This site’s slow-moving Call of the Board series, which takes a closer look at the results for every seat at the May 18 election, now makes it to regional Victoria. This area once enjoyed its fair share of marginal seats (see Ballarat, Bendigo and Monash/McMillan below), but now has only Corangamite to offer in the way of reliable election night seats-to-watch. Nonetheless, there were a few interesting things going on in the results for those who cared to look. (And while you’re here, note also the post on Brexit developments immediately below this one).
Ballarat (Labor 11.0%; 3.6% swing to Labor): Labor has been strengthening in this once highly marginal seat since Catherine King gained it at the 2001 election, at which it was the only seat in the country to shift from Coalition to Labor (with some help from the retirement of Michael Ronaldson, later a Senator). The only serious speed bump in that time was a 6.8% swing to the Liberals in 2013, reducing her margin to 4.9%, which she has now almost made good with successive swings of 2.4% and 3.6%. The Liberal primary vote on this occasion was down 4.0% despite the absence of the Nationals, who polled 4.2% in 2016, although they did face new competition on the right from the United Australia Party, which polled 4.6%.
Bendigo (Labor 9.0%; 5.2% swing to Labor): Victoria’s other regional city seat has followed a similar pattern to Ballarat over time: won by Labor from the Liberals in 1998, retained only narrowly in 2004 and 2013, and now looking secure again after successive swings of 2.5% and 5.2% in 2016 and 2019. The current member, Lisa Chesters, has now almost made up the 8.2% swing she suffered when she came to the seat on Steve Gibbons’ retirement in 2013. The Liberal primary vote was down 6.1% amid an overload of competition on the right, with One Nation, Conservative National and Rise Up Australia all in the field alongside the ubiquitous United Australia Party.
Casey (Liberal 4.6%; 0.1% swing to Liberal): Located on Melbourne’s eastern outskirts and held for the Liberals by the Speaker, Tony Smith, Casey was one of many Victorian seats that looked promising for Labor after the state election, but singularly failed to deliver on the day. Smith actually picked up a very slightly swing on two-party preferred, and none of the primary vote swings were particularly significant. Labor tended to do better in the more urbanised western end of the electorate, particularly in those parts of it newly added from La Trobe in the redistribution.
Corangamite (LABOR NOTIONAL GAIN 1.1%; 1.0% swing to Labor): Corangamite was designated as a notional Labor seat by the barest possible margin, so whoever received the swing was almost certain to win the seat. That proved to be Labor’s Libby Coker, just, in a result perfectly in line with the state average. Defeated Liberal member Sarah Henderson picked up a few swings in the booths newly added to the electorate on the Bellarine Peninsula, but the Great Ocean Road swung to Labor, reflecting its affluent and educated sea-changer demographic. The Greens were down 3.0% on the primary vote, as voters situated in the state’s south-west failed to warm to a candidate called Simon Northeast.
Corio (Labor 10.3%; 2.1% swing to Labor): Labor’s Richard Marles picked up 4.2% on the primary vote and 2.1% on two-party preferred, the former assisted by a small field of four candidates. The Liberals picked up some swings in Geelong’s down-market north, but the city centre and its surrounds went solidly to Labor.
Flinders (Liberal 5.6%; 1.4% swing to Labor): One of many disappointments for Labor was their failure to seriously threaten Greg Hunt in an area that had swung forcefully their way at the state election. Hunt was also little troubled by Julia Banks, who managed 13.8% of the primary vote, well behind Labor on 24.7%. Banks’s presence cut into the vote share for Liberal, Labor and the Greens – Hunt was down 3.8% to 46.7%, and needed preferences to win the seat for the first time since he came to it in 2001.
Gippsland (Nationals 16.7%; 1.5% swing to Labor): For reasons not immediately apparent, Labor was up 3.0% on the primary vote and cut slightly into what remains a secure margin for Nationals member Darren Chester.
Indi (Independent 1.4% versus Liberal; 4.1% swing to Liberal): As a number of highly trumpeted independents failed to live up to the hype elsewhere, Helen Haines performed a remarkable feat in retaining the independent mantle of Cathy McGowan. Haines’ primary vote of 32.4% was only slightly short of McGowan’s 34.8% on her re-election in 2016, although the Liberals put up a stronger show after gouging half of the Nationals vote. An interesting feature of the result was the 7.7% swing to the Liberals on two-party-preferred versus Labor, suggesting Haines’ preferences favoured the Liberals more strongly than did McGowan’s.
La Trobe (Liberal 4.5%; 1.3% swing to Liberal): A swing to the Liberals in Melbourne marginals was not a feature of too many pre-election predictions, but such was the outcome in La Trobe. Both major parties were up slightly on the primary vote amid a smaller field of candidates than 2016.
Mallee (Nationals 16.2%; 3.6% swing to Labor): Vacated with the demise of Andrew Broad’s two-term career, this was retained by the Nationals against a challenge from the Liberals, as it was in 2013 when Broad succeeded John Forrest. Liberal candidate Serge Petrovich actually fell out of the preference candidate before Labor, despite outpolling them 18.8% to 15.7% on the primary vote, and his preferences duly delivered a large winning margin to Nationals candidate Anne Webster. Webster would likely have won the seat even if Petrovich had survived to the final count, given her 27.9% to 18.8% advantage on the primary vote.
McEwen (Labor 5.0%; 1.0% swing to Liberal): Despite being an area of dynamic growth, particularly around Mernda and Doreen at Melbourne’s northern edge, McEwen turned in a largely static result on this occasion. This was in contrast to its form at the five elections from 2004 to 2016, when two-party swings ranged from 4.1% to 9.0%. Both major parties were down slightly on the primary vote as One Nation took to the field, scoring 5.9%, and Labor member Rob Mitchell’s two-party margin was slightly clipped after a blowout win in 2016.
Monash (Liberal 7.4%; 0.2% swing to Labor): The solid margin built up by Russell Broadbent since 2004 in the seat formerly known as McMillan was little disturbed, although the 7.6% recorded by One Nation took a 3.6% bite out of his primary vote. A noteworthy feature of the result was a heavy swing to the Liberals in the Latrobe Valley towns of Moe and Newborough, a pattern reflected in coal and electricity producing areas across the country.
Nicholls (Nationals 20.0%; 2.5% swing to Labor): After a three-cornered contest in 2016, in which Damian Drum gained the seat for the Nationals on the retirement of Liberal member Sharman Stone, the Liberals vacated the field in Nicholls (formerly Murray), and Drum retained the seat with a majority of the primary vote. One Nation polled 11.3%, easily the best result of the five seats they contested in Victoria.
Wannon (Liberal 10.4%; 1.2% swing to Liberal): Liberal member Dan Tehan picked up slight favourable swings on both the primary and two-party vote. Former Triple J presenter Alex Dyson polled 10.4% as an independent.