primary vote was down 7.4%, partly reflecting more minor party competition than in 2016. This was an interesting case where the map shows a clear change in temperature coinciding with the boundaries, with swings to Labor in Isaacs promptly giving way to Liberal swings across much of Hotham, Bruce and Holt.

Jagajaga (Labor 6.6%; 1.0% swing to Labor): Jenny Macklin’s retirement didn’t have any discernible impact on the result in Jagajaga, which recorded a modest swing to her Labor successor, Kate Thwaites.

Kooyong (Liberal 5.7% versus Greens): Julian Burnside defied a general Melburnian trend in adding 2.6% to the Greens primary vote, and did so in the face of competition for the environmental vote from independent Oliver Yates, whose high profile campaign yielded only 9.0%. Labor was down 3.7% to 16.8%, adrift of Burnside’s 21.2%. But with Josh Frydenberg still commanding 49.4% of the primary vote even after an 8.3% swing, the result was never in doubt. The Liberal-versus-Labor two-party margin was 6.7%, a 6.2% swing to Labor.

Lalor (Labor 12.4%; 1.8% swing to Liberal): The area around Werribee marks a Liberal swing hot spot in Melbourne’s west, showing up as a slight swing in Lalor against Labor’s Joanne Ryan.

Macnamara (Labor 6.2%; 5.0% swing to Labor): Talked up before the event as a three-horse race, this proved an easy win for Labor, who outpolled the Greens 31.8% to 24.2%, compared with 27.0% to 23.8% last time, then landed 6.2% clear after preferences of the Liberals, who were off 4.6% to 37.4%. The retirement of Michael Danby presumably explains the relatively weak 5.0% primary vote swing to Labor in the seven booths around Caulfield and Elsternwick at the southern end of the electorate, the focal point of its Jewish community. The result for the remainder of the election day booths was 9.7%.

Maribyrnong (Labor 11.2%; 0.8% swing to Liberal): Nothing out of the ordinary happened in the seat of Bill Shorten, who probably owes most of his 5.0% primary vote swing to the fact that there were fewer candidates this time. Typifying the overall result, the Liberals gained swings around Keilor at the electorate’s outer reaches, while Labor was up closer to the city.

Melbourne (Greens 21.8% versus Liberal; 2.8% swing to Greens): The Greens primary vote in Melbourne increased for the seventh successive election, having gone from 6.1% in 1998 to 22.8% when Adam Bandt first ran unsuccessfully in 2007, and now up from 43.7% to 49.3%. I await to be corrected, but I believed this brought Bandt to within an ace of becoming the first Green ever to win a primary vote majority. For the second election in a row, Bandt’s dominance of the left-of-centre vote reduced Labor to third place. On the Labor-versus-Liberal count, Labor gained a negligible 0.1% swing, unusually for a central city seat.

Menzies (Liberal 7.2%; 0.3% swing to Labor): Very little to report from Kevin Andrews’ seat, where the main parties were up slightly on the primary vote against a smaller field, and next to no swing on two-party preferred, with slight Liberal swings around Templestowe in the west of the electorate giving way to slight Labor ones around Warrandyte in the east.

Scullin (Labor 21.7%; 2.1% swing to Labor): Third-term Labor member Andrew Giles managed a swing that was rather against the outer urban trend in his northern Melbourne seat.

Wills (Labor 8.2% versus Greens; 3.2% swing to Labor): The Greens likely missed their opportunity in Wills when Kelvin Thomson retired in 2016, when Labor’s margin was reduced to 4.9%. Peter Khalil having established himself as member, he picked up 6.2% on the primary vote this time while the Greens fell 4.3%. Khalil also picked up a 4.2% swing on the Labor-versus-Liberal count, strong even by inner urban standards, leaving him with the biggest margin on that measure after Ged Kearney in Cooper.

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.

1,431 comments on “Call of the board: Melbourne”

  1. And Simon, for the record, Christensen got the largest swing to the LNP in the election of 11.2% and the ALP FP vote was barely 20%.

    He must be doing something right by his electorate.

  2. Steve777 says:
    Tuesday, August 13, 2019 at 2:27 pm

    They pay their taxes and their children are entitled to receive an education and they cost less to the public purse than if they were sent to a government school. Private Schools save the tax payer many billions of dollars a year.

    Many parents of private school children are not the wealthy types that you think they are.

  3. Stabby guy had a balaclava on, so probably premeditated. I know the area and it’s where a lot of wealthy Chinese young people live. They pull out of the underground garages there in their Beemers and Mercs all the time.

    Here’s the latest from the smh:

    Multiple people have reportedly been stabbed in Sydney’s CBD by a man wearing a balaclava.

    …Jack Huddo wrote on Twitter: “A random dude just started stabbing people in the city right outside where we were having lunch. I saw people running so I ran towards him with a few other guys.”

    “He ran all the way back to near my work where a lot of others had cornered him for the police,” he said.

    https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/multiple-people-stabbed-in-sydney-cbd-20190813-p52go0.html

  4. Bucephalus @ #1189 Tuesday, August 13th, 2019 – 2:34 pm

    1. You can’t have it both ways – either the extra money spent by the private schools is effective and therefore should be replicated in the public sector or it isn’t effective (which is the claim so often rolled out) and therefore quit your whining.

    Who cares if any money spent by any private entity is effective or not? I mean, as long as it’s private money they’re spending.

    2. What is your solution to the extra-spending in private schools?

    Private schools can do what they want, provided that they’re actually privately funded. The solution is to 1) stop sending public dollars to private schools, and then 2) stop worrying about what private schools are doing.

    4. the vast majority of capital spending in Private Schools is privately funded – not government.

    Not good enough. If they want to call themselves and operate as a “private school” then nothing short of 100% privately funded is adequate.

    If they want to take public funds then they should be held to the same standards and curriculum as a public school. And they shouldn’t be able to call themselves anything other than “public” or “semi-private”. Because the ingredients are supposed to be listed on the package.

  5. Goll made a general statement about all voters. Significant difference to the Christensen thing

    He was pointing a gun and asked if Greenies were feeling lucky.
    You extended what Goll said to include all of the ALP. So who is guilty of overgeneralising?

    He must be doing something right by his electorate.

    Yep. Encouraging them to hate Greenies and lefties and blaming them for all their problems rather than closely examining his slack arsed snot face toadying while slurping on the taxpayer cream filled gravy train trough.

  6. Goll says:
    Tuesday, August 13, 2019 at 2:50 pm

    You are going to have to be a little more detailed with your questioning technique.

    There’s not much that I hate.

  7. It’s a communist conspiracy – bankers and insurers around the world are attacking Adani and the coal industry generally.

    Adani beware: coal is on the road to becoming completely uninsurable
    The Conversation By John Quiggin
    Posted about 2 hours ago

    The announcement by Suncorp that it will no longer insure new thermal coal projects, along with a similar announcement by QBE Insurance a few months earlier, brings Australia into line with Europe where most major insurers have broken with coal.

    US firms have been a little slower to move, but Chubb announced a divestment policy in July, and Liberty has confirmed it will not insure Australia’s Adani project.

    Other big firms such as America’s AIG are coming under increasing pressure.

    Even more than divestment of coal shares by banks and managed funds, the withdrawal of insurance has the potential to make coal mining and coal-fired power generation businesses unsustainable.

    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-08-13/climate-change-raises-doubt-over-insurance-adani-coal-mine/11407850

  8. a r says:
    Tuesday, August 13, 2019 at 2:53 pm

    Small problem for you – both the ALP and the LNP are committed to the current funding model for private schools with minor disagreement at the margins and despite all your whining it isn’t going to change much.

    “If they want to take public funds then they should be held to the same standards and curriculum as a public school.”

    They do teach to the same Curriculum and are assessed and licensed on that basis.

    You really don’t know much about education, do you.

  9. Bucephalus
    Governments shouldn’t be funding private schools. Parents make a decision to buy these services then that is fine but my taxes shouldn’t be spend on it except for the local bus or tram that goes part the front door.

  10. Bucephalus @ #1202 Tuesday, August 13th, 2019 – 2:46 pm

    Steve777 says:
    Tuesday, August 13, 2019 at 2:27 pm

    They pay their taxes and their children are entitled to receive an education and they cost less to the public purse than if they were sent to a government school. Private Schools save the tax payer many billions of dollars a year.

    Many parents of private school children are not the wealthy types that you think they are.

    Many private schools are “for profit” enterprises. And (by and large) they do make an excellent profit. They charge fees that are many times what it actually costs to educate a child, and they often have trouble even spending enough money to keep their profits down to merely astronomical levels.

    Why should a profitable company be receiving any public money?

  11. Bucephalus @ #1215 Tuesday, August 13th, 2019 – 3:02 pm

    a r says:
    Tuesday, August 13, 2019 at 2:53 pm

    Small problem for you – both the ALP and the LNP are committed to the current funding model for private schools with minor disagreement at the margins and despite all your whining it isn’t going to change much.

    What’s your point? It’s not like anyone is obliged to change their opinion to align with the major political parties (or any political party).

    I don’t think public money should go to private schools, full stop. If the major parties don’t agree that’s not my problem. They’re entitled to be stupid. 🙂

  12. And if Labor didn’t agree to fund Private Schools from the Public Purse, people like Buce would be whining about ‘Hit Lists’ and ‘My Taxes should go to fund MY child’s school’.

  13. Can’t help laughing at this.

    Sally McManus
    @sallymcmanus
    1h
    People have been telling me their Liberal voting friends are feeling robbed as they didn’t get the extra $ they thought was coming in their tax return as they thought promised during the election. Anyone else hearing this?

  14. Bucephalus
    “Many parents of private school children are not the wealthy types that you think they are.”

    I agree with you on this point. I went to a private school, and my parents were not wealthy. The school was fairly mediocre – it was parochial, and a long way from exclusive.

    But many parents of private school children are wealthy types. And the schools they send their young scions to can be awash with money. These particular private schools should not be receiving public $$$.

  15. Buce

    You make a comment about Christensen getting a higher vote, and I suggested as to why. And then you ask me how my govt is going.
    I dare say that was your way of doing distraction rather than acknowledging that Christensen got a bigger vote despite being a frickin useless member of his seat.
    It isn’t too hard to acknowledge reality. Playing Trumps game doesn’t work on this blog

  16. If the CEO of Coles went to an AGM and promised to pay half of Bunnings yearly power bill he would be sacked on the spot so I don’t see why if we think government should resemble a business why it wants to fund a private competitor, which the private schools are.

  17. Mexicanbeemer says:
    Tuesday, August 13, 2019 at 3:06 pm

    You are in a minority with that opinion.

    The ALP supports private school funding as does the LNP.

    The taxpayer saves billions due to it being much cheaper to have kids educated in the private sector rather than pay full tote odds to educate them in the government system.

    What is your problem with it?

    Do you also oppose Medicare Funding of private health patients?

  18. Player One says:
    Tuesday, August 13, 2019 at 3:06 pm

    “Many private schools are “for profit” enterprises. And (by and large) they do make an excellent profit. They charge fees that are many times what it actually costs to educate a child, and they often have trouble even spending enough money to keep their profits down to merely astronomical levels.

    Why should a profitable company be receiving any public money?”

    Complete and utter bollocks with bells on it.

    Where is your evidence for such a ridiculous claim.

    You clearly know nothing about the subject.

  19. Defeated Victorian Liberal Sarah Henderson has the backing of Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg to replace Senator Mitch Fifield, who is leaving Parliament to become the UN Ambassador.

    But the beaten Corangamite MP is facing a serious contest from Greg Mirabella, the husband of divisive former Liberal frontbencher Sophie Mirabella.

    Ms Henderson is backed by most of her former Victorian parliamentary Liberals, but Mr Mirabella and his supporters are tapping into internal resentment about how the party has been run in recent years.

    Also supporting Ms Henderson is former party president Michael Kroger, who many members are angry with over his handling of branch stacking allegations and a stoush with benefactor the Cormack Foundation.

    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-08-13/sarah-henderson-slipping-behind-in-liberal-senate-preselection/11406474?section=politics

  20. C@tmomma says:
    Tuesday, August 13, 2019 at 3:09 pm
    “And if Labor didn’t agree to fund Private Schools from the Public Purse, people like Buce would be whining about ‘Hit Lists’ and ‘My Taxes should go to fund MY child’s school’.”

    Exactly. Do you think the ALP should stop all private school funding? Off you go then – take that to an election or don’t and introduce the cuts while in Government and see how you go.

  21. Bucephalus
    There is a key difference between hospitals and schools. In the case of healthcare it makes sense to support both because there is overlap in the services provided by the public and private sector, whereas education is straight up you go to one or the other with no overlap and many parents sending their kids to private schools are unlikely to send their kids to public schools.

  22. In April the Canberra bus network was changed to better reflect trends in patronage. Part of that change was to discontinue a percentage of dedicated school bus runs and have those students travel on regular bus services. Shock horror! The screams of outrage emanating from private school parents was deafening. How dare the ACT government force little Jane or Johnny to mix with the general public? Why, some of those students might have to stand for pregnant ladies or the elderly!

  23. Mexicanbeemer
    “Governments shouldn’t be funding private schools. ”

    I don’t entirely agree. We shouldn’t be absolutist about this. Private schools do relieve some of the burden on the public education system. Having said that, there are some well-endowed private schools that are obviously taking the piss. I’m okay with my tax $$$ being spent on textbooks, but not on a clubhouse for the rowing team.

  24. briefly:

    Labor have won from Opposition just 4 times in the last century.

    You keep saying this but it’s misleading and trite. The Libs have won from Opposition just 5 times in the same period:

    1931 Lyons
    1949 Menzies
    1977 Fraser
    1996 Howard
    2013 Abbott

    And “just 4 times” doesn’t include Curtin taking over from Fadden in 1941.

  25. Kakuru says:
    Tuesday, August 13, 2019 at 3:11 pm

    “But many parents of private school children are wealthy types. And the schools they send their young scions to can be awash with money. These particular private schools should not be receiving public $$$.”

    If you want to start doing that sort of discrimination don’t complain when the big well funded Unions lose their tax-free status.

  26. Mexicanbeemer says:
    Tuesday, August 13, 2019 at 3:13 pm

    Very poor analogy. You are better then that -I know you are.

    You wouldn’t have Shorten and Albo if there was no funding for private schools – their Mums couldn’t have afforded it.

  27. Do you think the ALP should stop all private school funding?

    Yes.

    In fact that should be Liberal Party policy too…

    What the article highlights if you think about it for long enough, is that all the dollars in the world will buy you a pool that the elite swimmers will benefit from exclusively, a rowing shed for the very tall and a performing arts centre that will sit empty 99.9% of the time because nobody would pay money to see these gobshytes children perform at any time. If the local public school wasn’t kept at crumbling level, nobody would bother to choose the private school alternative because it is an extreme waste of money…

  28. citizen says:
    Tuesday, August 13, 2019 at 3:20 pm

    Are you deliberately trying to be a caricature of a deluded Lefty?

    There wouldn’t have been one person who had a problem with a kid having to stand for a pregnant lady or an adult.

    Where’s your evidence?

  29. Aren’t for profit schools excluded from government funding?
    This is why the Malek Fahd Islamic school in Punchbowl had funding withdrawn

  30. As far as I remember school funding by government started because of poor Catholic parish schools, and once started, could not be withdrawn. It should be for education only, not luxuries.

  31. Kakuru says:
    Tuesday, August 13, 2019 at 3:22 pm
    ” I’m okay with my tax $$$ being spent on textbooks, but not on a clubhouse for the rowing team.”

    They can’t divert money from textbooks to rowing sheds – that’s illegal and the article clearly states that.

    Why aren’t parents and benefactors allowed to spend their money how they wish? Would you prefer that they had more rental properties, holiday homes and launches?

    Many community organisations benefit from being able to use private school facilities.

  32. Bucephalus @ #1236 Tuesday, August 13th, 2019 – 3:23 pm

    If you want to start doing that sort of discrimination don’t complain when the big well funded Unions lose their tax-free status.

    I’m fine with that, especially if we can apply the same principle to religions and their affiliated entities.

    You wouldn’t have Shorten and Albo if there was no funding for private schools – their Mums couldn’t have afforded it.

    In which case they’d have gone to public school. It’s a bit melodramatic to suggest attending public school will make them disappear from all existence. 🙂

    Many community organisations benefit from being able to use private school facilities.

    And if public schools had better facilities because their funds weren’t being siphoned off to supplement private schools, many community organizations would benefit from that, too…

  33. The only time I can see the point of government financially supporting a private school is if that school is in an area with little to no government schooling available. I would be more open to the state buying X number of places per year. As much as schooling is important but for many kids, private schools are little more than a vanity exercise.

  34. Mexicanbeemer says:
    Tuesday, August 13, 2019 at 3:40 pm
    “private schools are little more than a vanity exercise.”

    Utter rot. You are better than that.

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