Melbourne – Australia 2019

GRN 18.5% vs LIB

Incumbent MP
Adam Bandt, since 2010.

Central Melbourne. Melbourne covers the Melbourne CBD, as well as the inner city suburbs of North Melbourne, Parkville, Carlton, Docklands, Abbotsford, Fitzroy, Ascot Vale, Kensington, Richmond and East Melbourne. The seat covers all of the City of Melbourne north of the Yarra River, as well as a majority of the City of Yarra and part of Moonee Valley council area.

Melbourne retracted on its north-western edge and gained territory on its north-east. Ascot Vale, Flemington and Newmarket were transferred to Maribyrnong, while a small area on the border of Fitzroy and Brunswick was transferred from Wills, and a small part of Clifton Hill was transferred from Batman.

Melbourne is an original Federation seat, and was held by the ALP for over one hundred years before it was won by the Greens in 2010.

The seat was first won by Malcolm McEacharn, the former Mayor of Melbourne, who joined the Protectionist Party. Although McEacharn had defeated his Labor opponent William Maloney with over 60% of the vote in 1901, the 1903 election saw McEacharn only defeat Maloney by 77 votes, and the result was declared void after allegations that the result was tainted.

Maloney defeated McEacharn at the following by-election in 1904, and the ALP held Melbourne for the next century. Maloney polled over 60% at the 1906 election, and never polled less than 60% as he held the seat right through to 1940. Indeed, Maloney was elected unopposed at two elections. Maloney retired in 1940 but died before the 1940 election. He never held a frontbench role, and holds the record for the longest term of service without serving as a frontbencher.

The seat was won in 1940 by Arthur Calwell. Calwell held the seat for thirty-two years. He served as Minister for Immigration in Ben Chifley’s government from 1945 to 1949. He served as HV Evatt’s Deputy Leader from 1951 until 1960, when he became Leader of the Opposition.

Calwell led the ALP into three federal elections. The ALP was defeated by a slim margin at the 1961 election, but suffered a larger defeat in 1963 and a solid Liberal landslide in 1966. Calwell was replaced as Leader by Gough Whitlam in 1967 and Calwell retired in 1972. At no time did the seat of Melbourne come under any serious danger of being lost.

The seat was won in 1972 by Ted Innes, who held the seat until 1983.

He was succeeded by Gerry Hand, who served as a federal minister from 1987 until his retirement at the 1993 election.

The seat was won in 1993 by Lindsay Tanner. Tanner became a frontbencher following the defeat of the Labor government in 1996, and served on the Labor frontbench right until the election of the Rudd government, and served as Finance Minister in the first term of the Labor government.

The seat of Melbourne had been considered a safe Labor seat for over a century, but at the 2007 election the Greens overtook the Liberals on preferences and came second, and the two-candidate-preferred vote saw the ALP’s margin cut to 4.7%.

In 2010, Tanner retired, and his seat was won by the Greens’ Adam Bandt, who had first run for the seat in 2007. Bandt was elected with the benefit of preferences from the Liberal Party, but in 2013 managed to win a second term despite the Liberal Party preferencing Labor. Despite losing these preferences, Bandt’s margin was only cut by 0.6%, and his primary vote jumped 7%. Bandt was re-elected with a much bigger margin in 2016, with Labor falling into third place.


Melbourne is a solid Greens seat.

2016 result

Adam Bandt Greens 41,37743.7+1.144.6
Le Liu Liberal 23,87825.2+2.424.8
Sophie Ismail Labor 23,13024.5-2.123.9
Lewis Freeman-HarrisonSex Party3,2653.5+1.53.5
Miranda Joyce SmithAnimal Justice1,7421.8+1.11.8
Matt RileyDrug Law Reform1,1871.3+1.31.2

2016 two-candidate-preferred result

Adam Bandt Greens 64,77168.568.5
Le Liu Liberal 29,80831.531.5

2016 two-party-preferred result

Sophie Ismail Labor 62,96366.6-2.767.0
Le Liu Liberal 31,61633.4+2.733.0

Booth breakdown

Booths have been divided into four areas. Booths around Kensington have been grouped as West. Fitzroy, Carlton and Abbotsford are grouped as North-East. East Melbourne and Richmond are grouped as South-East. Booths close to the Melbourne CBD are grouped as Central.

The Greens won a large majority of the two-candidate-preferred vote (against the Liberal Party) in all four areas, ranging from 62.7% in the south-east to 77.1% in the north-east.

Labor came third, with a primary vote ranging from 23.3% in the centre to 28% in the north-west.

Voter groupALP prim %GRN 2CP %Total votes% of votes
Other votes24.363.516,86220.0

Election results in Melbourne at the 2016 federal election
Toggle between two-candidate-preferred votes (Greens vs Liberal) and Labor primary votes.

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  1. I expect Labor to take back second here in 2019, but should continue to firm up as a solid Green seat, with the Liberals coming second over time (or at least until Bandt retires – who knows when that’ll be)

  2. A map of the Liberal primary vote would also be an interesting one.

    Victoria Street is a clear divide in this seat; the areas in the south around CBD and Richmond are a bit more “blue-green” where the Libs consistently get 30-40% of the vote. Very different to the strongly “red-green” north of the seat where the Libs struggle to get 20%.

  3. My theory the Liberals picked up a swing here, and in other somewhat affluent inner city seats, due to Turnbull. Even though it was somewhat clear he wasn’t going to deliver on his progressive reputation in any meaningful way, he still had a honeymoon effect. 3 years on I expect that to have all faded. The effect of this will be far more interesting in other seats (IMO Brisbane is much more marginal than it looks, and it covered up what was quite a large swing in Higgins), but the effect here will be Liberals easily slipping back to 3rd.

    I think Labor will take a run at the seat trying to outflank Greens on the left similar to last time – Bandt is a straight white man and Labor responded by running a middle eastern lesbian. They may have been emboldened by the Batman byelection to actually put money into the seat as well.

    However in return Bandt has a huge volunteer base in the seat and will be actively campaigning in order to drive up the Green vote and re-elect Janet Rice.

    The circumstances are very similar to the state seat of Melbourne (except for the identity politics) which will be the main litmus test.

  4. The Labor party would be mad to have another tilt at Bandt. He’s entrenched, as minor party and independent candidates become after getting some public profile. Wasting resources here lessens the threat Labor poses to the Coalition elsewhere, and if the Green feel they have to put in extra resources to protect Bandt they have to put less into Macnamara (ALP and Greens need each other to perform decently for EITHER to prevent the Liberals from winning) and Higgins.

  5. Keep in mind that Labor arguably let at least one, possibly two state elections go to prevent the Greens from picking up Batman.

    Labor and Greens preference each other and cooperate in balance of power situations almost every time, but there is still a lot of animosity when it comes to elections. Even in Higgins, Carl Katter got visits from front benchers to try and keep Labor ahead of Greens.

    The last campaign in Melbourne is the only time they’ve arguably left the Greens alone, and that’s only talking in terms of resources.

    The state election will be interesting to how Labor go about preventing Greens from getting dual balance of power.

    In a campaign that will largely be about sandbagging the sand belt, it will be interesting to see how they split their resources between holding off Greens in seats like Richmond/Brunswick, knocking off Greens in their current seats, and taking seats like South Barwon and Ripon off the LNP.

    They could cut off their nose to spite their face by preferencing Liberals over Greens in Prahran, though that is a risk to their primary vote. What I could see is Labor happily letting the LNP win Macnamara if they’re on track to win a majority anyway – it will fuel “Greens are Liberal allies” material for decades.

  6. My theory is that the swing the Liberals picked up came from notionally Greens voters putting the Liberals as their first preference as a strategic vote, to push them into second place so that they can rely on the more reliable flow of preference votes from Labor.

    When you think about it – as far as a strategic vote is concerned – its a win win. Libs finish third, preference gets distributed to the Greens anyway. Libs finish second, Labor voters preference the Greens assuring them the win.

    I think Bandt has this seat locked down, though, until he decides to retire – which tends to be the case for almost all independent/minor party incumbents.

  7. Nah Matt, the “swing” towards the Liberals on their primary vote is because 16 candidates ran in 2013 but only 6 in 2016. Some of those 16 candidates were independents or from right wing micro parties, none of the 6 candidates in 2016 were.

    3PP split in 2013 was GRN 46.0, ALP 28.6, LIB 25.4

    3PP split in 2016 was GRN 47.2, LIB 26.6, ALP 26.3

    That does not seem consistent with Green voters putting Liberal 1st strategically.

  8. Tactical voting isn’t really a thing in Australia, even when an opportunity exists. The culture isn’t really there as 99% of elections don’t have votes in the region where tactical voting could make a difference.

    Tactical voting probably could have made NXT win Boothby and Sturt from the Liberals, but Labor ran open tickets in those seats, and Greens preferenced Labor over NXT.

    I haven’t seen any materials telling Greens to vote Liberal in Melbourne, or Liberals to vote Labor in the SA 3 Cornered contests, so even if it was identified, it would have amounted to a few core volunteers and staffers. Considering the Greens copped flak for trying to tell Liberal voters to vote Green, any communication suggesting to do the other way around would have been highly controversial.

    The swing to the Liberals in Melbourne is consistent with the swing to Liberals in urban seats across the country.

  9. It is an interesting choice for a Liberal Voter here.

    By voting 1 Labor they can *slightly* increase the chance of Bandt losing. But by voting 1 Liberal they cement his chances of winning.

    Not that it makes much difference.

  10. Yes Labor could run a “If you want to get rid of the Greens, vote Labor” campaign.

    However one thing to note is that there was a Labor vs Green preference throw in 2016 before the final throw revealed that the Liberals had edged out Labor 3PP, and Bandt still had quite a bit of breathing space.

    Plus, such a campaign could actually hurt Labor’s primary vote from Labor voters who actually like the Greens.

  11. Bandt benefits from the incumbent factor but I wouldn’t be surprised if the ALP goes close here, safe seats tend to drift back to their usual pattern after two or three elections which makes 2019 and 2022 a real test for the Greens here.

  12. It’s been reported in the Australian that Adam Bandts grip on this seat is loosening thanks to the Greens internal brawling. The ALP are deciding whether to put extra resources into this seat. Adam Bandts still the favorite but its now being viewed that it’s not necessarily a forgone conclusion he will win and a lot of it depends on how much headway Labor can make in the Greens primary vote in Melbourne at the next election.


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