Northcote – Victoria 2018

GRN 5.6% vs ALP

Incumbent MP
Lidia Thorpe, since 2017.

Inner north of Melbourne. Northcote mainly covers the southern suburbs of Darebin council, as well as the northeastern arm of Yarra council. It covers the suburbs of Alphington, Fairfield, Northcote, Thornbury and parts of Preston.

Northcote was first created for the 1927 state election, and in that time has always been held by the ALP.

Northcote was first won in 1927 by John Cain, who had previously been the Member for Jika Jika since 1917. Cain became leader of the Victorian ALP in 1937, and led the party through extended periods of hung parliaments. He served as Premier briefly in 1943 when the Labor-supported Country Party government fell, and served as Premier for two years from 1945 to 1947, before losing the 1947 election badly.

In 1952, John Cain won the state election, and governed as Premier until 1955, when Labor MPs from the Catholic “Movement” faction crossed the floor and brought down the government. These MPs formed the basis of the Democratic Labor Party. Cain remained as leader of the ALP until his death in 1957 while campaigning for the ALP in a Queensland state election.

The 1957 Northcote by-election was won by the ALP’s Frank Wilkes. He became the ALP’s deputy leader in 1967, and became leader in 1976. He served as leader until 1981, when he was replaced by John Cain Jr, who won government in 1982. Wilkes served as a minister in the Cain government until his retirement in 1988.

In 1988, Northcote was won by Tony Sheehan, who was Member for Ivanhoe from 1982 to 1985, when he lost the seat to the Liberal Party. He served as a minister in the final years of the Labor government, serving as Treasurer in 1992 before the Liberal Party won the state election that year. He retired in 1998.

The 1998 by-election was won by former ABC newsreader Mary Delahunty. She served as a minister in the Bracks government from 1999 to 2006, when she retired.

In 2006, Northcote was won by Fiona Richardson, and she was re-elected in 2010 and 2014. Richardson became Minister for Women and Minister for Prevention of Family Violence following the 2014 election.

Richardson died in August 2017. The subsequent by-election was won by Greens candidate Lidia Thorpe, thanks to an 11.6% swing.


Thorpe will be an incumbent MP, but won’t have had very long to build up an incumbency advantage. While Thorpe won comfortably, we’ve since seen a substantial swing back to Labor in the same area at the federal Batman by-election. Thorpe is the favourite to win re-election but this seat is not safe.

2014 result

Fiona Richardson Labor 15,92841.0-3.1
Trent McCarthy Greens 14,10136.3+4.4
Anthony D’Angelo Liberal 6,40716.5-3.2
Jamie McCarneyBasics Rock ‘N’ Roll1,0432.7+2.7
Georgina PurcellAnimal Justice6781.7+1.7
Helen FennFamily First3901.0+1.0
Bryony EdwardsIndependent3240.8+0.8

2014 two-candidate-preferred result

Fiona Richardson Labor 21,78356.0-4.2
Trent McCarthy Greens 17,08844.0+4.2

2014 two-party-preferred result

Fiona Richardson Labor 21,78356.0-4.2
Trent McCarthy Greens 17,08844.0+4.2

2017 by-election result

Lidia Thorpe Greens 16,31945.2+8.9
Clare Burns Labor 12,77935.4-5.6
Vince FontanaIndependent1,8645.2+5.2
Dean RossiterLiberal Democrats1,4974.1+4.1
Laura ChippIndependent1,1523.2+3.2
Nina LenkAnimal Justice7732.1+0.4
Philip CooperIndependent4361.2+1.2
Russell HaywardIndependent3601.0+1.0
Joseph ToscanoIndependent3310.9+0.9
Nevena SpirovskaIndependent2150.6+0.6
Brian SanaghanIndependent2080.6+0.6
Bryony EdwardsIndependent1540.4-0.4

2017 by-election two-candidate-preferred result

Lidia Thorpe Greens 20,13755.6+11.6
Clare Burns Labor 16,08044.4-11.6

Booth breakdown

Booths in Northcote have been split into three parts: north, south-east and south-west.

Labor won a majority of the two-candidate-preferred vote against the Greens in all three areas at the 2014 election, ranging from 52% in the south-west to 62% in the south-east.

The Liberal Party came third with a vote ranging from 14% in the south-west to 19% in the south-east.

At the 2017 by-election, the Greens won a majority of the two-candidate-preferred vote in all three areas, ranging from 55% in the south-east to 60% in the south-west.

2014 booth breakdown

Voter groupLIB prim %ALP 2CP %Total votes% of votes
Other votes17.752.98,00120.6

2017 by-election booth breakdown

Voter groupGRN 2CP %Total votes% of votes
Other votes52.112,73735.3

Election results in Northcote at the 2014 Victorian state election
Click on the ‘visible layers’ box to toggle between two-candidate-preferred votes and Liberal primary votes.

Two-candidate-preferred votes at the 2017 Northcote by-election

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  1. This seat will come down to whether the Liberals actually decide to stand in this seat (it has been flagged that they would not stand in inner city seats that are Labor vs Greens) and if they ultimately do (which I think they will), their HTV preference recommendations.

    Lidia Thorp is almost a star candidate in her own right. However, if the Libs stand and continue indicating preferences to Labor, I would have to favour Labor to regain it.

    The Greens will also not have the advantage of being able to pour all their resources into the seat as they could in the by election. Based on the 2014 election results, Northcote was the safest Labor vs Greens seat in the state (6.0%) and I estimate that based on the normal ‘rise of the Greens in inner Melbourne vote trajectory’, that the Greens were a couple of election cycles off from gaining the seat.

  2. As we’ve seen in the federal seat of Melbourne, once the Greens have the advantage of incumbency it may not matter who the Liberal Party directs preferences to.

  3. I remember hearing the claim that Libs not running in these kinds of seats is only a ~1% advantage to the Greens when compared to the Libs running and preferencing Labor. Obviously the Libs running and preferencing Green would be much more substantial advantage (10%?) but I doubt that will ever happen again, I don’t think the Liberals are very happy with electing Bandt to the federal lower house in hindsight.

  4. Green hold with much the same margin. I don’t see why Thorpe would be considered a star candidate but the green brand in the inner city should be sufficient.

  5. The Liberals not running would hurt their Upper House vote though, especially if they chose to skip all of the ‘Labor vs Greens’ seats in this area.

    They need every vote they can get in Northern Metropolitan in order to try to win a second seat.

  6. Some rather distasteful signs up by the Labor candidate I’ve seen shared on social media.

    “Treaty with aboriginal Victorians. Only Labor delivers”

    A bizarre claim considering Lidia Thorpe’s heritage and public advocacy on the issue.

    That’ll backfire on Labor I’d predict.

  7. Liberals only hold one of the Northern Metro upperhouse seats, they cannot win a second seat here no matter what. Last time they got 1.3117 quotas and I don’t think they improve on that.

    However they will definitely hold their current seat even if they don’t run lower house candidates in places like Northcote, Brunswick and Richmond.

  8. .3 quota surplus is potentially enough to win the 5th seat. A fraction more to exclude the largest right wing micro party would do them wonders though.

  9. Disagree with the view that the Liberals couldn’t win a second seat in Melbourne’s north, if the ALP vote was to fall then it wont all go to the Greens, despite there being a view that former ALP voters are automatically Greens when as we have seen in the outer suburbs, many of the newer migrant communities are more socially conservative than say the post WWII migrant population.

  10. Mark Mulcair, that was when Yan Yean (ALP 4.0%) and Ivanhoe (ALP 1.7%) were in Northern Metro. The removal of these combined with the addition of safe Yuroke and Pascoe Vale means that the Libs don’t have the benefit of winnable seats in North Metro, as well as the benefit of the upper house vote there.

  11. Genuine question –

    Is this the first time two parties have fought a seat on who is better credentialed on Indigenous affairs?

    Labor is going hard on it, as are the Greens.

    Huge change from the traditional Labor / Libs mindset of not talking about those issues unless absolutely forced to

  12. The Liberals have officially declared they won’t run in this seat – leaving it to Thorpe and Theophanous to fight it out. Thorpe is extremely likely to hold here, given the results of the by-election and seat demographics.

    However, it will be interesting to see what happens to Labor’s primary vote and 2PP given that voter turnout was only 79.04% at the by-election and this time round voters are determining if Andrews or Guy is premier – not just who the local member is. There were also a high number of independents at the by-election (Fontana with 5%) so this time may be different.

    In saying that, if there is any change it’s going to be slight decrease in the margin or even an increase for Thorpe – Labor threw the kitchen sink at Northcote in the by-election with funding for schools, level crossings etc. and the still got the underwhelming result. Labor would only be trying to salvage Brunswick and Richmond now.

  13. Labor’s hopes have gone up here but their candidate is no Ged Kearney & suspect Thorpe’s background would be an appeal to wavering left voters.

  14. I suspect that the Greens might benefit from a higher turnout at a general election compared to a by election. Methinks many Greens voters might be politically apathetic Millennials.


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