Corio – Australia 2019

ALP 8.2%

Incumbent MP
Richard Marles, since 2007.

Geography
Geelong and surrounding areas. Corio covers most of the Geelong urban area and those parts of the City of Greater Geelong north of the centre of Geelong.

Redistribution
Corio lost the Bellarine Peninsula to Corangamite, and gained the Geelong suburbs of Belmont, Highton and Wandana Heights from Corangamite. These changes reduced the Labor margin from 10% to 8.2%.

History
The seat of Corio is an original federation seat. It was originally a marginal seat, switching between conservative parties and the ALP, but since the 1970s it has become a relatively safe Labor seat.

Corio was first won in 1901 by Richard Crouch, a Protectionist candidate and the youngest member of the first Parliament. He was re-elected in 1903 and 1906 before losing in 1910. He later returned at a much older age to hold the neighbouring seat of Corangamite for the ALP from 1929 to 1931.

Corio was won in 1910 by the ALP’s Alfred Ozanne. He lost in 1913 to Liberal candidate William Kendell, but won the seat back in 1914. Ozanne lost again in 1917.

The seat was won in 1917 by Nationalist candidate John Lister. He held the seat for the next decade, losing in 1929.

The seat of Corio was won by Labor candidate Arthur Lewis in 1929, but he only held it for one term before losing to the United Australia Party’s Richard Casey.

Casey joined the Lyons ministry in 1933, and became Treasurer in 1935. When Robert Menzies became Prime Minister in 1939, he saw Casey as a rival for the leadership, and moved him into a lesser role, before appointing him as Ambassador to the United States. Casey played a key role in cementing Australia’s alliance with the United States in the Second World War.

He returned to Parliament as Member for La Trobe in 1949, and served as a key minister in the Menzies government until his appointment as a member of the House of Lords in 1960. He also served as Governor-General from 1965 to 1969.

The 1940 Corio by-election was won by the ALP’s John Dedman. He was appointed to the ministry upon the formation of the Curtin Labor government in 1941, and served in a key role in the War Cabinet. He was particularly responsible for war production, post-war reconstruction and the creation of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO). He lost Corio in 1949 to Liberal candidate Hubert Opperman.

Opperman had been a prominent Australian cyclist, and had rode in the Tour de France on a number of occasions. He served as a Cabinet minister from 1960 to late 1966, before leaving Parliament in 1967 to serve as High Commissioner to Malta.

The 1967 Corio by-election was won by the ALP’s Gordon Scholes. Scholes was elected Speaker of the House of Representatives in early 1975 after the resignation of his predecessor after a disagreement with the Whitlam government. Scholes served in the role for the remainder of the Whitlam government. He served as a minister in the Hawke government from its election in 1983 until 1987, and retired in 1993.

Corio was won in 1993 by Gavan O’Connor. He joined the Labor frontbench in 1998 and served on the role until 2007. In 2006 he was challenged for preselection by ACTU Assistant Secretary Richard Marles, who won. O’Connor ran as an independent for Corio in 2007, but polled a distant third.

Richard Marles has been re-elected three times since his first win in 2007.

Candidates

Assessment
Corio is a safe Labor seat.

2016 result

CandidatePartyVotes%SwingRedist
Richard Marles Labor 43,08745.6+2.143.4
Richard Lange Liberal 33,18035.1-0.136.6
Sarah Mansfield Greens 11,11211.8+4.511.7
Jamie OverendAnimal Justice2,9483.1+3.12.8
Ash PuvimanasingheRise Up Australia1,8692.0+1.61.7
Jeff MoranBullet Train For Australia1,1381.2+1.20.9
Sue BullSocialist Alliance1,1011.2+0.40.9
Others1.9
Informal4,5614.6

2016 two-party-preferred result

CandidatePartyVotes%SwingRedist
Richard Marles Labor 56,65660.0+2.258.2
Richard Lange Liberal 37,77940.0-2.241.8

Booth breakdown

Polling places in Corio have been divided into four areas: central, north, south and east.

Labor won a majority of the two-party-preferred vote in three out of four areas, ranging from 58% in the centre to 68.6% in the north. The Liberal Party won a narrow 50.2% majority in the south (the only part of the seat which was previously within Corangamite).

The Greens came third, with a vote ranging from 9.6% in the north to 15.2% in the centre.

Voter groupGRN prim %ALP 2PP %Total votes% of votes
Central15.258.015,19316.4
North9.668.614,10515.2
South11.649.810,09910.9
East14.265.19,37710.1
Other votes11.654.214,05515.2
Pre-poll10.255.929,67732.1

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

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5 COMMENTS

  1. The southern suburbs of Geelong are generally much more affluent/middle class than the strongly industrial north, which you can clearly see from the voting figures.

    I’m not sure how sustainable these boundaries will be over time. If Geelong continues to grow, then those areas south of the river will probably end up having to go straight back into Corangamite again.

  2. Central Geelong and the surrounding suburbs are gentrifying quite rapidly, the eastern suburbs around Newcomb are also at the beginning of a demographic shift, as is the north around Norlane/Bell Park.

    I’m certain Labor will retain it without a shadow of doubt despite Marles being such a hapless MP merely making up the numbers for Labor’s Right. the margin is way overinflated.

    Thinking long term, if the local branches of the Liberals (who are holding their primary vote remarkably well) and the Greens (who IIRC achieved the largest positive swing towards them in any Victorian suburban federal seat in 2016) smartened up and actually put any sort of effort into running proper campaigns, they’d potentially shake this seat up.

    But alas, both the Greens and Liberals are utterly hopeless on the ground in this area and as such, Labor will continue to hold it on the basis of incumbency.

  3. Matt, the swing to Greens here wasn’t anywhere near as big as it was in Batman, Wills, Higgins, unless you mean as a proportion of the Greens previous vote.

    The Greens candidate made it to the council with what looks like the same vote as in this seat (maybe even a swing against). It would take several election cycles for Greens to build their vote enough to reach any other goals (state seat of geelong? another council ward?). The issue seems to be even when Labor’s doing badly, the primary votes of both major parties are too close together.

    There’d be no reason for Liberals to focus here when there’s usually a marginal seat in spitting distance. Right now it would be all about the Bellarine – trying to win the state seat and sandbag the federal seat. Maybe they could pounce when a Labor government is on its way out.

  4. John:

    Yes, you are right that the Greens candidate made it onto council, with a small swing against when comparing to 2016 vote numbers in the corresponding ward area.

    The trouble with the Greens in this area is they don’t campaign very well and they don’t put much effort into recruitment and retention in between elections. It has the largest branch of any in regional Victoria in terms of members and prospective volunteere but it doesn’t utilise this.

    Greens campaigns in smaller regional centres such as Ballarat and Bendigo, as well as the middle-suburbs of Melbourne, are locally run better and with more consistency over successive election cycles.

    2016 was probably the first election in a decade they had at least a half-decent go at Corio on the ground in this particular seat and the well-above-average swing towards them shows for it. In 2013 they ran what was effectively empty bucket campaign, and got an above average negative swing to show for it. In 2010, there wasn’t much effort either, despite a large swing, but they benefited from the Greens high-tide and drawing number 1 on the ballot paper.

    If they actually mobilised properly over successive elections and did the groundwork and recruited in between elections and made their presence known – I’m not saying they’d come anywhere near taking the seat – but their vote would actually be a lot higher then it currently is.

    The state seat of Geelong is another seat where the Greens vote should be higher then it currently is. A lot has changed since 2014 though so we’ll soon find out what transpires there. Though I suspect the incumbent there is more palatable to Labor-Greens swing voters than Marles is, plus the Greens haven’t even preselected for that seat yet AFAIK.

    You are probably right about the Liberals stratagy of wanting to focus on sandbagging nearby marginal seats (Corangamite – which I can’t see Labor losing IMO) instead of directing any sort of real effort into Corio, though.

  5. What would be the next target for Greens, other than retaining a seat in Brownbill ward?

    They should be able to do a lot better than last time in the state seat of Geelong, but not sure the Greens have enough to work with to win an MLC seat in Western Victoria, even if they organise hard in central Geelong.

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