Canberra – Australia 2019

ALP 12.9%

Incumbent MP
Canberra is a new seat with no sitting MP.

The seat of Canberra covers the central suburbs of the city of Canberra, including Civic, the Parliamentary Triangle, the inner north and south and parts of Belconnen (Bruce, Cook, Kaleen, Lawson and Hawker) and Woden Valley (Curtin, Garran, Hughes and Lyons).

The seat of Canberra is a new seat, taking in parts of the northern seat of Fenner and the southern seat, previously named Canberra and now named Bean. The seat of Fenner previously covered most areas north of Lake Burley Griffin, with the exception of Acton, Reid, Campbell, Civic and part of Turner, which were previously included in Canberra. All of those areas south of the Lake were previously in Canberra. The former seat of Canberra had a margin of 8.5%, while Fenner previously had a margin of 13.9%. The new seat has a margin of 12.9%, which makes it the safest seat in the ACT.

The Australian Capital Territory first elected an MP from 1949 onwards, although this MP was only given full voting rights in 1968. Canberra was created in 1974 when the ACT gained a second seat, and the existing electorate was divided into Fraser and Canberra. The ACT gained a third electorate, Namadgi, at the 1996 election.

At the 1996 election, Canberra was redrawn into an inner-city electorate, similar to its current arrangement. This arrangement was rewound when the ACT lost its third seat in 1998, so for most of the territory’s history it has only elected two members: one northern and one southern.

Both seats have been reasonably safe for Labor for most of their history. The only break in Labor’s control happened at the 1995 Canberra by-election, which was won by the Liberal Party. Labor won back this seat in 1996.


  • Tim Bohm (Independent)
  • Alicia Payne (Labor)
  • Tim Hollo (Greens)
  • Mina Zaki (Liberal)
  • Robert John Knight (Australian Progressives)
  • Greg De Maine (United Australia)
  • Assessment
    On paper Canberra is the safest Labor seat in the territory. There is certainly no threat of the Liberal Party winning here. The Greens will have ambitions to strengthen their position in this seat. The best Greens areas in the ACT were previously split between seats, each being paired with much weaker areas. These areas are now combined in one seat, with a hefty 18.7% primary vote. The Greens are a long way away from winning. They would first need to close a 14% gap with the Liberal Party before becoming any kind of serious threat. But it’s also true that the ACT Greens haven’t previously had a realistic shot at a lower house seat, so we could see a stronger campaign.

    2016 result

    Labor 42.5
    Liberal 32.8
    Greens 18.7
    Bullet Train For Australia4.2

    2016 two-party-preferred result

    Labor 62.9
    Liberal 37.1

    Booth breakdown

    Polling places in Canberra have been divided into three areas: inner north, inner south and Belconnen. The inner south includes the parts of Woden Valley contained in this electorate.

    The Labor two-party-preferred vote ranged from 58.2% in the inner south to 71.6% in the inner north.

    The Greens vote ranged from 17% in Belconnen to 26.2% in the inner north.

    Voter groupGRN prim %ALP 2PP %Total votes% of votes
    Inner South18.458.217,66421.6
    Inner North26.271.617,65421.6
    Other votes14.058.59,35611.5

    Election results in Canberra at the 2016 federal election
    Toggle between two-party-preferred votes and Greens primary votes.

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    1. The issue for the Greens is that, while the seat unites most of their strongest areas in the ACT, it also unites some of the Liberals’ better areas too.

      They’re not much better off here than they were in the old Fenner.

    2. This area unites nearly all of the Greens strong booths in the ACT and the Greens are right to target it.

      The Liberals here will be the small-l kind and more driven by a distaste for Labor (and their eternal hold on Canberra’s seats) than anything else.

      Having said that the Greens chances entirely depend on Liberal preferences which probably won’t be coming. The Canberra Liberals are actually one of the most conservative state Liberal parties.

    3. I think the Greens have a much better shot in this seat than the old Fenner. From the look of it, their support is higher in the Inner South than in west Belconnen and Gungahlin – they actually do surprisingly well in some parts of the inner south (they got more than 20% of the vote at polling booths in Curtin, Barton and Parkes). Plus, this electorate includes all of the inner-city suburbs where the Greens poll very well (Acton, Turner, O’Connor and Braddon) that were previously split between two electorates. It also includes a whole bunch of students, which usually helps the Greens (there’s ANU in Acton, UC in Bruce, CIT campuses in Bruce and Reid and a UNSW campus in Campbell).

      I think Labor will win this seat at the next election, but the Greens have a decent chance of winning in future elections, especially if the Labor member is not very popular. Apparently Andrew Leigh is running in Fenner and Gai Brodtmann is running in Bean, so it’ll be interesting to see who Labor chooses to run here.

    4. Ben, why have you included a booth in West Belconnen in the map (well outside electoral boundaries)?

      some guy is right, this is a dream seat for the Greens in terms of primary vote.

      The Greens won a seat in Murrumbidgee off a relatively strong vote in the 4 suburbs that are now in this seat. The areas of Belconnen that are in this seat are culturally more similar to the inner north than the rest of Belconnen, and have always been where the Greens have targeted to try and win a seat in Ginninderra.

      However it’s also got some of the Liberals strongest areas in terms of primary vote, and in order to win the Greens actually need to overtake the Liberals. This won’t be easy unless Liberal voters can be persuaded to vote Green to dislodge Labor.

    5. That booth represents voters in Canberra who voted there. I usually set a threshold that booths on the edge have to have a certain number of voters to be counted so there must’ve been a few hundred voters there who lived in what is now Canberra.

    6. Where did that data come from? I suppose they know who voted at which booth and could match the addresses to new electorates.

      It’s also very odd that so many people who live in the Canberra electorate would vote there. There must have been some crazy democracy sausages as it seems to be to be a standard primary school polling booth. The only thing near there that might draw people from several suburbs away is a swimming pool.

    7. Labor should hold here quite easily, that being said this would be the best shot for the Greens in the ACT and would rank higher than most other seats, whilst there vote seems relatively low
      The Greens have never really targeted a lower house seat in Canberra and the numbers from the 2013 senate election would have put them at 27% on these current boundaries.
      My guesstimate would be 40% Labor, 26% Greens, 24% Liberal and 10% others for a result of 60-40 Labor over Green.

    8. John, the AEC publishes data on how many voters from each SA1 voted at each booth. 185 people from the seat of Canberra voted at Macgregor.

    9. @Mark Mulcair

      “The issue for the Greens is that, while the seat unites most of their strongest areas in the ACT, it also unites some of the Liberals’ better areas too.”

      This is the Liberals weakest seat in the ACT.

      It’s would actually be better for the Greens were the Liberals to have a higher 3PP (providing the Liberals didn’t manage 45+% and win the seat on 2PP). The Greens need a far lower primary vote to win seats in run-offs against the Liberals than they do to win run-offs against Labor, so the dream is for the Greens to convert Labor votes Green until Labor come 3rd.

    10. A reachtel poll out today has Greens slightly ahead of Liberals, way behind Labor (23/40/24, Lib/Lab/Green). That however is Senate voting intention, within the seat of Canberra.

      Greens have something to work with, but are by no means in a winning position in either house.

    11. With the new boundaries and presumably a campaign focusing their ACT resources on this seat, not to mention the likely decline in the Liberal vote at the coming election, the Greens are in a reasonable position to come second in this seat in 2019.

      The vote increase from getting into second place would help them at the following election, although an ALP victory, on Liberal preferences, would still be relatively likely.

    12. While I’m near certain the ideologically far right Canberra Liberals (who have been branch stacked in the image of Eric Abetz) will preference Labor over Greens, I can’t say the same for Canberra’s Liberal voters.

      If it’s a simple ballot paper (eg <5 candidates), I think the Liberals won't break anywhere near as strongly to Labor as in other seats.

      Also it's no guarantee that Morrison and the federal strategists will put Greens below Labor this time around. As much as Liberals dislike the Greens, anything that reduces Labor's seat count would help them in terms of optics.

    13. Preferencing the Greens or running open tickets in Canberra and Grayndler would likely divert ALP resources to those seats (presuming the ALP would otherwise sent ACT resources to Eden Monaro). Preferencing the Greens in Melbourne, Wills and Cooper would likely divert ALP resources in those seats, as would an open ticket in Melbourne. The fight in Wills and Cooper might be intensified by open tickets. Preferencing the Greens might divert ALP resources to Gellibrand, however the redistribution has made it much harder for the Greens to not come third, making it harder there. Preferencing the Greens in any other seats would be on no use to the Liberals, as they clearly out poll the Greens in those seats.

    14. Tom, as much as it may make strategic sense (eg to decrease Labor’s majority, or to dilute Labor resources), the Liberals haven’t preferenced Greens anywhere relevant since Liberal preferences actually got a Green elected in 2010. The most they’ll do is not stand a candidate, but all that seems to do is boost the vote of right wing micros.

    15. The Greens did indeed come pretty close to beating the Liberals into second here.

      As far as I can see, they beat the Liberals in every booth in the Inner North, apart from Campbell. However, they couldn’t overcome the much stronger Liberal areas in the south of the seat.


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