Wills – Australia 2019

ALP 4.9% vs GRN

Incumbent MP
Peter Khalil, since 2016.

Northern Melbourne. Wills covers most of the City of Moreland. Key suburbs include Brunswick, Moreland, Coburg, Pascoe Vale, Oak Park, Glenroy, Hadfield and Fawkner.

Wills contracted on three sides, losing Essendon Fields and Lowanbrae on its north-western corner to Maribyrnong, losing part of Coburg North to Cooper, and a small area on the south-eastern corner to Melbourne.

Wills was created for the 1949 election as part of the expansion of the House of Representatives. Apart from a period in the early 1990s, it has always been held by the Labor Party.

Wills was first won in 1949 by the ALP’s Bill Bryson. He had previously held the seat of Bourke from 1943 to 1946. Bryson served as a member of the ALP until the split of 1955, when he joined the new Labor Party (Anti-Communist), which became the Democratic Labor Party. He lost the seat at the 1955  election.

The seat was won in 1955 by the ALP’s Gordon Bryant. Bryant served as a minister in the Whitlam government from 1972 to 1975, and retired in 1980.

Wills was won in 1980 by former President of the ACTU, Bob Hawke. Hawke was in the rare position of a politician who was already a significant national figure in his own right before entering Parliament, and he was immediately appointed to the Labor frontbench. Hawke failed in an attempt to replace Bill Hayden as Labor leader in 1982, but was successful in another attempt on the very day that Malcolm Fraser called the 1983 election, and he won that election, becoming Prime Minister.

Hawke won re-election at the 1984, 1987 and 1990 elections, but in 1991 he was defeated in a caucus leadership ballot by Paul Keating, and he resigned from Parliament in 1992.

The 1992 Wills by-election was a remarkable campaign, with 22 candidates standing. The seat was won by former footballer Phil Cleary on a hard-left socialist platform. Cleary’s victory was overturned in the High Court due to his status as a public school teacher on unpaid leave, shortly before the 1993 election. He was re-elected at the 1993 election, and held the seat until his defeat in 1996.

Wills was won back for the ALP in 1996 by Kelvin Thomson, a Victorian state MP since 1988. Thomson was appointed to the Federal Labor shadow ministry in 1997, and remained on the frontbench until early 2007. Thomson retained his seat until his retirement in 2016.

Labor’s Peter Khalil won in 2016.


Wills is a marginal seat and the Greens will be hoping to win at the next election. The Greens benefited from a strong candidate in 2016 who has gone on to become the party’s leader in the state parliament, and from the absence of a personal vote for the Labor candidate, and the absence of those factors may hurt them in 2019, but the seat could still be in play.

2016 result

Peter Khalil Labor 35,43137.6-7.537.9
Samantha Ratnam Greens 29,01730.8+8.630.9
Kyung Hong Liberal 20,63421.9-0.921.5
Tristram ChellewSex Party2,6082.8+0.22.8
Francesco TimpanoIndependent1,8321.9+2.02.0
Camille SydowAnimal Justice1,5781.7+1.71.7
Ash BlackwellDrug Law Reform1,2871.4+1.41.4
Dougal GillmanRenewable Energy Party7780.8+0.80.8
Zane AlcornSocialist Alliance6480.7-0.40.7
Will FulgenziSocialist Equality Party2950.3+0.30.3

2016 two-candidate-preferred result

Peter Khalil Labor 51,64654.9-10.354.9
Samantha Ratnam Greens 42,46245.1+10.345.1

2016 two-party-preferred result

Peter Khalil Labor 67,03771.2+0.571.6
Kyung Hong Liberal 27,07128.8-0.528.4

Booth breakdown

Booths have been divided into three areas:

  • North-East – Coburg, Fawkner and other suburbs.
  • North-West – Glenroy, Pascoe Vale and other suburbs.
  • South – Brunswick and other suburbs.

Labor won a majority of the two-candidate-preferred vote in the north-east (57.5%) and the north-west (66.1%). The Greens polled 58.7% in the south.

The Liberal Party came third, with a primary vote ranging from 14.7% in the south to 27.3% in the north-west.

Voter groupLIB prim %ALP 2CP %Total votes% of votes
Other votes23.252.913,97516.4

Election results in Wills at the 2016 federal election
Toggle between two-candidate-preferred votes (Labor vs Greens) and Liberal primary votes.

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  1. Seat of Brunswick in the November state election is a trial, if the Greens can flip that Wills may also.

    Also, similarly to Cooper, will Labor have credibility on protecting refugees going into the federal election? If not, the Greens are a huge chance.

  2. Greens aren’t quite as strong here as Cooper. They would easily win this seat if Liberals flip their preferences; something that they may do if they think it can prevent Labor from winning a majority. However they haven’t preferenced Greens over Labor in a relevant seat since the Greens used those preferences to get a member up.

    Bennee is right that refugees is an issue that could unite the progressive south and the Middle-Eastern migrant north, but I don’t see there being too many votes in it that weren’t there in 2016.

    Worth noting that Khalil is from the right wing faction of the Labor party, which could come into play, but that was all well known in 2016.

  3. Predicting a cliffhanger with the Greens to win. They won a large swing last time which makes it easier this time around to take it with a more moderate swing. People are sick of right wing Labor members representing left wing seats. One of a few possible gains for the Greens at the next election.

  4. I think the Vic Libs not standing a candidate at all is far more likely than them preferencing the Greens.

  5. Can’t see the Greens winning here for the next 2-3 elections.
    Whilst they are very strong in the south of the electorate their vote hardly penetrates above Bell st in comparison to Cooper.
    As well Khalil is a reasonably hard working MP who reasonates with the Middle Eastern diaspora within his electorate.
    My guess would be a small swing to the Greens of about 1%

  6. The Greens` vote in Wills is gradually creeping north and the population growth in the more Green friendly southern part of the electorate is increasing much faster than in the north of the electorate because of urban redevelopment.

    With the ALP likely the incumbent government in 2022 (presuming that is when the election is), the Greens will be in a good position to really challenge the ALP in Wills.

  7. Vaishali Ghosh has been named as the Liberal candidate for Wills.

    Given Labor’s resounding win in Pascoe Vale and Broadmeadows at the state election, I’d have them as favourites.

    Whilst the Greens gained Brunswick, it was by a whisker and Khalil will have a sophomore surge.

  8. John MacIsaac is now the endorsed candidate for Wills.

    Any intel on who the Libs will preference in these seats where they’ll come third?

  9. I don’t think Liberals have preferenced Greens over Labor anywhere relevant since Adam Bandt used Liberal preferences to win the seat of Melbourne in 2010.

    In some cases the Liberals won’t stand a candidate (although the only example I can think of in a normal election is Richmond 2018). In Optional Preferential elections they will put out “just vote 1” cards (leading to more Liberals preferencing Greens than Labor in Balmain and Newtown). I’ve seen Liberals preference Greens over Labor in seats where it is unlikely to matter, usually when the Greens are above Labor in neat “donkey vote” order (the Mayo byelection comes to mind, as do a few seats in the SA election).

    But in Wills, Cooper, Melbourne, Gellibrand, Canberra and Grayndler (I think that’s every seat Liberals have a chance of coming 3rd), I don’t think even “donkey vote” order will get the Liberals to preference Greens over Labor. Sure, there would be some strategic value in reducing Labor’s majority and scalping front benchers like Albanese and rising stars like Tim Watts. However many in the Liberals base would want to put Greens last on principle, and they have been vilified as worse than One Nation by many Liberals.

  10. My seat. Can’t see Khalil losing this one particularly with Labor expected to win government – I’d argue there is a protest vote in the Greens 2006 results.
    There is also very little seen of the Greens north of Bell Street whereas Khalil is a decent grass roots campaigner.
    The Green controlled Moreland Council is also not doing the party any favours – generally disliked and considered Brunswick centric in the north of the municipality with Wills taking in circa 90% of Moreland (from Moreland, Wills loses Gowanbrae and the Newlands portion of Coburg North which have historically been proposed to go to other councils anyway, as well as a sliver of Brunswick East).
    Disatisfaction with the state Labor MP showed in the 2018 state election results for the electorate of Pascoe Vale which takes in most of the north of Wills ie Paco, Oak Park, Hadfield, Coburg North and Glenroy but doesn’t include Fawkner. Blandthorn is widely accused of being a lazy local MP, and too socially conservative for a gentrifying area – and 30% of the vote went to independents. Khalil however shows his face, lives in Paco, is a sensible centrist, is generally well liked and even helps with state issues when Blandthorn’s office can’t be bothered.
    North-of-bell-st is also characterised by demographic groups which can be alienated by Greens policy which often viewed as going “too far.” The dominant themes of Moreland / Wills are a tension between the old guard of European and middle eastern migrants and the new entrants to the community – typically through increased housing density – and a tension between north and south. In the south the new entrants are typically Green or Green friendly. However many of the new entrants north-of-bell-st are centre-centre left young families or professionals who have some sort of Labor working class background / loyalty, are socially and environmentally conscious but consider the Greens too extreme. They aren’t a Brunswick spill over, it’s a different demographic. The old guards second and third generations generally share their parents values and stick close to home too – so this demographic is not going away in a hurry.
    Pulford, the Greens candidate also doesn’t have the same level of personal recognition as Ratnam (2006 Greens candidate) did, as a south ward councillor and former mayor of Moreland. However Ratnam was derided as Brunswick centric so this may work for them.
    However, in Brunswick at state level, the Greens won by a whisker. Their vote would likely have been higher if a Liberal Vic govt was on the cards but for the reasons above, they need a green slide in the south to counter the still deeply Labor community north of Bell St.

  11. Reports today that show Lib candidate for Wills Peter Killin referring to his fellow Liberal Party member Tim Wilson (member for Goldstein) as a “Notorious Homosexual” and complaining that his fellow Christians in the party need to do more to stop homosexuals being preselected.

    Wonder how long Killin will last? Perhaps he can compare notes with Hearn about what to do when you get disendorsed?


  12. Gosh. So many stupid people preselected. On all sides. Both parties need to up their game when it comes to the preselection process.

  13. Pulford has a chance now. Without Liberals handing out, Liberals will be free to choose their own preferences, which are closer to 50/50 without prompting from how to votes.

    Labor are still the favourites but Greens weren’t wrong to try here.

  14. Peter Killin sounds like another weird Christian as Tim Wilson is one candidate likely to win his seat. With so many preselected candidate dis-endorsed from a number of parties I wonder what happen to the AEC money for candidates who get 4% of the primary vote? Surely it cant go to the party but will it go to the candidate even if they stop campaigning as the ballot paper will still have the Liberal (or other party) logo on it.

  15. Adrian
    My understanding is that party has endorsed them. It is impossible to make changes after close of nominations therefore party will get the funding.
    All of dis-endorsed candidates will get 4% therefore candidate needs to go to high court day after election to try and get AEC to pay to candidate rather than the party.
    Exception might be Steve Dickson but Pauline Hanson will fight for money far harder than ALP or Libs.
    After all we still have not been told if money is going into her personal bank account rather than account controlled by whatever path of party that has not been ejected.
    Tracey Grimshaw’s interview with her was pathetic in not actually grilling her about why Dickson was endorsed, bank accounts, aircraft. Can you imagine any of the networks allowing the leader of any other party to be interviewed by a political lightweight like Grimshaw and letting her wail like a banshee with no delving.

  16. Bob, in 2010 when the Liberal how to vote card preferenced the Greens, 80% of them followed it (in Melbourne, Batman and Grayndler – figures unknown for other seats)

    In Wills in 2016, even with the Liberal how to votes preferencing Labor, 40% still preferenced the Greens

    I expect a result with no how to vote cards to be somewhere in the middle (60/40 split to Greens).

    Greens in inner Melbourne have experience with communicating with Liberal voters to encourage preferencing against the how to vote card, and should be able to get a better than usual preference flow from Liberals.

    Pulford’s main challenge will be catching up to Khalil on primary vote and overcoming the sophomore surge towards him.

  17. Interestingly, in the last couple of days, I’ve seen a whole bunch of flyers (presumably from Labor) that specifically attack the Greens by trying to paint them as Liberal stooges in disguise.

    “Greens Senators voted for [insert eeeeeeeevil Liberal policy here], can you really trust them??” type of stuff.

    I wonder if Labor are getting a little worried here?

    (Although it has been a very quiet campaign, at least around Pascoe Vale. A few posters and one or two letterbox drops….much quieter than the Labor vs Yildiz battle at the state election)

  18. What makes you say that @Queensland Observer?

    This is an election where there is a swing to Labor in Victoria, so hard to see Greens beating them anywhere save Bandt’s seat IMO. Keen to hear more about your reasoning though.

  19. Liberals will not be handing out. Reducing their primary. Libs may also flow preferences to the Greens strongly here.

    Real roughy though and I think it is very unlikely – just not outside possibilities.

  20. Appalling, gutless, stupid. Do the LIBs think that voters will just give them upper house votes ?? Or are they so weak they CAN’T actually man the booths ?

  21. There probably won’t be a Victorian redistribution in 2022, but yeah next time there is a redistribution they will rename one of the seats.

  22. NQ View – the late Bob Hawke (he died today aged 89) will get an electorate named after him in the future perhaps at the next redistribution but it is unlikely to be his former electorate.

  23. Well the obvious issue in Wills is what happens to the Liberal vote. Do they vote informal or minor party then Liberal or bite the bullet and vote green.

    Whatever happens it is to be expected that the share of non ALP, not green preferences that the Greens pick up will increase. However on 2016 results the balance would need to shift from 40/60 to 55/45 (Green/ALP). Now this is not impossible with no Liberal presence but if there is at the SAME time a swing to the ALP statewide, this would make it much, much harder.

    I have not on the ground info so I have no idea about the relative popularity of the new candidates.

  24. Clarification – There might be Liberals there handing out senate how to votes. Just not lower house.

  25. This will be an ALP retain esp with Hawkes passing.

    The impact of the internal fights in the Greens is greater here and in Cooper than other parts of Melbourne. Had the Greens not had the problems of the last 18 months then they would be on course to pick this up. However, after the intercine warfare and person attacks of key figures and the consequential loss of 30% of their members, Wills is probably a couple of elections away from being a Green seat. They need time to repair and rebuild.

    Vic Green members have now dispensed with the nativity that the Greens were free of the factional fights and nasty personal campaigns that plague all parties in cycles. The lessons learnt and internal improvements will be seen in the long term as necessary and important growth of the party.

    I predicted in 2013 that the then Batman would fall to the Greens in 2016 and Wills in the election after that. However, these internal problems have delayed that inevitability by a couple of elections …..assuming that the greens can solve their problems. Ironically, in this election the Greens in Melb have better prospects of picking up seat in a traditional Lib seat than the historical ALP heartland.

  26. Very little in the way of campaigning by the Greens (and Labor for that matter) in the northern half of the electorate. Until the Greens establish a meaningful on-the-ground presence in North Coburg and Fawkner they are likely to keep coming up short in Wills. MacNamara and Higgins look more prospective this year for the Greens. However, the densification of Brunswick and Coburg could add a bit to the Greens primary vote, as will the dis-endorsement of the Liberal candidate. Khalil engages effectively with migrant communities across the electorate and that’s always important in Wills. Labor hold but Greens likely to inch closer.

  27. Yappo – Remember that anyone 40 years or younger will have no real direct recollection of Hawke as PM.

  28. Yappo,
    I respect the achievements of RJL Hawke and salute him as a great PM.
    However, we should not allow mournful sentiment to lead us to believe he was always popular in Wills.
    Hawke suffered a 9 per cent swing against him at the 1990 Federal election to muster only 48 per cent of the primary vote.
    It was the first time a Labor candidate was forced to preferences in Wills.
    I recall deep resentment in the electorate back then because the unemployment rate in Wills was nation-leading as textiles factories and small businesses were hitting the wall.
    Hawke’s industry policies might have set Australia up for the two decades of uninterrupted growth, but they did nothing for his standing in his own electorate.
    After Hawke left Parliament in 1992, Labor lost the seat – twice – to independent Phil Cleary.

  29. Yes, I know the history of the seat well. I was actually at Clearys party after he won the by election, ’twas a long and raucous night! I made a brief ref to Hawkes passing. The main point is that the Greens have self inflicted a delay in picking up this seat due to internal problems which have mainly affected their support here and Cooper, esp south of the Bell st line. Seats they are expected to win eventually but this election traditional Lib areas are better prospects for them.

    To underline that point, Di Natalie just did a live 5 min interview on ABC 24 1 Hr ago from Higgins. Not once did he mention Wills or Cooper! He only spoke about their prospects in Higgins, Kooyong and McNamara, talking up their prospects in those seats only. That says a lot.

  30. “Do the LIBs think that voters will just give them upper house votes ?? Or are they so weak they CAN’T actually man the booths ?”

    I volunteered today for a left-wing group, and heard a rumour among the volunteers that the Libs have to bring people in and pay them $28 an hour to stand outside polling booths in this electorate. These “volunteers” know nothing about the party or politics in general.

  31. Yappo,
    The Greens have certainly put some thought into the people they got this year to staff the booths at the Labor stronghold booths in the northern part of Wills. I went to three booths today and the Greens had Italian, Turkish and Arabic speakers at each of them. This is a stark contrast to 2016 when they bused in the kids from La Trobe and Melbourne university campuses.
    I didn’t notice the Greens doing anything special in these neighbourhoods during the campaign, but the party seems to be learning – albeit slowly – that it needs to speak directly to migrant voters north of Bell Street.
    Who knows, Khalil might be in for a shock in a few hours.

  32. I am of the view that Hawke was a brilliant PM, possibly the best we ever had, however if the AEC proposes to rename Wills to Hawke I will be strongly protesting for the following reasons:
    – Hawke never lived in Wills. He lived in Sandringham, then Canberra. Wills was just a suitably safe seat that the right managed to wrest off the left for Hawke and have held to on ever since.
    – When Phil Cleary won the 1992 by election, Hawke’s staff stripped the electorate office bear, every single file gone. Those documents aren’t the property of the ALP, they are the property of the people of Wills. Who can vote for whoever they want. Wills doesn’t belong to the ALP. Just like Brunswick, Pascoe Vale and Broadmeadows at state level. And Moreland Council for that matter – which is already lost to them.

  33. Another poor result for the Greens, or a strong result for Khalil depending on how you want to look at it. Even with effectively no Liberal candidate, the Greens went significantly backwards.

    Big swings against the Greens in their heartlands areas, although they have managed a small swing to them in the northern parts of the seat.


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