Morwell – Victoria 2018

NAT 1.8%

Incumbent MP
Russell Northe (IND), since 2006.

Geography
Latrobe Valley. Morwell covers most of the City of Latrobe, specifically the towns of Morwell and Traralgon, but not Moe. It also covers a small part of the Shire of Wellington. In addition to Morwell and Traralgon, Morwell electoral district covers the towns of Boolarra, Churchill, Newborough, Tyers and Yallourn North.

History
Morwell has existed as an electoral district since 1955. It was first held by the Liberal Party until 1970, and by the Labor Party from 1970 until the 2006 election, when it was won by the Nationals.

Morwell was first won in 1955 by Liberal candidate Jim Balfour. He became a cabinet minister in 1964, and in 1967 moved to the new seat of Narracan. He held Narracan until his retirement in 1982, serving as a cabinet minister until 1977.

Balfour was succeeded in Morwell by fellow Liberal Archie Tanner. A former amateur boxing champion, Tanner held the seat for one term, losing Morwell in 1970 to the 27-year-old Derek Amos of the ALP.

Amos held the seat until his resignation in 1981, when he was succeeded at a by-election by the 31-year-old Valerie Callister, also of the ALP.

Callister retired in 1988, and was succeeded by Keith Hamilton, who served as Minister for Agriculture and Minister for Aboriginal Affairs.

Hamilton retired at the 2002 election, and was succeeded by Brendan Jenkins. He held the seat with a 4.9% margin. In 2002, the Liberal Party polled 19% of the primary vote, with the Nationals polling 12%. The Nationals had been the primary opposition to the ALP in Morwell as recently as 1996, but in 1999 the Liberals had become the main opposition, with the Nationals not contesting the seat.

In 2006, the Nationals polled almost 28% of the primary vote, with the Liberals on 14%. After preferences, the Nationals’ Russell Northe won the seat with a 2.2% margin. Northe was re-elected much more comfortably in 2010, with no Liberal opponent. He narrowly won a third term in 2014.

Northe resigned from the Nationals in 2017 and now sits as an independent.

Candidates

Assessment
Morwell is a very marginal seat, and both the Nationals and Labor will likely focus attention here. It is hard to predict the impact of Northe running as an independent, if he does so, and if he does not run the Nationals will still likely suffer from the absence of a sitting MP.

2014 result

CandidatePartyVotes%Swing
Russell Northe Nationals 17,82444.4-4.9
Jadon Mintern Labor 14,28235.6+4.3
Tracie LundIndependent4,37710.9+10.9
Dan Caffrey Greens 1,8944.7-0.3
Stewart BirkettCountry Alliance9502.4-1.3
Peter DorianRise Up Australia4231.1+1.1
Jacqueline RoseIndependent3800.9+0.9
Informal2,2835.4

2014 two-party-preferred result

CandidatePartyVotes%Swing
Russell Northe Nationals 20,78751.8-11.5
Jadon Mintern Labor 19,34348.2+11.5

Booth breakdown

Booths in Morwell have been divided into four areas. Polling places in the two main towns of Traralgon and Morwell have been grouped together. Those polling places north of Traralgon and Morwell have been grouped as ‘north’, and those south of the main towns have been grouped as ‘south’.

The Nationals won a majority of the two-party-preferred vote in two areas: 51% in the rural south and 57.9% in Traralgon. Labor won 52.8% in the rural north and 59.1% in Morwell.

Independent candidate Tracie Lund’s primary vote ranged from 9.7% in Traralgon to 16.7% in Morwell.

Voter groupIND prim %NAT 2PP %Total votes% of votes
Traralgon9.757.910,06425.1
North10.847.25,66614.1
South11.251.04,24210.6
Morwell16.740.93,2908.2
Other votes9.052.62,8937.2
Pre-poll10.851.913,97534.8

Election results in Morwell at the 2014 Victorian state election
Toggle between two-party-preferred votes and primary votes for independent candidate Tracie Lund.

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10 COMMENTS

  1. Good lord, if Russell Northe runs I think 0 candidates will get more than 30% of the vote and 5 candidates could get above 10%.

  2. This seat is going to be a total mess.

    Labor are an outside chance to win it from leakage and the diminished reputations of Liberals from the Dutton coup, and Nationals from Northe. Hazelwood closing will possibly hurt Labor but I haven’t seen coal communities anywhere turn on Labor after they became more renewable friendly. However, I also haven’t seen much evidence that Labor are taking the seat seriously compared to Ripon and South Barwon.

    Looking at the 2016 senate results, Motoring Enthusiasts (Muir) got 4.9% in Gippsland, and the Shooters a further 2.7%. That gives Muir a decent baseline. With a serious campaign he could get a preference snowball from Northe and leaking votes from a coalition partner, and win in the event of Labor’s vote collapsing. However it’s worth noting that the Shooters have a more “far right” image and voting record in Victoria than NSW, where they do preference swaps with Labor.

  3. Does Traralgon really differ economically from the rest of the Latrobe Valley for some reason? Nationals do much better there than Moe/Morwell.

  4. morgieb,

    I think Traralgon is the more “white collar” town in the Latrobe Valley, with a greater economic base in services and administration. Whereas Moe and Morwell were much more industrial, working-class communities.

  5. Ricky Muir did a good job in federal parliament representing AMEP until the PM foolishly called a double dissolution. Good luck to him.

  6. Onya Russell Northe, add some extra complication to the mix 😉 I’m looking forward to seeing how this goes down.

    In other news, I met Ricky Muir about a year ago, we grew up in the same general area of the state and are about the same age, and had a few mates in common from high school years.

    He’s a nice enough bloke to talk to, and I think I threw him a token 5th pref or something when I filled in the senate paper at the last fed election. That said, I wouldn’t vote for the Shooters even if I lived in a seat where they were running. I reckon he may pick up 10%+ though – especially up around Heyfield area where he could get closer to 20% even. People know who he is, and there’s a fair bit of anger about the Heyfield mill closure. And no ON option.

    Bennee’s comment above about the top candidates (Northe, Harriman, Lund, Richards and Bond) all landing between 10% and 30% is still accurate, but add Muir to that. Maybe even Burgess is potentially a “10% independent”. Will be a 7-pointed nightmare mess to count.

  7. My prediction: Perhaps the most interesting seat at this election – Could stay with Northe, go to the new National candidate, Labor could claim it from leakages… could even go to the Liberals or Ricky Muir!

    Just for a “Why not?” moment, I’ll give this to Muir.

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