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.

1,430 comments on “Call of the board: Melbourne”

  1. Oakeshott Country:

    [‘It is extremely arrogant to assume that they all have the same political opinion as you and even worse to call an aboriginal leader an Uncle Tom.’]

    Mundine’s an uncle Tom, no doubt about it, subduced to run in Gilmore, attending the far-right CPAC convention. He’s a disgrace to his people.

  2. Mavis Davis @ #1400 Tuesday, August 13th, 2019 – 10:32 pm

    Oakeshott Country:

    [‘It is extremely arrogant to assume that they all have the same political opinion as you and even worse to call an aboriginal leader an Uncle Tom.’]

    Mundine’s an uncle Tom, no doubt about it, subduced to run in Gilmore, attending the far-right CPAC convention. He’s a disgrace to his people.

    Exactly. An opportunist. In it for what he can get out of it. Like Trump. Who wanted to run as a Democrat in 2004 with Jesse Ventura as his VP running mate! Political opportunists the world would be better without.

    And I see you aren’t being allowed to use the term ‘Uncle Tom’. Lol. It’s a term that Americans themselves came up with to describe a certain type of betrayer to their kind. It’s a perfectly valid term to use.

  3. Well apparently Indigenous Australians who don’t vote for the ALP are ‘Uncle Toms’. What a nadir for the Labor partisans on this site.

  4. Mundine was a careerist who got sick of waiting for the long promised seat.
    I guess he realised it was never going to happen when Bob Carr got the Captain’s call for Arbib’s spot.
    Probably an interesting story in how he got Morrison’s captain’s call for Gilmour

  5. The racism that is being openly accepted here is a disgrace.

    The use of the term “Uncle Tom” is racist.

    The expectation that Aboriginals can’t be Conservatives is the racism of low expectations.

    I am highly surprised that Mr Bowe allows it and can only assume he hasn’t seen it yet in order to delete it.

  6. “Well apparently Indigenous Australians who don’t vote for the ALP are ‘Uncle Toms’. What a nadir for the Labor partisans on this site.”

    I personally eschew calling any indigenous person an Uncle Tom because it refocuses the debate onto something they can then feign indignation over. That feckless rat Mundine is a classic example: his fuminations over Paul Bongiorno calling him an Uncle Tom on social media immediately got him off the hook when Bongiorno was otherwise skewering him.

    I really can’t stand the prick and damned if I’m going to give him any ammunition by calling him an Uncle Tom. That said, having followed Warren’s trajectory in recent years I note he is often referred to as an Uncle Tom on social media – but always by other indigenous persons: I think Bongiorno make the mistake of thinking that as he wasn’t exactly breaking ground with the aspersion he could get away with it: a bit like a liberal white American who refers to African Americans as niggers because he heard some African Americans use the word before – in some well intended ‘contextual discussion’: bad mistake.

    One final point: I don’t have a problem with indigenous people voting Greens, socialist alliance, democrat or even for Xenophon-CA, but I simply can’t understand how they could vote for, let alone be part of, the LNP. I guess that in any cross section of human beings there are folk who are hard wired with a conservative brain. Even so, Ken Wyatt does some awesome cognitive dissonance by palling around with the National Party – barely one generation removed from black murderers and land thieves – not to mention the apologists, racists and fellow travellers in the Liberal Party. Wyatt must have joined the Liberal Party around the time that Howard was refusing to apologise to the stolen generations. He sits in a cabinet where half of it still deny the atrocities committed. I don’t call him an Uncle Tom, but geez: he starts to look a lot like the character ‘Stephen’ from Django Unchained doesn’t he?

  7. One final point: I don’t have a problem with indigenous people voting Greens, socialist alliance, democrat or even for Xenophon-CA, but I simply can’t understand how they could vote for, let alone be part of, the LNP.
    __________________________
    It is one thing to make the argument that the Labor Party has a better recent history on Indigenous issues and expressing surprise that Indigenous people support the LNP. It is another thing to use a term like that.

    If we consider the history of the ALP before the rise of the ‘New Left’, we will find a relationship with Indigenous Australians that is far from comfortable.

    I also think it would be for the betterment of Indigenous Australians for there to be Indigenous members of all political parties.

  8. Even so, Ken Wyatt does some awesome cognitive dissonance by palling around with the National Party – barely one generation removed from black murderers and land thieves – not to mention the apologists, racists and fellow travellers in the Liberal Party. Wyatt must have joined the Liberal Party around the time that Howard was refusing to apologise to the stolen generations.
    _____________________________
    Perhaps he is attempting to influence conservative politics from within. I also note that whatever racism is in his party it has so far failed to stop his ascent to Cabinet.

  9. “If we consider the history of the ALP before the rise of the ‘New Left’, we will find a relationship with Indigenous Australians that is far from comfortable.”

    Sure, sure – as part of a European centric proto-nation I’m sure that there is fault that could be spread around: but how many aboriginal hunts did the early Labor establishment take part in? Early Labor was hardly part of the squatocracy was it? But please, enlighten us oh naff naff.

  10. Well, Neville Bonner was a member of the Liberal party from 1967-83 and a Senator from some tim e in the 1970s until 1983. But it was rather different Liberal party, and even then Senator Bonner was eventually dis-endorsed for repeated disobedience (in 1983, whereupon he nearly retained a senate seat as an independent)

  11. “Perhaps he is attempting to influence conservative politics from within.” falling in love with Clive Palmers UAP prepoll campaign and HTVs is a good example of him influencing conservative politics from the inside, isn’t it …
    Otherwise, I’d say he’s a demonstrable failure if being an indigenous influencer is his game: he’s the helpful indigenous face to be wheeled out by the Advertising outfit for big business and wealth hording that is the Liberal Party whenever they want to run a distraction campaign.

  12. nath:

    I also note that whatever racism is in his party it has so far failed to stop his ascent to Cabinet

    Promote him to Cabinet and then ignore what he says in relation to his ministry – in fact one of the older tricks in the book, but it never ends well

  13. Diogenes says:
    Tuesday, August 13, 2019 at 9:52 pm
    Briefly

    I’ve only read two novels more than twice; The Leopard and The Plague.

    They both certainly bear that, Diogenes. Camus has kept me thinking ever since I was introduced to his work as a teenager….

  14. Sure, sure – as part of a European centric proto-nation I’m sure that there is fault that could be spread around: but how many aboriginal hunts did the early Labor establishment take part in? Early Labor was hardly part of the squatocracy was it? But please, enlighten us oh naff naff.
    _____________________________
    Did the shearers join in with their squatter masters in the dispersals? Weren’t the shearers union one of the original components in creating the ALP? There is plenty of shame to go around in that time. Sheeting it all home to the antecedents of the Liberal party is pretty lame.

  15. briefly
    All the novels I read that influenced me the most were read when I was a teenager or early twenties. Pretty much true for films and music. I’m not sure if that says more about me or people in general. It’s kind of sad.

  16. “Did the shearers join in with their squatter masters in the dispersals? Weren’t the shearers union one of the original components in creating the ALP?”

    I don’t know, naff: you tell me. Any actual evidence of that, or is it just a swing in the dark from you?

  17. Wednesday, August 14, 2019 at 12:12 am
    “Did the shearers join in with their squatter masters in the dispersals? Weren’t the shearers union one of the original components in creating the ALP?”
    I don’t know, naff: you tell me. Any actual evidence of that, or is it just a swing in the dark from you?
    ___________________________________
    Well considering it unlikely that lone squatters, many of them lived in England anyway, ventured off to do massacre by themselves seems a bit odd. Most likely those that did personally involve themselves in massacres were attended by a whole number of workers, shearers included. Of course at the end of the nineteenth century this business was often shifted on to the Native Police.

  18. Not sure about Queensland but in Victoria the shearers were considered employees so if they were directed to raid a camp then they would have done so. Not sure how many squatters lived in England as most of the Victorian parliament and mens clubs were made up by squatters. I know many of them retired to England.

  19. Self-righteous prats, don’t have an aboriginal friend, not even an acquaintance, certainly no day to day interaction and never likely to.
    Discussing where aborigines belong ya mob of hypocritical bullshit artists.
    One of you pontificating about others reaching a nadir with all the aplomb of a consummate bigot.

  20. This is so scary that I thought one post by one person wasn’t enough.

    @MsRebeccaRobins
    10h
    #auspol Big News horrible news LNP will bring in a bill next sitting of Parliament to pass on the Cashless Welfare Card to ALL AUSTRALIANS on #welfare , Old Age , DSP, Carers , DVA , Widows #newstart and those who didn’t believe me and voted LNP you are to blame

    ***

    Nicholas Higgins
    @nic_higgins
    15h
    Just heard Josh Frydenburg say at a meeting in Burnie that it’s their intention to roll out the Cashless Card to everyone, everywhere in this term.

  21. Ben Packham @bennpackham
    The Morrison government is lobbying hard behind the scenes at the Pacific Islands Forum to keep a transition from coal-fired power out of the final communique.

    The Morrison government is lobbying hard behind the scenes at the Pacific Islands Forum to keep a transition from coal-fired power out of the final communique to be signed by regional leaders, calling it a “red-line” issue for Australia.

    Scott Morrison will fly into ­Tuvalu today under pressure from Pacific leaders over his government’s commitment to tackling climate change, with The Australian confirming the Minister for the Pacific, Alex Hawke, has been working to tone down the language of the ­Funafuti ­Declaration. The government has argued in preliminary meetings that any reference to coal in the final communique would be a step too far because it could place obligations on Australia to wind back the $26 billion thermal coal ­industry.

    The Australian has learned Mr Hawke held discussions with several Pacific Island countries on Monday, presenting them with a table showing Australia had just 20 of the world’s 2459 operating coalmines, while 126 were in China and 33 in India. Of 359 coalmines in pre-construction, Australia had just two.

    https://www.theaustralian.com.au/nation/politics/canberra-applies-pressure-for-region-to-stay-quiet-on-coal/news-story/fc729d7890ac1665f9e77110b9c0e96a

  22. “Well considering it unlikely that lone squatters, many of them lived in England anyway, ventured off to do massacre by themselves seems a bit odd. Most likely those that did personally involve themselves in massacres were attended by a whole number of workers, shearers included. Of course at the end of the nineteenth century this business was often shifted on to the Native Police.”

    More dribble. Shearer’s, by their very nature, are itinerant workers. The labor movement dates to the late 19th century: sixty years after Mile Creek. If you bothered reading the nuance of my original post I did not claim that folk involved in the early Labor Party members were as pure as driven snow – in fact as part of the Eurocentric proto-nation – they probably did lack progressive attitudes to indigenous folk – but I was asking for any evidence to your assertions of the uncomfortable relationship between early labor as party and indigenous folk, Vis: the massacres that were continuing across the continent before the rise of the ‘New Left’: so, what was the Labor Movement up to between say 1890 and say the 1950s (when a young Gough Whitlam began to shape Labor’s modern Indegenous policies and practices)? During that period the massacres were typically carried out either by poisoning by pastoral lease holders, or by more direct methods by local police forces, aided by trackers (aboriginal and white) and squatters and their stockmen: none of whom were a natural fit with Labor, although it isn’t hard to trace a genealogy between the squatters involved and their direct descendants who are National Party grandees today & who clearly – judging by the bile that comes out of their mouth – still have similar attitudes as their forebears (and they certainly have inherited well haven’t they)?

    If you want to critique early Labor stick to an analysis of the White Australia policy and the aboriginal protection boards. In both cases Labor could have done a lot better than it did.

  23. Adam Bandt is an absolute legend. Look at that incredible growth in the Greens’ primary in Melbourne over the years. It’s easily the most progressive seat in the country now. Once people have had a taste of what it’s like to be represented by a Green, many really appreciate the different approach and the fact that the MP won’t take them for granted like those in the two old establishment parties so often do. The same is true for quality independent MPs (Andrew Wilkie for example).

  24. Firefox @ #1428 Wednesday, August 14th, 2019 – 9:42 am

    Adam Bandt is an absolute legend. Look at that incredible growth in the Greens’ primary in Melbourne over the years. It’s easily the most progressive seat in the country now. Once people have had a taste of what it’s like to be represented by a Green, many really appreciate the different approach and the fact that the MP won’t take them for granted like those in the two old establishment parties so often do. The same is true for quality independent MPs (Andrew Wilkie for example).

    Is this satire? I have read it several times and still can’t tell.

  25. Player One says:
    Wednesday, August 14, 2019 at 10:41 am

    Firefox @ #1428 Wednesday, August 14th, 2019 – 9:42 am
    ..
    Once people have had a taste of what it’s like to be represented by a Green, many really appreciate the different approach

    Is this satire? I have read it several times and still can’t tell.

    As the Greens are the party that delivers nothing but stunts to support the Liberals it either a seriously delusion poster or satire.

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