Margin: Labor 22.1%
Location: Western Melbourne, Victoria
Outgoing member: Julia Gillard (Labor)
In a nutshell: Barring some freakish and unforeseen occurrence at the election, Julia Gillard’s ultra-safe western Melbourne electorate will pass on to her favoured successor, primary school principal Joanne Ryan.
The candidates (ballot paper order)
DARYL ANDREW POLLARD
The former Prime Minister’s electorate of Lalor covers the outer western Melbourne centres of Sunbury, Melton, Werribee and Point Cook on the bay. It originally extended far beyond the metropolitan area to Seymour and Kyneton in the north, which considerably dampened Labor’s margins, although it fell to the Liberals only in 1966. A redistribution then made it safe for Labor by replacing the rural and semi-rural areas with Laverton in Melbourne’s west. It thereby provided a refuge for Jim Cairns, whose inner-east Melbourne electorate of Yarra had been abolished, and has since provided a comfortable home for Barry Jones from 1977 and Julia Gillard since 1998.
When Gillard announced she would bow out of politics after losing the leadership in late June, The Australian reported that factional and gender balance considerations meant Gillard’s successor was always likely to be a woman from the Right. Two such contenders were Kimberley Kitching, a former Melbourne City councillor, current Health Services Union No. 1 branch acting general manager, and the wife of controversial former VexNews blogger Andrew Landeryou, and Lisa Clutterham, an Adelaide-based diplomat. Kitching and Clutterham respectively had the support of Bill Shorten and Stephen Conroy, former Right faction allies who had lately fallen out over the leadership issue and a number of preselection rivalries, but in the event neither made it through to the ballot. Kitching was reportedly encumbered by hostility in some quarters towards her husband and agreed instead (unsuccessfully as it transpired) to pursue the number three position on the Victorian Senate ticket, while Clutterham bowed out after a disastrous radio interview with the ABC’s Jon Faine in which she appeared stumped as to how to finesse her obvious lack of connection to the electorate. Yet another withdrawal was Sandra Willis, the daughter of Keating government Treasurer Ralph Willis.
The preselection was instead won by Moonee Ponds Primary School principal Joanne Ryan, who had been the preferred candidate of Gillard. Facing only low-key opposition from two local party members, Ryan reportedly ended up securing 74 votes out of 88 in the local party ballot and all but one of the 100 votes from the public office seleection committee.
Analysis written by William Bowe. Read William’s blog, The Poll Bludger.