Wills – Australia 2019

ALP 4.9% vs GRN

Incumbent MP
Peter Khalil, since 2016.

Geography
Northern Melbourne. Wills covers most of the City of Moreland. Key suburbs include Brunswick, Moreland, Coburg, Pascoe Vale, Oak Park, Glenroy, Hadfield and Fawkner.

Redistribution
Wills contracted on three sides, losing Essendon Fields and Lowanbrae on its north-western corner to Maribyrnong, losing part of Coburg North to Cooper, and a small area on the south-eastern corner to Melbourne.

History
Wills was created for the 1949 election as part of the expansion of the House of Representatives. Apart from a period in the early 1990s, it has always been held by the Labor Party.

Wills was first won in 1949 by the ALP’s Bill Bryson. He had previously held the seat of Bourke from 1943 to 1946. Bryson served as a member of the ALP until the split of 1955, when he joined the new Labor Party (Anti-Communist), which became the Democratic Labor Party. He lost the seat at the 1955  election.

The seat was won in 1955 by the ALP’s Gordon Bryant. Bryant served as a minister in the Whitlam government from 1972 to 1975, and retired in 1980.

Wills was won in 1980 by former President of the ACTU, Bob Hawke. Hawke was in the rare position of a politician who was already a significant national figure in his own right before entering Parliament, and he was immediately appointed to the Labor frontbench. Hawke failed in an attempt to replace Bill Hayden as Labor leader in 1982, but was successful in another attempt on the very day that Malcolm Fraser called the 1983 election, and he won that election, becoming Prime Minister.

Hawke won re-election at the 1984, 1987 and 1990 elections, but in 1991 he was defeated in a caucus leadership ballot by Paul Keating, and he resigned from Parliament in 1992.

The 1992 Wills by-election was a remarkable campaign, with 22 candidates standing. The seat was won by former footballer Phil Cleary on a hard-left socialist platform. Cleary’s victory was overturned in the High Court due to his status as a public school teacher on unpaid leave, shortly before the 1993 election. He was re-elected at the 1993 election, and held the seat until his defeat in 1996.

Wills was won back for the ALP in 1996 by Kelvin Thomson, a Victorian state MP since 1988. Thomson was appointed to the Federal Labor shadow ministry in 1997, and remained on the frontbench until early 2007. Thomson retained his seat until his retirement in 2016.

Labor’s Peter Khalil won in 2016.

Candidates

Assessment
Wills is a marginal seat and the Greens will be hoping to win at the next election. The Greens benefited from a strong candidate in 2016 who has gone on to become the party’s leader in the state parliament, and from the absence of a personal vote for the Labor candidate, and the absence of those factors may hurt them in 2019, but the seat could still be in play.

2016 result

CandidatePartyVotes%SwingRedist
Peter Khalil Labor 35,43137.6-7.537.9
Samantha Ratnam Greens 29,01730.8+8.630.9
Kyung Hong Liberal 20,63421.9-0.921.5
Tristram ChellewSex Party2,6082.8+0.22.8
Francesco TimpanoIndependent1,8321.9+2.02.0
Camille SydowAnimal Justice1,5781.7+1.71.7
Ash BlackwellDrug Law Reform1,2871.4+1.41.4
Dougal GillmanRenewable Energy Party7780.8+0.80.8
Zane AlcornSocialist Alliance6480.7-0.40.7
Will FulgenziSocialist Equality Party2950.3+0.30.3
Informal6,8076.7

2016 two-candidate-preferred result

CandidatePartyVotes%SwingRedist
Peter Khalil Labor 51,64654.9-10.354.9
Samantha Ratnam Greens 42,46245.1+10.345.1

2016 two-party-preferred result

CandidatePartyVotes%SwingRedist
Peter Khalil Labor 67,03771.2+0.571.6
Kyung Hong Liberal 27,07128.8-0.528.4

Booth breakdown

Booths have been divided into three areas:

  • North-East – Coburg, Fawkner and other suburbs.
  • North-West – Glenroy, Pascoe Vale and other suburbs.
  • South – Brunswick and other suburbs.

Labor won a majority of the two-candidate-preferred vote in the north-east (57.5%) and the north-west (66.1%). The Greens polled 58.7% in the south.

The Liberal Party came third, with a primary vote ranging from 14.7% in the south to 27.3% in the north-west.

Voter groupLIB prim %ALP 2CP %Total votes% of votes
South14.741.317,63820.7
North-East18.457.517,34120.3
North-West27.366.115,45718.1
Other votes23.252.913,97516.4
Pre-poll24.557.520,80324.4

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


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5 COMMENTS

  1. Seat of Brunswick in the November state election is a trial, if the Greens can flip that Wills may also.

    Also, similarly to Cooper, will Labor have credibility on protecting refugees going into the federal election? If not, the Greens are a huge chance.

  2. Greens aren’t quite as strong here as Cooper. They would easily win this seat if Liberals flip their preferences; something that they may do if they think it can prevent Labor from winning a majority. However they haven’t preferenced Greens over Labor in a relevant seat since the Greens used those preferences to get a member up.

    Bennee is right that refugees is an issue that could unite the progressive south and the Middle-Eastern migrant north, but I don’t see there being too many votes in it that weren’t there in 2016.

    Worth noting that Khalil is from the right wing faction of the Labor party, which could come into play, but that was all well known in 2016.

  3. Predicting a cliffhanger with the Greens to win. They won a large swing last time which makes it easier this time around to take it with a more moderate swing. People are sick of right wing Labor members representing left wing seats. One of a few possible gains for the Greens at the next election.

  4. I think the Vic Libs not standing a candidate at all is far more likely than them preferencing the Greens.

  5. Can’t see the Greens winning here for the next 2-3 elections.
    Whilst they are very strong in the south of the electorate their vote hardly penetrates above Bell st in comparison to Cooper.
    As well Khalil is a reasonably hard working MP who reasonates with the Middle Eastern diaspora within his electorate.
    My guess would be a small swing to the Greens of about 1%

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