Casey – Australia 2019

LIB 4.5%

Incumbent MP
Tony Smith, since 2001.

Geography
Eastern fringe of Melbourne. Casey the entire Yarra Ranges Shire. Major centres include Lilydale, Montrose, Mooroolbark, Seville, Yarra Junction, Healesville and large areas in the Yarra Ranges with small populations.

Redistribution
The south-western corner of Casey shifted to the east, losing Kilsyth South to Deakin and gaining Belgrave, Mount Dandenong and surrounding areas from La Trobe. These changes cut the Liberal margin from 6.1% to 4.5%.

History
Casey was created for the 1969 election and has almost always been considered to be a marginal seat. Despite the slim margins, the Liberal Party has managed to hold onto the seat consistently since 1984, after an early period where the ALP managed to hold it during the Whitlam government and the Hawke government’s first term.

Casey was first won in 1969 by Peter Howson. Howson had been Member for Fawkner since 1955, and had served as Minister for Air from 1964 until John Gorton’s first cabinet reshuffle, when he was dropped. He returned to cabinet as Australia’s first Minister for the Environment in William McMahon’s cabinet in 1971, but lost his seat in 1972 to the ALP’s Race Mathews.

Mathews held Casey for both terms of the Whitlam government, losing the seat to Peter Falconer (LIB) in 1975. Mathews went on to hold the Victorian state seat of Oakleigh from 1979 until 1992, and served as a state minister from 1982 to 1988.

Peter Falconer was reelected in 1977 and 1980, but lost Casey to the ALP’s Peter Steedman in 1983. Steedman held the seat for one term, and lost to Liberal Bob Halverson in 1984.

The Liberal Party never lost Casey again, and Halverson went on to serve as Speaker of the House of Representatives in the first term of the Howard government until his retirement in 1998.

Casey was won in 1998 by Dr Michael Wooldridge, the Howard government’s Health Minister. Wooldridge had previously held Chisholm since 1987, moving to Casey in 1998. He held it for one term before retiring from politics in 2001.

The seat was won in 2001 by Tony Smith. Smith has been re-elected five times, and was elected Speaker of the House of Representatives in August 2015.

Candidates

  • Bill Brindle (Labor)
  • Tony Smith (Liberal)

Assessment
Casey is a marginal Liberal seat, but a bunch of other seats would be considered more likely to fall.

2016 result

CandidatePartyVotes%SwingRedist
Tony Smith Liberal 45,68049.5+0.447.5
Hovig Melkonian Labor 26,16528.4+0.528.2
Elissa Sutherland Greens 10,78111.7+0.812.8
Kristin BaconAnimal Justice4,1764.5+4.54.3
Peter CharletonIndependent2,8783.1+3.12.6
Angela DorianRise Up Australia2,5512.8+2.32.5
Others2.0
Informal3,6203.8

2016 two-party-preferred result

CandidatePartyVotes%SwingRedist
Tony Smith Liberal 51,70356.1-1.154.5
Hovig Melkonian Labor 40,52843.9+1.145.5

Booth breakdown

Polling places in Casey have been divided into five areas.

The Liberal Party won a majority of the two-party-preferred vote in three out of five areas, ranging from 52.6% in the north to 56.7% in the centre. Labor won 51.9% in the east and 57.3% in the south-west.

The Greens primary vote ranged from 10.7% in the west to 22.6% in the south-west.

Voter groupGRN prim %LIB 2PP %Total votes% of votes
West10.755.023,99524.6
Central12.856.713,44213.8
South-West22.642.710,82111.1
East14.448.17,0157.2
North16.652.65,6835.8
Other votes10.659.117,21817.6
Pre-poll10.458.019,46219.9

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

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22 COMMENTS

  1. Casey was fairly secure at Labor’s recent high-water mark in Victoria in 2010. However two redistributions since have each knocked a couple of points off the Liberal margin.

    A real smokey this one.

    Ben, your assessment is rather cryptic.

  2. DW, I agree. Of all the Liberals’ eastern suburbs seats, I honestly think this is one of Labor’s best chances to pick up.

    The mountains towns all had either no swing or swung TO the Liberals in 2016, meaning there’s probably room for a rebound there. The suburban parts are still Liberal, but most of the good Labor/Green areas in the mountains and upper Yarra Valley are now all united in one seat.

  3. OK, more nit-picking…

    I see the assessment is fixed. But the geography description needs updating. Casey is now coterminous with Yarra Ranges council. (A fact I only appreciated when I noticed the booth maps had no LGA boundaries!)

  4. CFA would have been a live issue in this electorate, and Tony Smith being a dramatic improvement over Bronwyn Bishop as speaker would have also helped a little bit.

    Smith has lost some of his lustre, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Labor, Greens and GetUp run explicit campaigns against the IPA (of which Tony Smith is a member).

    Greens will be important here; a strong Greens campaign would be able to seal the deal for Labor, and may put them in a position to pick up the seat at the tail end of a Labor government.

    ALP gain but I’d like to see who the Greens candidate is and how well Labor do at rebuilding their brand in outer eastern Melbourne (which seems to be at an all time low).

  5. I completely disagree with most of the comments here. I see no room for ALP gains in Victoria at all. Obviously Corangamite is gone but other than that? Certainly not Casey, maybe La Trobe.

  6. Wreathy did you miss the redistribution? 4.5 swing needed for Labor to win.

    Last federal election Coalition were 48.2 2PP in Victoria, pollbludger has them down to 46.2 2PP in Vic currently. Not much more seat specific stuff required to flip this.

  7. @John, no I said GAINS. Dunkley is a Labor held seat now due to the redistribution.

    @Benee, no I didn’t, but you said it yourself though. According to Bludgertrack, there’s been a 2% swing since 2016. That puts Corangamite as gone but nothing else. Unlike yourself, I don’t see much of a reason as to why Labor would almost double that swing to win seats like Chisholm (where there may be a sophomore surge) and Casey (where the Libs are likely to try pretty hard to protect the Speaker). La Trobe is a possibility due to the relatively weak MP as I already discussed.

    I completely disagree that doubling the swing from 2 to 4% is not going to require at the very least some concerted seat-specific campaigning, sorry!

    If Labor are to win the next election, it’s going to be from WA and QLD, not from NSW or VIC.

  8. @John, tricky to calculate. I don’t feel like going booth to booth lol. Before redistribution the Greens were 15.61% 3PP. It would be slightly higher post redistribution, especially given they gathered better preference flow in pre-redistribution La Trobe than in pre-redistribution Casey.

    If you round a bit the 3PP is something like 51 Lib, 32 ALP, 17 GRN (that would make sense, it would confirm a 2PP of 54.5 Lib vs 45.5 ALP).

    @Wreathy +/-2.5% average swing in a seat is not unusual.

    Let’s have a look at the swing of the government’s 2PP in WA 2016 federal seats (the only state with only Lib vs ALP runoffs).

    Burt −13.20 (!)
    Brand −7.72
    Pearce −5.68
    Cowan −5.20
    Canning −4.56
    Durack −3.98
    Hasluck −3.97
    Swan −3.75
    Stirling −2.85
    Fremantle −2.12
    Tangney −1.95
    Moore −1.42
    Forrest −1.25
    Perth −1.15
    O’Connor −0.38
    Curt +2.48 (!)

    6 of 16 seats are outside +/-2.5 of the average (which was −3.62).

  9. @Benee of course. I’m not saying that because the swing is projected at 2% that no seat above that is going to fall, my prediction in La Trobe is evidence of this. I’m just saying that I don’t see it as likely in VIC at the moment.

    I could be wrong, but I just don’t see it happening. Labor is going to be swept in on a bed of QLD marginals IMO.

  10. @Bennee thanks. That would have to be one of the more achievable gaps for the Greens to overcome outside their well known “winnable” seats.

    Have they ever run a serious campaign here?

  11. @WreathyofSydney I tend to agree with your assessment, Labor will win a fair few marginals in Qld, namely Forde, Bonner, Petrie and Capricornia whilst being good chance in Flynn, Dawson and Dickson. As for Brisbane I have a feeling that the Greens will sneak into second with the Libs holding.

    In Casey, the Libs should hold, although these changes give Labor a real sniff and if a swing gains steam this seat could cause a few headaches for them. I’d be putting this as a higher probability of falling then Chisholm.
    My guess 52-48 to the Libs.

  12. @L96 Exactly. It is worth noting that if Labor do end up winning Casey for whatever reason and in any unlikely outcome, it would probably the highest profile Coalition scalp of the election. Other than perhaps Peter Dutton in Dickson of course.

  13. On scalps:

    Dutton and Tony Smith have been mentioned.

    Porter would be a high profile, realistic, scalp in WA (unless he jumps ship to Moore as many suspect he will). Keenan is another Cabinet member in a marginal WA seat.

    O’Dwyer is in the cabinet if the Greens really do have a chance at Higgins.

    I wouldn’t rule out Pyne losing his seat but it depends on what Centre Alliance do – he has a way of hanging on.

    The rest are very safe; a surprisingly high number of them are senators on 6 year terms.

    The theories about which ALP seats are vulnerable keep changing but none of the Shadow Cabinet look close to unsafe. Some think Lingiari is at risk – Snowdon is in the outer shadow ministry and the only MP elected in the 80s (not father of the house as he was out between ’96 and ’98). That would closest possible thing to an ALP scalp.

    Sarah Hanson Young is a high profile senator at a very real risk of losing her seat. None of the crossbenchers on 3 year terms are safe either – highest profile are probably Hinch and Leyonhjelm.

  14. @John

    I forgot about Porter but your’re right, he’s in big trouble. If he wants to survive he’s got to move.

    Keenan is a possibility although at this point in time I’m erring on him hanging on in Stirling.

    O’Dwyer is safe from the Greens I’d say. There are bigger fish to fry and would be better off focusing on Batman instead and try simply to get a positive swing this time around in Higgins.

    According to Bludgertrack, there’s actually been a swing to the Coalition in SA. I don’t think that’s going to eventuate come election day but I doubt any seats are going to change hands there regardless. Not to mention the ‘unpredictability’ of how the Centre Alliance factor. Although it would be nice to wipe that smug look of Pyne’s face.

    For the Coalition to hold on, they *must* win seats; mere sandbagging isn’t going to be sufficient IMO due to their slender majority:

    Therefore, I’d also add Dreyfus in Isaacs. Redistribution has brought the margin down to 2.3%. Not saying he’s going to lose but the Coalition would be fools if they didn’t try to target him. For the wider VIC picture, I’d also add that the impending state election might be instructive as to the political climate there. Of course state and federal are separate but it would still be good to see nonetheless.

    I totally agree about Snowdon being a target. That 8% margin is quite deceiving and given the rural nature of the electorate and the Coalition’s candidate, it’s not inconceivable that there’ll be a big swing. Whether they’ll win it though? I have my doubts.

    As for the rest of your assessment I agree in full.

  15. Forgot about Dreyfus. He has never lived in his electorate (not even close), and the Liberals will be going hell for leather on his area at the state election. Real upset potential and I’m looking forward to Isaacs getting posted to analyse it further.

    Clare O’Neil in Hotham, shadow minister for justice, is also in a much more marginal seat than she bargained for, and doesn’t live in her electorate, but that will be an easier hold for Labor.

  16. Dreyfuss should really jump ship to the new Bruce if he sees himself (or Labor see him) as a long-term prospect.

    Bruce is now safe as houses and will probably get safer in the future, whereas i see the opposite happening with Isaacs.

  17. @John perhaps the Greens have done some campaigning here to go for state upper house votes but that would not be near the level of the inner city ground campaigning. The very high left-wing micro vote would seem to imply the lack of a major Green campaign at the federal level.

    If all you know about a seat is that it has 3PP 51 Lib, 32 ALP, 17 GRN and the Greens have done no campaigning then it would seem the Greens could be a chance in 2022 if they start now, but demographic and geographic factors undoubtedly matter. The state seat of Albert Park was 3PP 43.7 Lib, 35.8 ALP, 20.5 GRN in 2014 and it could fall this year but it is harder to gain ground where more of the electorate would nod sagely at the phrase “Greens are inner-city elites” and where the Greens can’t get the inner-Melbourne Green volunteer base out.

  18. Prahran in 2006 was 43/37/20, then 49/29/22 in 2010, then the Greens actually won with 46.1/26.9/27.0

    Bennee is correct that The Greens aren’t as good as the majors at getting resources to winnable seats, even when it’s as simple as a suburban train trip.

  19. Casey looks like a safe Liberal seat and I would expect it to be held however the state seat of Evelyn went to the ALP in the 2002 landslide so the ALP might be a smokey here.

  20. The name of this seat could be quite confusing for people who are not politically aware, considering the bottom part of this electorate borders the City of Casey, none of which is a part of this seat, as the boundaries of the seat are exactly the same as the Yarra Ranges Council boundary.
    I live in the southern part of the seat that was transferred into Casey from La Trobe at the redistribution, and a handful of people I’ve spoken to have mistakenly believed the area was moving out of Yarra Ranges into Casey Council area, after a letter was sent from Tony Smith explaining the move. Clearly they didn’t read the letter properly or pay enough attention, but interesting enough.

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