Margin: Labor 11.7%
Location: Central Regional, Victoria
The candidates (ballot paper order)
SHANE EDWARD DUNNE
GERARD ANTHONY MURPHY
The electorate of Ballarat has existed since federation, the obsolete spelling Ballaarat having been used until 1977. Its inaugural member was Alfred Deakin, who held it until his retirement in 1913. It then fell to Labor, and has since been keenly contested ever since. In modern times it has changed hands in 1980, when Labor’s John Mildren defeated Liberal member Jim Short (who returned in the Senate in 1984), in 1990 when Mildren was defeated by Liberal candidate Michael Ronaldson, and with Richardson’s initial retirement at the 2001 election (he too would later return as a Senator). It was the only seat in the country to fall to Labor at that election, with Labor boosted by the withdrawal in contentious circumstances of the initial Liberal candidate, Olympic gold medal trap shooter Russell Mark.
The winning candidate was Catherine King, a former health administrator and senior manager at KPMG Consulting. King is a member of the Socialist Left faction, and was previously a member of the small breakaway Pledge grouping which split from it over opposition to privatisation. She is lined up against Kevin Rudd over the course of leadership contests involving both Kim Beazley and Julia Gillard, which has evidently been a factor in her career trajectory over time. After the 2004 election she was promoted to shadow parliamentary secretary, but she was overlooked when the Rudd government came to power in 2007. She again attained parliamentary secretary status under Gillard after the 2010 election, winning further promotion to the junior ministry portfolio of regional services, local communities and territories and road safety after the abortive move against Gillard in March 2013. King nonetheless retained her status when Rudd finally returned to the leadership in June, being allocated the regional Australia, local government and territories portfolio.
King has enjoyed a strong electoral record since gaining the seat with a 5.5% swing in 2001, suffering a mild 1.1% swing in 2004 before picking up consecutive swings of 5.9% in 2007 and 3.6% in 2010.
Analysis written by William Bowe. Read William’s blog, The Poll Bludger.