Macnamara – Australia 2019

ALP 1.2%

Incumbent MP
Michael Danby, member for Melbourne Ports since 1998.

Inner south of Melbourne. Macnamara covers the port of Melbourne, St Kilda and Caulfield. Other suburbs include Elwood, Balaclava, Elsternwick, Ripponlea, Middle Park, Albert Park and South Melbourne.

Macnamara is a new name for Melbourne Ports. The seat gained Windsor from Higgins, which reduced the Labor margin from 1.4% to 1.2%. The gap between Labor and the Greens at the key exclusion point was also reduced from 1.1% to 0.3%.

Melbourne Ports was an original Federation electorate. After originally being won by the Protectionist party, it has been held by the ALP consistently since 1906, although it has rarely been held by large margins.

Melbourne Ports was first won in 1901 by Protectionist candidate Samuel Mauger, who had been a state MP for one year before moving into federal politics. Mauger was re-elected in 1903 but in 1906 moved to the new seat of Maribyrnong, which he held until his defeat in 1910.

Melbourne Ports was won in 1906 by Labor candidates James Mathews. Mathews held Melbourne Ports for a quarter of a century, retiring in 1931.

Mathews was succeeded in 1931 by Jack Holloway. Holloway had won a shock victory over Prime Minister Stanley Bruce in the seat of Flinders in 1929, before moving to the much-safer Melbourne Ports in 1931. Holloway had served as a junior minister in the Scullin government, and served in the Cabinet of John Curtin and Ben Chifley throughout the 1940s. He retired at the 1951 election and was succeeded by state MP Frank Crean.

Crean quickly rose through the Labor ranks and was effectively the Shadow Treasurer from the mid-1950s until the election of the Whitlam government in 1972. Crean served as Treasurer for the first two years of the Whitlam government, but was pushed aside in late 1974 in the midst of difficult economic times, and moved to the Trade portfolio. He served as Deputy Prime Minister for the last four months of the Whitlam government, and retired in 1977.

Crean was replaced by Clyde Holding, who had served as Leader of the Victorian Labor Party from 1967 until 1976. He won preselection against Simon Crean, son of Frank. Holding served in the Hawke ministry from 1983 until the 1990 election, and served as a backbencher until his retirement in 1998.

Holding was replaced by Michael Danby in 1998, and Danby has won re-election at every subsequent election, although never with huge margins, and a margin as small as 3% in 2004 and 1.4% in 2016.

Sitting Labor MP Michael Danby is not running for re-election.

Macnamara is a very complex seat with great variations in the vote across different booths. The Liberal Party has a significant lead on the primary vote, but Greens preferences were enough to push Labor ahead in 2016. The Greens are close to overtaking Labor, at which point Labor preferences would decide the result. Any of the three parties could conceivably win. It’s not clear what impact Michael Danby’s retirement will have on the seat – there’s evidence that his presence as an incumbent helped Labor in some parts of the seat and hurt them in others.

2016 result

Owen Guest Liberal 35,53341.9+0.941.9
Michael Danby Labor 22,89727.0-4.726.6
Steph Hodgins-May Greens 20,17923.8+3.624.2
Robert Millen SmythAnimal Justice1,6852.0+2.02.0
Henry Von DoussaMarriage Equality1,3491.6+1.61.6
Levi Mckenzie-KirkbrightDrug Law Reform1,3481.6+1.61.5
Peter HollandIndependent1,3931.6+1.61.6
John B MyersIndependent4250.5+0.50.5

2016 two-party-preferred result

Michael Danby Labor 43,57351.4-2.251.2
Owen Guest Liberal 41,23648.6+2.248.8

Booth breakdown

Booths have been divided into three areas: Port Melbourne, St Kilda and Caulfield.

Labor won a large 61.7% majority of the two-party-preferred vote in St Kilda, and half of the vote in Caulfield. The Liberal Party polled 51.2% in Port Melbourne.

On a primary vote basis, the three areas look very different. The Greens topped the primary vote in St Kilda, with Labor a distant third. In Port Melbourne and Caulfield, the Liberal Party topped the primary vote, with Labor second and the Greens in third place.

Voter groupGRN prim %ALP prim %LIB prim %ALP 2PP %Total votes% of votes
St Kilda35.325.931.161.717,71220.0
Port Melbourne21.627.744.748.816,76418.9
Other votes19.326.545.847.022,89025.8

Election results in Macnamara at the 2016 federal election
Toggle between two-party-preferred votes, Labor primary votes, Liberal primary votes and Greens primary votes, as well as a map showing which party topped the primary vote in each booth.

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  1. Individual seat betting has come back to sportsbet, with Greens still at 19.0 odds for this seat!

    In my experience odds aren’t particularly smart and you can really beat the odds with just a little research. For example, you could still get more than double your money for the LNP to win Buderim in QLD, after the LNP had already agreed to put PHON last in that particular seat.

    The problem is you can’t make money for “closer than the odds”, you actually have to win.

  2. @John
    I just checked sportsbet and they have the Greens at $4 odds now, some money must have come in for them.

    With all of the recent activity regarding the next leader of the Libs, Dutton would ruin all chances for the Libs here, i’d doubt that Morrison would be helpful as well.

    My guess 38 Lib, 29 Green, 26 Labor for a result of 54-46 Green over Libs.

  3. There are four candidates for Liberal preselection on 02 Sep 18 – see AJN article on line today. My pick is Cr Marcus Pearl who lived in Port Melbourne and is a Port Phillip Councillor and therefore is very visible in the electorate. At a few council community consultation, I have attended, he comes across as a nice approachable bloke too.

  4. I suspect a lot of the Greens share of the vote in this seat comes from the fact that Danby is such a loathed MP and that naturally Labor voters have been voting for “anyone but Danby”.

    With a new candidate, I expect that Labor will actually get a TPP swing back to them as the “anyone but Danby” vote returns back to the fold, similar to what happened with Ged Kearney in Batman. It’ll be enough for Labor to retain the seat IMO.

    In the long term, this will likely become a marginal Liberal vs Greens/Greens vs Liberal seat due to demographic factors.

  5. Liberals vote will collapse now.

    Still predicting a Green gain but it’s harder for them now. There is a decently sized chunk of voters that just swing between the two majors. Greens will need to nail the message that voting for them won’t make it any harder for Labor to form government, or else voters will panic about not voting 1 Labor.

  6. Agree, Liberals’ primary should get smashed in a seat like Macnamara this time. But the boosted Labor vote will make it harder for the Greens to get into second place.

    However, I can imagine a lot of the more affluent inner-city Lib voters may not be able to bring themselves to vote Labor but would find it easier to vote Greens and preference the Libs over Labor (which would then become irrelevant if their vote helps the Greens overtake Labor anyway).

    In any case, Sportsbet obviously agree it’ll be harder for the Greens now because their odds in Macnamara just blew back out to $34…

  7. Yep I’ve also put a line through the Liberals chances in MacNamara, however I am not sure I would automatically say it will benefit the ALP over the Greens.

  8. If the Liberal vote declines as predicted we cant assume the votes will go to Labor. After Sundays (02 Sep 18) Liberal pre selection we will see if its a total “bagel munchers” affair in the two major parties. If so many may vote informal which I am considering too for the first time.

  9. Kate Ashmor is a solid candidate and would have been competitive about two weeks ago so she might as well start campaigning for 2022.

    But then again this seat could still surprise on election night depending on who finishes second and how tight preferences flow.

  10. Ashmor wont win as the federal Liberals are on the nose at the moment. However she is more known than the new ALP bloke Burns.

  11. She might take some of the Danby vote off the ALP around Caulfield, however with Morrison as PM there will be a significant anti-Liberal swing in the bayside suburbs.

    I imagine the 2PP margin vs the Liberals should widen back to about 4-5% this election, whether it be Labor or Greens.

    2022 will all depend on whether there’s another redistribution I think. On these boundaries the Liberals could erase that margin depending on what happens in those 3 years, but if Caulfield is finally swapped for Prahran/South Yarra before then I’d say the margin will become safer (>5%) for the Greens.

  12. If the Greens take the seat in 2019 then 2022 will be more about how strong Greens incumbency advantage is than bean counting of labor/liberal swing voters swinging. Independent/3rd Party incumbency advantage is traditionally extremely strong but there haven’t been many datapoints from the Greens, and none in seats that could go to the coalition. Prahran 2018, Ballina 2019, and Maiwar 2020 will give us a lot of indication, Prahran most so for obvious reasons.

  13. I agree. Very interested to see what happens in Prahran in November (where I am enrolled myself).

    I think incumbency is especially an advantage for independents and smaller parties, because it gets a lot of voters over the line who may have previously considered voting for them but thought (incorrectly) that it’s a “wasted” vote because Labor/Liberal will win anyway so might as well vote for whichever of those two they prefer.

    Once voters see that it’s possible for an outsider to win, and also I imagine in the case of some voters that the sky didn’t fall in when they did, I think more voters who may have been weary about not voting for a major party are more confident about jumping ship as well because they aren’t voting for a hopeless cause – their vote can actually make a difference.

  14. Morrison’s failure to reboot the LIB’S has gifted this seat to Labor. I don’t see how the Greens can now get past the ALP primary vote.

  15. I think in teal/blue-green areas like Macnamara, Higgins, Wentworth, Goldstein etc there will be a sizeable amount of backlash swing that goes straight from the Liberals to the Greens. I agree the ALP primary will get a good boost, but the Greens might benefit from the same too which would keep it close. It’s definitely going to be an interesting contest at the 3PP stage!

  16. is it possible superimpose state seats as an option or list percentages of state seats in federal seat…. eg 40% of St kilda

  17. One of the big “what ifs” in seats such as Macnamara or Wentworth is how much of the Labor vote would leak to the Libs should the ALP come third. Methinks it is possible that there could be a lot of Jewish voters who are happy to vote Labor but would not want their preference going to the Greens.

  18. For years I have thought Elwood was a hot bed of Greens voters but the two polling places at two Elwood schools sees the Liberals ahead on primary votes with the ALP third with less votes.

  19. The Liberals only came first in one of them, “Elwood” with 39% and a 53-47 2PP to Labor which is a close result for the southern part of the electorate where Labor’s 2PP is usually 60+.

    In the other one, “Elwood North”, the Greens came first on 34.5% and the Liberals second on 31.3% with a much more typical 62-38 2PP to Labor.

  20. Even if just pipped by the Lib primary suburb-wide, over 30% is a very strong Greens primary vote that you would still describe as a “hot bed” for a party who only averages about 10% nationwide and roughly 15-20% citywide.

    Elwood has always been a bit of a mix of boho St Kilda types and yuppie Brighton types hence the relatively equal Green & Liberal primaries, compared with St Kilda which is overwhelmingly anti-Liberal.

  21. Trent – but combined the two school polling places in Elwood, for the Libs and Greens, the Libs come out better over all, which was my point.

  22. Yeah I know what you meant, I said myself in my last post that the Libs pipped the Greens’ primary vote suburb-wide. However I just don’t see the relevance of it in relation to whether or not the suburb is a Greens stronghold?

    If Elwood’s results were replicated nationally the Greens would win government, so I don’t think a 34% Liberal primary vote narrowly edging the Greens primary by just 3% (when nationally they beat the Greens by 25-30%) really means anything at all.

    It’s a very strong Greens area (roughly 20% above the national average) while being well below average for both the Liberals and Labor, regardless of who narrowly wins the primary vote.

  23. Even though I had a falling out with the Victorian Division of the Liberal Party in 2003 (member 1994-2003) I still put Lib ahead of Lab in Melbourne Ports as I did not like Danby who I though has been an ineffect and mostly single issue (Israel) backbench MHR for 20 years.

    However next eiection with the Libs on the nose nationally and Danby gone I plan to place Lab ahead of Lib on the ballot paper for the first time since the Whitlam era 1972 -75. In the No 1 place will be a minor party or independent though.

  24. Despite the criticism directed at Danby I’m not sure how his retirement would have any real impact on Labor’s vote. Mostly, he’s invisible – as with a whole slew of local members who collect votes based entirely on the party name.

    There’s so many other factors in play and with or without Danby’s name on the ballot, Labor is headed straight for third. Will it be next year? I guess that depends what happens in federal politics before then. But given the rapid growth and change in this electorate, adjusting the 2016 numbers for current demographics, it’s probably already happened.

  25. I agree. The only reason there’s a slim chance it may not happen this election is because the massive pending swing against the Liberals may boost the Labor vote enough to keep them ahead of the Greens, but I still think that’s unlikely. The demographics of most of Macnamara (Caulfield being the exception) make it more likely that Liberal voters will swing from blue to green than blue to red I think.

    Unless there’s some kind of miraculous recovery by the Coalition, my prediction now has blown out to PVs of about 36 LIB, 29 GRN, 27 ALP, 8 Other which would widen the 2PP margin back to where it was in 2007-2010 at around 57-43, except this time GRN-LIB instead of ALP-LIB.

  26. Imagine Libs will go in hard on foreign policy, Palestine, BDS etc vs Greens and some in Labor will want to do the same. Demographic change here favours Libs especially in Port Melbourne which used have an all Labor local council back in 80s. Labor will lose more than they gain by Danby’s departure but that that means remaining Labor vote will be more Green-friendly.


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