Federal 2019 – the race in Melbourne


There are 25 federal electorates in the Melbourne metropolitan area. Labor won 16 of these seats in 2016, with the Liberal Party winning eight and the Greens winning one.

There are nine seats I wanted to zoom in on in today’s post, with the map below the fold:

The seat of Chisholm is held by independent MP Julia Banks, who was the only Liberal to win a seat off Labor in 2016 but subsequently left the party following Malcolm Turnbull’s removal from the leadership. Banks herself has shifted to run in Flinders, leaving Chisholm as an open seat. It’s hard to see the Liberal Party holding on here.

The seat of Batman has been renamed Cooper. This seat is in the inner north of Melbourne and was won by Labor’s Ged Kearney at last year’s by-election. This has been fiercely contested by the Greens at recent elections but it appears that they are focusing on other races this year. Former member David Feeney won the seat in 2016 by a 0.6% margin, but Kearney expanded this margin to 4.4%.

Liberal MP Michael Sukkar holds the eastern suburbs seat of Deakin by a 6.4% margin. This is one of a number of multicultural Liberal marginals in the big cities which could be in play.

Liberal MP Chris Crewther has held the south-eastern seat of Dunkley since 2013, but the recent redistribution redrew the seat into a notional Labor seat with a 1% margin. This means Crewther will have to gain ground to win a third term.

Senior government minister Greg Hunt has held the Mornington Peninsula electorate of Flinders since 2001. He holds Flinders by 7% but is facing strong challenges from both Labor and challenge from ex-Liberal independent MP Julia Banks.

The seat of Higgins in the eastern suburbs has traditionally been a safe blue-ribbon Liberal seat, but it was a Greens target in 2016 and they brought the margin down to 7.6%. Sitting member Kelly O’Dwyer is retiring in 2019, creating more of an opening for a progressive challenger.

Liberal deputy leader and treasurer Josh Frydenberg has held the eastern suburbs seat of Kooyong since 2010. Kooyong is a traditional blue-ribbon Liberal seat, held for over thirty years by Robert Menzies. Frydenberg is facing challenges from Greens candidate Julian Burnside and independent candidate Oliver Yates, which have brought a lot more attention to this area than is typical in a federal election.

Macnamara is a new name for the inner south electorate of Melbourne Ports. It has been held by Labor’s Michael Danby since 1998, and he holds it by 1.2%. Danby is retiring in 2019. This seat is a three-cornered contest between Labor, Liberal and the Greens, who came close to overtaking Labor for second place on primary votes in 2016.

Labor’s Peter Khalil won the inner north seat of Wills in 2016, and holds it by a 4.9% margin against the Greens. The absence of Liberal how-to-votes may boost the Greens chances here.

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  1. Once again what an interesting election, likely to be a lot of tension on the night even if I think the Incumbents will hold on.

    I wonder why not include Higgins in the list?

    It’s closer than Kooyong, not that I think either seat will change party, but I imagine a healthy 5%+ swing.

  2. There was “leaked polling” this morning suggesting that Labor is in front in Higgins. Would be incredible if true. It is definitely true that the Libs at feel it’s under threat, but I would be surprised if Labor were really in front.

    In more reliable news, Labor internals reportedly had Dunkley at 55-45 in their favour last week. Chisholm should also go to Labor at this point.

    Would be worth adding La Trobe for consideration as a “Melbourne seat” with a strong chance of a Labor gain. It’s as much part of the metro area as Flinders is.

  3. The key question is how much is the Vic state election repeated…. also how do independents do in safe non alp possible seats…..

  4. Is there any thought on why the ALP would be in front of the Greens in the queue for Higgins? I appreciate they have a high profile candidate, but the Greens primary vote was well ahead of Labor’s in 2016 (Labor’s primary was well below 20%).

    In any case, I expect the Libs will hold onto each of those blue ribbon seats in the inner SE.

  5. @mick

    Obviously won’t be to that extent (state election ended up close to 57-43 after all was counted, which is unprecedented). But even if 50% of the state swing is repeated, will make it hard for the Libs.

    My best guess for Victoria is Chisholm and Dunkley likely Labor gains. Corangamite and La Trobe probably Labor gain. Indi a Lib gain.

    In the rest no change.

    That would be Labor net gain +4, Lib net loss -3. If that’s how Vic turns out, the Liberals would have to win pretty much every single other one of their target seats in the rest of the country to win.

  6. Higgins is definitely one to watch although I agree the Libs will probably still hang on in a very close one.

    A general campaign observation concerning both Higgins & Macnamara, as I live right on the border of Prahran & Windsor, is that around my area there has been practically no Liberal advertising whatsoever. Interesting, it’s pretty much the same for Labor.

    Around the Windsor/Prahran end of the Chapel St area I have seen:
    – 0 posters for Fiona McLeod
    – 0 posters for Kate Ashmor
    – 1 phone booth poster for Katie Allen (covered with graffiti)
    – 1 phone booth poster for Josh Burns, which has since been replaced with a Greens poster for Steph Hodgins-May

    The area is covered in Greens advertising including massive a massive Steph Hodgins-May billboard at Windsor Station, a massive Jason Ball billboard near Prahran Station on High St, phone booth posters, countless bill posters plastered on brick walls, and tons of yard signs.

    By contrast, driving through the Caulfield area the other day there were quite a few Kate Ashmor billboards.

    To me, it looks like all the Liberals’ attention is on preventing a negative swing in their stable strongholds they usually take for granted, with pretty much no effort whatsoever invested in their weak areas (Prahran & Windsor) where they would usually have to focus on improving their vote.

    Another telling sign could be that for the state election, Katie Allen’s campaign office was in the Prahran stretch of Chapel St. This time it’s in the Liberal heartland – Toorak (where one booth had a -19% swing in November).

    This could definitely point to some bad polling is forcing them to just contain the swing and hold their heartland. Unsure why Labor’s campaign isn’t more visible though.

  7. Dunkley and Chisholm are long gone for the Libs. La Trobe and Casey are both also very much part of metropolitan Melbourne, and both very much in play. I would predict La Trobe to be a Labor gain and Casey to be very close, could go either way.

  8. What are the chances of a Greens gain in Macnamara? The margin is slim but Michael Danby was pretty unpopular and likely has a lot to do with the high primary vote for the Greens in the first place. He’s not running again.

  9. Greens in Macnamara could be interesting, I made the mistake of underestimating the Greens in the state seat of Prahran in the state election, a seat that covers parts of Macnamara. I think we might see many disgruntled Liberals go Green ahead of the ALP due to the ALP’s tax policies, if that happens then the Greens could win this one as they are only slightly behind the ALP on primaries and the Green’s campaign has been better run than it was at the last state election campaign was.

  10. How do you have Kooyong on here… But not Higgins Ben? Higgins has no sitting member. Kooyong does. Big difference, Kooyong has almost double the margin too

  11. Re: Greens in Macnamara, I agree with Pencil.

    Prior to the state election, I thought Greens should be hot favourites to win as their trajectory has been steadily increasing in the electorate and the addition of Windsor made already-small gap between ALP & Greens even tighter.

    The vicious swings to Labor in the state election though – particularly in Albert Park where the Greens actually went a little bit backwards I think – have made this seem like a safe Labor retain on the surface. But like Pencil said, the Greens got more of the anti-Liberal swing than Labor in Prahran and if that’s replicated here, the Greens would win.

    And that’s quite likely for reasons Pencil touched on. The economic issues that often put affluent voters off Labor are mostly federal ones, not state ones (even though the Greens’ positions are generally the same or even more redistributive anyway, but it’s not front & centre in their image or messaging). Similarly, the issues the Greens are strongest on (asylum seekers, environment) among progressive voters are also federal ones. Also Andrews was far more popular with inner city progressives than Shorten is.

    The one near-certainty in Macnamara is that the Liberals have no chance (I’ll be shocked if the 2CP margin is less than 5%), so the question will just be whether the Greens can pick up more of that swing than Labor. I think it’s definitely possible, but Labor are probably still the favourites (slightly).

  12. For what it’s worth, the federal seat with the highest pre-poll number to date is still… Flinders.

    22,964 have already voted down there. Question then is why? People keen to see the end of Hunt?

  13. Regarding all 4 of the inner south/inner east seats that are expected to have big swings against the Liberals, I think we’ll see both Kooyong and Goldstein’s margins cut to around 5% but they will obviously be clearly decided as Liberal retains on election night.

    Higgins I think will be a genuine 3-way contest with very similar results to Prahran in 2014, and most likely won’t be decided until a full preference throw after all the postals, absentees etc have been counted.

    Macnamara I think will have a very similar result to Prahran in 2018 where the only interesting race – which also may not be decided on the night – is the 3PP count between ALP & Greens, but we’ll know pretty early into election night that whoever wins that count will be the clear 2CP winner (by probably 7-9%) vs the Liberals.

  14. Oliver Yates has a reasonably good chance in Kooyong if he can get to 3rd place and Josh Frydenburg’s primary vote falls below or close to 45%. Both the ALP and Greens as well as some of the other independents are giving him the #2 preference. If he can outpoll either the ALP or Greens, he then is well placed to get to second place and possibly home. My wife and I have both spoken to friends and colleagues who would normally vote Liberal but speak highly of Yates. That may or may not convert to actual votes. To get to 45%, Frydenburg needs to spill about 12% – which is a lot. Methinks that if Yates comes up 4th and Frydenburg is below 45%, enough preferences may spill back to the Libs to get Frydenburg back over the line.

  15. Kooyong

    Kooyong will be interesting, on paper Frydenberg should be able to survive but there is a sense from people in the area that he will be facing a substantial swing, I suspect that swing will take the seat back to its margin when Frydenberg was first election at around 7%.

    Frydenberg’s primary vote, it is currently inflated on the back of the ALP’s poor performance when last in office so expect it too fall but by how far and to who is the unknown. I think Frydenberg can survive with as little as 40% which would be an 18% swing.

    -There are eight candidates contesting Kooyong
    -Kooyong Green votes usually split 80/20 so if the Greens poll around 20%, that could equal about 4% to the Liberals
    -Besides Yates, there are four other candidates with two favoring Frydenberg and two that wont be, so lets assume that around 50% of the total others (ex Yates) will probably flow to Frydenberg so if as a group they poll 5% then that could be another 2.5% to Frydenberg
    -This group of four includes the Animal Justice party which is placing the Greens ahead of anyone else
    -A Palmer candidate and while you wouldn’t think of Kooyong has a Palmer target, he has plastered his billboards and campaign material around the electorate so his support might be surprisingly high
    -Of the other two independents, one is running for a third time and seems to be friendly towards Frydenberg, whereas the other one is openly hostile towards the Liberals

    Then there is Yates, his support level is hard to read, I’ve heard he has a number of posters up around the electorate and for a candidate expecting to come fourth, I found it interesting that Frydenberg would bother sending out material attacking Yates.

    It is assumed that if Yates comes fourth then a large percentage of his preferences will flow to Frydenberg, if he was too poll 10% as was the case in the Get-up poll then around 5% would flow to the Liberals

    So assuming the above happens then 2.5% (Greens) + 5% (Yates) + 2.5% (Others) = 10% so on that basis the Liberals can hold with 40% but

    Bringing me to Burnside, I disagree with people when they say his former membership of the savage club is a problem, people need to remember this is Kooyong, not Cooper or Wills where such membership would renter the candidate terminal. I think he could have handled it better but it is what it is.

    Until I heard about Frydenberg’s attack on Yates I had assumed second was out of the Greens and the ALP but the vibe from the electorate is that second place is a toss up between the three.

    My gut feeling after looking at the backgrounds of the candidates leads me to suspect that many Liberals that hate the Green but don’t want the Libs or the ALP will go Yates then Burnside pushing him into second place then it will be a drag race to see who wins.

    The area Frydenberg will be banking on to being returned will be Balwyn and Camberwell. At the last state election the ALP were surprisingly strong winning most of the Camberwell booths however Balywn whilst swinging, didn’t swing enough to turn red, these booths are likely to want someone of Burnside or Yates background and this will sound snubbish but background of the candidate is more important than the party label at the moment.

    I suspect Frydenberg just holds out Burnside 53.5 to 46.5 but with no real polling it is anyone’s guess at the moment.

  16. Higgins

    I think this is looking increasingly like an ALP gain, I am hearing from people in the area that the ALP are running strongly with a number of high profile ALP leaders seen in and aroung the electorate with Penny Wong, Tanya Pilbersek, Bill Shorten, Chris Bowen and others spending time supporting high profile candidate Fiona McLeod.

    I suspect the ALP will see an improvement around Ashburton inlien with the state election result and combined by strong support around Murrumbeena and South Yarra/Prahran will see this seat fall to the ALP with a margin of around 53-47.

    To add insult to injury the Liberals might struggle to reach the final two although the Malvern/Toorak booths should get them there. The Liberals will be hoping that the Malvern/Toorak areas are dirty enough on the ALP’s tax policies, however many high networth individuals are likely to be well diversified to be able to adapt to those polices and would already be considering their options.

  17. I have no doubt the Liberals will still have the highest PV in Higgins at over 40% because the left vote will split right down the middle as it does in Macnamara and Prahran, it’ll just be extremely close after preferences.

    Macnamara is a different story. It’s highly likely the Liberals may not finish first, and missing the final two is even a possibility if the swing is big enough and splits evenly enough between ALP and Greens. If that happens though it writes off a Greens gain because Lib preferences would hand a big win to Labor.

  18. Pencil Palmer appears to be everywhere. I suspect his only hope is Qld Senate but the support that he picks up is dependent very much upon who else is standing.
    I am being forced into voting for Palmer because DLPCountry Party and Katter are not standing in my electorate. Speaking to a current DLP activist he acknowledged that Palmer’s economic policies were similar to DLP on many issues, Dams Railways electricity etc. Therefore many of Palmer’s votes will be the result of a failure by middle of road parties to develop beyond an executive group. Minor parties with no functioning branch structure are destined to burn out. Palmer will burn out after this election. Australian Conservatives have already commenced burning out due to failure to contest State elections. Members of AC in Victoria did not join solely to get Bernardi re-elected in SA. A consequence is that their votes will flow back to Coalition.
    Andrew Jackson

  19. The Libs have put UAP second on their senate HTV in Victoria which gives them a pretty good shot here too. They wouldn’t have a chance at getting close to a quota in Victoria without that.

  20. Trent,


    Just going off last election the Liberals will have over 2 quota in Victoria, I might imagine a further swing against them and they will instead get just under or just over 2 quota. That’s 0 votes for Palmer 0.15 of a quota at best. I don’t imagine a swing to the Liberals and Palmer getting more than that. Remembering there is now no GTV so those preferences will leak too.

    ALP will get 2 quota and the Greens will get the better part of the last one, gaining the ALP preferences they probably won’t need.

    That last spot is open, but UAP will still need to poll high enough.

  21. well the other place to look at is GORTON and maybe not so much LALOR due to these 2 areas being the fastest growing areas both at a state level but at national level if you look back to the state election and the seat of melton it went from 2014 1st pref was 50.46% for a total of 61.2% on 2pp (11.2% difference) then last years result more candidates but 1 pref votes went down to 34.93% down by 26.27% but on 2pp held seat by 4.29% so lost OVER 7% when most seats in #vicvotes18 went up for labour so i be watch this seat as well GORTON as there is 1 independent showing no preference to any of the 4 other parties libuap and labgrn and they all have the independent at #3 jarrod bingham maybe a big surprise

  22. Andrew you’re probably right, I hadn’t looked at any numbers yet. I only meant that if the Liberals did end up with quite a large portion of a quota to be distributed it would help the UAP quite a bit.

    I’m surprised that in Higgins, if Katie Allen’ is trying to present as a “moderate” for the Turnbull type voter, she is distributing a senate HTV directing preferences to QLD populist party followed by 2 ultra-conservative Christian Right parties followed by Leyonhjelm’s mob instead of more moderate/centre-right options or simply leaving it as 1 for Liberal then 5 more of your choice.

    I get that it isn’t up to her, it’s a party deal, but doesn’t look great when she’s trying to sell herself as a moderate who will stand up for the progressive views of Higgins voters and push for change from within the Liberal Party (this is what she says on her Facebook page when people ask why she’s in the Liberal Party rather than an independent).

  23. I find it ludicrous that people are talking about the ALP gaining Higgins, and also ludicrous that the ALP are apparently committing resources to try to.

    The 3PP in 2016 was LIB 55.0%, GRN 28.3%, ALP 16.7%.

    Exactly what portion of that 28% Green vote do the ALP believe can be shifted to vote 1 ALP? (and what a silly use of resources that is in what appears to be a tightening national 2PP contest) Labor would like need the Green 3PP to be below 27%.

    What portion of the ~9% 3PP swing against Libs do they think goes to the ALP before the Greens? Certainly not all of it.

    Labor were always coming 3rd in my opinion.

  24. Bennee

    To a point it is ludicrous we are discussing Higgins as a possible ALP gain, but for it not having a sitting MP, the seat’s boundaries and performance of this Liberal government make the seat one to watch.

    The 2016 result is largely irrelevant for at that stage the boundaries were better for the Liberals with less of Murrumbeena, and it’s sitting MP Kelly O’Dwyer and party leader Malcolm Turnbull were seen as the right sort of Liberals. The Greens will suffer a bit from the lost of Windsor which was their strongest booth and the last election was probably a high watermark for the Greens in Higgins at this stage.

  25. There was also a pretty big campaign to get Jason Ball elected in 2016, so I think a lot of labor voters switched to the Greens cause they thought the had the best shot. Now labor is also running a high profile candidate and putting resources into it I think it’s possible they could win.

    Like Shorten was campaigning in Higgins and Kooyong today, so clearly their internal polling must have these inner Eastern Melbourne seats as competitive

  26. A lot of commentary here on Higgins (and Kooyong) – the punters have Aston as a closer race than both.

  27. Aston was once one of the most marginal seats in Melbourne but it has become more and more Liberal, and I am mindful that in both the 2002 Brackslide and 2018 Danslide, the Liberals were comfortably able to hold the seat of Rowville (Scoresby 2002) and Bayswater was only narrowly won in 2018, so on that bases its looking like the kind of seat the Liberals should be able to hold but if the swing is on then it could go.

  28. The redistribution only improved the ALP’s race for 2nd place in Higgins by ~2%, and for that matter the Greens will have campaigned in the areas added in the southeast as if they can win the seat for the first time, which would take the edge of that.

    Good luck to them for trying but if I was planning their path to 77 seats I wouldn’t spend any resources there.

  29. My Victorian friends say Kooyong and Aston are fine for the Libs but Higgins and Flinders are still an issue.

  30. Queensland Observer – That might be the case but I’m hearing Frydenberg is running mail-outs off like a love sick boy wanting a girl’s attention.

    Flinders is hard to read, the franking credit issues should be the defining issue among the large retiree population but at the same time Julia Banks is preferences the ALP so Flinders could go either way, and I think Hunt is still at risk due to his behavior.

    Another seat which seems to have fallen off the radar is Menzies.

  31. Bennee

    Do you think Higgins is a good seat to target for the Greens (or centre independents)?

    It would seem worth discussing here because it is likely to be a marginal seat at/after this election.

  32. There’s been fairly scare discussion of Deakin lately. What are Labor’s chances there? You’d have to think if there’s a swing in Victoria it would be in play.

  33. This is the one off chance for the non Libs in Kooyong and/or Higgins unless there is a 1943 type meltdown post election. It is slightly reminiscent of Wentworth in 2007 when there was seen to be a chance of knocking Turnbull off. Both seats are still a big call for a non Lib win.

  34. There will definitely be big swings towards Labor in seats such as Kooyong and Higgins, as there were small swings to the Liberals at the last election presumably as they were happy with Turnbull, without him it is going to go strongly the other way this time. I doubt it will be enough to dislodge these 2 seats however.

    I think if you are a Liberal strategist at this point your hope would be that most of the anti-Liberal swing against is contained in relatively affluent, safe inner urban seats that can take the hit but still hold on, win some outer suburban/regional seats and hope that you don’t lose too many seats that you hold in the areas in between.

  35. Andrew

    Yes it certainly makes sense for the Greens to campaign to win Higgins this election, and at future elections.

    The mathematics is not as good as neighbouring Macnamara but I think they should plan to gain both. Other inner melbourne seats of Cooper and Wills I don’t really get the point of the Greens campaigning strongly in when Labor isn’t in government, the Greens should return there in 2022 and say “Labor ARE torturing refugees and burning coal” rather than the current campaign of “Labor WILL torture refugees and burn coal” which I doubt hits very hard.

    On centrist independents we’ll have to see if there’s still a movement when the Libs aren’t in government. If there’s the right candidate I’m sure they could win a seat like Higgins by carving out a 3rd of the Liberal vote, but there’s also have the big hill for them to climb to outpoll the Greens there. I think centrist independents are being overestimated both in electoral ability and parliamentary ability, a unified party is going to have campaigning and negotiating advantages imo.

  36. There’s no reason why Goldstein shouldn’t see an above-average swing (wealthy liberal electorate with being swing in 2016), but not enough to flip it.

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