Margin: Labor 4.7% versus Greens
Region: Northern Metropolitan
Candidates in ballot paper order
2010 BOOTH RESULTS MAP
RESULTS MAP: Two-party preferred booth results from 2010 state election showing Labor majority in red and Greens in green. New boundaries in thicker blue lines, old ones in thinner red lines. Boundary data courtesy of Ben Raue of The Tally Room.
PAST RESULTS: Break at 1999 represents effect of the subsequent redistribution.
DEMOGRAPHICS: Based on 2012 census. School Leavers is percentage of high school graduates divided by persons over 18. LOTE is number identified as speaking language other than English at home, divided by total population.
The electorate of Melbourne has been the key battleground in recent elections as the Greens have sought to win inner-city seats from Labor, without ever quite succeeding. Combined with its equally Greens-friendly neighbour of Richmond to the east, the electorate corresponds almost precisely with the federal seat of Melbourne, which provides the Greens with their only seat in the House of Representatives. The state seat encompasses the central business district and areas to the west (Docklands, the strongest area in the electorate for the Liberals) and north (Carlton west through North Melbourne to Kensington), an area encompassing the state’s highest concentration of tertiary students, and the second highest number of Chinese language speakers.
The growth of the inner-city population has caused the electorate to lose territory at its northern end in the redistribution, transferring 5300 voters in Flemington and Travancore to Essendon, and 600 around the Royal Melbourne Hospitals Royal Park campus in Parkville to Brunswick. Since the CityLink motorway that separated Flemington and Travancore from the rest of the electorate marked something of a dividing line between the inner-city and Labors suburban heartland, the loss of these areas has cut the Labor margin by 1.5%.
The Greens most recent failure in Melbourne came with a by-election held on July 21, 2012 following a by-election caused by the resignation of Bronwyn Pike, who had served as Health Minister under Steve Bracks and Education Minister under John Brumby. The by-election pitted two Melbourne City councillors against each other: Holding Redlich lawyer Jennifer Kanis for Labor, and Cathy Oke for the Greens. Indications for the Greens were sufficiently strong that Sportsbet felt comfortable in indulging in its regular publicity stunt of paying out on the result before polling day, but the result turned up cumulative surprises in low turnout (68.6% of enrolled voters), a high informal vote (9.3%, presumably driven by Liberals unhappy at their partys failure to field a candidate) and a 1.5% winning margin for Labor, who closed a gap of 36.5% to 33.4% after preferences.
Labors win left undisturbed a dominance in the electorate that goes back to 1908, outside of a brief period in 1955 when member Tom Hayes defected to the Anti-Communist Labor Party as part of the Labor split. Hayes was defeated by the official Labor candidate at the election held later that year, and Labor was thereafter untroubled until the Greens first emerged as a threat at the 2002 election. Bronwyn Pike came to the seat in 1999 after unseating incumbent Neil Cole for preselection, the combined support of Pikes hard left Pledge faction and the Right overcoming Coles base in the Socialist Left, with which Pike herself would later come to be associated.
After thinking so little of their prospects in 1999 that they failed to contest the seat, the Greens gave Pike a scare in 2002 when their candidate Richard Di Natale polled 23.3% to relegate the Liberals to third place, finishing 3.5% short of victory after preferences. Di Natale increased the Greens vote to 27.4% on his second attempt in 2006, but made no headway on two-party preferred. At the 2010 federal election he became the Victorian Greens first ever successful Senate candidate. Melbourne was contested for the Greens in 2010 by Brian Walters, a barrister and former president of Liberty Victoria, but his hopes were essentially dashed when the Liberals announced early in the campaign that they would direct their preferences to Labor. The 8.9% drop in the Labor vote and the 4.5% rise for the Greens would otherwise have decided the seat for Walters, but the transformation of the Liberal preference flow was such that Pike increased her margin by 4.2%.
The Greens candidate for the coming election is Ellen Sandell, a staffer to Senator Christine Milne, who won preselection ahead of Alison Parkes, an accounting lecturer and the Greens candidate for the Melbourne lord mayoralty in 2012.
An automated phone poll of 449 respondents conducted for the Greens a month out for the election by Lonergan Research showed them heading for victory in Melbourne by a 53-47 margin after preferences, from primary votes of 40% for the Greens, 30% for Labor and 18% for the Liberals. A similar poll had them with a 54-46 lead in Richmond.