Isaacs – Australia 2019

ALP 3.0%

Incumbent MP
Mark Dreyfus, since 2007.

Outer south-eastern Melbourne. Isaacs covers suburbs along the coast of Port Phillip Bay on the south-eastern fringe of Melbourne. It covers southern parts of Kingston and Greater Dandenong council areas.

Isaacs shifted north, gaining Cheltenham, Moorabbin and Heatherton from Hotham, and losing Carrum Downs, Sandhurst and Skye to Dunkley. These changes cut the Labor margin from 5.7% to 3%.

Isaacs was created at a redistribution before the 1969 federal election. The seat was long a marginal seat, but has become safer for the ALP over the last decade.

The seat was first won in 1969 by the Liberal Party’s David Hamer. Hamer held the seat until 1974, when he lost to the ALP’s Gareth Clayton, but Hamer won back the seat in 1975.

Hamer retired in 1977, and was succeeded by Liberal candidate William Burns. Burns failed to win re-election in 1980, when Isaacs was won by the ALP’s David Charles.

Charles held the seat for a decade, retiring in 1990. The Liberal Party’s Rod Atkinson won back the seat in 1990.

Atkinson was re-elected in 1993, but a redistribution before the 1996 election changed Isaacs’ margin from a 3% Liberal margin to a 3.9% Labor margin, and Atkinson lost to the ALP’s Greg Wilton.

Wilton was re-elected in 1998. His marriage broke down in 2000, and he faced strong media attack in 2000 after being found by police in a situation that some interpreted as an attempted murder-suicide. This ended with Wilton committing suicide in June 2000. He remains the only member of federal Parliament to ever die by suicide.

The ALP’s Ann Corcoran easily won re-election at the ensuing by-election, with the Liberal Party not standing a candidate. Corcoran’s margin was cut to around 1-2% at the 2001 and 2004 elections, and retired in 2007.

The seat was won in 2007 by the ALP’s candidate, prominent lawyer Mark Dreyfus. Dreyfus was re-elected in 2010, 2013 and 2016.


Isaacs is a marginal seat and has become more so in the redistribution, but it would be unlikely to fall unless Labor was to drop in the national polls.

2016 result

Mark Dreyfus Labor 41,14444.5+3.240.9
Garry Spencer Liberal 37,31240.4+0.142.7
Alex Breskin Greens 9,42910.2+3.110.7
Elizabeth JohnstonAnimal Justice4,5855.0+5.04.3

2016 two-party-preferred result

Mark Dreyfus Labor 51,53855.7+1.953.0
Garry Spencer Liberal 40,93244.3-1.947.0

Booth breakdown

Polling places in Isaacs have been divided into three areas, ranging from east, north-west and the south.

Labor won a majority of the two-party-preferred vote in all three areas, ranging from 51.1% in the north-west to 58% in the east.

The Greens came third, with a vote ranging from 7.5% in the east to 12.9% in the north-west.

Voter groupGRN prim %ALP 2PP %Total votes% of votes
Other votes10.156.415,52417.0

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

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  1. The assessment says xxx – just letting you know.

    On another note, on these boundaries, this is one the Liberals should definitely target, especially in 2022 if Shorten gets in next year.

  2. This is my seat. Dreyfus should hold with an average or slightly above swing. He’s active – I’ve seen him this year at my local station, my sporting club and my son’s school, so he does the small stuff.

    Last time around the Libs ran a ridiculous campaign on a state issue, claiming that the state labor government was going to raise the entire Frankston line four storeys in the air – with these crazed flyers about how everyone’s house price was about to collapse – so people should vote for the federal Libs. If it sounds a bit strained that’s because it was, and it of course never happened, but it did cause some local angst. I’d expect swings along the train line to Labor as progressives who fell for the scare campaign last time come back to to Dreyfus. (Who knows, the Libs may find a federal issue to campaign on, but I won’t hold my breath).

    If nothing else the Libs should have preselected by now. I’m pretty sure they’ll be sandbagging Dunkley this time around and if they hold that, looking north for 2022.

    2019 though, safe Labor hold.

  3. This seat will become the bellwether in Victoria, although whilst Dreyfus is here I can’t see Labor losing.
    I also agree with @PJ he should have above average swing to him as he quite an active local member and relatively uncontroversial.

  4. this seat remains labour as long as it doesn’t expand into the area covered by Goldstein.. a major expansion into that area would shift the seat to Marginal Liberal… Dreyfus is a quality candidate who will be ag in a future Labor Government

  5. I will NEVER forget that Dreyfus asked an empty room for questions! I can only laugh when I see him…

  6. High up the list of possible Liberal gains off Labor (necessary to win the election) but the other comments here are testing my assumptions.

    I thought he would be an inactive local MP due to being a front bencher and not living in the electorate – PJ says otherwise.

    PJ, what does the state level campaigning look like in this seat? Mordialloc is a key seat for the next election.

  7. John,
    It’s swinging seat territory both at a federal and state level. There plenty of past MLA and LHR who have worked very hard for their seats here (ALP and lib ….and both in Dunkley and Hotham and their respective underlying state seats) but have lost it when the swing is on.

    Your initial hunch is correct.

    Dreyfus hasn’t left Isaacs by 2022 I expect the voters will do it for him.

  8. State campaigning is pretty heavy here. Isaacs is basically parts of the bellwether sandbelt seats plus a bunch of quite good Labor booths in the state seat of Clarinda and then a smaller handful of excellent Labor booths in the city of greater Dandenong. Put it like this, on these boundaries, Labor would still have won Isaacs in the 2013 Abbotslide by a handful of votes. What that says to me is the Libs can win it in landslide wins, but not in normal elections.

    Of course, there’s likely to be another redistribution between the 19 and 22 elections and that will have a big mark on this seat (if it goes back into Dandenong, Carrum Downs or up to Clayton South it will become pretty safe for Labor. If it moves into Beaumaris or Bentlegh it would become much more likely to go Lib.) It’s pretty telling that the last time the Libs held Isaacs it was because it included Beaumaris and Black Rock.

    I reckon the Libs will sandbag Dunkley this time around and see what 2022 holds for Isaacs. If the next redistribution helps them and/or Dreyfus retires, it’ll be game on. But I can’t see the Libs winning this time (and as they haven’t even chosen a candidate yet, presumably they feel much the same.)

  9. My old seat prior to redistribution, and some 20 years before at my old address.
    Mark Dreyfus is certainly active in the local community and is often out and about in the local shopping strips and railway stations.

    The state seats of Carrum and Mordialloc basically cover this, and they will be a major battle ground of the state election.

    I’d have to agree that as long as Dreyfus remains, his personal vote will help keep Labor in here.

    When he leaves, it will depend how much further redistributions have pushed into Bentleigh, or west into Goldstein.

  10. PJ. L96 & Darren Mc
    Please tell me what i am missing ?. To me Dreyfuss comes across as insufferably smug, self satisfied, superior, arrogant, & absolutely unlikeable.

    Yes i know he is an SC, very bright, probably very capable.

    Here’s my problem – Dreyfuss is a highly fixated Type 1
    examples of enlightened 1’s Mandela, Gandhi, M.L. King.
    Examples of Fixated 1’s Ayatollah Khomenei, Thatcher, Robespierre

    I don’t trust 1’s because they re always Certain they are right, & will never admit they have done wrong. Mrs Winediamond MK1 (my x ) is a type 1

  11. @winediamond
    I understand where you’re coming from. Dreyfus is quite well off and the epitome of upper class elitism and as I believe the wealthiest Labor MP.
    That being said he would go to the opening of an envelope in his electorate and he is quite well known and respected.
    Ultimately he is in the wrong electorate, the perfect fit would be MacNamara. He may live in Higgins, which is just a stones throw away, although he is both a moderate and a Jew.
    That being said he won’t move there, the only seat that is plausible would be Bruce and that would set off a factional war.

  12. WD – What can I say, I respect active MPs who know what they’re doing. Dreyfus iscertainly the most active rep I’ve had and probably the most active in the South-East (though admittedly there are some pretty dud MPs down this way). A few years ago I had a chat to him at the station about the (then) impending closure of the local CSIRO, which was later saved, and he seemed knowledgeable and genuine. Sure, one could say that all MPs should be like that, but in my experience many aren’t, so I was pretty impressed to see one who was.

    Anyway, that’s just anecdotal, but I think the general view down this way is that he works hard. As Sandbelter noted, this area has a history of hard working MPs who still got swept away when the swing was on, but I can’t see a Lib sweep happening this time around (I mean, really, does anyone think a 3% swing to the Libs is on the cards?)

  13. @PJ while I can’t comment on Dreyfus’ activity or lack thereof, I agree with everything else you say. The small margin means it ought to be a target, but that doesn’t mean the Libs are actually going to win it.

    However, it is worth noting that Antony Green has the margin at 2.2% – far more manageable a a feat. As you say though, I doubt they’d get it.

  14. @winediamond, when he first won the seat, he certainly appeared absent (although that could have been the location of his electoral office in Keysborough – maybe he was more active in that area) and didn’t see him, or hear much from him at all.

    I think maybe once he became a minister and then had a swing away at 2010-2013 he may have realised that it wasn’t the easy seat promised to him originally.

    His efforts at being a local member seemed to increase after that, the office moved to Mordialloc, and he seemed to be involved in multiple community activities.

    L96 says he would attend any opening in the electorate, which is true, but he does also make a lot of effort to attend local schools, and unlike certain former state members in the area, actually seems to know which school he is at. I think that increases his profile among families and the school communities.

    Having said that, I’ve actually never met him in person, so others experiences may vary.

  15. PJ, L96, Darren Mc, & W of S
    Thanks for your comments, & response . Some interesting facts, & opinions. Nothing wrong with anecdotal, or otherwise.

    Perhaps Dreyfuss has offset a demographic swing ? If so, to what extent. There is a vague possibility that some Victorian MP’s will be unexpectedly vulnerable from the aftershocks of the demise of the the Red Dan govt. This is one. Wait & see !!. Could be fun !!

    I’d love to see this smart arse tossed, & return to paying taxes ( SCs pay lots of tax !) instead of consuming them.


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