Tale of three maps: Batman, Macquarie and Richmond

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Macquarie2-GRNAs a further taste of the seat guides being posted now on the Tally Room (53 and counting), I thought I’d run through another three interesting seats. Today these three seats are all seats with above-average Greens votes, but also with a wide variation in the Greens vote across the seat.

These seats are: Batman in the inner north of Melbourne, Macquarie on the north-western fringe of Sydney, and Richmond in the north-eastern corner of New South Wales.

I’d like to remind readers that comments are open on all fifty-three seat guides posted so far – comments have been posted on every guide, with almost 800 comments posted so far this month. Please join in and let us know your thoughts about your local seat or another seat that you are familiar with.

Greens primary votes in Batman at the 2013 federal election.
Greens primary votes in Batman at the 2013 federal election.

Batman

Batman covers the inner northern suburbs of Melbourne, including Northcote, Preston and Reservoir.

The southern end of the seat covers suburbs in the City of Yarra which were included in the neighbouring seat of Melbourne when it was first won by Adam Bandt in 2010, and the southern half of the seat is quite marginal in a Labor-Greens contest.

When you cross Bell Street in Preston as you head north, the Labor vote shoots up and the Greens vote collapses. Only one booth south of Bell Street has a Greens vote under 25% – only one booth north of Bell Street has a Greens vote over 25%. This can be seen very clearly in the Greens primary vote map (right).

In 2013, the Greens polled 26.4% of the primary vote, easily outpolling the Liberal Party. After preferences, the ALP beat the Greens by a 10.6% margin.

While this looks sizeable, the Labor margin would be entirely wiped out if the Liberal Party reversed its current policy of preference Labor over the Greens. The Greens received 80% of Liberal preferences in Melbourne and Batman in 2010 when the Liberal Party favoured the Greens on their how-to-vote cards. If you adjust the 2013 figures to reflect this preference flow, the Greens would win by a 0.2% margin.

You would expect Batman to be a very close race if the Liberal Party reverses their decision. The Greens poll very poorly at the northern end of the seat, but if they can find a way to increase their support there, it will make life difficult for Labor.

Read more about Batman

Two-party-preferred votes in Macquarie at the 2013 federal election.
Two-party-preferred votes in Macquarie at the 2013 federal election.

Macquarie

Macquarie covers most of the Blue Mountains to the west of Sydney, along with the Hawkesbury region on the north-western fringe of Sydney. These are two very distinct areas, and to drive between them you would normally have to leave the electorate for quite a while.

This is easy to see when you look at the two-party-preferred map of Macquarie (right).

The Liberal Party wins large majorities right across the Hawkesbury region. In the Blue Mountains, Labor wins large majorities in the upper Blue Mountains, while the lower Blue Mountains are very marginal.

Labor’s strong vote in the Blue Mountains is partly due to a high Greens primary vote flowing to Labor as preferences. The Greens poll over 20% in most booths in the upper mountains, while they poll 3%, 4% and 5% in most Hawkesbury booths.

Liberal MP Louise Markus currently holds Macquarie by a 4.5% margin.

Two-party-preferred votes in Richmond at the 2013 federal election.
Two-party-preferred votes in Richmond at the 2013 federal election.

Read more about Macquarie

Richmond

Richmond covers the north-eastern corner of New South Wales, including Tweed Heads, Byron Bay and Ballina.

Labor MP Justine Elliot holds the seat by a 1.6% margin.

The largest centre in the electorate is Tweed Heads, and it’s the only part of the seat which is won by the Nationals. The ALP wins majorities in Byron and Ballina shires, along with rural parts of Tweed Shire.

Greens primary votes in Richmond at the 2013 federal election.
Greens primary votes in Richmond at the 2013 federal election.

Like in Macquarie, Labor’s two-party-preferred majority is propped up by a high Greens vote (bottom left map).

The Greens typically poll well over 30% across Byron Shire, while they poll 5-7% in most booths around Ballina, and poll 4-5% in a number of Tweed Heads booths.

Read more about Richmond

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6 COMMENTS

  1. Everything south of Bell St in both Wills and Batman should be redistributed into one electorate, and everything north redistributed into another. It is clear that those south of Bell St aren’t getting the representation that they have been voting for for several elections now.

  2. Matt
    I couldn’t agree with you more. Every community deserves the most vigorous, & enthusiastic representation possible. It is difficult to see how this would happen in Wills, & Batman (WRT their current N-S alignment)
    The AEC do seem to have a habit, if not practice, of hanging onto antiquated, & inappropriate alignments, particularly in Victoria. Chisholm, & Bruce stand out as another example.

  3. Surely the problem with that redistribution proposal is that the inner suburbs are growing with high population growth, while the aging middle ring suburbs north of Bell Street have stagnant or low growth, which means if you did a major redistribution (so seats ran east-west instead of north-south), you’d very quickly end up with the inner seat over quota and the outer seat under quota.
    A comparable place where this has already occurred is the 2015 BCC redistribution.

    Furthermore, IIRC, the AEC can not take electoral results into consideration, as that could be seen as a precursor the gerrymandering.

  4. Matt: ehh, it just means the Greens need to try a little bit harder. If their vote continues to increase, they could end up with two marginal (and therefore winnable) seats, instead of one they definitely hold and one they definitely don’t. Long-term thinking, eh. 😉

    As for redrawings: Batman has one of the most rigidly defined boundaries in Australia that isn’t a coastal seat: Merri and Darebin creeks, down to their confluence with the Yarra. That won’t change without a really good reason. Compare to Swan in WA.

    Non-electoral anecdata: I’m not from Melbourne, but whenever I go there I like to catch the train to Rushall station and spend a couple of hours walking around there. One side Northcote, the other side Fitzroy: politically similar, but it’s easy to see why they’re considered different places. Busy suburbs either side, but a very pretty river valley in between. Apart from anywhere there’s music happening, it’s my favourite part of Melbourne.

  5. Yes, Merri Creek does serve as a divide between Wills and Batman. Despite being close on a map, there are only a couple of east-west links between the two seats. Apart from Bell Street, all of the major lines of communication (freeways, roads, railways, tramways) run north-south.

    I live in Pascoe Vale. It’s much easier for me to get to Brunswick or into the city than to get to, say, Northcote and Clifton Hill.

  6. It’s not really gerrymandering when voters of one particular party are put into one electorate, and voters of another are put into another. If anything, it is gerrymandered in favour of the ALP now given the way Wills and Batman are split – with strong Labor areas outpolling the strong Greens areas, thus the two electorates get two Labor representatives when in reality, based on voting trends, it should be one Green, one Labor representing the southern and northern portions of both electorates respectively.

    Of course, long term thinking stipulates that gentrification is pushing further and further north of Bell St as each year passes, so representation contrary to a large block of both electorates may not be an issue in a few more election cycles anyway (i.e; a combination of rapid demographic changes in ths middle parts of both electorates, and likely future redistributions pushing the northern fringes of both electorates into Maribyrnong, Scullin, Calwell and Jagajaga)

    I take the point about population growth in the south vs the north, though, and the fact that the seats running east-west would quickly go over quota in a hypothetical seat south of Bell St.

Comments are closed.